Local churches are taking precautions to protect congregants during the pandemic. Masses are streamed online, and a number of services are being offered to help people stay connected spiritually, while practicing physical distancing.

This hour, we're joined by local faith leaders to discuss their efforts and how they are providing spiritual care during a time of grief, fear, and unease. Our guests:

When's the last time you convinced someone to change their mind? Most of us are not very effective when it comes to debate. We dig in on our positions, and we expend a lot of emotional energy, and nothing changes. Our guest is a man who is helping build an entirely new way of talking to people with vastly different beliefs. He's published hundreds of videos of calm, careful exploration of beliefs. And he does most of it in a public park, when strangers are willing to stop and chat. We get a new way of thinking, talking, and examining beliefs.

Our guest:

There’s been a rise in Americans who identify as atheist – or non-religious. But there’s also a rise in non-denominational Christians – many in their 20s and 30s. If you’re building a music playlist, you can now find curated lists under the title “Hipster Coffee Christians.”

So what does that mean? What does it mean for denominational Christianity? Gallup finds that the number of Christians who identify as “nondenominational” has doubled since 2000.

We explore the trends. In studio:

What if there’s a heaven, but it’s kind of… boring? That’s just one of the many questions explored by the recently departed NBC series, “The Good Place,” which aired its finale last week. The show takes a humorous look at the afterlife, with some not-so-humorous ideas sprinkled in.

What kind of standards would be realistic to determine who gets into heaven, and who gets into hell? Are they the same for all people? Should there be a sliding point scale? Our guests explore it:

  • Deanna Spiotta, non-profit sector employee, songwriter, and worship leader at a local church
  • Jake Wojtowicz, ethics and philosophy writer, and professor of ethics at Brockport

The United Methodist Church announced last Friday that it plans to split the denomination over “fundamental differences” in beliefs about same-sex marriage and LGBTQ ordination. Church leaders have debated those issues for nearly 50 years.

If passed in May, the proposal will allow a “traditionalist” denomination to separate from the United Methodist Church, clearing the way for the UMC to repeal the current church’s ban on same-sex marriage and LGBTQ clergy. A group of 16 bishops and church leaders voted for the proposed split, saying it was “the best means to resolve our differences, allowing each part of the Church to remain true to its theological understanding, while recognizing the dignity, equality, integrity, and respect of every person.”

We sit down with local Methodist leaders who have different perspectives on the issues. In studio:

Two local leaders in the faith community are coming together to offer anti-racism workshops. During their trainings, Reverend William Wilkinson and Reverend Alan Dailey discuss white privilege, white supremacy, and the impact of systemic racism. Their work is part of the Greater Rochester Community of Churches Faith in Action Network.

We sit down with Reverend Wilkinson and Reverend Dailey to talk about their methods and how they approach difficult conversations. This discussion comes in advance of their next workshop. In studio:

Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas? Our panel takes an interfaith look at the holiday season, and the ways we communicate with each other.

Panelists representing Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faiths will present their own religious traditions during an upcoming event, but first they discuss those traditions on Connections. We explore how faiths differ and what they have in common. We also discuss the often-invoked "War on Christmas" and the like. Our guests:

Community members from different faith-based groups are teaming up for an interfaith Thanksgiving service. The goal is to create partnerships going forward. The theme is "planting seeds for a peaceful election year."

The event's organizers join us to discuss the value of interfaith gatherings. In studio:

The Rochester Jewish Book Festival kicked off this weekend, and we preview an upcoming talk with author and educator Rabbi Ariel Burger. Rabbi Burger was a student of writer, professor, and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

Rabbi Burger joins us to discuss his book, “Witness,” in which he shares the lessons he learned from Wiesel. We also discuss how those lessons can be applied in 2019. Our guests:

The ImageOut Film Festival is back. The annual event presents LGBT arts and cultural experiences to promote awareness and foster dialogue. It kicks off this Thursday.

We preview this year's lineup, including a film called “For They Know Not What They Do,” which explores the evangelical church’s reaction to LGBTQ issues. We also discuss the film, "Unsettled," which tells the story of LGBTQ refugees seeking asylum in the U.S. after being persecuted in their home countries. Our guests: