Religion news in brief

AP News
Posted: Sep 05, 2012 1:39 PM
Religion news in brief

Atlanta seminary delays move to Morris Brown College building amid uncertainty about finances

ATLANTA (AP) — An Atlanta seminary is delaying its planned move to a location at Morris Brown College until it can assess how the school's financial problems might affect the seminary.

The Interdenominational Theological Center recently spent $400,000 improving Morris Brown's student center, planning to move classes there while the religious school underwent major renovations.

Given Morris Brown's recent bankruptcy filing, seminary officials say they're trying to figure out their next steps.

The historically black Atlanta college faces possible foreclosure. Court records show that Morris Brown has not paid some of its employees for months.


Chicago Cardinal George to start chemotherapy in latest cancer fight

CHICAGO (AP) — Cardinal Francis George, in his second bout with cancer, said he feels anxious but ready to begin chemotherapy.

"Well, I'm anticipating it a little bit, but otherwise, right now, I'm feeling good," he said.

He made the comments last Saturday before Mass at St. Joseph Parish, a Roman Catholic church on the South Side that was celebrating its 125th anniversary. George said he hoped to keep as many commitments as possible.

Six years ago, surgeons removed his bladder, prostate and part of his right ureter following the discovery that he had bladder cancer. Last month, he announced cancer had been found in his right kidney and liver.

His chemotherapy treatment is slated to begin Wednesday and last four months.

"I haven't been through it before. I didn't have chemo when I had bladder cancer the first time, so I don't know what to expect," said George, former president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "It's different for everybody, and so with the help of God, and a lot of prayers of an awful lot of people, I'm sure it'll be all right."

George, 75, leads the Chicago archdiocese, which serves more than 2 million Roman Catholics. He has said he'll scale back his public schedule during the third week of each three-week treatment session.


New global association aims to improve religion reporting

BELLAGIO, Italy — A new international journalism group has been formed to advance reporting on religion.

The International Association of Religion Journalists was founded by reporters from 23 countries during a meeting at The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in Italy.

The group this week launched the English-language site to provide a range of resources, from statistics on religion in various countries to background on religious and ethnic conflicts.

Maria Lopez, senior religion writer at La Vanguardia, in Barcelona, Spain, said the goal is to help journalists write "with accuracy, fairness and balance" on a complex topic.

The International Center for Journalists and the Association of Religion Data Archives are partners in the project.

The religion reporting group plans next to launch a website in Arabic.


Conn. kids increasingly exempted from pre-school vaccines, citing medical, religious reasons

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — An increasing number of Connecticut students are being exempted from vaccinations as parents cite allergic reactions or religious prohibitions.

According to the state Department of Public Health, 1,056 children entering kindergarten and seventh grade last year received exemptions. That's up by 127 percent increase from 2003, when the state recorded 465 such exemptions.

Vaccination coverage in Connecticut still remains high, with more than 97 percent receiving various vaccinations.

A medical exemption excuses a child because of an allergic, pediatric cancer or HIV or other immune disorders.

State health officials say 111 cases of pertussis, a contagious bacterial disease, have been reported this year and that the state could reach a 10-year high. Last year, there were 68 cases.


Pa. man accused of growing marijuana says he didn't know it was on church property

GROVE CITY, Pa. (AP) — A western Pennsylvania man who was arrested and charged with growing marijuana on a church's property says he had no idea who the land belonged to.

State police arrested 28-year-old Jason Como last week after the Beloved Disciples Church reported that two suspected marijuana plants were growing on their property in Grove City, about 60 miles north of Pittsburgh.

Como says he's a Christian and that he wouldn't have planted the pot there if he'd known the land belonged to a church. Como also says it was for personal use.

Authorities found a small path that led from the plants to the backyard of a nearby home.

Como was charged with manufacturing and cultivating a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.


South Georgia church collapses into pile of rubble; no injuries reported

THOMASVILLE, Ga. (AP) — Members of a south Georgia congregation are planning their next steps after their church building collapsed.

Church members gathered on Labor Day morning at a pile of rubble that housed St. Thomas AME Church in Thomasville for the past 88 years.

Children playing nearby heard a loud noise coming from the direction of the church last Saturday afternoon.

Pastor Clement Choice's wife, Pat, says church members then discovered that the roof had fallen into to the middle of the building.

No one was injured. Authorities say three nearby houses were evacuated after the collapse when it was feared the church bell tower might fall onto a transformer.

Church members said they've had concerns about structural issues, and had been holding services elsewhere in recent months.


Ex-Harvest Fellowship nondenominational megachurch site in San Antonio sold for development

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A former megachurch complex in San Antonio has been sold as the congregation of about 3,000 dwindled to a couple of hundred.

Harvest Fellowship Community Church in late August sold the buildings and property to a development company. The nondenominational, evangelical church's Loop 1604 site includes 60,000 square feet of facility space.

Terms of the deal with 1604 TC LP haven't been released.

Elder David Keith says there are not enough members to support the buildings and the mortgage. Keith says the congregation, which will worship at the site through 2013 as part of a lease, hopes to operate without debt.

Membership began to decline after Senior Pastor Peter Spencer, who founded the church in 1988, left in 2003.