Religion Today Summaries - July 12, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff | Thursday, July 12, 2007

Religion Today Summaries - July 12, 2007

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • Billboard: 'Jesus Healed my Wife'
  • Church Vows to Minister to Pastor while Awaiting Legal Outcome
  • Death of Pastor in India Remains Unsolved
  • Other Christian Churches are 'Wounded,' Vatican Says

Billboard: 'Jesus Healed my Wife'
When Patsy Tripodo, 58, recovered from a “death coma,” her husband, Ron, spread news of her miracle in a unique way. A member of Cobb Vineyard Church who lives in east Cobb County, Ron put up billboards along some of Atlanta's most traveled highways, each featuring Patsy’s smiling face with the words, "Jesus healed my wife:" About 18 months ago, Patsy contracted herpes simplex encephalitis, a rare virus that usually leads to a high fever, seizures, brain lesions and often death. Even as they started treatment, doctors told Ron the prognosis was grim. Today, however, Patsy is almost fully recovered. She and Ron now pray for the many people who have visited the site and shared their own struggles. Darryl Kaelin, medical director of Shepherd Center's acquired brain injury program where Patsy was treated, says, "Whether it's a miracle of science or faith or all of the above is sometimes difficult to distinguish. But I will say this: Ron's faith that Patsy was going to be healed never wavered.”

Church Vows to Minister to Pastor while Awaiting Legal Outcome
A Louisiana pastor says his church is hopeful that an associate pastor arrested last week on sex charges will be exonerated, according to But even if he's not, they still plan to minister spiritual help to him. Mike Raspberry, senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Slidell, says police arrested James Griffin, 67, on charges related to child molestation and possession of child pornography, after executing search warrants on computers at Immanuel Baptist Church and Grace Baptist Church, where Griffin previously volunteered, and at Griffin’s home in Pearl River. The Times-Picayune reports that Griffin has been charged with two counts of aggravated sex crimes and 47 counts of possession of child pornography. Raspberry says Griffin had no contact with children in his associate role with the church, which he has held since 2004. "We will continue to minister to the man, and to help him in any way that we can," says Pastor Raspberry.

Death of Pastor in India Remains Unsolved
Family and friends of Pastor Goda Israel, whose body was found in a pond in Andhra Pradesh in February, say they are still convinced that he was murdered despite police claims of “accidental drowning.” The body of the 29-year-old pastor was found on February 20 in a fishpond near his home in Pedapallparru village, Gudivada. A source in the Rajasthan state-based Emmanuel Mission International had told Compass Direct News that stab wounds were found on Israel’s body. Others observed wounds on the body, but police now say that Israel drowned accidentally. At press time, local people said police still had not contacted any other family member or villager to gather facts about the case. But Israel’s wife Aruna told Compass that a local government official, Narsimha Rao, had offered compensation of 50,000 rupees (US$1,237) if she agreed to accept the death as an accidental drowning. Although they believe Israel was murdered, family and church members said they did not suspect Hindu extremists were responsible for his death.

Other Christian Churches are 'Wounded,' Vatican Says
The Vatican said Monday that Christian denominations outside Roman Catholicism were not full churches of Jesus Christ, reports Reuters News Service. A 16-page document by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith described Christian Orthodox churches as true churches, but suffering from a "wound" since they do not recognize the primacy of the Pope. The "wound is still more profound" in Protestant denominations, while other Christian Churches are "not Churches in the proper sense of the word,” but rather "ecclesial communities" because they “lack elements considered essential to the Catholic Church.” The Vatican text, which restates the controversial document "Dominus Iesus" issued by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2000, said the Church wanted to stress this point because some Catholic theologians continued to misunderstand it. Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Pope in April, 2005. The document aimed to correct "erroneous or ambiguous" interpretations of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Bishop Wolfgang Huber, head of the Protestant umbrella group Evangelical Church in Germany, said the new Vatican document effectively downgraded Protestant Churches and would make ecumenical relations more difficult. Father Augustine Di Noia, under-secretary for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said the document did not alter the commitment for ecumenical dialogue.