Archive for Sunday, January 1, 2012

No surprise to pastor religion tied to community engagement

Debbie Nall, left, gives a tour of her home to Christ Community Church lead pastor Jeff Barclay, center and Dot Fernandez, church director of  women's ministry, right. The church is considering purchasing the home as a halfway house for women in trouble. Fernandez is just one of many church members who donates her time to the Lawrence community.

Debbie Nall, left, gives a tour of her home to Christ Community Church lead pastor Jeff Barclay, center and Dot Fernandez, church director of women's ministry, right. The church is considering purchasing the home as a halfway house for women in trouble. Fernandez is just one of many church members who donates her time to the Lawrence community.

January 1, 2012


Forty percent of Americans are actively involved in some form of religion, and that might be a good thing for the 60 percent who aren’t.

That’s because religiously active Americans are more likely to be involved in their communities than their nonreligious peers, according to a recent study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The study’s authors say their findings contradict the view that religious Americans are an insular bunch, primarily concerned with the inner workings of their own places of worship.

Those findings don’t surprise Jeff Barclay, lead pastor at Christ Community Church, 1100 Kasold Drive.

“I think it would be hard for me to find somebody who wasn’t doing something,” Barclay said of his congregation.

After the church made community service its official theme for 2011, Barclay discovered many of its members had been quietly volunteering throughout the community for years. One woman counsels prisoners, while other congregation members lead a Boy Scout troop and organize food drives.

Hilda Enoch said the connection between faith and service goes to the essence of what religion should be. As a member of the Jewish Community Congregation and a fixture in Lawrence social justice movements for decades, Enoch has seen that connection in action.

In the 1960s, she helped found Children’s Hour, a program for preschoolers that evolved into the local Head Start chapter. In the 1970s, she was involved in founding Small World, which continues to help families who have moved to Lawrence from other countries integrate into the community. Both programs were held in religious facilities, rent-free. Without the use of those spaces, the programs would never have gotten off the ground.

“I think the best of religion is in meeting the basic, unmet needs of the community,” Enoch said. “I think all religions have that in common.”

The Pew study noted that 38 percent of religiously active Americans said their actions could have a major impact on their communities. That’s 11 percentage points higher than nonreligious Americans. Religiously active people were also more likely to rate their communities as excellent places to live, all of which could help explain their motivation to be involved in them.

Matt Hertig, a Christ Community Church member, coaches youth basketball and soccer. Hertig said that service can be anything and doesn’t need to be related to the church. For him, coaching is about seeing children’s eyes light up when they begin to grasp the game, not from any desire to preach to the kids.

“I think sometimes churches can become like a country club, where we’re very adept at taking care of the members,” Hertig said. “What gets lost is what God calls us to do, which is to go out and serve.”

— Reporter Aaron Couch can be reached at 832-7217. Follow him at


Lawrence Morgan 6 years, 2 months ago

I would like to see an interview each week of a different pastor or priest, his views about life, his religion, and the way his members care for others.

Ragingbear 6 years, 2 months ago

That bedroom looks like it could be featured in Law and Order:SVU

Christine Anderson 6 years, 2 months ago

Why? What a rotten thing to say about a woman who is selfless.

Bailey Perkins 6 years, 2 months ago

Now you’ve made the assumption that nonreligious could care less about the community. First off, whom did you ask for the nonreligious response? If you did not focus on those determined to provided humanitarian support (HUMANISTS) then you obviously had no clue about the nonreligious. That is, if you even understood the concept behind the name. Based on this article, I am guessing you did not.

Also: Your article included organizations through which the religious volunteer their time. Sadly, you chose homophobic, Christian focused groups. How do such groups provide anything necessary to the community if they are only misshaping the views of those involved? Take a moment and think about this….

jayhawkinsf 6 years, 2 months ago

Wow! I'm certain we read different articles.

Fossick 6 years, 2 months ago

"Now you’ve made the assumption that nonreligious could care less about the community."

It's not an assumption, it's a survey.

What they did in the survey was asked a bunch of people about all the groups they are involved in. Those who were involved in groups recognized as 'religious' tended to be involved in a lot of groups that were not religious. Those not involved in 'religious' groups tended to be involved in fewer other groups and spent less time serving in those groups.

There are a couple of ways to read the results. One is that 'joiners' (those who belong to a lot of groups for personality reasons) tend to joins religions, too - this is a "cart before the horse" answer, but it fits the data. Another is that the non-religious are less involved. Another is that non-religious people who help out have no problem joining churches for that reason and so are miscounted as being religious.

