Memphis

Friday Five: Godbeat news, Bush 41 funeral, pope on gay priests, megachurch biz, pastor hero

Friday Five: Godbeat news, Bush 41 funeral, pope on gay priests, megachurch biz, pastor hero

Enjoy the “Walking in Memphis” video.

Speaking of Memphis, there’s good news on the Godbeat in Tennessee’s second-largest city: Katherine Burgess reports on Twitter that religion will now be a part of her coverage responsibilities at the Commercial Appeal.

“Please send religion stories my way,” requests Burgess, who previously did a nice job reporting on religion for Kansas’ Wichita Eagle.

In other Godbeat developments, I learned just recently that religion writer Manya Brachear Pashman has left the Chicago Tribune. Here’s an update from her:

I officially left the Tribune at the end of October to follow my husband's career to New Jersey. I am in the process of figuring out the next chapter, while taking some time to tend to family and staying involved with RNA and RNF. I am optimistic that someone will replace me at the Tribune. But it might take a while, since they're going through a round of buyouts at the moment. But it's hard to imagine the Tribune without someone devoted to covering religion. In Chicago, that's the equivalent of leaving the city hall beat vacant.

Meanwhile, let’s dive into the Friday Five.

1. Religion story of the week: Wednesday’s Washington National Cathedral funeral for former President George H.W. Bush was full of faith, as GetReligion Editor Terry Mattingly highlighted in his roundup of news coverage at The New York Times and the wall-to-wall (and almost totally faith-free) spread at The Washington Post. And yes, Bush was an Episcopalian — that’s a noun — as tmatt noted in a separate post full of Episcopal jokes.

Finally, be sure to check out tmatt’s obits commentary on “The mainstream faith of Bush 41: At what point did 'personal' become 'political'?” And there’s a podcast coming this weekend.

Here’s a key passage from the funeral coverage material, offering a way for readers to study a news report and decide whether the editors thought the state funeral was a political event, only.

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#MLK50: On anniversary of King's assassination, five faith-filled links to insightful coverage

#MLK50: On anniversary of King's assassination, five faith-filled links to insightful coverage

It's #MLK50 day — the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. 

Already, we have called attention to strong religion-related coverage of this milestone by two veteran Godbeat journalists: Hamil R. Harris and Adelle Banks.

Harris, we noted, recently wrote an article for the Washington Post headlined "Fifty years after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, where should the black church go from here?" And for USA Today, he did a story noting that "As racism resurges, many look to the pulpit King left behind."

Banks, meanwhile, produced an extraordinary story focused on a 75-year-old Memphis, Tenn., sanitation worker who "drives five days a week to collect garbage, even as he spends much of the rest of his time as an associate minister of his Baptist congregation."

Along with the above coverage, here are five more insightful links (and please feel free to share more in the comments section) that we came across in scanning today's headlines:

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A drive-thru funeral window? Opposition to Bible Belt mortuary's service hints at a holy ghost

A drive-thru funeral window? Opposition to Bible Belt mortuary's service hints at a holy ghost

Is nothing sacred?

Well, I think we probably know the answer to that one (if you have online friends like my online friends who forward you lots of weird stuff), when it comes to what some people would consider strange business innovations linked to religious life.

Nevertheless, that was the question that crossed my mind as I read a news story by the Commercial Appeal newspaper of Memphis, Tenn., about a funeral home's drive-thru viewing option:

When Ryan Bernard bought the old bank building in Orange Mound, he found an unusual use for the drive-thru window.

Bernard, owner of R. Bernard Funeral Services, offers grieving loved ones the chance to pay their last respects conveniently from their car. Guests drive up and view the body through a bullet-proof window. The drive-thru visitation service is a mobile spin on the traditional wake.

"I got the idea a couple of years back when I was out in California. It caught my attention. I thought it was neat and thought I could bring it back to Memphis and this area," Bernard said. "Being in Memphis, we are surrounded by a lot of big-name funeral homes that have been around for 100 years, so being the new kid on the block, so to speak, I needed something unique to make me stand apart."
In addition to novelty, Bernard said that the drive-thru viewings offer accessibility and convenience.  

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