Religion | St. Louis Public Radio

Religion

Sister An Mei, left, and Sister Mary Lea Hill wave to a group of high school students who recently visited the Pauline Books and Media store in Crestwood.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Daughters of St. Paul have operated Pauline Books and Media, a small bookstore adjoining their convent in Crestwood, since the 1980s. But these days, the Roman Catholic sisters are reaching people far beyond St. Louis with their posts and videos on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.

Using the hashtag #MediaNuns, they tweet friendly messages of inspiration:

“If you do nothing else today, remember that God loves you.”

Parishioners pray during a Sunday morning Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Ferguson on Nov. 19, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In this week when many St. Louisans and others around the country gather for the Thanksgiving holiday, before they dive into the turkey and pumpkin pie, they will pray.

But why? Why does prayer remain so important to many people at a time when, according to the Pew Research Center, the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing?

It’s mostly because prayer is a given for people who follow almost any faith tradition, according to Shane Sharp, an associate professor of sociology at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 11, 2008 - It's hard to imagine that any atheists were converted to Christianity, or Christians to atheism, after listening to Dinesh D'Souza and Christopher Hitchens debate the topic "Is it good to believe in God?" Wednesday night. But most of the crowd of more than 2,000 people who crowded into Powell Hall seemed to enjoy the spirited exchange, and gave the speakers a rousing ovation at the end of the program, which lasted a little under two hours.

Nermana Huskic, right, and Diana Mrzljak, 15, set out watermelon before lunch at Gateway 180 June 18, 2017.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Because Islam puts a special focus on charity during the holy month of Ramadan, many Muslims St. Louisans are taking extra time to serve others.

This year, Ramadan began May 27 and ends June 25.

Sunday a couple dozen people from a nonprofit organization called RukaNade served lunch at the Gateway 180 homeless shelter in St. Louis’ Carr Square neighborhood.

Archbishop Robert Carlson, Brother Emile of the Taizé Community and Rev. Starsky Wilson joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss an upcoming pilgrimage in St. Louis over Memorial Day weekend.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Several years ago, the archbishop of St. Louis, Robert Carlson, had a discussion with a group of black pastors about an idea for people of different races, ethnicities and backgrounds to come together and talk to each other. Unfortunately, that effort failed.

And then, events unfolded in Ferguson. After the police shooting death of Michael Brown and the protests that followed, Carlson said, “I knew in my heart that we needed to get people to sit down and talk to each other, to understand and to know one another.”

River Roads Lutheran School

Updated 5 p.m. Feb. 28 with decision on school's future – The 78 students of River Roads Lutheran School on St. Louis’ north side will not need to find a new school to attend mid-year.

The school community raised $136,000 — enough to stay open until at least June, principal Yvonne Boyd announced Tuesday.

A crowd waits to enter Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery for a volunteer clean-up event in February 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In the wake of vandalism at a historic Jewish cemetery last week, the St. Louis region showed an outpouring of solidarity that reflects its long-standing interfaith relationships.

But some faith leaders also said they have renewed urgency to build on these existing bridges and further spread their message of tolerance to a region of diverse religions and backgrounds.

Imre Jokuti, who escaped from Hungary while fighting in the revolution, sings the Hungarian national anthem at St. Mary of Victories Church on Nov. 4, 2016.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Wearing a ribbon with the Hungarian flag’s red, white and green colors attached to his lapel, Albert Futo sang a hymn in his native tongue with the St. Mary of Victories Church choir in St. Louis Friday morning.

For Futo, this special Mass commemorating the 60th anniversary of Hungary’s uprising against the Soviet Union has personal significance.

Vince Bantu (left) listens to speaker SueJeanne Koh at the Summit for Future Theological Educators of Color, a conference held in Evanston, Ilinois, in the summer of 2014.
Vince Bantu | Jubilee Community Church

What exactly is an “inter-minority" dialogue?

For Vince Lee Bantu, it’s a space for where people of color can come share their common cultural experiences and nuanced struggles while building connections.

On Saturday, Inter-Minority Dialogue is an event with workshops that will explore topics that include “Latinos, Immigration, and the Church;” “Being Arab in St. Louis;” and “Partnering with Refugees.” Organized by local faith leaders like Bantu to focus on the experiences of people of color, the event will take place at Comunidad Cristiana Vida Abundante, 1216 Sidney St., in St. Louis.

Younger children, like 11-year-old Tanya Raja, don't have to fast during the month of Ramadan like older Muslims do, but many start practicing at an early age.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan, with its daily sun-up to sundown fasts, increased prayer and focus on charity, is drawing to a close. That means there are only a few days left for young Muslims to try to fast for the first time.

