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Religion Today Summaries - July 9, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - July 9, 2008

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

  • Church of England Backs Female Bishops
  • Retired UMC Clergy to Perform Same-Sex 'Marriages'
  • Churches Revamp Short-Term Missions
  • Women to Hold Prayer Vigil at Zimbabwe Border

Church of England Backs Female Bishops

After hours of debate, the Church of England's ruling body voted to allow its women priests a pathway to become bishops, FOXNews reports. Traditionalists' pleas to accommodate dissenters was overruled, as the synod rejected proposals for new "super bishops" who would watch over dissenting parishes. "I feel ashamed," said the Right Rev. Stephen Venner, Bishop of Dover, who is in favor of women bishops. "We have talked for hours about wanting to give an honorable place to those who disagree... We have turned down every, almost realistic opportunity for those who are opposed, to flourish." Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said he did not want to limit the authority women bishops had within the church. "I am deeply unhappy with any scheme or any solution to this which ends up, as it were, structurally humiliating women who might be nominated," he said. Hundreds of traditionalists have threatened to leave over the lack of accommodation. The synod postponed a final decision by agreeing to draw up a code of practice not due until next year.

Retired UMC Clergy to Perform Same-Sex 'Marriages'

OneNewsNow reports that more than 80 retired United Methodist ministers have announced their intentions to perform homosexual unions in California after a recent meeting. The California-Pacific Conference is one of the denominations most liberal and fastest declining regions, however, and some see this move as nothing more than a fad. "They've lost about 50 percent of their membership in about 40 years," Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy notes. "So despite all their rhetoric by their very liberal claims by wanting to become more inclusive and open, in fact the evidence shows that their liberal theology has gained them nothing in terms of membership." The UMC book of church order forbids clergy, both active and retired, from officiating homosexual union. Retired ministers, however, are much less likely to be defrocked.

Churches Revamp Short-Term Missions

According to the Christian Post, a growing number of churches are cutting short-term mission trips to overseas destinations in favor of trips to needy parts of the United States. In St. Petersburg, Fla., youth journeyed to local low-income homes, worked with the homeless, and volunteered at free health clinics. Alan MacDonald, a pastor at Fairfax Community Church, said his church is changing its mission trips “to get away from the vacation-with-a-purpose." Wycliffe Associates, which organizes short-term volunteers, estimates short-term missions contribute some $6 billion in labor. However, it costs at least five times more overall to send a short-termer than a long-term missionary. "If [the trips] are only about ourselves, then we're doing nothing more than using another culture ... to get some benefit at their expense," said the Rev. Roger Peterson, chairman of the Alliance for Excellence in Short-Term Mission.

Women to Hold Prayer Vigil at Zimbabwe Border

Botswana Sunday Standard reports that a group of Christian women from different denominations in Francistown, Botswana, will soon hold a prayer vigil at the border of Zimbabwe. The announcement came yesterday as the women's coalition passed out clothes, money and food to Zimbabwean refugees at Francistown's Anglican Church. The coalition said their goal is to complement government efforts and take care of those seeking asylum in neighboring Botswana. The coalition includes eleven churches which have partnered together for years in humanitarian causes in Francistown and surrounding areas.