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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Missions ‘96 Planned At First Presbyterian

Missions. The word usually conjures up thoughts of missionaries taking Christianity to Third World countries, spreading the Gospel to those living in poverty. A mission field, however, can be as near as one's next-door neighbor, as well as a continent or two away. Missions '96 is the theme for a seminar Friday-April 14 at First Presbyterian Church, 318 S. Cedar.

Look At Easter Story As Helpful Holy Humor

When it comes to Easter, there are two kinds of Christians in the world: those who giggle, even laugh, and those who don't get the joke! I'm serious, folks. For over a decade, my view of Easter has been expanded by the radical hospitality of God's outrageous sense of humor.

Jesus Was A Revolutionary, Anything But ‘Conservative’

One of the wonderful things about having a child return to school is the pleasure of conversations about his classes. My son is attending a Jesuit university and his most recent history class involved studying historical accounts of the life of visionaries including Jesus of Nazareth. I am borrowing from a paper he wrote because it reminded me how far afield our current religious politics have strayed from the recorded teachings of Jesus. Lest you think Jennifer has gone off a "new cliff," if we do not understand the distortions of today's religious politics we may lose the extraordinary value of Jesus. When we turn away from the worst of the "prayer breakfast politicians" we do not need to confuse them with what it means to be a Christian. The earliest Christian documents are the letters of Paul, who never met Jesus, and the four Gospels in the Bible. The Jesus that history records is reconstructed, interpreted and vividly imagined by writers living one or even two generations after his death. Even these writings were re-interpreted and much was deleted by the early Church hierarchy. What is generally agreed upon, even by divergent sources, was that when Jesus began his ministry he did so as a Jew and his earliest disciples were Jewish. He grew up in a Hebrew cultural atmosphere anticipating his message. The God of the Hebrews was a God of miracles and of liberation for the faithful. It was a time of unrest and discontent. Many citizens talked among themselves of the unjust and corrupt actions of leaders and of rescue by a messiah. When Jesus, with his charismatic "aura," announced that the time had at last arrived for the downtrodden to reach the Kingdom of God, it inspired a fervent faith. Of all recorded visionaries perhaps none was as far ahead of his time as Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus was anything but a "conservative." The essential elements of his teaching may seem basic to us today but they were not then. He taught equality for women in a world of class, caste and restrictions. He taught nonviolence in a world of dictatorships and wars. He taught that God was accessible to all without the mediation of temple priests. He taught that each of us has the freedom to choose our own salvation. Jesus drew people to him because he walked among them, as one of them, and offered them a place in both their world as equals and in the next world through the power of faith. His words were hopeful and were backed up by his deep interest in their welfare. He demonstrated, even in small things, a profound love and respect for man and life in all its forms. His audience could feel the power of his presence, conviction and wisdom. The available reports of his appearances describe the reactions of those who listened to him as transformation. They felt their previous system of beliefs changing, their core character changed. The intensity and simplicity of his "truths" touched them deeply. The poor, the gentle, the sick, the homeless, the compassionate, the abused and the gifted were empowered by his message. It gave them validation and a sense of place. The transformation, the change in personality many felt, created such an opening in their minds and hearts that they felt an almost instant allegiance to the man who had brought such gifts. Jesus conveyed in his teaching a new understanding of God and humanity. Any of us who have been touched by a great teacher in our readings or school experience know the tingle and passion of a mind opening, a step toward deeper understanding. Jesus, many believed, was the Messiah. He told them the world would change ("come to an end") in their lifetime. His crucifixion intensified the faith he inspired because the belief in the miracle of resurrection was a belief that God had and would triumph over both mortality and evil. He was not a philosopher or a theologian. Jesus lived what he taught and could thus offer the model, the living example of his own life. Perhaps the miracle of his own integrity carried as much power as the other miracles reported in the Gospels. He lived his truths even to his ultimate choice of nonviolence through his death without resistance. Not only were his ideas revolutionary, especially his teachings about women and nonviolence, but they are still revolutionary in many parts of this country and the world. Those who feared him then in some ways fear him now. Some of the powerful and wealthy and many religious leaders of his time feared the loss of their power and money as well as the loss of honor his teachings would bring. Jesus was a visionary who expanded our conception of humanity and our own possibilities. He was a dreamer as all visionaries must be. He was a prophet, he spoke of the future, not the past. He was a rebel, he disobeyed the religious laws of his time. People said he was the "Christ," others described him as a charlatan. He struggled with every part of his being and ultimately gave his life to close the gap between man and God. We still struggle with "the gap," and it is crucial that we, as Jesus did, separate the true from the false, the faithful from the manipulative, the love from the hate.

