God Helped Miners, English Clergy Doubt Resurrection & more

God Helped Miners, English Clergy Doubt Resurrection & more

In Today's Edition:
  • God Helped Save Trapped Miners, United Methodist Clergy Say
  • Pastor Sues City After Being Kicked Out of Parsonage
  • Christian Supporters of Israel Plan Mass Autumn Rally in D. C.
  • English Clergy Doubt Resurrection, Survey Shows
  • Evangelical Leaders Ask Bush to Adopt Balanced Mideast Policy

God Helped Save Trapped Miners, United Methodist Clergy Say

UMNS -- Family members of the nine trapped Pennsylvania coal miners and the clergy who supported them throughout their 77-hour ordeal have no doubt that God played a key role in the successful rescue. "We're just totally amazed at how the hand of God was on this the whole time," the Rev. Barry Ritenour told United Methodist News Service during a July 29 telephone interview. "God used people and accomplished this job in a fantastic way."

The Rev. Charles Olson agreed that it was not just luck but the divine guidance of a knowledgeable rescue team - able, among other things, to strategically drill a six-inch air pipe into the shaft - that kept the trapped miners alive. "God put all of those people together and said, 'Here's where we go.'"

Both United Methodist pastors were with the families, along with clergy of other faiths, throughout the crisis, which began July 24 when the nine-man crew at the Quecreek Mine accidentally drilled into an adjacent, abandoned, water-filled mine. After the accident, a church member who works for the Pennsylvania State Police called Ritenour. The church member asked the pastor to open the Sipesville Volunteer Fire Dept. hall for the family members and gather local clergy. "I got there Wednesday night and left there Sunday morning at 3 a.m." Ritenour said. Olson arrived for a 72-hour stay, punctuated by short naps in his van outside the hall. "We were counseling our people and praying with them and providing devotioonal materials," he explained.

"We just kept reminding them (the families) of God's presence," Ritenour said, adding, "This is a very strong Christian community. They leaned on God a lot." Clergy are organizing a praise and thanksgiving service for the families on the evening of Aug. 4 at a local Lutheran church.

Pastor Sues City after being Kicked Out of Parsonage

Pastor Terry Paine and the Prairie Band Baptist Church have filed a lawsuit against the City of Mayetta, Kansas, after the town ordered the Pastor and his family to vacate the church parsonage - all because the parsonage is located on the ground floor of the church. Pastor Paine is represented Liberty Counsel.

In December of 2001, Pastor Paine founded the Prairie Band Baptist Church in Mayetta, Kansas, as a ministry outreach to the Prairie Band Indian Tribe. The church first encountered zoning problems when the town refused to allow it to use its building as a church. After much debate and a threat of a lawsuit, the town informally agreed to allow the Church to operate. Immediately after the church opened, the town informed Pastor Paine that he could not live in the parsonage, because it was located on the ground floor of the building.

In the lawsuit, Pastor Paine contends that the town unconstitutionally applied the "first-floor residence" exclusion against the church, as essentially all of the surrounding buildings contain first-floor residences. The building immediately across from the front of the church on Main Street is a house with a first-floor residence. All the buildings on the side of the church are residential dwellings with first-floor residences.

If Pastor Paine and his family are forced to vacate the church parsonage, the pastor will be unable to financially survive, and without the pastor, the church will cease to exist. The new church has less than 25 members and "pays" the pastor by allowing him free use of the parsonage. The church only brings in enough money to pay the monthly rent on the building, although the pastor works for the church full time ministering to the Tribe

Christian Supporters of Israel Plan Mass Autumn Rally in D.C.

Jerusalem Post writer Melissa Radler reports that Christian supporters of Israel are gearing up for a massive, pro-Israel rally in Washington this autumn to press for increased support for Israel's fight against terror, and oppose the Bush administration's call for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The Christian Coalition of America will sponsor the rally, called "Israel, You Are Not Alone," and scheduled for the afternoon of Oct. 11 on the Ellipse near the White House. Organizers said they hope to bring out a minimum of 100,000 supporters. Mike Evans, executive director of Churches United with Israel, will be among such speakers as former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. "I want to encourage the thousands of churches that are partners of the Jerusalem Prayer Team to take a busload of people, and every Jerusalem Prayer Team member nationwide to attend," said Evans.

English Clergy Doubt Resurrection, Survey Shows

According to Reuters, one third of Church of England clergy don't believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Results from a recent survey were published in British newspapers Wednesday. Only half of the 2,000 clergy questioned believed in the Virgin Birth, the survey for British organization Cost of Conscience also found. Seventy five percent of those surveyed accepted the principle of the Trinity -- the belief that God is a union of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit reported Reuters.

"There are clearly two churches operating in the Church of England: the believing church and the disbelieving church, and that is a scandal," Cost of Conscience spokesman Reverend Robbie Low was quoted as saying.

Evangelical Leaders Ask Bush to Adopt Balanced Mideast Policy

According to The Washington Post, a number of "prominent evangelical Christians, challenging the view that their community is solidly behind the Bush administration's Middle East policy, has urged President Bush to adopt an evenhanded stance affirming 'the valid interests' of both Palestinians and Israelis."

On July 23, some 59 Christians wrote to Bush: "the American evangelical community is not a monolithic bloc in full and firm support of present Israeli policy." They ask the president "to move boldly forward so that the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for their own state may be realized." The group said they were not "pleased by the heavy-handed favoring of the Israeli side in all of this," according to the Post.

Gary M. Burge, professor of theology at Wheaton College in Illinois and chairman of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding, told the Post he and other signers want Bush to know that "Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson do not represent the evangelical voice of America," just a segment."

According to the Post, other signers of the letter include Craig Barnes, senior pastor of Washington's National Presbyterian Church; Cheryl J. Sanders of the Howard University School of Divinity; Tony Campolo, president of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education; Gordon MacDonald, chairman of World Relief of the National Association of Evangelicals; David Neff, editor of Christianity Today; Eugene F. Rivers, a Boston community activist; Ronald J. Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action; and Richard Nikkel, head of Prison Fellowship International.