News

Churches Supported For Leaving ECUSA

AgapePress reports that Evangelical activists are voicing their support for the Episcopal churches in Virginia who voted in December strongly in favor of leaving the American branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion. And even though the combined average attendance of the eight churches exceeds that of many entire Episcopal dioceses, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church USA says the congregations' departure doesn't threaten the denomination's survival. The action by eight churches in the Diocese of Virginia is evidence that warnings in 2003 following the appointment of an openly-gay bishop were nigh unto prophetic, as those congregations voted to affiliate themselves with conservative Anglican groups in Africa and to join the newly established Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

Religion Today Summaries

Colorado Churches Lose More Pastors

Another pastor at New Life Church in Colorado Springs has resigned after admitting to sexual misconduct and other mistakes, AgapePress reports. The resignation of Christopher Beard, who headed the church's young adults ministry, comes just weeks after former church leader Ted Haggard stepped down over sexual immorality. New Life officials say Beard admitted to "a series of decisions displaying poor judgment, including one incident of sexual misconduct several years ago." Church officials said the misconduct did not involve Haggard, but was with another unmarried adult. Beard, who worked at the church for nine years, has since married. New Life's leadership asked an outside board to examine the "spiritual character" of its 200 staff members after Haggard resigned last month from the church and as president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

Meanwhile, on Dec. 10, the founding pastor of Grace Chapel in Englewood told his congregation in a videotaped message that he had engaged in homosexual sex and was stepping down. According to the Associated Press, 54-year-old Paul Barnes, who has led Grace Chapel for 28 years, told his congregation that he has struggled with homosexuality since childhood and often "cried myself to sleep, begging God to take this away."

H. B. London, who heads up the pastoral ministry of Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family, said that pastors fall into sin for three reasons: unresolved conflicts at home, a lack of accountability, and a lack of intimacy with God. He says that while pastors face unusual pressures, 97%of them "do not fail morally and do their best to live above reproach."

Religion Today Summaries

Islam-the Elephant' in Europe's Living Room'?

An author and producer of a documentary on Islam says the long-term future of Europe will be quite bleak if it doesn't recognize the "elephant" that has invaded its living room, Agape Press reports. Gregory Davis' new book is called Religion of Peace? Islam's War Against the World. He also produced the documentary entitled Islam: What the West Needs to Know. Davis says Europe needs to do something about the influx and influence of Islam while it still can. "The West now, including Europe, certainly has the upper hand in just about every respect," he observes. "If there was the will among Europeans to stop this Islamization...of their continent, they could do it-but there doesn't seem to be any will. There doesn't seem to be any real recognition of the problem." Davis says if things do not change, he is afraid the long-term scenario will be real warfare on the European continent.

Religion Today Summaries

Ex-Muslim Calls on U.S. To Restrict Islamic Immigration

An Egyptian-born author says the United States is asking for trouble if it does not take steps to drastically restrict immigration from terrorist-harboring Islamic countries. Nonie Darwish has written a book called Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror. According to AgapePress, the former Muslim is deeply concerned that the U.S. will experience the problems of Europe and other areas of the world that have allowed unfettered Islamic immigration. So Darwish believes the U.S. should immediately stop issuing religious visas to Muslims wanting to immigrate here. "We have to ask [would-be immigrants] the question," she asserts, "do you want to live under shariah law?" And those who answer yes should never be granted a visa."

Religion Today Summaries

God Uses Broadcasts To Bring 90% of Tribe To Christ

Far East Broadcasting Company's (FEBC) work in an isolated Southeast Asian nation has resulted in an entire tribe's salvation. Recently FEBC President Gregg Harris visited the pastor who leads the ministry's work there. Nicknamed "Mr. R." for security reasons, the pastor related the story of two young tribal men who approached him with a desire to lead their 30,000 fellow tribesmen to Christ. Mr. R put the two in contact with FEBC who trained them to broadcast programs in the tribal language. The programs were aired via shortwave, and the young men returned home to distribute radios donated by FEBC amongst the villagers. Tribal elders proclaimed, "We're on the radio like all the major nations!" Immediately the tribe's attitude toward Christianity changed and many became eager to purchase radios. Today, after two decades of learning about Jesus in their own language, 90 percent of the tribe members have come to faith in Christ.

