Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:
- Habitat For Humanity Names New CEO
- Antiochian Orthodox Church of America Parting with National Council of Churches
- GFA Responds as Bible College, Slums Swamped by Record Floods
- Couple Arrested for Attempted Forced Conversion in India
Habitat For Humanity Names New CEO
Religion News Service
Habitat for Humanity International’s Board of Directors today named Jonathan T.M. Reckford to serve as the global homebuilding ministry’s new chief executive officer. Reckford, 42, has for two years served as executive pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church of Edina, Minn. Before joining Christ Presbyterian, Reckford was president of stores for the Musicland division of Best Buy; senior vice president of corporate planning and communications for Circuit City; and director of strategic planning for Disney Design and Development. Rey Ramsey, board chair for Habitat for Humanity International, said the board unanimously selected Reckford based upon his track record redirecting and leading complex organizations and for his personal commitment to heed Christ’s call to serve the poor and forgotten. Reckford and his wife, Ashley, who is originally from Albany, Ga., are longtime supporters of Habitat and have worked alongside Habitat partner families in building their homes. The change is a big one, Reckford said, but is a natural next step. Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Ga., an ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing, is the 17th largest house-builder in the United States and the 18th largest nonprofit. (www.habitat.org)
Antiochian Orthodox Church of America Parting with National Council of Churches
The nearly 400,000-member Antiochian Orthodox Church of America is parting ways with the National Council of Churches (NCC) due to that body's liberalism. On July 28, the church's Archdiocesan Convention voted overwhelmingly to quit the NCC, a faith organization founded in 1950 that currently includes 35 U.S. Protestant, Anglican, African American, Living Peace and Orthodox denominations. Among the reasons the Antiochian church has cited for the split are the NCC's ongoing support for homosexual causes and its general secretary's withdrawal of his signature from a joint Christian Marriage Declaration with Catholics and Evangelicals several years ago. A denomination spokesman recently noted that the interchurch group had "lost its goal of unity on a doctrinal basis" and that Antiochian officials were displeased by a recent NCC fundraising letter urging church members to fight conservatives. The World Council of Churches-affiliated NCC has been widely associated with the Christian ecumenical movement; however, Mark Tooley of the Institute of Religion and Democracy (IRD) calls the Antiochian church's departure "good news for all who care about genuine Christian ecumenism, as opposed to the faux ecumenism of the NCC." An August 3 news release from his group asserts that, as the NCC receives less funding from its member denominations, it has increasingly relied on support from liberal foundations, political advocacy groups, and campaigns. Tooley says the IRD hopes the Antiochian departure "will encourage other communions to reconsider their participation in the NCC," and seek alternatives that will strengthen rather than divide the body of Christ.
GFA Responds as Bible College, Slums Swamped by Record Floods
Gospel for Asia
The Gospel for Asia Bible college at Mumbai (Bombay) has been swamped by the record flooding that has hit the Mumbai area over the past several days, and 12 GFA Believers Church buildings in the city's slum areas have been completely washed away. GFA President K.P. Yohannan reported from India that 28 hours of non-stop rain has broken all the previous records in the Bombay area. The city's slums, where 5 million of the city's 16 million people live, were particularly hard hit. "Keep in mind some 5 million people live in makeshift huts with dirt floors in the lower parts of Bombay," Brother K.P. said. "It is said that 500 people have already died, and the death toll continues to rise. But one political leader I talked to said that no one really knows how many hundreds and hundreds may have died from among the poorest of the poor in the slums." GFA has 28 pastors working in and around the slum areas, and they are all reported safe.
Couple Arrested for Attempted Forced Conversion in India
Hindu villagers have accused a Christian couple in Madhya Pradesh state, India, of attempted forced conversion. Jagdish and Grace Nayak were arrested on July 19 in Jeet Nagar village, Indore district. Dharmendra Chaterjee invited them to his house for prayer; after they finished praying, Chaterjee called his neighbors into the house and accused the Nayaks of enticing his family to convert to Christianity in return for education, health care and other benefits, including money for a family wedding. The Nayaks were detained by villagers, including members of the Dharma Raksha Samiti (DRS, or Religious Protection Committee) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu extremist group. Police soon took them into custody. A police inspector told Compass he believed the complaint was a planned attempt by the DRS and the RSS to keep the Nayaks away from the village.