Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 16, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 16, 2007

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

In today's edition:

  • Wife who Killed Preacher Set Free
  • Global Church Head Meets With Korean Hostage Families
  • Gaza Christian kidnapped, Forced to Marry Muslim
  • Baptist Pastor under Scrutiny

Wife who Killed Preacher Set Free

After spending a total of seven months in custody, the Tennessee woman who fatally shot her preacher husband in the back was released on Tuesday, her lawyer told CNN. Mary Winkler, a 33-year-old mother of three girls, was freed from a Tennessee mental health facility where she was treated for depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, lawyer Steve Farese said. She still is embedded in a legal battle to win custody of her daughters and faces a $2 million civil suit from her slain husband’s parents. Winkler spent the last two months in therapy following her conviction for voluntary manslaughter in the death of Matthew Winkler, a popular new preacher at Fourth Street Church of Christ in Selmer. He was found dead in the parsonage by church elders when he failed to show for an evening service in March 2006. Mary Winkler never denied shooting her husband but described a verbally and sexually abusive 10-year marriage.

Global Church Head Meets With Korean Hostage Families

The Christian Post reports that the head of the World Council of Churches met briefly with the families of the Korean hostages at their home church outside of Seoul Tuesday to offer comfort and prayers for the hostages’ safe return. “I told them they have now become part of a bigger family, and they can feel they now have a global family holding them up in prayer,” said Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC). The group of 23 South Korean Christian volunteers was abducted by Taliban gunmen on July 19 in Afghanistan’s Ghazni Province. Two male captives have been killed, including the group’s leader Bae Hyun-kyu, who was a youth pastor at Sammul Church. On Monday, two female hostages were released, marking the first breakthrough in negotiations. The WCC general secretary’s visit comes at the close of his weeklong visit to South Korea where he attended pre-planning conferences for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Korea’s great 1907 revival and to examine the continuing role of the Korean churches in the reunification of the Korean peninsula.

Gaza Christian Kidnapped, Forced to Marry Muslim

According to the Baptist Press, Christian university professor in Gaza was kidnapped, forced to marry a Muslim professor at the same university and now her family is being told she wants no contact with them unless they convert to Islam. Sana al-Sayegh, head of the Science and Technology Department at Gaza City's Palestine International University, disappeared June 24, according to Palestinian Authority officials and the woman's family. Five days later, she contacted her family to say she was being held against her will so she could be married to a Muslim man. Officials of Gaza's Hamas government denied the charge, but her family says she would never willingly convert to Islam, according to Mission Network News. A few days after the phone call, they received a copy of conversion documents signed by two witnesses, one of which is the president of the university.

Baptist Pastor under Scrutiny

According to the Washington Post, the Rev. Jerry Sutton, a prominent Southern Baptist pastor, faces allegations from church members that he has misspent church funds and silenced opposition to his leadership. "We have a fractured fellowship. Somehow, with the Lord's help, we need to put this church back together," Harry Jester, who's been in the congregation for 32 years, said at a church meeting July 28. About 600 members attended the meeting concerning the allegations, where Executive Pastor Scott Hutchings defended the church budget and acknowledged that the church paid about $4,300 for a reception for Sutton's daughter that was open to all church members. Sutton has served as leader of Nashville's Two Rivers Baptist Church for nearly 21 years. A key member of the SBC's conservative leadership, Sutton last year was nominated for president of the 16.3 million-member denomination, but lost to Frank Page of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C.