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Church

The Rev. Traci Blackmon of Christ The King United Church of Christ, at a press conference Saturday, Jan. 19.
Sarah Fentem | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 11,000 St. Louis-area families will learn this week that their medical debt has been paid, thanks to donations from local churches.

United Church of Christ congregations and the Deaconess Foundation announced Saturday they had purchased $12.9 million in medical debt for a fraction of the cost. They worked with the New York-based nonprofit RIP Medical Debt, which used the donations to purchase the debt from collectors.

Church leaders used Saturday’s announcement at Christ the King Church in Black Jack to make the argument that medical debt is a symptom of a system that devalues poor people and people of color — and call for political action.

Fellowship of Wildwood, a baptist church in west St. Louis County, allows certain trained congregants to carry weapons. Church leaders say their volunteer security team helps provide peace of mind to the congregation.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s hard to tell who has a gun at Fellowship of Wildwood church, unless you’re really looking.

The men stand silently at the edge of the crowd, as worshippers shrug off their heavy winter coats and sip from paper coffee cups before the Sunday service. 

Nicknamed the “sheepdog ministry,” the group of about a dozen volunteers provide armed protection for churchgoers at Fellowship of Wildwood.

Attacks on religious spaces have become a troubling new reality, leaving congregations to grapple with how to respond. While some train congregants or hire armed guards, other faith leaders in St. Louis have resisted the idea of allowing guns inside houses of worship. 

The Grandel is a former church in Grand Center that now houses the Dark Room, a jazz club. The building was also home to the Black Rep theater for 20 years. April 19, 2019.
Brian Heffernan | St. Louis Public Radio

Declining church attendance is forcing some religious leaders to make difficult decisions — namely, what to do with outsized or vacant places of worship.

Many U.S. churches were built decades ago during times of religious growth. In some communities, however, shrinking congregations no longer have the financial resources to maintain these large church properties. Eden Theological Seminary will host a two-day symposium this week focused on ways religious and community leaders can repurpose these buildings.

James Croft (at left), outreach director for the Ethical Society of St. Louis, and Leigh Schmidt, the Edward C. Mallinckrodt Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at Washington University, joined Wednesday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

With a growing sector of America having left traditional religion in recent decades, speculation about the reasons for that exit is common, as are easy conclusions about what it all portends.

“There’s so much cultural criticism aimed at the ‘nones’ – those who aren’t affiliated or those who identify themselves as spiritual but not religious,” Washington University’s Leigh Schmidt said Wednesday while talking with St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh.

He added that fellow Americans frequently assume that the disaffiliated are, by definition, lacking in terms of morals or ethics, when “the stories that they have are far more complicated.”

St. Louis church bells keep pace with modern times

Apr 14, 2017
Joseph Leahy | St. Louis Public Radio

Hundreds of church bells of the St. Louis Archdiocese and other local congregations have hung silent since Holy Thursday, but will sound again, as is tradition, for Easter Vigil on Saturday. For generations, the handmade metal signals have called on local communities to mark the significant moments of life.

Emanuele Berry | St. Louis Public Radio

Martin Luther King once said that "it is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is 11 o'clock on Sunday morning."

Rev. Dietra Wise Baker says it still is, which is why Baker and more than 100 people from churches across St. Louis gathered to talk about race on Sunday. The event was the first in a series of Sacred Conversation About Race.

“The church has work to do on itself as it tries to call moral and ethical standards to the community and point the finger ...” she said. “We have to be on the road before we can invite people along for the journey.”

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

About 50 different churches and groups gathered yesterday to provide assistance to St. Louis residents living in poverty.

Services offered included voter registration, resume services, back to school and youth sports physicals and other health services.

Organizers said it took around a year to plan and coordinate the event with Convoy of Hope, a national faith-based anti-poverty organization.

Bishop Lawrence Wooten said it brought together religious groups that haven’t worked together in the past. 

Priory Chapel

Dec 17, 2010
HOK Priory Chapel
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This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, March 9, 2009 - The fatal shooting of the Rev. Fred Winters in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church in Maryville Sunday morning made many religious leaders and their staffs assess their security measures on Monday. Many had offered prayers for Winters, his family and his congregation and, with their staff, had been thinking about them all day.

"A tragedy like this forces you to sit up a take notice that things can happen when you least expect it," said the Rev. Larry Patton, an associate pastor at St. Matthew United Methodist Church in Belleville.