MH News August 1, 2019

Garden Grove
The Roman Catholic diocese of Orange County, California, spent $130 million to buy and renovate the Crystal Cathedral made famous by Protestant evangelist and pastor Robert Schuller (1926-2015). It was dedicated July 13, with a black-tie reception, concert, and dinner. The redesign included: shading the 10,000 panes of glass, reorienting the sanctuary 90%, refurnishing it completely, and renaming it Christ Cathedral. “Because of its history, significance, and scale,” the diocese wrote “Christ Cathedral will continue to be a popular destination for tourists from across the globe. Its iconic beauty—and its many arts and cultural events and offerings—will shine as a cultural beacon to believers of all faiths. Most important, it will serve for decades, even centuries, as a central place of worship for Southern California Catholics.”

 

Los Angeles
Superstar composer, singer, and performer Katy Perry lost her court battle against a small cohort of Christian performers who accused her and her team of stealing their intellectual property to produce her popular rock song “Dark Horse.” They contended that the six songwriters who collaborated on the Perry number were unduly influenced by the soundtrack of their song “Joyful Noise”. The nine-person jury in a federal court in California listened to both songs and determined that the “Dark Horse” tune had indeed been dependent upon the earlier Christian song. The dispute now moves to the penalty phase. Perry grew up in the home of Pentecostal ministers and began her career as a Christian singer.

 

Dallas
United Methodist professors and leaders representing the progressive wing of the church announced a “Post-Way-Forward Gathering of UM Scholars” for the first week of August. Representing those who reject the recent decisions of the Church to deny full inclusion to LGBTQIA+ persons, the organizers hope “to bring biblical, theological, practical/pastoral, moral/ethical, and historical insights to help the work of those who seek a form of our church free from existing restrictions….” Participation is limited to scholars, but the event will be streamed on-line and will generate resources for others in the wider Christian community. The event is being hosted by Lovers Lane United Methodist Church in Dallas.

 

Chicago
The famed and influential Willow Creek Church gathered for a service of reconciliation and healing 16 months after allegations of pastoral misconduct dominated the front pages of the Chicago Tribune. Founding pastor Bill Hybels resigned, as did the two ministers chosen to succeed him, as did the entire board of elders that was in place at the time. Attendance is down at all eight locations in the greater Chicago region, as is giving. The congregation is engaged in a Truth and Reconciliation process framed after the well-known South Africa efforts to respond to years of apartheid. Hybels did not attend and has not participated in any of the healing processes, denying all the charges against him.

 

Baltimore
Religious leaders across the Christian spectrum issued a public plea for President Donald Trump to stop his verbal attack on the city of Baltimore. In a series of tweets over the weekend, Trump labeled the city as, among other things, a “disgusting, rat-, rodent-infested mess” and leveled a personal attack on their U. S. Representative Elijah Cummings. The joint statement implored the President to “stop putting people down, in the name of all that is good, healthy, and decent.” It reminded the President that “many of our churches pray for you by name every Sunday in our worship series” and called upon him to “strive and work for a more civil, just, and compassionate society.” Representative Cummings attended the Sunday worship services at the New Psalmist Baptist Church where he heard a sermon about the call, recorded in The Acts of the Apostles, for Paul the apostle to cross over into Europe to help the people of Macedonia.