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Religion: IN BRIEF: Suit filed in dispute over pastor

BYLINE: From our news services
DATE: 06-08-1996
PUBLICATION: The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
SECTION: Newspapers_&_Newswires

Officials of the California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church have filed suit in San Diego to block St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Coronado, Calif., from keeping a man accused of molesting women as its pastor.

The complex case began in 1993, when four women told denominational officials that they had been molested as teenagers 25 years ago by Thomas Warmer at another church. Warmer, who became pastor of St. Paul's in 1989, has denied the charges.

A church court ruled that the charges were too old for consideration, but after examining whether Warmer lied during the investigation, denominational officials scheduled a trial. It was canceled when Warmer surrendered his clergy credentials.

But leaders of St. Paul's decided to allow Warmer to continue to function as its pastor without credentials and refused to accept a replacement.

-IRS LOSES: The U.S. Tax Court, overruling the Internal Revenue Service, has granted tax-exempt status to an art museum on the campus of Bob Jones University, even though the university itself cannot have such status because of its racial policies. The non-denominational Christian liberal-arts institution in Greenville, S.C., prohibits students from engaging in interracial marriage or dating - restrictions that disqualify the school for tax-exempt religious status according to a 1983 Supreme Court ruling. Organizations holding such classification do not pay federal income taxes. More important, contributions they receive are deductible on the tax returns of the donors.

-MOVIE OK: Churches must be allowed to show a movie about the life of Jesus and pass out Bibles at city senior centers, a federal appeals court in Albuquerque, N.M., has ruled. The recent decision came after Albuquerque's Church on the Rock and its then-pastor Don Kimbro sued the city because the church had been banned from showing a film entitled "Jesus" and handing out large-print Bibles at the Bear Canyon Senior Center. Kimbro, now pastor at the Faith Fellowship and Bible Training Center, said the ruling was "like David meeting Goliath again."

- ALLOW ASHES? With a growth in the popularity of cremation, a committee of Catholic bishops says families should no longer have to leave the cremated remains of a loved one outside in the hearse during a funeral Mass. In an action that addresses one of the most profound mysteries of the Christian faith - how human beings receive eternal life after death - the bishops' Committee on the Liturgy is urging the church to appeal to the Vatican to lift the ban on bringing the ashes of the deceased into church. "If the Lord can resurrect a body, he can certainly get all the parts back together again," says Monsignor Alan Detscher, director of the Secretariat for the Liturgy. The committee's proposal will be presented to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops at its spring meeting June 20-22 in Portland, Ore. Cremation was forbidden in the Catholic Church until 1963.

Copyright 2003 The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution