Assemblies of God's leader to quit early
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The head of the Assemblies of God church will step down two years early, ending 14 years at the helm of one of the nation's largest Pentecostal groups.
Thomas Trask, 71, plans to leave office in October.
In a statement Tuesday, Mr. Trask said he sought out "the Lord as to his will" and decided to step down as general superintendent. He would not comment further.
Mr. Trask is chairman of the World Assemblies of God Congress and is past president of the Pentecostal World Fellowship. He serves on the board of administration for the National Association of Evangelicals and the board of directors for the National Religious Broadcasters.
Mr. Trask, who spent five years as the Assemblies of God general treasurer, was part of a leadership team that has been in place since 1993. Charles Crabtree, who was elected that year as assistant general superintendent, plans to retire this year at the end of his term.
Despite the changes ahead, James K. Bridges, the current general treasurer, said, "We don't feel we are in a leadership crisis."
Nominations for a new leader will be made at the church's annual meeting Aug. 8-11 in Indianapolis. The top job will be filled by a member of the executive presbytery, composed of 17 officers and representatives elected from the district ranks.
The 2.8 million-member church is based in Springfield.
Christian frat sues school, cites bias
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A Christian fraternity sued the University of Florida on Tuesday, claiming the university is discriminating against them by refusing to recognize the fraternity as a registered student group.
University officials have told Beta Upsilon Chi that it can't be registered on campus because only men are allowed to join, which amounts to prohibited sex discrimination, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Gainesville.
Beta Upsilon Chi is not allowed to join the off-campus Greek system of fraternities and sororities because the rules governing UF's Greek system bar religious discrimination, according to the lawsuit. The fraternity requires its members to be Christians.
Without official recognition, the fraternity is deprived of benefits including access to meeting space and the ability to advertise and recruit members on campus, the suit said.
Spokesman Steve Orlando said the university does not comment on pending litigation.
The advocates who filed the lawsuit, the Christian Legal Society and the Alliance Defense Fund, had sued the University of Georgia in December because the school wouldn't recognize a chapter of the fraternity because of the religious discrimination issue. The suit was settled two days later when the university changed its policy and allowed the fraternity to register.
Meat plant may reopen, supply Muslims
TAMA, Iowa — A closed meatpacking plant may soon be reopened as a supplier of meat to Muslim countries.
Investors from the Mideast nation Qatar are negotiating to buy the Iowa Quality Beef Supply Cooperative meatpacking plant in Tama, plant executives say.
The investors group wants the plant because it is already equipped to process cattle in a way that meets Muslim dietary requirements or halal.
Like Jews who keep kosher, devout Muslims cannot eat pork and can only eat meat killed in ritual slaughter. Foods processed with alcohol or with non-halal animal products such as lard can also be haram, or forbidden.
The United States exported nearly $80 million in beef to the Mideast in 2003, according to government statistics. Co-op members say there's strong demand for high quality beef in Islamic countries.
From wire dispatches and staff reports