Wordle game for Lent is helping this Methodist church prepare for Easter


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Zoë Petersen, Deseret News

This article was first published in the State of Faith newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Monday night.

For many Americans, playing Wordle is already a daily ritual. Asbury United Methodist Church in Bossier City, Louisiana, recently moved to turn it into an openly religious one.

During the season of Lent, which spans from Ash Wednesday (observed on March 2 this year) to Easter, the church is offering a daily Wordle game tied to the scripture reading from the previous Sunday. Participants have six chances to guess each day’s word. Afterward, whether they’re successful or not, they can read a short message from a congregational leader on the term’s spiritual significance.

The goal of the activity is not just to give people an extra Wordle each day — the main Wordle site, owned by The New York Times, offers just one word per 24 hours — but also to encourage deeper engagement with Bible readings and church life, said the Rev. Matt Rawle, Asbury’s senior pastor, to a Methodist publication earlier this month.

People will “spend time thinking about Sunday’s message and connecting with friends,” he said. “How often do people spend five minutes a day thinking about scripture?”

I really enjoyed taking part in Asbury’s game over the past week as I prepared to write about it for this newsletter. I found myself looking forward to the short and sweet reflections on the daily words, which have ranged from obviously religious terms like “angel” and “devil” to unexpected ones like “world.”

The experience got me thinking about how to use Wordle customization tools for my own devices. What if I put one at the end of each of my stories to check people’s reading comprehension?


Fresh off the press


Term of the week: Social orphan

My Deseret News colleague, Mya Jaradat, is always teaching me new things. Last week, I talked about her coverage of temporary protected status for Ukrainians. This week, I want to write on the concept of a “social orphan,” which she discusses in her new article on how religious organizations are helping Ukrainian orphans.

As Mya noted in her story, social orphans are people in orphanages who have living family members and who sometimes maintain ties with these loved ones. Social orphans end up in orphanages not because they lost all their potential caretakers, but because their caretakers don’t have the resources or, in some cases, the capacity to raise them.

Experts estimate that many of the 100,000 or so people in Ukrainian orphanages are social orphans. That makes efforts to evacuate them to other countries especially fraught, since evacuation may lead to long-term (or even permanent) separation from their family members.


What I’m reading ...

Over the past few months, the conversation about threats to religious freedom have shifted right in front of my eyes. In a recent essay, the scholar Carl R. Trueman thoughtfully explores why conservative religious Americans seem increasingly hostile to the legal protections they once championed.

A new survey from the Episcopal Church shows that many non-Christians don’t have nice things to say about their Christian neighbors. The report showed that religiously unaffiliated adults are more likely than others to describe Christians as “hypocritical,” “judgmental” and “self-righteous,” according to Religion News Service.


Odds and ends

After you read my latest story on the Navy’s vaccine mandate, check out the Baptist Joint Committee’s overview of other cases involving religious freedom challenges to COVID-19 rules.

During the pandemic, my husband and I have become Door Dash addicts. Multiple times each week, we open up the app and explore our options — and then agonize over which restaurant to choose. In the future, I’m looking forward to applying the lessons shared in NPR’s recent column on how to be less indecisive.