Church deacon arrested over cold case murder


The Daily Mail reports…

“A disabled 78-year-old church deacon living quietly in East Texas has been arrested for a murder committed 33 years ago and 1,300 miles away.

After his arrest, the wife of the man known as Roy Eubanks told local media she knew his secret – that he had killed a man in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, many years ago.

What Gennell Eubanks, 62, didn’t know was that her husband’s name is, in fact, Joseph Lewis Miller, and the Harrisburg killing is not the only dark secret from his past.

In 1959, Miller, now 78, shot married couple John and Donna Lumpkins and pleaded guilty to murder after John Lumpkins died of his injuries.

He was sentenced to life in prison on January 22, 1960.

Miller applied to have his life sentence commuted, and his request was granted in 1971 by then governor Raymond P Shafer after Miller had served 11 years.

Fewer than 10 years later, authorities say Joseph Lewis Miller fled Pennsylvania after shooting a man in a parking lot outside a hotel in 1981.

He was charged with murder and three other felonies, but the case remained unsolved for three decades until investigators translated a previous tip that Miller had been living in Mexico under an alias – the name of a deceased cousin.

The U.S. Marshals Service in Harrisburg traced that name to rural Mineola, Texas, a town of 4,500 people. Miller confessed to the shooting shortly after his arrest, authorities said.

People in Mineola knew Miller as Roy Eubanks, a former employee of the local paper plant who was collecting disability checks and walked with a cane. He married at least twice in Texas, most recently in 2010.

His wife told The Associated Press on Monday that he had said he killed someone in ‘the accident that happened’ many years ago.

‘He said it was an accident. He was trying to protect his brother, because a man was trying to kill him,’ she told Penn Live.

According to U.S. Marshals, Miller was charged in the 1981 death of Thomas Waller, 34, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The Patriot-News reported that Waller was found inside his car with a gunshot wound to his head.

A spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons said the agency could not immediately produce the records related to Miller’s 1971 commutation Monday.

It remains unclear how Miller got from Pennsylvania to Texas, or why he chose the town of Mineola, about 85 miles east of Dallas.

The man Gennell Eubanks knows as Roy Eubanks has arthritis, a Pacemaker and walks with a cane, she said. She has never spoken to his relatives, some of whom she believes live in Pennsylvania, and said he hadn’t seen them since he fled.

‘They didn’t want him to come back,’ she said. ‘They told him to leave.’

Mineola residents said Miller had lived there likely since the 1980s. City administrator David Stevenson said Miller served on a handful of town boards and commissions and came to him for advice on obtaining a reverse mortgage.

‘He always wanted to be active in the community… always wanting to help,’ Stevenson said. ‘I don’t know anything bad or negative about him.’

Eubanks was also a deacon at a local Baptist church, the U.S. Marshals said.

‘This was a real good man,’ Gennell told Penn Live, adding that the Eubanks she knew was always eager to help neighbors and friends before his health began to fail in recent years, and the he didn’t drink, smoke or curse.

Linda Smith, manager at the wood treatment plant where Miller worked, said she remembered him going on disability after an accident at the plant in the 1980s. Smith described him as ‘a nice, friendly gentleman.’

Miller did not have a state criminal record under either his name or his believed alias, and Wood County Sheriff Jim Brown said he did not know of any prior arrests.

He was being held in the Wood County Jail pending court proceedings that would lead to his return to Pennsylvania.

Miller’s relatives could not be immediately located, nor could Waller’s family.”


The most high


The Springfield News-Sun reports…

“After depicting Jesus smoking a joint in a controversial Easter ad, a local restaurant says the risk has paid off.

Since burgers are not what most people think of for Easter lunch or dinner, Lunchbox Laboratory launched a two-for-one Easter deal on its “Burger of the Gods.”

 “I can tell you since this ad has taken off, we’ve definitely seen upwards of a 10-percent increase in business,” CEO John Schmidt said.

But the burger promotion has also gotten a lot of backlash.

When the ad first launched, KIRO 7 showed viewers how customers posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page, with one stating, “I liked your food until you blasphemed my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I will not support this kind of thing.”

The ad shows Jesus smoking a joint and eating the burger.

It’s a joke about Easter landing on April 20 this year, known as 4/20 — a pot smoker’s holiday.

Lunchbox Laboratory sent out the offer by email to about 13,000 who signed up.

People heading to service at First Baptist Church for Easter Sunday service didn’t find it so funny.

“I don’t know why people choose to take the image and teachings and philosophy of a great teacher like Jesus and try to make a joke out of it,” Michael Geller said. “I’m certainly not supportive of it.”

