In today’s News:
LCMS grant assistance amplified
The coronavirus pandemic and its associated shutdown have led to unexpected and serious challenges for people around the world. Church workers are no exception. In response, the Synod’s long-time Soldiers Of The Cross grant assistance program has been “amplified” so that not only those workers who are on the Synod’s roster, but also lay workers in LCMS churches, schools and organizations, may apply for assistance. As of yesterday, nearly $500,000 in Soldiers Of The Cross-amplified grants has been disbursed to 334 workers, with an average grant of nearly $1,500 per worker. The grants process is administered by the LCMS Office of National Mission, and workers in crisis are encouraged to contact their district office for an application and guidance. Funding for the Soldiers Of The Cross program depends entirely on designated gifts and offerings from those who want to assist workers confronted with ministry-disrupting personal crises.
Ohio makes adoption more affordable
For individuals wanting to adopt children in Ohio, a newly passed initiative may help them realize their dream of giving a child a forever home. The Ohio House passed the Family Forward Initiative May 14, creating the adoption linked deposit program, to help remove financial barriers for families wanting to adopt. The initial proposal came last November, Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague and State Rep. Jon Cross proposed the program with interest rate reductions of 1 to 3 percent on loans of up to $50,000 to help pay for adoption expenses, with loan terms up to 10 years. Local pro-life advocates praised the measure, believing the reduced rate loans will be enough to significantly expand adoptions.
More court briefs support faith-based adoption
Among 34 friend-of-the-court briefs, dozens of diverse religious groups, 76 Members of Congress, 16 states, and many others urged the Supreme Court yesterday to protect religious ministries for vulnerable children. In Sharonell Fulton, Et Al. V. City Of Philadelphia, Philadelphia foster moms Sharonell Fulton and Toni Simms-Busch are defending one the city’s best foster care agencies, Catholic Social Services, from the city’s attempt to shut it down over of the agency’s beliefs about same-sex marriage and unmarried couples. The friend-of-the-court briefs argue that the court should keep CSS’s doors open, protect faith-based ministries nationwide, and ensure that the First Amendment protects religious exercise so that religious people can continue to serve their communities.
Baptists lose membership
The Southern Baptist Convention lost 2 percent of its membership last year—the largest drop in more than a century, according to its annual report. Certain state conventions did report increases in baptisms and church growth, including in places outside the Bible Belt strongholds. But overall, the denomination’s annual church profile—released yesterday by Lifeway Christian Resources and capturing 2019 statistics—shows a trajectory of serious decline and a sharp challenge for leaders concerned about evangelism and retention. The loss of 288,000 church members last year brings total Southern Baptist Convention membership to 14.5 million, down from its peak of 16.3 million in 2003.