AP

Vatican ends takeover of American nun group

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican on Thursday unexpectedly ended its controversial takeover of the main umbrella group of U.S. nuns, cementing a major shift in tone and treatment of U.S. sisters under the social justice-minded Pope Francis.

The Rev. Christy Thomas: Jehovah’s Witnesses make visitors welcome

Just walking to the door identified us as visitors with outsider status. I wore tailored dress slacks, boots and blazer and my companion was similarly clothed with a dress shirt, jacket and slacks.

Rev. Christy Thomas: Good Friday worship in Holy Land unforgettable

JERUSALEM — We stood in a tight crowd, unable to move, barely able to breathe, waiting our turn. Security guards with high-powered automatic weapons had been charged with crowd control outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Good Friday. Only a few could go in at a time.

Tenn. bill would make Bible official state book

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Despite concerns that giving the holy Bible the same status as a salamander is a little tawdry and could be unconstitutional, Tennessee lawmakers are forging ahead with plans to make it the official state book — something at least two other states have failed to do.

Religion Calendar

To tell us about your event or meeting, visit DentonRC.com and click on “Let Us Know” for our online forms; email to drc@dentonrc.com; fax to 940-566-6888; or mail to Religion Calendar, Denton Record-Chronicle, 314 E. Hickory St., Denton, TX 76201.

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Pope washes feet of 12 inmates

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 inmates and a baby at Rome’s main prison Thursday in a pre-Easter ritual meant to show his willingness to serve.

Briefly in religion

The Rev. Christy Thomas: Group begins to bond during Holy Land tour

JERUSALEM — It was the acacia tree that got to me. I am with a group of pilgrims, still mostly strangers to one another, who had started at the top of the Mount of Olives and were slowly making our way down the unexpectedly steep slope toward the Kidron Valley.

The Rev. Christy Thomas: Cathedral of Hope a welcoming place for all

I found the location unimpressive. The buildings sit far back from the street in a beat-up area of Dallas not far from Parkland Memorial Hospital.

AP file photo

Board expresses concern over bishop’s appointment

VATICAN CITY — Several members of Pope Francis’ sex abuse advisory board are expressing concern and incredulity over his decision to appoint a Chilean bishop to a diocese despite allegations from victims that he covered up for Chile’s most notorious pedophile.

Religion Calendar

To tell us about your event or meeting, visit DentonRC.com/calendar; email to drc@dentonrc.com; fax to 940-566-6888; or mail to Religion Calendar, Denton Record-Chronicle, 314 E. Hickory St., Denton, TX 76201.

Rev. Christy Thomas: Singing Oaks Church of Christ offers warmth

After the service, I asked the young men who accompanied me to worship last week: “What did the music leader use so that people would know the beat of the music?” In unison all three replied, “He snapped his fingers!”

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Relocating leadership

A longtime resident of West Dallas, the Rev. Cedric Chambers is fairly new as pastor of Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Denton, but he has jumped into community service with both feet.

The Rev. Christy Thomas: Local Mormon church committed to faith

It may have been the first Sunday of daylight saving time, but that didn’t keep people from filling the worship space at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Teasley Drive in Denton.

AP file photo

Pope finds popularity, dissent at 2-year mark

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis marks his second anniversary today riding a wave of popularity that has reinvigorated the Catholic Church in ways not seen since the days of St. John Paul II. He’s also entering a challenging third year, facing dissent from within on everything from financial reform to family issues.

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The Rev. Christy Thomas: Temporary groundings can be huge blessings

Nature trumps all human plans. How quickly and unexpectedly it can ground us.

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The Rev. Christy Thomas: Examine religious stories for potential to harm

“Tell me a story.” Or, “Let me tell you a story.” Possibly two of the most common phrases in our language.

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AP

Arkansas committee rejects ‘conscience-protection’ bill

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A proposal to prevent state and local governments from infringing on a person’s religious beliefs failed before an Arkansas legislative panel this week after facing mounting criticism that it was an attempt to justify discriminating against gays and lesbians.

