The school of hard Knox


SBS reports…

“The NSW head of the Uniting Church, Jim Mein, has been implicated in the destruction of documents relating to the sexual abuse of students at Knox Grammar School.

At a royal commission hearing on Friday, the former school council head Robert Wannan was questioned about a series of emails in 2009 regarding draft apologies from the school relating to abuse by teachers.

Mr Wannan received an email from a solicitor for the school and sent it to a number of people.

David Lloyd, counsel for the commission, said the email reached Dwane Feehley, who handled insurance for the Uniting Church.

Mr Feehley then sent an email to another person warning: “Keep an eye on this we are dealing with a range of political issues, Jim is quite a problem for us at the moment”.

Mr Wannan, who had not seen the Feehley email until just before the commission hearing on Friday, said he assumed “Jim” was Mr Mein.

The email continues: “The solicitor who drafted this is the one who had been advising the school to destroy documents, with Jim (sic) assistance.”

He denied having any knowledge about the destruction of documents.

Mr Wannan, who is a solicitor of the Supreme Court, said he did not know who (solicitor) Mr Feehley would be referring to in the second paragraph.

Mr Lloyd: “Do you deny that you were at any time involved in giving advice to Knox Grammar to destroy documents?”

Mr Wannan: “I emphatically deny that.”

He said he had never been at a meeting at which the destruction of documents was discussed and no one at Knox had ever said they destroyed documents.

A joint apology from Knox and the Uniting church was issued in December 2009.

Mr Wannan said he recalled Mr Mein had an ex-officio role on the school council because he was director of the school ministry for the church.

He also told the commission he recalled a close liaison between Mr Mein and the school.

Asked whether there was ever any suggestion Mr Mein might have destroyed documents, Mr Wannan replied: “Never, and he is not the sort of man that would consider that.”

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is continuing.”


Pastor Bieber – updated*


Inquisitr reports…

“Justin Bieber has not qualified as a lay preacher and has absolutely no plans to preach in a televised series filmed at Hillsong Church in Los Angeles, says Hillsong Church.

Contrary to an erroneous claim by Irish tabloid, The Sunday World, Bieber did not become a lay preacher “following an intensive, three month bible study course” to “preach to the masses and spread the good word as a part-time televangelist.”

The tabloid also claimed Hillsong Church Los Angeles were negotiating to fill a “prime time small screen slot on Sundays with two networks” via their new Hollywood agent — William Morris Endeavor Entertainment Ltd.

The Sunday World said Bieber not only wants to “boost ratings” for this alleged television deal, but also wants to help by preaching and appealing for donations on-camera.

However, despite a number of media outlets picking up the claim, it has been exposed as fiction by Hillsong Church. A PR rep for Hillsong Church stated on Twitter that The Sunday World story is “totally fabricated.”

The rep also relayed a comment from Brian Houston, co-founder of the original Hillsong Church in Australia, who added that it’s “not true that Justin Bieber has qualified to be lay preacher.”

On Wednesday, February 25, Lyall Mercer, head of Mercer PR, which handles media for Hillsong Australia, tweeted:


Ex-gay camp


Pink News reports…

“VICE have released the first part in a three part documentary series investigating gay conversion therapy.

The documentary features interviews with the doctors and counsellors practising the ‘therapy’, former leaders of the Ex-Gay movement who are now embracing their same-sex attraction, and survivors of conversion therapy.

Joseph Nicolosi PHD, a licensed clinical psychologist and advocate of conversion therapy says: “Everyone is homosexual. The idea that some people are naturally homosexual, or naturally gay, is a social construct.”

The episode is set inside the Journey Into Manhood programme, a retreat that charges men over $600 (£387) to partake in exercises and activities that staff members claim will help battle their same sex-orientation.

Gay conversion therapy is a topical issue in the US right now, only recently a New Jersey Judge ruled it “consumer fraud” to advertise a cure for homosexuality.

Currently, it is only a illegal in two US states, with Iowa looking like it will become the third state to make the practice a crime.


The Bali Nine and the C3 connection


The Blacktown Advocate reports…

“It’s a plea of mercy echoed around the nation but for Toongabbie pastor Mithran Chellappah, the need to save Bali Nine pair Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan is personal.

Senior pastor of the C3 Church on Octavia St, Mr Chellappah has known the Sukumaran family for more than 15 years as members of his congregation.

“They’re amazing and wonderful people,” he said.

“They have a humble lifestyle and are very hardworking.”

Young Myuran attended several youth meetings and camps at the C3 Church, where Mr Chellappah described him as “cheeky and very playful”.

On April 17, 2005, Mr Sukumaran and Mr Chan were arrested along with seven other Australians at Denpasar airport over suspicions they were trying to smuggle more than 8kg of heroin out of Indonesia. On February 15, 2006, the pair were found guilty and sentenced to death by firing squad.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s hard-line stance on drug trafficking means the men’s bids for clemency have repeatedly been denied. Mr Chellappah said he was devastated to hear the men’s executions may be imminent.

“My frustration is that people have come to conclusions based on information that was 10 years ago,” he said.

“It’s not current; they have made an amazing transformation, which doesn’t happen to very many people. In the sight of God, a mistake is a mistake — there’s no big or small ones, just mistakes.

“They’ve achieved more during prison than I have in 10 years of freedom.”

Two vigils were held in Western Sydney last week — at C3 Church in Toongabbie on Wednesday and at Parramatta’s Prince Alfred Park on Friday.

Mr Chellappah said they were pleas of mercy from the community directly to the Indonesian Government.

“I do agree that what they did was wrong and many people would have suffered if the drugs were brought to Australia,” the pastor said.

