*The Boston Globe is quoting Massachusetts Conference Minister the Rev. Nancy Taylor in its coverage of legislation that would mandate instances of sexual abuse of children and teens by clergy and church employees be reported to the state. The legislation results from the widely-reported manner of handling pedophile priests by Catholic leadership in Massachusetts. Says Taylor, "This is a great piece of legislation, with real teeth to it. This legislation will help to protect the children who, until now, have simply not had the protection they deserve from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or, sadly, from its religious institutions." The Globe points out that the UCC is Massachusetts' largest Protestant denomination, with membership only behind the Catholic church in the state.
*The Rev. Robert Anderson sends us a pile of clippings about an unexpected windfall for his church. Zion UCC in York, Pa., is the beneficiary of mounting complaints about eye-sore cell phone towers springing up like weeds. The church was approached by a local cell phone company asking to conceal an antenna in its 130-foot clock tower. More and more phone companies are looking to "hide" antennae in tall buildings, not only to maintain the look of the existing urban landscape and escape the wrath of those who have to look at the towers, but also to significantly reduce their construction costs. Land acquisition, permits and construction for a cell phone tower in the York area reportedly run about $200,000. According to the York Daily Recorder and Central Penn Business Journal, both of which covered the story of the phone company and the church, it is a win-win deal for everyone, especially the congregation, founded in 1742. The cupola on the 87-year-old church had to be demolished in 1974 after being hit by lightning. There always was some more pressing need for the money, other than to restore it, so the clock tower remained uncapped for the past 28 years. To get agreement from the church to install their equipment, the phone company not only had a new cupola built and lifted atop the tower, it will pay the church a monthly, undisclosed fee to house the antenna.
*Members at St. Peter's UCC in Washington, Mo., have taken an elementary school down the street under its wing. According to an article in The Missourian, the church has just made sure each class room at the Fifth Street Elementary School has a first aid kit. Over the years, members of St. Peter's have sewed curtains for the school windows, served as crossing guards when nobody else would do it and supplied speakers and entertainment for school assemblies. The Rev. William Schwab says, "We call it the Fifth Street Partnership. It's really just about being a good neighbor. There is no agenda except to say 'thank you' for teaching our children." The paper quotes the school principal, Jennifer Powers, "I couldn't even begin to list everything they've done for us. This is what community schools are all about."
*Congratulations to Theodore R. McLemore, who turned 100 in mid-February. McLemore is a trustee of UCC-related LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, Tenn., and may just be the longest-serving, living trustee of any college in the United States. He started as a trustee in 1940. According to an article reaching us from Memphis, his friends at the college threw a party, not only marking McLemore's 100th birthday, but also raising money for the school. Tables at the event went for $1,000. A living alumni endowment also was created to benefit the college in the years to come.
Has your local church "made the news" lately? Send news articles to Clippings, United Church News, 700 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, OH 44115-1100. Lee Foley was a TV news director before joining the UCC's Proclamation, Identity and Communication Ministry last fall.