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One church loans members to help another

Though one of the Ten Commandments says, "Thou shalt not steal," God's Top 10 doesn't say anything about borrowing. Two Presbyterian congregations here have taken that to heart, instituting an unusual program that puts members of an established church on "loan" to a mission church as the smaller, struggling church seeks to rejuvenate itself in a crime-ridden area. But, ever wary of the potential for "sheep stealing," members of Faith Presbyterian Church who go on loan must sign an agreement promising they will return to their own flock at the end of the loan period. "We just want to borrow them for a while to build up our structure," said the Rev. Jay Seabrook, pastor of the mission church, Northminster Presbyterian. The Missions Partners Program is operated jointly by the two congregations and is endorsed by the North Alabama Presbytery, a regional jurisdiction of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Faith is located in a mostly white, upper middle class part of town; Northminster is struggling to survive in a mostly black neighborhood riddled with crime.

There are fewer nuns,

but they are happy

LOS ANGELES _ Fewer young women are becoming nuns in the United States but those who are sisters say they're happy with the path they've chosen, according to a newspaper poll published this week. Eighty-seven percent of nuns responding to the Los Angeles Times poll said they were satisfied with their lives, and 60 percent indicated their lives were better than they anticipated. An overwhelming majority of 88 percent said they would definitely or probably enter their professions if making the choice again. More than nine out of 10 nuns said it was unlikely they would ever abandon their vocation. The poll was conducted by mail and follow-up interviews from September 1992 through January. It has a margin of error of 4 percentage points. Only 3 percent of nuns surveyed in the United States and Puerto Rico were 40 or younger, the poll found. The median age of the 1,049 nuns surveyed was 65. In 1993, there were 94,022 nuns in the United States, compared to a peak of 181,421 in 1966. When nuns were asked to name the most important problems facing the church in the United States today, 22 percent mentioned the shortage of clergy and nuns. Sexism and a male-dominated clergy was the second-most common response, with 18 percent of respondents mentioning it.

Mormons change policy

on divorce, remarriage

SALT LAKE CITY _ Mormon leaders have changed a basic rule, deciding that divorced male members of the church as well as women must get special permission for a new temple marriage. The new policy, effective this week, was announced Sunday to all members in a statement read from Mormon pulpits. Previously, only women needed a "sealing cancellation" from the faith's governing First Presidency before remarrying in the temple. The change "speaks of the equality of men and women before the Lord. Both are subject to the same conditions," said Susan Howe, who teaches English at church-owned Brigham Young University. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints distinguishes between civil marriages, which are for life, and temple marriages or "sealings," which are considered binding for eternity. In the past, when temple-married couples divorced the man could remarry again at any time in the temple, without "canceling the sealing." According to Mormon doctrine, a man can be sealed to more than one woman in the hereafter. The church discontinued the earthly practice of polygamy in 1890.

Worker who balked at

witch photos wins case

A nursing home employee fired for refusing to hang up pictures of witches and spirits at Halloween can receive state unemployment benefits, according to an evangelical religious liberties group that represented her. Sheila Naghshpour of Pass Christian, Miss., initially was denied unemployment benefits based on claims that she was fired from Woodland Village Nursing Center for failing to perform the duties of her job. However, the state Employment Security Commission ruled in December _ and then upheld on appeal in January _ that Naghshpour was entitled to benefits. The period for further appeals has expired, according to attorneys for the Rutherford Institute of Charlottesville, Va., the group that represented Naghshpour.

Lutherans fund Philippine farm development project

NEW YORK _ An international Lutheran organization will pay for a three-year, $265,000 project to help develop a network for highland farmers in the southern Philippines. According to Lutheran World Relief, the network will bring together eight farm-based community organizations, four non-governmental development agencies and several Philippine government agencies. The project, based in the Davao del Norte Province on the island of Mindanao, will help 240 farm families acquire five-acre plots of government-owned land through 25-year "stewardship agreements." The agreements will be signed with the Philippine government's Department of Energy and Natural Resources. The project could help farmers increase food production by 10 percent over the next three years. Lutheran World Relief supports more than 150 long-term development projects around the world.

_ Compiled from Times news services