Black Baptist leader to visit former adversary in New Rochelle tomorrow

The Rev. William Shaw, president of the National Baptist Convention USA — the largest black church group in the country — will be in New Rochelle tomorrow (July 12) to help Bethesda Baptist Church celebrate its 120th anniversary.

He’ll take part in a banquet at the church’s new Dr. C.M. Long Sr. Family Life Center.

pastor-weaver-red-robe.jpegIt’s an interesting appearance because back in 1999, Bethesda’s veteran pastor, the Rev. Allen Paul Weaver Jr. (left), served as campaign manager for the Rev. W. Franklyn Richardson when he ran for the presidency of the National Baptist Convention USA.

It was a tumultuous time for the Convention — which has about 5 million members — because its then-President, the Rev. Henry Lyons, had just been sentenced to prison for stealing money from the Convention. A slew of ministers were running to replace him and Mount Vernon’s Richardson was the big favorite.

dr-shaw-photo-blue300×200.jpgBut Philadelphia’s Shaw (right) won the presidency, nipping Richardson.

In 2004, Richardson challenged Shaw’s bid for re-election — but without Weaver at his side. Shaw won easily.

Shaw has been a low-key president, largely invisible in the mainstream media (I was surprised to see on the Convention’s website that he has spoken out about the Barack Obama/Jeremiah Wright flap). At 74, he is a respected leader whose legacy will likely be restoring internal credibility to the Convention.

And he’ll be side-by-side with Weaver at Bethesda Baptist tomorrow.

To remove or not remove an Hasidic woman’s wig

There have been several interesting court cases in recent years over whether Muslim women can wear the hijab (head covering) when having a picture taken for their driver’s license.

Now a police officer here in Ramapo is taking some heat for forcing an Hasidic Jewish woman to remove her wig for a head-shot after her arrest.

Many Hasidic women who are married wear a wig to cover their hair, which is to be seen only by their husbands.

Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence apologized for the officer’s conduct, saying that a female officer should have processed the woman. He said that police officers will be given a new round of sensitivity training.

A title for Father Norton

Talk about a nice parting gift for Father Stephen Norton, the outgoing president of Kennedy Catholic H.S. in Somers.

1.jpgHis baseball team on Saturday won the Class B New York state championship, the school’s first title.

Norton, of course, is one of many New York priests who have been given new assignments at the end of the month. Many in the Kennedy H.S. community are quite upset about his reassignment to a parish in Dutchess County. (LATE ADD: I understand that at least some priests who were told by phone that they would be reassigned have not received letters from the archdiocese making the moves official. Hmmm.)

Several Kennedy parents and others insist that Norton did himself no favors with higher-ups by opposing plans for a new church on the high school grounds — ironically, right where the baseball field is.

Do you know your Catechism?

Over the past few days, I’ve had a chance to flip through The Complete Idiot’s Guide to The Catholic Catechism by Mary DeTurris Poust, who grew up in Rockland County.

droppedimage.jpgEvery time I see a new “idiot’s guide” to a religious subject, I can’t help laughing.

Poust’s book is a clear, concise and gently funny introduction to the Roman Catholic faith. It was reviewed by a priest at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore and got a stamp of approval from the bishop of Metuchen, N.J., so you know it’s the real deal.

In a section about Mary, a box titled “True Confessions” reads:

Mary’s virginity is not an easy thing for many people to accept. The Catechism goes back to the writings of St. Ignatius of Antioch, a bishop and martyr in the first century. He addressed the fact that some early Christians were “troubled by the silence of St. Mark’s Gospel and the New Testament epistles about Jesus’ virginal conception.” He wrote that faith in the virgin birth was met with mockery and opposition from people of all stripes — Jews, non-Jews, and pagans — which flies in the face of claims that belief in the virgin birth was motivated by a nod to paganism. The virgin birth is “accessible only to faith,” meaning that like so many other aspects of faith, it is a mystery that cannot be fully understood in human terms and must be accepted as part of the larger mystery of God’s divine plan.

shapeimage_4.jpgI had a chance to interview Poust recently. She was born and raised in Pearl River and graduated from Pearl River High School in 1980. She says she was “grounded in the faith” at St. Aedan’s Parish in Pearl River.

She’s worked for Catholic publications for 24 years and is a former managing editor of Catholic New York. Her monthly column, “Life Lines,” still runs in CNY. And she’s a contributing editor for Our Sunday Visitor, a national Catholic weekly.

She’ll be blogging about the papal visit to New York for Our Sunday Visitor.

White Plains church faces gambling scandal

A lot of readers are commenting about our coverage over the weekend of the gambling scandal at Our Lady of Sorrows R.C. Church in White Plains.

tjndc5-5jdimmov8qpb2esyx3_layout.jpgIf you haven’t seen it, the church’s longtime pastor, the Rev. Patrick Dunne, apparently stole a lot of parish money to pay for gambling debts.

The chancellor of the Archdiocese of NY, Monsignor William Belford (that’s him), spoke about the situation at all Masses at the church this past weekend — after the archdiocese was contacted Friday by the Journal News/LoHud.

Having read most of the comments on LoHud, as well as emails to me and today’s follow-up article, is seems that a lot of parishioners are urging forgiveness for Father Dunne.

One parishioner wrote:

Although parishioners were told that Father Dunne would not be coming back, I would be happy to see him back here after treatment, only without check-writing power. Aside from this flaw, he was a good priest and did good work. Many of his sermons were about forgiveness and compassion and he deserves the same given back to him.

A very Christian response, no doubt.

Others were concerned about a lack of oversight. Through the years, many Catholics have mentioned their concerns to me about money management in their parishes (not about misdeeds, but the potential for problems). I’m sure a lot of people will be watching to see what the Westchester DA’s office, which is investigating Father Dunne, will find.

Greenburgh energy conservation coordinator will try interfaith approach

New York Interfaith Power & Light, a group that advocates a faith-based approach to saving energy, has appointed Nicola Coddington of Irvington as executive director.

tjndc5-5dukwojx8hz19qxsqg2l_layout.jpgCoddington has been energy conservation coordinator for the Town of Greeburgh.

NYIPL says it aims to “promote stewardship of the earth by faith communities through energy conservation and efficiency and through the use of renewable energy.” It is a chapter of the Interfaith Power & Light campaign, which has chapters in 26 states and D.C.

Religious congregations across New York state contribute to the group.

Dr. Janet Allen, NYIPL vice president, said she looks forward to “Nikki solidifying and strengthening the New York State interfaith community’s response to global warming.”