The Rev. Christy Thomas: Familiar words remind of importance of love and sacrifice

“Remember you are but dust and to dust you shall return.” With these words, the Rev. Canon H.W. Herrmann, rector of St. David of Wales Episcopal Church in Denton, marked the foreheads of approximately 30 early-morning worshipers on Ash Wednesday.

Briefly in religion

DRC

The Bridge Church finds new home

Duane White felt like 2015 was going to be the year for The Bridge Church.

DRC

Message of peace

The call to prayer flows like poetry, resonating a deep but urgent tone in an ancient language not often heard on this side of the Atlantic. Spoken from the minaret (the focal point) by a muezzin, the words sound haunting but familiar when translated: “God is the greatest.” “I bear witness that there is no god but God.” “God is the greatest.” “There is no god but God.”

The Rev. Christy Thomas: Local Village Church full of love for Jesus

The Village Church Denton Campus website warns people to arrive at least 30 minutes early for services that fill quickly — and the church will turn people away if necessary.

AP file photo

Court nixes faith-based birth control challenge

PITTSBURGH — A federal appeals court has reversed lower-court victories by two western Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses and a private Christian college that challenged birth control coverage mandates as part of federal health care reforms.

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The Rev. Christy Thomas: St. Paul Lutheran presents concepts clearly

We don’t want to talk about sin. We don’t want to say that someone or something else has authority over what we think and believe.

Pope to address Congress this fall

WASHINGTON — In a landmark event that could have many holding their breath, Pope Francis has agreed to address a joint meeting of Congress this fall.

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Bishop starts new parish

Bishop Michael Olson of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth established a new parish for southeastern Denton County on Monday.

The Rev. Christy Thomas: Churches should make schedule changes clear

OK churches, here’s the rule: If you are going to change normal worship times for any reason, make it clear on your website that you are doing so.

Vermont’s new blogging Catholic bishop installed

BURLINGTON, Vt. — The Rev. Christopher Coyne, the Catholic Church’s first blogging priest to be elevated to a bishop, was formally installed as Vermont’s new Roman Catholic bishop during a Mass on Thursday attended by nearly 1,000 people including representatives of the diocese’s 73 parishes.

Religion Calendar

To tell us about your event or meeting, visit DentonRC.com and click on “Let Us Know” for our online forms; email to drc@dentonrc.com; fax to 940-566-6888; or mail to Religion Calendar, Denton Record-Chronicle, 314 E. Hickory St., Denton, TX 76201.

The Rev. Christy Thomas: Church’s power of worship clear

COSTA RICA — Heat-induced indolence had taken residence in body and soul after a week in the remote beach town of Samara on the Pacific edge of Costa Rica.

Religion Calendar

The Rev. Christy Thomas: Kidney illness highlights transplant issues

Mysterious practices, multiple entrances, confusing requirements, authority figures dressed differently with clothing often suggesting power and authority: Hospitals and churches have these in common.

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The Rev. Christy Thomas: Coping with post-Christmas downfall

I rewrote a section of this familiar holiday poem. See if it resonates with you.

Rev. Christy Thomas: United Methodist service joyful experience

Full disclosure: I am affiliated with the church described in this column and I know and am known by many. Several greeted me saying, “It’s our turn to be written about!”

Rev. Christy Thomas: Local worship service a bit overwhelming

A 70-minute service, including Christmas music and a high-speed 40-minute sermon, left me a bit overwhelmed when I emerged from early worship at First Baptist Church Denton and stepped out onto its well-manicured campus on Malone Street.

DRC

St. Mark dedicates new southern site

A statue of the Savior wearing a crown of thorns looks down upon the draped altar being blessed Sunday morning by Bishop Michael Olson, whose white robes seem otherworldly as he slowly performs the dedication ritual.

The Rev. Christy Thomas: Church offers welcome, worship, comfort

LEWISVILLE — “Advent is not Christmas. We want the celebration of the day without the hard work of preparation.” With these words, the Rev. Kathryn Thompson began her first Sunday in Advent message at the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation in Lewisville.