Originally created 07/24/99

Faith digest



Singles fellowship

Ball bats and gloves, lawn chairs and blankets are all singles need for the second annual Citywide Fellowship and Picnic at May Park, Fourth Street and Walton Way.

Cooks will fire up grills for hot dogs and hamburgers after praise and worship at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 31. There will be softball and volleyball for adults, and children of singles can enjoy a day of hula hoop contests, cupcake walks and horseshoes. The event ends at 3 p.m.

Connecting With Christ Through Community Fellowship is the theme, said Sherry Southern, a member of Beulah Grove Baptist Church, one of the sponsors. Good Shepherd Baptist Church and Friendly Church of God in Christ are also sponsors.

A pre-picnic ice-breaker will open with praise and worship at Beulah Grove, 1434 Poplar St., from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday. Desserts will be served.

The events are intended to cross denominational and racial lines and to let the community know more about Christian singles, said Ms. Southern. "You don't need to be married to be a whole person or to have fun."

For more information, call 855-2999.

Divorce and belief

OMAHA, Neb. -- A Creighton University study found that married couples from different Christian denominations divorce at a higher rate and are more likely to drift away from the church than those who wed within denominations.

However, the survey also indicated that shared religious activities are more important to the success of marriages than shared beliefs. And the divorce rate for the "inter-church" couples was only half that of the U.S. population at large.

"Denominational differences don't cause breakups," said Michael Lawlor of Creighton's Center for Marriage and Family. "It depends on what the couple does together religiously and how they deal with differences. If they can fashion a shared religious life, their marriages will be as stable as any same-church marriage."

Couples who were members of different denominations when engaged but later affiliated with the same church had a divorce rate of only 6 percent, compared with 14 percent for couples of the same denomination and 20 percent for those who maintained membership in different denominations.

Sculpting diversity

ST. LOUIS -- A 14-foot, 1,100-pound stainless steel sculpture by Wiktor Szostalo, titled Angel of Harmony, has been installed next to the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica.

The work, commissioned by the Catholic archdiocese, depicts a smiling black angel with outstretched arms, and wings made of more than 100 copper and brass wind chimes. The angel protects three children: a Hispanic boy playing a flute, a black boy beating drums and an Asian girl ringing a bell.

"All of our churches are covered with beautiful images of God, Jesus and Mary with European features," said Bishop Edward Braxton. "If we're going to look at ourselves as Catholics in diversity, it's important that we see images that are diverse in backgrounds."

Mr. Szostalo, a Polish immigrant, is known for his work in welded stainless steel. He has many pieces in churches from California to New Jersey, often with black religious images.

"I like working with churches," he said. "Usually the work means to them much more than a couple of abstract cubes stuck together in some lawn in a city where no one even looks."

Abiding Muslim law

BISMARCK, N.D. -- North Dakota is meat country, but the state's small Muslim population has difficulty buying food that fits the faith's dietary rules. So investment consultant Adnan Aldayel plans to open a processing plant for Muslim meat.

"Some other states, they might have places that will sell it on a smaller scale. In North Dakota, it's impossible," said Mr. Aldayel, an immigrant from Saudi Arabia.

Islam forbids eating meat that is not halal, meaning legal. The animal must be slaughtered by a Muslim who slits its jugular vein and says "Allah." In a pinch, some Muslims use Jewish kosher meat.

Mr. Aldayel, who received a state grant for a marketing study, is enlisting investors and hopes to begin production by the fall. He will slaughter cattle, sheep, bison, goat and elk, giving producers of those livestock another outlet. Meanwhile, a regional lamb growers' cooperative says it also plans to process halal meat for restaurants with Muslim customers.