Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Christians Call for Justice Following Church Attack in Egypt
- Saudi Arabia Arrests 53 Ethiopian Christians at Private Worship Service
- Report: Megachurches Thriving in Tough Economic Times
- Alabama Abortion Clinic Denied Bid to Reopen
Christians Call for Justice Following Church Attack in Egypt
Christians gathered in Cairo on Sunday to protest the destruction of a church that was attacked by Muslim villagers over the weekend in Egypt's Fayoum province -- the second attack on Christians in the province in a little over a month, International Christian Concern reports. Twenty to 30 Muslims, most from an extended family, attacked Mar Girgis church in the village of Tamiyyah following a 3 p.m. service on Friday. The villagers pelted the church and four worshippers with stones, tore down the cross erected on top of the building, and threw Molotov cocktail-type explosives at the structure with the intent of setting it on fire. Following the attack, local authorities conducted a "reconciliation" meeting between Christians and Muslims in the village to resolve the dispute, which the church viewed as "unfair and humiliating," according to the Assyrian International News Agency. About a hundred Christian protesters rallied in the Shubra district of Cairo on Feb. 17, demanding that the church be rebuilt and that those responsible be brought to justice. In addition, Christians called for an end to "reconciliation" meetings, a traditional form of "conflict resolution" arranged by Egyptian authorities to ease tension between Muslims and Christians following anti-Christian violence. The sessions are often held to bypass the judicial system and victims are at times compelled to abandon their claims to a legal remedy.
Saudi Arabia Arrests 53 Ethiopian Christians at Private Worship Service
Saudi authorities on Feb. 8 arrested 53 Ethiopian Christians, mostly women, who were attending a worship service in the private, rented home of an Ethiopian believer in Dammam, the capital of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, ASSIST News Service reports. The Christians -- 46 women and six men, including three church leaders -- were arrested around 10 a.m., and the three church leaders were produced in an Islamic court in Dammam the same day when authorities alleged they were converting Muslims to Christianity. Authorities are likely to release two of the Ethiopian Christians who have residential permits, and the others are expected to be deported.
Report: Megachurches Thriving in Tough Economic Times
A new survey shows that despite the tough economy, many of the nation's largest churches are thriving, with increased offerings and plans to hire more staff, the Religion News Service reports. Just 3 percent of churches with 2,000 or more attendees surveyed by Leadership Network, a Dallas-based church think tank, said they were affected "very negatively" by the economy in recent years. Forty-seven percent said they were affected "somewhat negatively," but one-third said they were not affected at all. The vast majority -- 83 percent -- of large churches expected to meet their budgets in 2012 or their current fiscal year, and a majority also reported that offerings during worship services were higher last year than in 2011. Even though some churches have ministries that provide other income, such as schools or wedding chapel rentals, an average of 96 percent of their budget comes from members' donations. Most megachurches surveyed spend 10 percent or more of their budget beyond their congregation on causes ranging from local soup kitchens to world missions. Most large churches also reported that they expected to give staff at least a 1 percent raise in the next budget cycle. Most also expect to modestly increase staff, and just 6 percent expect to reduce the number of staffers.
Alabama Abortion Clinic Denied Bid to Reopen
A closed abortion clinic in Birmingham, Ala., has been denied its bid to reopen, CBN News reports. According to the Life Legal Defense Foundation, the New Woman, All Women clinic stands accused of injuring patients and of building code violations. The violations led to a 76-page deficiency report by the Alabama Department of Public Health, and the clinic owner's license was revoked in May 2012. She tried to transfer the clinic to a friend using several different methods, but the two failed to comply with requirements from the state, so Alabama is rejecting their attempt to open. "Each day that this facility remains closed is one more day that babies are saved and women are safe from the dangers of abortion in Birmingham," said Rev. Terry Gensemer, executive director of Charismatic Episcopal Church for Life.
Publication date: February 21, 2013