News briefs
May 2003

Honorary street named

On April 7, the city of Chicago (which has hundreds of honorary streets) named the street outside First Congregational UCC "Honorary JosZ ÔViejo' Torres Street" in honor of the Rev. JosZ Torres, a key leader in the Hispanic/Puerto Rican community in Chicago. His wife, Alejandria Torres, was supported by many within the UCC during a long imprisonment for Puerto Rican rights protests.

National day set to stop teen pregnancies

Wednesday, May 7, is the second annual National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, being promoted by 140 different national organizations, including the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministry. The message of the day is straightforward: teens need to think about the importance of postponing pregnancy and parenthood until they are adults, and they should make a personal commitment to do so. On that day, teens can go online to  www.teenpregnancy.org and take a short, scenario-based quiz that asks young people what the best thing to do is in a number of sexual situations.

European politicians in unholy row over God

(ENI)—Calls for placing a reference to God in the text of a new European Union constitution have been provoking lively debate in Sweden—and elsewhere in Europe. Some members of the convention charged with drafting an EU constitution have been urging that the document mention faith in God as a source of truth and justice. But the suggestion has baffled other participants in the constitutional convention. "What on earth has God to do with a constitution?" asked Lena Hjelm-Wallen, a former Swedish deputy prime minister and a convention member.

New Bible story book published for children

The Pilgrim Press has published a first-of-its-kind children's Bible story book, one that uses gender-inclusive language for both God and humanity. This feature reflects the growing movement of many churches to use gender-neutral nouns and pronouns for God, for example, "God" instead of "He," "Sovereign" or "Ruler" instead of "King," and "humankind" instead of "mankind." The story book, named "The Pilgrim Book of Bible Stories," uses the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, the version used by most mainline churches. It includes color illustrations by Israeli artist Diana Shimon and many passages often ignored in children's books, such as the laws of Leviticus and the Song of Solomon. The book is available at bookstores,  www.amazon.com or from UCC Resources (800-537-3394).

15 denominational heads endorse ÔUrgent Call'

Fifteen heads of denominations and faith groups have adopted the religious version of the Urgent Call to end the nuclear danger, the Nuclear Reduction/Disarmament Initiative sponsored by the Churches' Center for Theology and Public Policy in Washington, D.C. The list of Christian, Jewish and Moslem leaders includes the Rev. John H. Thomas and the Rev. Richard L. Hamm, general ministers and presidents, respectively, of the UCC and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). "The United Church of Christ has expressed concern about nuclear weapons for decades," says Thomas. "I am glad to endorse this statement as a way of continuing our witness against these weapons. I would urge UCC congregations and others in our denomination to join me in endorsing it." To do so, go to  www.nrdi.org. A four-page printed version is available at  info@nrdi.org or at 202-885-8684.

Re-imagining Gathering to celebrate 10th anniversary

On June 19-21 in St. Paul, Minn,, the Re-Imagining Community will hold a 10th Anniversary Gathering to explore some of the latest innovations in feminist theology and liturgy. Speakers will include The Rev. Rita Nakashima Brock of Starr King School for the Ministry and Mary Bednarowski of UCC-related United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, both regular presenters for all 10 years. Contact Re-Imagining Office, 122 West Franklin Ave., Room 7, Minneapolis, MN 55404-2435; email  friends@reimagining.org or phone 612-879-8036.

New resource available on patriotism

"Patriotism, Nationalism, and the Christian Life"—a new resource for UCC congregations from Justice and Witness Ministries—suggests appropriate Christian responses during times of war and includes a sample worship service for peace. This timely 10-page resource was included in the March "All-Church Mailing" and sent to every UCC congregation. It also is available on-line at  www.ucc.org/ justice/patriotism.pdf.

Is the lollypop poster on your church wall?

Also included in that same "All- Church Mailing" was a candy-colored- pink lollypop poster for United Church News (as seen on page 15 of this newspaper) and a pad of reply forms (to attach to the poster) for wannabe readers of United Church News to subscribe free. If you don't see the poster on your church's bulletin board, check with your pastor as to its whereabouts.

Church of Scotland hymns to become more Scottish

(ENI)—The Church of Scotland is planning to cull more than a third of its hymn-book, making room for more Scottish words and music. "Previously, too many of our hymns have been borrowed," says Douglas Galbraith. He is coordinator of the Kirk's worship and doctrine office and a member of the committee that prepared this 4th edition of the Church Hymnary. "The new book has vastly more material from the folk and traditional strands of Scottish culture, both lowland and Gaelic," he says.

Deaconess transfers senior housing to Retirement Housing Foundation

Retirement Housing Foundation (RHF), one of the nation's largest nonprofit providers of housing and services for the elderly, persons with disabilities, and low-income families, has acquired Independence Square, an affordable senior housing apartment community in Evansville, Ind. RHF acquired it from Deaconess Housing, Inc., part of the Deaconess Health System, a provider of health care services in a 26-county area of Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois. RHF has residential communities similar to Independence Square in 24 states, plus Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Independence Square is RHF's 17th senior community in Indiana.

"We welcome the Independence Square staff and residents to the RHF family, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to serve the residents of this fine community," says the Rev. Laverne R. Joseph, RHF's President & CEO. "Both the Deaconess Health System and Retirement Housing Foundation are part of the United Church of Christ and are committed to serving all persons."

ÔTree hugger' minister wins million-dollar religion prize

(ENI)—The Rev. Holmes Rolston III, an environmentalist and ordained Presbyterian minister, has been named as the 2003 winner of the Templeton Prize, one of the world's most prestigious awards in the field of religion. A self-described "treehugger" who teaches philosophy at Colorado State University, Rolston has been a leader in the burgeoning field of environmental ethics.

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