But the restaurant’s president John Schmidt said he’s a Christian, and while he regrets offending people, he stands by his stunt on the sacred.

“I’ve got to stand out in a crowd,” he said, “so I expect nothing will change in the way we do our advertising.”

Customers made it clear that it wasn’t deterring them from a good meal.

“I don’t think anyone should really play like that on religion,” Andrew Slater said before digging into a “Burger of the Gods,” “but I think it is a joke, and people should just realize it like that.”

Schmidt said next year’s ad will feature Jesus again, but he likely won’t be smoking a joint, since Easter won’t fall on 4/20.”


Fire delays resurrection


The Adelaide Advertiser reports…

A fire during an Easter play at an Aberfoyle Park church forced the performance to end on a cliffhanger last night — so the cast resurrected Jesus and completed the show in the car park.

The blaze started in an office at Our Saviour Lutheran Church during the play, just before 8.30pm, forcing the evacuation of about 200 people.

Play organiser Verena Johnson said the congregation pleaded with the cast to finish the performance after firefighters brought the blaze under control.

“We had just finished a big musical number and before the final scene we were told there was a fire and it wasn’t a drill and we had to leave,’’ Ms Johnson said.

“We were all a bit stunned because we were all caught up in the play.

“Outside, the crowd was saying, ‘We don’t know how (the play) ends’ so we did the last scene in the carpark. We couldn’t finish (the Easter play) without the resurrection — that’s what it’s all about. So the show did go on.”

Flames spread into the roof space as firefighters arrived. Initial reports suggested the fire was caused by an electrical fault.

“I’ve been doing plays here for 20 years and I’ve never had anything like this happen before. The really good thing is we saved the video (of the play.)’’


Pastor accused of embezzlement


MLive reports…

“The former pastor of a large Hudsonville area church is accused of using church funds to pay for a European cruise and Colorado vacation, a court probable cause affidavit shows.

Gary Petersen, 62, is expected to be charged in Hudsonville District Court with two counts of embezzlement, involving less than $20,000.

Petersen, the former pastor of Wellspring Community Church, is expected to be arraigned April 23. He resigned from the church in September.

He founded Wellspring about 18 years ago in his home. Years later, the church was built on Bauer Road in the Hudsonville area.

In court documents, Ottawa County sheriff’s detectives allege Petersen opened an American Express credit card through Costco Club in 2006.

The card was in the name of Wellspring Church, but Petersen was the only one authorized to use it and the church’s financial committee did not know it existed, police said.

Charges made on the card were paid by Wellspring through the church’s Fifth Third Bank account, police said.

Detectives allege Petersen went on a Costa Pacifica cruise in December 2010 with his wife and another couple and put $1,416 on the American Express card. The cruise was out of Rome.

Then, in summer 2012, Petersen charged $1,568 on the card for a lodging upgrade during a vacation in Avon, Colorado.

According to the affidavit, Petersen was in Colorado at the Sheraton Mountain Vista Resort and staying there through a gift by another person.

But after they got to the Sheraton Mountain resort, Petersen believed the accommodations were too small and wanted to upgrade. The person who gave the gift told Petersen it would be at Petersen’s expense, detectives said.

Police allege Petersen managed to hide the credit card by making online web payments or voice payments from the church’s Fifth Third account.

“These payments were not made by check, which would have required that they be authorized by signing members of the Finance Committee,” a detective testified for the affidavit.

“The existence of the American Express credit card was hidden from the Finance Committee by dividing the expenditures over other expense categories,” he testified.

Wellspring Community Church leaders say his departure in September was unrelated to the alleged embezzlement, but rather because of an issue involving “moral failure.”

Petersen is now a pastor at The Rock Church in Grandville.

His attorney, Chris Brigman, declined comment Wednesday, April 16.

Wellspring Community Church issued the following statement:

“It came to light through an external audit of the Wellspring Church financial records that former pastor Gary Petersen had been using church money for personal expenditures. Ottawa County authorities have investigated the financial improprieties and have decided to file criminal charges, which is what brings this matter into the public eye at this time.

“The Wellspring Church Board of Elders and Deacons has cooperated with authorities throughout this investigation. The greatest desire and intention of Wellspring Church is to move forward and to keep its focus on Christ with the ongoing ministry of the church. We ask others to respect the privacy of this matter and not to engage the interests of those who only wish to highlight the moral failures of a Christian leader.”


