greg_mathis_web_copy.jpgBaptist group that formed in civil rights fight gathers
DETROIT – Thousands of Baptists are gathering in Detroit this week for the Progressive National Baptist Convention, which meets in a city going through the pangs of bankruptcy.

About 5,000 people are expected to participate. The Progressive Baptists group was formed in 1961 when African-American Baptists sought an organization that would wholeheartedly support the civil rights struggles of the Rev. martin Luther King Jr.  The convention started Sunday and runs through Saturday. It includes speeches by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Chicago and TV personality Greg Mathis.

Farmington Hills resident and convention participant Kelley Suggs told The Detroit News that she’s happy to see an event of this caliber coming to her hometown at a time marked by bankruptcy proceedings and “all the negative publicity.”

Church that stood up to Klan now needs help

MUNCIE, Ind. – Members of a historic Indiana church that defied the Ku Klux Klan and cared for the bodies of two black men lynched in 1930 are fighting to save the deteriorating building.

The Shaffer American Methodist Episcopal Church in Muncie has a long place in Indiana history. Former pastor J.E. Johnson volunteered to embalm the bodies of the two men lynched in Marion, Ind., when no one else would take their bodies.

Now the building needs help. The Star Press reports it has broken stairs and cracks in its facade. The Whitely Community Council is teaming with 20 Ball State University elementary education students to create fundraisers for the chapel.

Professor Eva Zygmunt says the partnership will help students understand the importance of engaging in communities where they teach.

Hymn writers won’t change lyric for Presbyterians
BREVARD, N.C. – The popular hymn In Christ Alone won’t appear in the new hymnal of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) because hymn writers Keith Getty and Stuart Townend refused to change the lyrics.

Mary Louise Bringle, who chairs the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Songs, writes in The Christian Century that some committee members objected to the line that says, “On that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.”  She says they asked Getty and Townend if the lyric could be changed to say “the love of God was magnified.” The hymn writers wouldn’t allow it. Getty has said they wrote In Christ Alone to tell “the whole gospel.”

Bringle writes that most committee members didn’t want the new Presbyterian hymnal to suggest that Jesus’ death on the cross was an atoning sacrifice that was needed “to assuage God’s anger” over sin.

Rick Warren returns to pulpit after son’s suicide
LOS ANGELES – Nearly four months after his son’s suicide, popular pastor Rick Warren has returned to the pulpit at the Southern California megachurch he founded.  Warren took the stage at services last weekend at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., with wife, Kay Warren. They were greeted with standing ovations.

•Picture above is Greg Mathis