LANSING – The plan is to distribute about a thousand boxes of food between 11 am and 5 pm Saturday at the First United Methodist Church.
But by 10:30 a.m., a line of cars had already circled the block, so organizer Cam Sanchez, a 17-year-old senior at TF Southern Middle School, and fellow volunteers got to work.
At around 2 p.m., all 1,092 boxes and about 30,000 pounds of food had been lost.
“It was a steady flow,” said First Methodist Pastor David Price. “They keep coming and coming.”
Soon after, Sanchez was already thinking about his next project.
“There is a need,” he said. “There is a need to leave. I have to get stronger. Next time, (to) provide 2,000 boxes, 3,000 and 4,000.”
Feeding started last month with 300 boxes. “This time it was much smoother,” said Sanchez, noting that in September, food had been delivered to his home and he had to take it to church.
This time, the food arrived at the church in the spring. It was dismantled and, as before, distributed in a pandemic-era fashion, with recipients never leaving their cars and volunteers.
Rich Dust, a retired teacher and trainer at TF South and a current member of the District 215 school board, is a helping church member.
“It’s great to have stories like this for good kids to see,” he said. “We need a lot of stories like that. I think it’s good for people to go out and keep their distance, wear masks, do something good for the community.”
The request doesn’t stop when the food runs out.
“I have a lot of people texting me right now, ‘Hey, did you move locations?'” Sanchez said a few hours later.
There will be another chance for whoever is left behind, he promised.
“I feel like this is really God’s work,” said Sanchez. “He made it happen, He allowed me to be His platform to do something for society.”
He plans to engage more churches for the next food drive, which will dispense with turkey and other Thanksgiving dinner staples such as cornbread and gravy.
Finally, he wants to launch a nonprofit called “We Are Lansing” to continue outreach to his community.
“This is something I’ve been trying to get started with for a while,” said Sanchez.
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Brazil is home to the world’s largest Catholic population, but the rise of Pentecostalism is pulling young Brazilians away from the traditional pews, and toward large, charismatic, “club-like” churches.
And according to Cristina Rocha, a Brazilian-born cultural anthropologist at Western Sydney University, Australia is playing an important role in this trend.
Over the past two decades, Professor Rocha has researched the intersection of migration and religion, investigating why so many Brazilians travel to Australia.
“More and more international students coming from Brazil say, ‘I came here because of Hillsong,'” he said.
But Hillsong Church, founded by husband and wife pastors Brian and Bobbie Houston in Sydney in 1983, isn’t the only drawcard.
Professor Rocha found that C3, Australia’s second largest Pentecostal church, was also gathering a large Brazilian group.
“[Both churches] focus on youth culture, “he explained.
“[Followers] can be themselves, they can have tattoos and piercings, they can dance and listen to secular music. They can drink in moderation. “
Australian religious exports
This attitude, said Professor Rocha, runs counter to the traditional Pentecostal church in Brazil.
“What Hillsong and C3 are saying is, ‘Once you are here, the Holy Spirit will change your life. Not us – we are just human like you.'”
Professor Rocha said many Brazilians – both students and pastors – who study at church colleges or attend their conferences, are spreading this style of worship.
“There is a circulation of Brazilians who come here and then come back [to Brazil],” he says.
“They bring about this practice – the Hillsong way of doing church with lights in a dark room, and the clubbing experience – and a very informal way to link the Bible to everyday events.”
C3 now has two branches in Brazil, while Hillsong has one in São Paulo, and Professor Rocha said some pastors received their training in Australia.
Follow in the footsteps of Catholicism
Decades before C3 and Hillsong established their outposts in Brazil, Australians from other denominations were spreading the Word in South America.
One of these Australians is Father Paul Mahony, a Marist pastor who arrived in the capital city of Brasilia in 1985 and spent 18 years working in congregations across the country.
“We went to live and work with the poorest people we could find,” he recalls.
Although Brazil is – and still is – a predominantly Catholic country, Father Mahony said the priesthood requires a high school diploma, so many locals are not eligible to lead their own parishes.
He recalls being exposed to a shocking level of violence. During his time in Brazil, the homicide rate was among highest in the world.
“[In São Paulo] we have the largest cemetery in South America near our parish, “he said.
“As long as I’m there, there won’t be any child who finishes elementary school who doesn’t personally know someone who’s been murdered.”
When the spiritual becomes political
For Brazilian-born Gabriela Cabral da Rocha Weiss, who is now studying social work in Australia, this prevalence of violence explains why so many Brazilians seek higher power.
“Sometimes the only hope people have is religion, because there is poverty, violence and inequality,” he said.
Miss Cabral da Rocha Weiss, however, is not Catholic or Pentecostal. He grew up in a minority religion known as Spiritism.
It was founded in the 19th century by a French educator, who wrote under the pen name Allan Kardec, and gained a following in Brazil. According to the country’s 2010 Census, there is 3.8 million members.
“Spiritists believe in God and Jesus Christ,” he said.
