Word&Way News: April 15
Here’s the weekly roundup from Word&Way. Paid subscribers to A Public Witness received a report on history, racism, and masculinity at play as Herschel Walker campaigns in churches in Georgia.
Support our journalism ministry by upgrading to a paid e-newsletter subscription today!
Top 5 at wordandway.org
Behind the Pulpit: Christopher Dixon. Beau Underwood interviews the pastor of West Finley Baptist Church near Fordland, Missouri, for the latest installment of our “Behind the Pulpit” series.
Leaving Church Without a Fight. Rodney Kennedy explores why so many people have deserted their churches.
Review: On the Spectrum. Robert D. Cornwall reviews the book On the Spectrum: Autism, Faith, and the Gifts of Neurodiversity by Daniel Bowman, Jr.
How 5G Caused a Feud Between a Small Christian School and T-Mobile. Bob Smietana reports on how a fight over an FCC license has put Christian College of Georgia at odds with a cellphone giant.
For Churches Hit by Disasters, Easter Brings Promise of Hope. A look at pastors in four communities where the congregations can’t meet in their normal space on Easter because their buildings were destroyed.
This week, Word&Way won four awards from the Evangelical Press Association for our work in 2021:
Juliet Vedral won 1st place in the critical review category for her review of Dear Evan Hansen movie.
Brian Kaylor won 2nd place in the candid single photo category for a shot at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee.
Brian Kaylor won 5th place in the photo feature category for a photo essay at A Public Witness of a rally for wrongly-imprisoned men.
And we we won 4th place in the e-newsletter category for our Friday roundup emails (like this very email).
Other News of Note
Brian Kaylor wrote a piece for Sightings on “Sunday Politics in Georgia: Punting on Historical Reckoning.”
Politico reported on “the campaign against ‘Putin’s pope’” as ministers like Rob Schenck urge the World Council of Churches to suspend the membership of the Russian Orthodox Church for supporting the invasion of Ukraine. (We previously wrote about this issue at A Public Witness.)
Ken Camp reported for Baptist Standard about a Cuban Baptist pastor sentenced to eight years in prison for participation in protests.
The Guardian looked at efforts by some Florida pastors to save their churches by selling their real estate.
Historic Black churches in Washington, D.C, are struggling due to gentrification. Politico put together a video report looking at several of these churches.
Esau McCaulley wrote a reflection for the New York Times: “What Good Friday & Easter Mean for Black Americans.”
Brett Younger wrote a reflection at Baptist News Global: “Easter is for Those Who have been to the Cemetery.”
This week: Samuel Perry on The Flag & The Cross
by Beau Underwood, Word&Way Senior Editor
Pope Francis used his homily on Palm Sunday to call for an “Easter Truce” between Russia and Ukraine. The pontiff preached that “the folly of war” is “where Christ is crucified yet another time.” Other European church leaders echoed the call and made a plea of their own to Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church and a booster of Russia’s aggression.
Yet, Catholics in Ukraine did not greet the Pope’s suggestion warmly. Perceiving the call as placing Ukraine and Russia on the same moral footing, they expressed outrage at a weaker, victimized Ukraine being equated with the stronger, warmongering Russia.
“Sitting in warm chairs in the Vatican offices, they probably do not understand truly to the very end what the war is,” Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, said in a critique of the Vatican's announcement. “We cannot talk about reconciliation now when they are killing us.”
Pope Francis continues to signal his support of Ukraine without directly confronting Russia or Vladimir Putin. The increasing humanitarian toll and mounting evidence of Russian atrocities makes this diplomatic dance harder and harder to justify.
Part of the Easter message is that God takes sides. In the resurrection of Jesus, God decisively brings life from death. The empty tomb was a witness against the Roman Empire’s torturous and murderous ways. Our proclamation on Easter that “He is risen!” stands as a rebuke to human rulers, like Putin, who kill innocents.
When Pope Francis delivers his message in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, he should remind Putin of our Easter hope: God ultimately triumphs over evil.
Photo of the Week
Thanks for reading!