FAITH NEWS:: Upcoming local church events, national and international religion news

- Christmas "Cookie Walk" by Zion United Methodist Church women will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. today in the church, 1001 24th Ave. S. Price: $6 per pound.

- Christmas "Cookie Walk" by Zion United Methodist Church women will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. today in the church, 1001 24th Ave. S. Price: $6 per pound.

- "Emmanuel Ablaze," the worship team at Immanuel Lutheran Church, will present a Christmas praise and worship fest at 7 p.m. Sunday in the church, 1710 Cherry St. Refreshments will be served. An offering for an LSS program for delinquent teens will be taken. Info: (701) 775-7125.

- "Once Upon a Night," a cantata by Pepper Choplin, directed by Nolan Weisz, will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 10 in First Presbyterian Church, 5555 S. Washington St. An offering for the Community Violence Intervention Center will be taken; a reception follows. Info: (701) 775-5545; online at .

- Christmas programs at northwestern Minnesota churches include 3 p.m. Sunday in Grace Evangelical in Strathcona and 7 p.m. Dec. 12 in Roseau Community Church. Refreshments served. Info: (218) 424-7647.

- The "Original Cookie Walk and Victorian Xmas Tea with Carolers" will be held at 9:50 a.m. Dec. 11 in St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 319 S. Fifth St. Cookies at $5.50 a pound. Tea is at 11 a.m.; Info: (701) 775-7955.


- The 24th annual Santa Lucia Festival will be held 2 p.m. Dec. 11 in Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Argyle, Minn., sponsored by the Agassiz Swedish Heritage Society. The Rev. Warren Swanson will give a welcome. Lyndon Johnson of Hallock, Minn., will read the Christmas story from the gospel of Luke in Swedish. Swedish goodies will be served to celebrate this deep winter tradition honoring an early Christian martyr.

Anglicans split on compromise

LONDON -- Conservative Anglican leaders have rejected a proposed covenant to hold their global communion together just as the Church of England gave preliminary approval to the plan.

The covenant, backed by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, aims to contain deep splits in the Anglican Communion over sexuality, the role of women and the Bible's authority.

The communion is a fellowship of churches with ties to the Church of England in more than 160 countries.

Last week, the Church of England's governing General Synod voted to approve draft legislation that could lead to a final vote on the covenant in 2012. The covenant will now be referred to dioceses for consideration.

But raditionalist leaders representing the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and the GAFCON movement, dismissed the covenant as "fatally flawed." The plan also has been attacked by liberals within the church.

The conservative statement was endorsed by archbishops from West Africa, Rwanda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Australia and Anglican Church of North America, a breakaway group from the Episcopal Church.


Vigil aims to halt suicides by gays

MESA, Ariz. -- Members of the Phoenix Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Coalition are holding a suicide-prevention outreach and candlelight vigil aimed at preventing gay Mormon suicides in Arizona.

The group began its vigil last week near the Mesa Arizona Temple as the the church launched its annual Christmas lights display.

Organizer Caleb Laieski said it's designed to show members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and others not open about their sexual orientation that support networks aare vailable to help them.

Turkey returns seized orphanage

ANKARA, Turkey -- The spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians was given back the deed to a historic building in a move hailed as a symbolic but important victory for the formerly dominant church.

The Turkish government this week returned control of the 19th-century orphanage, one of the largest wooden buildings in the world, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople after a ruling for the church in the European Court of Human Rights.

The European Union has called for Turkey to return dozens of other properties seized from Jewish and Christian foundations decades ago. Several court cases are under way by minority religious groups against the Turkish state.


The Patriarchate in Constantinople -- the spiritual leader of Turkey's Greek minority -- dates from the Orthodox Greek Byzantine Empire, which collapsed when Muslim Ottoman Turks conquered the city in 1453.

Turkey is overwhelmingly Muslim and officially secular and has long been criticized by the EU and human rights groups for its dealings with its religious minorities.

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