Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 7, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 7, 2006

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:

  • Vote on Gay Rabbis Scheduled for Dec. 6
  • Assyrian Christians ’Most Vulnerable Population’ in Iraq
  • Cuban Prosecutor Recommends Acquittal of Church Leader
  • Churches Reaching Men through Outdoors Ministries

Vote on Gay Rabbis Scheduled for Dec. 6

Scholars who interpret religious law for Conservative Judaism might soon ease their ban on ordaining gays, testing not only the unity of their movement but also their relations with the wider Jewish community, the Associated Press reports. The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards was scheduled to vote on the issue in a closed-door session Wednesday. Under the panel's complex voting system, more than one policy could be adopted, leaving seminaries and synagogues to decide on their own which approach to follow. Rabbi Jerome Epstein has been telling congregations for months to prepare for the outcome, predicting the panel would approve one policy liberalizing the ban and another affirming it.

Assyrian Christians ’Most Vulnerable Population’ in Iraq

Assyrians were joined by faith-based leaders and religious freedom activists on Monday, December 4, in a White House rally to call U.S. political leaders to “save” Iraq's “most vulnerable population.” ASSIST News Service reports that Christians for Assyrians of Iraq (CAI) organized a rally to raise awareness of the plight of Iraq's Assyrian Christian population which has been called a humanitarian crisis. “This should be a priority because Assyrian Christians are the indigenous people of Iraq and many people don't know that,” explained Paul Isaac, one of the rally's organizers. “Because of their small population, weak status, and lack of regional support they have no one to protect them from all the violence.”

Cuban Prosecutor Recommends Acquittal of Church Leader

A prosecuting attorney in Havana on Monday (December 4) recommended that the Rev. Carlos Lamelas be acquitted of all charges of trafficking in illegal emigrants, Compass Direct News reports. Those accusations had sent the evangelical pastor and former national president of his church to jail for more than four months earlier this year. Despite the motion for acquittal, Lamelas’s future still remains in doubt. “The trial is now at the stage of determining sentence, and we must await the judges’ decision,” Lamelas said. “The worst part is that we have to keep waiting possibly for one or two months more.”

Churches Reaching Men through 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.