Tag: Ross News (personal)

Disfellowshipped decades ago, Pat Boone insists he ‘never left’ Church of Christ

Disfellowshipped decades ago, Pat Boone insists he ‘never left’ Church of Christ

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Pat who?

As Pat Boone stepped to the microphone at the recent Religion News Association national conference, not everybody recognized him.

“I know who you are,” Boone, 83, said a fellow speaker told him. “I thought you died.”

The crowd of religion news journalists gathered in Music City — myself included — laughed.

Decades ago, Boone was a household name — a pop singer for whom Elvis Presley opened in the mid-1950s. A star in record, film and television work, Boone had a “squeaky clean image” and “was known as an actor who wouldn’t kiss a woman on the screen other than his wife,” as Los Angeles Times religion writer John Dart noted in a 1994 story.

For members of Churches of Christ in the 1950s and ‘60s, Boone was a big deal because he was one of us.

“A native of Donelson, Tennessee (a suburb of Nashville), a graduate of David Lipscomb High School, and a former student at David Lipscomb College, Boone grew up in the very bosom of Churches of Christ and, at twelve years of age, was baptized by M. Norvel Young,” Restoration Movement scholar Richard T. Hughes wrote in his 1996 book “Reviving the Ancient Faith: The Story of Churches of Christ in America.”

Read the full column.

This column appears in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.

After Hurricane Harvey, hope for heroes and victims

After Hurricane Harvey, hope for heroes and victims

‘Do not let your spiritual life go while you’re helping other people in the name of Jesus,’ a Houston minister urges his congregation.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

HOUSTON — This one was personal.

When I traveled to New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coastto cover Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the churches I visited were new to me.

The resilient Christians who survived Katrina became special to me. However, I didn’t know them before the storm.

Hurricane Harvey is different.

In my time with The Christian Chronicle, I have made frequent trips to Houston: I have come here to report on churches — black, white and brown — joining together to show unity in Christ. I have come here to report on the model inner-city works of the Impact Houston Church of Christ. I have come here to report on a growing congregation of Vietnamese immigrants — a story I hadn’t even finished before Harvey beckoned me back to Rocket City.

This one was personal.

David Duncan, minister for the Memorial Church of Christ in Houston, is one of my best friends. We attended Oklahoma Christian University together in the 1980s. But we didn’t really become close until 1999 when we roomed together on a mission trip to Vitoria, Brazil, where David and his wife, Barbara, had spent a decade as full-time missionaries.

Read the full column.

This column appears in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.

One year later, Orlando victim’s mom urges: Show your children ‘all the love you have’

One year later, Orlando victim’s mom urges: Show your children ‘all the love you have’

Bernadette Cruz’s 22-year-old son, Peter “Ommy” Gonzalez-Cruz, died in the June 12, 2016, mass shooting that targeted a gay nightclub.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

ORLANDO, Fla. — She thinks of him every day — her beloved son Peter “Ommy” Gonzalez-Cruz.

Yet even as she grieves, Bernadette Cruz pushes forward, relying on her friends, her family and her faith.

Cruz’s cheerful, affectionate firstborn son was just 22 when he was caught in an ambush of gunfire on June 12, 2016 — one of 49 victims of the Pulse gay nightclub massacre.

At the first anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, Cruz has a message for other parents: “Take advantage of every day with your family because you never know what can happen. Communicate often with your children and show them all the love you have for them. They will reciprocate.”

I checked in to see how Cruz is doing after writing about her son’s death last year.

As Christian Chronicle readers may recall, Gonzalez-Cruz was the nephew of my friends Luis and Tony Cintrón (they are twins). Bernadette Cruz is my friends’ sister. In my 2016 column, I highlighted a special connection that a Church of Christ in New Jersey made with the victim’s family.

On Friday, while in the Orlando area on an unrelated assignment, I took a few minutes to visit the now-closed nightclub site where gunman Omar Mateen, who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, opened fire.

Read the full column.

This column appears in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.

Memorial Day reading: Five stories of American military heroes

Memorial Day reading: Five stories of American military heroes

As a journalist, I’ve reported — often through tears — on too many soldiers who died fighting for their country.

On this Memorial Day, here are five stories (out of many) of American military heroes.

Bobby

• • •

1.

2004 Patriotism, sense of duty bind WWII veteran, Army son killed in Iraq

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Associated Press

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Esequiel Perez never bragged about his service in World War II. If anything, the soft-spoken veteran downplayed his role.

“I didn’t go into too much combat or anything,” the 77-year-old says.

Yet his children – Yolanda, Rosa Anna, Sandra, Joel, Debra, Hector and Zeke – grew up knowing that their father had done his part to defend the world, and why.

In the Perez family, soldiers’ sacrifice was honored and the nation’s freedom celebrated. Memorial Day and the Fourth of July were times for reverence. When the children erected a flag pole in the front yard, Esequiel welcomed it – but warned that the stars and stripes must not ever touch the ground and should be lighted if flown at night.

“That’s how proud my dad is of this country,” said Rosa Anna Garza, 48.

He also wanted an easier life for his children than he had – he still has nightmares involving foxholes, and blames grenades for his hearing problems – so he never pushed them to join the military.

For No. 6 child Hector, though, the Army beckoned.

Read the full story.

• • •

Continue reading “Memorial Day reading: Five stories of American military heroes”

In America, cremations now outnumber burials — what’s religion got to do with it?

In America, cremations now outnumber burials — what’s religion got to do with it?

By Bobby Ross Jr. | GetReligion

My hippie wannabe wife insists that she wants to be cremated when she dies.

