• The populist pope

    VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis denounced the global financial system that excludes the poor as he issued the mission statement for his papacy on Tuesday, saying he wants the Catholic Church to get its hands dirty as it seeks to bring solace and mercy to society’s outcasts.

  • GRACE NOTES 11/23/2013: Giving thanks!

    Editor’s note: This is Nancy Kennedy’s annual psalm of thanksgiving, a tradition she thinks started in 2000. She didn’t keep track.

    Dear God,

    Here I am again, with a blank page in front of me, attempting to put into 750 words or less all the ways in which I am thankful. Where do I even begin?

  • Never-ending debate

    AUSTIN, Texas — Long-simmering ideological objections to teaching evolution in Texas boiled over at a late-night meeting, as the Board of Education extended preliminary approval of new science textbooks but held up one biology tome because of alleged factual errors.

  • Pastor has a passion for preaching

    A little more than five years ago, James Coker spent his free time writing letters that detailed his aspirations for the ministry and visiting churches in Jacksonville and St. Augustine to deliver his pitch in person.

    During the week, Coker worked as a welder. But by the weekend, he was a salesman. 

    “The product I was selling was me — my passion for Christ and my desire to share it,” he said.

  • JUDI'S JOURNAL 11/16/2013: Fifty years ago in Dallas

    A great man was killed in Dallas 50 years ago. 

    Where were you? 

  • GRACE NOTES 11/16/2013: Where Jesus is Kermit the Frog

    A few weeks ago I met with a friend who’s a play therapist.

    She works with troubled, abused and damaged children, letting them play while she observes and does some other stuff — therapist stuff — that helps them express and process their thoughts and feelings.

    There’s a lot more to it, but that’s my reduced-to-bare-bones version of what she does.

  • Local church doing its part to be a welcoming destination

    Debbie Bradbury

    Special to the Chronicle

    Back in the day, the Rev. Eddie Padgett was a beer-guzzling, weed-smoking, woman-chasing loser, and he has the title to prove it.

    “In high school, I got kicked off sports teams, smoked marijuana, drank a lot of alcohol and got involved in crime,” he said. “The graduating class voted me as the guy most likely not to succeed. Over 1,200 people called me a loser.”

  • GRACE NOTES 11/09/2013: Don't be so prickly, porcupine

    Years ago, a pastor friend of mine did a series of seminary talks titled “Porcupines in the Storm.”

    He spoke about how we, meaning we Christians, are like porcupines — prickly and sometimes dangerous, especially to each other.

    Porcupines actually have soft hair, but on their backs, sides and tails the soft hair is mixed with sharp quills; Africa’s crested porcupines have quills nearly a foot long.

  • Can-do spirit

    Mary Clarkin

    Hutchinson News

    HUTCHINSON, Kan. — The pink labels wrapped around and glued to the pork-packed aluminum cans bore an address: Mennonite Central Committee, Akron, Pennsylvania, USA.

    But it took men, women and children and a two-day meat-canning marathon in Reno County to start the canned meat on a journey that likely will end abroad.

  • GRACE NOTES 11/02/2013: When Jesus shows up

    When it comes to serving at my church, I have two jobs. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a communion server. I’m also emcee for the monthly senior ministry events, dinners and such. With a microphone in hand I quiet them down, tell a few senior-related jokes, dismiss the people at the tables to go get their food and introduce featured guests.

    Sometimes I refill cups of iced tea or clear plates away.