But the short answer is that they did not ask for a "non-religious" response - they simply segregated those who belonged to religious groups from those who didn't.

beatrice 6 years, 2 months ago

"The Pew study noted that 38 percent of religiously active Americans said their actions could have a major impact on their communities. That’s 11 percentage points higher than nonreligious Americans."

Do any of those answering think praying is an action that helps the community? There needs to be some way of determining how we define an action. Praying is an action, but there is no way of proving that it helps others.

I admire those who volunteer and help others. Yet this isn't exactly bragging rights for the religious. 38 percent is still less than half. This article could just as easily have read, "Most religious people do not help their communities."

Cccmember 6 years, 2 months ago

I do believe and agree that praying for our community is one of the most important things we can do.

verity 6 years, 2 months ago

Exactly, Bea. There are many holes and assumptions in this story. Too much bigotry in this country towards atheists and/or the nonreligious. How much of this volunteer activity is geared towards proselytization or manipulating people to accept and believe your religious views? As always with a study or poll, I want to know who was studied and what questions were asked and how. This means nothing without knowing that---so I googled the study and found this.

Whenever I have taken a survey, I have found that the answers I can choose from are often not at all applicable so I end up just choosing something which doesn't really represent me---or the questions are so leading that it's impossible to answer them in a way that represents my beliefs.

I am an atheist and I volunteer in a number of organizations that are church related which are serving the needs of the community without trying to "save" people. Where does that put me?

verity 6 years, 2 months ago

You made me laugh out loud, Jane. Great comeback.

Stuart Evans 6 years, 2 months ago

we really need some sort of 'Like' or 'upvote' button.

dlkrm 6 years, 2 months ago

Wow, lots of hate from Kansasgirl. Massive amounts. And uninformed hate, the worst kind.

Stuart Evans 6 years, 2 months ago

that was a massive amounts of hate?

What about Fred Phelps? He's got a lot of hate. How about the KKK, tons of hate there. Hitler, huge hate guy. All of them Christians...

Kansasgirl made a statement that is fairly accurate; that's really not the same as "massive amounts of uninformed hate". I'm curious though, what does informed hate look like, and how is it any better?

cthulhu_4_president 6 years, 2 months ago

Maybe 'informed hate' is when you read the Bible to learn what to hate (but only the parts that hate the same thing[s] that you hate)?

Fossick 6 years, 2 months ago

"Hitler, huge hate guy. All of them Christians..."

Now you're just making it up. "There is little doubt," writes Derek Hastings in his new book, Catholicism and the Roots of Nazism, "that Hitler was a staunch opponent of Christianity throughout the duration of the Third Reich." Goebbels reported the same, that Hitler was "deeply religious and thoroughly anti-Christian." Any modern history book dealing with the Third Reich will say the same, because it's pretty difficult to argue that a guy who hated Jews more than anything was a disciple of the most famous Jew of all. He was clearly steeped in volkish paganism and Ariosophy, Theosophy, and other 19th Century occult doctrines.

One needs to separate public comments meant to garner public support (as those vague "creator" statements from Mein Kampf) with private beliefs and actions. Plenty of politicians claim to be Christians because many Christians are foolish enough to vote on that criterion.

Stuart Evans 6 years, 2 months ago

oh no, the 80% are being attacked again? so persecuted...

If you're not seeing the bigotry of the religious against non-believers (and even other sects within their own Abrahamic ideology), then you're clearly not paying attention.

Atheists don't care if you celebrate Christmas, or have a nativity scene, or even if your kids pray in school; no really, we don't care. We only demand that public funds NOT be used to make it happen. That means public property, public schools, teacher salaries, etc., cannot be used to propagate the ideology.

Now you silly kids, with your invisible men, go nuts, have fun, and think to the sky for things you want.

cthulhu_4_president 6 years, 2 months ago

"Find me one story, just one, where Christians are showing bigotry toward atheists."

One 30-second google search later:

This seems to be epidemic, by the way. All over the country, freethought organizations are paying to put up billboards on private property and they are being vandalized regularly. Stories like this are very easy to find. Chalkings on campus and other material promiting freethought groups are regularly vandalized in campuses and communities accros the country (again, google-fu here).

On the other hand, it's interesting that angry atheists don't have a national reputation of vandalizing church signs or religious billboards and material, even though church messages are much closer to the ground than your average billboard. In fact, the very first hit for the google search "church atheist vandalization" comes up with an atheist group that raised funds to help a vandalized church!! It's almost like atheists and freethinkers are overall respectful of others beliefs, as long as people can respect each other and public funds are not used to promote any one ideology.

