News briefs
June 2003

Texas county urges death penalty moratorium

A resolution by Texas' Travis County Commission urges a moratorium on the death penalty in Texas. The resolution, which passed 3-1, is the first of its kind from a major local government in that state. In Texas, 11 daily newspapers have repeatedly called for the legislature to halt executions, and nearly 200 community groups have urged the same. Travis County is the 84th governmental jurisdiction nationwide to call for a halt to executions. Nationwide, more than 2,700 national and local groups, governments and faith communities have joined the call. With more than 300 executions carried out in the state since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, Texas has accounted for more than a third of all executions in the United States.

Asteroid named in Mister Rogers' honor

The International Astronomical Union has renamed an asteroid, formerly known as No. 26858, as "Misterrogers," to honor Fred Rogers, creator and host of public television's "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." Rogers died Feb. 27 at age 74. "Misterrogers" can be found between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter and is about 218 million miles from the sun, which it takes about 3 1/2 years to orbit. It was discovered in 1993. Go to

Young Adult Ministries introduces newsletter, website

The newly revitalized Young Adult Ministries Network (YAMN) helps young adults and those who minister with them communicate with each other and the rest of the church. Members of YAMN receive a semiannual newsletter and can participate in the YAMN listserv, an e-mail discussion group. To join the listserv, send a blank e-mail to To join the YAMN mailing list, contact the Rev. June Boutwell at or 216-736-3871. More information about YAMN, including links, ministry resources, an events calendar and more, can be found on the new UCC young adult ministries webpage:

WCC seeks interns

The World Council of Churches is looking for six young people (aged 18-30) to serve as interns in its Geneva offices from September 2003 to September 2004. These persons should be committed to the ideals of the ecumenical movement and willing to bring their energy, commitment, and fresh vision to a concentrated and specific work assignment. Call 212-870- 3193; e-mail; website:

UCC musicians workshop set

The UCC Musicians National Network is hosting its annual workshop at St. Thomas University in St. Paul, Minn., Aug. 3-6. "Worship that Transforms, Music that Moves, Arts that Engage" will include workshops on children's music, handbells, song-writing and much more. Early registration deadline is June 16. Contact Kimberly Nagy-Bublik at 216-736-3874 or e-mail her at

Refugee Ministry seeks stories

Have you or your church helped to settle a refugee? Have you or your church extended hospitality to a refugee? If you can answer "yes" to either question, UCC Refugee Ministries would like your church to be part of telling the story, in a Refugee Journal and a PowerPoint presentation, of how the UCC has "welcomed the strangers." To send your photos and stories, contact Naima Quarles-Burnley, UCC Refugee Ministries, 700 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, OH 44115-1100; phone 216-736-2294; e-mail

Religion strengthens teens' family relationships

Sociologists with the National Study of Youth and Religion, based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have found that religiously- involved U.S. families of early adolescents ages 12 to14 are more likely to have significantly stronger family relationships than families that are not religiously active. The findings were released in the report "Family Religious Involvement and the Quality of Family Relationships for Early Adolescents." Go to

Coalition's National Gathering to precede General Synod

"Listening Loudly for God in Each Other" is the theme of the 2003 National Gathering of the UCC Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns, to be held July 7-10 at Augsburg College, in Minneapolis. The meeting includes worship, sharing, listening and playing. Contact: UCC Coalition, PMB 230, 800 Village Walk, Guilford, CT 06437- 2740; phone 800-653-0799; e-mail; website:

Swiss Protestants make public apology

(ENI)—Protestants in the Swiss canton of Zurich have made a public apology for the persecution during the Reformation era of a radical Christian movement called Anabaptists, whose present-day successors include many Mennonites and the Amish community in North America. At a service in Zurich cathedral, Reformed Christians from Send news items c/o United Church News, fax 216-736-2223; e-mail Switzerland, and Mennonites and Amish from the United States held out the hand of friendship to each other.

Cuban church leaders react to criticism of government

(ENI)—Cuban church leaders have responded to criticism of their government by asking Christians around the world to consider the "grave threats to its security and integrity" the Caribbean island nation faces from the United States. Cuba's imprisonment of 75 dissidents convicted on charges of working with the United States to overthrow the Cuban government, and its swift trial and execution of three men who hijacked a commuter ferry at gunpoint, provoked widespread condemnation from human rights groups and religious leaders ranging from Pope John Paul II to World Council of Churches General Secretary Konrad Raiser. Raiser condemned the trials and heavy sentences given to 76 Cuban government opponents as a "miscarriage of justice" and urged their immediate release.

ÔStep down,' Zimbabwean Catholics urge government

(ENI)—In an unprecedented move, more than 200 lay Roman Catholics in Harare passed a no-confidence vote on President Robert Mugabe's government over the deteriorating human rights situation and economic decline in Zimbabwe. "We ask, as our Christian duty ... that the present government step down and hand over to those who are prepared to serve the country and all its people," said the statement.