Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Ohio Pastor Living in Van Aims to Aid the Homeless
- Egypt Says Al Qaeda Group Planned Church Bombing
- Christians Suspect Cover-Up in Pastor's Death in Orissa
- Anglican Prelates to Meet in Ireland despite Absences
Ohio Pastor Living in Van Aims to Aid the Homeless
One pastor in Dayton, Ohio, is homeless this month by choice. USA Today reports that Pastor Ryan Riddell is sleeping and living in his van on the streets for the month of January, visiting the downtown library or bus hub to get warm. Riddell, who is recording his experience via social media and his website, says the experience of living among the homeless has opened doors. In some cases, he's found Bibles for those who ask; in others, he's found overnight shelter for someone who has been sleeping in a tent on the street for months. Riddell says he wants members of his church, Shelter Community Church of the Nazarene in Belmont, to see what's happening just minutes from where they live. "We all hang out at the Oregon District, we socialize, eat, find entertainment, but on the other side of the trestle there's a semi-tractor trailer and people are sleeping under that on skids with cardboard for insulation," he says. "Jesus became like us in order to reach us."
Egypt Says Al Qaeda Group Planned Church Bombing
No one has claimed responsibility for the New Year's Day church bombing, but Egyptian official say they have "conclusive proof" that an al Qaeda-linked group is responsible. According to the Los Angeles Times, Interior Minister Habib Adly blamed the attack on the Army of Islam, an extremist organization based in the Gaza Strip. "We have conclusive proof of their heinous involvement in planning and carrying out such a villainous terrorist act," Adly said of the Palestinian organization. The group, however, says they are not responsible. "Despite our praise to those who executed the attack, the Army of Islam has no connection to the Alexandria church bombing," they said in a statement. Authorities hope that tensions between Muslims and Coptic Christians within the country will ease now that an outside group has been charged with the attack. Twenty-five worshippers died in the blast.
Christians Suspect Cover-Up in Pastor's Death in Orissa
Relatives of a pastor who was found dead in a secluded area last week in the Kandhamal district of India's Orissa state have accused local police of a cover-up. Compass Direct News reports that the body of Saul Pradhan, a 45-year-old independent pastor whose house was burned by Hindu extremists two years ago, was found near a pond in Pakala village on Jan. 11 and bore marks of assault. The pastor's hands and legs appeared twisted, there was blood in his mouth and his pants were torn. He was last seen with two Hindu men who were among the rioters that burned houses in 2008. Another Christian visited the site after the body had been removed and saw blood stains on a stone. Police, however, say they found no evidence of injury, citing a doctor who called it an "unnatural death." Police have said Pradhan likely died from the cold.
Anglican Prelates to Meet in Ireland despite Absences
Religion News Service reports that a handful of Anglican archbishops are boycotting a high-level meeting in Ireland this week to protest the Episcopal Church's acceptance of openly gay bishops. The Rev. Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, said that "seven or possibly eight" archbishops are boycotting the meeting near Dublin. Several more are unsure whether they will attend. "Those primates who said they're not coming as part of an objection to the Episcopal Church and other developments have reiterated their commitment to the communion and the Archbishop of Canterbury in their writing to me," Kearon told the BBC. The global Anglican Communion has 38 primates who lead regional churches, including Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. The annual meeting has no binding power, but "a lot of moral authority," he said. In recent years, Anglican archbishops, particularly in Africa, have refused to meet with Jefferts Schori because her church has consecrated a gay man and a lesbian as bishops.