Religion Today Summaries, November 25, 2003

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries, November 25, 2003

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

  • Church Triples Size by Speaking Different Languages
  • Ugandan Anglicans Cut Ties with Episcopal Church over Gay Bishop
  • Expatriate Christian Sues Turkish Newspaper for Slander
  • Christian Woman Launches a ‘Moral Court’ Website

Church Triples Size by Speaking Different Languages
Charisma News Service

An Assemblies of God congregation in California has tripled in size during the last eight years, partly by learning to speak different languages. Rich Guerra, pastor of Visalia First Assembly in Visalia, which attracts 3,000 people for Sunday-morning services, said the growth is the result of a willingness to reach out to the community. The 75-year-old church, which built its first permanent building in 1931, has services in Spanish, Lahu and Korean. It has a weekly radio program with a 150-mile radius. "We've been willing to get out of our comfort zone," Guerra said. The church's mission statement is "to connect people to God and His church, help them grow in their faith, equip them to serve and share their faith and experience genuine worship." Last year, about 850 people signed salvation cards. The congregation's community-minded outreaches include using its 40 acres for citywide high school band and choral concerts, as well as musical competitions, which typically draw 2,000. The church is also used as a meeting site for local businesses. Additionally, youth hang out and play video games after school or on weekends at Visalia First.

Ugandan Anglicans Cut Ties with Episcopal Church over Gay Bishop
Kevin Eckstrom, Religion News Service

The Anglican Church in Uganda, the world's third-largest Anglican Church, has formally cut ties with the U.S.-based Episcopal Church over the consecration of an openly gay bishop.  Bishops of the 8 million-member church said that "any same-sex relationship is a disorder of God's creation" after the U.S. church consecrated Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. "Dioceses of the church of Uganda are not going to continue asking for scholarships from the Episcopal Church," said Jackson Turyagyenda, a spokesman for the church.  The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion, which claims 77 million members, including the 26 million members of its mother church, the Church of England. The day after Robinson's consecration, Anglican leaders from the "Global South" who claimed to represent 50 million parishioners said they "cannot and will not recognize the office or ministry of Gene Robinson as a bishop."  On Nov. 15, the Anglican bishops of Nigeria -- who lead the world's second-largest Anglican province -- voted to formally cut ties "with all the bishops and dioceses in (the Episcopal Church) that have joined in this divisive and unscriptural act." 

Expatriate Christian Sues Turkish Newspaper for Slander
Barbara Baker, Compass Direct

An American English teacher at an Istanbul university has filed a 40.5 billion Turkish lira ($27,500) slander case against a Turkish newspaper for publishing a series of false charges against him. Hans Chabra, 40, was accused by the right-wing Halka ve Olaylara Tercuman newspaper of doing "missionary" work this past summer while employed by the state as a teacher of preparatory English at Istanbul's Marmara University. The tabloid demanded that Chabra be fired from his job and deported from Turkey because of his involvement in Christian evangelism activities. From Seattle, Washington, the teacher has worked in Turkey for the past 11 years. Chabra was detained briefly by Eskisehir police on July 9 when a local shopkeeper complained that he was offering passersby Christian books. Nevertheless, when Chabra was questioned by the university's law professor, who read over the Eskisehir police report as well as Chabra's statement, he was told he had not broken any laws. "The law professor even said that missionary activity was not a crime!" Chabra said.

Christian Woman Launches a ‘Moral Court’ Website
Rusty Pugh, Agape Press

A Delaware housewife, mother and grandmother, has launched a new web site called "Suit Up!" ( which is designed to give Christians critical information that will better prepare them to intelligently discuss important issues with non-believers. The brainchild of a Townsend, Delaware resident, Barbara Goodchild, said she wanted to give Christians an online forum to discuss issues like abortion, homosexual marriage and the negative influences of American pop culture. Goodchild said the web site is modeled after the "full armor of God" found in Ephesians chapter six. She says the web site is set up to help Christians be better able to 'suit up' and put on their full armor helping them be prepared with Bible knowledge and be more able to handle what is thrown at them by the world and secular news sources. "It's basically what we call a 'moral court'," Goodchild said. She added that in the online forum, "we discuss issues like, 'What is wrong with abortion?' or 'Should Judge Moore have stepped down?' and [we sometimes] play a 'devil's advocate' role" to challenge a person's critical thinking helping prepare people for the questions that will come their way when discussing these issues.