PODCAST: Study reveals how young people’s faith held up amid coronavirus pandemic (UCNN 06.02.21)

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According to Religion News Service, Researchers are warning religious leaders, teachers and parents that there isn’t going to be a simple “back to normal” approach for young people after the Covid-19 pandemic. Rather, we should all be looking for ways to help them experience “the new normal.” That’s the argument from Springtide Research Institute, which surveyed 2,500 members of Generation Z (ages 13 to 25) in February 2021 about their experiences of, and attitudes about, the pandemic. It’s not going to be easy for young people to merely pick up where they left off, said Dr. Josh Packard, Springtide’s executive director. But here’s a problem: nine out of ten young people say they didn’t hear from a religious leader during the pandemic. “We were hearing lots of news stories about religious leaders scrambling to put services online. And at the same time, we’re hearing from young people that nobody was really checking in on them, especially religious leaders.” Only 10% of the young people surveyed said a clergy member had checked in to see how they were doing. And only 14% reported turning to a faith community when they felt overwhelmed and didn’t know what to do. On the other hand, faith communities scored higher than other institutions in how young people thought they handled the pandemic. The study found that 50% agreed their faith community had done “a great job navigating the pandemic”—which was higher than the report card they gave to the government. In fact, two-thirds (65%) said the government did not do its best to protect people during the pandemic. And more than half (57%) said they’re going to have a harder time trusting others, even their own family and friends, after seeing how they handled the pandemic. The study also found that young people’s personal faith more or less held steady despite all the upheaval. Roughly half (47%) said their faith stayed about the same in the crisis, just over a quarter (26%) that it had grown stronger, and just over a quarter (27%) that they were doubting or had lost their faith.

According to CNN, Wilberforce University will cancel student debt for 2020 and 2021 graduates, according to a news release. The president of the historically Black university made the announcement during 2021 commencement exercises Saturday, noting the total amount of cleared debt will be more than $375,000. “As these graduates begin their lives as responsible adults, we are honored to be able to give them a fresh start by relieving their student debt to the university,” President Elfred Anthony Pinkard said. Students were seen cheering and dancing after Pinkard made the announcement. This initiative does not cover federal loans, bank loans or any other kind of personal loans taken by the student. It includes fines and fees owed to the university and tuition balances that were being paid directly to the university by students or their parents. The debt will be covered by various scholarships, such as the United Negro College Fund, Inc., Jack and Jill, Inc., as well as other funding, according to the release.

According to WGNTV, Family is mourning the loss of a 15-year-old Bolingbrook girl who died from COVID-19 just two days after testing positive. Last week, Dykota Morgan was a perfectly healthy 15-year-old freshman at Bolingbrook High School who excelled in school and athletics. But shortly after she turned 15, Morgan started feeling sick. “Sunday, we were out early and she called us and said she woke up feeling dizzy and weak and she was coughing on the phone,” said mother Krystal Morgan. Morgan’s mother said Dykota had been complaining of headaches for the past two weeks, but did not have any pre-existing conditions. Over the weekend, her parents noticed a change. “She just wasn’t doing good, she was too tired and the cough and the fever, so by about 5 o’clock I said I’m going to get you a COVID test because I’m kind of worried you might have COVID,” Krystal Morgan said. On Sunday, Dykota tested positive for COVID-19 and by Monday she was in Central DuPage Hospital. Her parents had to say goodbye at 3 a.m. Tuesday morning. “She was perfectly healthy, she just, her heart just, she was perfectly healthy and she got COVID and it took her,” father Rashad Bingham said. Dykota’s parents just want people to know that the virus is not gone and that children are not immune. They’re hopeful the vaccine can soon help prevent this from happening to other families.

