|Texas tradition sends
'Messiah' around the world
___By Mark Wingfield
___If your church plans to perform any or all of Handel's "Messiah" this Christmas, it's probably more because of a direct link to Fort Worth than London.
___For 78 years, students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth have been exposed to "Messiah" through annual performances, and that has spawned a worldwide interest among Baptists in the classic oratorio, according to Bill Reynolds, distinguished professor of church music at the seminary.
Chicago religious leaders
don't want SBC evangelism blitz
___CHICAGO (ABP)--Religious leaders in Chicago have asked Southern Baptists to back off plans to send 100,000 volunteers to evangelize in the city next summer, saying the effort could unintentionally incite religious hatred.
___The Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago wrote a letter asking Southern Baptist Convention President Paige Patterson to reconsider plans to make Chicago the first stop in a highly publicized initiative called Strategic Focus Cities.
___The council--a group of 40 top leaders of the area's Roman Catholic, Jewish, Anglican, Orthodox and Protestant communities--warned the effort could disrupt peaceful interfaith relations in the city and unwittingly provoke hate crimes by fomenting religious differences.
Supreme Court hears
arguments in parochiaid case
___In a wide-ranging, hour-long hearing Dec. 1, lawyers debated a 1998 decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down a 32-year-old federal law allowing public school systems to lend computers and other equipment to church-run private schools. The original suit was brought 14 years ago by a Baptist laywoman in Kenner, La., after she uncovered a web of state support for parochial schools in Jefferson Parish.
Poll shows more Americans
seek simplicity at Christmas
___TAKOMA PARK, Md. (RNS)--The vast majority of Americans feel the holidays have become too commercial, and 58 percent say they have tried to simplify their holiday celebrations, a new poll shows.
___The poll of 1,015 adults across the country was commissioned by the Center for a New American Dream, a non-profit organization based in Takoma Park, Md.
___It found 91 percent of Americans think the holidays are too commercialized and the idea of "peace on earth" has been forgotten by too many people.