First of a series of memorial services for victims of Wash. mudslide is held

The first funerals are held for victims of the mudslide that hit the town of Oso in Washington state. (Reuters)
April 5
WASHINGTON
Victims of mudslide are remembered

Mourners gathered Saturday to remember the people killed in Washington state’s mudslide. It was the first of a series of memorial services for the more than two dozen who died, even as the search continues for more victims.

A funeral for school custodian Summer Raffo, 36, was held in Arlington, a town a few miles from the site where a torrent of mud swept her car off Highway 530 on March 22. Her brother later pulled her body from the vehicle.

Another service was held in nearby Darrington for retired librarian Linda McPherson, 69, who was found dead in the debris of her home. Her husband survived when the mudslide engulfed the dwelling along with about three dozen other properties on the outskirts of the community of Oso, which lies in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains northeast of Seattle.

“She was a sweet, mellow, gentle woman,” said Peter Selvig, who served on the Darrington School Board with McPherson.

In all, three individual memorial services were held Saturday, and a service for four victims was scheduled for Sunday.

So far, 30 people have been confirmed dead by the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s office, and recovery crews were searching for 13 people, according to county officials.

The medical examiner, Jane Jorgensen, told Reuters via e-mail that her staff was working over the weekend at the site of the slide and in the office identifying more victims, but they will not provide any official updates until Monday.

— Reuters

UTAH
Same-sex marriage opposition reiterated

A top Mormon leader reiterated the church’s opposition to gay marriage Saturday during the church’s biannual general conference.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ stance on homosexuality has softened in recent years, but this marks the second consecutive conference in which leaders took time to emphasize the faith’s insistence that marriage should be limited to unions between a man and a woman, as God created.

“While many governments and well-meaning individuals have redefined marriage, the Lord has not,” said Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve. “He designated the purpose of marriage to go far beyond the personal satisfaction and fulfillment of adults, to more importantly, advancing the ideal setting for children to be born, reared and nurtured.”

In the October 2013 church conference, Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum said human laws cannot “make moral what God has declared immoral.”


What made the mountain move

The church sent a letter to local leaders that includes that message, Andersen said Saturday. “As the world slips away from the Lord’s law of chastity, we do not,” he said.

— Associated Press

GEORGIA
Atlanta archbishop will sell mansion

Trying to appease angry parishioners, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Atlanta said Saturday that he will sell a $2.2 million mansion just three months after he moved in.

Archbishop Wilton Gregory announced the decision after a closed-door meeting with members of several church councils at his headquarters north of Atlanta. He publicly apologized Monday for building the Tudor-style residence and will move out in early May.

“I have decided to sell the Habersham property and invest the proceeds from that sale into the needs of the Catholic community,” Gregory told the Associated Press after the meeting. He declined to take questions.

Gregory sold his previous home to Christ the King Cathedral, which plans to expand it and house its priests there. The archbishop said last week that if the church sold the new mansion, he would seek to live in a setting more modest than his current or previous home.

A group of Catholics in Gregory’s archdiocese had asked since January that he sell the nearly 6,400-square-foot mansion in keeping with the tone of austerity set by Pope Francis. Elected last year, Francis said he wants a church for the poor, drives in an economy car and lives in a guest house instead of a Vatican palace. He has denounced the “idolatry of money” and warned against “insidious worldliness” within the church.

— Associated Press

Dahmer’s former house on sale again in Ohio: The house where serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer grew up and committed his first murder is for sale again in northern Ohio. Situated on a private wooded lot in a wealthy neighborhood near Akron, the three-bedroom home is priced at $295,000. The home was first listed two years ago before it was pulled off the market. Realtor Rich Lubinski said it failed to sell then because of the depressed housing market and the house’s notorious past. “If you can get past that little problem, you’ll have a wonderful place to live,” said Chris Butler, the home’s current owner. He bought the house in 2005, well aware of its history. He said he was drawn to the house by its 1950s style and wooded lot.

— Associated Press

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