Entries in Church (4)


Bavarian Village Constructs Church with Snow, Ice

ARMIN WEIGEL/AFP/Getty Images(MITTERFIRMIANSREUT, Germany) -- A Church built entirely of snow and ice had its grand opening in the Bavarian village of Mitterfirmiansreut Wednesday night.

Villagers built the church, which is made up of more than 49,000 cubic feet of snow, to commemorate the construction of a similar snow church in the village 100 years ago.

The church at Mitterfirmiansreut, dubbed God’s Igloo by one German newspaper, is more than 65 feet in length and also contains a tower.  It was initially planned to be open before Christmas, according to Spiegel International Online, but the construction was delayed by warm weather and a lack of snow.

Although worship services will be held at the church, the religious radio station, Münchner Kirchenradio, has reported that the Catholic bishop of Passau, Wilhelm Schraml, has ruled out any masses, baptisms or weddings from being held there for theological reasons.

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Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Costa Rica: American Students Drown, One Missing

Goodstock/Thinkstock(SAN JOSE, Costa Rica) -- Authorities searched for a missing Ohio student off the coast of Costa Rica on Thursday after two of his classmates drowned when they were caught in a violent riptide.

The three teens -- Caity Jones, James Smith and Kai Lamar -- are all high school students at Patriot Preparatory Academy, a Christian charter school in Columbus, Ohio. They, along with other classmates, were on a school-sponsored missionary trip and were swimming at a beach near the Pacific coast town of Parrita.

"From what I understand they were all out in the water, all eight kids and four adults. A rip tide grabbed five of them. The lifeguard rescued two of them. Caity washed up on shore yesterday and the boys have been missing," said Sandy Shoaf, the mother of James Smith.

The body of Jones, 17, was discovered Wednesday, and the body of Smith, 16, was found Thursday, said Jesus Escalona, spokesman for the Costa Rican Red Cross. When reached by phone, Smith's family was not aware that his body had been found and identified. The American Embassy had made them aware Thursday morning that a second body had been found but had not told them the identity of the body, Shoaf said.

"He's a great kid. He lived his life for Jesus from the minute he woke up in the morning until the minute he went to sleep at night. He wanted to be a youth pastor and he was in Costa Rica on his first mission trip," Shoaf said, fighting back tears.

Shoaf's husband and the family's pastor are en route to Costa Rica searching for answers about their son. All 12 of the people on the missionary trip were set to return Thursday night. They had been in Costa Rica for about a week, Shoaf said.

"They were going to orphanages and handing out toys and books and crayons to kids and helping build a church," she said.

Kai Lamar, 16, is the teen who is still missing.

Twenty-five Red Cross rescue workers are continuing the search, said Escalona, aided by two Costa Rican Coast Guard vessels and two police aircraft. The U.S. Coast Guard has pledged to support the search effort.

Drownings have long been a problem on Costa Rica's beaches, resulting from a lack of trained lifeguards. Some 47 people have drowned already this year, according to the Red Cross.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Controversial Fla. Pastor: Afghan UN Violence 'Proves My Point'

Mario Tama/Getty Images(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) -- Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who oversaw the burning of a Koran last month, tells ABC News that he does not feel responsible for the violent protest at a United Nations compound in Afghanistan on Friday that left at least 11 dead. Instead, he said the violence proved his point.

"We wanted to raise awareness of this dangerous religion and dangerous element," Jones said. "I think [the attack] proves that there is a radical element of Islam."

As for the 11 dead, which included seven U.N. staffers and guards, Jones told ABC News Nightline anchor Bill Weir, "We do not feel responsible, no."

The deaths followed a protest march in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Friday against the Koran burning that Jones supervised last month, while another pastor, Wayne Sapp, soaked the Koran in kerosene and burned it.

"We decided to put the Koran on trail," Jones said. "I was the judge but I did not determine the verdict. I was just a type of referee so that people got their time to defend or condemn the Koran."

Jones said that a "jury" of people from all over Florida debated the radicalism of Islam, and the "Koran was found guilty."

Police told ABC News the protest in Afghanistan started peacefully but took a violent turn after a radical leader told those gathered that multiple Korans had been burned. People angrily marched on the nearby U.N. compound, despite police who fired AK-47s into the air in hopes of subduing them.

Police eventually turned their weapons on the protesters, killing at least four, police said, before they were overtaken and had their guns stolen. Using the police weapons, the protesters killed four U.N. guards from Nepal and then three foreign workers in the U.N. building -- a Norwegian, a Romanian and a Swede.

Despite an onslaught of attention Jones got when he initially made his threat to burn the Muslim holy book in September 2010 -- including a personal plea from President Barack Obama -- the actual burning of the Koran last month went relatively unnoticed in western media.

President Obama condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms" in a statement.

Jones initially cancelled his plans for the book burning on the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks. The stunt, according to Jones, was a protest for the Muslim-backed community center that was to be built near the site of the September 11 attacks in New York.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


UPDATE: Toll Rises in Blast at Egyptian Coptic Christian Church

Photo Courtesy - STR/AFP/Getty Images(ALEXANDRIA, Egypt) -- At least 21 people have now been confirmed dead in a Friday car-bombing outside a Coptic Christian church in the north Egyptian city of Alexandria.  Many more people have been rushed to a hospital.  The people were emerging from a New Year's service when it happened. 

Security has also been put on high alert across churches in Alexandria after the blast, which devastated many citizens on Khalil Hamada Street, where the church stood.  Muslim and Copts continue to clash in the area. 

Christians from the Coptic Orthodox Church make up about 10 percent of Egypt's predominantly Muslim population.

Alexandria is Egypt's second-largest city with a population of about four million.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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