Volunteers to Go to Russia

A mission team including volunteers who are blind, in wheelchairs or developmentally disabled is scheduled to leave Richmond on Tuesday to help repair an orphanage in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Sponsored by the Virginia branch of United Methodist Volunteers in Mission, the 24-member team will paint and repaper walls and repair toilets and broken doors over a 10-day period. They also will offer spiritual support to the 600 boys and girls--many of them bedridden--of Children's Home No. 4 of Povlovsk, on the city's outskirts.

Two of the mission volunteers are blind; two use wheelchairs; one has one leg; and three have Down's Syndrome. A building specialist, a nurse and teachers who specialize in disabilities also are on the team.

"Often persons with disabilities are left out of the church and its activities," the Rev. Samuel NeSmith, team coordinator and retired United Methodist clergyman, said in a statement. This effort includes them "in a ministry that has been so rewarding" for other mission groups, he said.

Last year, Virginia United Methodists sent more than 140 mission teams to locations in the United States and 14 other countries. The program involved nearly 2,500 volunteers and cost $800,000; the Russia mission will cost about $60,000.

-- Bill Broadway

Navy to Review Chapel Policy

Virginia's two senators have asked the Navy to review an order that some Roman Catholics in Chesapeake say discriminates against them.

Capt. R.W. Jerome, commander of a small naval security installation in Chesapeake, recently barred civilians from worshiping at the base chapel. He also limited the number of Catholic services at the chapel and revoked permission for the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization, to meet on base, where a chapter had been founded under his predecessor.

The chapel is outside the gates of the base, and local Catholics had considered it something like a parish. Many complained to Sens. John W. Warner (D) and Charles S. Robb (R) about the limits.

Warner and Robb have sent separate letters to Rear Adm. Norbert Ryan Jr. of the Pentagon's Legislative Affairs Office. A Navy representative said the legislative affairs office would respond but gave no timetable.

-- Associated Press