Posted by: mollyrossiter | July 1, 2009

Temple Judah names new rabbi

 CEDAR RAPIDS — Four years after coming to Cedar Rapids to serve as rabbi for the city’s only synagogue, Rabbi Aaron Sherman has left the post.

Sherman’s last day at Temple Judah, 3221 Lindsey Lane SE, was June 30.

Details surrounding Sherman’s departure are unclear, but Temple Judah co-president Charlie Litow said the decision for Sherman to not return when his contract expired was “a mutual decision.”

“I think we left under very good circumstances,” Litow said. “It really was kind of mutual, it was friendly. Nobody’s looking to ‘out’ anybody, it wasn’t anything like that.”

Repeated telephone calls to Sherman seeking comment were not returned.

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Posted by: mollyrossiter | June 24, 2009

Coping with tragedy as a community

Coach Ed Thomas

Coach Ed Thomas

The people of Parkersburg have, over the last year, shown us all what it means to be determined, driven and strong. A devastating tornado leveled most of the community on Memorial Day weekend in 2008 and residents and businesses have worked hard to rebuild.

Today a leader in that move to rebuild, Aplington-Parkersburg football coach Ed Thomas, was shot to death in the high school weight room where he was supervising a group of student athletes. A former student and football player has been charged.

Coping with the tragedy and dealing with the loss will be done individually but also at a community level, counselors and pastors said Wednesday.

“I think it’s important that they rally together and just get a sense of community,” said Bruce Gregory, a licensed mental health counselor at Family Psychology Associates in Cedar Rapids. “Talk about the positives that the coach gave and remember the good memories, that will help reduce further trauma.”

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Posted by: mollyrossiter | June 15, 2009

Historical designation could mean funds

From Saturday’s Gazette:

An Iowa historic preservationist said churches may qualify for historic preservation funds or grants their members don’t know about.

Churches are not eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency money or other disaster funds, Rod Scott, president of the Iowa Historic Preservation Alliance, said.

If the buildings are found to be historic, however, there could be preservation and other funds available. Those funds could go a long way in rehabilitating buildings damaged in last year’s floods, Scott said.

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Posted by: mollyrossiter | June 1, 2009

Murder is murder, regardless of the politics

Dr. George Tiller had a lot of enemies.

One of few American physicians to perform late-term abortions, Tiller was often the subject of threats at his Wichita, Kansas home and clinic, his clinic was bombed and broken into, and in 1993 he was shot in both arms by an abortion protester.

On Sunday, Tiller was handing out bulletins in church when he was shot and killed. The suspect in the shooting is a man that church members said wasn’t a member of the church.

A handful of abortion opponents see Tiller’s death as a victory, leaving comments on online stories and posting blogs about the justified actions his killer took. It’s that extremist view that worries some evangelical Christian leaders.

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Posted by: mollyrossiter | May 21, 2009

CR native graduates from leadership program

(Submitted photo)

(Submitted photo)

Catherine Olson of Cedar Rapids was one of 21 students to graduate from IMPACT 360, a leadership program in Pine Mountain, Ga., designed to equip young adults to become Christ-centered leaders.

The nine-month residential program is for high school graduates. It was “founded in 2006 by John and Trudy Cathy White who wanted to break the cycle of spiritual poverty among young adults who enter college and abandon their faith when faced with opposition and challenges to their beliefs.”

Posted by: mollyrossiter | May 21, 2009

American Idol’s tainted crown

Forgive my naivete, but I honestly thought American Idol was a singing contest.

I’m not a fan of Idol, never have been. I’m a fan of some of the musicians it’s turned out — Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson — but to watch the weekly melodrama leading up to the finale? No thanks.

I am surrounded by Idol fans, however, so have been following this year’s contest as closely as possible without actually watching the show.

Discussion around the watercooler today, though, prompted a few visits to Idol sites and postings and my perusal of various blogs through the day.

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Posted by: mollyrossiter | May 15, 2009

Another congregation bids farewell

A Cedar Rapids congregation is preparing to bid farewell to a building that took on more water than it could handle in the floods last June.

 The congregation of the Cedar Rapids Christian Center, 609 First Ave. SW, will hold a farewell service in the church parking lot at 6 p.m. Sunday.

It’s the last service to be held on the property before the building is demolished.

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Posted by: mollyrossiter | May 14, 2009

Faith carries cancer patient through to the end

Right before Easter Gazette photographer/visual journalist Liz Martin and I spent a Saturday morning at the North Liberty home of John and Julie Flesner.

We were working on a story on people who had turned away from their faith only to eventually turn back, and how their faith carried them through a particularly difficult time. What we didn’t count on was being referred to the Flesners by their pastor, the Rev. Paul Hansen, of Grace Community Church in North Liberty.

The Flesners had been married for 22 years but neither was real interested in church until they began having problems in their marriage about three years ago. They found a church they loved and gave themselves over to their faith.

Then Julie was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer.

“There was no whining, no complaining, just the thought of, ‘Now I know why we’re here,'” John told me in April.

Both John and Julie credited their faith with helping them get through the diagnosis, the treatments and the reality that Julie’s prognosis was terminal.

When Liz and I were leaving the Flesner’s home last month, we remarked about how good Julie looked. She was fighting a good fight.

Julie Flesner lost that fight yesterday morning. In continued updates through Julie’s hospice page, John continued to remind readers that their faith was carrying them through. Two days before Julie died, John posted this: “It feels like He is reaching for her hand and has His Angels ready for His command to bring her home.”

Posted by: mollyrossiter | May 12, 2009

New group for atheists, agnostics in Corridor

When Lori Griffith’s husband was battling cancer, members of the church he grew up in sent cards and flowers and checked up on the couple regularly.

“I saw all this coming in and I was taking care of him and thinking, ‘Where’s mine? Where do I get support?'” said Griffith, 28, of Cedar Rapids.

Griffith, an atheist, didn’t have that same support community that her husband had. Although she was raised in a Lutheran church, her agnostic and later atheistic beliefs formed when she was in junior high. Eventually she left the church — and its community — behind.

“I wanted to believe. I tried so hard to believe,” Griffith said. “But you can’t make yourself believe something that you know in your heart you don’t.”

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Posted by: mollyrossiter | May 11, 2009

Priest admits to affair

The Rev. Alberto Cutie, a Roman Catholic priest in Miami, Fla., admitted to having an affair with a woman after pictures of the two hugging on a beach were published in a magazine.

Cutie, in an interview Sunday, said he was considering leaving the church and would marry the woman.

The story raises the question again: should priests be required to be celibate? In an AOL News poll, 76 percent of more than 151,000 respondents said no, they should not be required to remain celibate.

What do you think?

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