Courtesy David Meredith(CINCINNATI) — An openly-gay Methodist minister is waiting to learn his fate from a board of church leaders who may ultimately send his case to a church trial that could strip him of his ministry for marrying his longtime partner.The United Methodist Church’s North Central Jurisdictional Committee on Appeals met Friday as part of an ongoing process to determine whether the Rev. David Meredith will be disciplined, possibly even be defrocked, for marrying his partner while serving as a Methodist minister.Meredith has led the congregation at Clifton United Methodist Church in Cincinnati as an openly gay man since 2012. The Methodist Church pledged to welcome “all persons, regardless of sexual orientation” more than a decade earlier. Despite that pledge, the church’s “Book of Discipline,” a document that is revised every four years to reflect current realities in society still bans gay people from serving as ministers, Meredith told ABC News. The book was last revised in 2016, just days before Meredith married his longtime partner Jim Schlachter, he said.Meredith’s sexual orientation had always been a non-issue, he said, but shortly after his wedding, 10 members of the Methodist Church in the Cincinnati area sent letters to Bishop Gregory Vaughn Palmer of the Ohio West Area of the United Methodist Church, challenging Meredith’s fitness to be a pastor. None of those church members actually belonged to Meredith’s congregation, Meredith said.The congregants cited that section of the “Book of Discipline” that says “homosexuals” cannot serve as ministers. The section reads, “Self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers or appointed to serve in the United Methodist Church.”Meredith and his counsel (effectively his attorney for church proceedings) the Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey explained, Meredith had always been “self-avowed,” living as an openly gay man. But prior to his marriage, the church could not prove he “practiced” his homosexuality.In October 2017, the Committee on Investigation for the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church found Meredith disobeyed church law, but dismissed two of the most serious violations Meredith faced, including charges that he lived an “immoral lifestyle” and that he couldn’t be ordained as a minister, but the Counsel for the Church — effectively the Methodist Church’s prosecutor — appealed that decision, Meredith’s spokesman Nick Federinko explained.The appeal was heard Friday in Indianapolis by the Committee on Appeals for the church. The committee now has up to 20 days to decide whether the Committee on Investigation made the right decision and Meredith should only be found to have disobeyed church law or whether the Committee should take another look at the more serious charges, including ones that could possibly result in Meredith being defrocked.“They can take my credentials, but they cannot take away that I am called by God,” Meredith said. “It would break my heart, but it doesn’t change the reality.”Palmer’s office said he will issue a statement once the Committee on Appeals decides whether they will honor the decision made that Meredith simply disobeyed the church or send his case back for another look — one that could lead to a church trial and the possibility Meredith could be defrocked.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
ABC News(PARKLAND, Fla.) — Some students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School say their emotional and physical wounds remain raw a month after a shooting spree left 17 dead on their campus. “I can’t believe it’s been one month. It just … it seems like it was just yesterday,” 14-year-old freshman Brooke Harrison told ABC News’ “Nightline” in an interview to be aired tonight.She said the horror of witnessing three classmates — including close friend Alaina Petty, 14 — getting gunned down in front of her remains at the forefront of her mind and that just the rattle of a doorknob can prompt flashbacks of the gunman’s firing into her classroom. She said she and her classmates were in the classroom the gunman targeted.“We were the warning shot for everyone else. But we didn’t get a warning shot,” Brooke said.Brooke said she and her classmates share an experience that once seemed unfathomable in Parkland, Florida, one that even adults in their 80s haven’t endured.