“I think it’s environmentally friendly,” my bride tells me. “Countless acres are filled up with remains inside caskets.

“Plus, it will allow me to spare you guys a lot of expense and possibly trauma and heartache,” she adds.

Rather than be buried in a cemetery, Tamie says she wants to be “mixed in with the roots of a tree and planted in the mountains in the breathtakingly beautiful area where six generations of my family have made memories together. I think it would be nice to contribute to nature rather than be a burden on it.”

Well, alrighty.

As for me, I want to be dressed in my Sunday best and await the resurrection with what’s left of my skin and bones fully intact. I don’t like flames. So it sounds like my wife of 27 years and I will — at some point hopefully many years in the future — spend the first part of eternity apart.

In all seriousness, we are both people of strong Christian faith — but we come down on different sides of the cremation vs. burial question.

I bring up the topic because of a fascinating Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story this week that noted cremation is becoming the new norm in America.

Read the full column.

• • •

All of my GetReligion columns (June 2017):

Continue reading “In America, cremations now outnumber burials — what’s religion got to do with it?”

Before baby bird leaves the nest, a trip to remember

Before baby bird leaves the nest, a trip to remember

A father and soon-to-fly-away daughter enjoy a travel adventure north of the U.S. border.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

TORONTO — “A six-hour layover, eh?”

I posted that wisecrack on Facebook as my 17-year-old daughter, Kendall, and I awaited a connecting flight.

It was early afternoon on a snowy, late winter day at Toronto Pearson International Airport. My youngest child and I were in the middle of a four-city, 20-hour travel adventure that was part work and part something deeper.

The work part is easy to explain: I was chasing stories — as I love to do — for The Christian Chronicle.

The something deeper part requires more explanation: I was trying — as much as possible — to create memories that will sustain me (and keep the tears from overwhelming me) as my baby bird grows up and flies away.

In just a few months, this intelligent young woman — who is every bit as sassy, charming and fun to be around as her mother and every bit as driven, argumentative and (sometimes) insecure as her father — is leaving home. She’s decided to attend Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.

I couldn’t be more proud of her.

She studied hard, made top grades and was honored as one of her high school’s valedictorians. She joined our home congregation, the Edmond Church of Christ in Oklahoma, on mission trips to Mexico, Nicaragua, Utah and Colorado. She starred in school plays and excelled in debate. She taught herself to knit and worked at a yarn store. In fact, she made me a black cap for this trip.

She plans to major in political science and history and then, at some point, become president of the United States.

In my mind, though, she’s still the little girl with a red hair bow who would stand by the bathroom door and watch me shave. She’d see the white cream on my cheeks and pretend I was Santa Claus. “Daddy, will you buy me a present?” she loved to ask.

Read the full column.

This column appears in the June 2017 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

April 28, 2017: a day to remember for the Ross family #blessed

April 28, 2017: a day to remember for the Ross family #blessed

Happy 27th anniversary, my love! #ocishome

A post shared by Bobby Ross Jr. (@bobbyrossjr) on

I'm not sure what took longer: the senior awards ceremony or my entire high school career

A post shared by KJR (@kendalljadeross) on

It's time. The Graduate. #ocishome

A post shared by Bobby Ross Jr. (@bobbyrossjr) on

Congrats to my son Brady on earning his master's in Christian ministry. #family #ocishome #Rosses

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More #family. #Simpsons #ocishome

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• • •

From my Facebook page:

April 28th (that’s today) is shaping up to be a nice day for the Ross family. Maybe this could count as our Christmas letter — only four months late since we usually don’t do a Christmas letter.

— Twenty-seven years ago, on the day after my graduation (mostly) from Oklahoma Christian University, I married my college sweetheart, Tamie Dillard Ross. I could play her a country song to celebrate, but instead, I’ll go with what she likes (just today) and avoid playing her a country song. The last several years as she’s battled all her autoimmune diseases have been tough on her (and to a much lesser extent, on me). Just yesterday, she had her latest infusion treatment. But she also got her hair done in anticipation of today’s festivities, and it looks wonderful (no surprise there). I don’t always do the best job of showing it, but I love her. She is my world. Happy anniversary, babe!

Brady Ross, our oldest son, will graduate from Oklahoma Christian today (for the second time in a year and a half), this time with his master’s degree in ministry. Our daughter-in-law, Mary Ross, also is an Oklahoma Christian grad, circa 2016. They live and work in Waco, Texas, where Brady is the youth minister for the Crestview Church of Christ. We are so proud of both of them!

Keaton Ross, our middle son, finished his freshman year at Oklahoma Christian this week. He’s anticipating a 3.9 grade-point average for his first year of college. For those doing the math, that’s all A’s and one B. He’s majoring in journalism and contemplating being the one kid to follow in his parents’ writing footsteps. He’s still looking for work this summer, so if you have any leads for an intelligent, dependable young man who sometimes wakes up before 10 a.m., please let us know. We are so proud of him!

— Kendall Ross, our daughter and youngest child, likes to forge her own path, such as being too cool for Facebook. She’ll be irritated (if she finds out about this note) that I mentioned her last just because she’s the youngest. She is a senior at Deer Creek High School and being honored at an awards assembly this morning as one of her school’s valedictorians. She excelled in drama and debate at DCHS, starring in several shows and placing at the state level in speech and debate. She is headed to Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., this fall and tentatively plans to major in political science and history before becoming president of the United States. And yes, we are so proud of her!

We are thankful for all our blessings and praise God for all that he has given us! Thank you for being a friend!

Bobby