Church Militant TV host returns to Australia/NZ

Church Militant TV video


Detroit Free Press reported in February 2012…

“….For much of his life, Michael Voris of Ferndale was a lukewarm Catholic, someone who usually just went through the motions at church.

But after the sudden death of his brother in 2003 from a heart attack and the death of his mother from stomach cancer the following year, the former TV reporter became a changed man.

“Her dying really kind of started to wake me up,” Voris recalled. “You have to face mortality. And then the questions came pouring in: What is the meaning of life? Who are we as human beings? Is there life after death? Those are fundamental questions everyone has to look for.”

Voris found those answers in the Catholic Church. In 2006, he formed St. Michael’s Media, a Catholic TV production company and studio in Ferndale. And in 2008, he helped launch Real Catholic TV. Today, the never-married 50-year-old is consumed by his passion to promote what he considers the one true faith. Working up to 18 hours a day, seven days a week, Voris is on a burning mission to save Catholicism and America by trying to warn the public about what he sees as a decline of morality in society.

But it’s a vision that has rubbed some the wrong way. His critics said his remarks, at times, promote division and extremism. Catholic officials from Pennsylvania to Spain to Detroit have warned people that he doesn’t speak for the Catholic Church. The Archdiocese of Detroit released two public statements on Voris, saying in December that the TV station was not permitted to have the word “Catholic” in its title. After receiving complaints from Voris’ supporters, it sent out a second release last month reiterating its stance.

But Voris and his supporters said it’s their critics who violate the core teachings of the church. They’re not surprised by the attacks because they see them as part of an effort to water down the faith.

“Chaos has run through the church for the last 40 to 50 years,” Voris said. “For people who are faithful Catholics, it’s a source of great sorrow. It’s definitely broken.”

The tension between the two sides reflects an intense debate among Catholics over how to stem the number of Catholics leaving the faith. Liberals argue that people are leaving because the church is too strict and outdated, but conservatives such as Voris say the opposite is true.

Voris said the church’s liberal tilt in the years after the 1960s reforms of the Second Vatican led to declining mass attendance and the decline of morality in the West. In his videos — which on YouTube have drawn more than 10 million views — Voris criticizes everything from abortion (comparing it to a holocaust) to contraception to liberal Catholics who promote feminism and homosexuality. In one of his more controversial videos, Voris said:

“The only way to run a country is by benevolent dictatorship, a Catholic monarch who protects his people from themselves and bestows on them what they need, not necessarily what they want.”

After an uproar, Voris apologized, saying that he misspoke but he stands by his larger point, which is that a society needs strong morals in order to survive.

Last April, the diocese in Scranton, Pa., banned him from speaking in its facilities after it received complaints about his comments on other faiths.

In response to the criticism, Voris told the Free Press:

“Current culture doesn’t let things be said plainspokenly. It’s … political correctness. Anything somebody takes offense at, whether it’s true or not, seems to be out of bounds.”

Despite the controversy, Voris travels the world to promote the Catholic faith. He has done shows in Nigeria, the Philippines, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium and Germany and has upcoming trips to New Zealand and Australia.

Voris’ efforts are financed by Marc Brammer, a business developer for Moody’s who lives in South Bend, Ind., and is a member of Opus Dei, a somewhat controversial group known for its traditional views….”



Flashback 2012 reports…

Tour schedule May 6-15th

Sydney: Tuesday 6th of May 7:30pm: Melkite Catholic Centre, 80 Waterloo road, Greenacre.

             Wednesday 7th of May 7:30pm: Melkite Catholic Centre, 80 Waterloo road, Greenacre.

Wagga Wagga: Friday 9th of May 7pm: Mary MacKillop College, 231 Gurwood Street, Wagga Wagga.

Melbourne: Saturday 10th of May 6pm: Ramada Encore Hotel, 50-52 McCrae St, Dandenong.

             Sunday 11th of May 4pm: Ramada Encore Hotel, 50-52 McCrae St, Dandenong.

Albury: Tuesday 13th of May 7pm: TBC

            Wednesday 14th of May 7pm: TBC

Brisbane: Thursday 15th of May 7:30pm: The Colmslie Hotel, Wynnum Rd, Morningside.



Lady Apostle bewitched


The Daily Mail reports…

“A Nigerian ‘witch-hunter’ who claims any child who cries is a ‘servant of Satan’ could be banned from the UK following calls to Home Secretary Theresa May that she is a risk to youngsters.

Campaigners are urging for Helen Ukpabio, known as ‘Lady Apostle’, to be deported and banned from returning to the UK on the grounds her preaches are harmful to the public.