“We’re 14 through 18 and we’re experiencing it. It’s just … it’s unimaginable that we’re so young; we’ve gone through this traumatic experience,” she said. “So, I think any response, anyway anyone wants to handle it, is perfectly normal and they should be taking everything at their own pace.”Brooke and her Stoneman Douglas classmates walked out of class at 10 a.m. today and congregated on the school football field for 17 minutes of silence to remember those killed in the Feb. 14 massacre. They were not alone, as thousands of students across the nation and the world plan to join them in similar events at their schools. “As a Douglas student, I feel like if people from different countries, different continents are showing their support, that it would just be wrong if people from Douglas didn’t,” Brooke said.Parents also flocked to the Parkland school, many yelling, “We’re with you” and chanting “MSD” as the students walked onto the football field, some wearing Marjory Stoneman Douglas T-shirts.“I’m walking out for Alaina,” Brooke said. “I’m walking out so that no one has to see their friend die in front of them. I’m walking out so that no one has to see what I saw.”Gloria DeJesus, whose son, Francisco, attends the school, said she was compelled to be on hand for the walkout to support the students.“It’s been very emotional for all of us and it’s part of our healing,” she told ABC News.Stoneman Douglas student Colton Haab said it was inspiring to see so many of his classmates and students around the globe participating in the walkout.“I believe that almost every single student who attends my school is out on the football field right now,” Colton told ABC News. “I hope that we can definitely make schools safer, that we can make gun laws more strict. I just hope we can make a difference and, hopefully, this will be our last school shooting.”Following the moment of silence, many of the Parkland students left the football field and walked to a nearby park to continuing honoring those killed and to show each other support. While the classroom walkout was only scheduled to last 17 minutes, students in Parkland at more than 3,000 events across the country continued the demonstration long after.In the 28 days since former Stoneman Douglas student Nikolas Cruz allegedly went on a rampage with an AR-15 assault rifle, the world has changed for the students and nation. The students led the charge to get lawmakers to put new restrictions on guns and convinced President Donald Trump to explore a similar course of action.Prosecutors Tuesday said they will seek the death penalty against Cruz, 19.But even the ultimate punishment for the suspect will likely not make the memories that student Dylan Kraemer has of the shooting any less palpable.“I heard gunshots. It was the first thing — in the hallway. It was really loud and echoed,” Dylan recalled in an interview with “Nightline.”He was in room 1214 of the freshman building when the gunman stormed the hallways, shooting people at random and firing indiscriminately through the rectangular windows of locked classroom doors.“And then I saw the shooter through the little window in the door … I was looking to the side, then I could see him point his gun at me and shoot into my classroom and then I saw two of my friends die and three others get shot… I was thinking that I was going to die, pretty much.” Since the shooting, Brooke said, she keeps thinking of the classmate who was shot multiple times and how she crawled from under her desk across broken glass to apply pressure to his wounds and keep him calm. He survived. “I remember seeing him in such agonizing pain,” she said, adding that the cries and screams of the classmates around her at that terrifying moment continue to echo in her head.While more police have been placed at her school to guard students, Brooke lamented, “I think, personally, I’m never going to feel 100 percent safe.”The FBI took the blood-spattered shoes and sweater she wore the day of the shooting, she said, but she still has her backpack, now with a bullet hole in it.“I couldn’t believe how lucky I was, that my backpack took a bullet and, thank God, I didn’t,” she said. “Now, that’s going to be forever with me, and that’s forever going to be a memory that happened.”Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
iStock/Thinkstock(MALIBU, Calif.) — A mudslide in Malibu, California, Thursday morning closed down a road, potentially for several more days.Storms also brought as much as 16 inches of snow to the Sierra Nevada Mountains over the last 24 hours.Snow and high-wind alerts have been issued in 18 states from California all the way to West Virginia.With two storm systems looming, the first of those Friday morning is stretching all the way from the Gulf Coast to the Upper Plains, bringing showers and thunderstorms to the south and more heavy snow in the north.By Friday afternoon and evening, showers and severe storms are expected from Missouri to Louisiana. Some of the rainstorms may contain damaging winds and isolated tornadoes are possible.By Saturday, that storm system will weaken but still bring mixed precipitation from Illinois to West Virginia. The Southeast may see some stronger storms as well.A second storm moving out slowly from the Rockies may bring severe weather to the central and southern U.S. on Monday. That could mean more snow for the northern Plains.That system on Tuesday will be moving east and develop into a coastal storm, bringing showers and snow to the mid-Atlantic region and Northeast.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
