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Land Use, Lewd Woman, Guinness, Georgian Republic & Lebanon

Land Use, Lewd Woman, Guinness, Georgian Republic & Lebanon

In Today's Edition:

Church Prepares Court Fight to Save Land from Developers ... From CNS News ... Lawyers for the Cottonwood Christian Center in Los Alamitos, Calif. are seeking a federal injunction to stop officials in the nearby city of Cypress from seizing 18 acres of church land and converting it into a shopping center. Church officials wanted to move their parish from their current site in Los Alamitos to the 18 acres in Cypress, but Tuesday night, the Cypress redevelopment agency voted 4-0 to invoke its power of eminent domain and obtain the land.

Unless the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California says otherwise, the 4,000 members of the Cottonwood Christian Center will be forced to sell their 18 acres to the city and find another place to build a new church campus.

Jon Curtis, the attorney representing Cottonwood, said the city is in violation of laws under the U.S. Constitution, the California Constitution, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), and redevelopment laws. Curtis added that RLUIPA was designed to protect churches from actions such as the one Cypress officials decided to take.


Pastor Fined $1,000 for Rebuking Lewd Woman ... On May 29 in Dane County Circuit Court, Judge Paul Higginbotham fined Pastor Ralph Ovadal $1,000 for rebuking a lewd-acting woman on the parking lot of the state-run Mazomanie nude beach and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to her. The Judge also added court costs to the fine. Pastor Ovadal's "victim," Nancy J. Erickson, had asked the court to fine Pastor Ovadal the maximum possible ($1,000), put him in jail for 90 days, and then on probation. The Judge declined the probation, saying it would be too expensive to the State and would no doubt do nothing to change Pastor Ovadal's behavior anyway. Both the D.A. and the Judge stated that they had considered putting Pastor Ovadal in jail, but they are afraid it would make him "a martyr."

During the sentencing hearing Judge Higginbotham gave a long dissertation on his religious beliefs and stated to Pastor Ovadal, "I think you and I have different thoughts on what is preaching. . . . Yes, I called your conduct cruel, savage, truculent . . . it wasn't preaching."

Judge Higginbotham's decision will be appealed. Immediately after the trial, Pastor Ovadal and the Christians on hand to support him went to the state headquarters of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to picket and hand out a flyer titled "Is the Department of Natural Resources a Protector of Perverts and Child Abusers?"


Religious Freedom In Jeopardy In Georgian Republic ... (BWA) ... Malkhaz Songulashvili, President of the Union of Evangelical Baptists of Georgia, is the focus of continuing attacks from a defrocked Orthodox priest and his followers. In a recent communication with the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) Songulashvili quoted the following from a fundamentalist newspaper, "We can speak widely about the wicked activity of Baptist Bishop Malkhaz Songulashvili. This man with his white hands, gentle beard and false intelligence is representing the greatest danger for our faith. In his books he has ruthlessly destroyed the foundations of Orthodox dogma."

Songulashvili is under fire partly because of a letter from some United States senators to the President of the Republic of Georgia, Mr. Eduard Shevardnadze, in which they asked the government to do more to prevent over 700 criminal complaints and documented attacks in groups such as Jehovah Witnesses, Pentecostals, and Evangelicals. The letter pointed to the warehouse owned by the Baptist Union that was burned on Feb. 3. All of this is orchestrated by this defrocked Georgian Orthodox priest, Basil Mkalavishvili.

Faced with internal and external outrage because of the actions of this minority priest and others, Songulashvili says that he was told the priest decided to "pull down the Baptist office." While not surprised to hear the message, the Baptist leader says he was concerned because there are three offices in Tbilisi, one at the Central Church, one at the Bible Society and one at his home. He tried to evacuate people from these offices but several of them refused to leave. Subsequently he called upon the President and the others to use their influence to stop these attacks, but the threat continues. (Reported by Wendy Ryan).


Christian Plans to Plant New Cedars Of Lebanon ... (Assist News Service) -- A Canadian Christian who has previously worked in Lebanon, has launched a new project to plant 10,000 Cedar of Lebanon trees in this Middle Eastern country. Bruce Balfour, who lives in Clearwater, British Colombia, said in a message from Lebanon, "I have been praying for years about returning to minister amongst the downtrodden Lebanese, especially the persecuted Christians (by title only). The people that I met were very fearful and hopeless and did not know which way to turn. I had the opportunity to show many which way to turn, and tried to give them all hope for better days ahead -- in the Messiah's return.

"Because of the situation there, a long-term return would be difficult. Then an idea that I had been thinking of during the war years returned to me. I was moved by the barren peaks, ridges, and slopes, which at one time were covered with the Cedars of Lebanon. Maybe, I thought, some day I could replace those, which were taken to build the first and second temple, and both the houses of David and Solomon in Jerusalem. During the war years it was not possible but maybe now it was. As I started to talk about it the people were very interested, so I followed through with some meetings, including with some officials. The results were an invitation to come and start a Cedars of Lebanon planting project."

He said that he has made a commitment for the first 10,000 Cedars to be planted, and added; "Only the Lord knows how many more." For further information on this project, contact Mervin Ralph at (213) 276 1276 or e-mail at [email protected] In Canada, you can contact John Lucas at the Canadian base in Calgary, Alberta, at (403) 283-2263 or by e-mail at [email protected]


'God and Guinness' Reaches Out to Post-modern Generation ... (ENS) ... Two Episcopal priests are exploring a way to "make religion more significant" to the post-modern generation. Instead of attempting to lure post-moderns into church with promises of salvation or threats of brimstone and hellfire, Lisa Senuta and Helen Svoboda-Barber are using a different kind of age-old enticement: beer.

"My conviction is that people of my age group are a little timid about walking through church doors," said Senuta, a priest at St. Thomas the Apostle in Overland Park, Kansas. The two friends, both graduates of the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest in Texas and members of Generation X themselves, began discussing the problem of reaching out to the post-modern generation and possible ways to overcome it. Svoboda-Barber said, "We decided to host a weekly meeting [in a bar] and focus on conversations that have to do with God in our everyday lives."

Using a bar as a religious meeting place is not a new idea. According to Senuta, she first hit upon the idea after reading The Post-Evangelical by Dave Tomlinson, former leader of the House Church movement in Britain, who called for reformation of evangelical denominations to appeal to post-modern generations. "C.S. Lewis even held philosophical and theological discussions
in pubs," Senuta added.