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Religion Today Summaries - December 20, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - December 20, 2004

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

  • Southern Baptists' Mission Focus: Raise Millions, Send Thousands

  • Shooting At Crystal Cathedral

  • Ten Commandments Cases To Be Argued Early March By U.S. Supreme Court

  • Homeless Church 'Opens Its Arms' to Down-And-Out in San Francisco

Southern Baptists' Mission Focus: Raise Millions, Send Thousands
Allie Martin, AgapePress

The nation's largest evangelical denomination is trying to raise $150 million to send missionaries out into the field. The record goal of $150 million was set by officials in the Southern Baptist Convention as they prepare for the annual "Lottie Moon" Christmas offering for international missions.  Dr. Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board of the SBC, says while many of the large churches garner attention for large offerings, numerous smaller churches are stepping out in faith. "The most thrilling thing for me is to hear from a lot of our little churches -- [those] with just maybe 30 or 40 members, or less than a hundred members -- that give far beyond what they would have ever envisioned being capable of giving in the past," Rankin shares. Currently there are more than 3,000 candidates in the missionary appointment process.  Rankin notes that missionaries often serve in volatile areas -- among them eight SBC missionaries who were killed over the past two years while serving in the field. Because giving for the Lottie Moon offering was $10 million below the goal in 2002, missionary appointments were down in 2003.  The 2003 goal of $135 million was exceeded by slightly more than one million dollars.  The namesake for the international missions offering, Lottie Moon, was a 19th-century SBC missionary to China.

Shooting At Crystal Cathedral
Baptist Press

A church musical director with a history of mental illness opened fire inside the Crystal Cathedral in Orange County, Calif., Dec. 16 and killed himself after a nine-hour standoff with police. No one else was injured in the incident. Authorities say Johnnie Wayne Carl, 57, began firing shots on the Cathedral's concourse level, where about 100 cast members were preparing for the first of two Glory of Christmas programs that night. He then went alone to an office and eventually barricaded himself inside a bathroom. Children in a day-care center at the church were rushed to safety, the Associated Press reported. A SWAT team was called to the scene, and police attempted to negotiate with the gunman, who was a full-time employee of the church. Robert Schuller, the well-known pastor of the Crystal Cathedral, went to a police command post near the church and taped a personal message for the man, the AP said, but police did not have a chance to play that message or one from the man's wife before he shot himself. The Crystal Cathedral opened in 1980 and has more than 10,000 members and a sanctuary that seats 2,900 people. It is also known as an architectural icon with more than 10,000 windows of silver-colored glass.

Ten Commandments Cases To Be Argued Early March By U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has announced that cases involving the Ten Commandments will be argued on March 2, 2005, from 10 a.m. to noon. The Texas case of Van Orden v. Perry will be heard first, followed by the Kentucky cases in McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky. The Kentucky counties of McCreary and Pulaski are being represented by Liberty Counsel, with Mat Staver, president of Liberty Counsel, presenting oral argument on their behalf. The McCreary case involves a "Foundations of Law" display in the courthouses of both counties' courthouses. That display includes the Ten Commandments along with nine other historical and legal documents contained in 11 frames of equal size, presented as a sampling of documents that have influenced American law and government. Last week Liberty Counsel filed a 50-page brief with the Supreme Court, and the United States of America filed an amicus brief in support of Liberty Counsel's arguments in the McCreary County case. Twenty-one states have also joined together to file an amicus brief in support of the case as well. Staver says Liberty Counsel is pleased that the U.S.A. and 22 states "have weighed in on our side." He adds that this broad scale show of support "reveals the broad impact a decision on the Ten Commandments will have on America and our shared religious heritage." The ACLU's brief is due in early January.

Homeless Church 'Opens Its Arms' to Down-And-Out in San Francisco
Charisma News Service

Homeless people in San Francisco know where to find a good meal and a warm bed. They look for the bus with their name on it -- which also happens to be a church. The Homeless Church (THC), which is affiliated with the Assemblies of God, meets in the bus six nights a week for Bible study and worship. It's an unconventional church, born from a vision God gave Evan Prosser 10 years ago when he was pastoring a "normal" church in Northern California's farm country. The Prossers were convinced that God did not want them to put their efforts into a shelter or a counseling program, the ministry models favored by many homeless missions. Instead, He was calling them to live among the destitute, to fully identify themselves with the lowest of the low, to actually become "part of their world." And they have. Today, Evan and April live in a decrepit 1964 GMC school bus, parked among the homeless in their community. "We have cast in our lot with them," Prosser said. In this way, too, they are identified with the estimated 14,000 homeless people who roam the city streets on any given night. The Prossers see the addicts, the prostitutes and the hopeless through the eyes of Jesus. (http://www.charismanow.com)