Daily Services Planned At Gu Through Easter

Palms will be distributed and blessed at 5 this evening at the University Chapel on the Gonzaga University campus. Mass and a dramatic presentation of the Passion will follow in the first event of GU's "Christianity and Holy Week." People of all faiths are invited to the daily services of prayer, song and reflection about Christ's life, death and resurrection that conclude April 7.

Bishop Threatens Excommunications

A Roman Catholic bishop is threatening to excommunicate church members for joining abortion rights and right-to-die groups. Church members in the Lincoln diocese have until May 15 to drop their membership in 12 groups, including Planned Parenthood, the Hemlock Society and Catholics for a Free Choice.

Manito Presbyterian Will Dedicate Building Project

The Rev. L. Douglas Waggoner, senior pastor of Manito Presbyterian Church, stands in the parking lot in front of the church construction project. The new church enterance is at left, and the new office area, at right. Photo by Christopher Anderson/The Spokesman-Review

Calvary Baptist Pastor’s Reputation Keeps Him In Demand, On The Road

The Rev. Don Porter loves his newest job as pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church of Toppenish. But though he's been there only a year, people keep asking him to leave. At least for a while. Porter, 55, is also a popular traveling speaker; so much so that he has to turn down a lot of invitations to appear at other Baptist churches. That's why he's a little hesitant to call himself an evangelist.

God’s Kids Conference Speaker Pins Hope On Next Generation

1. Ed Krienke offers his religious message to drivers at Third and Division on Thursday. He's not going to the conference but wanted to get his message out. Photo by Shawn Jacobson/The Spokesman-Review 2. Shirley Offill, second from right, talks about her banners at the Christian Worker Conference being held at Spokane Convention Center. Photo by Shawn Jacobson/The Spokesman-Review

Assisted Suicide Draws Religious Fire

A federal court's recent "right-to-die" ruling cuts to the heart of religious principles. Catholics, Jews and Buddhists alike cite traditional doctrine as they oppose the court decision that asserts a right to assisted suicide. Quakers, Mormons and most evangelicals are against euthanasia for the terminally ill.

New Year For Baha’i Faithful Begins Wednesday

For the people of the Baha'i faith, the new year has yet to arrive. Their new year arrives at sundown on Wednesday , the vernal equinox. In preparation for the upcoming holy day, members of the Baha'i faith have been fasting from sunrise to sunset for the past 16 days and will continue to fast until the celebration. The day is seen as a time for renewal and a time to make spiritual plans for the new year, says Liberty Lake resident Mary Beth Bertis, one of 140 Baha'is in the Spokane area. The Baha'i faith began in 1844 with the prophet Baha'u'llah, who was born in Iran in 1817. He was imprisoned and exiled to Baghdad for his beliefs, which were seen as heresy by the more established religions of the time.

Lessons Learned Growing Up Catholic Once Was A Lot More Mystical Experience

Somewhere there is a nun in a gray flannel suit with a 12-inch wooden ruler shoved up her sleeve, waiting, just waiting for some clueless third-grader to step out of line. ... Lent. Oh, how I remember the Roman Catholic traditions that shaped my youth. And while growing up Catholic is different today from what it was 40 years ago, some old habits die hard. Once, there was great mysticism in the Catholic Church. The language was Latin, the lighting was low and the smell of incense pungent and sweet. Large men with heavy hands and nuns dressed in black with stiff white collars dispensed discipline and truth in the same motion. If the message wasn't clear, more than one doubting Thomas was persuaded by the power of a righteous hand or wooden ruler.

Faith’s Foundation Very Young Children’s Trust And Curiosity Open The Way To Learning About God

Second of three parts Children as young as 3 want to know where they came from and if God is real. Here is an age-by-age guide to encouraging your child's spiritual growth: Birth to 3: Learning to trust Can even an infant or toddler learn something about her parents' beliefs? "Absolutely," says Jerlean Daniel, president of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and professor of child development and child care at the University of Pittsburgh. "When a child is born into a family, that's when her spiritual life begins. That family's value system starts to get passed down by the way family members treat each other." Even though babies and toddlers obviously won't ask too many questions about God, the first three years of life are when many of their basic attitudes are formed. "Children learn to trust from the time they're born," says Martha Ross-Mockaitis, a clergywoman with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). "If they cry and an adult responds to their needs, they come to believe the world is a good place. This lays the groundwork so they will eventually learn that God is good, too."

Whitworth Offering Christian Drama Fest

"The Shunning," a play about a Mennonite farmer who questions the teachings of his church, will be staged at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Seeley G. Mudd Chapel on the Whitworth College campus. The Patrick Friesen play begins the Whitworth Theater Department's 1996 Festival of Christian Drama.