Religion Today Summaries - June 11, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - June 11, 2008

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

  • Zimbabwe Police Raid Christian Offices
  • Gender, Membership Issues at SBC
  • Anglican Bishop Warns Breakaway Clergy
  • Georgia: World Vision Gives Dairy Cows

Zimbabwe Police Raid Christian Offices

ASSIST News Service reports that five staff members have been taken away for questioning and another assaulted in a raid by riot police on the offices in Harare, Zimbabwe, of the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA), a partner organization of UK relief agency Tearfund. Those taken away were questioned at Harare Central police Station. Useni Sibanda, National Coordinator for the ZCA said, "This is pure harassment of church organizations. We are just doing our usual work and we don’t understand why we should be attacked by riot police like this." During the raid the police confiscated papers including the March edition of the ZCA newsletter. It is understood that no charges have yet been brought. A lawyer from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights is in Harare to represent those detained. This raid follows the regime’s confrontation with diplomats last week and the increased intimidation of civil society groups.

Gender, Membership Issues at SBC

According to OneNewsNow, the results of a LifeWay Research study will be presented at this year's Southern Baptist Convention, which finds that only 26 percent of its pastors and eight percent of its lay people have training to help counsel those struggling with same-sex attraction. Bob Stith, with SBC's "The Way Out" program, said, "I hear from people everyday in our churches who are afraid to talk to their pastors, afraid to talk to their leadership [about same-sex attraction] -- and we need to change that culture." Meanwhile, the Christian Post reports that outgoing SBC president Frank Page urged members to be honest about declining membership and baptisms. Page has predicted that the number of Southern Baptist churches will fall by half by 2030 unless the denomination makes major changes, and urges members to take responsibility. “The truth is individuals and churches are the ones who are in decline. And we must deal with reality,” Page said at the annual meeting.

Anglican Bishop Warns Breakaway Clergy

The Anglican Journal reports that the New Westminster diocese in Vancouver has effectively banned five breakaway clergy from their previous parish property and leadership. Bishop Michael Ingham from the Anglican Church of Canada warned the five that they may not exercise ministry at their churches, are considered to be trespassing if they are on the property and may not remove anything, including books. Several parishes voted to leave the Canadian church in February over theological disagreements, including the blessing of same-sex unions. The parishes' clergy gave letters declaring that, although they relinquished their licensing, they planned to remain in their churches with the support of their congregations. Bishop Ingham said the diocese intends to “act legally to retain all property and assets belonging to these parishes and to the diocese” since schism, which is the “setting up of unlawful authority,” cannot be allowed to stand.

Georgia: World Vision Gives Dairy Cows

ASSIST News Service reports that dairy cows donated to 47 of the most food insecure households in Khashmi village in the Kakheti region of eastern Georgia will help alleviate the struggle for food and nutrition, thanks to a World Vision and Heifer International Food Security Enhancement (FSE) initiative. 20 cows were bought through World Vision's Gifts in Kind project 'Livestock for Vulnerable Families' and the other 27 were provided by Heifer International. These households were chosen from a village population of some 1,537 people. "We don't have cattle in our family so for me it is a huge support; I cannot even express it in words. Before I had to buy diary products for my grandchildren, and I could rarely afford them. Now my children will have cheese and other products," said 60-year-old Mary, who received one of the dairy cows.