Decision shocks Methodists committed to inclusion

National surveys tell us regularly that a growing percentage of people – now more than 25 percent in California – identify themselves with no religious group. There’s even a name for this new denomination: “Nones.”

Most Nones think of themselves as spiritual in some way. It’s not that they believe nothing, it’s that they haven’t found a religious organization – church or synagogue or mosque or temple – that consistently offers them something they need.

Pastor's Perspective: Today marks start of Lent

Today is an important day in the Christian liturgical calendar, Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is the official start of Lent, which is 40 days (not counting Sundays) before Resurrection Sunday, better known as Easter.

Lent is a time of preparation, a time of introspection, a time of repentance. One of the classic passages to get a congregation into Lent is Psalm 51, a psalm of David repenting from his misdeeds with Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite, whom he had killed.

Los Altos United Methodist Church celebrates Changemaker Initiative

Approximately 200 people gathered Jan. 26 to celebrate the first year of the Changemaker Initiative, a 10-month partnership between Los Altos United Methodist Church and the global social entrepreneurship organization Ashoka.

The partnership commenced with 25 Changemaker fellows at the church leading social impact projects, with guidance from Ashoka, in areas they are passionate about.

Pastor's Perspective: Methodist Church conference will determine fate of LGBTQ inclusion

Update: United Methodist Church delegates Feb. 26 voted to strengthen a ban on gay clergy and same-sex marriages in a controversial decision that threatens to divide the church. The article below was written prior to the decision. Rev. McShane, among the church's progressive faction that supports LGBTQ inclusion, plans to write another column in the wake of this week's historic United Methodist conference in St. Louis.

This has not been a good news cycle for churches. The Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention have recently come into view as they struggle with how to hold their leaders to account for bad behavior. And in just a few days, the United Methodist Church will crowd its way into the headlines to air its own internal struggles.

Spiritual Life Brief

Meditation retreat set for March 9

Meditation teacher and author Shaila Catherine is scheduled to lead a mindfulness meditation mini retreat 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 9 in the Foothills Congregational Church Parish Hall, 461 Orange Ave., Los Altos.

Sponsored by Insight Meditation South Bay, according to organizers, the retreat will provide a “rewarding and restful” day of mindfulness meditation where participants can experience for themselves the “inner joy, peace and insight that meditation can provide, and still be home in time for dinner.”

Spiritual Perspective: Baha'i faith prioritizes oneness of humanity

Jan. 18 marked the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Paris Peace Conference held at the end of World War I. The conference resulted in the establishment of the League of Nations, an organization intended by its founders to secure peace at the international level. This was the first of three historic moments in the past 100 years when real, lasting peace seemed within reach. But ultimately the League was not able to prevent a second world war.

The second significant step toward world peace followed World War II when the United Nations was established, a system of international economic institutions came into being, many territories under colonial rule became independent nations and historic advances were made relating to human rights and international law. But open hostility between the world’s two major powers brought humanity dangerously close to a conflict involving nuclear weapons.

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