The death of Billy Graham has evoked, once again, amazement at the evangelist’s unparalleled spiritual impact on American faith and culture. But it’s also stirred speculation about how long, and in what ways, Graham’s influence may endure.
For one Baptist minister in South Florida, the response to the most recent school gun massacre is visceral. Joe LaGuardia, pastor at First Baptist Church in Vero Beach, graduated in 1996 from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where one of his best friends was fellow student Aaron Feis — the assistant football coach and security guard who died protecting students from gunfire. What’s more, his father was killed in a mass shooting in Pennsylvania in 2013.
Wednesday’s Florida school massacre evoked a immense, and emotional, outpouring on social media. Some posted on Ash Wednesday, others the following day. The following is a sampling of response from ministers.
Two self-described survivors of the True Love Waits phenomenon have produced a series of podcasts exploring faith, sex and life in the wake of the evangelical “purity” movement.
Jonathan Brooks was introduced to faith growing up in a Missionary Baptist church on Chicago’s Southside. But he met Jesus through Christian hip hop. “For me, it’s always been the fact that [hip-hop] was a voice for the marginalized and for the oppressed,” Brooks says. And the same, he adds, is true about God.
Leave it to a pastor to find encouragement for churches in a Super Bowl victory speech. That’s exactly what American Baptist Alan Rudnick does in his Feb. 6 blog post, “Churches, listen to Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles.”
Like any pastor, LaTonya McIver Penny is busy. But this minister’s calendar goes above and beyond busy. In addition to leading New Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Roxboro, N.C., and all that entails, Penny is a mother of two and runs a non-profit advocating for the respectful and compassionate treatment of children with disabilities in churches. And like other women pastors, Penny confronted her share of opposition from those who say females should not be pastors.
The directors of television newscasts lead intense, even frantic professional lives. They work long, caffeinated hours weaving together the up-to-the-minute contributions of producers, photographers and anchors into — they hope — coherent broadcasts. It’s much the same as shepherding a congregation, says Erica Van Brakle, a veteran of TV news production-turned-American Baptist pastor.
The outrage over the comment made to senators in a meeting on immigration, and which the president eventually denied, has faded as Trump deals with newer scandals, including revelations of a tryst with a porn star. But there are those who continue to simmer about the “shithole” reference, including American Christians who have served as long- and short-term missionaries in some of the African and other nations Trump disparaged.