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Rural churches running out of space

(ran W S editions of CTI)

Churches of all types in this small central Michigan town have seen such explosive growth that many are in dire need of bigger buildings. At least six churches are either considering major expansions to their existing facilities or are already well into the construction and moving process. "There's been a resurgence of spirituality," said the Rev. James Foster of St. Paul Lutheran Church, which is filled to capacity every Sunday. "There's a yearning there. People are looking for a way to meet their God." Religious leaders around the state say other rural areas are experiencing the same thing. Michael Diebold, a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Lansing, attributed the growth to a pendulum swing away from the 1980s "decade of greed." He believes more people are looking to fill spiritual holes in their lives.

Church cancels

pig wrestling

STEPHENSVILLE, Wis. _ City folks upset by the squealing have forced the cancellation of pig wrestling at this summer's annual St. Patrick Catholic Church Roundup, a parishioner says. "Some city folks come out here and see the contest and don't understand," Diane Hofacker said. "The city folks hear the pigs squealing a lot, but they squeal anyway. Pigs love mud." The contest in which people chase the pigs in a muddy ring and put them on top of barrels generated an annual profit of $700 to $800 for the parish, she said. The competition lasts about a minute and volunteer firemen hose down the participants. "Seventy-five percent of the people don't even catch the pig," Hofacker said. But Outagamie County Sheriff's Sgt. Gene Sipple, who reviewed a videotape of the 1993 event made by animal rights activists, said the pigs weren't being "handled or utilized in an appropriate fashion." "No one in the videotape was smiling," Sipple said. The church had planned to hold its 26th annual pig wrestling competition at the Aug. 12-13 picnic.