Re­li­gion Briefs Pa. church be­gins sur­ren­der pro­gram

The Covington News - - Religion -

PHILADEL­PHIA — Philadel­phia po­lice say 100 peo­ple with out­stand­ing ar­rest war­rants showed up to sur­ren­der at a church in two hours.

That was just the first two hours of a pro­gram that be­gan Wed­nes­day morn­ing and con­tin­ues un­til Satur­day. Any­one who’s wanted for a non­vi­o­lent of­fense in Philadel­phia is in­vited to go to True Gospel Taber­na­cle Church in South Philadel­phia be­tween 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Charles Ram­sey says the church’s pas­tor read about sim­i­lar pro­grams in other cities and of­fered the use of his church build­ing. The idea is that some will find the church less in­tim­i­dat­ing than a po­lice sta­tion or a court­house.

Cam­den, N.J., has sched­uled a fugi­tive sur­ren­der pro­gram at a church next month.

Crosses stay up in Las Cruces

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — A fed­eral ap­peals court has re­jected claims that us­ing Chris­tian crosses in city lo­gos and build­ings is un­con­sti­tu­tional.

The 10th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals in Den­ver af­firmed a lower court de­ci­sion to dis­miss a law­suit brought by Las Cruces res­i­dents Paul Wein­baum and Martin Boyd against the city, and an­other claim by Wein­baum against Las Cruces Pub­lic Schools.

Las Cruces, Span­ish for “ The Crosses,” rou­tinely uses three crosses in its city and school district lo­gos.

In a 43-page opin­ion re­leased last Fri­day, the ap­pel­late court ac­knowl­edged that use of such sym­bols raises le­git­i­mate con­sti­tu­tional con­cerns. But jus­tices found the use of crosses “is not a re­li­gious state­ment” and is based on the city’s unique name and his­tory.

A U.S. district judge in Las Cruces dis­missed both law­suits in 2006, rul­ing that “a city may make use of im­ages that have a re­li­gious con­no­ta­tion as long as the pri­mary or prin­ci­pal ef­fect is not to en­dorse re­li­gion.”

El Paso at­tor­ney Brett Duke, rep­re­sent­ing Wein­baum and Boyd in their joint claim, would say only that he was re­view­ing the rul­ing.

Co-founder of Prom­ise Keep­ers re­turns to lead

DEN­VER — Bill McCart­ney, the for­mer col­lege foot­ball coach who forged Prom­ise Keep­ers into a for­mi­da­ble men’s move­ment, has come out of re­tire­ment to lead the evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tian group.

McCart­ney, 68, has re­turned as chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer and chair­man of the min­istry he co-founded. McCart­ney re­places Tom Fort­son, who re­signed vol­un­tar­ily, ac­cord­ing to Prom­ise Keep­ers gen­eral coun­sel Ed O’Brien. The an­nounce­ment was made last week.

Prom­ise Keep­ers has strug­gled to find an iden­tity since its hey­day in the mid-1990s. In 1996, the group drew 1.1 mil­lion men to 22 sta­dium con­fer­ences; 10 years later, 18 con­fer­ences at­tracted some 132,000.

Tax forms also show steadily de­clin­ing gifts, grants and con­tri­bu­tions to the Den­ver-based group — from $15 mil­lion in 2002 to $9 mil­lion in 2005, the most re­cent year for which fig­ures are avail­able.

Un­der Fort­son, Prom­ise Keep­ers scaled down its events and took ten­ta­tive steps into pol­i­tics by run­ning voter regis­tra­tion drives and is­su­ing state­ments on sub­jects like gay mar­riage.

McCart­ney, for­mer coach of the Uni­ver­sity of Colorado foot­ball team, also brought back for­mer Prom­ise Keep­ers ex­ec­u­tive Raleigh Wash­ing­ton to serve as pres­i­dent. They have yet to release de­tails of their plans for the group.

Cleve­land Catholic parishes protest down­siz­ing plan

CLEVE­LAND — A down­siz­ing plan that could shut­ter more than 45 Ro­man Catholic parishes in the Dio­cese of Cleve­land is prompt­ing some Catholics to look for ways to save their churches.

More than 20 re­gional groups of parishes are pre­par­ing rec­om­men­da­tions for clos­ing or merg­ing parishes in re­sponse to pop­u­la­tion shifts to the outer sub­urbs and the on­go­ing clergy short­age. Bishop Richard Len­non is ex­pected to de­cide the fate of the parishes by March. The most clo­sures are ex­pected in Cleve­land, where about 25 parishes are in dan­ger of be­ing shut down.

An­in­creas­ing num­ber of parishes have de­cided to fight to stay open. St. Peter Church in down­town Cleve­land has op­posed an ini­tial plan for a merger with St. John Cathe­dral.

At St. Bar­bara Catholic Church on Cleve­land’s West Side, about 400 peo­ple have ap­pealed to the Cleve­land Catholic Dio­cese to al­low their parish to re­main open.

“It gets very hard when peo­ple are fac­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of clos­ing, and all the feel­ings that one would hu­manly ex­pect,” said Rick Kri­vanka, co-chair­man of the dioce­san com­mit­tee over­see­ing the down­siz­ing process. “ There’s no easy way to do what is very dif­fi­cult.”

Euro­pean Mor­mons con­sol­i­date head­quar­ters

FRANKFURT, Ger­many— The Mor­mon church has con­sol­i­dated its Euro­pean head­quar­ters to Ger­many as it un­der­takes a bid to in­crease its mem­ber­ship across the con­ti­nent.

In Au­gust, The Church of Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter-day Saints — which claims some 13 mil­lion mem­bers world­wide — con­sol­i­dated its for­mer west­ern Euro­pean head of­fice in Birm­ing­ham, Eng­land, with its cen­tral Euro­pean offices in Frankfurt in Ger­many.

More than half the mem­bers of the Salt Lake City-based church live out­side the U.S., with about 450,000 mem­bers liv­ing in Europe.

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