• Islam 101: A quick primer

    What do Muslims believe?

    * The Quran (or Koran) contains the actual word of Allah (God) as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad through divine inspiration by the angel Gabriel.

    * There is one God, Allah, creator of everything.

    * The Prophet Muhammad was the last and greatest of all of Al­lah’s messengers, but Muslims do not worship him.

    * At the end of the age, there will be a Day of Resurrection when people will be punished (eternal hell) or rewar­ded (eternal heaven) based on their deeds on earth.

    Who are Muslims?

  • One woman's faith

    When she’s out in public or in the presence of a male, Shireen Karim wears a head covering.

    Even in the heat of the Florida summer, she wears long sleeves and keeps her legs covered as a sign of respect, humility and modesty.

    People stare, she says, and she can’t count the number of times she and her husband, Mahomed Karim, have been stopped by security agents in airports.


    Especially her husband, a bearded Muslim of Indian descent who often travels to    the U.K. and the Middle East on business.

  • Wide roof, open arms

    Nancy Kennedy


    On a recent Thursday, the Rev. Greg Kell sipped from his ever-present can of Diet Mountain Dew and offered an impromptu tour of Cornerstone Baptist Church’s 20-acre Inverness campus.

    As workers continued putting on the finishing touches, Kell said they hope the doors will be open for ministry and worship by the end of the month.

  • GRACE NOTES 08/15/2009: Postcards from Hershey

    I’m sitting on a couch in Hershey, Pa., with my sister, my daughter and my granddaughter, watching the Food Network and thinking, “How weird is this?”

    We’re here on a partial family vacation since only part of our family is here. My sister flew in from California and my daughter, granddaughter and son-in-law drove up from Virginia. My husband and I flew up from Florida.

    We chose to meet in Hershey because we like chocolate. Also, the children of my husband’s late best friend live nearby and they’ve become family to us.

  • ON RELIGION 08/08/2009: Sabbatical provides eye-opening experience

    The Rev. Gordon Atkinson had few specific goals when he started planning his 13-week sabbatical from his duties at Covenant Baptist Church near San Antonio.

    “I knew that I didn’t want to be in charge of anything,” said Atkinson, long known as the “Real Live Preacher” to those who read his intensely personal online journal (reallivepreacher.com).

  • JUDI'S JOURNAL 8/2/2009: Things shared by our faiths

    I met a woman recently who showed me something special she carried in her Bible. She had never met me before, and therefore it was very ironic that when she opened her Bible to show me what she had inserted, I could not help but smile and tell her it was “beshert,” fated, that this was to happen. Inside her Bible was a clipping of one of my columns I had written a while back, and it was on tolerance and anti-Semitism. This got me thinking: If we could only focus on the things that unite us instead of the things that divide us, how much better religious relations would be.

  • In the world, but not of the world

    “Do not let your adornment be merely outward — arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel — rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:3-4).

    In a day when modesty is considered an oddity among teenage girls, there remains a remnant who prefer to be part of a minority rather than the majority.

  • GRACE NOTES 08/08/2009: Just asking...

    (Editor’s Note: Nancy Kennedy is on vacation this week. This column is from her book, “Lipstick Grace.”)

    When I was a new Christian, I knew two sisters. One attended the same church that I did. That church emphasized obedience and holiness. Do what God says and you will be rewarded for your effort.

  • GRACE NOTES 8/2/2009: An open letter to Eve

    This is an open letter to Eve (last name unknown), the first woman created by God, wife of Adam:

    Dear Eve,

    What was it like?

    What was it like to live in a perfect world, a garden paradise? Did you have a house, or did you and your husband sleep outdoors under the stars?

    That was before rain, so you never had to worry about getting wet, and I suppose it didn’t snow either, or get too hot or too cold. So, maybe you didn’t need a house. You certainly didn’t need closets since you didn’t wear clothes.

  • New pastor brings fresh perspective

    In the United Methodist Church, there’s a place for someone like the Rev. Kelly Greenawald.

    As a 37-year-old never-married mother of two adopted children, she’s different from any pastor Hernando United Methodist Church has ever had in its more than 100-year history.

    And that’s OK.

    The church recently welcomed Greenawald and her children, 5-year-old Annalyn and 4-year-old Brandon, with open hearts. Prior to coming to Hernando, Greenawald served as senior pastor at Sylvan Abbey United Methodist Church in Clearwater for the past seven years.