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Christmas Day is a time of celebration, a day when many of us traditionally gather with family or friends. But even that simple act is difficult —even impossible —in a year marked by significant challenges. 

KMUW's Carla Eckels spoke to four Wichita pastors who shared their messages of faith and hope.

The Goddard Police Department is partnering with local churches to host town halls in an effort to increase community engagement.

The partnerships come from the department’s participation in the Faith & Blue Weekend. It’s a national initiative aiming to strengthen community bonds by connecting local law enforcement agencies with faith-based groups in the communities they serve.

In Goddard, the police department is partnering with Pathway Church and Church of the Holy Spirit for hybrid town halls Sunday and Monday.

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Instead of marking the beginning of Ramadan at the mosque as he normally would, Zeeshan Khan spent last Thursday evening at home.

“Right now it’s just gonna be pray with the family, break fast with the family, and start the day with the family, just like everyone else in town,” said Khan, a Wichita State University grad student.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — Gov. Laura Kelly filed a joint motion this weekend with two churches suing her over stay-at-home orders, signaling her first steps to reopen the Kansas economy and tamp down the fight over religious freedom.

Two Kansas churches temporarily don’t have to abide by Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s limit of 10 or fewer attendees, a federal judge ruled Saturday.

The judge sided with the First Baptist Church in Dodge City and Calvary Baptist Church in Junction City, which had argued in a lawsuit that Kelly’s executive order was an unconstitutional limit on the right to exercise religious freedom and went against the Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — Easter services at Heritage Baptist Church in Lawrence felt like a typical Sunday meeting. Several dozen congregants sang hymns and heard messages about Jesus Christ and the importance of going to church.

Some people sat in every other row and tried to maintain separation in the pews. A few wore masks.

“I believe very strongly that the Bible commands us to have church,” said the Rev. Scott Hanks, one of only a handful of ministers who held services in defiance of a statewide order, backed by the state Supreme Court, that limited even religious gatherings to 10 or fewer people. 

TOPEKA, Kansas — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly won a ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court Saturday that said she holds sweeping powers to shut down operations in the state, including large church services, in the face of a public health crisis.

The high court said that a panel of legislative leaders lacked the power to reverse Kelly’s controversial limits on church and funeral services. She had said the action was needed to respond to the spread of COVID-19.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — Kansas may not have any limits on the number of people who can safely gather — at all.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

WICHITA, Kansas — Open the newspaper to the obituaries and you’ll read a reflection of our times.

Private family graveside services planned. … Celebration of life at a later date.  ... The memorial service will be live-streamed.

Across Kansas, people find themselves searching for ways to grieve for, remember and celebrate the lives of their loved ones that have died, all during a time when they aren’t allowed to gather in large groups.

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service, File Photo

The Catholic Diocese of Dodge City on Wednesday released a list of 12 clerics or seminarians with substantiated allegations of abuse against minors.

The diocese said five of the priests were assigned to the Dodge City diocese, while five others worked at some point in the diocese but allegations against them were made in other dioceses. Two others were seminarians.

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