17 November, 2021

Gunman Accepts Plea Deal (Plus News Briefs)

by | 20 October, 2021 | 0 comments

A gunman who shot his estranged wife and killed her male acquaintance at a Carthage, Mo., motel the morning of Aug. 1, 2020, before being arrested the next day—a Sunday morning—at First Christian Church in Lamar, Mo., has pleaded guilty to two felonies under a plea agreement.

Lane Stephens, 30, was sentenced to life in prison with a chance of parole after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Don Pierce, 43, on Monday, the Joplin Globe reported. He also pleaded guilty to robbery and was sentenced to a concurrent 10-year term by a Jasper County Circuit Court judge.

Stephens had been charged with eight felonies—including first-degree murder—and was set to go to trial next week. Under the agreement, six felony charges were dropped.

In addition to shooting and killing Pierce, police say Lane Stephens also shot his wife, Toni Stephens, 25, twice in her legs. After shooting the victims, Lane Stephens hijacked two vehicles and eluded police before being apprehended in Lamar, about 25 miles away.

Three members of First Christian Church—Lendon J. Blanchard, Evan G. Clements, and Christopher A. Runion—were awarded Missouri public safety medals earlier this year for helping Lamar police officer John Simpson arrest Lane Stephens. (See our original article.)

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News Briefs

Montgomery (Ala.) City Council recently voted to change the name of East and West Jeff Davis Avenue to honor 90-year-old civil rights lawyer Fred Gray, who served as an attorney for Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, among others, the Christian Chronicle reported. Gray—who studied under legendary preacher Marshall Keeble—also has served as a Church of Christ preacher and longtime elder. Publisher Jerry Harris interviewed Gray for a cover story a few years ago.

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First Christian Church of Johnson City, Tenn., will celebrate her 150th anniversary with events Oct. 30 and Nov. 13-14. A Fall Festival & History Day (“costumes optional, candy guaranteed!”) is set for 4 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 30. A Gratitude Banquet (registration required) will take place at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 13. And a combined worship service (“celebrate 150 years of ministry, mission, and worship”) is planned for 10:30 a.m. Nov. 14 at Freedom Hall.

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Waypoint Church Partners drops a new podcast every two or three weeks. The most recent podcast—episode 19 titled “Prescriptions and Warnings for Leaders of the Church”—features Cam Huxford, senior pastor of Compassion Christian Church in Savannah, Ga. Access the podcast interviews here.

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A Pew Research Center poll found that “a growing share of Americans are now attending religious services in person.” A clear majority (64 percent) of churchgoers who attend once or twice per month say they have attended church in person during the past month. The survey also found that online worship attendance is declining.

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The National Council of Churches has elected an all-female slate of officers for the first time in its 71-year history. Among those four officers is Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens, general minister and president, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), who is treasurer.

The NCC’s governing board also voted to approve the New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition Bible. According to Religion News Service, the update comes “after a four-year effort to bring the widely used translation in line with the biblical scholarship.” The NRSV was first published more than 30 years ago.

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News Briefs for Nov. 17

Five Christian churches came together Friday to serve more than 700 meals to healthcare workers at Baptist Health Corbin, a 273-bed hospital in Corbin, Ky. Plus briefs about Boulevard Christian Church, Essex, Md.; Community Christian Church in Downers Grove, Ill.; Central Christian College of the Bible; and more.

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