A gift good enough for the pope, cheap enough for you

This Mercer Tile was a papal gift.
This Mercer Tile was a papal gift. (was a papal gift.)
Posted: March 31, 2014

OCCASIONALLY, we put our "Where We Worship" coverage on sabbatical to bring you a roundup of religious news that we think curious Daily News readers would enjoy knowing about - and thinking about as it relates to their spiritual lives.

This week, we bring you a gospel-based, made-in-PA product deemed good enough for a pope, the latest on the World Vision decisions that rocked the evangelical community this week, and a do-it-yourself Stations of the Cross experience to look for online:

Those old-time gospel tiles

Among the many gifts bestowed on Pope Francis this week by Mayor Nutter, Gov. Corbett and their traveling party ( Gee, thanks, a Sixers jersey.) was one particularly discerning selection: the made-in-PA "Evangelists" set of Mercer Tiles from the Moravian Pottery & Tile Works in Doylestown.

Mercer Tiles are sought out by "art pottery" collectors worldwide, in addition to being a decorative accent at the Pennsylvania State Capitol. The four-tile "Evangelists" series depicts the four symbols associated with gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (a holy man, a lion, an ox and an eagle, respectively).

They're classy, churchy - and surprisingly affordable, at $16.20 apiece. The tiles are sold at the Tile Works gift shop (130 E. Swamp Road, open 10 a.m.-4:45 p.m. daily, 215-348-6098). But post-papal visit, "there has been a mass desire for them," says Rachel Mackey, who assists at the shop. "So we're running low."

World Vision revision

On Wednesday, the big evangelical relief agency World Vision reversed a policy change that it had announced on Monday, with the group's leaders saying they were brokenhearted over the pain the decision had caused.

Officials of the $1 billion a year agency, based in Washington state, had said on Monday they would begin hiring Christians in same-sex marriages to avoid a divisive fight that would get in the way of their work. World Vision said its board had prayed for years on the issue. But the announcement itself divided the community.

Many donors posted on the agency's Facebook page that they were pulling their funding. The Assemblies of God, a major Pentecostal denomination, released a statement urging members to shift support away from World Vision to other charities.

Evangelicals who support hiring Christians with same-sex spouses also rallied, increasing their donations and urging others to do the same.

World Vision president Richard Stearns said he did not know how much money World Vision had lost or gained during the two days.

Rachel Held Evans, a Christian blogger and author who had been urging readers to increase donations in support of the policy change, wrote Wednesday, "This whole situation has left me feeling frustrated, heartbroken, and lost."

D.I.Y. Stations

of the Cross

On Fridays in Lent, the home page of CatholicPhilly.com displays photographs of 14 gorgeous stained glass windows from St. Anne's in Port Richmond, along with prayers and meditations meant to guide the faithful on a virtual pilgrimage through the 14 Stations of the Cross, from "Jesus is condemned to die" to "Jesus is laid in the tomb."

While lacking "the smells and the bells" of a traditional Lenten Friday devotion, the online version offers an otherwise complete and reflective prayer service, according to Matt Gambino, the website's director.

Directions for the D.I.Y. devotion are straightforward: "When 'arriving' at a station, begin by looking carefully at the image," the site instructs, "then follow the prayers and meditations."

The prayers and meditations come from Creighton University, a Jesuit college in Omaha, Neb., with a robust online ministry. For the full sensory experience, St. Anne's (2328 E. Lehigh Ave.) has live stations Mondays at 7 p.m. during Lent.

- Daily News wire services

contributed to this report.

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