As part of MPR's month-long series of programs and reports on "Religion in Everyday Life,” this program presents various reports, interviews and commentaries compiled from the series, and looks at the contemporary impact and influence of religion in America.
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6 minutes past 11 programming a Minnesota Public Radio is supported by the Minnesota Nurses Association celebrating nursing for 94 years nursing where your life's work is life itself. Good morning, and welcome to mid-day on Minnesota Public Radio. I'm Gary I can glad you could join us. It may seem odd that God and Faith are popular media subjects again after all it's only been thirty years since Time Magazine asked the question Is God dead the answer to that question in 1998. How old would seem to be a resounding no church attendance maybe off a bit but many Americans do seem to be searching for spiritual meaning many people report their finding spirituality and a variety of places not always through traditional organized religion that we're going to focus on this renewed interest in religion over the noon hour will be hearing from Theologian Martin Marty who says it's time religion play a more active role in public life that's coming up over the noon hour today here on midday first. This hour will be sampling are month-long series of Stories on religion and everyday life during this hour will hear stories about what's prompting the search for answers how Western and East Religion seem to be feeling a need for many people this Quest For Life with meaning and value is affecting the choices people make for their children Catholic schools are enjoying a Renaissance in Minneapolis. And st. Paul and in the suburbs religious statements are not merely the province of church anymore. Some of the latest teen fashion statements carry religious overturn overtones to begin though. Mary stocking reports that today is search for spiritual meaning seems to reflect the very nature of American life in the 1990s may seem at odds with religious belief born a Catholic or Protestant. There are fewer pressures to stay within the fold constantly moving surrounded by a culture telling us to consume to be happy and by advances in technology. Do we really need religion Rabbi Barry Citron to the gym answers the questions that really count. Why am I here? What do I do with my life? How do I handle my emotions? How do I deal with my sexuality my intimacy my guilt my suffering historically the religious tradition help give answers to those questions 90% of Americans say they believe in God and tell pollsters. They desire Richard spiritual lot after taking a dive in the sixties and seventies. The number of people who say they pray believe in miracles and never doubt. The existence of God is up substantially in the last 10 years for me. It goes back to Facebook. I'll say that I have a childlike faith if the Bible says it's so I believe God I unlike spirituality to just happen to me. There is something inspiring and awesome all around us all the time. Sometimes I struggle to to get a sense of it, but the struggles worth it regardless of their individual religious views Americans are yearning for meaning that the view of Don Briel chair of the theology department at the University of st. Thomas move from one world of meaning say at work to another world of Manning at home and and people feel that dissociation. They feel that their lives are whole hand before looking for some framework to tie it together and make sense of these various elements and they're looking in some places that are not usually considered sacred. 2670 the cash registers at the hungry mind bookstore in St. Paul are busy ringing up sales and some of the hottest selling books are spiritual and religious titles Tom beland get the buyer at the hungry mind at where the stash shows books on spiritual topics and almost every section of the bookstore. I know that one of publisher comes and presents their their list and a spirituality titles. We pretty much or all of them. I'm just looking here. Let's look at this The Road Less Traveled and Beyond spiritual growth in an Age of Anxiety and Scott Peck soulmates honoring the mysteries of love and relationship Chicken Soup for the Soul. And this is supposed to be a psychology section. We're not even back in religion, which also has spirituality titles and we also have a new age section that has spirituality titles to so but there's even books on personal finance and spirituality. The local bookstore has become a kind of 1990s Church read a book go on a spiritual Quest and there's no need for religious institutions traditional Mainline church have lost a quarter of their members in the last 25 years in part due to the defection of baby boomers a generation dissatisfied with organized religion has lots of problems because it's it's human I struggle with it a lot. I don't like the whole institutionalized religious thing. They had there's a Pious and this to them. It just makes my hairs on my back. Stand straight up still according to a recent study more than a quarter of all baby boomers who drop out of organized religion ultimately return to give their children a religious education. It's Palm Sunday at House of Hope a main line Presbyterian Church on St. Paul Summit Avenue House of Hope's Renown Children's Choir The Lights of congregation overflowing with proud parents. Oh, I feel it's important that I convey to my kids this idea that there is something Beyond explanation. You don't need to know the why of everything