Religion News Summaries - Jan. 29, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion News Summaries - Jan. 29, 2008

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

  • Greek Orthodox Church Leader Dies
  • Awana Launches National Campaign to Tackle Crisis Among Today's U.S. Youth
  • Rick Warren: Mainline Church Problems Need Evangelical Solution
  • Faith Factor Seen in NFL Conduct Policy

Greek Orthodox Church Leader Dies

A report on reads: "Tributes have been paid to Archbishop Christodoulos, the head of Greece's powerful Orthodox Church, who has died aged 69. His death was announced just months after a planned liver transplant was cancelled, when doctors discovered the cancer he had been suffering from had spread. As his body lies in state in the capital, flags flew at half-mast. The Archbishop was hailed as 'an enlightened church leader' by Greece's Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. The way he dealt with his illness and imminent death sent 'a unique message of courage and dignity,' according to Greek President Karolos Papoulias. Archbishop Christodoulos was often seen on the world stage. But he was no stranger to controversy or outspoken remarks, and his growing public involvement in foreign policy issues chipped away at his popularity. Meetings with Pope Benedict and Pope John-Paul also angered some ultra-Orthodox members of his Church."

Awana Launches National Campaign to Tackle Crisis Among Today's U.S. Youth

Awana, an international ministry that helps children and youth grow spiritually by learning to apply the Bible to their lives, has launched a national media campaign called Project Joseph to help kids, parents and churches work together to develop strong "spiritual champions" for Jesus Christ. The initiative, according to a Religion News Service release, was unveiled January 25 at the Children's Pastors Conference in Orlando, Fla. The campaign is modeled after Joseph of the Old Testament, who maintained his faith in spite of challenging circumstances. It features a life map for growing kids spiritually that plots out critical milestones to raising a Modern Day Joseph, while allowing for the uniqueness of each child.

Rick Warren: Mainline Church Problems Need Evangelical Solution

The Christian Post reports that Rick Warren suggested Sunday that mainline churches need to reconcile with evangelicals to counter a mounting problem of membership decline. “The reconciliation is that in a pluralistic world… we (Christians) need to be on the same team because we share the same savior,” Warren contended Sunday, as he spoke with the dean of the Washington National Cathedral, Samuel T. Lloyd III, who observed that evangelical churches are thriving and full of vitality, while most mainline denominations are confronting worrisome membership decline. Warren said the 'social gospel' is what led to mainline churches going “one way” and evangelical churches another way. In general, mainline churches focused on social morality such as fighting poverty, racism and economic justice. Meanwhile, evangelical churches concentrated on personal morality such as personal salvation, fighting pornography, and upholding family values. “Who’s right? The fact is both are right,” Warren emphasized. “Somehow we got divided." In the end, Warren called for “reconciliation” between mainline and evangelical churches. “You can’t just love your neighbor; you got to love God,” he said.

Faith Factor Seen in NFL Conduct Policy

According to Baptist Press, National Football League officials, fearful highly publicized illegal and immoral behavior by some of the sport's biggest stars was jeopardizing the league's multi-billion-dollar success, instituted a new Personal Conduct Policy this spring. The behavior policy, spearheaded by commissioner Roger Goodell, draws a clear line between right and wrong, and it says players may be punished for behavior that does not result in a legal conviction. Among the incidents specifically mentioned in the new policy are gun violations, drinking and driving, domestic disputes and gang-related activities. The commissioner also cracked down on NFL clubs' alcohol use by limiting or outlawing open beer and wine possession in locker rooms and other team facilities. While the NFL has not specifically cited Christian principles, and league spokesman Brian McCarthy denied there was any method in place other than to see good behavior, some in the faith-based NFL community see it differently. "There are absolutely Christian principles involved in all of this," said Don Davis, a former NFL linebacker and now the New England Patriots' team chaplain. "The league would never say they're putting Christ first, but it's exactly the same thing if you look at their new rules. Those of us who are behind the scenes [have been] on our knees about this," he added.