Local/national faith briefs

Agape to perform July 18 in Montevideo

Christian hip-hop singer and storyteller Agape will perform at 7 p.m. July 18 at Montevideo Fine Arts Center, 103 Canton Ave.

The free concert is sponsored by Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Montevideo.

VBS offered at Swan Lake

Swan Lake Free Church will have Vacation Bible School from 6-8:30 p.m. July 20-24 at the church in Cottonwood. VBS is for children ages 4 years old through sixth grade. The theme this year is “Weird Animals: Where Jesus’ Love is One-of-a-Kind.”

For more information, call 507-423-6697. Register at www.swanlakechurch.org.

Party in the Park Sunday at Liberty Park

A Party in the Park featuring Alan Greene of Lifelight will start at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at Liberty Park. This free community event will have music, the Whopper wagon, a bounce house and face painting. A free-will donation will be accepted for the Whopper wagon, with proceeds going to Most Excellent Way.

Soccer camp offered Aug. 3-6 at First Baptist

First Baptist Church of Marshall will host a soccer camp from 6:30-8 p.m. Aug. 3-6, at the church location. The program is intended for children K-6. Parents are welcome to stay and watch. Each evening will feature drills and games to improve your soccer skills, supervised by experienced volunteers. There will be also be snacks and a Bible-based “chalk talk” each night. For more information, visit firstbaptistmarshall.com/soccer/

House votes to reauthorize international religious freedom commission

WASHINGTON (AP) – The House has approved a five-year reauthorization of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

The independent government agency reports on violations of religious rights abroad and recommends actions the U.S. could take against countries that persecute or fail to prevent persecution of people of faith.

Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf said, “Without this commission, there would be nobody around to point out what is taking place to these groups.”

USCIRF commissioners are appointed by Congress and the White House.

The five-year reauthorization was approved by a voice vote in the House. New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith said he hopes the Senate will promptly agree to extend the life of the commission.

Dahlkemper: Faith-based letter ‘misinterpreted’

ERIE, Pa. (AP) – Former Democratic congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper says her decision to sign a letter asking President Barack Obama to create a religious exemption to a planned executive order about gay and lesbian hiring is being “misinterpreted.”

Dahlkemper, who represented northeastern Ohio in the U.S. House before losing her first re-election bid in 2010, was elected Erie County executive last year. She has been stung by criticism that she doesn’t support gay and lesbian rights since signing the letter, which was sent to the White House on July 1 and publicized the next day.

The letter was signed by faith-based leaders across the country, and urged the president to include a religious exemption when he signs a planned executive order banning any companies or agencies that contract with the government from discriminating against gays and lesbians in hiring.

The Erie Times-News reported that Dahlkemper viewed the letter as a compromise proposal that would protect gay rights without penalizing people with religious objections.

Hispanic evangelicals addressing immigration crisis

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – A Hispanic evangelical leader says most of the unaccompanied children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border would be better off with their parents and should be sent home.

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez said those without parents in the U.S. could fall victim to the same drug gangs in American cities that threaten their lives in Central America.

Rodriguez is president of NHCLC/Conela, which represents more than 40,000 Hispanic evangelical churches in the U.S. and 500,000 worldwide.

NHCLC/Conela plans to broadcast public service announcements in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala discouraging parents from sending their children on the dangerous trek to the U.S. border, and is urging Central American pastors to spread that message throughout their communities.

Rodriguez said that while NHCLC/Conela opposes illegal immigration, its churches are offering temporary shelter, food and clothing to children packed into U.S. detention facilities while their cases are processed.