you just better for you if you just believe it, we definitely try and expose the kids to as much of the Bible is possible and expose them to how we apply the Bible to our lives for some this return to church because of the kids may be temporary according to Wade Clark roof a professor of religion of University of California, Santa Barbara Ruth says once the kids are grown and many parents drop out again answers are doubtful questionable atmosphere would suggest people are interested in such issues, but not necessarily possessing strong commitments about The account for the rising appeal of religious Traditions outside the American mainstream noted religion scholar Houston Smith says where once we said Christian missionaries to Asia to make hundreds the US has now become a sort of mission field for Eastern religions like Buddhism. Open in St. Paul's Warehouse District The Loft space has been converted to a center. Where is Zen Buddhist gather on a Saturday morning to meditate about 20 people sit on mats on the floor table at the front holds a candle flower and a small representation of the Buddha. The clouds in the water. Zen Center has about eighty members 25 years ago. There was just one such thing as it is. Now there are several doesn't there is something else would offer because of the people are very interested in huge shopping complexes in huge mountain cards in and put his mother some what popular Now is really going quite against that Trend in in terms of encouraging the Simplicity in the window wonderful quality of the present moment when that thinking kind of grasping wandering mind quiets down for a moment. Religion scholar Karen Armstrong says spirituality is the search for the meaning of life in the knowledge that we die. And when that spiritual search is institutionalized its religion the overwhelming conclusion is that Americans are searching weather in a bookstore a mosque or a cathedral on a hill by the rules of the religion and I'm Catholic the rules aren't nearly as important to me as the substance of the the message. I get the peace of God when I come up against things that are horrible and if I release myself to him, then I do miraculously handle things a lot differently. I hate to just close all the doors and say I don't be late because I don't want to be on my deathbed and just be crying and wishing that I hadn't been so narrow-minded. Once there were fewer options in matters of Faith, but with religious freedom comes diversity each person Desiring the his religion provide answers to Life's deepest questions. Minnesota Public Radio I marry Stucky when you ask people what faith or religion mean to them the answer represents the spectrum of belief at a time when the search to belong is intense church can be a Haven for some a source of intellectual stimulation for others for Steven Parker a psychotherapist to practice is in St. Paul Faith steers him to ask difficult questions about the world and is allowed for a new level of understanding with the approach of the Millennium There's A Renewed interest in the intangibles in what cannot be touched perhaps the intensity of this interest in the u.s. Is due in part to how our vast wealth affords us the ability to fill up are anxious lonely empty stressed out lies with stuff we can touch and consider by World standards. Even we middle-class Americans are vastly wealthy despite this we feel an empty plenitude. So one place people turn is to face. Whatever that means. To me, it means the intuition that I can experience being which is greater than myself or what I think I am. Exercising faith in life has meant to me looking beyond the ways in which my cultures are my religions ideas about God or too small. I try to see the fundamentals of a spiritual life that no one religion can own the values one might expect to find do seem to do that Hospitality to the stranger radical compassion without the exercise of Judgment simplification of life and a reduction in the degree to which our lives are pushed around by desires wedded in consumption oriented advertising. They're all there regardless of whether you practice Islam Christianity, Judaism Hinduism Buddhism or many other Traditions as well in my own life. These Awakenings of Faith have come in unexpected places like sexuality or experiences with suffering and death I tend to primarily gay lesbian bisexual & transgender Christian congregation in a denomination, which is ordained glbt clergy since the early 70s. One Sunday a heterosexual member in the congregation was also a theologian said that she's often asked if she feels marginalized in some way in our church. What she says is that this is the only place she's ever found in her broad experience of Christianity or the whole of her personhood including her heterosexuality was welcomed not just tolerated but welcome. Oddly enough in my work as a psychotherapist people often talk about the greatest challenges to their face coming not from disasters from their questions about how a loving God can allow suffering but from moments when they receive an unexpected gift of love or acceptance or forgiveness. These are moments when we can feel unworthy when we often do good works out of an unconscious sense of not feeling good enough. The gift of undeserved love exposes a shame that cramps are self perception and makes us turn away from the light. I guess I'd have to say that if it is one thing to me, it's the intuition that there's something to myself and to God that is bigger than I can ever think. It gives me some courage to withstand challenges