The University of Vermont announced this week that it is eliminating the entire department of religion. The department consists of seven professors; it is one of 15 departments that graduate fewer than one percent of the approximately 13,000 students enrolled at the university. Other departments on the chopping block are geology and classics, including majors in Greek, Latin, German, Asian Studies, and Vermont Studies. Budget problems are to blame!
PBS has announced the broadcast of a two-part, four-hour special entitled “The Black Church: This is Our Story. This is Our Song” hosted by Henry Louis Gates. The television special traces the 400-year-history of black religion in the United States. It features interviews with, among others, Oprah Winfrey, John Legend, Jennifer Hudson, Michael Curry, Cornel West, Shirley Caesar, Al Sharpton, Yolanda Adams, William Barber, Bebe Winans, and Vashti McKenzie. It will premiere on February 16 and 23 at 9 pm EST.
The Reverend Lakeesha Walrond, executive pastor the 10,000 member First Corinthians Baptist Church in Harlem, has been named as the 12th president and first female president of the 119-year-old New York Theological Seminary. Walrond is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary, just across the street, and holds a doctorate in special education and literacy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She will assume her position on June 3, 2021.
Billboard magazine has named Kanye West as the top selling gospel artist of 2020. West’s first spiritual-themed record, entitled Jesus is King, was released one year ago, November 9, 2019, and has spent the entire year as the number one selling album in the gospel category. West recorded eight of the ten top selling gospel songs of the year, with “Follow God” at number one.
Six hundred million people used the YouVersion Bible during this pandemic year, reports the sponsor of the popular app available for smart phones. Searches using the app were up 80% during this pandemic year with the most frequently accessed verse of the Bible, Isaiah 41.10: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Also known as Bible.com and the Bible App, the online and mobile Bible platform was first published in 2008. It is installed on over 450 million devices using 1,374 languages.
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