Originally created 10/30/04

Religion News in Brief



Two Washington state parishes are the latest to quit Episcopal Church

SEATTLE - Two Washington state parishes severed ties with the Episcopal Church last week and joined the Anglican Diocese of Recife, Brazil, partly to protest last year's U.S. consecration of an openly gay bishop.

The Rev. Carol Harlacher, rector of St. Stephen's Church in Oak Harbor, said that after long consideration "we must reaffirm the orthodox teachings of Scripture, from which (the Episcopal Church) has departed." The other congregation is St. Charles Church in Poulsbo.

In other developments related to the Episcopal split over homosexuality:

-Priests and parishioners from nearly 40 New England congregations supporting the conservative Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes met in Providence, R.I. The group commissioned nine teams of home missionaries and plans new congregations in Orleans and Sandwich, Mass., and Durham and Rochester, N.H., that will be aligned with foreign Anglican bishops.

-A St. Louis County judge gave the Episcopal Church and its Missouri Diocese control of the property of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Town and Country, Mo., denominational headquarters announced. Episcopal loyalists have met in homes since the congregation joined the Anglican Mission in America, sponsored by Rwanda's Anglican church.

-Conservative Anglican Church of Canada members in Borden, Saskatchewan, broke ties with the denomination and announced the start of a new congregation affiliated with the Anglican Mission in America and Rwandan church.

--- Major Christian collegians' convention leaves longtime University of Illinois venue

MADISON, Wis. - InterVarsity Christian Fellowship announced that its Mission Convention for college students, held on the University of Illinois campus in Urbana since 1948, will move in 2006 to the Edward Jones Dome and adjacent America's Center in St. Louis.

The evangelical event, usually held every three years the week before New Year's, is one of the largest religious gatherings for North American college students. Some 19,000 people from the United States and other nations attended last December's convention to learn about foreign missionary careers.

InterVarsity sponsors 832 student chapters on 564 U.S. campuses and is part of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, which operates in 150 countries.

InterVarsity President Alec Hill praised the university's long-standing cooperation but said the St. Louis locale would allow the convention to expand and add new programs. InterVarsity said St. Louis provides extensive facilities under one roof and a central location.

http://www.intervarsity.org

--- South Dakota teacher returns to after-school Bible study

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Third-grade teacher Barbara Wigg was back leading a weekly religious club last week after a federal appeals court upheld her right to do so.

Wigg sued the Sioux Falls School District last year after she was told she couldn't help the Child Evangelism Fellowship's local Good News Club, which meets at her elementary school after classes.

"What a privilege to be here," Wigg said after the hourlong session of stories, games and prayers.

A panel from the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in September that barring Wigg's participation violated her First Amendment religious rights. The school board wants the full appeals court to review the case, and could take it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

http://www.cefonline.com

--- Mormon church plans film to mark founder's 200th birth anniversary

SALT LAKE CITY - The Mormon church is producing a film on the life of founding prophet Joseph Smith Jr., whose claim to have discovered long-lost Christian scriptures in 1827 built the foundation for one of the world's fastest growing religions.

The movie, as yet unnamed, marks the 200th anniversary of Smith's birth on Dec. 23, 1805. It will be shown free of charge at the church visitors' center off Temple Square.

Mormon film director Richard Dutcher earlier announced plans for a $12 million feature film on Smith for the bicentennial, but production has not begun.

Smith said that as a 14-year-old farmboy in Palmyra, N.Y., he witnessed a vision of God and Jesus Christ and later dug up golden plates from which he translated the Book of Mormon, then returned them to an angel.

Smith's scriptures are about to appear as comic books drawn by Mormon illustrator Mike Allred, in installments over the next two years.

--- Orthodox synod in Syria approves self-government for North Americans

ENGLEWOOD, N.J. - The 480,000-member Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America announced that a synod in Antioch, Syria, has granted it self-government.

A new constitution provides that bishops will be nominated and elected by North Americans, then consecrated at the home cathedral in Damascus, Syria.

The constitution comes up for formal ratification at the North American convention next July.

Some Americans in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese would like to win similar self-government from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Istanbul, Turkey. The Russian Orthodox Church granted independence to the Orthodox Church in America, Orthodoxy's other main North American branch, in 1970, though the Ecumenical Patriarchate does not recognize this.

--- Freedom from Religion leader announces retirement

MADISON, Wis. - The president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation has announced plans to retire from the Madison-based group, known for filing lawsuits that seek strict separation of church and state.

Anne Nicol Gaylor, 77, who helped start the 5,000-member foundation in 1976, told the Wisconsin State Journal she has glaucoma and can no longer handle the burdens of her job.

Gaylor said that when she began "the word 'atheist' was enough to set the phone ringing," but "the flak has let up over the years. Freethinkers are freer to speak their minds."

Gaylor's daughter and co-founder, Annie Laurie Gaylor, and her son-in-law Dan Barker will seek to replace her as leaders at the group's convention this weekend.

The convention features controversial Princeton University ethicist Peter Singer; Michael Newdow, who petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to drop "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, and St. Petersburg Times editorial writer Robyn Blumner.

http://www.ffrf.org