In tough economic times, especially as the ax digs deeper into government social programs, people turn to religious institutions for physical sustenance as well as for spiritual uplift.
The religious institutions usually come through on both counts, but they certainly aren't immune to the effects of a recession.
For example, the Franciscan Center at 2212 Maryland Ave., a social service outlet operated by the Roman Catholic order of Franciscan nuns, reports that increased demand and decreased supply have forced it to cut back on materials it gives to the needy.
In the center's latest newsletter, editor Kitty Miller writes, "We have had to decrease the amount of take-home groceries we give to families from a three-day supply to a two-day supply. We have had to stop giving diapers and formula for the babies because of limited resources."
Miller adds that the center manages to squeak by daily with just enough materials, though the sisters always welcome donations blankets, linens, household items and kitchenware.
Update: Two months ago, an Evening Sun article described the start of a joint Lutheran-Episcopalian ministry for Baltimore's burgeoning Hispanic community.
The local Lutheran synod office says that in response to the article, three people have volunteered to work for the ministry's new "Hispanic hot line"; two lawyers have offered free legal assistance in connection with the hot line, and several businesses have promised jobs for Hispanic immigrants in the ++ area.
The Jewish Council of Howard County and Oseh Shalom Synagogue of Laurel will sponsor a Jewish Festival Day from 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 25, at the synagogue, 7515 Olive Branch Way, Laurel.
The AIDS Interfaith Network of Central Maryland holds its monthly mid-day prayer service tomorrow from 12:10 to 12:40 p.m. in the Reid Chapel of the First and Franklin Street Presbyterian Church, Park Avenue and West Madison Street.
Bethesda United Methodist Church at 6300 Harford Road will offer seasonal music and drama this Sunday morning and evening.
At 10:30 a.m. Sunday, the chancel and children's choirs will sing a cantata and carols. Later in the day, at 7 p.m., the children of the church's Sunday school will offer a program of brief plays and Christmas songs.
Send religious news items -- about events, local personalities, etc. -- to Religion Notes, c/o Patrick Ercolano, The Evening Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.