“They believe that we incarnate many times to develop our morals[ity] and our intelligence, and whatever you did in your past incarnations will influence your future. ”
Although Ms Cabral da Rocha Weiss is no longer practicing today, she appreciates the moral framework and comfort that religion offers to many in Brazil.
But he said the faith had become increasingly politicized, especially by the country’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, who identifies as a Catholic but has strong support from Evangelical and Pentecostal voters.
“I believe that religion mixed with politics – in a country where there is no good education, everything is very expensive, the salaries are very low – can be a very dangerous mix, and can be exploited, as Bolsonaro did.”
Faith that continues to grow
While President Bolsonaro is popular with many religious voters, Professor Rocha said his leadership is divisive to Christians, often within denominations.
“There is a rift in all of these major religions between the conservative right wing of these religions versus the progressives,” he said.
“We have seen Opus Dei Catholics that are more conservative [working] with Pentecostals being very conservative, just as we have seen progressive Pentecostals working together with progressive Catholics and Spirits. ”
Professor Rocha admits that although the religious demographics of Brazil have changed under Bolsonaro’s leadership, the transformation of faith is endemic in the country.
When the Portuguese colonizers arrived in Brazil in 1500, they brought Catholicism with them. At the same time, through the slave trade, religious practices from Africa also entered Brazil.
According to Professor Rocha, this religious tradition is integrated into the preexisting spiritual practice of the Indigenous Brazilians.
“Catholicism in Brazil is divided, even today, between Roman Catholicism – the hierarchical church – and popular Catholicism, with a cult of saints, a myriad of miracles, healings and pilgrimages,” he said.
“This popular Catholic religion is mixed with Indigenous religions, Shamanism, animism and African ancestor worship practices, spirit infusion, divination.
Famous buildings in Italy are open for guided tours over two October weekends.
Italy opens its doors to some of the country’s greatest treasures with the October edition of the Giornate FAI d’autunno bumper.
The popular annual event, which usually takes place in spring, is rescheduled for fall and will be held over two weekends: October 17-18 and 24-25.
Around 1,000 palaces, libraries, castles, archaeological sites, churches, monasteries and monasteries across Italy will be open to the public free of charge thanks to the efforts of Fondo Ambiente Italiano.
FAI volunteers will undertake guided tours of the sites, many of which are normally inaccessible to the public, with Covid-19 prevention measures.
Some of the highlights of this year include the 17th century complex S. Nicola di Tolentino in Naples with gardens covering 5,000 square meters; the baroque gem of Palazzo Davìa Bargellini in Bologna; Castello del Valentino in Turin; The Monastery of S. Pietro della Canonica, the oldest in Amalfi; or the thermal power plant of the S. Maria Novella station in Florence.
Other highlights include the Art Nouveau Kursaal Santalucia in Bari; the S. Siro Hippodrome in Milan; S. Pietro from Rome di Montorio together BramanteTempietto; or the Castello di Masino di Piedmont with its 17th-century frescoes recently discovered by FAI.
Similar to the British National Trust, the FAI works to preserve and promote Italy’s cultural heritage through education, restoration and an annual open day.
After several hugely successful years, FAI has been hit badly by the knock-on effects covid-19 a pandemic that, apart from causing the cancellation of the Spring, has halted most of the organization’s restoration projects.
This year’s event is dedicated to the founder of FAI, Giulia Maria Crespi who passed away in July. For full program details, see FAI website.
Cover image: Castello del Valentino. Photo credit: 365_visuals / Shutterstock.com.
BERLIN (Reuters) – Victims of sexual abuse in the German Catholic Church can apply for compensation payments of up to 50,000 euros starting next year, the chairman of the German Catholic bishops’ conference (DBK) said Thursday.
According to a 2018 study on abuse in the Catholic Church, at least 3,677 minors were victims of sexual violence by at least 1,670 clerical members in Germany between 1946 and 2014. However, experts say the number of cases that go unreported could be as high as 100,000 .
One-time payments, which will be allowed from January 1, will be determined individually for each applicant by an independent committee. In addition, the victims can get reimbursement of therapy costs, said DBK Chairman Georg Baetzing.
However, the payment did not match the victim’s demands
The Eckiger Tisch victim group has in the past asked for several hundred thousand euros in payments, arguing that many of those affected are unable to work. They also criticized the procedures that victims had to go through to receive money.
However, the decision at least provides clarity for victims because the inconsistency of payments between dioceses has raised a lot of criticism.
“This order will ensure a uniform framework across all 27 (arch-) dioceses,” Baetzing said in a statement.
A previous head of the Catholic Church in Germany in 2018 apologized for the failure and pain suffered by thousands of children who were sexually abused by clergy. Abuse scandals have rocked the Catholic Church in many countries, from Ireland to Argentina and the United States.
Thursday’s decision is one of the main items on the agenda for the fall meeting of the DBK bishops’ conference in Fulda.
Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Edited by Alexandra Hudson