01: In heavily Protestant western Virginia, Southern Virginia College is becoming the Brigham Young University of the east for Mormons.
The college has no official ties to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but its curriculum is tailored to the Book of Mormon, and 98 percent of the student body of 420 is Mormon. SVC has grown sixfold since it was reopened under its new administration in 1996 after being bought by Mormon businessmen.
The school has been particularly effective in drawing students who grew up in communities with few Mormons and are hungering for support and a sense of community. The goal is to become a university with full accreditation in a few years time.
(Source: Washington Post, April 26)
02: Bishop John Richard Bryant is breaking new ground in the black church as he challenges the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) to broaden its base beyond African-Americans.
Bryant, the new bishop of the church’s fifth district (covering churches west of the Mississippi) says the changing demographics in cities, with Asians and Latinos outnumbering blacks, should challenge black churches to be outreach oriented and multiracial. While the AME is largely black, some clergy in California are learning Spanish and drawing whites and other minorities to their congregations.
Bryant says that most black churches don’t fight to stay black, and that the problem has often been the difficulty of Americans, particularly whites, in joining “anything that is black-led.”
(Source: Los Angeles Times, April 14)