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Published: Saturday, 2/23/2008

Offerings

FROM BLADE STAFF AND NEWS SERVICES

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, will give four lectures in two days, April 19 and 20, at Crisler Arena at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

The Dalai Lama will teach from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m. on April 19 and from 10 a.m. to noon on April 20 on the topic of "Engaging Wisdom and Compassion," and then will discuss "Sustainability," in honor of Earth Day, from 2 to 4 p.m. on April 20.

Tickets are $10 to $95 per event, available online at www.dalailamaann

arbor.com.

The Dalai Lama, considered by many to be the living embodiment of the Buddha, has been in exile since fleeing his native Tibet in 1959 after the country was taken over by Communist China. President Bush awarded him the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor in October.

Four individuals will be ordained as deacons Sunday in a special service at 4 p.m. at Third Baptist Church, 402 Pinewood Ave.

Those being ordained will be Howard Brown and Howard Brown, Jr., father and son, and two women, Barbie Harrison and Capucine Dickerson.

The new deacons have completed extensive training and will focus on ministerial support as outlined by their pastor, the Rev. Kevin Bedford.

"Pathways - A Spiritual Journey of Grief," will be taught over an eight-week period at Hospice of Northwest Ohio from March 4 through April 22.

The course, open to adults of any faith, will be held from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the hospice's Toledo campus, 800 South Detroit Ave. Facilitating the class will be hospice chaplain Ruth Cunning, who will discuss such topics as moving forward, cultivating community, and waiting.

The class is free and open to the public. Registration and information are available by calling 419-661-4001, or online at www.hospicenwo.org.

DEFIANCE - Jon and Kate Gosselin, stars of the reality TV show Jon & Kate Plus 8, will teach on the topic of "Six Lessons We Have Learned" at 6 p.m today and 9 and 11 a.m. tomorrow at Family Christian Center, 1834 East Second St., Defiance.

The Gosselins have one set of twins and one set of sextuplets. Their show is at 9 p.m. Mondays on The Learning Channel and 10 p.m. Tuesdays on the Discovery Channel.

Information: 419-782-2100 or online at www.fccenter.net.

Aldersgate United Methodist Church, 4030 Douglas Rd., will celebrate its 60th anniversary with a service at 10:45 a.m. tomorrow. The first service at the church, which now has more than 500 members, was held Feb. 1, 1948, with 70 charter members, of which 2 are still living.

Aldersgate's current pastor, the Rev. Marilynn Schroeder, will be retiring at the end of June.

"To Have and To Laugh: The 7 Secrets to a Great Relationship" will be the topic of a workshop March 2 at St. Michael's in the Hills, 4718 Brittany Rd. Kevin Anderson, Toledo-area author and psychologist, will lead the two hour workshop.

Registration and refreshments start at 1:30 p.m. and the class will be from 2 to 4 p.m. The cost is $10 per person. Information: 419-531-1616.

NEW YORK - Most of the United States' 25 largest church bodies either lost members or had no growth in the past year, according to a 2008 yearbook from the National Council of Churches.

The Episcopal Church, locked in a conflict over the Bible and homosexuality, suffered the steepest decline - a more than 4 percent drop to slightly fewer than 2.2 million members. Another mainline Protestant group, the 3 million-member Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), facing similar divisions, suffered a 2.4 percent membership decrease.

The figures are outlined in the 2008 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, which tracks membership and other trends from 224 national church bodies.

Of the churches that reported growth, the Jehovah's Witnesses said their group had a 2.25 percent increase to 1 million members, while the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said it grew 1.56 percent to 5.8 million members in the U.S.

The Roman Catholic Church, Southern Baptist Convention, Assemblies of God and African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church also reported membership gains under 1 percent each.

A dozen churches said membership remained steady, while seven reported declines.

The yearbook also reported a 4 percent increase in per capita giving from the 65 churches that reported contribution trends.

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http://www.ncccusa.org

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GENEVA (AP) - The World Council of Churches has started searching for a new leader after the organization's current head announced he will not seek a second term.

