February 2009

Habitat founder, Millard Fuller, dies at 74

February 4 2009 by Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

WASHINGTON — Millard Fuller, the man who founded Habitat for Humanity and whose name was synonymous with volunteer faith-based efforts to build houses for the poor, died suddenly Tuesday (Feb. 3) after a brief illness.

Fuller, 74, had suffered from a chest cold in recent weeks, said Holly Chapman, vice president of communications and development of the Fuller Center for Housing in Americus, Ga.

"He just took a turn for the worse last night," she said.

Fuller founded Habitat for Humanity in 1976 but parted ways with the worldwide organization in 2005 after philosophical differences with Habitat's board and an allegation of inappropriate conduct that Fuller vehemently denied.

Religion News Service photo courtesy Fuller Center

Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller died Feb. 3 at age 74.

After leaving Habitat, Fuller started the Fuller Center for Housing in Americus, Ga., which sought to continue his mission to provide people across the world with decent housing.

Chapman said the center expects to go forward with plans for a summer project to build 10 houses in Fuller's hometown of Lanett, Ala., to mark what would have been the 50th wedding anniversary of Fuller and his wife, Linda.

"Millard would not want people to mourn his death," said Linda Fuller, co-founder of both Habitat for Humanity and the Fuller Center, in a statement. "He would be more interested in having people put on a tool belt and build a house for people in need."

Former President Jimmy Carter, a longtime volunteer with Habitat for Humanity who continues to lead a "Jimmy Carter Work Project" with the organization each year, issued a statement calling Millard Fuller "one of the most extraordinary people I have ever known" and commending his roles as founder of both Habitat and the Fuller Center.

"...(H)e was an inspiration to me, other members of our family and an untold number of volunteers who worked side-by-side under his leadership," Carter said.

Likewise, Fuller's successor at Habitat, Jonathan Reckford, said the organization mourns the loss of its founder.

"Millard Fuller was a force of nature who turned a simple idea into an international organization that has helped more than 300,000 families move from deplorable housing into simple, decent homes they helped build and can afford to buy and live in," said Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International.

Fuller became a millionaire by age 29 and developed Habitat for Humanity after giving up all his possessions and moving with his wife to Koinonia Farm, a Christian community near Americus. The Fullers tested the model of building modest homes with the volunteer labor and "sweat equity" of low-income homeowners in Africa before creating the organization to construct houses worldwide.

The author of 10 books, Fuller was recognized with numerous honors for his work, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

"Our choice is between grace and disgrace," he said in a 1995 speech in Washington. "Do we want graceful communities, where love and concern abound, or disgraceful ones, where love and concern are withheld and dispensed only to a privileged few?"

Chapman, the spokeswoman for the Fuller Center, said the organization will work on a succession plan but plans to "continue the mission of Millard."

"His vision was that every person in every country of the world has a simple decent place to live," she said, "and that continues to be our mission."

2/4/2009 5:29:00 AM by Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service | with 0 comments

Tolliver new exec in Missouri

February 4 2009 by Baptist Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — In a 44-4 vote, David Tolliver was elected by the Missouri Baptist Convention's (MBC) executive board Feb. 3 as the MBC's 12th executive director.
Tolliver, 58, has been interim director for nearly 22 months and has been MBC's staff as an associate executive director since May 2005.
MBC President Bruce McCoy, pastor of Canaan Baptist Church in St. Louis, told staff that Tolliver has taken them on a monthly pilgrimage toward unity the last couple of years in the Baptist Building.
"What's going to happen in this state is going to be whether or not we decide to get behind him," McCoy said. "My job (as president) is to help make him look good, and I hope you'll join me."
The executive board vote during a special called meeting was the culmination of a nationwide search. Although other candidates were considered, Tolliver was ultimately recommended to succeed former executive director David Clippard, who was terminated in April 2007 on a 44-7 vote by the board.
In brief remarks to the staff at the end of a Feb. 4 chapel service, Tolliver's language was direct and plain.
"I am as common as dirt and, folks, if it wasn't for the team that we have here working together, we wouldn't be where we were yesterday and where we are today," Tolliver said. "I know that. Just continue to do what you've been doing.
"If we'll all just serve Christ, we'll be fine. God bless you. Alright, get to work!"
Tolliver and his wife of 36 years, Myra, a third-grade teacher, have two children, a daughter, Terra Jo, and a son, Adam, and two grandchildren.
He holds two degrees from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, a master of divinity and doctor of ministry. He also is a cum laude graduate of Dallas Baptist University with a bachelor's degree in business administration.

