By Melissa Wuske
Better Hospitals for the Elderly
“The older you are, the worse the hospital is for you,” said Dr. Ken Covinsky, a geriatric physician. As a result, some hospitals around the country are setting up units specifically tailored to helping prevent decline in elderly patients. For example, Dr. Edgar Pierluissi, medical director of San Francisco General’s Acute Care for Elders (ACE) unit, said, “Bed rest . . . sets off an explosive chain of events that is very detrimental to people’s health.” As a result, the medical team at ACE helps patients get moving by removing catheters and IVs as soon as possible, so patients can get out of bed and eat in communal dining areas.
Challenges for Churches in Egypt
Churches in Egypt face legal challenges in constructing and repairing their buildings. For well over a century, Christian churches have been required to get approval from the president to build a church; 80 years ago, more restriction was added: Christians must gain approval of Muslims in the community and keep their buildings a certain distance from mosques, schools, village canals, railways, government facilities and offices, or between residential areas.
For decades these restrictions have led to slow growth of church meeting spaces, and many communities of believers meet in overcrowded churches or in secret in homes. But these pressures have increased in recent years as Christians face persecution and civil unrest that have destroyed buildings. While the government has shown some signs of protecting Christians and loosening the laws, including prosecuting more than 100 church attackers, Christians are still waiting for the promised easing of building restrictions.
Justice Department Cuts Back on Private Prisons
The Justice Department has announced that it will begin phasing out the use of private prisons. The change is in part because private prisons have higher rates of assault, uses of force, and contraband than Bureau of Prisons institutions.
Private prisons grew in prevalence as the prison population surged by almost 800 percent between 1980 and 2013, but since 2013 the prison population has fallen by more than 25,000. “This decline in the prison population means that we can better allocate our resources to ensure that inmates are in the safest facilities and receiving the best rehabilitative services,” said Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates.
“This is an important step forward,” said Bryan Stevenson, director of the Equal Justice Initiative. “Private prisons and related private industries have incentives to keep America’s prison population unnecessarily high and have funded opposition to sensible reforms in order to maximize profits.”
Common Thread in Declining Churches
There is a common factor in churches that are in decline: they’re inwardly focused.
For a quarter of a century Lifeway Christian Resources has been researching churches. Thom S. Rainer, CEO, has noticed this about churches in decline: “The ministries are only for the members. The budgetary funds are used almost exclusively to meet the needs of the members. The times of worship and worship styles are geared primarily for the members. Conflict takes place when members don’t get things their way.”
Todd Wright, minister at Midway Church in Carrollton, Georgia, sees challenges that cause a church to be inwardly focused—and how church leaders can build and maintain an outward orientation: “Leading a church to stay on mission requires constant attention, ministry evaluation, and frequent changes. And all change is met with passive or aggressive resistance—sometimes both. . . . Many such pastors succumb to the pressure and just take care of the people who are paying the bills.”
Melissa Wuske is a freelance editor and writer. She and her husband, Shawn, live and minister in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. Find her work online (melissaannewuske.com).