Voters in Georgia have selected a black Baptist preacher and a white Jewish journalist to represent them in the United States Senate. They are Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, both of Atlanta. Neither has ever held elected office, and together they will flip control of the Senate from Republican to Democrat. Warnock is the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church of Atlanta. Ossoff is a journalist and filmmaker.
Roman Catholics constitute 20% of the U.S. population, according to a January 4 report by the Pew Research Center and remain 30% of the new Congress. They are again the single largest denomination in Congress, just as they are in the United States. The number of Catholics in both chambers actually dipped by five in the 117th Congress, from 163 to 158. Methodists and Baptists sustained greater losses — seven seats for Methodists and six for Baptists. Lutherans also lost four seats. In the House, 77 of the chamber’s Catholics are Democrats and 57 are Republicans; in the 100-member Senate, 14 Catholics are Democrats and 10 are Republicans. Taken together, Catholics and Protestants account for 471, or 88%, of Congress.
Pastor Mark Allen McWilliams, age 62, was shot and killed by an intruder at the Starrville Methodist Church in East Texas. Mytrez Woolen, a 21-year-old man who hid from police in the church was charged with first-degree murder and felony assault. The pastor discovered Woolen hiding in a church bathroom Sunday morning. Pastor McWilliams drew a gun, but Woolen grabbed the weapon and began shooting with it. McWilliams was killed, a second person was injured by gunfire and another was hurt in a fall.
Christianity Today listed ten stories from 2020 that “made us happy.” Included are stories about use of the Bible app, expanded pregnancy centers, availability of Bible translations, reduced tuition at Evangelical colleges, completion of the sign language Bible, use of solar panels by churches, launch of a church planting network, success against a pornography website, use of federal COVID relief dollars by churches, and the religious composition of the new congress.
Rick Warren, the Baptist pastor of one of the state’s largest churches, said love compels him to follow public health orders. “Some churches are willing to gamble the health of their people. I’m not,” he said in an interview with Relevant magazine. “I’m not doing this out of fear; I’m doing this out of love. You wear a mask for love of your neighbors, yourself.” Warren said COVID-19 has “revealed a fundamental weakness in the church. Most churches only have one purpose: worship. And if you take worship away, you’ve got nothing. They’re in a hurry to get back to worship because that’s all they’ve got.” These convictions stand in sharp contrast to another megachurch pastor in the area, John MacArthur, who has led the campaign to resist public health guidelines and keep his church open for worship.