Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 5, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Dec. 5, 2008

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

  • Conservatives Unveil New Anglican Church
  • 8 Million Christmas Shoeboxes Sent to Kids Worldwide
  • Egyptian Christian in Muslim ID Case Wins Right to Appeal
  • Church Comforts, Aids Victims in Jos, Nigeria

Conservatives Unveil New Anglican Church

CNN reports that conservative Anglicans in North America officially broke with the U.S. Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada on Wednesday night, forming a rival "province" with a new constitution. "Some of us have been praying for this for decades," said Michael W. Howell, who attended the service, in a statement. "Instead of focusing on things that divide us, we as orthodox Anglicans are focusing on the things that unite us." Bishop Robert Duncan of the Pittsburgh, Pa., diocese said in a statement, "The public release of our draft constitution is an important concrete step toward the goal of a biblical, missionary and united Anglican Church in North America." Four dioceses have left the Episcopal Church for this more theologically conservative body: Pittsburgh, Pa.; Quincy, Illinois; Fort Worth, Texas; and San Joaquin, California.

8 Million Christmas Shoeboxes Sent to Kids Worldwide

The Christian Post reports that Operation Christmas Child has collected 8 million shoe boxes packed with Christmas gifts for needy children in more than 100 countries this year, another landmark for the world's largest Christmas project, which is sponsored by Samaritan's Purse. “The cool thing about these boxes is that each of these will be filled with toys but they’ll also have a gospel tract in the language of the people that will be receiving it,” says pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif. The organization sent off three shipments this week, starting the distribution process. According to the Christmas Post, OCC utilizes more than 100,000 volunteers worldwide, and receives donations from 10 other countries besides the U.S.

Egyptian Christian in Muslim ID Case Wins Right to Appeal

Compass Direct News reports that a Supreme Court judge in Egypt on Nov. 22 granted Christian Bahia El-Sisi the right to appeal her conviction for falsification of documents – a charge stemming from her official papers not identifying her as a Muslim. In addition, Judge Abdel Meged Mahmood on Nov. 25 rescinded a Sept. 23 warrant for El-Sisi’s arrest, declaring that she should be free pending a final decision. The charges against El-Sisi and her sister, Shadia El-Sisi, claimed that their marriage certificates contained false information that they were Christians. Unknown to them, their religious identity officially changed 46 years ago due to their father’s brief conversion to Islam. Investigation into the sisters’ religious status began following a visit made to their father, Nagy El-Sisi, himself in prison for forgery. Nagy El-Sisi, who had briefly converted to Islam in 1962 before reconverting three years later, obtained a forged Christian ID because there is no official means for converting from Islam in Egypt. Under sharia (Islamic law), which heavily influences Egyptian law, the sisters are considered Muslims due to their father’s temporary conversion.

Church Comforts, Aids Victims in Jos, Nigeria

Baptist Press reports that at least 12 Nigerian Baptists were killed and five Baptist churches burned during Thanksgiving weekend riots sparked by local election results in Jos, Nigeria. International Mission Board workers in the area and several Nigerian Baptist congregations are reaching out to comfort and house those left hurting and homeless. News agencies report more than 300 people killed and thousands injured in fires and riots. Dozens of churches, mosques, businesses and homes were burned. One local pastor's church is housing some of those who have lost their homes. Other local Baptist churches are doing the same. Church families also are helping to house boarding students evacuated from the Baptist high school there. "Everyone is sad and afraid, but we have faith," the pastor said, noting rumors swirl that the fighting may start again. "We can only do our part to help. We will find out more about the damages in coming days and find out what we can do."