Mark Herbener, bishop of the Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod, ordained the first five pastors of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierre Leone in Freetown. The ELCA synod and the church in Sierra Leone are paired in the companion synod program. The new pastor s include Marie Barnett and Miatta Monrovia, the first two Lutheran women to be ordained in West Africa. Two of the ordinations were scheduled for 1994 but were postponed because of civil war in the country and struggles in the church. The Lutheran bishops of both Liberia and Nigeria, as well as several ELCA pastors and lay members, were among the 1,200 people to attend the ordination ceremony.
In anticipation of a day-long May "Christian mock trial" to be held on the U.S. Capitol lawn, leaders of the Interfaith Alliance spoke out against the efforts of "Washington for Jesus Rally." Albert Pennyba cker, alliance president, praised the youth attendees' enthusiasm but cautioned them to realize that Jerry Falwell's views don't speak for people in the mainstream Christian community. The Interfaith Alliance is a mainstream-faith-based organization with 49 chapters in 23 states organized to promote the positive role of religion in America.
Argentina's Roman Catholic bishops unanimously approved a document asking for forgiveness for the involvement of priests in the violence during the "dirty war" waged against dissent during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship. During those years military and paramilitary groups carried out a campaign of terror against suspected leftists and leftist sympathizers, resulting in th ousands of deaths and "disappearances."
For the first time in its history, the bishops' committee of the North Elbian [Germany] Evangelical Lutheran Church vetoed a synod resolution-one that favored recognition o f partnerships similar to marriage.
Josephine Tso, elected president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hong Kong, is the first woman to lead an Asian member church of the Lutheran World Federation. Ishmael N oko, LWF general secretary, said the election was a further step toward the equal participation of women in the church.
Pastors holding services dressed as clowns are gaining popularity in Sweden. The diocese in the city of Vaesteraas, near Stockholm, organized a clown course taught by Roly Bain, British minister and founder of the Holy Fools Association.
Lutheran World Relief contributed $25,000 toward a $500,000 appeal by the Middle East Council of Churches that helped workers in Lebanon provide food and relief supplies to evacuees seeking shelter from Israeli bombardment. The people LWR is helping are among an estimated half-million civilians forced to flee 49 towns a nd villages targeted by Israeli forces.
Bishop Edward C. Chalfant of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine will take a voluntary year's leave of absence in the wake of the revelation that he was involved in an extra-mar ital relationship several years ago. The diocese's Standing Committee said the leave will support the "possibility of reconciling the bishop and the Diocese of Maine after what must be characterized as a significant betrayal of trust."
A judge dismissed charges that the True Apostolic Assembly Church, Minneapolis, and its pastor, Robert Wesley Hill, violated state law and city ordinances with noisy worship services. The Minnesota law applied in the case was uncon stitutional, the judge ruled, because it regulates noise generated by religious activity more stringently than the noise of other activities.
The Evangelical Lutheran in America advocates for a raise in the minimum wage, said Kay A. Bengston, the assistant director for public policy advocacy, Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs, Washington, D.C. "This church is committed `to adequate income and believes that vast disparities of income and wealth are both div isive of the human community and demeaning to its members,' " she said, citing ELCA documents.
Janice Chandler, a Seventh-day Adventist who gave up her career as a singer because of her convictions, is getting a second chance. Chandler, a teacher at Morgan State University, Baltimore, was hired by Robert Shaw, renowned choral conductor, for performances next season with the Atlanta, Cleveland and Minnesota orchestras. Her first career as a singer ended because she refuses to perform on the Sabbath.
Robert A. Schuller, 41, has been named the eventual successor of Crystal Cathedral Ministries, which his father, Robert H.-who turns 70 in September- began in 1955 with a driv e-in church in Garden Grove, Calif. The elder Schuller's television program is "Hour of Power."
Eastern Orthodox monks in the Noul Neamt monastery of Moldova have signed a contract to pray for the prosperity of t he Exiton finance group in return for its financial support.
Lesli van Milligen, a graduate of Calvin College [Grand Rapids, Mich.] and Fuller Seminary [Pasadena, Calif.], was ordained as an evangelist in the Chr istian Reformed Church in North America. She is the first woman to be ordained to the ministry in the 292,000-member denomination. She will be able to perform nearly all of the functions of a pastor, but she cannot be called as the senior pastor or as the sole pastor of an organized congregation.
Germany's federal parliament has adopted a resolution criticizing Brandenburg, one of the country's federal states, for failing to introduce traditional religious educat ion in the state's schools. Brandenburg, in the former East Germany, has announced plans to introduce a course called "Life-Ethics-Religion" instead of the traditional religion courses taught in other German states.
Six yea rs after the world was first alerted to the problems of thousands of abandoned children in Romania, an Orthodox Church organization has warned that agencies still are overwhelmed by the numbers of the homeless children in the country. Elena Dem ofdeceu, a spokesperson for the St. Stelian Association, linked to the Orthodox Church, was speaking after Romania's churches opened the first full-time medical center to care for the street children in Bucharest.
President Clinton's recent veto of legislation banning a late-term abortion procedure met with both criticism and support from various religious groups. The presidents of both the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod have each written a letter condemning the president's actions. Support has come from more than two dozen top Protestant, Jewish, Unitarian and humanist leaders who wrote, "We fully support the president's action in standing with women and their families who face tragic, untenable pregnancies" in an open letter presented to members of Congress. The bill, passed by Congress, allowed for exceptions to the ban to protect the life of the mother. Clinton said he wanted Congress to add a narrowly written e xception that would allow for the procedure to be used to protect a woman's health. Congress refused and Clinton vetoed the measure.
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