New YorkGalen Holley 2/26/09 Catholics, Southern Baptists lose members n NEW YORK – Membership in the nation's two largest Christian church bodies, the Roman Catholic Church and Southern Baptist Convention, declined slightly in 2007, according to the lat

New YorkGalen Holley 2/26/09
Catholics, Southern Baptists lose members
n NEW YORK – Membership in the nation’s two largest Christian church bodies, the Roman Catholic Church and Southern Baptist Convention, declined slightly in 2007, according to the latest edition of the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.
The Catholic church remains the largest body of believers in the U.S., with 67 million members, the yearbook said. But from 2006 to 2007 the church shed 398,000 members in the U.S. — a 0.59 percent drop. Southern Baptists reported 16.2 million members for a decline of 0.24 percent, or a loss of nearly 40,000 members.
Although the declines are relatively small, both churches historically have reported growth. The yearbook is published by the National Council of Churches, an ecumenical group based in New York.
ST. Louis
Lutheran leader criticizes gay clergy
n ST. LOUIS – The president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod expressed “great disappointment and deep sadness” over a proposal that would allow gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy in the larger and more liberal Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Gerald B. Kieschnick said the change “would constitute a radical departure from the 2,000-year-long teaching of the Christian tradition that homosexual activity, whether inside or outside of a committed relationship, is contrary to Holy Scripture.”
In 2001, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod adopted a resolution saying it does not consider the Chicago-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to be “an orthodox Lutheran church body” but recognizes that many members of the larger denomination “remain faithful” to the Christian Gospel.
Archbishop news to be sent by text-message
n ST. LOUIS – Barack Obama the presidential candidate used it to reveal his vice presidential choice. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis will use the same technology to share news of its next archbishop.
The archdiocese said that it believes that no other diocese in the country has used text-messaging to communicate such an announcement.
St. Louis, a traditional Catholic stronghold, has been without an archbishop since June 27, when Archbishop Raymond Burke was named as the first American to lead the Vatican supreme court.
After a new archbishop for St. Louis is announced in Rome — typically 5 a.m. St. Louis time — the archdiocese will send a text message about the new appointee to anyone who has registered on its Web site.
Pennsylvania
Love and Music church dispute settled
n PITTSBURGH – An out-of-court settlement has been reached in a legal dispute between county officials and a man who described his “jam band” concerts on his 147-acre spread as church services.
William Pritts, head of the Church of Universal Love and Music, argued that the concerts were part of religious expression, so he didn’t need a permit. Fayette County officials labeled the church a sham Pritts created because his 2001 application for a zoning exemption was rejected.
Pritts sued the county in 2006. Pritt’s lawyer described the accord as “mutually satisfactory” and said Pritts will be able to continue his venture.
The dispute began in 2001 when Pritts filed for a zoning exception to hold concerts on an agricultural tract. Pritts didn’t claim to head a church when he first sought the exception and a permit to build a stage, though he said some local churches might use the facility for fundraisers, county officials said.
Residents raised concerns including traffic, safety, noise, and alcohol consumption.
wire reports

Galen Holley