and let's my heart be broken open every so often by adversity or by love. Nelson Mandela's often-quoted inaugural address suggest that we don't so much fear the ways we might fail in life, but we really fear most is what we can become where we can go and let's face be the bridge that takes us there. Steven Parker is a psychotherapist do practices in St. Paul is a member of the spirit of the Lakes United Church of Christ in Minneapolis. Kateri Tekakwitha was a Mohawk Indian woman and Christian convert who lived in the 1600s in 1980. She was beatified or declared blessed by the Vatican making her the first Native American candidate for sainthood in Minnesota and around the country small groups meet to pray to her and study her life. She's a source of inspiration for these Catholics, but for her to be canonized it will still take a miracle. Literally Minnesota public radio's Amy radel has this report on a recent Sunday morning at Holy Family Church on the Fond du Lac reservation a small group of Catholics. Most of the Native American comes together for what they call their Kateri Circle o God who among the many marvels of your grace in the new world did it cause sleep loss on the banks of the mower and of the same or different Ender Lily & Larry Tukwila the group prays for Kateri asking that she soon be counted among the saints and to her asking for help and strengthening their Religious Faith according to the records of Jesuit missionaries Kateri Tekakwitha had smallpox when she was young it left her scarred and physically frail, but she dedicated herself to helping others at age 22. Terry was baptized a Christian a decision those around her could not understand Sister Rose message logger is what the Catholic Diocese in Duluth to really keep peace. She left her Village in joined a Christian Community. Sometimes people see that is running away from a people or running away from her culture. I don't see it as running away, but I see her as being a peacekeeper and she could Terry was only 24 when she died near Montreal in 1680. The church says upon her death her smallpox scars suddenly disappeared and Lily Sprout it on her grave so that she's often called The Lily of the Mohawks the movement to have her declared a saint began in the 1940s. The same making process is a long and bureaucratic one. With the workings of the Vatican off and cloaked in mystery Father. John Pereira is the US liaison for kateri's case. He says for her to become a saint a miracle must be credited to her influence her as well as to encourage people to pray to her. So this can happen unless that's what these days nearly all approved Miracles involve medical cures that cannot be explained. The Miracles are scrutinized by a board of doctors. Then by theologians before being approved. Each candidate must be credited with two Miracles one to be beatified. And then another to be canonized in kateri's case. The first miracle was waived because the pope was anxious to have a Native American Saint Kateri has long been a spiritual guide and role model for Native American Catholics since 1979 Catholics from around the country of come together for an annual conf. In her honor between two and four thousand people mostly Native American Gathering each year for a powwow complete with speakers seminars and healing ceremonies Sister Rose says Kateri shows. It's possible for two cultural identities to harmoniously coexist. This isn't someone from your / European background coming in their midst and handing on the face to him and saying this is what it means our she's one that can remain Indian and at the same time follow Catholicism. She didn't have to leave who she was as a mohawk since Vatican to the Roman Catholic church has emphasized the commonalities between different faiths rather than Ridgid distinctions, Audrey Smith is a member of the Kateri Circle at Fond du Lac as a young woman. She hope to become a nun then she left the church for a few years. Now. She's heavily involved in Holy Family Church raising money through Bingo and bazaars Smith praise to Kateri. Calling her a spiritual leader Smith's home in Cloquet reflects her Devotion to Catholicism and Native American spirituality. But my angels are you got my Indian pictures are in her bedroom a rope of Sweetgrass sits next to a figure of Christ underneath a crucifix and holy water. There's a bull with sage and Cedar for offerings. Smith says her six-year-old grandson, like serving mass and going to powwows Smith says she rejected the Indian way early on preferring. Holy water and Mass to smudging with sage or burning tobacco, but over the years the two ways came together, and now she combines rituals from both Traditions, depending on her mood each day. You wanting different moves the way that we communicate with higher power like the Indians the Native Americans who use you know that the back on so now it's some it's the same to me on Smith's bureau. There's a ceramic figurine of Kateri looking serious and holding a wooden cross in the early days of the Church saints were created spontaneously by the faithful rather than by the church itself among Native American Catholics who see their own lives reflected in qataris her Legacy up here is secure. I'm a near Adel, Minnesota Public Radio in Duluth. Traditional Mainline churches have lost a quarter of their members in the last 25 years in part due to the defection of baby boomers generation generally dissatisfied with organized religion, but for the first time in decades officials with the Archdiocese of st. Paul and Minneapolis a enrollment