The stories that made news in 2007
A panel of 38 people — including four Chronicle editors, five of the newspaper’s national trustees and readers from 17 states — ranked the top 10 news stories of 2007.
In close balloting, the top three stories all received nine No. 1 votes from our panelists. A variety of stories split the other top votes.
The final results:
• 10. ‘Post-Christian’ no more? Churches rethink Europe
Many Europeans have a renewed interest in spirituality, church members across the continent told the Chronicle. Some congregations — especially in immigrant communities — are growing, and American churches are sending new mission teams.
• 9. Lift every voice and sing
The four-day Ascending Voice symposium — touted by organizers as the first-ever international gathering focused on the study, celebration and performance of a cappella worship music — drew an estimated 400 to 500 scholars, theologians, musicologists and singers to Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.
• 8. Massacre challenges young campus minister
When Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and wounded more before committing suicide in the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history, Seth Terrell suddenly found himself faced with the biggest ministry challenge of his young career. The 21-year-old campus minister at the Blacksburg,Va., church was just a few months into his first full-time ministry job when the Virginia Tech massacre occurred.
• 7. Church planting: the best hope to reach more people with the gospel in the U.S.?
From presentations at Christian college lectureships to specialized workshops across the nation, the concept of church planting has created a buzz. However, domestic church planting among Churches of Christ remains in the infant stage, experts told the Chronicle.
• 6. California churches respond with precision to all-too-common fires
After wildfires destroyed 1,400 homes and burned more than 500,000 acres in Southern California, volunteers from churches all over the state launch a massive relief effort. Pepperdine University in Malibu was spared major damage, but students and faculty members were affected.
• 5. Rich in spirit, poor in funds for retirement
Many Church of Christ preachers across the nation envision anything but comfortable, carefree lives after the pulpit — at least this side of heaven. A study by sociologist and church member James Knapp cited low pay, little savings and church-owned homes as factors contributing to ministers’ bleak financial outlooks.
• 4. Fred Thompson’s church roots draw interest
The Republican presidential candidate grew up in the Church of Christ and was baptized as a boy at the First Street church in Lawrenceburg, Tenn. Thompson told reporters he got his values from his parents and “the good Church of Christ.” But he said he does not belong to a church or attend church regularly at his home in McLean, Va., just outside Washington.
• 3. Jury finds Mary Winkler guilty of involuntary manslaughter
A jury found Mary Winkler guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the 2006 shooting death of her husband, Matthew, minister of the Fourth Street church in Selmer, Tenn. After sentencing, she served a week in jail, spent two months in a mental health facility and was freed on parole. Her three daughters remained in the custody of her slain husband’s parents, who fought her attempt to gain visitation rights.
• 2. Population outpaces church
America as a whole grew at a rate 20 times faster than the church over the last quarter-century. Overall membership jumped about 1.6 percent since 1980, hitting 1,265,844, according to the 2006 edition of Churches of Christ in the United States.
• 1. Nation’s largest church adding instrumental service
The Richland Hills church in Texas, the largest of the nation’s 13,000 a cappella Churches of Christ, added an instrumental worship assembly with communion on Saturday nights. The decision sparked reactions in congregations, on Internet blogs and in doctrinal publications. Defenders of a cappella singing preached sermons and launched petition drives. A few congregations supportive of Richland Hills’ action launched instrumental services of their own.