2/4/2009 5:19:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

N.C. Baptists to help ice storm victims

February 3 2009 by staff and wire reports

BP photo by Matt Ledbetter

Travel on northwest Arkansas roads remained treacherous days after late January's ice storm.

N.C. Baptists are preparing to help people in Kentucky recover from a major ice storm that left 700,000 homes and businesses without power.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear activated all 4,600 National Guard troops and asked for federal aid in response to what he called the worst natural disaster in the state's history. Repairs to Kentucky's electrical grid and other cleanup costs are expected to exceed $45 million.

At least 16 storm-related deaths had been confirmed in Kentucky by Feb. 2, and dozens more were suspected in Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, Virginia, Oklahoma, Indiana, West Virginia and Ohio after the storm system moved through a major portion of the country early last week.

Gaylon Moss, who coordinates disaster relief for N.C. Baptist Men, sent an e-mail asking for volunteers to help people in Stanford, Ky., recover from the storm. Some N.C. Baptists had already inquired about going before the request, he said.

“I think we’ll have a good response,” he said.

Gary Holland, who served as a rebuilding coordinator for N.C. Baptist disaster relief efforts in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, was expected to arrive in Kentucky by the evening of Feb. 3, Moss said. Holland lives in Franklin, which is only about four hours from the disaster relief site in Kentucky.

A chainsaw team from Durham is leaving Feb. 5, according to Moss. Other teams will follow.

“A lot of things are still developing,” Moss said. “We’re just getting started.”

Emergency officials said 92 of Kentucky's 120 counties had declared emergencies, and more than 400,000 people remained without power over the weekend. National Guard troops were going door to door in some parts of the state, tagging with green tape those homes where people had sufficient supplies and tagging with red tape those in need of assistance.

The mayor of Mayfield, in western Kentucky, said it could take as long as two months for power to be restored to the entire county. And in Paducah, a city of about 25,000, a nighttime curfew was imposed Saturday.

Chainsaw teams from the Tennessee Baptist Convention have been assigned to Princeton, Cunningham, Madisonville, Siloam and Hancock, Ky., the North American Mission Board reported. A shower unit from Tennessee was activated at a shelter in Hancock.

The Alabama Baptist State Convention, Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, and the Georgia Baptist Convention were also sending chainsaw teams to assist with cleanup efforts in Kentucky.

The Associated Press reported that volunteers from New Haven Baptist Church in Albany, La., were passing out free kerosene, batteries, bottled water and other items to local residents from a staging area at New Horizons Baptist Church in Glendale, Ky. AP said the Louisiana residents were returning a favor from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina when the Kentucky church volunteered to help them.

Arkansas, the second hardest-hit state, requested shower units and chainsaw teams from other states as 350,000 customers were without power and 48 counties were declared federal disaster areas. Five feeding units were activated for Harrison, Mountain Home, Corning, Jonesboro, Paragould and Fayetteville, Ark. By Feb. 2, 300-plus volunteers had served more than 17,000 meals, and several churches had opened as shelters.

About 15 chainsaw teams were deployed in Arkansas, including one from the Kansas/Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists working in Berryville and some from the Louisiana Baptist Convention based at First Baptist Church in Springdale. Louisiana also sent shower trailers to First Baptist Church in Paragould and East Side Baptist Church in Mountain Home, NAMB reported.

Shower units also were setting up at the community center in Corning and at First Baptist Paragould. A Kansas/Nebraska shower unit was en route to Freeman Heights Baptist Church in Berryville.

Chainsaw teams in Missouri and Oklahoma were helping residents recover within their states, and several Tennessee teams were working in Missouri. In Illinois, 15 chainsaw teams from the Illinois Baptist State Association have been activated, and in Ohio, a feeding unit from the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio was operating in the southern part of the state, the North American Mission Board said.

