- Accused Priest Commits Suicide
- Network to Bolster Evangelism across U.S., Nurture New Evangelists
- Mennonite Solidarity Group Headed to Palestine
- Bibleman Once Again Dons Cape
- Other Headlines at a Glance
Accused Priest Commits Suicide ... News that a Roman Catholic priest committed suicide May 16 adds further tragedy to the church's exploding sex abuse scandal. According to The Washington Post, the Rev. Alfred J. Bietighofer, 64, hanged himself at a Maryland institute for troubled clergy. Church officials said Bietighofer resigned April 29 as assistant pastor of St. Andrew in Bridgeport, Conn., after four men accused him of abuse. Bishop William E. Lori, head of the Diocese of Bridgeport, told the Post, "The allegations from were credible enough to warrant immediate action." Lori stripped Bietighofer of his priestly duties, then sent him to the Maryland institution for a psychological evaluation, the Post reported.
The news of Bietighofer's death broke three days after a Baltimore priest was shot and severely wounded by a man who said the priest molested him in 1993 and six weeks after an Ohio priest committed suicide.
Network to Bolster Evangelism Across U.S., Nurture New Evangelists ... Baptist Press reports that a group of national and international evangelistic leaders have formed a Proclamation Evangelism Network (PEN) to pool resources and mentor young evangelists called to the ministry. Among the organizations represented in the new organization are the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Southern Baptist North American Mission Board, Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, Youth With A Mission and Luis Palau Evangelistic Association.
According to Baptist Press, all of the organizations involved in the initiative will be encouraging pastors, mission directors and others they come in contact with to hold a major evangelistic event in their city or community. This could include a traditional revival or crusade, a festival or extreme games such as skateboarding or biking, a popular evangelistic tool with teenagers and young people. PEN is a "birth child of Amsterdam 2000" and endorses the Amsterdam Declaration, a joint report of the three task groups of mission strategists, church leaders and theologians who attended the international event sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Mennonite Solidarity Group Headed to Palestine ... It's being called "A Solidarity of Eyes, Ears, Hands and Feet with the People of Christmas Lutheran Church, Bethlehem." Eleven persons representing Eastern Mennonite University, Virginia Mennonite Conference and other churches will travel to Bethlehem on May 23 to lend support and encouragement to people affected by the recent Israeli army occupation of the West Bank town.
One specific objective is to assist with clean-up and repair work on the Christmas Lutheran Church and the associated International Center of Bethlehem (ICB), buildings that received major damage during heavy street fighting that occurred just outside the church complex.
"We will seek to offer a caring, listening and pastoral presence to people who have been deeply traumatized by the terror and violence of warfare in their towns, streets and houses," said a trip organizer.
Bibleman Once Again Dons Cape ... Charisma News Service reports that "Bibleman," a Bible-based superhero, is donning his cape again, but with a much tighter budget. Last December, said Charisma, Bibleman's live-action tour came to a halt after financial backing for the productions ran out. "After we put out [the news] on our Web site, we received tens of thousands of e-mails and letters asking us not to stop touring," said former TV teen-star Willie Aames, 42, who portrays Bibleman. Thanks to approximately $30,000 in donations, including a $7,000 gift for a trailer from National Football League player Dave Szott, the Bibleman tour went back on the road in March with virtually the same show as last year's, Aames said.
"Last year, we had 15 crew members, a 50-foot bus, 48-foot tractor-trailer and 24-foot truck and three drivers," Aames told Charisma News Service. "This year it's me and Brady Williams [who plays Bibleman's sidekick, Cypher]. I drive the truck and he navigates. So we are doing this year with two people what it took 15 people to do last year. That's God."
Aames added that more than 3,000 children so far have come to Christ in seven shows, which is more than during last year's 42-city tour. "We're booked and sold out in 68 cities through November," Aames said, noting that Bibleman's Web site, www.Bibleman.com, has updated information on the tour.
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