ABC News(WILMINGTON, N.C.) — Many health care facilities have been evacuated along the southeastern U.S. coast, as Hurricane Florence threatens the region.But at the Davis Community assisted living facility in Wilmington, North Carolina, they’re sheltering in place.“Those people who are critical care … it would be difficult for us to move them hours away,” CEO Charles Long said. “We may get stuck on the bus, in traffic, and it would be very difficult to care for them.“That’s why we have made the decision to enhance our emergency services on site, stay on site, re-evaluate after the storm and then leave if we need to.”There are close to 600 people taking shelter at the Davis Community, including patients, staff and their families, as well as any family pets, Long said.Diresha Rush, a clinical coordinator and licensed practical nurse at the facility, said that it’s her job to take care of her patients, regardless of the weather.“These people’s loved ones are counting on me to be here and take care of their loved ones through this, and to make sure they’re safe and [that they] make it out of this,” she said.Rush, who is staying at the home with family, said she brought 10 days’ worth of clothes, and that her real concern isn’t at the nursing home but rather for her own home, which is prone to flooding.“We’ll have to see what is left at home once this is all over,” she said.The campus, which holds a mix of assisted living, skilled nursing and rehab facilities, is doubling as a shelter for other facilities to weather the storm, too. And they are prepared, Long, the CEO, said.“We’re required to have food in an emergency for 72 hours, but we go beyond that here, so we have more than that,” he said.Inside the campus’ main storeroom, Long points out cereal, canned goods, different items for baking and other nonperishable items, such as granola bars and soda. Perishable items are in the freezer.As for drinking water, there’s enough of an emergency supply for each person to have one gallon a day, Long said. And if they lose access to the county’s water supply, they have a water tower with non-potable water onsite.Meanwhile, the emergency generator is prepped and ready. “We would not even know when the power goes out because we have an emergency generator [that starts] within three seconds,” he said.The Davis Community is fortified to withstand hurricane-strong winds. There are hurricane shutters on the windows to protect the glass, and the building is a single-story brick facility reinforced with cement and anchored down.“We’re not as worried about [the] structure as people with regular homes,” Long, who has worked at the facility for 30 years, said.“The last major hurricane was Fran [in 1996], and last time I was here working for several days … and someone got a call into me, and said, ‘There’s a tree on your house.’ … As I turned down my street, my house was up in the trees a little, and there were all these people and news crew there, and I was like, ‘Oh, no, this cannot be good.“When I got there, I saw that a tree had gone through my house and split it in half, with a limb sticking right through my mattress and in my bed, so I truly was in the best place, and that was here. … If I’d been laying in the bed, it would have gotten me.”Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
ABC News(HOUSTON) — The hurricane season in the eastern Pacific Ocean officially is the most active since 1971. Hurricane Willa, now a Category 4 with winds reaching 155 mph this morning, is nearly a Category 5, which has winds of at least 157 mph.Major resorts in Mexico are under a tropical storm warning, although it appears the worst of the hurricane might miss major resort areas including Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. The hurricane is expected to hit Mexico’s Pacific coast as at least a Category 3, potentially creating life-threatening storm surge and flash floods farther inland. Some regions could see up to 2 feet of rain.The storm is expected to weaken after passing over the Sierra Madre mountains, after which the remnants of Willa likely will bring significant rainfall to Texas. Some portions of southern and central Texas could see as much as 4 inches of rain this week. Heavy rain also is possible in Louisiana and Mississippi.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