The body that brings together about 350 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches, representing more than 560 million Christians in some 110 countries, said its general secretary, Kenyan Methodist Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, will step down when his term ends in December.

Kobia cited personal reasons for not seeking to extend his leadership, the Geneva-based body said in a statement. He was the first African elected to the post and took office in January 2004, starting a five-year term.

In January, Kobia joined other religious leaders in condemning violence that followed disputed elections in his homeland of Kenya, which included the burning of an Assemblies of God church that killed at least 30 people huddled inside.

"Now is the time to put the interests of the nation and the surrounding region above other concerns," Kobia said in a statement at the time.

Kobia also met and prayed in Rome last month with Pope Benedict XVI at a service marking the 100th anniversary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Elections for a new World Council of Churches general secretary are expected to take place in September 2009 at the council's next central committee meeting.

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http://www.oikoumene.org

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TULSA, Okla. (AP) - When Pope Benedict XVI celebrates Mass on his trip to the United States in April, he is expected to use a chalice that is being refinished in Oklahoma.

The ornate, gold-plated sterling silver chalice has been housed in the Papal Nunciature, the Vatican's embassy in Washington, D.C., since it was manufactured in London in the spring of 1938.

Don Taylor, who is overseeing the restoration at the F.C. Ziegler Co., said the chalice is used by popes when they visit the United States. The Tulsa, Okla.-based company provides goods and services needed for worship and devotion, with five locations in the south-central U.S.

"I can assure you it was used by Pope John Paul II (1978-2005) and by Pope Paul VI (1963-78)," Taylor said. "Before that, it's a little sketchy."

He said he has been told that Benedict will use the chalice in all of his private and public Masses while he is in the United States.

Benedict will arrive on April 15 in Washington, D.C., where he will meet with President Bush. On April 18, the pope will go to New York City to address the United Nations, visit ground zero and offer Masses at St. Patrick's Cathedral and Yankee Stadium.

Taylor's team will remove the rubies, sapphires and glass medallions from the chalice, clean and polish it, and then recoat it with a 24-carat gold finish.

"It'll look like it did when it was new," he said.

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http://www.uspapalvisit.org

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BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. (AP) - Dwindling donations to the Living Word Christian Center in this Twin Cities suburb have prompted its high-profile pastor, Mac Hammond, to put his private business jet on the market.

Church spokesman the Rev. Brian Sullivan says Living Word has also cut its hourlong Sunday morning television broadcast to 30 minutes to save money.

He says the church has fallen $40,000 to $70,000 short of its weekly budget in recent weeks, and the church is adjusting its budget accordingly.

Sullivan said the church's problems could be a combination of the recession and the recent bad publicity about churches preaching prosperity gospel, which holds that God wants his followers to flourish financially.

Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, has asked six mega-ministries that preach a prosperity message to submit financial documents and answer questions about spending and oversight. He is trying to ensure they follow IRS rules for nonprofits.

Hammond's church was not among those targeted, but he is on the board of Kenneth Copeland's ministries, based in Texas. Copeland is one of the pioneers of the theology and a Grassley target.

Sullivan said the church is aggressively marketing the jet, and the money raised from the sale would be reinvested in the ministry.

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http://www.lwcc.org

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - About 15 Oklahoma City churches with predominantly black membership are participating in a weight-loss challenge started by an official at a health care company.

Zora Brown, the director of cultural affairs at Integris Health, said she wanted to challenge the membership of predominantly black churches to address health disparities among blacks by fighting obesity. She said obesity is a risk factor for diseases which disproportionately affect blacks.

Brown issued her challenge during Integris Health's African American Summit in November. Churches started registering to participate in the challenge on Feb. 1 and can enroll teams through March 1. The contest will last through Oct. 31.

Lee Cooper, a preacher at Prospect Missionary Baptist Church, said the weight-loss challenge is a good idea. About 50 members at the church are participating.

"We felt it was the perfect opportunity for us to talk about lifestyle changes within our congregation and our community," Cooper said. "We've always thought of health in terms of the absence of illness, but in reality, if we wait until the illness comes, we're already too late."



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