in Catholic schools is actually increasing Tim pugmire reports it in the Twin Cities a new Catholic High School and to elementary schools are planned in fast-growing Suburban communities, but enrollment is also blooming for a few inner city parochial schools in the late 1950s Baby Boomers began to fill up the school yards Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of st. Paul and Minneapolis peeked in 1959 with more than 150 schools back. Then the schools were almost entirely staffed by nuns or priests working for little pay. But while enrollment was peeking the men and women entering religious vocations began declining parishes were forced to hire lay people and pay higher wages to Went up and enrollment started to slide more than 50 schools were closed or merged in the 70s and 80s, Carver director of Catholic Education for the Archdiocese does 1992 was the first time in thirty years the Catholic School enrollment began to increase McCarver says the recent enrollment turnaround reflects more than the Region's population growth. I think they're being attracted to the values that are being taught in Catholic schools. We are religious programs and every one of our schools and people are opting to have their kids close to that. The Archdiocese now has 36,000 students in 100 Schools. That's nearly as many students as the state's third largest public school district anoka-hennepin McCarver says, most of the 11 high schools are full cretin-derham Hall in St. Paul has a freshman waiting list of 250 many elementary schools have waiting list two new schools are needed soon spell Play in the summer. Free Catholic parishes in Eagan of join forces to buy 28 acres of land along Yankee Doodle Road the future side of faithful Shepherd Elementary School the school will house more than 600 students in kindergarten through 8th grade when it opens in two years Margie job is among a group of parents in Eagan who work for more than four years to convince church leaders and parishioners to back the 10 million dollar project Giada mother of two young children says the school will mean a lot to her fan. We strongly believe in that in the Catholic values Christian values. We teach them at home. We believe in them we Want a well-rounded education for our children. We also believe in academic excellence and we want to be able for our children to be able to talk about God with on the playground or whether it's in their math class for their social studies class and we think they just go hand-in-hand and we never even thought of anything else won't come cheaply at the Eagan School tuition will cost nearly $3,000 a year and faithful Shepherd considerably more than schools were parishes subsidized the school cost but John says few parents are balking at the price. Another parent driven project is underway to build an elementary school in Woodbury and the First new Catholic High School in more than 30 years will be built in Victoria a town in the southwest suburbs. The affluent suburbs are not the only hot spots for Catholic schools a 100 year old school in a poor Minneapolis neighborhood is also growing and plans and expansion. Accommodate more students at Ascension Elementary School first graders wear matching uniforms as they sing in music class more than 200 students are in kindergarten through 8th grade and there's a waiting list for most grades. The school will add one class tweets grade over the next eight years Theresa Ross and two children to Ascension and started teaching at the school. She says neighborhood parents are drawn to the schools Christian values teach the values that children need to learn in order to be productive citizens in his cut in this world and also the how to follow in the footsteps of Christ. We want to get the keep that the morals Want them to have these things and I think people have learned that Ascension survived the seventies and eighties a time when many inner-city Catholic schools died by adapting to it's changing neighborhood. The school is largely poor African-American and non-catholic. In fact 85% of the students come from other religious faiths principal door wall that Adderley does that doesn't change the way things are taught at Ascension every student gets the same religious instruction every channel takes the Catholic faith and Every child participates in the devotions every child goes to church every child is expected to pray at certain times of the day. The religion is infused into the entire day from the announcements in the morning to the very end of the day. So you can go to bring many denominations together Under One Roof Adderley occasionally describes her school is one based on Christian values. She says the emphasis is on social justice non-violence and hard work faith is the key while public Educators struggle to find the scientific solutions to failing students Adderley realize openly on faith in God to help kids learn. She says the power of prayer can raise children self-esteem and test scores. It's a comfort for many children and it's an encouragement to know that they can go to that and ask Even for things that they would never ask their parents for that. They would never ask your teachers for and so you find children fervently praying in classrooms. And you find change taking place tuition at Ascension is heavily subsidized by the parish and cost about a third of what parents will pay in Eagan More than 70% of Ascension students. Get some financial help officials with the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis expect enrollment to keep growing