2/3/2009 8:25:00 AM by staff and wire reports | with 0 comments

Volunteers impact Glorieta, Ridgecrest

February 3 2009 by Chris Turner, Baptist Press

GLORIETA, N.M. — Bob Cassily firmly holds a heat-resistant brick in one hand and uses a hammer to chip away the quarter-inch excess with the kind of precision Michelangelo might have used to chip away marble as he created the classic statue of David.

BP photo by Russ Rankin

Midge and Phil Hyatt, volunteers from Louisiana, have dedicated five months a year for the last six years to keeping the famous prayer gardens lush and green at the LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center in New Mexico.

No one may ever give a second thought to how perfectly the dozens of bricks fit together to form the lining of a fire pit, but that doesn't matter to Cassily. He's pouring decades of experience in undertaking this project for God.

"I feel like this puts my life up to this point in perspective," the New Hampshire native said. "I feel I've been prepared in my background as a mason to come here and serve and meet a real need here, and I really enjoy doing that."

"Here" is LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center near Santa Fe, N.M. Cassily and his wife Gloria are two of nearly 200 people, mostly retirees, who served as volunteers at the 55-year-old retreat center and contributed more than 27,000 hours of labor in 2008.

The effort is duplicated at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville. Both conference centers are operated by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Like many of the volunteers, the Cassilys live in a recreational vehicle and travel the country. But they've called Glorieta home since April because there has been no shortage of opportunities for a master mason with experience in high-end stone work.

His rugged hands reveal the story of a man who has spent a lifetime bringing decorative form to granite stones and other common building materials. Here he builds an elaborate pit that features a granite cross on the opposite side of where thousands of young people will sit during the years to come.

"We try to keep the big picture in front of us," Cassily said. "Each year 2,000 people either come to the Lord or dedicate their lives to ministry here at Glorieta. That's what we focus on. It is deeply satisfying to know I can use what God has equipped me to do by being a part of creating an atmosphere where people come and hear from the Lord. It makes it all worth it."

Across the campus at the Glorieta prayer garden, Midge Hyatt cradles shoots of a tender ground ivy plant as she prepares the ground with rich, dark soil she's mixed in a five-gallon bucket. The red clay and rocky soil at Glorieta is hardly conducive to vibrant plant growth, so Hyatt uses a recipe that will ensure healthy plants. She has it memorized after six years of volunteering alongside her husband Phil. The Lafayette, La., natives offer about five months a year to Glorieta and spend much of their time working in the prayer garden.

"We keep coming back because of all the young people who come out here," Hyatt said. "We will sometimes find little notes about their burdens or prayers they've written on little pieces of paper and stuck in the rocks. It is a spiritual experience to walk through the garden and see the culmination of your work and know that you've had a hand in creating a place where so many people make so many big life decisions."

BP photo by Russ Rankin

Retired mason Bob Cassily places bricks around the edges of a fire pit he has built at LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center. The New Hampshire native is one of nearly 200 volunteers who keep the New Mexico facility running smoothly.

Hal Hill, LifeWay's manager of Glorieta, said the service volunteers render is vital. With a limited paid staff, the volunteers handle jobs such as cafeteria duty, grounds maintenance, guest hospitality and food service.

"The service we provide at Glorieta could not exist without our volunteers," Hill said. "Our staff provides a structure, but there isn't enough of us to do the type of administration work that needs to be done and have extensive contact with our guests.

"The volunteers are the ones who have a lot of interaction with guests and are great ambassadors for our ministry to people," he said. "We have to have them."

Dave Zarbaugh, a volunteer from San Antonio, said the ministry to others and the camaraderie he shares with fellow volunteers is what brings him back to Glorieta. He said he never knows where or when a ministry opportunity presents itself.

"I was leading the devotional this morning for the kitchen staff and one of the delivery drivers was in there with us," Zarbaugh recounted. "After it was over he told me how meaningful it was to him and that he'd be back next Thursday to be a part of the devotional. He asked that I pray for him.

"There is always an opportunity here to do God's work," Zarbaugh said. "I just simply believe this campus is anointed by God as a place where He meets people."

The conference centers offer a number of opportunities for volunteer groups as well. Carpentry teams from Texas and Oklahoma, among other states, have come for two weeks or more and built furniture and a variety of other needed items. Some Baptist Campus Ministries come to Glorieta during spring break to do a service project such as painting buildings or sprucing up the grounds after winter's thaw.

