- - Sunday, March 18, 2012

ORANGE, Calif. — A Crystal Cathedral splinter church was launched Sunday in a rented movie theater in Orange County, with the breakaway pastor urging the congregation not to speak ill of its former house of worship.

Sheila Schuller Coleman, who abruptly announced she was forming the Hope Center of Christ at a worship service last Sunday, told the roughly 100 congregants “not to have harsh words for any other church … there are some people who would try to pit one church against one another, but we are not going to do that. Here at Hope Center, we cheer every other church,” the Orange County Register reported.

Ms. Coleman was senior pastor at Crystal Cathedral, which her father, Robert Schuller, founded more than 50 years ago. Her departure surprised many, but came amid a financial crisis and personality clashes that have dogged the megachurch over the past year.

A private donor paid the $845 cost of renting the theater, where popcorn buckets served as collection plate. Mr. Schuller started the Crystal Cathedral ministry in a drive-in movie theater in 1955.

Ms. Coleman said she has applied for the new church’s tax identification number. For the next month, she will hold services at an Anaheim hotel while a permanent location is found.

The Crystal Cathedral, which has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, sold its landmark glass-paned building to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County last year.

The day before Ms. Coleman quit, her parents resigned from the ministry’s board.


Campground deaths may be murder-suicide

BOURBON — The weekend killings of a woman and three children at a campground and resort in eastern Missouri was being investigated Sunday as a possible triple murder-suicide.

Crawford County Sheriff Randy Martin told broadcaster KSDK that investigators believe the shootings occurred Saturday morning in a remote area along a gravel road at the Blue Springs Ranch & Resort and that the bodies had been there for “hours” when a guest found them about 1 p.m. Each victim sustained one gunshot wound, and a handgun was found close to the bodies, he said.

Asked whether he believes the woman shot the three children and then herself, Sheriff Martin told the station, “We don’t know for sure, but it kind of appears it could be that way. But again the investigation is still kind of early.”

He added that investigators weren’t seeking any suspects.

Sheriff Martin said the victims weren’t guests at the facility, which is south of Bourbon and about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis. Although the woman’s vehicle was found in the vicinity and there was identification with her body, Sheriff Martin declined to identify the victims or their relationship to one another. He said only that they weren’t from the Crawford County area.


Census documenting Depression to be released

NEW YORK — It was a decade when tens of millions of people in the U.S. experienced mass unemployment and social upheaval as the nation clawed its way out of the Great Depression and rumblings of global war were heard from abroad.

Now, intimate details of 132 million people who lived through the 1930s will be disclosed as the U.S. government releases the 1940 census records online for the first time on April 2.

The records will be free and open to anyone on the Internet, but they won’t immediately be name searchable.

For genealogists and family historians, the 1940 census release is the most important disclosure of ancestral secrets in a decade.

Scholars expect the records to help draw a more detailed portrait of a transformative decade in American life.


Victims find justice in stored old rape kits

DETROIT — As Detroit begins to clear its backlog of untested rape kits, victims are publicly sharing their stories in the hope that women about to go through a difficult process will know they are not alone.

Some of the 1,000 kits identified for testing this year are being processed now. Michigan State Police found between 9,000 and 11,300 kits in storage two years ago.

Carol Bart was kidnapped and repeatedly raped in Dallas in 1984. Her kit wasn’t tested until 2008. The DNA match was a man who had served time for a separate kidnapping and is now imprisoned for indecency with a child.

Ms. Bart said allowing the kits to sit for years in a lab or police vault “denies victims of sexual assault any opportunity for justice.”


Berkeley hires law firm for police chief probe

BERKELEY — Berkeley officials have hired a law firm to investigate an order by the city’s police chief that sent an officer to a reporter’s home after midnight to request changes in a story.

Interim City Manager Christine Daniel said Friday the firm of Rennie Sloan Holtzman Sakay will conduct an independent probe of the March 9 order issued by Chief Michael Meehan. Ms. Daniel released no additional details.

The hiring of the law firm comes after the union representing the city’s police officers demanded an outside probe, saying Chief Meehan should be held to the same standards as officers.

“If a police officer uses poor judgment and violates department policy, he is placed on administrative leave and is fully investigated,” said Officer Tim Kaplan, president of the 160-member Berkeley Police Association. “As law enforcement officers, we don’t just get to say ‘I’m sorry’ and have the whole matter go away.”

Chief Meehan has apologized for what he called his “error in judgment” in ordering his department’s spokeswoman to go to the home of a Bay Area News Group reporter at 12:45 a.m. to request changes to an article published less than two hours earlier.

Chief Meehan was unhappy with how Mr. Oakley had characterized one of his remarks from a community meeting about the Feb. 18 beating death of a resident whose non-emergency call about an intruder had gone unanswered.


Floor of Queens building collapses under party

NEW YORK — Authorities say a floor of a New York City building where a party was being held collapsed, injuring a dozen people.

The Fire Department said two people were hospitalized. One was seriously injured. Ten people refused medical attention. Fire officials said the third floor of a building in Far Rockaway, Queens, collapsed onto the second floor Saturday night.

One person was trapped and had to be extracted.

The cause of the collapse is under investigation.

Far Rockaway is a remote neighborhood on a peninsula south of John F. Kennedy International Airport. It is about 23 miles southeast of Manhattan.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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