Religion Today Summaries, March 26, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, March 26, 2004

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

  • UMC Traditionalists Disagree with Lesbian Pastor's Trial Verdict
  • Top Executive of Fortune 500 Company Puts God First
  • Christian Adoption Ministry's New Program Seeks Prayer Partners
  • Government Refuses to Renew Visas for Religious Leaders

UMC Traditionalists Disagree with Lesbian Pastor's Trial Verdict
Jim Brown and Jenni Parker, Agape Press

The president of a women's movement in the United Methodist Church says the acquittal of lesbian pastor Karen Dammann could very well split the denomination. The decision of a UMC panel to exonerate the pastor on charges of "practices incompatible with Christian teaching" is already drawing opposition from several denomination members. Although the UMC Book of Discipline states that "self avowed homosexuals are not to be accepted as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve" in the denomination, Dammann, who says she is involved in a relationship with her live-in lesbian partner, was cleared last Saturday by a jury of 13 fellow ministers. But Faye Short, who heads the Renew Network, says Dammann should have been convicted of violating church rules. "We simply must be able to hold people accountable to the Book of Discipline if we are to remain together as a covenant community," Short says. Dammann had many supporters within the church, members who claim that scripture is ambivalent on the issue of homosexuality. But Short says both the Bible and Church tradition place homosexuality outside the bounds of acceptable practice. Short feels the acquittal is an issue that will have to be confronted when the UMC holds its upcoming quadrennial General Conference late next month.

Top Executive of Fortune 500 Company Puts God First
Charisma News Service

Pat Gelsinger climbed the corporate ladder as an executive at Intel, but he soon realized that his priorities did not compute. In his early 30s, he began to feel aimless and without any goals because in many ways he had achieved most of his dreams. Finally, he arrived at this conclusion: "I will be a Christian husband, family man and businessman. I will use every resource God provides me to carry out His work on earth." Gelsinger realized his problem was lack of balance between his home life and work life. Gelsinger has discovered his life is only in balance when he covers three distinct areas of his life. "First, I put God on the throne of my life," Gelsinger explains. "Then I have to give priority to my family to be a living witness for Jesus Christ. Finally, I have to be a great employee and excellent at my job." When these three areas are in balance, then Gelsinger feels confident to let his Christianity show in the workplace. For example, Gelsinger confronted his boss about his profanity. "His taking my Lord's name in vain didn't sit right with me, and I felt the Spirit compelling me to take action," explains Gelsinger. With prayer and preparation, Gelsinger spoke to him. His boss said, "You're right...I'll work on it."

Christian Adoption Ministry's New Program Seeks Prayer Partners
Allie Martin, Agape Press

A Michigan-based ministry is encouraging churches to help children in need of adoptive homes. Late last year, Bethany Christian Services unveiled a new program called Partners In Prayer. The initiative currently focuses on finding Christian homes for 1,200 children who are up for adoption in Michigan. Bethany spokesperson Kimberly Offutt says the goal of the program is to recruit Christian families for orphans in need of permanent homes. She points out that there are many ways that individuals and church groups can get involved in the effort. Offutt says the program has two primary needs, the first of which is prayer. "Other than that," Offutt says, "it's all about educating the community, because not many people know how many children are out there who need homes." Obviously, she notes, the more people are made aware of the work Bethany does, the more children the ministry will be able to place. And Offutt says the Partners In Prayer program could be expanded across the United States, "if this program gets running the way we want it to, and churches get more involved the way it needs them to," she says. Since 1994, Bethany Christian Services has placed more than 22,000 children worldwide in Christian homes.

Government Refuses to Renew Visas for Religious Leaders
Voice of the Martyrs

For the first time in over 50 years, Israel's government has refused to renew visas belonging to some one hundred nuns, priests and other religious leaders. There has never been a crisis of the sort in the 56 years of Israel's existence as Church clergy and personnel are deprived of visas to remain in the country. The crisis affects the lives and work of hundreds who now must all live under clandestine conditions. They are subject to being stopped and questioned along the road and even arrested like illegal immigrants. Only last week, March 17, two Most Holy Rosary sisters were stopped by police and two days before that a Franciscan brother was also halted in his steps by security patrols. These persons have been residing in Israel or the Occupied Territories for years, yet requests to renew their visas now gather dust in Interior Ministry offices. The policy to not remit visas to Church clergy and its staff began during the previous government when Ministry of the Interior was headed by a Shas party fundamentalist. Then one year ago when a Shinui liberal secular party exponent took over the position it was hoped that things would change. However, the new interior minister and other government advocates have gone back on their promises to Church officials.