Christian filmmakers release "Courageous" this week

ALBANY, Ga. (AP) - The latest movie from the church-based

filmmakers who produced "Facing the Giants" and "Fireproof"

will debut in theaters this Friday.

Stephen Kendrick says "Courageous" is a film about policemen

struggling to be good fathers.

He and his brother Alex Kendrick have written and produced

multimillion dollar movies from an unlikely base -- their own

Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga.

Stephen Kendrick says, "With every movie, God has done more

than we can ask or imagine."

He's praying that "Courageous" will "challenge men to step up

and become spiritual leaders of their kids, their homes -- to

become the providers, the protectors that their kids need."


Students plan prayers around school flagpoles

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Christian students at schools nationwide are

planning to get up early Wednesday to gather and pray before class

around their school flagpoles.

Organizers of the annual "See You at the Pole" event estimate

that between one million and two million students participate every

year on the fourth Wednesday in September.

"See You at the Pole" began 20 years ago in Burleson, Texas,

and offers young Christians a chance to pray for each other, their

schools and their country at the beginning of each academic year.

National coordinator Doug Clark says the gatherings are

permissible at public schools because they're student-led and take

place outside of class time.


Suicide bombing at Indonesian church injures 22

SOLO, Indonesia (AP) - Police in Indonesia say a suicide bomber

blew himself up inside an Indonesian church as hundreds of

worshippers were filing out after Sunday's service, injuring at

least 22 people.

The bomber's mangled body lay at the entrance of the Tenth

Bethel Gospel Church in Solo City on the main island of Java.

Around him, screaming people were splattered in blood.

The Rev. Rick Warren of California's Saddleback Church announced

the bombing on his Twitter account, referring to Bethel Gospel as a

"sister church" in his Purpose Driven Network.

A woman working at an Internet cafe near the Indonesian church

said the bomber had visited her shop an hour before the explosion

and had browsed websites about al-Qaida and a local Islamist group.

She said he left a bag behind containing a copy of the Quran, a

mask and a cellphone charger.


Pastor who questioned hell discusses his departure

GRANDVILLE, Mich. (AP) - The pastor of a Michigan megachurch who

raised a storm of controversy within evangelical Christianity with

his book questioning traditional beliefs about hell has told his

congregants they'll do fine without him.

The Grand Rapids Press says Rob Bell made the comment Sunday at

Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville. He announced plans to write

and pursue new opportunities in Los Angeles.

Bell says he and the congregation he led for 12 years have had a

"beautiful thing," but added that church members are "going to

be great" without him.

Bell's book "Love Wins" questions the traditional Christian

belief that only those who trust Jesus Christ will spend eternity

in heaven while everyone else is tormented in hell. He has said he

wrote it because the Christian message that "God is love" became



Ohio churches debate gay issue with billboards

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - The ongoing debate in churches regarding

homosexuality is being argued through billboards with opposing

viewpoints in northwest Ohio.

Toledo's Central United Methodist Church posted a roadside

billboard in April that said, "Being Gay Is a Gift from God,"

prompting the Rev. Tony Scott of the Church on Strayer to offer an

opposing view.

Scott's megachurch in a Toledo suburb bought nine billboards

last week that proclaim, "Being Gay is NOT a Gift from God --

Forgiveness, Love, and Eternal Life Are."

Scott told The Blade that he's getting hate mail from gays and

lesbians, but he said, "I love them too much to let someone

believe a lie."

Central United Methodist recently replaced its original

billboard with another one that says, "Creating a Space for All

God's Children Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender



Ex-football player dies after church boxing event

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - A former University of Tulsa football player

who died after an unsanctioned boxing match at a church looked

"very panicked," according to a fellow boxer who saw him there.

George Clinkscale died after a "Fight Night" event last

Wednesday at Guts Church in Tulsa.

Another fighter, Dwayllen Lyles, told the Tulsa World that he

believes the fighters were in danger at an event he described as

"almost like a bunch of guys in a backyard brawl."

Others saw the 24-year-old Clinkscale beginning to cramp in the


Joe Miller, director of the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission,

says Clinkscale was taken to a local hospital, where he died.

Miller said he believed the event was held illegally and is

investigating what happened.


Scalia urges Duquesne Univ. to keep Catholic identity

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has urged

officials at Duquesne (doo-KAYN') University to preserve the

school's Catholic identity.

In a weekend speech at the Pennsylvania school, Scalia said the

educational establishment insists on diversity but "seems bent on

eliminating diversity of moral judgment -- particularly moral

judgment based on religious views" from universities.

Scalia said he hopes Duquesne "will not yield -- as some

Catholic institutions have -- to this politically correct

insistence upon suppression of moral judgment."

The Supreme Court justice said, "The here and now is less

important than the hereafter."


Pope leaves Germany after calling for spiritual renewal

FREIBURG, Germany (AP) - Pope Benedict has ended a visit to his

native Germany with a call for spiritual renewal among the German


The pope drew hundreds of thousands to services during his trip,

including a final Mass Sunday that attracted about 100,000 people

to an airfield beside the airport in the southern city of Freiburg.

During the four-day visit, he also addressed parliament and met

with victims of clerical abuse.

In his parting words before leaving for Rome, Benedict wished

Germans "strength and confidence" in their faith. He said even

those who doubt God's existence "are closer to the kingdom of God

than believers whose faith is routine and who regard the church

merely as an institution."

The Catholic church in Germany lost 181,000 members after last

year's clerical abuse scandal there.


Polish church and state leaders pray for the EU

WARSAW, Poland (AP) - With the European Union in crisis, Polish

church leaders have held a special Sunday Mass to pray for European

unity and for Poland's success as it holds the EU presidency.

The service in Warsaw, attended by Foreign Minister Radek

Sikorski and other political leaders, came after Polish church

leaders held similar prayers for EU unity five days earlier in


With the Masses, predominantly Roman Catholic Poland is putting

its own characteristic stamp on a bloc dominated by more secular

Western European nations.

Though Germans and others might be getting fed up with bailing

out the Greeks and the Portuguese, the benefits of membership feel

very tangible in Poland: EU subsidies have created an economic

boom, while Poles enjoy unprecedented freedoms to live and travel

across Europe.


Ukraine's nationalists protest Jewish pilgrimage

UMAN, Ukraine (AP) - Police have detained about 100 activists of

Ukraine's nationalist party who protested the annual pilgrimage of

Hasidic Jews in southern Ukraine.

About 300 supporters of the nationalist party Svoboda, or

Liberty, demanded that Hasidic Jews not be allowed to gather in the

town of Uman.

Close to 30,000 Hasidic Jews from around the world are expected

in Uman this week to celebrate Rosh Hoshana at the grave of Rabbi

Nachman of Bratslav, who died in 1810.

The protesters shouted "Ukraine for Ukrainians" at Sunday's


(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-09-26-11 0333EDT