News In Brief

Churches Kick Off New Ecumenical Effort

WASHINGTON — Christian Churches Together in the USA — the broadest, most inclusive ecumenical movement in U.S. history — was officially founded during a March 28-31 gathering near Atlanta. Its founding 34 Christian churches and national organizations represent more than 100 million Americans.

Twenty-two additional churches and organizations are participating as observers or are in the process of deciding about joining, and more than 30 others are in conversation with Christian Churches Together. Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore, who held a 2001 meeting in Baltimore at which plans for the new organization first took shape, will represent the Catholic Church as one of its five co-presidents. He said he was “delighted that the work we began in Baltimore has continued to prosper.”

Christian Churches Together is intended as a forum of ecumenical dialogue and witness involving the participation of representatives from all five major Christian families of churches in the United States: Catholic, Orthodox, historic Protestant, evangelical/Pentecostal, and historic racial/ethnic.


Archbishop Reopens Disputed New Orleans Church

NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes April 8 re-consecrated a historic New Orleans black church he had ordered closed “for the foreseeable future” after a protest disrupted Mass there two weeks earlier.

The March 26 demonstration at St. Augustine Church was organized to protest the archdiocese’s decision to close the parish and merge it with a neighboring parish, but keep the church building open for one Mass each Sunday. Archbishop Hughes announced that the archdiocese and parishioners who want their parish to remain open had settled their dispute. He re-established St. Augustine Parish for the next 18 months.

The archbishop said he hoped the resolution of the dispute would become a symbol of reconciliation for the entire city. He said the parish could remain open longer if it met agreed-upon guidelines for viability and vibrancy. The archbishop re-consecrated the church during a 45-minute ritual attended by about 75 parishioners. Afterward he held a news conference outside the church to announce the settlement of the dispute.


Tennessee Families Devastated by Tornadoes

GALLATIN, Tenn. — Last year, Jennifer Trahan helped a family relocate to Gallatin after they lost their New Orleans home in Hurricane Katrina. Now Trahan and her family have found themselves with nothing after their house was destroyed by a tornado, one of several that killed 12 people in Tennessee April 7.

“You never think it’s going to happen to you,” said Trahan, a parishioner at St. Stephen Church in nearby Old Hickory. Across the state the storms damaged as many as 3,000 buildings and 167 people were injured. In Sumner County, where Gallatin is the county seat, there were reports of nine deaths, 150 people were injured, and up to 900 homes, farms and businesses were damaged or destroyed.

“You never think you’re going to be on the receiving end,” Trahan told the Tennessee Register, newspaper of the Nashville Diocese. “It’s tough being on the receiving end. It’s humbling.”


The Earth is Not Our Mother

“The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate.”—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy