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Published: 6/15/2002

Baptist leader backs anti-Islam statement

BLADE STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

ST. LOUIS - The new head of the Southern Baptist Convention has rejected calls to repudiate what a Muslim group is calling “bigoted” and “hate-filled” statements made by one of its pastors.

The Rev. Jack Graham, elected the convention's president on Tuesday, said the Rev. Jerry Vines' comments about Islam were accurate and that he would not condemn his colleague.

Dr. Vines, a former convention president, told a pastors' conference Monday that religious pluralists “would have us to believe that Islam is just as good as Christianity, but I'm here to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that Islam is not just as good as Christianity.

“Islam was founded by Muhammad, a demon-possessed pedophile who had 12 wives - and his last one was a 9-year-old girl. And I will tell you Allah is not Jehovah either. Jehovah's not going to turn you into a terrorist that'll try to bomb people and take the lives of thousands and thousands of people.”

Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the comments were outrageous.

“It's really unfortunate that a top leader in a mainstream Christian church ... would use such hate-filled and bigoted language in describing the faith of one-fifth of the world's population.”

SAN ANTONIO - Two months before Pope John Paul II is scheduled to canonize Mexico's beloved Juan Diego, a San Antonio microbiologist-pediatrician said the image of the Virgin Mary on his cloak is not miraculous.

The olive-skinned Virgin, known as Our Lady of Guadalupe, reportedly appeared to Juan Diego in 1531. The image, said to have appeared miraculously on his cloak, is housed at Mexico's Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the second most popular Roman Catholic site after the Vatican.

Leoncio A. Garza-Valdes, 61, part of a team that evaluated the cloak in 1999, said photos with ultraviolet and infrared light revealed the image is actually three paintings “and one is signed and dated. So this is not a miracu-lous image; it was created by man,” the San Antonio Express-News reported.

Mexican church officials say Dr. Garza-Valdes is mistaken.

Members of a historic African-American denomination that was founded in 1796 as the Freedom Church will meet in Toledo Wednesday-June 22 for the Michigan Annual Conference.

Next week's conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church will open at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Radisson Hotel downtown with a communion service celebrated by Midwest Conference Bishop Enoch B. Rochester, who also will speak at 1:30 p.m.

The AME Zion Church embraces 3,000 churches, including three in Toledo, with 1.5 million members on five continents.

A welcome service is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, followed by worship and a reception. Other conference highlights include a Festival of Praise worship service at 7 p.m. Thursday; a candlelight service for Missionary Night at 7 p.m. Friday, and a series of Christian education workshops from 10 a.m. to noon June 22 at Old West End Junior High School.

More than 500 people from about 50 churches in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin are expected to attend the four-day meeting. All sessions are open to the public.

Sister Donna Frey was installed Sunday as general superior of the Ursuline Sisters of Toledo during a liturgy celebrated by Bishop James Hoffman.

A native of Tiffin, Sister Donna has been involved in Mission Effectiveness at St. Ursula Academy for the last two years, following 13 years as campus minister at the all-girls' school.

Four other leaders of the local Ursuline community were installed: Sister Kathleen Padden, first councilor; Sister Nelda Chafitelli, second councilor; Sister Sandra Sherman, third councilor, and Sister Margaret Manion, fourth councilor.

LAKESIDE - United Methodists in West Ohio will meet at Lakeside-on-Lake Erie again next year, delegates to this year's annual conference have decided.

Some of the 2,500 delegates proposed moving the gathering to Columbus because it would be easier to facilitate electronic voting, but the majority opted to stay at Lakeside, said Tom Slack, spokesman for the conference.

In other business at the four-day meeting that ended Sunday, delegates listened to a presentation by the Rev. Fred “Neeake” Shaw, a United Methodist minister, and raised nearly $327,000 for the Hope for the Children of Africa campaign, a national effort to raise $5 million to help African children.

CANAL FULTON, Ohio - Alive 2002, a four-day Christian music festival featuring nearly 50 bands, including Delirious?, Audio Adrenaline, Kirk Franklin, Toby Mac, Michael W. Smith, and Third Day, opens at Clay's Park here Wednesday and continues through June 22. Speakers include Josh McDowell and Gary Chapman.

Ticket information is available at 330-854-0011 or www.alive.org.



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