Denomination Elects

First Female President

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has elected a female president -- the first female chief executive ever for the 770,000-member Protestant denomination.

The Rev. Sharon E. Watkins, senior pastor at Disciples Christian Church in Bartlesville, Okla., won overwhelming support Tuesday from the 3,000 delegates attending the denomination's General Assembly.

"Today is not about me," Watkins, 51, said after she was elected to a six-year term. "It's about all of us joining together and letting God work with us and through us."

The Disciples of Christ, based in Indianapolis, has its origins in an early 19th-century frontier movement to unify Christians.

"There have certainly been women bishops -- but I don't believe there's ever been another woman who's headed a mainline Protestant denomination," said Adair Lummis of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, who studies female clergy.

Watkins, a graduate of Phillips Theological Seminary and Yale Divinity School, succeeds the Rev. William Chris Hobgood.

GOP Offers Reward

To Bring Down Daley

CHICAGO -- Mayor Richard M. Daley (D) assailed the head of the Cook County Republican Party on Wednesday for offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to Daley's indictment and conviction.

The Daley administration has taken a hit lately as federal prosecutors have widened their investigation of City Hall to include its hiring practices. The mayor has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Daley called Cook County Republican Party Chairman Gary Skoien's reward idea "deeply offensive" and "completely over the top."

The reward follows last week's announcement by federal prosecutors that they had charged two City Hall officials with rigging the city's hiring system to flout a court order that bars City Hall from considering politics when filling jobs.

* FRESNO, Calif. -- Convicted child-killer and rapist Marcus Wesson was sentenced to death for murdering nine of his children and grandchildren in March 2004. Wesson will be sent to death row at San Quentin State Prison.

* LOS ANGELES -- A company of the California Army National Guard has been placed on restricted duty amid allegations that members of the unit mistreated detainees in Iraq, military officials said. Investigations are underway into the allegations of mistreatment by soldiers with the 1st Battalion of the 184th Infantry Regiment, said Col. David Baldwin, a Guard spokesman.

* SAN FRANCISCO -- The California Supreme Court agreed to review the murder conviction of a San Francisco lawyer whose dogs fatally mauled a neighbor in an apartment building hallway in 2001. The court agreed to review an appeals court ruling that reinstated Marjorie Knoller's second-degree murder conviction.

* MONGAUP VALLEY, N.Y. -- A car crossed the center line of a rural highway and collided with a dump truck, killing six people, authorities said. The dead, all occupants of the car, ranged in age from 7 to 25 and apparently were staying at a camp in nearby Fallsburg.

-- From News Services