ABC News (PITTSBURGH) — The rabbi of the Pittsburgh synagogue where 11 worshipers were gunned down Saturday said the massacre was not just an attack on the Jewish community.“It was an attack on America,” Rabbi Jeffrey Meyers of the Tree of Life synagogue said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
Lindsey Jacobson/ABC News(DELPHI, Ind.) — The unknown suspect in the mysterious murder of two Delphi eighth-graders may live in the small Indiana town, police said Monday, as new information about the killer was released.The male suspect is believed to currently or previously live in Delphi, work in town or visit on a regular basis, Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter said at a news conference.He’s believed to be between 18 and 40 years old, Carter said, but may appear younger than his age.Carter said the person seen in this image could be the girls’ killer.‘We believe you are hiding in plain sight,” Carter said at the news conference, and even “may be in this room.”“We likely have interviewed you or someone close to you,” he said.Abby Williams, 13, and Libby German, 14, were enjoying a day off from school on Feb. 13, 2017, when they vanished on a hiking trail near their small town of Delphi.Their bodies were found the next day near the trail. Police have not released details of how the girls died.Over two years after the double murder shocked the small community, Indiana State Police on Monday released that new sketch of the suspect, as well as new audio and video evidence.The never-before-seen video recovered from Libby’s phone shows the suspect walking on the bridge near where the girls were last seen.“When you see the video, watch the person’s mannerisms as they walk,” Carter said Monday. “Do you recognize the mannerisms as being someone you might know?”Authorities in 2017 released a grainy image of someone seen on the trail the day the girls went missing along with a chilling recording found on Libby’s phone with just three words heard: “Down the hill.”On Monday, police released additional portions of the audio recording from Libby’s phone.While it is hard to decipher what is said in the clip, Carter said, “The person talking … is the person on the bridge with the girls… please listen to it very, very carefully.”Carter vowed to find the killer.“You brutally murdered two little girls, two children. Only a coward would do such a thing,” he said.“We will not stop,” he said.Anyone with information is asked to contact [email protected] © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
felixmizioznikov/iStock(NEW YORK) — A team of hundreds of divers has beaten the Guinness World Record for the largest underwater cleanup worldwide off a South Florida beach over the weekend.Arilton Pavan, owner of diving store Dixie Divers in Deerfield Beach, Florida, has been organizing an annual cleanup for the past 15 years to obtain the lead weights used by fishermen off the city’s pier, he told ABC News.This year, Pavan decided to raise the stakes, aiming for a Guinness World Record to entice divers far and wide to attend the event. The rules dictated that each person had to be a certified diver in full scuba gear and had to spend more than 15 minutes underwater looking for trash, Pavan said. Participants also had to sign a liability release before entering the water, Pavan said.Guinness World Record Judge Michael Empric, who personally counted each diver as he or she went into the water, announced Saturday that 633 people participated in the underwater event. The previous record-holding underwater cleanup was in Egypt, where 614 divers took part in 2015, Empric said, before handing Pavan the plaque acknowledging the new record.In just three hours, divers plucked more than 1,200 pounds of lead fishing weights from the bottom of the ocean floor, Pavan said.Pavan said the event brought diving enthusiasts from all over the country to his small town, where he has owned and operated his shop for more than 22 years. Not only did the quest bring a sense of community and comradery to the group, but it also boosted the local economy by filling up hotel rooms and restaurants, Pavan said.About 80 snorkelers and 150 beach volunteers also participated — all united with a single goal of helping the environment, he said.“I think everybody was happy,” said Pavan. “There was a sense of friendship, helping each other.”While the volunteers didn’t find much plastic garbage during the cleanup, Pavan said the number one item he sees littering the coral reefs when he takes people out on dives are plastic shopping bags.The marine enthusiast said he is “slowly” trying to educate the community to be more conscious and more aware of conservaton.In the future, Pavan said he hopes to organize multiple cleanup events throughout the year.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
