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Here’s a couple updated news tidbits you might remember from earlier posts:

Seven Columbia faith groups are participating in an interfaith service at the Mid-Mo Pride Fest on Sunday. Missourian neighborhood reporter Megan Stroup wrote a story at a sister blog. The service was one we mentioned a week or so ago in a story about Dick Blount, who has been helping get the service organized.

Another of our sister sites, MyMissourian.com, posted a story about the Islamic school in Columbia. The story is written by the school’s principal and talks about the school’s history and mission.

Tribune columnist T.J. Greaney had an update about how the faith community is uniting to support the family of drowning victim Jean Marie Vianey Mugabo-Kenda.

Wissel Joseph of Haiti, a deacon in the church, said that when he heard of the drowning he despaired, wondering what good could come of something so senseless. But the kindness of the church and the community at large has helped him see a greater meaning.

“God is using his death to show us the spirit, to bring people together,” Joseph said. “Breaking the barriers of languages, nations, religion, denomination. The way people have come together gives us a taste of how it’s going to be in heaven and how we’re supposed to be as Christians.”

And a follow-up to a story we first reported on last fall when former Kanakuk Kamps leader Peter Newman was charged on several counts of sexual abuse. Many Columbia families have ties to the Christian camp and knew Newman. Earlier this week, Newman was sentenced to two life-terms in prison for sexually molesting children at the camp near Branson.

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A few stories from the weekend caught my attention and I thought I’d share them with you, and it’s odd that both are Catholic news from St. Louis. I’ll try to diversify for my next posting.

The first was about “the largest Scout Mass in U.S. history” held this weekend in St. Louis. Knowing that there was a Scouting event in Forest Park and that many Scout troops are sponsored by churches or parishes, this fact makes sense. But, I was intrigued nonetheless. It isn’t everyday that the archbishop leads Mass for a group of Boy Scouts, after all.

Archbishop Robert Carlson

Archbishop Robert Carlson celebrates Mass with Boy Scouts in St. Louis on Sunday.

You see, St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson is himself a former Scout. He told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he was “a few merit badges short of Eagle Scout,” but has remained active in Scouting his entire adult life — as waterfront director at Scout camps in college and as a member of Scouting boards of directors.

He also said the Archdiocese of St. Louis is the only Catholic diocese in the country with a separate department for Scouting.

A second story in the Post caught my eye because of its possible connections to Columbia. It seems that some nuns in Richmond Heights are leaving their convent for retirement communities elsewhere because the convent is no longer practical for such a small number of them.

In Columbia, the Benedictine Sisters are closing their monastery off West Broadway because it is not practical to keep it running with so few sisters remaining there. Former Missourian reporter Zack Aldrich did a profile of several Columbia nuns last year and spoke with some sisters at the monastery about their daily life. (Note: a link will be provided later; the site isn’t allowing searches right now.)

Our Lady of Peace Monastery in Columbia

A view of Our Lady of Peace Monastery in Columbia

Dwindling numbers of nuns entering the monastery make it impractical to keep the site open; it is expected to close sometime this summer.

Missourian neighborhood reporters hope to bring you more news about the monastery and the future of the sisters there in the coming days and weeks. Keep checking back for updates, and tell us what you think.

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Were you out of town for the Memorial Day holiday weekend and missed your regular worship service? Here’s a sampling of sermons from Columbia congregations for the weekend of May 29-30. You can hear what you might have missed or listen to a sermon from a pastor at a neighboring congregation. This list is far from exhaustive but several church sites hadn’t uploaded new sermons for the week.

Community United Methodist Church: Lessons for the Journey: Remembering our parents by the Rev. Kevin Shelton.

Karis Community Church has a podcast page so you can always get your sermons while on the go. Listen here. The sermon last weekend was “Work redefined” by Aarik Danielsen.

Woodcrest Chapel’s weekend sermons were part of the “Signature Series” and start with the topic of love.