Far East Broadcasting Co.
via MissionNet

MAF Evacuates Missionaries From African Countries

Conditions have become so dangerous in Chad and Sudan that Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) has been forced to evacuate its staff, as well as assist other organizations in their evacuation efforts, Kevin Swanson, MAF president, announced Dec. 11.

Fighting has resumed in Sudan, and rebel offensives continued in Chad. Fighting in Sudan left 300 dead as of Dec. 11, while rebels have taken entire villages in Chad.

The MAF base is in N'Djamana, Chad's capital, so this makes for a major concern, Swanson said. Rebels had captured another town in eastern Chad after fighting government troops, according to a rebel spokesperson. In recent weeks, Chadian rebels had captured and later retreated from several eastern towns after capturing tanks, heavy arms and equipment from government forces.

In Sudan, the situation is somewhat different, but nevertheless serious, Swanson said. MAF does not have a base in Sudan, but it does serve citizens of the country.

Founded in 1945, MAF stations some 200 missionary families in the remotest regions of 23 countries on five continents.

Mission Network News

85% of Americans Want Less Sex, Violence on TV

The American Bible Society (ABS) and the public opinion research firm Zogby International recently teamed up to test America's desire for morality and values in television and popular culture. The results indicated 85% of Americans desire more religious values, references to the Bible and less sex and violence on television. This runs contrary to the message most TV networks and advertising executives proclaim. "We firmly believe that the Bible plays a critical role in the ongoing development of our culture and the social fabric of our country," said ABS President Paul Irwin. "Although America is a nation of many faiths, and in some instances no faith, Americans still believe that the Bible's teachings and values are an essential part of our common character." With the poll and several others yet to follow, ABS hopes to challenge TV executives and movie producers to question their decisions to cut faith-based references.

Evangelical News via MissionNet

School Board Okays Teaching Non-Evolution

The Ouachita Parish School Board in West Monroe, LA, voted unanimously Nov. 29 to grant teachers "academic freedom" in order to teach all sides of controversial issues including Darwinian evolution, according to The Ouachita Citizen newspaper. The school board became the first in the state pass such a policy.

"Where topics are taught that may generate controversy, such as biological evolution, the curriculum should help students understand the full range of scientific views that exist, why such topics may generate controversy and how scientific discoveries can profoundly affect society," retired Judge Darrell White, a consultant with Louisiana Family Forum's Education Resource Council, told The Citizen.

"Darwin has three chapters where he questions his own theory," Danny Pennington, a biology teacher at West Monroe High School, said during the school board meeting. "If Darwin questioned it, why can't we? All we want to do as teachers is be able to teach both sides and strive for a fair result."

Baptist Press

Baby Boomers Now Key Missionary Source

With one "baby boomer" retiring every seven seconds in the U.S., Wycliffe Associates is tailoring its programs with this age group in mind. Wycliffe Associates is building a new Volunteer Mobilization Center in Orlando to recruit, train and mobilize volunteers as the staff gears up for a continued influx of mature, skilled volunteers. Todd Johnson, director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, said that while boomers have been branded as self-centered and individualistic, many are experiencing a deepening desire to give back. "Many retirement plans are being built around missions," he said. Some are starting non-governmental organizations such as orphanages, business centers and health clinics that minister at a local level. Martin Huyett, vice president of volunteer services for Wycliffe Associates, said retired boomers have more time to serve. "Free from the pressures of youth and middle age, the older adult can do exciting, meaningful things never dreamed of before," he said. "As hundreds of thousands of new volunteer missionaries rise from the ranks of retiring baby boomers, they will challenge the status quo of missions and how organizations will respond to them."

