- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 30, 2008

Episcopalians pick San Joaquin bishop

LODI, Calif. — A pro-gay bishop loyal to the U.S. Episcopal Church was elected yesterday as head of a California diocese that seceded from the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion over its stances on homosexuality and biblical authority.

At a meeting at St. John the Baptist Church in Lodi, the 70 delegates representing 18 congregations of the San Joaquin Diocese that refused to go along with the diocese’s secession vote, unanimously picked Bishop Jerry Lamb, 67, as leader. Bishop Lamb was recommended to the position by the Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, who was present at the vote.

Bishop Lamb immediately named three women as priests — the region’s first — and called for “dialogue” about homosexuality as part of what he said would be his policy of “opening the doors wide.”

“I believe that this church needs to be an inclusive church, open to all people,” he said after the vote.

The diocese voted overwhelmingly in December to leave the Episcopal Church. Bishop John-David Schofield aligned the 8,800-member diocese with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone in Argentina, which backs the Anglican Communion against the U.S. Episcopal Church. Episcopal leaders have declared Bishop Schofield no longer part of their church.

Bush to meet Putin, seek NATO support

President Bush heads to Europe tomorrow to push NATO allies for more support in Afghanistan and to meet with Russia’s outgoing president, Vladimir Putin, probably for the last time president-to-president.

Demanding more troop contributions from alliance members for the second front in the war on terrorism, where failure would be seen as a personal blow, has emerged as a priority for Mr. Bush when he attends his final NATO summit April 2-4 in Bucharest, Romania.

Search resumes for missing woman

BOLINGBROOK, Ill. — After a winter hiatus, more than 50 volunteers resumed their ground search yesterday for a suburban Chicago mother who went missing last fall.

Searchers gathered in Bolingbrook, where Stacy Peterson was last seen in late October.

“Right now, we’re looking for a body,” said Cassandra Cales, Mrs. Peterson’s younger sister. “We’re looking for grave sites … anything.”

Investigators are treating the case as a possible homicide and have named Mrs. Peterson’s husband, former Bolingbrook police officer Drew Peterson, as a suspect. A grand jury is looking into her disappearance and the death of his ex-wife, Kathleen Savio.

Mr. Peterson, who hasn’t been charged and denies any wrongdoing in both cases, has said his wife left him for another man.

Woman mauled by cheetah

WELLINGTON, Fla. — Authorities say the owner of a Florida wildlife sanctuary has been hospitalized after she was attacked by a cheetah.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said Judy Berens has about 40 puncture wounds to her extremities and back. Authorities said she was airlifted to Delray Medical Center, but it appears she has injuries that are not life-threatening.

Authorities said Ms. Berens owns and operates Panther Ridge Conservation Center, which provides homes for exotic cats.

Authorities said she was conducting an exhibition yesterday with two male cheetahs in a cage when one became distracted by a ball being bounced outside. The cheetah moved toward the ball quickly and knocked her to the ground. The cheetah then pounced on her and began biting and clawing her. Several people entered the enclosure and rescued her.

Bush tells nation economy aid coming

Consumer confidence is on the skids, yet President Bush was optimistic yesterday that tax rebates and help for homeowners will adequately jump-start the economy.

In the past few weeks, many Americans have received letters from the Internal Revenue Service, explaining the tax rebates that will be sent out soon as part of last month’s economic stimulus package.

In his radio address yesterday Mr. Bush said the checks, as well as incentives for businesses to invest in new equipment, will give the economy a “shot in the arm.” Democrats want Mr. Bush to endorse their plan to let bankruptcy judges lower mortgage payments in foreclosure cases.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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