Duke Divinity School will launch a fully on-line Master of Divinity degree, following a trend in theological education that has been developing for two decades; the pandemic intensified the push away from residency requirements. Last year, the Association of Theological School lifted the residency requirements on all degrees except the doctorate of philosophy (PhD). Chris Meinzer, CEO at the Association of Theological Schools, explains: “Tuition costs are a driving force, but a bigger driver is life. Many of our students are second-career age. They’re just not packing up and going someplace else.” Roman Catholic schools are now the primary outlier, still requiring full residency throughout their basic divinity programs.
St. Brigit Roman Catholic Church is celebrating the sudden celebrity of its young poet Amanda Gorman. The Harvard University graduate stole the show at the inauguration of President Joseph Biden with the recitation of her poem “The Hill We Climb.” Floy Hawkins, former director of religious education at the parish for over 20 years, spoke the pride of the congregation when she said, “She is definitely a light, an inspiration to us all. She takes God with her.” Gorman and her sister Gabrielle went through a two-year training program at the parish as teenagers and then received the sacraments of baptism, first Communion and confirmation on the same day.
Pastor Tony Lankford announced his resignation as pastor of First Baptist Church, St. Simons Island, to become executive pastor at the First Baptist Church of Gainesville, Georgia. Joining in the public response to the murder of local resident Ahmaud Arbery on February 23, 2020, Lankford encountered pushback from certain segments of his congregation who claimed he was being “too political.” “We leave St. Simons Island,” he wrote on Facebook, “knowing we have met loving people, formed deep friendships, served a great church, and hold fond memories of this beautiful place.”
Reverend William Barber called for a a third Reconstruction in his homily the day after the inauguration of President Joseph Biden. “America has never yet been all that she has hoped to be,” he said. “But right here, right now, a Third Reconstruction is possible if we choose.” The ecumenical serviced attended by many in the new administration including Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris was hosted by the National Cathedral. “We must address the five interlocking injustices of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation/denial of health care, the war economy, and the false moral narrative of religious nationalism.” Barber of North Carolina is president of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign.
Father and son ministers in the charismatic movement Randy and Josh Clark have launched a new podcast to discuss the role of prophecy in the national presidential election. Numerous “prophets” within the movement predicted that Trump would win a second term. The introduction to the podcast says the ministry intends it as a voice of reason and truth, one that calls the church to the unity of the Spirit in a way that doesn’t demand conformity. In the first episode of Building Bridges, the Clarks hosted prophets Kris Vallotton, of Bethel Church in Redding, California; Kim Maas of Kim Maas Ministries and Christian futurist. Randy and Josh Clark are founder and executive director of a ministry called Global Awakening,