A young boy’s inspiration

Since Atlanta’s early days, religion and spirituality have been key factor in the lives of many Atlantans. In some cases, the influence of religion spilled over into other aspects of the city’s development. One clear example of this is the case of Friendship Baptist Church and its founding minister, Reverend Frank Quarles. Today, Friendship holds […]

Catholics, environment

Faith community stepping up on climate change

By Guest Columnist SUSAN VARLAMOFF, coauthor of the ‘Laudato Si Action Plan’ and author of ‘Sustainable Gardening for the Southeast’

Nature abhors a vacuum. With the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate accord, there is a void in global leadership on climate change that others are willing and able to fill it. Countries like China, Germany and France are stepping up. In the U.S., states, cities, universities, corporations, and even churches are voluntarily reducing greenhouse emissions in the spirit of the Paris climate accord.

Between faith and facts, ‘Zealot’ author Reza Aslan zeroes in

What do you most ardently believe in, and what discoveries might change your mind? Reza Aslan’s strong clear voice at the intersection of belief and facts came to metro Atlanta last week, drawing more than 470 people to the First Baptist Church in Decatur.

The author of the bestseller “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” Aslan drew my attention after his July 2013 viral Fox News interview. You may have seen how the interviewer repeatedly questioned why Aslan, a Muslim who serves as a scholar of religions and professor of creative writing at the University of California Riverside, would write a book about Jesus.


At 78, my healthy mom’s guide to dying well

My parents both turned 78 last week, and they remain so fit that I am unsure, at 51, if I can keep up. I know that they won’t always be alive, but picturing them gone is hard to wrap my mind around. It’s too painful. So I rarely dwell on that reality.

One surprising Sunday afternoon late last month cleared the hard-packed sand around my ostrich head, and helped me start accepting the fact of their eventual deaths. Especially if you’re in the sandwich generation and put off dealing with this reality….

Faith moves mom to reject then defend lesbian daughter’s way of life

At 77, Yvonne Howell of Snellville transformed her belief that her youngest child, Dana Worsham, faced possible damnation for being a lesbian. On Friday she lifted a sign proclaiming, “God loves my gay daughter!” Her journey is one that her daughter and others hope that the Methodist church will follow. They reject the anti-homosexual stance of the denomination and those who lobby to keep it.

That’s why mother and daughter were among 30 protesters last week at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. Through their major disagreements, what mother and daughter always have had in common is passion for what they believe is right. “My mom’s not a pistol,” Worsham says. “She’s a nuclear bomb.”

DeKalb church helped anchor Antoinette Tuff through the pain

Nine miles due east of the school where she became a worldwide hero for talking down a gunman who had fired at police, Antoinette Tuff  showed up Sunday at the church where she has said her pastor’s voice urged her to be “anchored.” It felt strangely reassuring to be in her presence. I was there because I wanted to find out more about how she pulled off such courage in the face of impending evil.

I live six miles north of Tuff’s school, and was horrified momentarily last week at the possibility that another Newtown shooting might be unfolding. Pretty much all the news out of our schools and government in DeKalb County, Georgia, has been terrible lately.

I could see from Sunday’s service how this community teaches members to expect the unexpected. I could see how Antoinette Tuff might get used to behavior that would unsettle the rest of us. It was also clear that this is a community that values deep preparation to counter life’s surprises.


Mormons, African-Americans reconcile to seek family roots

Sarah Jackson of Duluth was among hundreds of African-Americans who attended Atlanta’s Family History Conference, which emphasized African-American research, held May 18 at the Atlanta History Center. The event represented an ongoing reconciliation between African-Americans and the Church of Latter Day Saints through a common ground valued by both: family research.

Throughout much of the church’s history, Mormons considered African-Americans inferior to whites. In the mid-19th century Mormon leader Brigham Young said black people were marked by the “Curse of Cain.” It wasn’t until 1978—the year after Jackson’s visit—that the church reversed bans on African-Americans taking part in temple ceremonies and black men entering the Mormon priesthood.


Rev. Dan Matthews was on phone as his father described 9/11 tragedy outside his window

By Chris Schroder

On September 11, 2001, Dan Matthews was reading in his office when the phone rang, disturbing his quiet time. When the current rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in downtown Atlanta picked up the phone, he heard the shaken and uncertain voice of his characteristically calm and collected father.

“Danny, I’m not sure what just happened,” his father said.

Dan’s father was rector of Trinity Church in New York’s Wall Street district. His office was on the 24th floor of a building behind the church, a mere stone’s throw from the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.


Josh Starks’ Moment helped him find ‘you have to be present to be blessed’

The economic downturn has been tough on millions of Americans and 24-year-old Atlantan Josh Starks was just one of the recession’s many casualties. By the afternoon of October 13, 2010, Josh said he had “pretty much lost everything that I worked hard for in life. You name it I lost it, or had to get rid of it to pay a bill or because I couldn’t find any work.”

When he woke up that Wednesday morning, Josh didn’t plan on that being his last day on the planet and he certainly didn’t plan to be on that night’s TV news, attracting headlines around the world.
To view Josh Starks’ Moments HD video, click here.