Christian Newswire via MissionNet

Churches Reaching Men Via Outdoors Ministries

More ministers like William Johnson in Montana are realizing the importance and popularity of outdoor recreation, as well as the ministry potential. Baptist Press reports Johnson's congregation, Gallatin Valley Baptist Fellowship in Manhattan, Mont., hosts sportsmen's rallies for hunters and fishermen in his area. "The weekends are the only times when men who hold full time jobs get to enjoy these activities," Johnson said. "They place recreation as a higher priority than coming to church on Sunday mornings. If we offer a rally during the work week, they make time to come." The rally allows Johnson and other church members to meet many men who have never been involved in a church. It also offers an opportunity for men in the church to use their passions for God. "It has helped us gain the image that we meet people where they are instead of just inviting them to come join us," Johnson said. Additionally, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is partnering with God's Great Outdoors, Inc. to offer the Trail to Adventure Training Conference on the seminary campus Wake Forest, N.C., Jan. 5-6. Pastors, lay leaders and other interested individuals can learn ways to implement outdoor ministries.

Religion Today Summaries

Conservative Judaism Votes Both Ways on Homosexual Issues

Displaying indecisiveness amid the growing influence of the homosexual movement, the highest panel of leaders in Conservative Judaism voted Dec. 6 to allow the ordination of homosexual rabbis and the recognition of "gay marriage" in synagogues, while simultaneously advising against it.

The 25-member Rabbinical Assembly Committee on Jewish Law and Standards issued a series of advisory reports which are "accepted as guides so that the gays and lesbians can be welcomed into our congregation and communities and made to feel accepted," according to Rabbi Kassel Abelson, a member of the committee.

But to show how divided Conservative Jews are on the matter, the same committee voted to uphold a 1992 statement that advises against homosexual ordinations and the recognition of "gay marriage," Reuters reported. Such conflicting actions supposedly leave it up to individual synagogues to decide their course of action on homosexuality.

Baptist Press

Vatican Examining Tomb Thought to Be Paul's

A white marble sarcophagus believed to be the final resting place of the Apostle Paul has been unearthed from beneath the altar of Rome's second-largest basilica after centuries hidden from view, but those curious about its contents will have to wait still longer. AgapePress reported that Vatican experts say they want to examine it more closely before possibly looking inside. According to tradition, Paul was beheaded in Rome in the first century during the persecution of early Christians by Roman emperors. Popular belief holds that bone fragments from his head are in another Rome basilica, St. John Lateran, with his other remains inside the sarcophagus. The coffin, which was buried under the main altar of St. Paul's Outside the Walls Basilica, has been the subject of an extended excavation that began in 2002 and ended in November

Religion Today Summaries

President: Abstinence Way to Stop AIDS

When President Bush proclaimed Dec. 1 as World AIDS Day, he pledged that the United States would continue its commitment to fighting the AIDS pandemic "with compassion and decisive action," including the promotion of sexual abstinence outside marriage.

"Through the New Partners Initiative, we are supporting faith-based and community organizations that offer much of the health care in the developing world so that we can reach more people more effectively," Bush said.

The president added that the United States and other concerned countries are promoting a comprehensive strategy to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. "This includes the ABC approach-encouraging abstinence, being faithful and using condoms, with abstinence as the only sure way to avoid the sexual transmission of HIV/AIDS."

Baptist Press

Church of the Ark'  Found on West Bank

According to the London Telegraph, archaeologists claimed recently to have uncovered one of the world's first churches, built on a site believed to have once housed the Ark of the Covenant. The site, in the hills of the West Bank, is richly decorated with brightly-colored mosaics and inscriptions referring to Jesus. The find dates to the late 4th century, making it one of Christianity's first formal places of worship. An inscription at the site refers to itself as Shiloh, which, according to the Old Testament, kept the Ark of the Covenant for centuries.

Religion Today Summaries<![if !supportEmptyParas]> <![endif]>

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