Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 13, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 13, 2007

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

  • Colorado Gunman Killed Self
  • Episcopal Church, Anglican Communion Continue to Undergo Seismic Shift
  • China: 270 House Church Pastors Detained for Alleged Illegal Religious Gathering
  • Volunteers Ready to Help Midwest Ice Storm Victims

Colorado Gunman Killed Self

ASSIST News Service reports that Matthew Murray, the man who police say shot and killed four people at two separate locations in Colorado on Sunday, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the coroner's office said Tuesday. “The death of Matthew Murray has been ruled a suicide,” CNN reported the El Paso County Coroner's Office said in a statement. “It should be noted that he was struck multiple times by the security officer, which put him down. He then fired a single round killing himself.” Police Sgt. Skip Arms told The Associated Press that Murray shot himself in the head. Police say before Murray, 24, went down, he shot and killed sisters Stephanie and Rachael Works, ages 18 and 16, and wounded their father, who was in or near their car in the parking lot of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Murray also wounded two other people with his assault rifle as he re-entered the church. One of them, Larry Bourbonnais, said he tried to distract the shooter before security guard Jeanne Assam made her move. “I'm telling you right now, she's the hero, not me. It was the bravest thing I have ever seen,” CNN reported Bourbonnais said. “She had no cover. He fired -- I heard him fire three. I heard her fire three. And she just began -- she kept yelling 'Surrender!' the whole time. And she just walked forward, like she's walking to her car in the parking lot, firing the whole time.” Bourbonnais said when he and Assam reached Murray, “He had slumped backwards, slid down on the floor, and expired.”

Episcopal Church, Anglican Communion Continue to Undergo Seismic Shift

According to Christian Newswire, last weekend was significant to the rift between the Episcopal Church and the larger Anglican Communion. On December 8, delegates to the Episcopal Church's Diocese of San Joaquin overwhelmingly voted to leave the denomination. Then on December 9, the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) consecrated four new bishops to support its growing work in North America. IRD Director of Anglican Action Ralph Webb commented: "The seismic shift in the Episcopal Church and the larger Anglican Communion continues unabated. The Diocese of San Joaquin is most likely only the first of several dioceses to leave the Episcopal Church. The denomination apparently has lost the vast majority of its parishioners and clergy in the diocese."

China: 270 House Church Pastors Detained for Alleged Illegal Religious Gathering

China Aid Association reports that 270 House Church Pastors have been detained for what Chinese officials are calling an "illegal religious gathering." According to ASSIST News Service, China Aid says that on December 7 at 1:30pm, House Church pastors in Hedeng District, Linyi City, were gathered for a Bible Study when their meeting was disrupted by police officials. According to Pastor Li, an eyewitness, 40-50 policemen from 12 different towns were involved in the massive detention. The pastors were then handcuffed two-by-two and taken to the local police station for questioning. As of this week 150 pastors remain in custody. Others have been released on a 300 Yuan ($40 USD) interrogation fee.

Volunteers Ready to Help Midwest Ice Storm Victims

Disaster relief feeding units were activated and chainsaw teams were being called in as one in three Oklahoma residents were without electrical power Dec. 11 following a widespread ice storm that continued to overwhelm the Midwest. At least 22 deaths had been blamed on the storm, and states of emergency were declared in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma, Baptist Press reports. By Tuesday, the storm had moved into Iowa. More than 500,000 customers were without electricity in Oklahoma since Monday, when trees began snapping under the weight of the ice, bringing down power lines. Oklahoma Baptist disaster relief kitchens operating from First Baptist Church in Sapulpa and Arrow Heights Baptist Church in Broken Arrow were supplying meals for 17 Red Cross shelters in Tulsa and Miami, Sam Porter, Oklahoma's disaster relief coordinator, reported. In Oklahoma City, a feeding unit at Trinity International Baptist Church was supplying three shelters in the city, and First Baptist Church in Chandler and First Baptist Church in Drumright were serving as shelters for residents with no electricity to heat their homes. By the end of the day Tuesday, the state convention expected all kitchen facilities to be accompanied by disaster relief chaplains. Porter has requested that 10 out-of-state chainsaw teams deploy to Oklahoma City and 10 to Tulsa to help with the emergency cleanup of downed trees. Those 20 units would join the eight Oklahoma chainsaw crews already activated, Porter said.