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Religion Today Summaries - August 31, 2005

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - August 31, 2005

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

  • World Relief To Equip Churches In Hurricane Relief 
  • Christian Relief Groups Move In Right Behind Katrina
  • Relief Donations Can Be Made Through State Conventions, NAMB 
  • Hearing On Dalit Christian Rights Case Delayed

World Relief To Equip Churches In Hurricane Relief
Religion News Service

Responding to the destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, World Relief announced today that the relief and development organization will be equipping churches in the affected area with resources needed to clean up and rebuild. World Relief understands that churches in Mississippi , Alabama , Florida and Louisiana already make up a grassroots volunteer network that can be mobilized immediately given the proper resources. This follows the disaster response model used in Indonesia after the tsunami, as well as other relief efforts World Relief has led during its 60 years of operation. World Relief will work with participating churches to provide assistance solely on the basis of need encouraging them to reach out to their entire community. With the massive amount of clean up that will be underway in the coming weeks, volunteers will need chainsaws, containers to haul away debris, tools, and other necessary items that will require an influx of cash. Donors wishing to contribute to the Hurricane Relief fund may do so at www.worldrelief.org or by calling 1-800-535-5433. In the United States and 24 countries around the world, World Relief has worked with local churches to create sustainable solutions that help the desperately poor. World Relief's programs include disaster relief, refugee assistance, AIDS ministries, community health, agricultural development and community banking.

Christian Relief Groups Move In Right Behind Katrina
Allie Martin and Jody Brown, Agape Press

Emergency disaster services teams from The Salvation Army and other relief agencies are preparing to meet the needs of storm victims and relief workers in those areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina. Early reports on Katrina are saying it could be one of the most damaging storms in U.S. history, with insurance costs estimated in the $25 billion range. The storm left death, destruction, and flooding in its wake; hardest hit appear to be New Orleans and southern Mississippi. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco said now is a time for both prayer and action. President Bush, at a speech in California on Monday, thanked Americans for praying for those who got caught in the wind and floods, and pledged that federal help is on the way. The Salvation Army and the Southern Baptists are among church groups moving in to provide food for victims and relief workers. Salvation Army has more than 70 mobile kitchens which will feed thousands of people who are expected to be without power for days and possibly even weeks. Major Dalton Cunningham is helping to coordinate relief efforts from the Jackson, Mississippi, office. Cunningham says partner agencies such as Operation Blessing and the Southern Baptist Men's Association are assisting with the feeding efforts.  Long-term aid, he says, will also be available after the primary, initial response of providing food and water.

Relief Donations Can Be Made Through State Conventions, NAMB
Martin King, Baptist Press

Hurricane Katrina was one of the most powerful storms to ever hit the United States, and it could be the most expensive. Early estimates of the financial impact of Katrina in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi range from $12 to 25 billion. It could take weeks or months to determine the total cost to tourism, businesses, homes, churches and governmental agencies. The cost also will be high for the nation's largest disaster relief operations including the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and Southern Baptists. "Most people aren't aware that Southern Baptists are the third largest disaster relief force in the country," said Claude Rhea, development director for the North American Mission Board which coordinates multi-state disaster response. Rhea urged Southern Baptists to give to their SBC disaster relief partners including the three state Baptist conventions most affected by Katrina, the state conventions sending units to the devastated areas, and to NAMB which coordinates movement of the thousands of Southern Baptist volunteers and their mobile units. Gifts can be made directly to state Baptist conventions, whose websites can be obtained through the NAMB site at www.namb.net and clicking on the "partners" line. Donations to NAMB for disaster relief can also be made at the website.

Hearing On Dalit Christian Rights Case Delayed
Compass Direct

Christians throughout India have begun a week of prayer and fasting following a government delay in determining equal rights for Dalit Christians. Dalits belonging to the Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh faiths qualify for a government plan that reserves 26 percent of jobs and educational places for them. Under current laws, Dalits who convert to Christianity or Islam lose their reservation privileges. The campaign to secure equal rights for Dalit Christians followed successful lobbying by Dalit Sikh and Buddhist communities that forced the government to include them in the rights scheme. “A nationwide week of fasting and prayer is being observed in churches and Christian institutions all over the country from August 25 in support of the Dalit cause,” John Dayal, the president of the All India Christian Council, told Compass. The Supreme Court was to hear the matter on August 25. On August 23, the government, represented by Attorney General Milon Banerji, demanded a four-month adjournment. The delay would allow an advisory panel, the Justice Rangnath Mishra National Commission for Linguistic and Religious Minorities, to review the case. The Supreme Court will now hear the case on October 18.