"We can pretty much work with anyone or any group who wants to come," said Fred Laird, Glorieta's volunteer coordinator. "One of the things I love about our volunteers is the diversity of experience they bring. We'll have carpenters, plumbers, electricians and all sorts of trades, but we also have people who have been missionaries, administrators and school teachers. They bring so much, but the one thing they have in common is a love for serving the Lord and a love for people. They are always willing to go the extra mile. Each one brings something unique."

Cassily is testimony to that. Master masons don't come around often, and it was a meeting at an RV park in Florida that directed him across the country to Glorieta in New Mexico.

"We met some people who'd just come from volunteering here," Cassily said. "The more they talked about it and said it was the best experience of their lives, the more we felt we needed to come. I believe God was speaking to me through them, saying this is where He wanted me."

And now Cassily hopes God will use something as simple as a fire pit as a place to speak to thousands of young people in ways that will eternally impact their lives.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Turner is media relations manager for LifeWay Christian Resources. Additional information and volunteer opportunities at Glorieta and Ridgecrest can be found at www.lifeway.com/glorietavolunteers and www.lifeway.com/ridgecrestvolunteers.)

2/3/2009 5:11:00 AM by Chris Turner, Baptist Press | with 1 comments

CP giving recovers, ahead of pace

February 3 2009 by Baptist Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Year-to-date contributions through the Southern Baptist Convention's (SBC) Cooperative Program are 0.81 percent ahead of the same time frame last year, according to a news release from SBC Executive Committee President and Chief Executive Officer Morris H. Chapman.

As of Jan. 31, the year-to-date total of $68.2 million for Cooperative Program (CP) missions is more than $550,000 ahead of the $67.7 million received at the end of January 2008.

For the month, receipts of $21 million were 16.83 percent, or $3 million, ahead of the nearly $18 million received in January 2008.

Designated giving of $37.9 million for the same year-to-date period is 2.95 percent, or $1.2 million, below gifts of $39 million received at this point last year. The $26.9 million in designated gifts received last month is more than $691,000 below the $27.6 million received in January 2008, a decrease of 2.51 percent.

Month-to-month swings reflect a number of factors, but largely result from the timing of receipts from state conventions. The end-of-month total represents money received by close of business on the last business day of each month.

For the SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget, the year-to-date total of $68.2 million is 99.53 percent of the $68.6 million budgeted to support Southern Baptist ministries globally and across North America. The SBC operates on an Oct. 1-Sept. 30 fiscal year.

During the last fiscal year, Southern Baptists topped the $200-million mark for the third year in a row and overall giving to national causes surpassed the $400-million benchmark for a second straight year.

The Cooperative Program is Southern Baptists' method of supporting missions and ministry efforts of state conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention.

2/3/2009 5:10:00 AM by Baptist Press | with 0 comments

San Diego, Tijuana focus of mission thrust

February 3 2009 by Meredith Day, Baptist Press

SAN DIEGO — When Marc Botello first visited Tijuana last summer, he didn't think he'd be back just a few months later. Botello, missions/outreach leader at First Baptist Church in Newhall, Calif., had taken a team to Tijuana to meet with Fernando Martinez, director of a Baptist-affiliated benevolence ministry named Centro Shalom, which focuses its ministry in the city's barrios where many families live in shelters made from whatever scrap material they can find.

Botello and Martinez discussed how First Baptist members could help people in the city of more than 2 million and began to plan a mission trip for the winter. But when Botello learned that Centro Shalom would be part of the Crossover evangelistic outreach preceding the California Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in El Cajon in November 2008, the church decided to send volunteers to Tijuana ahead of schedule.

BP photo by Ruth Martinez

In Tijuana, Marc Botello and several youth and others involved with a Baptist benevolence ministry named Centro Shalom distribute clean water in one of the city's struggling neighborhoods. Botello is missions/outreach leader at First Baptist Church in Newhall, Calif.

Botello's team of eight joined others from Los Angeles and Long Beach to distribute clean water and food to people in some of Tijuana's poorest neighborhoods.

