Religion Today Summaries - March 29, 2007

Compiled or Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 29, 2007

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

  • Germany Recalling its Christian Roots
  • Youth Pastor: Parents, not Churches, Should Raise Teens
  • Italian Bishops: Rights for Gay, Unmarried Couples at Odds with Faith
  • Canadian churches Share how They Unite to Show Kindness

Germany Recalling its Christian Roots

According to Spero News, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is also the current president of the EU, said this week she understands Pope Benedict XVI’s criticisms of the European Union for not mentioning God or its Christian roots in the Declaration of Berlin. Merkel agreed that Europe should recognize in some way its Judeo-Christian heritage even if through a document separate from the European Constitution. Speaking “for herself,” Merkel praised the Judeo-Christian values that sustain the EU, despite their not being mentioned in the Declaration of Berlin. "I know this is something that many people in Europe want. Nevertheless, there are secular traditions that reject the mention of faith in official documents of the State," she said.

Youth Pastor: Parents, not Churches, Should Raise Teens

A youth pastor from Illinois says too many parents are giving spiritual custody of their children to the church, reports. Ray Baumann's church, First Assembly of God in Belleville, is changing its schedule and procedures in order to make worship more of a family affair. Baumann says he once looked for ways to draw big crowds while entertaining teens, but he's realized that the church should not measure success by man's standards, and he seeks to warn others about the emergent church movement. Youth ministry has become big business, Baumann believes, and skimps on the full gospel. To counteract the temptation parents have of letting the church instill values in kids, Baumann says instead churches can help families foster more time together by not having so many programs that segregate parents and children -- including worship and Bible study.

Italian Bishops: Rights for Gay, Unmarried Couples at Odds with Faith

Catholic News Service reports that members of the permanent council of the Italian bishops' conference said that supporting legislation giving legal rights to gay or heterosexual couples who are not married is a position that is not consistent with the Catholic faith. "The faithful Christian is obliged to form his conscience" in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church, the bishops said in a statement. The bishops said they understood the difficulties faced by Catholic politicians today, "in which an authentically human vision of the person is contested in a radical way. But it is also for this reason that Catholics are called to be involved in politics."

Canadian churches Share how They Unite to Show Kindness

A member of a Canadian evangelical group says efforts by New Zealand churches to find groundbreaking ways to reach out to their communities has in some ways put them ahead of churches in his own country, ASSIST News Service. David Macfarlane made the comment while visiting a number of churches to talk about Celebration - a nationwide outreach initiative that has taken off in Canada since it was launched in 2005. Mr. Macfarlane, director of national initiatives with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, met ministers and church leaders to discuss the idea of Celebration being launched in New Zealand. He was impressed to find how involved churches there are already in looking at different ways to connect with their communities. “I was encouraged... you are obviously further ahead then we are on this concept,” he said. “In a way, spiritually you are further ahead than we are, too. This is more of a new concept in Canada.” Macfarlane said that since Celebration started in Canada, more and more churches were beginning to get involved in outreach activities, many of which had long-lasting effects.