- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 23, 2008

World church body seeks new leader

GENEVA — 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 about 110 countries, said its general secretary, Kenyan Methodist Rev. Samuel Kobia, will step down when his term ends in December.

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

In January, Mr. 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 persons huddled inside.

“Now is the time to put the interests of the nation and the surrounding region above other concerns,” he said.

He also met and prayed last month in Rome 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.

Pope’s chalice getting refinished for visit

TULSA, Okla. — When Pope Benedict XVI celebrates Mass on his trip to the U.S. 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, 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 United States.

“I can assure you it was used by Pope John Paul II (1978-2005) and by Pope Paul VI (1963-78),” Mr. 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 in the U.S. His team will remove the rubies, sapphires and glass medallions from the chalice, clean and polish it, then recoat it with a 24-carat gold finish.

‘Prosperity’ preacher moves to sell jet

BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. — 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 TV 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.

Mr. 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 E. 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 said he is trying to ensure they follow IRS rules for nonprofits.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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