new education tax credits expanded tax deductions and privately funded scholarship programs for low-income students could further boost enrollment in the central City's, car versus the Catholic Education Office is considering a plan to reopen some closed schools. He says an inventory of vacant facilities may help determine where they will teach the next generation of Catholic students. On Tim pugmire Minnesota Public Radio news headlines in recent years have declared a crisis at many churches the problem more than 50% of teenagers. Stop going to church some religious Scholars. These findings aren't who they follow a pattern in church attendance that dates to the 1940s today reporter Gretchen Layman takes a look at teen involvement in religious life. The end of Saturday night half an hour before the weekly program looking up is such a broadcast from the kcfd studios in Sauk Rapids expecting teenagers here to produce the show would be scrambling around grabbing CDs or typing up that last script but the mood in the Studio's is more like a slumber party than a radio program. Yeah, we did several teams are sprawled out on the floor talking about what they did this weekend too or making an ice cream run and all around there's plenty of music. It's a relaxed atmosphere one, which belies the serious intent of the show. Is that what we're talking about here tonight seeking first the kingdom of God and putting the things of this Earth kind of well way down the list. I only want to see secondary and saying way down the list because it's a lot of things that that we have to have in priority. What's something that got us you to give up in your life because I've been doing that a lot lately. Is a mix of Christian rock music and discussions on life is a Christian teen all the music and conversation on the show is created by and for young people missing Miller has volunteered as a co-host for the program since it began two years ago. She says it first the show was all about music but now more and more kids are calling for advice or a prayer phone calls have been coming and have been so needy that it's like shown us that we need to be talking about these issues. You know, we need to be talking about, you know, suicide stuff because we've gotten calls from people who said, you know, I'm right now my friend is real. Considering suicide you guys got to say something on the air. Misty says her peers are searching for something real and genuine to guide them through their daily lives and they want help with the tough questions such as why am I here or what? Am I supposed to do with my life the young hosts of looking up often share personal stories on the show and talk about how they have found the answers to their problems through God and the Bible 19 year old volunteer. Jolene pluth says the show lets young listeners and volunteers know they are not alone. It's something Jolene wishes. She had five years ago. I was depressed. I didn't I don't know why I was here. I wrote those depressing poems about there's no meaning in life. You know what I just couldn't figure figure anything out. I mean, I was just really lost. My world is really dark. Jolene says all she remembers if her early teens is feeling hopeless. Jolene was raised in a Lutheran Family, but by the age of 14 church should become routine and she felt as though Religion wasn't very relevant to her life at 19. Joline is now a very different young woman the smile almost never leaves her face and she talks about finding God. When I accepted Jesus in my heart. My boys were still a bike within the next week. I mean I was I was completely happy person. I was totally different. I was happy. I wish I had Joe a headpiece. I have peace that I never had before and I had a reason to go on Jolene story is fairly typical of the TN to volunteer on looking up. She now attends and non-denominational church in the Brainerd area. She said she's heard the talk about kids falling away from church, but she doesn't see it at her church. The pews are packed with teens and the youth group is active and growing many of the looking up volunteers say their churches are just the same by Churches awesome. As far as teams that sometimes the youth group and Sunday on Sunday night. There's more people there than there is on Sunday mornings. Linen service and during the time of offering you can go up and pray. Well, the altar was packed with kids when there's more kids if there's any word out and it just shocked me just thinking, you know, these kids really have a hunger and a thirst forgot the experience of these young people isn't just surprised to University of Washington comparative religion Professor Rodney Stark in the 30 years. He's been doing research on Church Life in the United States. He says he's found a predictable pattern and churchgoing teens to do fall away from church. That's something which is been happening for more than 50 years, but start says they don't all disappear because the population and attendance of traditional denominations has changed shark says churches popular in the 70s and 80s such as Methodist or United Church of Christ are now seeing a drop-in congregation size. He argues. It's because they've gone with popular trend And shifted the focus from God to more secular topics, but he says many church leaders continue 2.2 team defection as the reason their congregations are dwindling a lot of excuses from denominations that are losing market share that affect but you can go to some of these churches not hear anything about religion and that puts them in a very