“It’s not that they should be sent home or released — just that they should be given a second chance to continue what they are doing in jail.”

Guest speakers at the Toongabbie vigil included radio broadcaster Alan Jones, artist Ben Quilty and Mr Sukumaran’s grandmother, Edith Visvanathan.

More than 1000 people attended the Toongabbie vigil.

Stories of Mr Sukumaran’s generosity to other prisoners, including buying medication to help the sick within its walls, were “evidence” of his positive influence, Mr Chellappah said.

“We’re all products of second chances,” the Toongabbie pastor said.

“He’s helping everyone who comes into contact with him. I strongly believe that God will give them a second chance.”

The Sukumaran family have rallied behind their beloved son and brother in Bali, where Myuran and Mr Chan’s transfer from the infamous Kerobokan prison to Nusakambangan, dubbed Bali’s “execution island”, was recently delayed.

Mr Chellappah recalled a haunting moment he shared with Mr Sukumaran almost two weeks ago.

“He had drawn that particular place where they tie them up and shoot them and said: ‘Pastor, do you know what this means?’” Mr Chellappah said.

“I asked him, ‘could you turn it into a cross and we can hang it inside the church.’

“(Myuran) puts on a brave face for his family, but it’s been very tough.”



Double standards church caught out


The BBC reports…

“The Archbishop of Canterbury has said it is “embarrassing” that the Church of England pays some staff less than the living wage, despite calling on employers to pay at least that amount.

That wage, calculated from the basic cost of UK life, is currently £7.85 an hour outside London.

Earlier, the Sun newspaper reported a Church job advertised at £6.50 an hour.

The Most Reverend Justin Welby said the Church was “getting there as quickly as we can”.

The Church said each parish, diocese and cathedral was a separate legal entity which made its own decisions.

According to the Sun, Canterbury Cathedral advertised for a kiosk assistant to be paid £6.70 an hour. The £6.50 advertisement was for “waiting-on staff” at Lichfield Cathedral.

Archbishop Welby said the situation was “something we don’t like”.

He added: “Canterbury is moving very, very aggressively towards paying the living wage as soon as it can.

“It means raising more than an extra £200,000 a year. It’s a charity. Money can’t be magicked overnight.

“And the Living Wage Commission, which Archbishop Sentamu headed, said that everyone had to move towards the living wage.

“He recognised, and we all recognise, that no employer can simply increase its salary overnight. It’s embarrassing. We’d prefer to be there.”

Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke told the Sun: “It’s astonishing that the Church of England can call for the living wage to be paid by employers but don’t pay it themselves.”

In a letter to all Church members last week, the House of Bishops said it backed the living wage, which ensured people earned enough to “live decently”.

“It represents the basic principle that people are not commodities and that their lives cannot adapt infinitely in response to market pressures,” the letter added.

The Church of England said in a statement: “The Living Wage Commission, chaired by the Archbishop of York, recognised in its report last year, that a phased implementation may be necessary in some businesses and organisations.

“It welcomed employers seeking to implement the pay level progressively. What is important is that those who can do so, as soon as is practically possible.

“The vast majority of those employed by or sub-contracted to the Church’s central institutions are already paid at least the Living Wage and all will be by April 2017.

“Each of our 12,000 parishes, dioceses and cathedrals is a separate legal entity with trustees and has to act in the light of its own circumstances. As charities, churches require time to increase giving levels prior to ensuring delivery of the living wage.”

BBC religious affairs correspondent Caroline Wyatt said: “We have probably not seen the end of this spat between politicians and the bishops”.

The Living Wage Foundation says the hourly rate, revised yearly, is “calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK”.


Church skates on thin ice


RT reports…

“St. Joseph’s Catholic Church closed its doors eight years ago when the congregation dipped to just a handful of locals, and has since been taken over by volunteers who converted the place of worship into a skating heaven.

The Arnhem Skatepark is self-supporting and not subsided by anyone, including the local council and parish, which are unable to find buyers for the country’s growing number of abandoned churches.

With less and less people attending church, it is estimated that the Netherlands will close two-thirds of its Roman Catholic churches within the next decade, and 700 Protestant churches in the next four years alone.”


Former pastor’s murder confession


WGAL reports…

“Police say a former Lancaster County pastor has confessed to shooting and killing a woman he had an affair with.

Authorities say Monica Miller, 44, was killed by Randall Shreiner, 58, Wednesday morning in Ephrata, Lancaster County, at the apartment complex where she lived.

Police had initially named Shreiner as a person of interest in Miller’s death. On Thursday morning around 1:50 a.m., Shreiner turned himself in to state police in the southern part of Lancaster County, according to an Ephrata police news release.

Authorities say Shreiner had an on-again, off-again, relationship with Miller. According to police, when Shreiner did not leave his wife, Miller ended their relationship. 

Shreiner told police he bought a gun the day before he killed Miller, then ambushed her Wednesday morning, firing four shots. 

Shreiner was a pastor at The Lord’s House of Prayer, based in Lancaster, until about three years ago. A spokesperson at the church tells News 8 that Shreiner left the position due to a “moral crisis.” 

Police say Shreiner’s wife was aware of the affair and has cooperated with investigators.

Around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday Shreiner shot and killed Miller in the parking lot of her apartment complex, located along the 500 block of East Main Street.

“There were gunshots, several gunshots, a handful, maybe three or five,” said neighbor Nathan Hammond. “Then I pretty much just heard my mom say, ‘Oh my God, someone’s shot. There’s a body out back.”

Miller’s family called 911, but it was too late. She died at the scene.

For the next 10 hours police converged on the scene, collecting evidence and conducting interviews. Monday evening, a blood-marked car was towed from the scene.”