- The Washington Times - Friday, November 10, 2006

Missouri Baptists expel 19 churches

ST. LOUIS — The Missouri Baptist Convention has voted to oust 19 churches for donating money and having other ties to more-moderate Baptist groups.

The unusual step is the largest expulsion of churches in the convention’s history. It means those congregations will no longer be affiliated with the 16.3 million-member Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

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“We do not enjoy this kind of thing,” said the Rev. David Tolliver, of the Missouri Baptist Convention.

Most of the 19 churches had already distanced themselves from the Missouri Baptist Convention. But the expulsions were decided when delegates to an annual meeting of the convention voted Oct. 31 to bar any representatives of the 19 churches.

“I think in recent years the convention has attacked, defunded and excluded groups they can’t control,” said the Rev. Mike Shupert, pastor of the Cape Girardeau church. “They want to say, ‘This is what you have to believe.’ That’s not the Baptist way.”

Mr. Shupert said some of the roughly 150 congregants at his church had chosen to give money to what they deemed more-moderate Baptist groups, the Atlanta-based Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Missouri.

Minister invites all to her church trial

PITTSBURGH — A Presbyterian minister charged with breaking church law for officiating at a lesbian “marriage” has sent out invitations to her church trial next week.

The invitations from the Rev. Janet Edwards state that she is delighted to have “an opportunity to engage in the absolutely essential discussion that has to go on in the Presbyterian Church over the place of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people among us.”

The invitation ends: “Janet wants the world to come. Feel free to invite anyone.”

Jerry Van Marter, news director for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), said, “Wow. It’s a real show trial isn’t it?”

Miss Edwards, 56, a parish associate at the Community of Reconciliation Church in Pittsburgh, was charged in September with presiding at the June 2005 “wedding” in violation of the church’s position on marriage.

Her trial is scheduled for Wednesday at the Priory, a small hotel on the city’s North Side. Her invitation advises out-of-town guests about a reserved block of hotel rooms and a shuttle to the trial. It also invites them to a worship celebration and lunch at the Pittsburgh Golf Club.

The denomination’s high court has said that clergy in the Presbyterian Church may bless same-sex couples as long as the ceremony doesn’t resemble a marriage liturgy.

Incoming bishop seeks cheap installation

DAVENPORT, Iowa — The incoming Roman Catholic bishop of Davenport, taking over a diocese facing bankruptcy, is asking parishioners not to organize an extravagant celebration at his installation this month.

The request by Bishop Martin Amos comes weeks after the diocese filed for bankruptcy protection from clergy sexual-abuse claims.

“He’s considering the financial situation of the diocese,” said diocese spokesman David Montgomery.

Diocesan officials said that more than $10.5 million has been paid so far to resolve abuse claims since 2004, including a $9 million payout to 37 victims. Insurance covered part of the cost.

Bishop Amos’ installation is planned for Nov. 20. An auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Cleveland, he will succeed Bishop William Franklin, who is retiring.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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