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German School Shooting, Rachel's Day, CUIC & Church Suit

German School Shooting, Rachel's Day, CUIC & Church Suit

In Today’s Edition:
  • East Germans Flock to Churches Following School Massacre
  • Court Rules Church's Building is Tax Exempt After Lawsuit 
  • Lutherans to Mark "Rachel's Day" on May 6
  • CUIC Announces its First Director
  • Other Headlines at a Glance

East Germans Flock to Churches Following School Massacre ...  A shooting spree at an East German school has left Germany in shock and grief. While final exams were in progress April 26, a 19-year-old ex-student entered Gutenberg High School and gunned down 12 teachers, two female students, one secretary and one policeman before taking his own life. In the Thuringian city of Erfurt, thousands have been flocking to churches and Christian counselors and police psychologists are helping the bereaved.

According to "idea," a German evangelical news agency, about one in five citizens of Erfurt is a church member. Shocked by the massacre, many non-Christians have been attending services at Protestant and Catholic churches. The town, which is where Martin Luther studied, has a population of 200,000.

An evangelical students mission has called on all pupils and students in Germany to observe minutes of silence for the victims and hold daily prayer vigils. Evangelicals have passed out flyers in Erfurt with words from the Bible Psalm 23 or John 14:1. The flyers were gone within an hour, according to Pastor Ruediger Zander. -- www.idea.de


Court Rules Church's Building is Tax Exempt After Lawsuit ... On April 29, Pennsylvania State Court Judge Timothy Searer ruled that Evangel Baptist Church's Family Life Center was indeed tax exempt because it was used primarily for worship and religious purposes. Evangel Baptist Church is represented by Mathew D. Staver, president and general counsel of Liberty Counsel, and Erik W. Stanley, litigation counsel for Liberty Counsel.

The case went to court after Evangel Baptist Church built a Family Life Center directly behind its church. The building contains a gymnasium, a kitchen and fellowship hall, several classrooms and an office. The Church uses the Family Life Center for concerts and basketball outreaches, a children's discipleship group, fellowship dinners and Sunday School.

Evangel applied for a tax exemption from property taxes for the building claiming that it was tax exempt under Pennsylvania law because it was primarily used for religious worship. But the taxing authorities denied Evangel's request because they believed that "Sunday School, outreach activities and children's discipleship programs were not forms of religious worship," and so Evangel was not entitled to a tax exemption.


Lutherans to Mark "Rachel's Day" on May 6 ...  "Many children today live in fear - of gangs, violence, drugs, illness, hunger, of loneliness or of not living to adulthood," according to the ELCA web site. In response, "Rachel's Day" is a day to mourn for "the loss of childhood innocence, to grieve for children who have been lost and to renounce the forces of evil and fear that plague us." The ECLA site (www.elca.org) has ideas for worship, activity and planning.

In 1996, the first Sunday in May was observed as Rachel's Day in the Metropolitan Chicago Synod. The day took its name from Jeremiah 31:15-17. In those verses Rachel grieves for her children. In July 1996 the Metropolitan Chicago Synodical Women's Organization brought to the Women of the ELCA Third Triennial Convention a memorial asking all women to encourage their congregations to recognize the first Sunday in May each year as "Rachel's Day." The memorial was adopted.


CUIC Announces its First Director ... Churches Uniting in Christ (CUIC), a "relationship" among nine churches that have pledged "to live more closely together in expressing their unity in Christ and to combat racism," has appointed the Rev. Bertrice Y. Wood of Cleveland as its first director. CUIC's nine "member communions" collectively represent more than 22 million Protestant and Anglican Christians in the United States.

Wood was the first woman pastor of the 137-year-old, historic and predominantly African-American Mt. Zion Congregational United Church of Christ in Cleveland. She is also currently vice president at large of the National Council of Churches.

The nine member communions of CUIC include the African Methodist Episcopal Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Episcopal Church, International Council of Community Churches, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ and United Methodist Church. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America also works with CUIC as a partner in mission and dialogue.


Other Headlines at a Glance: