Work to start in summer on rebuilding Chicago church known as the birthplace of gospel music
CHICAGO (AP) _ The on-again, off-again reconstruction of a landmark Chicago church known as the birthplace of gospel music is on again.
Church leaders have announced work to rebuild the fire-ravaged Pilgrim Baptist Church will begin in earnest this summer.
A 2006 fire ignited by workers repairing the roof devastated the 120-year-old structure designed by famed architects Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan.
Officials announced a $37 million rebuilding plan in 2008, but nothing came of it. Pastor Tyrone Jordan says a first construction phase set for a 2012 finish will "prove to the world" the church will rebuild.
The four-phase project is expected to cost at least $30 million.
Mahalia Jackson, Sallie Martin, the Rev. James Cleveland, and the Staples Singers are among those who have sung at the church.
Iranian clerics urge Bahraini protesters to resist Saudi-aided government crackdown
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ A leading Iranian cleric on Wednesday urged protesters in the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain to "stand up and resist" a government crackdown that has been backed by hundreds of Saudi Arabian troops.
Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, speaking to clerics in the holy city of Qom, also demanded that Saudi Arabia withdraw its forces from Bahrain.
The unrest in 3Bahrain, which erupted in February, has played out against the region's deep rivalries between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. Protesters from Bahrain's Shiite majority have demanded that the kingdom's Sunni minority rulers grant them equal rights and a political voice.
Saudi Arabia, a largely Sunni nation, has rushed to the aid of Bahrain, while other Gulf countries have accused predominantly Shiite Iran of meddling in Bahrain's affairs by allegedly trying to stir Shiite unrest there.
Trial ordered for California priest charged with having sex with 12-year-old boy
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) _ A Southern California priest has been ordered to stand trial on felony charges he had sex with a 12-year-old boy.
A San Bernardino County judge ruled after a preliminary hearing on Tuesday that there was enough evidence to try the Rev. Alejandro Jose Castillo. He is charged with seven counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under age 14 and one count of forcible lewd and lascivious acts with a child under age 14.
The Riverside Press-Enterprise reports Castillo will be arraigned on April 28.
Prosecutors say he was pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Ontario when he molested the boy in late 2008 but has been removed.
Parishioners affiliated with the Coalition to Exonerate Fr. Alex raised $24,000 to bail Castillo out of jail.
British astrophysicist and black hole expert Martin Rees wins $1.6 million religion prize
LONDON (AP) _ A British astrophysicist known for his theories on the origin and the destiny of the universe has been honored with one of the world's leading religion prizes. Continued...