iStock(DETROIT) — As the Detroit family of a recently killed aspiring nurse gathered to say their final goodbyes on Nov. 10, they received another piece of devastating news.“That Monday, she was going to tell us that she was pregnant,” Qiana Arnold, one of KaBria Arnold’s sisters, told ABC News on Wednesday.While it’s unclear how far along 20-year-old KaBria Arnold was in her pregnancy, she disclosed to another sibling that she wanted to have an intimate gender reveal at their Rosedale Park, Michigan, home.Detroit Police Department Chief James Craig announced on Tuesday at a press conference that a 28-year-old man and 24-year-old woman were taken into custody in connection to KaBria Arnold’s murder.The Wayne County Community College nursing student was found dead Nov. 10 on Detroit’s West Side.Craig said police believe KaBria Arnold’s murder is connected to a domestic issue and the man is the alleged shooter. Formal charges and the identities of the duo in custody were not released as of Wednesday, a spokeswoman from the Detroit Police Department confirmed to ABC News.“The boyfriend or former boyfriend is the one who did the shooting and the woman arrested is also in a relationship with the same man. That may or may not be a factor to the shooting,” Craig said during the press conference.For Qiana Arnold and her devastated family, they are now tasked with waiting on the medical examiner’s report to know whether they will also mourn their unborn niece or nephew, the heartbroken sister said.“It feels like we have been robbed twice,” said Qiana Arnold, 27.Qiana Arnold previously told ABC News that her family had “no idea who she would know over there.”For now, Qiana Arnold and her family are “taking every day, day by day, trying to get the funeral planned” this week.A viewing is planned for Friday with the funeral service expected to be held Saturday at Fellowship Chapel.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
#BREAKING: Multiple people are dead and several others are missing after a fire at the Jackson County Park in Scottsboro, Alabama. @WKRN https://t.co/eaKKjpqVIx— Josh Breslow (@JoshBreslowWKRN) January 27, 2020Nicklaus said at a news conference on Tuesday that an investigation into the cause of the fire has been launched by the Alabama fire marshal. He said the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Coast Guard are also investigating the incident.He said some of the investigators working to find the cause of the tragedy also probed a fire on Sept. 2 that killed 34 people on a 75-foot dive boat anchored off Santa Cruz Island in Southern California.The ferocious blaze on Monday broke out around 12:40 a.m. at a marina at Jackson County Park on the Tennessee River and rapidly spread, Nicklaus said.In addition to the eight bodies recovered from the water, seven other people were injured and taken to area hospitals, Nicklaus said. He said the injuries were minor.“This kind of loss on any scale is huge, but for a small community it’s incredibly tragic and rough,” Nicklaus told ABC News.He said the 35 vessels that burned ranged from 20-foot pontoons to 40-foot houseboats that up to 21 people were using as their permanent residences. It remained unclear how many people were on the boats and the dock when the fire broke out.“That proved difficult because of the nature of people coming and going off of houseboats and not knowing how many people were staying with who,” Nicklaus said.Video footage showed a long dock with flames shooting from what appeared to be a row of houseboats.Nicklaus said when firefighters arrived, 30% of the dock was engulfed in flames. He said firefighters initially confronted “substantial access problems” in reaching people trapped by the flames.Some people escaped the fire by jumping into the frigid water, he said, and some boats sank at the dock while others broke from their moorings and sank in the lake.Nicklaus said that 17 different agencies, including the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and neighboring fire departments, responded to the scene. Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved. pkazmercyk/iStock(SCOTTSBORO, Ala.) — Four children were among the eight people killed when a massive fire swept through an Alabama marina and destroyed 35 boats, some being used as permanent residences, authorities said on Tuesday.The ages of the children who perished in Monday morning’s blaze in Scottsboro were 7, 9, 10 and 16, Jackson County Medical Examiner John Jordan told ABC News.Jordan said all of the victims have been identified, but he is not yet prepared to release the names of those who died.While the search for additional victims is ongoing, Scottsboro Fire Chief Gene Nicklaus told ABC News that “we believe that we have all the souls accounted for.”