The benefits of doubt get another boost
The number of secular voters is growing in the U.S.

You can help a Catholic Worker house continue its ministry

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Almost 10 years ago, I wrote this column about Cherith Brook Catholic Worker house in Kansas City for The National Catholic Reporter. In it, I noted that although it's connected to the Catholic Worker model of the late activist Dorothy Day, it is overseen by a Presbyterian pastor and his wife, the Rev. Eric and Jodi Garbison.

Cherith Brook, which describes itself as offering "a life of hospitality, communal living, activism, homesteading and prayer," now is 16 years old and is continuing to minister homeless, troubled and destitute people in the northeast part of the city from its location at 3308 E. 12th St.

But to continue the work in that 120-year-old building, the leaders of Cherith Brook know that, as a flier says, "the front of our building is in desperate need of renovation." So in various ways, they're working to raise about $150,000 to put in storefront windows, improve energy efficiency, create an entrance accessible to all, build a canopy over the entrances, restore brick on the building's face and reinforce the whole structure.

Eric told me recently that they've raised about $91,000 of what's needed for this work and are working hard to raise the rest.

I admire the work Cherith Brook does and, through my church, try to help where and when I can. Which is why I was there on a Sunday a few weeks ago helping to bring some order to the food shelves in the kitchen, while others from our congregation did other tasks.

A recent Cherith Brook newsletter said this: "We have tended this mustard seed and watched God grow it into a ministry of presence, a small sanctuary of peace in a hostile world."

On the Cherith Brook blog page, to which I linked you in the first paragraph above here, you'll find a fundraising flier that will tell you how you can help keep this ministry going by contributing financially. (Or you can download a pdf of that flier here: Download Cherith Brook Flier. Lots of homeless people who get to take showers there regularly will be among those grateful for your generosity.

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DID COVID REALLY INJURE RELIGION IN THE U.S. BADLY?

As many of you know, there have been numerous reports that because of the Covid pandemic in the U.S., participation in institutional religion (like worship) declined. Many congregations, in fact, had to close for a time and go virtual. But as this RNS story reports, there are indications that surveys showing a decline in participation don't give an accurate picture of what happened because the pollsters changed how they gather information. One expert quoted in the story says that while organized religion in the United States is likely to continue to decline, much of the decline is among so-called Christians and Easter Christians, who only occasionally attend services. So, yes, religion on the whole is experiencing a decline in the U.S., but it's a complicated picture.

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P.S.: Speaking of things in northeast Kansas City, as I was in the opening piece here today, I want to alert you to the recently refurbished Independence Plaza Park in that old neighborhood at 649 Brooklyn Ave. and to tell you that the park now includes three stunning glass sculptures by Hasna Sal, about whom I wrote this Flatland column almost a year ago. Her new installation is called "Live in the Light." As a press release about the work says, "The glass panels share themes of the celebration of childhood and children. However, they also continue on the theme of advocacy and justice for those in need." I hope you'll visit the park and have a look. Hasna is one of the few artists whose work will be on display at the new Kansas City International Airport when it opens.

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