Kansas City, New York, and New Orleans
Molly Marshall announced her retirement from the faculty and administration of Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kansas (metro Kansas City). She has served 24 years, first as professor of theology and spiritual formation, and the last 15 as president. She was the first female to lead an ATS-accredited Baptist seminary in the United States. In New York, Rev. Dr. LaKeesha Walrond is set to begin her tenure as the first black female president of 119-year-old New York Theological Seminary on the Upper West Side of New York City. And New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, a Southern Baptist school, announced the nomination of James K. Dew, currently vice president of Southeastern Baptist Seminary in North Carolina, as their new president, thus continuing the refusal of Southern Baptist institutions to hire women or persons of color for their top jobs.
First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, dedicated their new sanctuary, 18 months after a gunman entered the sanctuary during Sunday worship and killed more than 20 people, including the daughter of the pastor. Hundreds of people attended the public event in the small town near San Antonio, including Texas Governor Greg Abbot who spoke to the assembly a message of encouragement. Pastor Frank Pomeroy told the crowd they were celebrating God’s glory while remembering “those who have paid a price for this incredible facility.” The church commemorated the victims by reading their names as the church bell rang, and those connected to them stood up in the crowd.
Jehovah’s Witnesses love Atlanta, or so it seems. From all over the world, they gathered this week—34,000 strong—in the Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta for the second of three conventions. The first was held several weeks ago and a third, attracting primarily Spanish-speaking adherents, will come to Atlanta in August. Total attendance of the three is estimated to be near 100,000. This week’s convention featured the baptism of 280 persons and a keynote address of Anthony Morris of Patterson, New Jersey, on the theme “Keep Seeking God’s Kingdom. Jehovah’s Witnesses is a Christian community, now numbering almost nine million worldwide, which began in the 1870s in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The 22,000-member Church of the Resurrection in metro Kansas City, Missouri, hosted 600 persons who gathered under the umbrella of United Methodist Next. They came as self-styled progressives, liberals, and centrists who are seeking ways to remain part of the United Methodist Church but in resistance to the recently reaffirmed anti-GLBTQ policies of the global Methodist church. The conservatives in their communion successfully defended the Traditional Plan during an emotional conference in St. Louis in February. The gathering in Kansas City vowed to stay in the UMC but affirm GLBTQ people as part of a broader resistance to oppression and injustice in world and church affairs. A week earlier, another 350 persons, under the rubric Our Movement Forward, met for similar purposes in Minneapolis.
Roman Catholic author and scholar James Carroll has published a strong declaration that for the Roman Catholic Church to survive the entire priesthood as it is now structured—male, single, celibate—must be abolished. He chronicles the last quarter century of sexual abuse crises within the Church and contends that the very structure of the priesthood, especially its loyalty to bishops, prevents it from addressing adequately the challenges of the day. He even faults the popular pope Francis. Himself a former priest and until recently a mass-attending Catholic, Carroll brings strong credentials to his appeal, which is published in the June edition of The Atlantic magazine. (See Dr. Moody’s response under the title “Saving the Catholic Church.”)