funny kind of situation teams are now flocking to the non denominational and Evangelical Free congregations churches that emphasized spirituality without focusing on tradition Stark says if the trends of the past hold true these churches could just as easily be replaced by others in the next 10 to 20-years Rick help me trans youth directors for Lutheran Baptist and Catholic congregation at the minneapolis-based training center youth leadership. Help me says the big problem. He sees between teens and church is that teens have no role in the worship service perhaps And more important help me says not enough church leaders are reaching out to young people and expect that. I think that we we need to take much more of it and initiating posture and finding ways to connect with with kids and in their world and their settings help me says teens are the future of a healthy congregation. But if the only concern is keeping kids in church churches are doomed to failure to equip kids to to live faithful Christian lives. Then the things we do that make a difference in the lives of kids will lead them to be a part of of that community that has had an impact on their lives the kids at looking up get this idea. They say week after week. They'll continue to share their experiences as young Christians and let team listeners no church can be a place where they can get the support and prayers they're looking for. in Collegeville on Gretchen Lane in Minnesota Public Radio For some people faith in religion is an aspect of life that can be defined separately set apart. That's not the case for Reverend Richard Coleman. He leads the st. Peter AME Church in Minneapolis. And when asked to explain the role of Faith place in his life, he could find no distinction between faith and Life For Me life has become Faith as a servant of God. I must use my spiritual and physical resources in the Enterprise of Kingdom building. I have not chosen this work I have accepted it for me serving God's will is not an option that she really is. I believe that Jesus rose from the dead. I am convinced that I have been transformed to be an instrument of God. He can do with me as he chooses and whatever he does to manifest his Heavenly Kingdom in this Earthly realm is good. I cannot disassociate Faith from my life without faith. I would not be as I am nor could I be certain that I can grow to become a more effective servant and witness for Christ. My face leads me through Dark Places when I'm unsure troubled and I need my face turns my heart to God and I find my way by staying near the glow of his presence. It is tragic for any person not to embrace God by faith to not know the comforting warmth of his presence. Every person in count is uncertainty, but sadly not everyone has fees to trust in God's compassion benevolence and power instead many rely only on themselves consequently. They are not able to rise above the British and stinks of self-survival. The wonderful Society of human beings that Iowa Creator ordained has been horribly desecrated by powerful men whose Vision was limited to their own knowledge and selfish concerns. It's tragic for any Community to be directed by individuals who rely solely on the products of their human minds and hearts. As it is impossible to please God without faith. It is also impossible to do good for people without faith. Look at the world with all the wonderful resources. There is so much suffering. What kind of world is this where some men rain over kingdoms of immense power and others perhaps a few blocks away are homeless. This is not the will of our creator. but without faith in God, how can one understand God's will by faith in God wants heart and mind can be opened to see the Heavenly Kingdom and to believe that it is the Father's will for his kingdom to rain on Earth by this same faith. God will transform any willing person Richard Coleman is pastor at st. Peter's AME Church in Minneapolis. In the 1990s many churches are taking a more active role in addressing racial divisions in America black and white congregations are developing relationships with each other others call themselves churches of reconciliation and deliberately seek multiracial parishioners to inhabit their pews. Chris Roberts tells us the story of two Baptist churches in St. Paul one African-American the other white that have taken reconciliation a step further. They've merged to become one you might call Unity Baptist Church in the heart of St. Paul's racially diverse Summit University neighborhood a spiritual work-in-progress every Sunday morning. It's parishioners the black former members of Open Door Baptist Church and the white former members of Park Baptist take another deliberate step toward a new identity on this Sunday nearly every aspect of the service from the call to worship to the hymn singing to the Offering seems restrained and self-conscious. Like the congregation isn't sure yet who would wants to be until Pastor? Ron Smith takes the pulpit and reminds them. Pull apart by race and gender until we the church stand up and speak up and speak out about riding what's wrong we will continue that the union of Park and open door and the move to Parks 100 year old building is just a little more than a month old when the vote to merge occurred. It was hailed by observers as a culminating event but view by clergy and members as only a punctuation point in a long evolving relationship it began in 1991 when Pastor Ron Smith of Open Door and Dave Johnson of Park met at a summit University clergy council meeting and became friends eventually