Play examines South’s black church arsons

WASHINGTON (RNS) For playwright Marcus Gardley, the theater is his pulpit and plays are his sermons. His latest production, “every tongue confess,” seeks answers to the questions that swirled around the spate of arsons that hit black churches in the South in the 1990s. “How deep does your forgiveness go?” Gardley asks in an interview. “Do you have the capacity to forgive someone even if they burn down the church?”

In Rosa Parks’ estate, evidence of a lifelong quiet faith

NEW YORK-Civil rights icon Rosa Parks used to jot notes in her church bulletins, noting sermon titles and song selections. She kept a postcard sent by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. when he visited Rome two years after she refused to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Ala. And among the clothes she left behind when she died in 2005 was a simple white stewardess dress and black stewardess hat that she wore when she prepared Communion at her African Methodist Episcopal church in Detroit. Parks, a private woman best known for her one act of public defiance 50 years before her death, spent her life holding onto treasures and tidbits of her own history, both religious and cultural. There are her 1996 Presidential Medal of Freedom and the 1999 Congressional Gold Medal, keys to numerous cities, and hundreds of tributes from schoolchildren.

NEWS FEATURE: Adventist `Whitecoats,’ Volunteers for Military Experiments, Hold Reunion

c. 2003 Religion News Service

FREDERICK, Md. _ Ivan Belko still remembers how he willingly inhaled Q fever, a biological agent that was the focus of a military experiment he volunteered for in the 1950s. “I was one of the ones that got pretty sick,” recalled the 69-year-old who participated in “Operation Whitecoat,” a special arrangement between the U.S. Army and conscientious objectors from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, whose members believe they should not be involved in combat. “I had a very bad headache, probably about as worse as I’ve ever had in my life.”

Belko, a retired medical technologist, traveled from Modesto, Calif., to join about 150 other Whitecoat veterans at the “For God and Country” reunion weekend that marked the 30th anniversary of the end of the operation.

NEWS FEATURE: Promise Keepers goes international

c. 1997 Religion News Service

UNDATED _ Kristian Renling, a Swedish missionary, is an international convert to Promise Keepers. It all began during one of his occasional trips to the United States, when he was struck by the men’s ministry of a Nebraska church that supports his evangelistic efforts. Once a month, the men from Christ is King Community Church in Norfolk, Neb., gather with men from 19 other congregations to hear a speaker, share a meal and worship together.”It was incredible to see men open up and share some of their needs and be vulnerable and in tears and others encouraging them,”said Renling. The men in that ministry also were involved in Promise Keepers, a burgeoning evangelical men’s organization that until now has mostly been limited to the United States.