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Religion News Summaries - Oct. 14, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion News Summaries - Oct. 14, 2009

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

  • Franklin Graham Makes 3rd Trip to North Korea
  • Relief Agencies Work Multiple Disasters in South East Asia
  • In Canada, Church Clings to Relevancy as Attendance Dwindles
  • Two Indonesian Churches Receive Bomb Threats

Franklin Graham Makes 3rd Trip to North Korea

The Christian Post reports that Franklin Graham began his third meeting with North Korean leaders Tuesday in their country. The CEO of Samaritan's Purse is the first American aid agency leader to be allowed in the country since all U.S. humanitarian groups were forced to leave six month ago. "I believe it is important to make visits like this to help improve better relations and to have better understanding with each other," said Graham prior to leaving. "I'm going as a minister of Jesus Christ with a message of peace and that God loves each one of us regardless of our borders or politics." Five NGO groups providing food aid were kicked out of the country in March with no explanation, leaving many North Koreans to fare for themselves in the chronic food shortage.

Relief Agencies Work Multiple Disasters in South East Asia

Christian Today reports that humanitarian groups have only begun to provide relief in South East Asia, where disaster after disaster has rocked the region. According to Tearfund, in some Indonesian villages, 90 percent of houses were destroyed, leaving thousands homeless. "They are eating food that they can find from within their collapsed houses or what we are giving them," said Ranto Sibirani, Executive Director of Tearfund's partner agency KOTIB. "The mosque is currently the food distribution centre because that is one of the few buildings that has not collapsed. There are still some people buried in houses but many areas are inaccessible by vehicle because of the many landslides, especially in the hill areas away from the coast." The agency is working alongside Cafod, Christian Aid and World Vision in the region, which includes disasters in Vietnam and the Philippines. 

In Canada, Church Clings to Relevancy as Attendance Dwindles

The Canadian National Post reports that Canada's mainline churches mirror their American counterparts' dwindling attendance. As congregations shrink, more churches are forced to close their doors, unable to support their historic buildings. Father Daniel Berniquez, Episcopal vicar of the French sector of the Ottawa archdiocese, says churches that once drew 400 to 500 people now attract about 40. "Fifty years ago, most people went to church," says Mr. Berniquez. "But that reality has changed. There's less people going to church. It is true for the Catholic church, but it is also true of other denominations." Many parishioners, like 68-year-old George Laplante, must find new church homes as their own close. "It is sad, it is too bad, but that's the reality of life," Laplante said.

Two Indonesian Churches Receive Bomb Threats

Compass Direct News reports that two churches in the greater Jakarta area have received bomb threats. In East Jakarta, the pastor of a Batak Protestant Christian Church received a threatening phone call before Sunday services on Oct. 4. The church building is located near the headquarters of an elite police corps. The unknown caller to the Rev. Abidan Simanungkalit's cell phone said the bomb would explode during the morning worship service. The pastor immediately called police, who discovered a fake bomb hidden in the back of the church. In the north of Jakarta, a church leader of a Bethel Indonesia congregation received a similar threat the previous day, Oct. 3. Police did not find any explosives during their search. Officers speculated that the caller was unable to construct a real bomb but wanted to publicize a threat.