The born-again Christian Pentecostal preacher, who founded the controversial African Evangelical franchise Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries in Nigeria, is thought to currently be in the UK.

It’s understood she flew into London where she has been holding a number of church services to promote her belief in witchcraft and offer help to those ‘under threat’ from the wizardry.

A poster advertising one of Ms Ukpabio’s most recent talks – which was cancelled after the venue was leaked online – claims to offer help to people who are under ‘witchcraft attack, ancestral spirit attack or mermaid spirit attack’ and claims to help ‘disconnect’ them.

However, campaigners have warned her controversial views are dangerous to children – including the belief that ‘if a child under the age of two screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health, he or she is a servant of Satan’.

The Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN), the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales and the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) have now written to the Home Secretary in an attempt to get Ms Ukpabio deported under the Immigration Act 1971 – on the grounds her presence here is not conducive to the public good.

In a letter to Ms May, the campaigners warn: ‘Whilst the Government has moved swiftly to block entry to the UK for Islamic preachers whose presence is considered as harmful to the public good, there have been no cases of Christian pastors facing such measures.’

The groups are hoping the pastor will be banned from returning to the UK once she has completed her final tour.

Gary Foxcroft, of the WHRIN said Ms Ukpabio was one of a number of preachers who regularly travelled to the UK.

He told the Independent: ‘The fundamental problem is that churches need to be regulated. Anyone can set up a church tomorrow in their own garden shed with no commitment to child protection or making their accounts transparent or any theological training.’

Bob Churchill, of the IHEU, also told the newspaper: ‘It is important that the UK authorities send a message to the world that branding children, or anyone, as a witch is beyond the pale.’


Another pastor lost to suicide

The High Point Enterprise reports…

“A High Point congregation is mourning the death of its senior pastor, who took his own life over the weekend.

Pastor Robert McKeehan, the senior pastor of Community Bible Church, died Friday evening, and news of the 42-year-old pastor’s suicide sent waves of shock and grief through the body of the Johnson Street church.

“As you can imagine, there’s been a lot of grief and a lot of numbness,” said Richard Curtis, chairman of Community Bible’s elder board. “We’re sad, of course — we’re going to be poorer for the loss — but we’re also trying to help people understand that even though this is not the path we would’ve chosen, God is sovereign, and we’re still going to praise and worship our God.”

During an emotional service Sunday morning, church leaders tried to make biblical sense of how a pastor could take his own life. “The reality is we can never understand exactly how and why that happened,” Curtis said. “Just like those they lead, pastors are human and subject to all the same trials, emotions and struggles.”

Rob Black, pastor of adult ministries, spoke during the service and pointed the congregation to Deuteronomy 29:29, which says, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and our children forever.”

“Why Robert took his own life is always going to be one of the secret things,” Curtis explained. “What God has revealed to us, however, is the promise we hold onto in Romans 8:28 — ‘We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.’ God has proven that to our church in the past when we’ve had difficult times, so we know that certainty will again prove true as we move beyond the question of why.”

Following the service, other pastors on the church’s staff made themselves available to parishioners who wanted to talk about McKeehan’s death, Curtis said. Active and former elders did likewise. “Many of them came back from trips they were on for spring break so they could be there for our people,” he said.

Out of respect for McKeehan’s family, church leaders said they would not publicly discuss the specifics of the pastor’s death.

McKeehan and his family — his wife, Elizabeth, and their two children, John and Scarlett — came to Community Bible Church in November 2010. According to Curtis, the new senior pastor quickly felt at home with his new congregation.

“He was an incredibly gifted teacher of God’s word,” he said. “The vision of our church is broken people becoming whole in Christ, and Robert was the type of pastor who related that well to our congregation. They knew he lived out that statement. They knew he needed Christ to make him whole, and they knew they could look to him as someone who could understand and help them.”

According to Curtis, it will be a few weeks before Community Bible begins the process of seeking a new senior pastor. The church currently has seven other pastors on staff who will lead the congregation in the interim, and all of the church’s various ministries — from a drug and alcohol recovery center to a community-wide men’s Bible study to a unique ministry partnership with Parkview Village Elementary Expressive Arts — are expected to continue, Curtis said.

Meanwhile, condolences and messages of support from other area churches and individuals continue to pour in at the church.
“We very much appreciate the support we are receiving from the community,” Curtis said.

“I think it is testimony to how many people and churches Robert had touched. That is one of the most positive things he brought to (the church) and something we are committed to continuing.”




*In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention service available to anyone in suicidal crisis. If you need help, please dial:

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

In Australia, the Lifeline number is 13 11 14.