Religion News Summaries - July 11, 2011

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion News Summaries - July 11, 2011

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Presbyterians to Officially Allow Gay Clergy
  • Church Plays Role in Teen’s Aspirations
  • Cuban Pastor, Family Arrive in U.S. as Refugees
  • China: Leader of House Church Alliance Criminally Detained


Presbyterians to Officially Allow Gay Clergy

Religion News Service reports that Presbyterians who support gay rights celebrated a new church policy yesterday. The policy allows gay pastors to serve openly for the first time in the denomination's history. Several left-leaning churches marked "the moment with prayer and rejoicing" in their Sunday services, according to a press release from More Light Presbyterians, which advocates for gay rights in the church. The new policy removes language from the denomination's constitution that had barred homosexuals from serving as church ministers, elders and deacons. It allows each presbytery - or regional governing body - to decide what sexual standards to place on ordination. The resolution, which had failed in different forms in recent years, needed approval from both the PC(USA) General Assembly as well as from presbyteries; 97 of the denomination's 173 presbyteries voted to approve the new policy.

Church Plays Role in Teen’s Aspirations

A new Barna Group study shows that most young people have clear ideas of what they would like to do, and their faith plays a role in their decisions. WORLD Magazine reports that the most common goal among teens is to work in medicine or the health care field (mentioned by 23 percent of teenagers). Overall, more than half of the students express interest in some type of scientific or applied science career.  One-fifth of the students are attracted to creative vocations, including arts or music, graphic arts, culinary arts, and fashion or interior design.  Students with an active faith (defined as reading the Bible, attending church and praying in a typical week) are more likely to be interested in arts and music, ministry, journalism and law. Young Protestants are comparatively more interested in physically demanding careers such as construction, agriculture and the military, while young Catholics express above-average interest in journalism and education.

Cuban Pastor, Family Arrive in U.S. as Refugees

Compass Direct News reports that an evangelical pastor once jailed by the regime of Fidel Castro has arrived in the United States from Cuba. Rev. Carlos Lamelas, 50, his wife Uramis and two daughters entered on July 7 under a special resettlement program for political refugees. Lamelas, who once served as national president of his denomination in Cuba, endured persecution for more than five years at the hands of Cuban authorities. On Feb. 20, 2006, security officials arrested Lamelas on charges of “human trafficking,” but those close to him said police targeted him because he had challenged the Castro regime on religious liberty issues. He was released four months later. Later that month, however, the court convicted Lamelas on a previously unannounced charge of “falsifying documents” and fined him 1,000 Cuban pesos (US$45). Lamelas said the resettlement news came as a shock, albeit a welcome one. “For our part, we have been open to the will of God, and we know He will take us where we can best serve Him,” he wrote.

China: Leader of House Church Alliance Criminally Detained

ChinaAid reports that Pastor Shi Enhao has been criminally detained on suspicion of “using superstition to undermine national law enforcement” in China's Jiangsu Province. Pastor Shi is deputy chairman of the Chinese House Church Alliance, a large umbrella organization for many thousands of house churches across China. The action is the first step towards a criminal trial. Pastor Shi previously disappeared on June 12 before police confirmed his detention on June 21. The detention notice from the Sucheng district office of the Suqian City Public Security Bureau briefly outlines the reasons for his detention. Shi was arrested and served an 11-day administration detention in May, and his home was raided by police on June 1. Pastor Shi’s criminal detention comes as a prominent house church in Beijing faces ongoing repression. The 1000-member independent Shouwang Church currently has four of its leaders under house arrest, and authorities have broken up attempts to meet outdoors.