News continues to trickle out about the large Orthodox Jewish wedding ceremony that took place in violation of COVID regulations in New York City. And I do mean large: seven thousand large. It happened in Williamsburg, a community adjacent to Brooklyn, on the east bank of the East River. It was the wedding of Yoel Teitelbuam, the grandson of Grand Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum. New York Governor Cuomo called the event “a blatant disregard of the law” but leaders of the religious community have appealed to the state Supreme Court for relief from the restrictions placed upon worship.
Influential Christian social activist and organizer Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners, is stepping down from the organization and will join the faculty of Georgetown University as founding director of a new center focused on “faith, public life, and the common good.” Wallis founded Sojourners fifty years ago. The new president of that organization will be Adam Taylor, a graduate of both Emory University and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Shaped in the black Baptist tradition of social justice, Taylor has worked for World Vision and Global Justice as well as Sojourners. He has already assumed presidential responsibilities at Sojourners.
Noted singer, rapper, producer, designer, and entrepreneur Pharrell Williams has launched a new Netflix program, an unscripted music series documenting his search for undiscovered choral talent in his hometown, the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. The six-episode series called “Voices of Fire” is a competition, giving people one shot to prove they have the talent to make the gospel choir. Williams has won 13 Grammy Awards and has been nominated twice for an Academy Award, including for the song “Happy” from the soundtrack of Despicable Me 2.
Representatives of the National Basketball Association, including both active players and organizational leaders, met with Roman Catholic Pope Francis to discuss their common interests in social justice, especially those that focused on race. “We are extremely honored to have had this opportunity to come to the Vatican and share our experiences with Pope Francis,” Milwaukee Bucks player Kyle Korver said. “His openness and eagerness to discuss these issues was inspiring and a reminder that our work has had a global impact and must continue moving forward.” Others attending were players Marco Belinelli, Sterling Brown, Jonathan Isaac, and Anthony Tolliver and three executives of the NBA players’ union.
Pastors from Atlanta, Chicago, Washington DC, Austin, Texas, and have launched a new network—The Crete Collective—to support church planters focused on black, Hispanic, and Asian American communities. The network represents a move to bring more people of color into leadership for church-planting initiatives and to focus more missional attention toward poor and underserved urban areas with high concentrations of ethnic minorities. The movement names the New Hampshire Confession of Faith as their doctrinal guide and most of their leaders have ties to the new Reformed Baptist network in the United States. The name Crete Collective is derived from the directive of Paul the Apostle in his first century letter to Titus to remain on the island of Crete and lead the emerging Christian community.