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Religion Today Summaries - August 18, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - August 18, 2005

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

  • Outreach And Drop-in Center Flourishes as an ‘Oasis’ in Hollywood

  • New Women's Ministry Rises Up In Mountains Of Glorieta

  • Court Rules School Board Members May Open Meetings With Prayer

  • Lutherans Vote Against Ordaining Active Homosexuals

Outreach And Drop-in Center Flourishes as an ‘Oasis’ in Hollywood
Charisma News Service

A Christian outreach and drop-in center in Hollywood's inner city is shining a different kind of light in a city filled with stars. Founded in its current location by pastors Ron and Judy Radachy in 1993, Oasis of Hollywood is located six blocks away from the famous Walk of Fame sidewalk and the Kodak Theater, site of the Academy Awards and the crowning episodes of "American Idol." But within another 10 minutes' walk is an area that's a haven for male, female or transsexual prostitutes of almost any age and drugs of all kinds. Two blocks farther is a supermarket for occult shoppers and spiritual home to local Satanists. "This is a very oppressive area," Ron Radachy told Charisma magazine. In an area where few outreach ministries survive, Oasis has flourished. Reaching gangbangers, prostitutes, homeless alcoholics, single moms and "good" kids with abusive parents, the center offers after-school programs, tutoring, emergency food and shelter for families, and a Sunday evening youth service. Yet the Radachys believe their most vital program is the Urban School of Evangelism, a one-week mission trip for youth and college-age groups from across the nation. They stay in the center and minister in Hollywood streets, on skid row and on the Santa Monica beach. (www.charismanews.com)

New Women's Ministry Rises Up In Mountains Of Glorieta
Karen L. Willoughby, Baptist Press

Whimsical stick figures of women caught in emotional postures are one of several ways that demonstrate Arise Ministries is not your typical women's ministry. A variety of visual aids -- such as a pot and spoon, red robe and crown, bow and arrow -- helped drive home points made during Arise Ministries' "I Want To Meet With You" Women's Conference July 22-24 at LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center. For many of the more than 80 women from the southwestern United States who attended the first-ever Arise Ministries regional women's summit, the event brought the concept of a women's conference to a higher level by offering practical application through a revealing look at the Scriptures. Arise Ministries, based in Edmond, Okla., was co-founded three years ago by Pam Kanaly and Shelley Pulliam. Through lessons learned personally, Kanaly and Pulliam spoke about the need for encounters with God, about self-esteem issues, and about the fact that what God wants is a thriving relationship with each of His children -- a relationship so intense that humans reflect His glory. The messages resonated with an audience that included young adults and retirees.

Court Rules School Board Members May Open Meetings With Prayer
Jim Brown, Agape Press

A Delaware judge has tossed out a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging prayers at the Indian River School District's Board of Education meetings. The group, which regularly opens its business meetings with prayer, was being sued collectively, along with individual board members, for maintaining its policy of opening meetings with voluntary sectarian or nonsectarian invocations or moments of silence. Finn Laursen, executive director of Christian Educators Association International, is pleased with the judge's decision and notes with satisfaction that now, "A court has confirmed that school board meetings can include prayer. School board members have First Amendment rights. The outrageous part is that it was even in doubt." Judge Joseph Farnan ruled that the board meeting prayers are not, as the ACLU had argued, a violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, or the so-called "separation of church and state." He also ruled that the board members are personally immune from the plaintiff's liability claims and that any deliberative body at any level of government, from legislatures to school boards, may have prayer. Laursen called the ruling "a major victory for free speech" and a defeat for the ACLU's crusade to discriminate against people of faith in public service.

Lutherans Vote Against Ordaining Active Homosexuals
Baptist Press

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America chose not to follow the example of ordaining active homosexual clergy set by the Episcopal Church. Lutherans, at their national assembly in Orlando Aug. 12, voted 503-490 against a measure that would have allowed bishops and church districts to ordain homosexuals who were in a long-term relationship and met other restrictions, according to the Associated Press. The rule change would have needed a two-thirds majority to pass. Delegates in the nation's largest Lutheran denomination also voted against an amendment that would have given pastors permission to bless same-sex unions, The New York Times reported. The three measures were the culmination of three years of work by a special church task force charged with examining the issue of homosexuality within the ELCA. "This church is not ready to make major changes in its ordination practices," New Jersey Synod Bishop Roy Riley told AP. "That was the crux, really." The 4.9 million-member denomination also voted 851-127 in favor of keeping the church unified despite differences over homosexuality. The presiding bishop, Mark Hanson, said during a news conference following the meeting that he hoped homosexuals understand that they are welcome in Lutheran churches despite the votes.