Calvary United Methodist Church opens new wing
NORMAL, IL--Calvary United Methodist Church, located at 1700 N. Towanda, is officially unveiling a 21,000-square-foot expansion of the existing building.
The expansion makes room for flexible space that can be used in ministry at Calvary, including a gymnasium/multipurpose space with a suspended walking track, a coffee bar and children’s play area, a dedicated music rehearsal room, conference and meeting space, and a small chapel. This new space will allow for more small group ministry, worship arts, bible study, outreach, and fellowship--all hallmarks of Calvary’s 52-year history.
“We have thought and prayed earnestly about this expansion over the past few years,” said Larry Phillips, chairperson for the Calvary Building Committee. “We’ve considered the economy, made appropriate modifications to the plan based on priorities, and really feel like this is the right way to respond to God’s calling for our church. It’s a fine balance of excellence in ministry and stewardship of resources
Ex-SC Gov. Sanford thanks God for political resurrection
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) Former Republican South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has thanked God for reviving his political career.
Sanford won back his old congressional seat Tuesday. The seat became vacant when U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint resigned from his Senate seat last year. Governor
Nikki Haley then appointed the sitting congressman, Tim Scott, to fill DeMint's seat.
Sanford saw his political career disintegrate four years ago when he disappeared for five days, telling his staff he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. He returned to admit he had been in Argentina with his mistress a woman to whom he is now engaged. Sanford later paid a $70,000 ethics fine, the largest in state history, for using public money to fly for personal purposes. His wife,Jenny, divorced him.
At his victory party, Sanford said, ``I am one imperfect man saved by God's grace.''
Delaware becomes 11th state with gay marriage
DOVER, Del. (AP) A divided state Senate has voted to make Delaware the 11th state in the nation to allow same-sex marriage.
Less than an hour after the Senate's 12-9 vote, Democratic Gov. Jack Markell signed the measure into law.
Opponents, including scores of conservative religious leaders from across the state, argued that same-sex marriage redefines and destroys a centuries-old institution that is a building block of society.
The bill does not force clerics to perform same-sex marriages that conflict with their religious beliefs. But under an existing Delaware law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, business owners who refuse to provide marriage-related services to same-sex couples for reasons of conscience could be subject to discrimination claims.
Pope to visit Rio slum during July World Youth Day
VATICAN CITY (AP) Pope Francis will visit one of Rio de Janeiro's favelas, or slums, during his weeklong visit to Brazil for World Youth Day, his first foreign trip as pontiff.
The Vatican on Tuesday released Francis' itinerary for the July 22-29 trip to the world's largest Roman Catholic country. It includes a meeting with prisoners and a visit to a Rio hospital as well as events linked to the Catholic Church'syouth festival.
The 76-year-old Francis will remain mostly in Rio but will make a daylong side trip to Aparacida to pray at the shrine to the Virgin Mary.
He will also visit the Varginha favela, north of Rio, and deliver a speech.
As archbishop of Buenos Aires, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio often worked and preached in the capital's slums.
Israel backs ruling for Jewish women's prayer
JERUSALEM (AP) Israel's attorney general says he will not appeal a court ruling permitting a liberal Jewish women's group to pray freely at a Jerusalem holy site.
An Israeli court instructed police last month to stop detaining women for performing religious rituals and wearing garb that Orthodox Judaism reserves for men. The ``Women of the Wall'' movement has been trying for decades to break
Orthodox control on prayer at the Western Wall, one of Judaism's holiest sites.
Orthodox rabbis, who control Israeli religious institutions, argued the women break regulations forbidding religious ceremonies that go against ``local custom.''
The Justice Ministry said Tuesday that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein would not appeal.
In another victory for liberal Judaism, Israel's prime minister has signaled he will support a new, mixed-gender prayer area at the site.
Prayer vigil held near home where women were held captive
CLEVELAND (AP) A prayer vigil has been held near the Cleveland home where three women were held captive for years.
Wednesday's vigil was organized by United Pastors in Mission, representing morethan 100 Cleveland-area churches.
The Rev. Jimmy Gates says 150 to 200 people thanked God for returning the missing women to their families, and prayed that others who remain missing will be found alive and freed as well.
Gates says the Cleveland case shows how people need to watch out for each otherand report things that seem odd or suspicious. He says that's ``not snitching, ''but acting like the Bible's Good Samaritan.
Judge rules for cheerleaders in Bible banner suit
HOUSTON (AP) A judge has ruled that cheerleaders at a Southeast Texas high school can display banners emblazoned with Bible verses at football games.
State District Judge Steve Thomas ruled that the Kountze High School cheerleaders' banners are constitutionally permissible.
The dispute began during the last football season when the district barred cheerleaders from using run-through banners that displayed religious messages, such as ``If God is for us, who can be against us.''
The district, which received a complaint about the banners from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, argued the banners violated a First Amendment clause that bars government, or, in this case, publicly funded school districts, from establishing or endorsing a religion.
Liberty Institute represented the cheerleaders and said their free speech and religious rights were violated by the school district's ban.
Santa approves: House OK's `Merry Christmas' bill
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) On the brink of summer, defending Christmas is on the wish list of the Texas Legislature.
The Texas House on Wednesday approved a bipartisan bill that aims to remove legal risks of saying ``Merry Christmas'' in Texas public schools. Traditional holiday symbols, such as a menorah or nativity scene, would also win a nod of state support so long as more than one religion and a secular symbol are also reflected.
State Rep. Dwayne Bohac says the bill seeks to protect schools from ``ridiculous'' lawsuits. The Houston Republican says, ``Teachers are fearful of calling a Christmas tree a Christmas tree.''
Several Santa Claus impersonators were in the House gallery when the bill came up. They rang sleigh bells upon passage.
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