Indianapolis Church, City Spar Over Right To Sell 96-Year-Old Building To Developer

10/08/2010 12:00 AM

10/08/2010 5:32 PM

INDIANAPOLIS — An Indianapolis church that has stood on a busy commercial corner for nearly a century says the city is infringing on its right to sell the property by imposing a historic designation on the building that prevents it from being demolished.

St. John United Church of Christ has sued the city asking that it remove the historic designation that was approved in February after the city learned church leaders planned to sell the property to a developer.

The designation means the building can't be demolished or significantly altered without the permission of the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission.

Church leaders say the church needs $1 million in repairs and renovations, including immediate work to the roof, kitchen, elevators and heating and cooling systems. Attendance is declining, and with annual revenue of only about $150,000, church leaders say they cannot afford to maintain the 96-year-old building.

The church had planned to sell the building and its surrounding property to a developer, then build a new church on donated land nearby, according to the lawsuit filed Sept. 10 in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis. The design was to include the stained-glass windows and other features from the 1914 building, Miller said.

Samantha Karn, an attorney for the city, said officials were reviewing the complaint.

At Utah conference, Mormon church president announces plans to build 5 new temples worldwide

SALT LAKE CITY — The Mormon church plans to build five new temples in the United States and abroad.

The temples will be built in Hartford, Conn.; Indianapolis; Tijuana, Mexico; Urdaneta, Philippines; and Lisbon, Portugal. The new temples will be the first for the church in Connecticut, Indiana and Portugal.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints already has 134 temples operating worldwide, most in the U.S. Another 16 temples are either planned or already under construction.

LDS president Thomas S. Monson announced the plan last Saturday during the opening session of the church's two-day semiannual general conference in Salt Lake City.

Only Mormons in good standing in the church can enter LDS temples, where members carry out their most sacred rites.

The church has nearly 14 million members worldwide.

Surfing priests, religious leaders from multiple faiths gather in SoCal for Blessing of Waves

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. —Hundreds of Californians joined surfing priests and religious leaders from multiple faiths to honor the ocean and protest coastal pollution.

The third annual Blessing of the Waves was held last Sunday at the Orange County surfing mecca of Huntington Beach to recognize the spiritual significance of the water and coastline.

"Some good swells came in," said the Rev. Christian Mondor of St. Simon and Jude Catholic Church in Huntington Beach. "Before we surfed, the group paddled out and joined hands in a prayer of thanksgiving for the great gift of the ocean, and to ask God's blessing for those who use it."

Mondor, 85, who has been surfing since the 1930's, said the event is to honor St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of the environment.

"We find that the ocean can bring people of all faiths together," Mondor said. "And since this is Surf City U.S.A, it's the perfect place to gather."

The event is organized by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange and features a floating interfaith prayer circle, a Christian rock band called The Wedge, and priests and a rabbi on surfboards.

"Surfers have a certain way of living their lives, and have a very unique relationship with the ocean and its ecosystem," said diocesan spokesman Ryan Lilyengren. "It's spiritual."

Historic black church in Ashland seeks funding for much-needed repairs

ASHLAND, Ky. —An Appalachian church that touts itself as its town's first predominantly black house of worship is seeking federal funding to repair its aging building.

Members at the St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church are hoping for a $10,000 federal grant to help the church make repairs and prevent further damage from flooding.

Thelma Keeton, a steward on the church board, said the building's roof leaks and water also seeps into the basement.

The grant allocates money from the National Historic Preservation Fund.

Chris Pullem, Ashland's director of Economic Development, said the building is significant to the history of the black population in Ashland.

St. James' was founded in 1868 and the congregation met in a building on 11th and Carter. It moved in the 1900s to the current building, Keeton said.

Church member Christopher Barr said St. James was the first predominantly black church to form in Ashland, and several other congregations in the area have grown from it, such as New Hope Baptist Church and Christ Temple Church. Barr has attended the church for 25 years.

Magistrate judge delays civil trial accusing evangelist Tony Alamo of abuse

TEXARKANA, Ark. —A federal magistrate judge has delayed the civil trial against evangelist Tony Alamo over alleged abuse at his ministries.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Bryant indefinitely put off Alamo's trial, which was set to begin Oct. 25. Bryant granted the delay at the request of Alamo's lawyers and the lawyers for plaintiffs Spencer Ondrisek and Seth Calagna.

The plaintiffs have already won a $3 million judgment against John Kolbek, who was accused of being Alamo's "enforcer" and disciplinarian at the evangelist's religious compound in Fouke. Kolbek never appeared in court and remains a fugitive.

Alamo is serving a 175-year prison sentence after being convicted of five counts of transporting young girl across state lines for sex. He is appealing that conviction.

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