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The last eighteen months or so have been difficult for pastors. Already stretched with the day-to-day concerns of running a congregation at a time when organized religion is on the decline, they’ve increasingly found that the divides facing the nation have made their way inside the walls of the church.

John Gehring writes that politicizing a sacrament is pastoral malpractice, whether directed against Republicans or Democrats. The pope has said that Communion is “not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”

Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt talks with Word&Way about his book 'The Love that is God.' He discusses his reasons for writing, the book’s main message, and why “love” is not a sentimental idea but central to what Christians believe about God.

Word&Way this month won 19 awards for work in 2020. These awards from our peers in religious journalism affirm our quality work as we provide real news with the Good News. Here are our winning entries this year.

Church

The last eighteen months or so have been difficult for pastors. Already stretched with the day-to-day concerns of running a congregation at a time when organized religion is on the decline, they’ve increasingly found that the divides facing the nation have made their way inside the walls of the church.

Traumatic events are, at their heart, crises of meaning that cause people to question assumptions about their lives, including their spiritual beliefs. The years 2020 and 2021 certainly fit that bill.

During the pandemic, coffee fellowship time at churches disappeared. That time of socializing is one of the things that churchgoers have missed most about meeting in person.

Nation

Black religious leaders on Thursday rallied at the Missouri Capitol and met with political leaders to denounce pending bills that they say are racially biased. They are trying to convince lawmakers to drop legislation that he called “dangerous, discriminatory, and anti democratic.”

Faith-based refugee resettlement groups are celebrating President Joe Biden’s decision to raise the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. for the remainder of the federal fiscal year to 62,500, even as they acknowledge that they need to rebuild their capacity after years of cuts.

When U.S. Catholic bishops hold their next national meeting in June, they’ll be deciding whether to send a tougher-than-ever message to President Joe Biden and other Catholic politicians: Don’t receive Communion if you persist in public advocacy of abortion rights.

World

Pope Francis on Thursday denounced “aggressive” nationalism that rejects migrants, and said Catholics should follow the Gospel-mandated call for an inclusive, welcoming church that doesn’t distinguish between “natives and foreigners, residents, and guests.”

Bitter negotiations over Northern Ireland’s status after Brexit have reignited old tensions between Irish Catholic nationalists and pro-British Protestant unionists. Dissident paramilitary groups have also allegedly renewed a bombing campaign against Northern Irish police forces.

Famines in biblical times were interpreted as more than mere natural occurrences. The authors of the Hebrew Bible used famine as a mechanism of divine wrath and destruction – but also as a storytelling device, a way to move the narrative forward.

Books

Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt talks with Word&Way about his book 'The Love that is God.' He discusses his reasons for writing, the book’s main message, and why “love” is not a sentimental idea but central to what Christians believe about God.

Beth Allison Barr, author of The Making of Biblical Womanhood, talks about where the idea of biblical womanhood comes from, what she believes the Bible actually has to say about the role of women, and what it will take for things to change.

Women’s History Month may have ended weeks ago, but women’s impact on religion and spirituality goes on year-round. Here are 10 new nonfiction books, both forthcoming and released in the last year, that explore women's roles and influence in Christian traditions — plus, one bonus work of fiction.

Scriptures in Pictures

2 Kings 1, as seen in photos of clashes in Jerusalem in April 2021 between Palestinians upset about coronavirus restrictions impacting Ramadan and Jewish extremists holding an anti-Arab march.

Nehemiah 2:11-18, as seen in photos of French President Emmanuel Macron visiting the damage and reconstruction efforts at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris two years after a devastating fire.

Jeremiah 38, as seen in photos of Georgia State Rep. Park Cannon being placed in handcuffs by Georgia State Troopers after being asked to stop knocking on a door that leads to Gov. Brian Kemp’s office while Kemp was signing a voter suppression bill in the Georgia State Capitol Building

Editorials

Today is the National Day of Prayer. What could be offensive about the government setting aside a day for prayer? Yet, as is so often in life, things are not always what they seem. What looks like an innocent moment

Editor-in-Chief Brian Kaylor responds to a claim by Al Mohler of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary that Methodists who disagree on LGBTQ issues are from “two different religions.” Perhaps Mohler is right.

Editor-in-Chief Brian Kaylor reflects on preachers spreading anti-vaccination messages amid a continuing COVID pandemic. Kaylor also highlights the medical and biblical wisdom of Francis Collins of the National Institutes of Health.

W&W Voices

Columnist Terrell Carter writes we can all have joy because God’s message of redemption and restoration was entrusted to people who did not fit the typical description of joyful people.

Columnist Ken Satterfield considers the potential of email signatures, the P.S. of electronic mail as the last impression your message will leave. This can provide ways to use the emails you send to encourage, amuse, uplift, and inspire your recipients.

Columnist Greg Mamula reflects on the crowd waving at Jesus during Holy Week and asks what kind of king did they think they were waving at. And he wonders how we might answer that same question today.

Other Opinions

John Gehring writes that politicizing a sacrament is pastoral malpractice, whether directed against Republicans or Democrats. The pope has said that Communion is “not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”

Marybeth Davis Baggett, a former English professor at Liberty University and two-time alumna of the school, urges the school’s leadership to own the roles they played in propagating and perpetuating the sin they now condemn with impunity and suffocating sanctimony.

The guilty verdict of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd might be an exodus for America. Tuesday may be the day that the ancient account of God’s deliverance becomes as important to America as

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