the two began to discuss how their congregations could become Partners according to Smith. Neither wanted to follow the traditional path of the Suburban white church meeting the urban black church on Martin Luther King Sunday require exchanges because Park and opened or were Neighbors. Are two congregations at that time where eight blocks apart and the question became what impact could we have on a community? And what impact could we have on our churches? If being eight blocks apart, we came together and began to work together to to be about change and that was this app. We had no goals at the beginning our goal was not to merge the church. And in fact, we always told people that's not what we're trying to do. We don't have any Vision we're trying to do what we're trying to do is obey God and we're trying to form a relationship what followed were four years of conversations between the two congregations potluck Gatherings and Pulpit exchanges until it was decided the two might try to worship together. The first worship service was a disaster. I don't remember what the him was but The Pianist played in one key and and was moving acquiring and the congregation in wonder. Then you add the pipe organ and it's overpowering sound in a different key moving at a different pace and I don't if I wish I could remember this song but it was a tug of war. Tug of war continued for another four months until the discussion turned to developing a permanent relationship church leaders hired a consultant focus groups were held and surveys were taken after about a year of all that kind of work. You can clusion was at everyone preferred it the way it used to be. Everyone did not like it the way it was. They liked it better the way it used to be. The other part was they said that they believed God wanted us to be this way. The new way a key turning point came when clergy and members of both churches went to a three-day dismantling racism Workshop sponsored by the Minnesota Council of churches. The seminar has basic precepts that racism has always existed and a systemic in America and that white people have privileges in society others. Don't put the two congregations on the same page according to Pastor Smith. When a person of color says racism white people turnt yeah react when a person of European descent is integration. I react because it's always been a one-way street with people of color going and so we needed to find some common language and I think they're definition and and principles Where were where what helped us turn the corner because we got to get beyond the warm the sensitivity part and talk about the real pain. And I think that that helped us it was then that the real work began how to meld two distinctly different worship Styles was the biggest challenge and many questions arose. How long should the service be should deacons be male or female? And what is their role should the pastor be more dictatorial or more hands-off and should the service be more of a teaching event or an opportunity for Spiritual expression how much noise should be allowed during the service? All these questions had an African American and a white answer and somehow both had to be taken into account. Nice person. We had a problem with the organ of open door for 10 years prior to becoming a member of unity, it would drive me crazy and it reminded me of old Bela Lugosi or something weird music and I couldn't stand it and some of the park members had a problem with spontaneous worship, you know, because when you know the choir would sing and it would be very inspirational and moving and some of the people with shout and that was really strange was really different. My name is Sue fields, and I was member of Park Baptist before we merged to become Unity. People complain that they couldn't hear because of all the novel and I think Open Door members thought it was too conservative. But a lot of people in the churches did not realize is that both churches gave up a lot for your team members and clergy working toward reconciliation. Not only means bridging racial divisions inside the church, but being a model and an agitator in the community, it means working with Cub Foods to hire people of color from the city instead of busing workers in from the suburbs. It means asking the two former churches denominations, the progressive National Baptist Church, which is black and the American Baptist Church, which is white to work collaboratively in their dealings with unity it even mean suggesting to news organizations that are white and black reporter work in tandem when doing a profile of the church pastor Johnson says the demands on Unity members are enormous it changes their With their friends with their families, it means that people on the job are asked to talk about race going to a seminar people ask them to say what their experiences are because they are supposed to be examples of of reconciliation. So each person just because coming to that worship experience is forced to become an ambassador reconciliation the rest of their lives, but after years of working on reconciliation Unity members are just is aware of the rewards as they are of the sacrifices Angela James are more conscious of how interconnected our lives off and it has a unique effect on your relationship people. And sometimes you seek out people you would normally, you know seek out, you know, those are some of its benefits and It's not a guilt trip is not at all. Feel good trip. It's just about you doing right you living out the gospel during the formation of Unity Baptist