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Religion Today Summaries - June 1, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 1, 2006

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

  • New Study on Christian Healthcare Underway
  • Christian Groups Improve Relief Coordination after Past Disasters
  • Ministry Leader: 'Mistake' to Use Da Vinci Code for Evangelism Opportunity
  • Southern Baptist Relief Workers Arrive in Indonesian Quake Zone, Begin Food Aid

New Study on Christian Healthcare Underway

The National Council of Churches is spearheading the first nationwide survey of health services provided by religious communities. “This study enables our member communions to gain a much better understanding of what is being done by, and with, congregations in health care, and to begin to build a network of congregations active in health care,” said the Rev. Dr. Robert Edgar, General Secretary of the NCC. The Christian Post reports the project will survey more than 100,000 congregations to determine the level of health care education, delivery, and advocacy being offered, and will be the most in-depth study of its kind. Christian and other faith groups have long provided vital social services to the poor, standing in the forefront of the battle against poverty and disaster.

Christian Groups Improve Relief Coordination after Past Disasters

Christian relief groups have shown greater coordination in providing care and distributing aid to the recent quake victims, a result of experience from so many natural disasters in recent years. The Christian Post reports that Action by Churches Together, a global alliance of churches and agencies around the world, reported on Monday the efforts of three of its members in the hardest-hit city of Yogyakarta. Yakkum Emergency Unit (YEU), Yayasan Tanggul Bencana (YTBI), and Church World Service (CWS) were on the grounds soon after the disaster trying to meet the critical needs of earthquake survivors. The three ACT members currently working in Indonesia were also highly active during the 2004 tsunami and continue to be involved in post-tsunami works. In addition, during the October 2005 South Asia quake, ACT member CWS was one of the first groups on the scene in Pakistan and played a large role in distributing tents and emergency supplies to the more than 2.5 million homeless victims. The chaos and confusion surrounding these disasters demanded Christian relief organizations to work and communicate with each other to avoid repeating the same efforts.

Ministry Leader: 'Mistake' to Use Da Vinci Code for Evangelism Opportunity

AgapePress reports that a Christian leader is criticizing the way some churches have handled the controversy surrounding the recent film version of Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code. Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council believes it was a mistake to use the movie as an evangelistic tool. Audiences are turning out in great numbers to see the highly publicized film, but Schenck says much of that audience comes from churches that have encouraged their members to go see it. He believes that was not a good idea. "Urging people to go and see it to make it an evangelistic opportunity I think was a big mistake, and will backfire and will only lead people down the wrong road." Schenck feels people should have been warned not to spend their money in support of a film considered blasphemous by numerous religious leaders and groups. "We probably would have been better to ignore it," he laments.

Southern Baptist Relief Workers Arrive in Indonesian Quake Zone, Begin Food Aid

Southern Baptist disaster relief specialists arrived May 29 in Indonesia’s central island of Java and immediately began assessing ways to aid survivors of the May 27 earthquake that killed more than 5,600 people. Baptist Press reports the relief specialists are using an initial $50,000 in Southern Baptist aid to provide food to outlying areas neglected by larger aid groups. Additional funds likely will be requested in the coming days. “We’ll be determining in the next few days what we’re going to be doing,” a Southern Baptist worker said. “The United Nations, the U.S. government, the European Union and other groups are short-termers, but we’re trying to determine what Southern Baptists need to be doing for the long term in this.” Southern Baptists have contributed more than $16 million to tsunami aid and reconstruction work in southern Asia since that disaster. Workers asked for prayer for Southern Baptist disaster relief specialists as they assess ways to aid survivors, and that God would provide wisdom as they make decisions and as they seek to remain physically safe.