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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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April 2001 Worldscan

  • • Mark Neuhaus, pastor of Carlton Hills Lutheran Church, Santee, Calif., was involved in grief counseling following the March 5 school shooting in which two students were killed and 13 woundedNeuhaus, who lives three blocks from the campus and has two children who graduated from Santana High School, visited with members who witnessed the violence. No one from the church was directly involved in the violence. On the evening of the shooting, Carlton Hills opened its doors to teenagers, their parents and others who needed to be together.
  • • The Lutheran World Federation moved its upcoming international council meeting from Jerusalem to Geneva

  • • Some 83 percent of 901 Americans surveyed said they thought the United States should partner with other wealthy nations to cut world hunger by 50 percent within the next 15 years; 75 percent they would pay $50 a year in taxes to help do so. But a majority of respondents mistakenly thought world hunger was a growing problem when the number of hunger people worldwide has actually dropped from 959 million to 792 million within the last 30 years.

  • Representatives of the Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed churches met in Rome to exchange views on the divisive issue of indulgences. The Vatican said this was the first such meeting since the birth of Protestantism in the Reformation of the 16th and 17th centuries. Protestants reject the concept of indulgences, but Catholics continue to believe the remission of temporal punishment for sins can be gained through penitence and contrition.

  • The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania is urging the people and government of Tanzania to act responsibly following confrontations between police and supporters of the opposition Civic United Front in Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam. The European Union condemned Tanzanian authorities for the way they handled the demonstrators and warned of strained relations if there were more reprisals. Amani Mwenegoha, the church's general secretary, said peace could only be achieved "if we uphold the laws of the land and respect the constitution and the government that has been democratically elected."

  • Only 17 percent of pastors strongly support President Bush's proposal to fund faith-based organizations in exchange for providing social services, according to a study by Ellison Research. The proposal's strongest support-77 percent-came from pastors affiliated with the conservative National Association of Evangelicals.

  • Some African staff at the Washington, D.C., office of the Christian Coalition filed a $621 million racial discrimination lawsuit, claiming they were subjected to segregated entrances and eating arrangements. "Christian Coalition hasn't been served with any legal document, so I can't comment on the details of this accusation," said Robert Combs, the organization's executive director. "But … the Christian Coalition vehemently denies any accusation of discrimination of any kind."

  • The ELCA helped launch the World Council of Churches' "Decade to Overcome Violence: Churches Seeking Peace and Reconciliation" in Germany. ELCA members worshiped at Berlin's Memorial Church and walked in a candlelight procession to the Brandenburg Gate, site of the former Berlin Wall. The WCC Central Committee celebrated the start of the decade with a pledge "to work together to end the violence and build lasting peace with justice."

  • Pope John Paul II in his message on Work Youth Day warned young people against accepting a "culture of the ephemeral," which promises success without the sacrifice of the cross but leads to spiritual death. "A widespread culture of the ephemeral, which assigns value to what pleases and appears beautiful, seeks to make you believe that to be happy it's necessary to remove the cross," he said.

  • The Southern Baptist Convention approved a new Council on Family Life that will promote families based on traditional Judeo-Christian values. The council will work on a strategy to assist "fractured" families and "multiply" already existing Southern Baptist programs that help transitional families.

  • The Southern Baptist North American Mission Board and the Georgia Baptist Convention plan to defund the Atlanta Baptist Association, which defeated a motion to dismiss Oakhurst and Virginia-Highland Baptist churches. The state convention ousted the churches in 1999 for their stance affirming homosexuals. The Georgia's convention administrative committee voted to cut off special-ministry aid to the Atlanta association and to recommend that the convention's executive committee end other funding by Dec. 31. The Atlanta association said its vote didn't show support for homosexual activity but affirmed local church autonomy.

  • Nearly one-third of Germany's 82 million citizens don't belong to any Christian church and only 4.2 percent of the people attend church. The churches hope to change those statistics with a new effort welcoming people back to church. "Often it's the churches' own fault when you treat people with little respect," said Bishop Martin Kruse, former chair of the Evangelical Church in Germany. "People want a personal relationship with the church, one that's not too official."

  • Windsor Village, a predominantly African American congregation in Houston with 13,498 members, is now the largest United Methodist church. Kirbyjon Caldwell, the congregation's pastor, attributes Windsor's growth to a multi-pronged approach to mission and ministry. "Sheep produce sheep; shepherds do not produce sheep," Caldwell said. "Our members go out and evangelize. It's not a committee, but it is a lifestyle." Caldwell provided the benediction at President Bush's inauguration.

  • Iteffa Gobena was elected president of the 3.3 million-member Ethiopian Evangelical [Lutheran] Church Mekane Yesus, succeeding Yadessa Daba, who served two four-year terms. Gobena was among the church's leaders who were imprisoned in 1976 for opposing the communist regime. He was ordained in 1978-the year he was released from prison.

  • Setting the world record for the largest gathering of human beings for a single purpose, an estimated 100 million Hindi pilgrims entered the Ganges and Yamuna rivers to wash away their sins and hasten the attainment of nirvana.

  • The College of Holy Cross barred the Boston Church of Christ from its campus, fearing the sect is a dangerous cult. This is the first time the college has banned a religious organization in its 158-year history. In a statement the school said: "Any group which violates disparagement, harassment, intimidation, fear-based tactics, or pressure explicitly violates ... the principles of religious freedom and free inquiry which this college prizes."

  • After $600,000 of damage to their building from February's earthquake, the Lutheran Compass Center, a Seattle homeless ministry, is looking for another site for its programs. Meanwhile, the center is operating its 72-bed men's shelter from St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Seattle, and its meals program from space donated by the county.

  • The recently elected Kansas Board of Education voted 7-3 to restore evolution to the state science curriculum for public schools. The decision reversed the previous board's plan to erase from the curriculum any references to evolution as the only explanation for human origins. John Bacon, a board member who opposes the change, said, "Kids aren't stupid. They're going to realize that what they've learned at home [about their origins] is not what their science teacher is trying to push on them. The issue isn't going away."

  • Pope John Paul II, reasserting the Roman Catholic teaching of marriage, said a true union can exist only between a man and a woman and is indissoluble even if it causes pain and suffering. "Marriage is not just any union between human people, susceptible of being configured according to a plurality of cultural models," he said. By its very nature, it is a lifelong relationship oriented to "the good of the couple and the generation and education of children," he added.
  • Some 83 percent of 901 Americans surveyed said they thought the United States should partner with other wealthy nations to cut world hunger by 50 percent within the next 15 years; 75 percent they would pay $50 a year in taxes to help do so. But a majority of respondents mistakenly thought world hunger was a growing problem when the number of hunger people worldwide has actually dropped from 959 million to 792 million within the last 30 years.

  • Representatives of the Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed churches met in Rome to exchange views on the divisive issue of indulgences. The Vatican said this was the first such meeting since the birth of Protestantism in the Reformation of the 16th and 17th centuries. Protestants reject the concept of indulgences, but Catholics continue to believe the remission of temporal punishment for sins can be gained through penitence and contrition.



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