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Evangelist Billy Graham turns 95 next month

  • Associated Press
  • Published Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, at 7:20 p.m.

NEW YORK – A major celebration is planned next month for the 95th birthday of the Rev. Billy Graham.

Graham’s son Franklin says between 600 and 700 people have been invited to the Nov. 7 party in Asheville, North Carolina. The Rev. Franklin Graham says among the invitees are President Bill Clinton, former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and real estate mogul Donald Trump. The elder Graham will attend, but won’t give a speech.

Known as “America’s pastor,” Billy Graham rarely leaves his home in Montreat, outside of Asheville. Franklin says his father has round-the-clock care, but still thinks and speaks very clearly. On the 95th birthday, the ministry is releasing a new video of Graham from his home as part of a nationwide religious outreach called “My Hope America.”

Retired bishop to ignore gay wedding ban in Ala.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A retired United Methodist bishop from Tennessee says he will perform a wedding service for two men in Alabama despite opposition from the presiding bishop, who says the ceremony will violate church law.

Bishop Melvin Talbert, who has been active in efforts to eliminate barriers to gay marriage from United Methodist doctrine, said it will be an honor to officiate at the ceremony later this month in metro Birmingham for Joe Openshaw and Bobby Prince. Talbert said he was contacted by the longtime partners after they learned they could not be married in the area church where they are active members.

While Alabama does not recognize same-sex marriage, Openshaw says he and his partner were married legally in Washington, D.C., last month. He and Prince want to have a church ceremony at home in Alabama for their family and friends.

The United Methodist Church is the nation’s largest mainline Protestant denomination with almost 8 million members. During their last national meeting in 2012, Methodists upheld the denomination’s policy that same-sex relationships conflict with Christian teaching.

Muslims mark Eid al-Adha holiday

MINA, Saudi Arabia – Muslims around the world held Eid al-Adha celebrations on Tuesday, slaughtering sheep and other livestock to give meat to the poor in the biggest holiday of the Islamic calendar.

In Saudi Arabia, some 2 million Muslims on the annual hajj pilgrimage performed a rite throwing pebbles at a series of walls representing Satan in a symbolic gesture of stoning the devil, rejecting sin and temptation. Afterward, they shaved their heads – or cut off a lock of hair – to show the renewal of their faith and the purification of their souls.

The rites kicked off the festivities of Eid al-Adha – or “festival of sacrifice” – for Muslims around the world. The holiday commemorates the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim – or Abraham, as he is known in the Bible – to sacrifice his son in accordance with God’s will, though in the end God provides him a sheep to sacrifice instead. Muslims also believe the sacrificial son was Ishmael, not Isaac as the Bible teaches.

Sweden elects its first female archbishop

STOCKHOLM – The Church of Sweden says it has elected the country’s first female archbishop, who will join a growing number of female church leaders around the world.

The Lutheran church says 58-year-old Antje Jackelen secured a majority of the votes among 325 members of local church boards.

While the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t allow the ordination of women, it is not uncommon among some Protestant churches. The church of Norway is led by a woman and the Episcopal Church of the United States is headed by Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

The German-born Jackelen, who studied at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, has been the bishop of the city of Lund in southern Sweden since 2007.

Matt Redman wins more honors for worship song

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Matt Redman and his Grammy Award winning song “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord, O My Soul)” have come up big winners again at the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards.

Redman received the Dove for Songwriter of the Year, plus a best performance award and best song awards in the contemporary/pop and praise and worship categories.

Accepting the honors for Redman, who was in Europe, were the Rev. Louie Giglio and singer-producer Eddie DeGarmo, who said “10,000 Reasons” was a song written “for the entire world.”

Giglio said Redman wouldn’t want to be honored, except by having his hymn sung in worship.

Other top winners included Chris Tomlin, Tasha Cobbs and Jason Crabb with three apiece and Lecrae and Tamela Mann with two each.

Kirk Franklin and Amy Grant hosted the awards, which will air Monday at 8 p.m. EDT on UP TV.

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