MH News September 24, 2020

Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Jew by birth and identity, died at the age of 87 and will become the first Jew and also the first woman to lie in state at the U. S. Capital. Though not religious in the sense of public practice, RBG (as she was known) adorned her judicial chamber with the phrase from Deuteronomy “Justice, justice you shall pursue.” But she attended synagogue mostly on the Jewish High Holidays — typically the Kol Nidre service on the eve of Yom Kippur. Rabbi Lauren L. Holtzblatt of Adas Israel, a synagogue in Washington DC, led the service of remembrance on Wednesday at the Supreme Court building.


Los Angeles
The Barna Group interviewed 1,525 practicing Christians about race and religion in America and discovered a slight decrease from a year ago in those who think race is a problem. Concern over race by white and Latino respondents declined slightly, even in the face of the racial polarization in the United States while attitudes among blacks surveyed indicated a 5% increase in concern, from 75% to 81%. The percentage of practicing Christians who believe race is “not at all” a problem in the U.S. actually increased year-to-year — from 11% in 2019 to 19% in 2020. Nevertheless, Barna reported that practicing Christians want pastors and teachers to take the lead in addressing race and religion issues.


The Rev. J. Delano Ellis II has died at the age of 75. A leader in holiness and Pentecostal Christianity for fifty years, Ellis was known for emphasizing unity, liturgy, and the power of the Pentecostal experience. He began his religious journey in a mixed-up home but managed to attend Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville. He migrated to the Church of God in Christ, then into the leadership of the United Pentecostal Church of Christ as a pastor in Cleveland. He was known for his attention to liturgical apparel and other elements of “high church” worship. Late in life he became an advocate of women in ministry.


The Lilly Endowment has awarded 92 grants for their very competitive Flourishing Congregations Initiative 2020. They received 816 proposals from churches, schools, organizations, and judicatories. “The overall quality of these programs was outstanding,” reported Lilly Program Director Chanon Ross. “The number of grant awards is higher than initially announced in response to the larger than anticipated volume of proposals received.” A list of the successful applicants will be available in a few days. This is the second year of this program initiative. The $16-billion Endowment has funding programs in religion, education, and community development; most of their generosity is earmarked for the state of Indiana.


Also in Indianapolis
A major Muslim group of scholars met this week to approve four statements guiding the practice of Islam in North America. Called the Fiqh Council of North America, it  is a body of recognized and qualified Islamic Scholars from the United States and Canada who accept the Qur’an and authentic Sunnah as the primary sources of Islam. The 12-member council Issued five fatwahs or rulings this past week, advising Muslims throughout North America to allow the medical use of marijuana, to donate human organs; to care for orphans and abandoned children; and to encourage women to attend mosque and “participate in all processes of formal shura, including serving on the governing bodies of masjids.”