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Religion briefs for Aug. 23

Revivalist resigns after ‘unhealthy relationship’ with staff member

ABBOTSFORD, British Columbia – Todd Bentley, the Canadian revivalist whose tactics drew protest from some fellow Pentecostals, has resigned from public ministry after acknowledging an “unhealthy relationship on an emotional level” with a female staff member.

The board of Bentley’s Fresh Fire Ministries announced the resignation last Friday, saying the pastor has agreed to “receive counsel in his personal life.” Days earlier, the board of directors had said that Bentley, 32, and his wife Shonnah had separated.

Bentley, tattooed on the fingers and neck, has drawn international attention for leading his raucous revival meeting in Lakeland, Fla. It has continued for more than three months.

Fort Leavenworth breaks ground on new chapel

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. – Army officials and members of Congress broke ground Monday on a $15.5 million religious complex at Fort Leavenworth.

It will replace a historic church that stood 112 years before burning in 2001.

The complex will have a chapel with a main sanctuary that can seat 600 and could be expanded to hold 1,200. It also will have classrooms and be connected to a smaller chapel.

Court says Bible in jury room was wrong but won’t overturn sentence

HOUSTON – East Texas jurors wrongly used a Bible during deliberations in a capital murder case, but there isn’t enough evidence to show they were prejudiced when they decided to send the perpetrator to death row, a federal appeals court said.

The ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals comes in the case of Khristian Oliver, who was condemned by a Nacogdoches County jury in 1999, a year after he and three companions were involved in a break-in in which Joe Collins, 64, was fatally shot and bludgeoned.

Oliver’s three accomplices received prison terms ranging from five to 99 years. He got the death penalty. In his appeals, his lawyers contended that jurors improperly consulted Bible verses that called for death as punishment for murder.

Virginia Beach monks seek to keep temple location

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – A group of Buddhist monks could lose permission to use a $1 million brick ranch home as their temple.

In a 6-4 vote last week, Virginia Beach Planning Commissioners recommended that the monks shut down the Buddhist Education Center of America Inc. in rural Virginia Beach.

The City Council will take up the issue next.

Churches and other houses of worship looking for ways to ease heating pinch this winter

BOSTON – Churches, synagogues and other houses of worship are searching for ways to deal with soaring heating costs this winter.

With tiny budgets and cathedral ceilings, some congregations are having to choose between staying warm or funding religious missions.

Some churches are sealing off sanctuaries, trimming staff and paying for more fuel efficient energy systems to keep congregants warm this winter.