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Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 12, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 12, 2009

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

  • Baptist Group Helping Victims of Gaza Conflict
  • Pa. Episcopal Church Sues Parishes for $20M
  • Zimbabwe: Relief Team Turned Back at Border
  • Ban Lifted on Malay Section of Catholic Newspaper

Baptist Group Helping Victims of Gaza Conflict

ASSIST News Service reports that an international group of Baptists is assisting persons suffering from the crisis in Gaza. A BWAid Rescue24 team, operated by Hungarian Baptist Aid (HBAid) which is part of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), has been in Cairo, Egypt, since Dec. 31, providing medical treatment to persons who have fled from Gaza. BWAid made an initial grant of US $10,000 toward the medical relief effort. The team will relocate to the Egyptian city of El Arish, which is about 60 kilometers from Gaza, to continue the medical work. HBAid is also planning other relief projects, including a psychosocial program for children in the heavily bombed city of Sderot in southern Israel.

Pa. Episcopal Church Sues Parishes for $20M

The Associated Press (AP) reports that the Episcopal Church has sued breakaway parishes in Pittsburgh for $20 million in property assets. The majority of parishes in the Pittsburgh Diocese departed from the national church in October, and many intend to join the newly formed "rival" province, the Anglican Church in North America. According to the AP, spokesman Rich Creehan said the national church submitted the suit Thursday after it was "ignored" by parishes. The Rev. Peter Frank, spokesman for the Anglican Communion Network that includes many of the seceding parishes, said the assets should be divided fairly between those who left and those who remained. The suit follows a major legal victory for the Episcopal Church in California, whose Supreme Court Monday said that seceding parishes must relinquish property ownership when they leave.

Zimbabwe: Relief Team Turned Back at Border

Mission News Network reports that one relief group's aid has been rejected by Zimbabwe officials, despite millions in need. United Nations estimates that 5.5 million in the country need food assistance, and health care needs continue to rise as a cholera epidemic spreads. "Other products that we've found, when they've been taken to Zimbabwean officials, have been met with the same resistance and the same official rejection of the products. So we're beginning to wonder if it's got to do with the product, or whether it's got to do with the desire to help their people, or just keep their political positions secure," said Dave Bremner with SIM International (Serving in Mission). The group turned to partners in Johannesburg, South Africa, and distributed its aid to Zimbabwean refugees there.

Ban Lifted on Malay Section of Catholic Newspaper

Compass Direct News reports that nine days after imposing a ban on the Malay-language section of the Herald, a Catholic newspaper, Malaysia’s Ministry of Home Affairs yesterday lifted the ban – but stipulated that the publisher must not use the word “Allah” for God in its Malay section until the matter is settled in court. The editor of the Herald, which publishes in English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil, was notified of the decision late Thursday evening. The publisher must still print the word “terhad” (“restricted” or “limited” in Malay) on the cover page of the newspaper to indicate that the weekly can only be sold in churches and is meant for Christians only. Father Lawrence Andrew, editor of the Herald, told Compass the publisher is preparing a reply to the ministry in which it will reiterate its stand that the weekly ought to be allowed to use “Allah” until the court decides otherwise.