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FAITH FOCUS INVITATION TO AREA PASTORS

Rep. Fran Bradley (R-Rochester) is inviting area clergy to serve as guest chaplains at the Minnesota House of Representatives during the 2005 legislative session.

The clergy would be involved in offering a brief prayer after the House is called to order on a session day.

Bradley said he has invited some local clergy to serve as guest chaplains in the past but decided to extend a broader invitation this year in an effort to give Rochester more representation in guest chaplain prayer leadership.

Interested clergy can contact either Bradley or Assistant Chief Clerk Gail Romanowski at the State Capitol. Bradley said the ultimate decisions about who serves as guest chaplains are made by the chief clerk's office and the head chaplain but said that it's possible invitations are extended on more or less of a first-come, first-served basis.

EVENSONG

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Candlemas Evensong, a pre-Lenten candlelight musical service, will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday at St. Luke's Episcopal Church.

Based on the two medieval daily services of Vespers and Compline, Evensong has been sung in the Anglican Church since the 16th century.

The service will be followed by a high tea featuring sherry tea, scones and other treats made by church members. A free-will offering will be accepted to help with tea expenses. St. Luke's is at 1884 22nd St. N.W.

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE

KASSON -- The vocal trio Hope's Crossing will perform at 7 p.m. Feb. 5 at First Baptist Church.

The group mixes Southern Gospel with contemporary and traditional favorites during its performances.

A free-will offering will be accepted. For more information, call (507) 634-7888. First Baptist is at 304 Fourth St. N.W.

AUSTRIANS LEAVING CATHOLIC CHURCH

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VIENNA, Austria -- Austrians are leaving the Roman Catholic Church in record numbers, according to statistics released this month.

Church officials attributed the 44,852 dropouts during 2004 to a scandal involving the discovery of child and other pornography on computers at a seminary in the diocese of St. Poelten, the Austria Press Agency reported.

The number is expected to rise further, since the St. Poelten Diocese has yet to report its 2004 statistics. The seminary where the pornography was found was shut down in August and a new bishop was installed in November.

The previous record loss of 44,300 parishioners occurred in 1995 when accusations surfaced that the late Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer molested youths at a monastery in the 1970s. Since then, the Austrian church has lost almost half a million members, APA reported.

The bell tolls 14 times each night around 9 p.m. if volunteers are available, though Brace said the bells sometimes ring as many as 75 times.

News items for Faith Focus are due by Tuesday prior to the Saturday publication. You may e-mail information to lifestyle@postbulletin.com or mail to Faith Focus, Lifestyle section, 18 First Ave. S.E., Rochester MN 55904.

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