The Crossover volunteers also took part in Centro Shalom's weekly worship service, each sharing a brief testimony that was translated into Spanish for the congregation of more than 300. Botello said his church, which ministers in its immediate community and also sent volunteers to Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, has gained an even broader perspective on missions through their experiences in Tijuana.

"Missions can be anywhere, not only in our own community, but in other states and other countries," Botello noted.

Following the Crossover efforts, Dwight Simpson, director of missions for the San Diego Baptist Association, thanked the volunteers and invited them and others from around California to engage in missions in San Diego and Tijuana during the months ahead. In the first initiative, churches are being enlisted to meet needs in San Diego County through Faith in Action Xtreme, an extended period of service to the community that begins Easter Sunday.

Churches in the association "are gearing up for this intense, six-month period of community service to be able to carry the work at a level that will significantly impact the community and to create the visibility for the church and for God that we really desire," Simpson said, adding, "We're going to need lots of help from outside San Diego."

"There will be such an assortment of community ministry and outreach projects that any church that can drive a few miles and spend a few days to help will be able to find a church here that will greatly appreciate their partnership," Simpson told the Crossover volunteers.

Volunteers also are needed in Tijuana, Simpson said, noting that mission teams have many opportunities to work in the areas of church planting and humanitarian ministry in San Diego's sister city. And through the association's partnership with Tijuana Baptists, facilities for housing and meal preparation are available for visiting teams.

For more information about serving in San Diego or Tijuana, contact the San Diego Baptist Association at (619) 275-2550. For more information on the Faith in Action Xtreme initiative, contact Vision San Diego at (877) 817-4777 or e-mail xtreme@visionsd.org.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Day coordinates communications with the Vision San Diego outreach of the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board's Strategic Focus Cities initiative.)

2/3/2009 5:06:00 AM by Meredith Day, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Greensboro church uses fund to help others

February 2 2009 by Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor

It’s not unusual for a church to dip into its reserves to meet needs when giving drops.

It is unusual for a church to use “rainy day” funds to meet the needs of community service groups not even affiliated with the church.

First Baptist Church in Greensboro voted Jan. 14 to give $15,000 each to the local Salvation Army and the Greensboro Urban Ministry, according to pastor Ken Massey. The vote was unanimous after the church’s deacon chairman and the chairman of the finance committee presented “heartfelt rationale” of why the church should donate the money, Massey said.

The chairmen told church members that other people needed help and the congregation had more than most. They said Christians are called to live by faith and not sight, according to Massey.

“We believe God will provide for us,” he said.

Massey said the church had money in reserve as a rainy day fund for potential tough times.

“I really expected in the conversation more concern since we’re behind in giving about 9 percent,” he said. “I really expected more concern that we might need it down the road.”

Instead, the discussion was positive and centered on the needs of others, Massey said.

“For me, it was just a wonderful reminder that when times are difficult Christians can be at their best,” he said.

First Baptist members realized many in Greensboro have been negatively impacted by the economic downturn.

“I hope the church modeled what we ask our church members to do — that is give beyond their fears,” he said. “It’s easy to want to hold onto it in case things get worse, because they might.”

Massey said he thinks the church’s decision was the result of two recent events.

In the fall, the church hosted an economic summit with local experts and ministry leaders. During the meeting, the head of the local Urban Ministry told the congregation that about 3,000 school children in Guilford County are homeless, Massey said. The gathering prompted church members to think about how they could help.

The church has also been in a “visioning process,” according to Massey. The effort revealed that church members want to minister to local people impacted by the economic crisis.

Some church members are already ministering in various ways, Massey said. But until the church can organize its own practical ministries, church members decided that those already ministering could use money the church had in its reserves.

Massey said the two groups will likely use the money to restock their food supply, to serve food to people and to provide financial assistance.

“They both do great work,” he said.

Massey said he enjoyed telling leaders of the two organizations about the church’s decision. Both had read about it in a local newspaper column.

“That was a lot of fun,” he said. “That’s a great feeling.”

2/2/2009 8:21:00 AM by Steve DeVane, BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

Intentional evangelism alters church’s culture

February 2 2009 by Erin Roach, Baptist Press

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — An initiative to baptize “100 Souls in 100 Days” has spawned an atmosphere of evangelism at Blackshear Place Baptist Church that has become the Atlanta-area congregation’s new culture.