CAIR-St. Louis executive director Faizan Syed said this year's Sharing Ramadan event will be the biggest yet.
Council on American-Islamic Relations-St. Louis

As many as 500 St. Louis area Muslims and non-Muslims are expected to share in food and faith traditions Thursday for a "Sharing Ramadan" event, but this time, security measures will be in place. 

Outgoing SBC president Ronnie Floyd (center, sixth from left) leads the panel discussion on racial unity, including two St. Louis pastors.
Van Payne | Southern Baptist Convention

Updated Wednesday, June 15 with presidential election results – The Southern Baptist Convention has selected Steve Gaines, a Memphis pastor, as its next president. 

Church representatives, or messengers, voted twice Tuesday after a close count caused a runoff election. By the next morning, North Carolina pastor J.D. Greear dropped out of the race to keep the convention "united."  The announcement came the day after the convention representing the country's largest Evangelical Christian denomination notably called on its members to "discontinue the display of the Confederate Battle Flag."

Does St. Louis have a priest shortage?

May 28, 2016
Priests welcome their two new members Saturday, May 28, 2016 at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Row after row of priests filed through the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis Saturday to lay hands on the heads of the two men joining their brotherhood.

Archbishop Robert Carlson then prayed over the candidates, ordaining Kent Pollman and Scott Scheiderer as priests.

Pollman and Scheiderer are part of a new class of priests in St. Louis: smaller in number than the ordination classes of the 1980s, and facing a future juggling more responsibilities.

The Kursk Root Icon is annually venerated at Orthodox parishes across North America.
St. Basil the Great Orthodox Church | Facebook

Several Orthodox Christian churches in the St. Louis area are hosting a centuries old icon over the next few days.

The Kursk Root Icon is a painting of the Virgin Mary, known as the Theotokos, that is said to date to the 13th century in its namesake town in Russia. The icon, associated with miraculous healings and events, annually travels to the North American parishes that are part of the Russian Church Outside of Russia (which is now a reconciled part of the Russian Orthodox Church).

The Conservative movement's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards recently decided that abstaining from legumes during Passover is more of a long-standing tradition and not a rule.
Gilabrand | Wikipedia

Barbara Shamir’s Passover table may get one new addition this year, to accompany the tender brisket, rich potato kugel, gefilte fish with a horseradish sidekick, and ubiquitous flourless chocolate cake.

It's tehina -- also called tahini -- once banned, now welcome at her table, thanks to a rabbinical dispensation.

In previous years, Shamir, of Olivette, would not allow her husband, Amos, to prepare or serve this sesame seed-based sauce during the holiday. That’s because the condiment contains “kitniyot,” foods that include legumes, certain seeds and peas. For many Ashkenazi Jews, or those of Eastern European descent, kitniyot is not kosher to eat during Passover.

Photos of the four pastors interviewed for this story.
Credit: provided and St. Louis Public Radio

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend a St. Louis-area church Sunday to celebrate Easter, filling more pews than normal in the process.

With regular church attendance on the decline nationwide, St. Louis priests and pastors say knowing more people will hear their Easter message gives added importance to the words they share.

Civic Progress President Tom Irwin stands with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon at the St. Louis Regional Chamber. Business groups held a presser condemning the amendment.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s business organizations are waging an all out attack on an amendment aimed at allowing clergy and business owners to refuse services to same-sex weddings. 

The measure, known as SJR39, was the central focus of a nearly two-day-long filibuster by Missouri Senate Democrats. Republicans employed a rarely used parliamentary procedure known as the "previous question" to squelch the talk-a-thon, and now the amendment awaits action in the Missouri House.

Archbishop of New York and St. Louis native, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, drew on the papacies of popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis to discuss how religion can play a role alongside politics.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Catholic Archbishop of New York, was back in his hometown of St. Louis Wednesday to give a lecture at Washington University's John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics.

A dinner party with Isaac (Jonathan C. Kaplan), Jory (Rachel Christopher), Emily (Leigh Williams) and Amir (John Pasha) in The Rep's "Disgraced" starts off on a friendly note but soon takes a different turn.
Peter Wochniak / ProPhotoSTL.com

This year’s most widely produced play in the country is on stage right now at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. 

“Disgraced” centers on an ambitious New York attorney grappling with his Islamic roots in a post-9/11 world. But the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama is really about everyone’s American experience, people of all faiths or no faith, according to playwright Ayad Akhtar.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

The president of Maryville University’s Muslim Student Association wants to set something straight:

“People need to understand that the real face of Islam is the face you see in front of you right now,” said Shehmin Awan. “It is us three people. It’s the billions of people who are practicing peacefully. It is not the face of ISIL or ISIS or whatever you want to call it. It’s not the face of a terrorist.

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