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Shop & Pray – Church Opens in Russian Shopping Center

The MEGA shopping center in Krasnoyarsk has become the first in Russia, and probably the world, to have its very own church, where busy shoppers can drop by and pray, take confession or simply get in touch with their spiritual side.

It all started in spring of this year, when the shopping center management reached out to Archpriest Georgy Kozgov, asking for “the spiritual nourishment of security guards and visitors.” To make his job easier, they even offered him a room within the shopping center where he would regularly perform Confession and Communion, or have spiritual conversations with guards and shoppers. But as more and more people learned about the Father Kozgov and asked to see him, it soon became clear that the small room he had been operating out of was just too small for the huge demand of spiritual guidance.

Vladimir Skvortsov, manager of the security guard firm under contract with the MEGA shopping center was the one who approached management about offering Archpriest Kozgov a bigger space where he could conduct even more religious services and cater to more people. And that’s how the unusual shopping center church of Krasnoyarsk was born. It is located on the fourth floor of the MEGA center and is equipped with just about anything a Christian Orthodox church needs, including a sanctuary, hand-painted icons, wooden benches for visitors, as well as church tools made by prison inmates.

“There are no churches in this area of the city, and in our team, as everywhere else, there are people in need of spiritual guidance,” said Vladimir Skvortsov, manager of the center’s security guard firm.

“There are many people in need of spiritual guidance. After all, where there is trade, there is always a lot of negativity,” Father Kozgov added. “And now there is a place where everyone can be cleansed spiritually.Everyone who has come to my church has been very pleased.”

Divine Liturgy is performed at the church every Saturday morning, if you happen to be in the area, and feel like taking a spiritual break from weekend shopping.

Sources: Varlamov, Primechanyia

Mercy Bus – Mobile Church Offers Confession and Blessings on the Go

The Catholic Diocese of Salford, in North West England, has come up with a unique initiative to reach out to the masses – a church on wheels. Aptly named the ‘Mercy Bus’, it’s an actual double-decker bus that will tour Greater Manchester and Lancashire throughout Lent, offering people sermons, blessings, and Confession.

Father Frankie Mulgrew, the brains behind the mission, revealed that Pope Francis was his inspiration when he came up with the idea last summer. The Bishop of Salford, John Arnold, was looking for innovative ideas while making plans for the Year of Mercy. Fr. Frankie thought it would be great to have holy doors all over the diocese, and a mobile holy door that would move around the city. The idea kept evolving until, eventually, the Mercy Bus was born.

“We were inspired by the Pope who, when he was a cardinal in Argentina, would celebrate open-air Masses in the poorest areas of his diocese,” Fr Frankie said.

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100-Year-Old Abandoned Church Gets Transformed into Awesome-Looking Skate Park

The 100-year-old church of Santa Barbara, in Llanera, the Spanish principality of Asturias, had been abandoned for over half a century,  before a group of skating enthusiasts decided to turn the old place of worship into a unique indoor skate park called Kaos Temple. Today, it is probably the most stunning community skating venue in the world.

The church was originally a private one, designed by Austrian architect Manuel del Busto for a few local businessmen in 1912. But they abandoned the area in the 1930s during the Civil War, and the church remained unused for several decades until it was purchased by a group of individuals called the Church Brigade, in the late 2000s.

After some brainstorming, the group decided that the indoor space was perfect to install a skating ramp in. And that’s exactly what they did, slowly gathering funds and getting help from friends whenever they could. In 2012, ‘Kaos Temple’ opened its doors to skating enthusiasts.

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Pastor Jokingly Offers to Sponsor Congregation’s Cross Tattoos, Now Has to Pay Up

When Pastor Zack Zehnder flippantly offered free tattoos to his congregation, little did he expect people to actually take him up on it. During a recent sermon about acceptance at the Cross Mount Dora church in Mount Dora, Florida, the pastor had said: “If anybody would like to go out and get a tattoo of the logo of the cross that we have for this church we will find money and pay for that.” I suppose he didn’t realize exactly how popular tattoos are – at least a dozen church members have already inked themselves with the church cross logo.

