HOLY LAND-PALM SUNDAY
Christians mark Palm Sunday in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (AP) - Throngs of Christian pilgrims are visiting
Jerusalem this Holy Week.
Yesterday they celebrated Palm Sunday, commemorating Jesus
Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Faithful pilgrims marched
in a procession from the Mount of Olives to the holy city behind a
donkey, retracing Jesus' traditional route from 2,000 years ago.
Early Sunday, visitors walked down the cobblestone alleyways of
the walled Old City carrying olive branches, palm fronds and
Holy Week observances will include services marking Jesus'
crucifixion on Good Friday, and his Easter resurrection next
Israel's Tourism Ministry said it expects 125,000 visitors
during Holy Week and 300,000 throughout April, when Jews celebrate
Orthodox Christians mark Palm Sunday next week.
Pope, just back from trip, celebrates Palm Sunday
VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict has kicked off the Roman
Catholic Church's Holy Week celebrations with Palm Sunday Mass and
good news from Cuba.
After his visit last week, the Cuban government agreed to his
request to make Good Friday a holiday. The day marks the solemn
commemoration of Jesus Christ's crucifixion.
On Sunday, Benedict traveled into St. Peter's Square on the back
of a white jeep at the start of Palm Sunday Mass, which marks
Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem and inaugurates Holy Week.
Benedict looked rested despite having just returned from his
six-day trip to Mexico and Cuba.
The pope, who turns 85 in two weeks, has a busy Holy Week ahead
of him, with public services Thursday through Easter Sunday.
Army chaplain recalls how God led him into military ministry
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany (AP) - Army Chaplain Stanley Copeland says
his 30-year ministry in the military was God's idea, not his.
Copeland says he joined the Army reluctantly after getting his
draft notice in 1969, and served 13 months as a medic in Vietnam.
After his discharge, Copeland says he suffered post-traumatic
stress, drank heavily and after a few years became suicidal.
Convinced that either life was meaningless or Christianity was
true, he decided to at least postpone his suicide and give his life
Copeland says it was the first relief he had felt in years, and
God eventually called him into the seminary and civilian ministry.
Even then, Copeland says he didn't plan to re-enter the
military, but veterans and then chaplains kept suggesting it, so he
filled out the paperwork and was commissioned in December of 1982.
Now serving with the Army's 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Germany,
Copeland says he can see how God used all of his past experiences
to help him minister to young soldiers.
YEMEN-AMERICAN TEACHER KILLED
Widow of Pa. teacher slain in Yemen felt no threat
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The widow of a teacher from central
Pennsylvania who was killed in Yemen two weeks ago says her husband
"lived in the reality that we are all created in the image of God
and that nothing can separate us from the love of God."
Twenty-nine-year-old Joel Shrum was gunned down March 18 in the
central city of Taiz, where he had been studying Arabic and
teaching English. The Yemen branch of al-Qaida claimed
responsibility, saying he had been trying to spread Christianity in
the Muslim nation.
Shrum's parents have said he went to Yemen in 2009 to learn
Arabic, not to proselytize.
Janelle Shrum tells The Associated Press in an e-mail that she
and her husband felt safe in Yemen and avoided violent areas.
Her responses were forwarded in an e-mail by James Shrum, who
said his son's remains have now been returned to the United States.
NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH DEATH-CHURCHES
Pastor acknowledges racial tension following neighborhood watch
SANFORD, Fla. (AP) - The pastor of a multicultural congregation
in Sanford, Fla., says racial tensions arising from the Trayvon
Martin case are a challenge for the city's religious leaders.
At Sunday services, the Rev. Alan Brumback has been leading
prayers for the community for weeks. He and other local religious
leaders plan to meet this week to prepare for the moment when
officials decide whether criminal charges will be filed.
Brumback says the damage from the unarmed teen's death is
already as bad as if a tornado had struck Sanford, and he's afraid
it "could be disastrous" if neighborhood watch leader George
Zimmerman isn't indicted.
Brumback prayed for reconciliation and peace, and that God would
heal the "broken" community.
NC military post concert geared toward atheists
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) - A small crowd at Fort Bragg has
participated in the U.S. military's first-ever event geared toward
Saturday's Rock Beyond Belief event was organized by soldiers at
the North Carolina post after a Christian event sponsored by the
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was held there in 2010.
The atheist event's headline speaker, Richard Dawkins, said its
goal was not to antagonize religious believers but to show that
atheists have a place in the military.
The atmosphere was festive, with carnival treats and games for
children. Speakers and bands performed on the main stage.
Organizers had hoped that 5,000 people would take part, but
rainy weather dampened the turnout.
TAPPS leader dismisses criticism over Sabbath game
SALADO, Texas (AP) - The director of a Texas private school
association that came under fire for refusing to reschedule a game
that conflicted with the Sabbath says an Orthodox Jewish school
should have never been a member in the first place.
Edd Burleson says his Texas Association of Private and Parochial
Schools should have never let the Beren Academy join them last
year. TAPPS ultimately rescheduled the Beren playoff basketball
game in March under the pressure of a lawsuit and public backlash.
Burleson told The Dallas Morning News that he doesn't have the
time for "politically correct gobbledygook." He says TAPPS would
have ultimately prevailed if there had been more time to fight it
out in court.
TAPPS represents more than 200 private schools with almost
40,000 students statewide.
Mormon leaders warn against secularism
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Mormon leaders have urged church members
to strengthen their faith and families amid growing secularism.
The senior leaders, addressing a semiannual meeting of The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, lamented that many in
broader society have tried to dismiss biblical teaching as outdated
or false. Mormon leaders also noted that the number of births
outside marriage is growing and blamed that trend for "a host of
societal and economic ills."
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the church's Quorum of the Twelve
Apostles said, "Evil becomes ever more deceptive and subtle and
pulls people toward it like a dark magnet."
Ballard was among several Mormon leaders who spoke at the
two-day General Conference, which ended Sunday.
Mass. college backs off invite to Kennedy widow
PAXTON, Mass. (AP) - A Roman Catholic college in Massachusetts
has withdrawn an invitation to the widow of Sen. Edward Kennedy to
speak at graduation after concerns about her views were raised by
the Bishop of Worcester (WU'-stur).
Anna Maria College in Paxton says "concerns were expressed
about the college being in conflict with the bishop." Victoria
Reggie Kennedy was scheduled to speak at May's commencement.
The college did not cite Bishop Robert McManus's specific
A diocese spokesman says the bishop has followed directions that
Catholic institutions should not honor Catholics who take positions
contrary to church principles "particularly on the dignity of life
from conception and the sanctity of marriage."
Kennedy in a statement to The Boston Globe called it "a sad day
for me and an even sadder one for the church I love."
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)