Palm Sunday in the Holy Land; American Teacher Killed in Yemen


      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

to God.

      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.





      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.



      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.)


AP-NY-04-02-12 0332EDT


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