Religion Today Summaries - June 17, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 17, 2008

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

  • Iowa: Ministries Active in Historic Flood
  • Anglican Church in Fresh Controversy
  • Catholic Bishops Aim to Improve Priest Morale
  • Niger: Wells Give Water for Life

Iowa: Ministries Active in Historic Flood

Although the rivers have rested, Mission News Network reports that almost three-quarters of the U.S. state of Iowa is under water, prompted meteorologists to call the event the "500-year flood." More than 4,000 homes have been evacuated. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the previous record water level, set in 1851, was surpassed by six feet. The floods followed quick on the heels of deadly tornadoes, to which relief groups such as Christian Reformed Relief Committee were already responding. Now, CRWRC is preparing to bring in teams who are skilled in "mucking out" flooded homes. Bill Adams, Director of Disaster Repsonse at CRWRC, says physical relief opens up opportunities to share the Gospel. "I can't tell you all of the stories that we hear of people that just see the work that we're doing, and they ask us 'Why?' And our people are very open in telling them why: it's because of the love that we have in Christ," he said.

Anglican Church Gets Fresh Controversy

According to the Times Online, the Church of England is investigating the "wedding" of two homosexual priests, which flouts church guidelines on such ceremonies. Although bishops have largely ignored blessing ceremonies for gay couples, the wedding-style blessing service for the two priests could force the Church to definite action. The event continues the homosexual dispute begun in the U.S., where an openly gay bishop was ordained in 2003, and Canada, which has authorized gay blessing services. Furthermore, as many as 500 Anglo-Catholic priests are ready to resign over the potential consecration of female bishops, and 200 traditionalist bishops are boycotting the Anglican Communion's Lambeth conference this week in favor of an alternative, the Global Anglican Future Conference in Jordan.

Catholic Bishops Aim to Improve Priest Morale

The Associated Press reports that Roman Catholic bishops in the U.S. have began talks about restoring relationships with priests six years after clergy sex scandals first emerged, when embarrassment among clergy ran deep. Archbishop Roger Schwietz of the Archdiocese of Anchorage, Alaska, said bishops are trying to learn directly from clergymen what church leaders should do to improve morale. "I'm hoping with the priests to work out an equitable and just way to preserve the reputation of priests and also take accusations seriously," Schwietz said. Only about 4 percent of priests who served between 1950 and 2002 were credibly accused of abuse, but public concern and media coverage overwhelmed such statistics. "We haven't spent enough time acknowledging the yeoman's' work the priests are doing," said Bishop William Lori of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn.

Niger: Wells Give Water for Life

Some 1,898 people (about 278 households) in Baourou, Niger are gaining wells of their own through NAGARTA to provide water for household use and for their livestock and gardens, ASSIST News Service reports. The wells are being provided as part of a continuing outreach of a Church World Service-sponsored Water for Life / Water for All project in Niger. According to a media release posted to a Reuters website, village women and children walk miles each day in search of water -- water that may be polluted and carry waterborne disease. The existence of permanent water points that provide quality water will improve nutrition, especially for children. It can also encourage the creation of income generating activities, such as irrigated village gardens. This will assist in reducing the famine that chronically exists in this part of Niger.