The Power of Five: Raven's Gate, by Anthony Horowitz
Matt, the main character, can move objects with his mind when he smells something burning. His journalist friend is named Richard Cole. He's part of the LEAF program and gets assigned to live with Jayne Deverill. The professor is Sanjay Dravid. The skeletons kill the professor.
Matt meeting Richard, the journalist:
"Thirsty?" the journalist asked.
The journalist took out a plastic cup and filled it. Matt saw a single bubble of air rise up inside the water. He took the cup. The water was lukewarm.
"My name is Richard Cole," the journalist said, sitting down at the table. He produced a notepad and opened it up to a blank page.
"I'm Matt," Matthew said.
"All right." Matt wasn't sure about this. He had only come to the Gazette to ask about Raven's Gate. But there was something about the journalist that seemed trustworthy. He decided to go ahead.
And so he told Richard everything that had happened since his arrival in Lesser Malling. He described his first visit to the village and the chemist shop, his meeting with Tom Burgess, the lights and whispering in the forest, his time with Mrs. Deverill, his second meeting with the farmer, and his discovery of the dead body in the bedroom.
"...and that's why," he concluded, "I'm trying to find out who or what this Raven's Gate is. It's obviously something important. Tom Burgess died trying to warn me."
The Gatekeepers/The Power of Five, book 1: Raven's Gate, chapter 9: "Local Affairs"
Matt is sent to live with an old woman named Jayne Deverill, who is his foster parent for the LEAF project (for juvenile delinquents to rehabilitate):
Matt looked at the woman who had volunteered to be his foster parent in the LEAF Project. He didn't like what he saw.
Jayne Deverill could have stepped out of another century — a time when teachers were allowed to beat children and there were Bible readings before breakfast and tea.
The Gatekeepers/The Power of Five, book 1: Raven's Gate, chapter 3: "The LEAF Project"
It's not her son that lives with them, but a farmhand named Noah.
A man was waiting for them, standing next to an old, beaten-up Land Rover that only seemed to be held together by the mud that covered it. The man was short and very fat, with yellow greasy hair, watery eyes, and a face that seemed to be slowly slipping off his head. He was wearing dirty jeans and a shirt that was too small for him. Matt could see the buttons straining. The man was about forty. He had flabby lips that parted in a wet, unpleasant smile.
"Good afternoon, Mrs. Deverill," he said.
Mrs. Deverill ignored him. She turned to Matt. "This is Noah," she said.
The Gatekeepers/The Power of Five, book 1: Raven's Gate, chapter 4: "Lesser Malling"
Matt is chased by supernatural dogs and is rescued by Richard:
The flames exploded, leaping almost as high as the power station itself, bright red light flooding the field. At the same time, something black began to take shape within them, molding itself out of the shadows. In seconds the blackness had solidified, and now it leaped — seemingly in slow motion — out of the fire and onto the ground beyond. It was some sort of animal, and moments later a second one appeared, bounding forward to join it. Behind them, the bonfire shrank back to normal size. The wail of the alarm stopped abruptly.
They were dogs, but like no dogs Matt had ever seen.
For a moment he lay there retching, getting the filthy water out of his system. Then he looked up. And recognized Richard Cole, the journalist from the Greater Malling Gazette.
"You!" he gasped.
"What the...?" Richard was equally surprised.
"What are you doing?"
The broken questions hung in the air.
Then Matt took control of the situation. "Not now," he said. He was thinking of the dogs. They might have lost the scent when he was in the bog, but they would find it again soon enough.
The Gatekeepers/The Power of Five, book 1: Raven's Gate, chapter 12: "Out of the Fire"
The second book, Evil Star, indeed involves Matt going through a church and ending up somewhere in Spain.
Matt hadn't been sure what he would find on the other side of the door. He had been half expecting to step back out into Cannon Street. Instead, he was in a cloister, a covered walkway forming a square around a courtyard with a fountain in the middle.
"Let's go out," Richard said. "You need some air."
"There is no cloister," Fabian insisted.
Angrily, Matt stood up and walked over to the door. "It's through here," he said.
He opened the door. And stopped dead.
There was no cloister on the other side. There were no flowers, no fountain, no monks. Instead, he found himself looking at an alleyway lined with dustbins and, on the other side, a grimy backyard filled with rubble and broken cement.
The Gatekeepers/The Power of Five, book 2: Evil Star, chapter 6: "St. Meredith's"