- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 1, 2009

DEARBORN, MICH. (AP) - The new Roman Catholic archbishop of Detroit has visited one of the nation’s largest mosques, part of a continuing outreach to Muslims and other faith groups.

Archbishop Allen Vigneron met with Muslim leaders at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, which boasts a large Muslim population.

“So many of us here today are bound by the word of God, and we look to Abraham as one of our fathers in faith,” Vigneron said. “I am almost overwhelmed by your words of welcome and warmth.”

Vigneron’s trip to the mosque is at least the third by an Archbishop of Detroit. Cardinal Adam Maida, who has since retired, visited in a show of goodwill after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Vigneron, formerly bishop of the Diocese of Oakland, became leader of 1.4 million southeastern Michigan Catholics in January.

Imam Sayid Hassan al-Qazwini, the head of the Islamic Center of America, called Dearborn “the Muslim capital of the West” in his welcoming remarks to the archbishop.

“God says in the Quran, ‘You will certainly find the nearest in friendship to those who say they are Christian,’” he said. “Jesus and Muhammad are none other than but two channels to God. Let us open our houses of worship to each other.”




Scandal-scarred megachurch pastor dies after cancer battle

ATLANTA (AP) _ A former megachurch leader who rose to fame with a progressive evangelical ministry only to have it crumble after a series of sex scandals will be honored in the church he helped build in suburban Atlanta.

Archbishop Earl Paulk of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit at Chapel Hill Harvester Church died Sunday, March 29, after a battle with cancer. He was 81.

For years the church was at the forefront of many social movements _ admitting black members in the 1960s, ordaining women and opening its doors to gays. But Paulk was dogged for decades by scandal.

The most shocking revelation came in October 2007 when a court-ordered paternity test showed he was the biological father of his brother’s son, D.E. Paulk, who had become head pastor of the church after the archbishop retired the previous year.

Earl Paulk had sworn in an affidavit he’d never had sex with anyone but his wife, which led to him pleading guilty to a felony charge of lying under oath. He was placed on 10 years’ probation and assessed a $1,000 fine.

Earlier, in 1992, the church made headlines when six female members said they were brainwashed into having sexual relationships with Earl Paulk and Don Paulk and other ministers at the church. A decade later, a former church member accused Earl Paulk of molesting her when she was a child and teenager in a lawsuit that was settled out of court. Earl Paulk consistently denied nearly every allegation against him.




Judge says county commission must approve Colo. church’s expansion

LONGMONT, Colo. (AP) _ An evangelical Christian church has won a key victory in a court fight over an expansion project, the latest of several legal skirmishes about religious land use across the country.

U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn ordered the Boulder County Commission to approve Rocky Mountain Christian Church’s building project within 45 days.

The ruling means the church can proceed with a $30 million plan to build an education building, a chapel and multipurpose building, a gymnasium and a gallery on 54 acres of private land. The project would add 132,000 square feet to the church’s 106,000-square-foot campus near Niwot, about five miles northeast of Boulder.

“I don’t know how you get more pleased than we are,” said the Rev. Alan Ahlgrim, the church’s lead pastor.

Commissioner Ben Pearlman said he was disappointed with the judge’s order.

“I think we had a strong case and still do,” said Pearlman, adding that the commission has not yet discussed whether it will appeal.

Commissioners denied the church’s expansion permit in 2006, saying the project was an over-intensive use of the property and wasn’t in harmony with surrounding areas. They also said the expansion would move into an agricultural buffer zone created decades ago to separate urban and rural areas.

The church filed suit, claiming the county discriminated against it.

In November, a jury found that commissioners violated the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act by denying the church’s request to expand. The verdict rejected the church’s discrimination claims but left it up to Blackburn to decide whether the expansion could proceed.




Mormon library time capsule includes church president’s book

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ A book by Mormon church president Thomas S. Monson was the final item added to a time capsule that will be sealed inside a wall of a new church history library.

The steel time capsule _ 2 feet high, 18 inches long and 6 inches wide _ was sealed during a ceremony at the still-empty 230,000 square-foot library. Monson’s book, “Faith Rewarded,” chronicles the expansion of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints into Communist East Germany.

“You can’t read history and not have a greater appreciation of the past and the awareness that every day we are writing it for others,” said Monson, the 16th president of the 13 million-member church.

After nearly 15 years of planning and more than four years of construction the library will open for public use after a June 20 dedication ceremony. The time capsule will be enclosed behind a panel in the southwest corner of the library’s reading room.

The box will provide a “snapshot” of church history for those who open it in the future, said Elder Marlin K. Jensen, the church historian. Also in the time capsule are a 2009 church almanac, photographs of church leaders, maps of church areas around the world, a copy of the Book of Mormon and other texts and a two-volume DVD set with digital copies of items from the library’s collection.



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