Thursday, May 22, 2014

Commencement speeches are barely finished, but students at the University of Dallas are getting a jump on their 2015 graduation wish list.

Students at the Catholic university want Pope Francis as their commencement speaker next year, and they’ve launched a Facebook page and letter-writing campaign to bring the pontiff to the Lone Star State.

The “Pope Francis@University of Dallas” Facebook group has more than 1,000 members, and organizers are asking all students, family and alumni to lend their support.

“We know this is a long shot, but that doesn’t mean that it is impossible,” the page states. “Long story short, Pope Francis will be in the U.S. the summer of 2015. We are running a campaign to invite him to essentially be our commencement speaker at our Class of 2015 graduation (or any sort of visit/ acknowledgment possible).”

The popular new pontiff was invited by President Obama to visit the U.S. next year.

The group’s organizers said they plan by the end of the week to send a Texas flag covered in signatures along with a formal letter to Pope Francis.

SEE ALSO: Americans tend to fib about church attendance, study finds

Seminary ‘digs’ Muslim

A Muslim man was recently accepted into one of the doctorate programs at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Religion News Service reported that Palestinian Muslim Ghassan Nagagreh was accepted into the seminary’s doctorate program for archaeology.

Seminary President Paige Patterson did not name Mr. Nagagreh, but said in a statement posted on the school’s website that the man “accepted the necessity of abiding by our moral code of conduct. He is a man of peace, and we agreed to admit him into the archaeology program.”

Mr. Nagagreh was working at an archaeological dig at Tel Gezer in Israel with about 80 students from the seminary and other schools. The news service said Mr. Nagagreh had been working at the dig site since 2008.

“This man’s progress has been good,” Mr. Patterson said, “and we are especially grateful for the close relations that have been forged with peaceful Muslims and the opportunities that we have had to share biblical truths with them. In all of this, there is not even a hint of compromise of our historic position.”


If you want to make adorably tiny cupcakes or get ideas for charming engagement photos, Pinterest is your source. But what about people who are looking for an inspirational Bible verse, ironic religious T-shirt, or a picture of a holy site — all in one place?

Head to!

“In today’s busy world, I believe that Christian ministries need to engage the public with social media and that there is added value in doing so,” said Dean Jones, project manager for Godinterest, in a press release posted to Digital Journal.

Godinterest, he said, “will enable our users to share within a Christian Social Network.”

Mr. Jones said his hope for Godinterest is that users find it easy to connect, share, and post information, all within a “safe, family-friendly Christian alternative” to its (apparently) sinful sibling Pinterest.


Churches are getting a bit closer to heaven, thanks to some aerial maneuvering and creative video.

The Archdiocese of Washington recently used a drone to take a bird’s-eye view of a procession honoring Pope John Paul II at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. In Mobile, Alabama, members of the South Coast Church were filmed from high above, filing out of the church on Easter Sunday.

The Washington Post reported this week that the archdiocese spent less than $1,000 on the drone, and church spokeswoman Chieko Noguchi explained that just as art, music and architecture “have been used through history to share themes, we are using video and photo to create images of the message being communicated.”

Jeff Roberts, student pastor and creative director at South Coast Church, told this week he got a similar idea at a church conference in Florida, when he saw a drone hovering above the crowd.

The video taken in Mobile was posted online and Mr. Roberts said it generated a “tremendous amount of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ in a very short amount of time.”

“Social media is just a tool for us to share our story, effectively share the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ, and connect more deeply with others.”

Meredith Somers covers issues of faith and religion. She can be reached at

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