According to Reuters, A conservative group representing small businesses has sued Major League Baseball and its players’ union over the decision to move next month’s All-Star Game out of Georgia in response to that state’s new voting restrictions. In a Monday night complaint, Job Creators Network said the defendants violated a 150-year-old federal civil rights law designed to combat the Ku Klux Klan by “purposefully and maliciously” choosing to punish small business owners by moving the game, rather than seek relief from state lawmakers. It is seeking to return the All-Star Game to Truist Park outside Atlanta, $100 million of damages for businesses, and $1 billion of punitive damages. The game is now scheduled for July 13 in Denver’s Coors Field. read more Major League Baseball and the players’ union did not immediately respond on Tuesday to requests for comment. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and the union’s executive director, Tony Clark, are also defendants. “This was a knee-jerk, hypocritical and illegal reaction to misinformation about Georgia’s new voting law,” Alfredo Ortiz, president of the Job Creators Network, said in a statement. The group’s founders include Bernie Marcus, a co-founder of Atlanta-based Home Depot Inc. It called losses from moving the game “staggering,” including more than 8,000 canceled hotel reservations. Georgia’s new voting law was signed in March by Republican Governor Brian Kemp.

According to the New York Post, The highly contagious COVID-19 variant that first emerged in India is spreading at a rapid rate in the US — and now makes up 7 percent of new cases, data shows. The dramatic rise of the B.1.617.2 variant comes after it accounted for only 1 percent of new cases stateside at the start of May, according to a report from Outbreak.info. The data revealed that the variant, which experts suspect is 60 percent more transmissible, reached its high of 7 percent of samples sequenced on May 26. The World Health Organization last week classified the variant as being one of global concern and requiring heightened tracking and analysis. It is now predominant in some parts of India and believed to be a driving factor in the country’s devastating second wave. The cases have overwhelmed the health care system, forcing patients to wait for beds in some regions.

According to Deadline, Sony will be opening the Kendrick Brothers’ new documentary Show Me the Father on Sept. 10, while the studio has dated a 10th anniversary re-release of the filmmakers’ Courageous for Oct. 15. Show Me the Father explores the fatherhood of God. Executive producer Stephen Kendrick, “Everyone has a father story, but not everyone has learned how to redeem it for their own good and the good of others. Even though fatherlessness is directly connected to so much brokenness in today’s world, we wanted to go beyond traditional documentaries and show how God is the perfect Father and can amazingly provide the love and healing to anyone at any stage in life.” Rich Peluso, EVP/Head of Affirm Films said, “In September 2011, Courageous was estimated to open at the box office with $1.5 million and it ended the weekend the #1 new movie, with $9.4 million in the first frame. We are thrilled to bring this incredible story to theaters with new footage, as well as bring to the big screen the Kendrick Brothers’ first documentary.”

According to ESPN, The leaders of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments reacted Tuesday to Naomi Osaka’s stunning withdrawal from the French Open by promising to address players’ concerns about mental health. The pledge came in a statement signed by the same four administrators who threatened the possibility of disqualification or suspension for Osaka on Sunday if she continued to skip news conferences. The four-time major champion and No. 2-ranked player was fined $15,000 when she didn’t speak to reporters after her first-round victory at Roland Garros on Sunday. The next day, Osaka pulled out of the tournament entirely, saying on social media that she experiences “huge waves of anxiety” before meeting with the media and revealing she has “suffered long bouts of depression.” Tennis players are required to attend news conferences if requested to do so; Grand Slam rules allow for fines up to $20,000 if they don’t show up. Tuesday’s statement from those in charge of the French Open, Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open said, “On behalf of the Grand Slams, we wish to offer Naomi Osaka our support and assistance in any way possible as she takes time away from the court. She is an exceptional athlete and we look forward to her return as soon as she deems appropriate. Mental health is a very challenging issue, which deserves our utmost attention. It is both complex and personal, as what affects one individual does not necessarily affect another. We commend Naomi for sharing in her own words the pressures and anxieties she is feeling and we empathize with the unique pressures tennis players may face.” French tennis federation president Gilles Moretton, All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt, U.S. Tennis Association president Mike McNulty and Tennis Australia president Jayne Hrdlicka pledged to work with players, the tours and media “to improve the player experience at our tournaments” while making sure the athletes all are on a “fair playing field, regardless of ranking or status.”

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In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!

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