Jeremie Turner, one of the congregation members who got inked, said: “We definitely took him up on his offer because if he’s going to hand out free tattoos, he’s got a crowd of people that’s going to accept them.” When pastor Zack realized what was happening, he graciously stuck to his word and personally paid for the tattoos at Bill Gold’s Tattoo Shop. “If I wasn’t so dang sarcastic in my sermons, I don’t know that we would be here,” he said, while overseeing a church member getting inked at the shop. “But we got some crazy people that have said they wanted to do it so I kinda gotta, I made the promise. I kinda gotta back it up.”

It’s nice to see  pastor Zack standing by his promise, instead of making excuses to try and get out of the deal. He even hopes that the new tattoos will serve as conversation starters and get more people interested in the church. “People’s perception of church has probably never been as negative as it is today and so if we can do something to kind of flip that script and interact with them and do something in a unique and creative way, we’re going to do that,” he said.

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New York Church Plans to Give Away Semi-Automatic Rifle as Raffle Prize

It’s the perfect irony: an upstate New York church is giving new meaning to the biblical passage ‘My peace I give unto you’, by giving away a piece. The Grace Baptist Church in Troy, a few hours north of Manhattan, will be gifting an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle later this month during an event honoring hunters and gun owners. ‘Win a Free AR-15’ is the actual slogan being displayed on the church website, followed by the line from the New Testament.

A raffle will be conducted on the church premises on March 23, and the winning ticket will receive the AR-15 modified for sale in New York State. The special service on that day will be dedicated to ‘hunters and gun owners who have been so viciously attacked by the antichristian socialist media and antichristian socialist politicians the last few years’. New York Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin is scheduled to speak at the service. He confirmed to the media that the event did comply with the state’s gun laws. He even said that many New York pastors upstate carry guns, but they are law-abiding, church-going citizens.

The church pastor, John Koletas, defended the event in a letter to his congregation: “Our country was built with the King James Bible and the gun,” he wrote. “Does the Bible need to defend my right to keep and bear arms?” Pastor Michael Collins of Brunswick Baptist Church in Troy also defended the event. “It is not something that we would do, but we have plenty of gun owners in the church, and it is our constitutional right to do so,” he said. “It is not uncommon for churches to host outdoorsman events and give away guns.”

gun-raffle

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11-Year-Old Boy Leads Church as an Ordained Minister

Is there anything kids nowadays can’t do? Well, there may be a few, but becoming an ordained minister and leading a church isn’t one of them. 11-year-old Ezekiel Stoddard recently made headlines after he was ordained a minister at the Fullness of Time Church in Maryland.

We’ve featured a few prodigies on Oddity Central, like the world’s youngest computer wiz, the 9-year-old Monet, a 10-year-old sake expert, but we’ve never had a child minister. That changes today, as we introduce Ezekiel Stoddard, an 11-year-old ordained minister who has apparently been writing his own sermons since he was seven. “It doesn’t matter the age that you can be licensed. It just matters … how much word do you have and how much God has called you,” the enthusiastic child of God told the Washington Post. Still, he admits sometimes adults don’t take him seriously and “look at me like I’m a joke and I need to sit down.”

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Preacher Stages ‘Sexperiment’ to Encourage Worshipers to Make Love More Often

This one is definitely going in the file as one of the most bizarre church stories ever. I mean, we’ve seen ministers rapping the nativity story and also starting tattoo parlors at church. But putting a bed on the roof of a church to encourage couples to have sex? That’s just taking it a bit too far.

Ed Young is a Baptist minister at the Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas. He recently co-authored a book with his wife Lisa, called ‘Sexperiment – 7 days to lasting intimacy with your spouse’. Through the book, the minister and his wife encourage couples to go on a 7-day sex challenge. They say that this is what is needed to put the zing back into marriages. The Reverend even conducted the experiment among members of his congregation and says that the couples came back with some highly positive results.

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