Respect for people is a rule of civil society, and not using public funds for religious conversion is the rule of law. The average atheist lives by both.

cthulhu_4_president 6 years, 2 months ago

So maybe pointing out one lone act of vandalism as an example of christian bigotry against atheists was kind of a low-hanging fruit, as examples go. Maybe something systematic, and with the official seal of the religion is what is needed:

Another problem for the newest generation of freethinkers is a trend among private colleges to not allow secular humanist/atheist groups to officially organize on campus. Yes, these are private colleges who can legally discriminate against whomever they want, but these same colleges also allow student groups to meet which are Muslim, Jewish, and a host of other faiths. This is clearly sending the bigoted message that disbelief and freethought make one a secondhand citizen. Sad, and not very Christian.

Lisa Medsker 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm not quite sure how "Please stop shoving your religion down my throat" or "live and let live", or even people simply existing without having the exact same views and perceptions as a large group constitutes "persecution". But, okay...

Cccmember 6 years, 2 months ago

Hi all. My name is Matt from the article and was just curious to see the article online. After reading through all of the comments, I felt compelled to provide some context and comments.

For those who are atheists that have commented, I am sorry you feel disrespected or that the article is centered on bigotry towards atheism. The intent of the article was to merely respond to the survey and how our church, Christ Community Church, is trying to as an organization serve our community in some way and better than we have in the past. It is not to say that others in the community aren't serving in someway or that only the "religious" should be recognized for any service that may be going on.

Clearly there are differences of opinions when it comes to a belief in God between Christians, other religions, or Atheism. However I think we can all agree, or most of us anyway, that serving others and helping those in need is something that we all should do.

I think that the Christian church could be doing and serving more than it is. Sometimes a church becomes a country club like I referred to and forgets about what our "religion" calls us to do among many things which is to serve. Frankly, it is very disappointing that the numbers are what they are according to the survey.

With respect to the hate groups, Fred Phelps does not represent the general attitude of Christians - nor does the KKK or Hitler for that matter. Those extreme groups preach hate and discrimination in the name of religion. This is not Christianity.

Lastly, I understand that we all don't agree that there is a God or a Jesus. Thats okay. While we Christians have Faith that there is a God and can provide historical evidence to why we would believe, we all need to respect one another. I personally know that Christians have failed in this area causing hurt to those who don't believe in a God as well as those that do. However serving one another is something I think we should all do - even if it's as small as coaching a child's sports team. Thanks.

Ragingbear 6 years, 2 months ago

Please provide this supposed historical evidence. It will need to be more than "Jerusalem was in the bible and it is still here today" argument. Stories won't count either.

Cccmember 6 years, 2 months ago

Hi. Sure thing. We can start with the New Testament in the Bible. The New Testament has more than 5,000 complete copies of the original writings. That's 5,000 that have been catalogued. There are close to 25,000 copies of the New Testament that have been found. No other book in history comes even close to this type of historical evidence. As an example, take Himers Iliad. We have 643 copies of this text of which were written about 500 years after the original was written. 643 which we believe to be representative of the original writings. The earliest copies of the New Testament are within 50 years ensuring that we the original writings are accurately represented today.

Also, understand that these were also hand written by scribes in multiple geographical locations. All of the writing match almost perfectly. Another important historical fact.

Its a very good question and one that I surely have considered as a believer. Is that helpful?

Ragingbear 6 years, 2 months ago

So, because we have copies of stories, that makes them true? That would mean that the Little Red Hen actually happened!

Cccmember 6 years, 2 months ago

Nice. While i appreciate the anaology, you are comparing apples and oranges. These so called stories claim truth that there is a God!, A real Jesus, and that he died on a cross, and rose again to save us from eternal death. Unlike the the Little Red Hen, these so called stories claim truth - not a fairy tale. For if it were really a fairy tale, why would so many copies be in existence?

Also these historical writings have never been proved wrong. Our entire culture is built upon historical writings as evidence of truth. You may believe they are simply stories. However, if they were just stories, why haven't they ever been proven wrong? And why would scribes take such care to ensure that so many copies of something would exist? For a bed time story? Logically, I don't think so.

I understand your point however logically speaking, it doesn't stand up to history.

Cccmember 6 years, 2 months ago

Also, I wanted to add to my comments regarding history so you clearly understand my perspective. I am confident you didn't actually meet Abraham Lincoln. Or George Washington. Or most likely Martin Luther king Jr.. However, historical writings and factual evidence tell us they existed. The Bible is no different as it is a historical account of what took place. I believe that these men above existed even though I never met them and also believe in Jesus even though I have never met him personally in a physical sense. But I have faith that he does exist and that faith is supported by the evedential facts in the Bible.

Cccmember 6 years, 2 months ago

By the way, that's Homers Iliad. Not Himers. Dang spell check! Thanks.

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