Lives have been changed, including a couple who had been addicted to methamphetamine and were searching for hope. Stumbling upon the sprawling church in Flowery Branch, Ga., they heard the gospel message and prayed to receive Christ.

“God radically changed their lives,” Jason Nave, a missions pastor at Blackshear Place, told Baptist Press. “Only God could do something like that. It was really cool to watch them be transformed and to continue to see them grow.”

And there was an elderly couple who had been married 50 years. They came forward one Sunday to rededicate their lives, and after talking with a deacon they realized they didn’t have a salvation story. They had attended church over the years but had never received Christ as Savior.

“They both came to faith in Christ and were baptized that night,” Nave said. “I had the opportunity to baptize both of them. There are so many stories like that.”

The stories began accumulating in 2006 when the church’s pastor, Jeff Crook, realized that in the midst of $17 million construction project, the congregation needed an emphasis that would keep them from turning inward while their building was in disarray.

Crook launched 100 Souls in 100 Days that summer, challenging the congregation to share the gospel with people they encountered outside the church, motivated by a goal to see at least 100 people commit to follow Jesus in believer’s baptism. On Day 100, the church baptized 126 people.

Blackshear Place, with 2,800 in average attendance on Sundays, repeated the evangelism emphasis last year and saw 191 people baptized within 100 days. The church celebrated the culmination by baptizing the remaining new believers in nearby Lake Lanier during an evening worship service, just like they did after the end of the first emphasis two years earlier.

“The way that we set this thing up and the reason we say anybody can do this is because whether your goal is 100 or 10 in 100 days, the main thing that we focused on is equipping our people to share their faith and to create an atmosphere of evangelism in the church,” Nave said. “It’s kind of an electrifying thing when people see other people coming to Christ.”

During the 100-day emphasis, the church scheduled one night each month between July and September when its members gathered for a meal and then heard a short presentation on how to witness using the EvangeCube, the Romans Road or other evangelistic tool. Then people divided into teams and went out into their rapidly growing community. The church also began offering in-depth classes on evangelism for those who wanted to learn more.

“It just creates an atmosphere where people are doing what Jesus said to do by fulfilling the Great Commission,” Nave said. “That brings a blessing to your life when you’re obedient in that regard. It seems like our people just really caught on fire and just began to tell people and began to bring people.”

2/2/2009 8:15:00 AM by Erin Roach, Baptist Press | with 0 comments

African-Americans surpass others in religiosity

February 2 2009 by Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

WASHINGTON — African-Americans surpass others in the U.S. in a range of expressions of faith, from praying more to attending religious services more frequently, a new report shows.

"Compared with other racial and ethnic groups, African-Americans are among the most likely to report a formal religious affiliation, with fully 87 percent of African-Americans describing themselves as belonging to one religious group or another," states "A Religious Portrait of African-Americans," released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life on Jan. 30.

The analysis finds that:
  • 79 percent of blacks say religion is very important in their lives, compared with 56 percent of all U.S. adults
  • 76 percent say they pray on at least daily, compared to 58 percent of the total U.S. population
  • 88 percent believe in God with absolute certainty, compared to 71 percent of all U.S. adults
  • 83 percent believe in angels and demons, compared to 68 percent of the total U.S. population.
  • 53 percent of African-Americans report attending religious services at least weekly, compared to 39 percent of Americans overall.
The research, drawn from Pew's 2007 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, showed that most African-Americans — 59 percent — are affiliated with historically black churches. Another 15 percent belong to evangelical churches, 4 percent to mainline Protestant churches, and 5 percent to Catholic churches. One percent each are affiliated with Jehovah's Witness and Muslim congregations, and 12 percent are unaffiliated.

Even blacks who are not affiliated with congregations demonstrated significant religious interest. Almost three-quarters of Africans-Americans who are unaffiliated with a particular faith say religion plays at least a "somewhat important" role in their lives.

Almost half — 45 percent — of unaffiliated African-Americans say it is "very important in their lives. In comparison, 16 percent of the overall population of unaffiliated Americans said religion is very important.

2/2/2009 8:13:00 AM by Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service | with 0 comments

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