Charlotte churches are trying to make the best of sharing city streets and parking lots with Carolina Panther fans.
First Baptist Church plans to add an informal 8 a.m., come-as-you-are worship service designed to attract fans of the National Football League team. And St. Peter Catholic Church will sell hot dogs to the hordes headed past its sanctuary on four Sundays starting Sept. 1. The church is calling its new outreach "The St. Peter's Pregame Garden of Eaten," with 75 percent of the proceeds going to help feed the poor.
The Panthers are expected to draw 73,000 fans and 25,000 cars each time they play at Ericsson Stadium.
Some of the dozen or so downtown congregations are concerned about parking and traffic. With churches generally letting out at noon and seven Sunday games starting at 1 p.m., the two crowds are likely to be on the streets at the same time.
Besides adding an 8 a.m. service, First Baptist has figured out another way to reach Panthers fans with something slightly more tangible than inspiration: The church may sell some of its parking spaces and give the money to missions.
"We're seeing the Panthers as an opportunity," minister of students Jim Cashwell said.
Church widens duties
for female ministers
LOUISVILLE, Ky. _ The 89th General Assembly of the Church of God of Prophecy has approved expanded duties for female ministers and pastors.
While the church had previously recognized female pastors, their authority to perform certain ministerial functions had been limited.
The membership voted this month to allow female pastors to perform marriages, administer Communion, baptize converts and administer the covenant for new membership.
Women also were given full and equal voice in local and general business conference. Previously, only the male membership had an official voice in the various business sessions of the church.
The membership did not approve, however, a female minister's authority to serve as an ordained elder.
Job placement firm
recruiting at churches
PONTIAC, Mich. _ They already had the faith. Now, thanks to their churches and an international job placement company, more than 40 residents have a paycheck, too.
Manpower, a Milwaukee-based company that places full- and part-time employees with clients, including the Big Three automakers, began recruiting in local churches early this year.
With unemployment at an all-time low, companies like Manpower "are trying new and creative ways to come up with qualified candidates," said Robin Whitfield, Manpower area manager.
Added Alice Tomlinson, project coordinator for the recruiting program, "Where better than in a church where people want to do right and well?"
The churches also benefit financially, receiving $100 from Manpower for each member who gets a job.
For Liberty Memorial Church of God in Christ _ which has about 20 members placed through Manpower _ those payments are helping finance an addition, the Rev. Walter Bushell said.
"So many people come up to me all the time and say, "Pastor, can you help me find a job?'
" he said. "The program is just terrific."