MH News March 26, 2020
The Daytona Beach Drive-in Christian Church has been carrying on an older tradition, dating to the 1970’s when the drive-in strategy was a suddenly popular evangelistic and congregational strategy. Robert Schuller rose to fame using the drive-in church idea. Now, the restrictions on churches and other routine gatherings have pushed congregations in Kentucky, Wisconsin, Texas, and Minneapolis to adopt the practice, at least for the short run. Pathway Baptist Church of Calvert City, Kentucky, took their Sunday service to the Calvert City Drive-in Theater. 134 cars filled the parking area as ministers took to the stage. “Wave to the right,” pastor Mike Donald directed his flock in the new version of Passing the Peace. “Now, wave to the left.” A new-old way of being church!
The Religion News Foundation named Debbie Caldwell as its new Chief Executive Officer. She has a long history in media and religion, including stints with the Dallas Morning News, The Trenton Times, Beliefnet.com, Banks of America, Time, and Fortune.com. “Religion News Foundation is a secular, educational and charitable 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization affiliated with the University of Missouri School of Journalism” so states its web site and continues: “RNF advances religious literacy through websites, resources, networks, training workshops, events and other programs tailor-made for media professionals, corporate clients and the general public.” Caldwell will also serve as publisher of the affiliate Religion News Service, also located in Columbia, Missouri and affiliated with the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
The popular arts and craft chain Hobby Lobby has elected to remain open for business during these days of organizational and economic shutdown. This is in response, according to CEO Steve Green, to a word from the Lord to his wife Barbara during a time of prayer. Employees showing symptoms may stay home, albeit only salaried workers have paid sick time off. Hobby Lobby is known for its public stand as a “Christian business” which includes a national policy of closing all stores on Sunday. In a related story, it was revealed this week that all the (supposed) Dead Sea Scrolls purchased and displayed by the Green-funded Museum of the Bible in Washington DC are forgeries. Genuine scrolls date to several hundred years before the birth of Christ and were discovered largely intact in caves along the edge of the Dead Sea in modern Israel some 70 years ago.
Popular Christian vocalist Sandi Patti revealed that she has tested positive for the Coronavirus. “Today I received confirmation that I tested positive for COVID19”, she said in a video posted on Facebook. “I am at home, and Don and I are under quarantine for the next 14 days.” She praised medical personal for her care and strongly urged people to take seriously the threat of this global pandemic. Her own church, Crossings Community Church (where she serves as artist in residence) discontinued public gatherings and moved all their worship services to on-line media. The 63-year old Patty is quarantined at home with her husband Don. Other well-known Christian leaders have tested positive, including New Orleans Roman Catholic Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond. A Franciscan friar in Washington who was on his way to join a new religious community in New York became one of the first religious professionals to died of COVID-19. Franciscan Brother John-Sebastian Laird-Hammond already battling leukemia succumbed on March 20.