Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 2, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Jan. 2, 2007


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

  • Campaign Lets U.S. Believers Share Bibles With Developing Countries' Christians
  • Church Official: ECUSA's Future Depends on Leaders' Return to God's Word
  • Christian Leader Re-Arrested on Christmas Eve in China
  • Millennial Generation Convenes at Urbana Conference

Campaign Lets U.S. Believers Share Bibles With Developing Countries' Christians

The executive director of a Michigan-based ministry is challenging Christians in the United States to try conducting one worship service without a Bible so they can better understand what believers in other nations must endure. He hopes this exercise will encourage many Christians to share an essential resource they may be taking for granted. For the past half century, AgapePress reports, Christian Resources International (CRI) has sent Bibles and Christian books to needy believers overseas. Now the ministry has launched an initiative called "Operation Bare Your Bookshelf." The project allows Christians in the U.S. to find out the resource needs of believers in other nations and send books and Bibles from their personal libraries to meet those needs. As CRI executive director Fred Palmerton notes, many Christians around the world currently do not even own or have access to a Bible. Most believers in the U.S. and other affluent nations are fortunate, he says, to have had the luxury of a Bible as they were growing up. "But can you imagine being a new Christian," Palmerton asks, and "you're all fired up and [thinking], 'This guy can save my soul? Well, who is He? What do I know about Him?' -- and you don't even have a Bible? That's the part that we have a burden for."

Church Official: ECUSA's Future Depends on Leaders' Return to God's Word

An official with the Institute on Religion and Democracy expects to see the current conflicts within the Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA) continue throughout the coming year, including schism over the current liberal leadership and direction of the denomination. This past year, the ECUSA's new presiding bishop, Katherine Jefferts Schori, said Christ was not the only way to get to Heaven. She also remarked that homosexuals do not choose their behavior. These and other indications of Bishop Schori's biblically unorthodox beliefs have sparked criticism and unease among conservative members of the denomination and within the broader Anglican community. Recently, a group of conservative Episcopal churches in Virginia broke away from the ECUSA. Most of the congregations that left the denomination will now join with the newly established Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), an affiliate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria. Faith McDonnell, director of the Religious Liberty Program with the Institute on Religion and Democracy, tells AgapePress the Episcopal Church in the United States is in serious trouble. "It's very painful to have this separation," she admits, "but we do believe that God will work everything out for good. We don't know what that will be, but we still do hope and pray that there would be revival in the Episcopal Church." McDonnell believes more churches throughout the United States will leave the ECUSA in the coming year. She sees only one way of slowing or reversing the current trend: the leaders of the Episcopal Church must return to God's Word.

Christian Leader Re-Arrested on Christmas Eve in China

Assist News Service reports a house church leader in Xinjiang, who was just released November 26, 2006 after 32 days detention by the local police, was arrested again December 23, 2006. According to China Aid Association (CAA), Brother Lou Yuanqi was arrested October 20, 2006 for organizing and participating in Christian gatherings in Qingshuihe town, Huocheng County, Yili city, Xinjiang autonomous area. CAA says: "It is believed that the arrest is to deter the Christians from holding any Christmas celebration activities. Brother Lou is currently held at the Detention Center of Huocheng County. So far, none of brother Lou’s family members have received any official notice regarding the reason of his detention." Moreover, CAA learned on Christmas Eve, a Christmas celebration was disrupted in Beijing. While about 150 young people were celebrating Christmas in a house church in Haidian District, Beijing, two-dozen Public Security Bureau officers and officials from Religious Affairs Bureau suddenly surrounded them. The hosting house church used to be pastured by Cai Zhuohua who is serving three years imprisonment because of bible printing work. All of the participants were videotaped and forced to register their ID numbers. The government officials declared the meeting as an "illegal religious gathering" and warned them not to meet anymore. In addition, CAA says that on December 19, 2006 a recently closed house church appealed to the local government for the church’s illegal closure by the local Religious Affair Bureau.

Millennial Generation Convenes at Urbana Conference

Answering the call to missions and seeking clues to global issues facing the church, record numbers of college students and youth converged in St. Louis for the 21st Urbana Student Missions Conference at the Edward Jones Dome and America’s Center Dec. 27-31. Baptist Press reports that 22,256 registrations from 144 countries as of Dec. 23 in attendence, which is an increase of 1,500 over the previous convention held in 2000. During an opening news conference Dec. 27, Alec Hill, president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, said a special emphasis would be placed on calling students to make long-term commitments to missions. “This event is not just another conference. Urbana conventions ... have been a catalyst for thousands of people to make life-long commitments to cross cultural missions,” Hill said. “Urbana has been and we pray will continue to be a watershed event for thousands of students who make life-altering decisions here.” The North American missions convention, sponsored by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA and Canada, seeks to mobilize students for missions by offering a platform for spiritual introspection through worship and Bible study, missions education through specialized seminars, and opportunities for service. This year, more than 270 mission organizations stand ready to sign up willing participants for trips and missions activities in the exhibit hall.