Joel’s back, the exorcist speaks, United Methodist giving down

Catching up with a few things:

tjndc5-5olhb0ef0dg4tug9as6_layout1. Televangelist/media sensation/inspirational speaker Joel Osteen returns to the area tomorrow (Friday, March 19), offering a “Night of Hope” at the Meadowlands arena. I just took a quick look for two tickets on Ticketmaster and there are some left — although the best available was the upper deck.

He’ll come closer to filling the place than the Nets.

2. If you are so inclined, the Times of London ran a story on the Vatican’s official exorcist.

FatherGabrieleAmorthFather Gabriele Amorth, 85, who has held the top devil-chasing post for 25 years, says he has dealt with some 70,000 cases.

He also blames sex-abuse scandals and other problems on the devil infiltrating the Vatican. He speaks of “cardinals who do not believe in Jesus, and bishops who are linked to the Demon.”

And if, like me, you’ve watched “The Exorcist” too many times, you’ll be interested to know that Amorth gives a thumbs up to the famous, 1973 film. It’s “exaggerated,” he says, but offers a “substantially exact” picture of demonic possession.

3. Want a pretty good sense of how the recession is affecting the day-to-day operations of a major denomination?

United Methodist churches contributed 84 percent of what the denomination budgeted to support worldwide ministries in 2009.

But the New York Conference was one of only 14 regional conferences (out of 63) that paid 100 percent of its budgeted contribution.

Reflections on one life lost

I wrote yesterday about the death of Methodist missionary Clinton Rabb of Hawthorne, who was initially thought to be a survivor of the earthquake after being pulled from the rubble.

bildeMy colleague Dwight Worley visited the home of Rabb’s family yesterday to talk about their loss and the man that Rabb was.

You should read what he wrote.

Rabb’s daughter, Claire Payne, told Dwight: “Instead of just trying to live a comfortable life, he would see suffering and try to fix it. All of us have tried to live by his example.”

Rabb spent 14 years serving the poor around the world with mission volunteers of the United Methodist Church.

Otherwise, Father Mike Mendl, spokesman for the Eastern Province of the Salesians of Don Bosco, which has a large presence in Haiti, sent me some reports about what’s going on there. The Eastern Province is based in New Rochelle.

Here’s one:

*****

Sr. Mathile Piard is a temporary professed sister in the community at Pétion-Ville, Haiti.  In a letter addressed to Mother General, in addition to thanking her for her closeness to all of the sisters of the Institute, she tells what she lived through last January 12:  “I was in the house when the earth began to quake.  I ran but I could not immediately get out.  My leg was wounded, as was an ear, and I fractured a finger.  I thank the Lord, who left me my life.  I thought I was going to die as I saw the ceiling falling on me while I way trying to run outside.  I was saved, thanks to two men who came to get me.  I ask the Lord to bless them.  The house of  Pétion-Ville collapsed; a part of the house dedicated to Mary Help of Christians saw the fall of the chapel and the school.  Now we are gathering the people in the parts that remained standing in all the houses.  There are many wounded and dead.  The country has nothing left…we lack everything.”

*****

And here’s another:

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The most tragic news is the death of the Salesian pupils. After a first estimate which was of over 200 youngsters buried under the ruins with some of their teachers, the latest figure has now been out at about 500. The crisis committee of the UN has confirmed a report from the National Police in Port-au-Prince and from the Central Headquarters of OCHA, who in spite of everything are continuing the search to try to find some survivors still alive.

*****

And, finally, this note from a Salesian priest:

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No more buildings in OPEPB, or in ENAM.  We lost all. We have to turn back to drawing board. We have to burry those students which died under the ruins and whose parents did not take the corpse away as well we have to care for those students and teachers who are injured; most of them need a surgery intervention. Many hospitals broke down too. The few that remained are full and have no room for receiving people. It is really a terrible and unimaginable situation. Somewhere, here, gangs and unconscious people are operating, somewhere, there, innocent persons are suffering waiting and asking for help.

Dear Jaime, thank you very much for thinking on us, and thanks to the Staff of Salesian Mission for every help they will give us. We are so depressed that we are not able to prepare some proposals in the moment. The most important help is medical assistance for injured students and teachers, food assistance for some employees and families of victims. We have to think carefully about how we can do it.

New trend: No church on Sunday

Over the last couple of years, more and more mainline Protestant churches have been promoting no-church Sundays.

The idea is to take church outside the church walls — and do some good in the larger community.

This Sunday (June 7), three United Methodist churches in the LoHud — the United Methodist Church of Mount Kisco, Yorktown United Methodist Church and Trinity-Boscobel United Methodist Church in Buchanan — are asking their people to stay away from the pews.

The Rev. Matthew T. Curry, pastor of the Mount Kisco church (that’s him doing a more traditional service), said: “We’re excited about how our congregation rallied to support this special weekend of service to our community when we did this last year.  We are especially excited to be partnering with the Yorktown and Buchanan congregations this year. Many of the people in our work parties are neighbors who don’t even attend our church, but see the value of what we are doing and want to help.  We invite everyone to join us.”

What will United Methodists be doing instead of praying and singing hymns? “Faith in Action Sunday” will provide a bunch of options: carpentry work, cooking, cleaning, calling on shut-ins, nursing home visits, painting, litter pick-up and yard work.

Anyone wanting to take part can meet at one of the three churches at 9:30 a.m.