Broadway Christian Church: There isn’t an audio file online for “The Centurion’s Slave,” but you can read the sermon from Pastor Tim Carson. Broadway Christian Church plans a sermon for Sunday titled “The Widow of Nain,” based on Luke 7:11-17.

Christian Chapel has a podcast page, but the last sermon uploaded is from May 24. We’ll keep checking back for updates.

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A quick roundup of stories from news reports this week:

Friends remember Jean Marie Vianey Mugabo-Kenda

Friends gathered to memorialize Jean Marie Vianey Mugabo-Kenda at his home on Wednesday.

Immigrant and faith communities mourn a loss:

Jean Marie Vianey Mugabo-Kenda’s life was defined by his faith; after he drowned, faith is how his friends and family remembered him. Mugabo-Kenda, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo died Monday in Columbia. Funeral services will be Friday at  the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 1100 College Park Drive.

Columbians speak out about Israeli blockade on Gaza:

Two events on Wednesday allowed Columbia residents to express dismay over recent events that lead to nine deaths and furthered criticism of the Israeli blockade in Gaza. As the Missourian reported:

Members of the Islamic Center of Central Missouri gathered along Providence Road with banners and signs and the Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation, met Wednesday morning at Daniel Boone Regional Library, and 11 community members of different cultural and religious backgrounds discussed their perspectives on the raid and living conditions in Gaza.

Saleem Alhabash, a founder of the Palestine Israel Peace Association, said it is important for people to understand there are many perspectives.

For more on the Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation event, read the Tribune’s story.

Tell us what you think. What role should local faith communities play in these international event?

Click for a roundup of more national and international  religion news.

One story that caught my eye was from The New York Times. It talked about how abortion opponents are working to advance their cause at a state level. Knowing that faith-based groups and lobbying efforts by Missouri Right to Life have spurred legislation here, I thought it might be of interest to readers. Missouri is cited as an example in the story.

Here’s a story that’s been getting a lot of buzz at stltoday.com: A St. Charles preacher with no tongue speaks wisdom.

Check back tomorrow: Missed a weekend sermon, we’ll compile a roundup and look ahead for this weekend’s worship schedules.

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The Faith in Focus blog, authored by students at the Columbia Missourian, is taking a bit of a summer break. We’ll be posting less frequently during June and July, hoping to get back up to speed during August.

Here’s a few news highlights from the past week:

New Catholic school

Columbia’s Catholic community gathered in near 90-degree heat Sunday for a groundbreaking on a new high school. The school has been nine years in the making, and will cost an estimated $16 million to build. It should be open to students for fall 2011.

New worship location

The Jehovah’s Witnesses South Congregation could soon have a new building for its services.

The group won approval from Columbia’s Planning & Zoning Commission last week to build a Kingdom Hall on Old Plank Road, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune report. The Tribune quoted Scott Thomas as saying the south location gives the group an alternative location to its Kingdom Hall on Smiley Lane.

“We try and cover the entire area of Columbia,” Thomas said. “We hoped to put one on the south side to make it more inviting for residents to attend meetings.”

The congregation expects about 75 people to attend services at the outset. Residents surrounding the land in question expressed some concerns with the plan, including potential damage to the tree line surrounding the property.

Donations abound

The Greek organization Pi Beta Phi made a significant donation to Love INC this weekend, helping fill the group’s building with furniture, according to a story in the Tribune. Love INC helps fill the gaps for people in need by offering financial assistance programs, household goods and employment assistance. It’s only been in Columbia for a few years but Love INC has been actively working to help churches partner to serve their community. Last fall, the group began in earnest its Love Seat ministry to help people in need of furniture.

The Greek organization donated all the furniture from its 27 rooms, which are being remodeled with new furniture. The donations will quickly be put to use, Love INC volunteers say.

Expect to read more about the work of Love INC in an upcoming blog post.

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During the past week I have been collecting news articles from various publications about religion. Here are a few I thought you all would find interesting. Please feel free to add articles you have found in the comments section.

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In case you missed it here are the sermons from this weekend:

Does your faith community post their sermons online? Let us know and we will add them to the list.

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