Briefly in Religion


Survey says Americans worshipping less

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Church attendance among American adults is slipping, yet it remains higher than in other industrial democracies, according to a newly issued survey.
The findings, from the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, show that 55 percent of Americans reported attending worship services at least monthly in 1998, compared with 60 percent in 1981.
The international surveys on faith and values among 166,000 adults were conducted in 1981, 1990-91 and 1995-98. Polls have consistently reported higher church attendance in the United States compared with other industrial democracies. The institute said attendance has been increasing in Great Britain and five of the seven post-communist nations surveyed, but it is falling in Switzerland, Spain and Australia.
The institute also asked respondents how frequently they thought about the meaning and purpose of life. The proportion of those replying ''often'' in 1998 was 46 percent in the United States, second only to East Germany's 47 percent.
On this question, spiritual interest showed gains in 26 of the 37 societies surveyed. Australia, West Germany, South Korea, Italy and the Netherlands all had increases of 10 percent or more.

Grant planned to help National Council

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) The Presbyterian Church (USA) will be asked to approve a one-time grant of $400,000 for the financially troubled National Council of Churches.
The proposal by two top staff officers is to be presented in mid-February at a meeting of the denomination's executive council. The officers said the request is based on recent cost-cutting steps and the prospect of ''responsible management'' under new council leaders. The Presbyterians previously gave the council a special $100,000 grant toward a $3.2 million operating deficit for 1999.
The United Methodist Church lifted a suspension of its regular funding, ordered in October on grounds that the council lacked a viable financial plan. The council has since cut its staff and instituted financial controls.
The Presbyterians and Methodists are the largest funders of the council, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and elected Robert Edgar as chief executive. Edgar is a United Methodist minister and president of the School of Theology at Claremont, Calif. Previously he was a Democratic congressman, representing suburban Philadelphia.
Earlier, the council said it had recovered $5.4 million of the $8 million invested in what proved to be fraudulent securities issued by the Banka Bohemia of Prague, Czech Republic. The council said most of the money invested had come from a retiree health insurance fund.

Santa Fe cathedral gets new rector

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) St. Francis Cathedral, led by Franciscans for nearly 80 years, has installed a diocesan priest, the Rev. Jerome Martinez y Alire, as rector.
The cathedral in downtown Santa Fe attracts thousands of tourists each year.
Archbishop Michael Sheehan said Martinez would be effective in promoting the spiritual welfare of parishioners and visitors to Santa Fe, a name which means ''city of holy faith.''
The Franciscan order, active in shaping Catholicism in the Southwest for 400 years, had administered the cathedral since 1920. A shortage of Franciscans forced them to give it up.
Martinez, a 48-year-old native of Santa Fe and an 11th-generation New Mexican, is founding pastor of Santa Maria de la Paz Catholic Community, the capital city's newest and largest Catholic parish.

Episcopal bishop to serve in U.S. House

BOSTON (AP) The Right Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, the Episcopal bishop of Massachusetts, is trading the Lord's house for the U.S. House of Representatives, become an intern there for one month.
The 54-year-old Shaw said, ''I want to go discover something of what the role of the church should be in public life.''
The bishop will work for a longtime friend, Rep. Amo Houghton, a New York Republican and active Episcopalian.
Shaw may be the first sitting bishop to serve as an intern. Congressional internships and fellowships are dominated by students. Unlike other interns, Shaw will get a desk with a window, unrestricted access to the congressman and invitations to meetings with top officials.
''I've heard of scientists, psychologists, statisticians and lawyers doing internships, but I've never heard of a clergy-person,'' said Rick Shapiro, executive director of the Congressional Management Foundation.

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