several people left disenchanted with a process and its desired outcome attendance. Each Sunday is small with only 60 to 100 worshippers, but church leaders are working to draw more people into the fold. When asked when and how the congregation will know it is finally reconciled after Ron Smith replies. We are people of faith on a journey don't know what the future holds but they're sure that god holds the future. This is Chris Roberts, Minnesota Public Radio. Americans are hungry for spiritual meaning men are searching for purpose in life as part of our month-long series on a religion in everyday life Minnesota Public Radio commissioned individuals to reflecting what faith means to them and the role it plays in their lives musician. Mary price is as likely to express her faith through singing as she is through speech. the Lamb of Calvary savior No hear me while I pray. tickle my gear YouTube made from this J-B holies It was in the singing of hymns that I began to understand Lutheran Theology and more important to me as a child the nature of my relationship to God and Jesus. My family is big on singing hymns. My mother is a singer and taught piano lessons in our home and my father a Lutheran Parish Pastor who inherited a Lusty him singing style from his musical parents. I have vivid oral memories of Midwestern Lutheran congregations gathered in acoustically perfect wood or brick churches that sang with conviction and devotion. Everyone's saying women and men. Now in the middle of my life as a professional singer and worship leader, I appreciate deeply the love of music that was passed on to me and also the expression of faith that shaped me through the singing of hymns. Don't get me wrong. I rebelled I left home and the church for a large part of my young adult life. I needed to find out if I could reconcile my immature emotionally based Faith with the new knowledge. I was acquiring it was the end of the war in Vietnam. I was skeptical I was hurt. I was beginning to feel the total of sexism on my life and the lives of women around me at this point in time organized religion look like part of the problem. Through the power of prayer on the part of my parents and the knowledge deep within me that I am indeed. Holy Gods. I came back to the church with all of my doubts and questions. I had the opportunity to witness the faith of Christian brothers and sisters from around the world who showed me the courage strength and power of God's good news in their lives. I joined and helped to lead a couple of wonderful women spiritual and singing groups. These people helped me to heal and encouraged my now more complex relationship with God and the world I have come full circle in my church life, but not back to the same place today. I am part of an ecumenical Christian Community that lifts up and live without Jesus model of peace and Justice in the midst of this country which continues to worship gods of War violence and consumerism. I also currently lead the singing in a small Urban Lutheran congregation one that works to live out their faith, and that also loves to sing these communities of Faith along with my circle of family and friends inspire me and keep me whole now. My faith is integral to my life and I struggle but not alone to make it a part of each moment. It's in singing that I'm able to express my gratitude to the Holy One for the great gifts of love and life and through singing. I voice my continued longing for Shalom a hole and harmonious relationship with God and all of creation my life flows on in Endless song. I hear the real though far-off him that hails a new creation through all the to drive. I hear that music ringing. He is so cold in my soul. How can I keep from singing? That was musician Mary Price, one of the voices. We've been featuring this month during our series on religion and everyday life. By the way. The showers program was produced by Michael call pangra and Kate Smith on our coverage of religion everyday life will continue over the noon hour today here on midday Theologian Martin Marty is in the Twin Cities today to speak at a Minnesota meeting on religion's role in public life. Marty says too often religion is seen as a purely Private Matter. He says it's time that religion come out of the shadows as he puts it and help Society deal with the complex moral questions that Society faces that's coming up over the noon hour programming on NPR is supported by Kare 11 News the recipient of the Edward R Murrow award for overall excellence in television. I'm Ray Suarez the Christian Coalition wants Republican leaders to push forward with their agenda to promote Family Values social and cultural conservatives feel that their their agenda has been ignored even though they're some of the hardest workers in The Vineyards commentator Pat Buchanan will talk about the religious right and its role in the upcoming elections on the next Talk of the Nation from NPR news. Talk of the Nation begins at 1 right after our Minnesota meeting with Martin Marty I'm Lorna Benson when children ask who created the Earth and why am I here many parents turn to religion for the answers that story on the next All Things Considered weekdays at 3 on Minnesota Public Radio piano, W FM 91.1 You're listening to Minnesota Public Radio. We have a sunny Sky. It's 59 degrees at Canter W FM 91.1 Minneapolis. And st. Paul should be sunny all afternoon and it could hit 70 degrees yesterday clear tonight with an overnight low near 40th and signed a partly sunny tomorrow with a high temperature once again near 70° news is next.