Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 28, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Aug. 28, 2009

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

  • South Korea Mulls Restricting Missionary Work in Mideast
  • Shuttle Mission to Include Missionary History
  • World Council of Churches Elects New General Secretary
  • Turkey: Murder Defendant Again Admits Perjury

South Korea Mulls Restricting Missionary Work in Mideast

Agence France-Presse reports that South Korea officials may restrict the country's citizens visits to the Middle East after "dozens" of South Korean missionaries were expelled from the area. "Dozens of our citizens were expelled from Iran, Jordan, Yemen and other Islamic countries in the Middle East last month," a foreign ministry official told AFP, asking not to be identified. "The government is considering taking various and prudent steps for the safety of citizens overseas," he said. Officials are reportedly worried about potential terror attacks against missionaries and the ramifications that may have for businessmen. In 2007, 23 South Korean Christians were held by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and two were murdered before the hostage situation was resolved.

Shuttle Mission to Include Missionary History

Religion News Service reports that when the space shuttle Discovery next takes flight, perhaps later this week, it will carry a piece of missionary history with it into outer space. On board will be a piece of the plane used by members of Missionary Aviation Fellowship, who were killed more than half a century ago in Ecuador by Waodani tribesman, the ministry announced. Astronaut Patrick Forrester contacted the Idaho-based ministry about carrying a memento from the plane that had been used by pilot Nate Saint and four other missionaries before their deaths in 1956. Their story was depicted in the 2006 movie "End of the Spear." "Bringing attention to and renewing interest in missions would be a great result of this experience," said Forrester, who was born the year after the missionaries were killed, in a statement.

World Council of Churches Elects New General Secretary

Christian Today reports that the members of the World Council of Churches have elected the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit to be their new General Secretary. "I am realistic but optimistic, we have a lot to do together," said Dr. Tveit, who has been Secretary General of the Church of Norway's Council on Ecumenical and International Relations since 2002. He also expressed the goal of better dialogue with Muslims. "I hope the WCC can lead on in strengthening and improving relations between Christians and Muslims all over the world," he said. Dr. Tveit was the only candidate besides Dr. Park Seong-wan, a professor of Youngnam Theological University and Seminary in Korea and an existing member of the WCC Central Committee. He follows the Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, who stepped down from the position after six years.

Turkey: Murder Defendant Again Admits Perjury

Compass Direct News reports that Turkish murder suspect Emre Gunaydin admitted in court last week that he had again committed perjury in the trial over the savage murders of three Christians. Gunaydin, 21, faced off in Malatya's Third Criminal Court last Friday (Aug. 21) with Varol Bulent Aral, whom he had previously named as one of the instigators of the attack at Zirve Publishing Co.'s Malatya office. Gunaydin, the alleged ringleader, told the court that he had lied by implicating Aral "to reduce the sentence." His admission came after Aral testified that he was indeed a key player in the "Ergenekon" conspiracy - believed to include top level political and security officials, among others. Gunaydin has retracted two similar allegations, and plaintiff lawyers have questioned whether he was pressured to change his testimony by the actual instigators.