Religion Today Summaries - March 7, 2007

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - March 7, 2007

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

  • Layoffs Hit Colorado Megachurch After Haggard Scandal
  • Militants Attack Gospel for Asia Bible College
  • Woman Led to Christ as Tornado Recovery Work Continues
  • Episcopal Council Reaffirms Homosexual Stance

Layoffs Hit Colorado Megachurch After Haggard Scandal

According to The Church Report, the megachurch founded by the Rev. Ted Haggard, who was fired over drug and sex allegations, has laid off 44 people amid falling income following the scandal. Associated Pastor Rob Brendle estimated the cuts amounting to 12 percent of the church's paid staff, and that income had fallen 10 percent since November. The layoffs at New Life hit pastoral staff, support staff and nursery workers. Interim senior pastor Ross Parsley said some positions will be consolidated, and volunteers could replace some paid staff. The church had experienced 22 years of growth - both attendance and financial - before Haggard's firing.

Militants Attack Gospel for Asia Bible College

About 500 anti-Christian radicals attacked a Gospel for Asia Bible college in the eastern Indian state of Orissa on Wednesday evening, February 28. Gospel for Asia leaders in the area report the mob, which was mobilized by a Hindu nationalist group, systematically attacked the approximately 300 students and staff members present on the campus. Five students and the women’s dorm director were seriously injured. All have been hospitalized, and one student is in critical condition. The rest of the student body and staff remain inside the dormitories. Local and reserve police have arrived on the scene, but have found it difficult to control the situation and the situation remains tense. The attackers also disconnected the electricity and ransacked the campus, destroying many of the roofs of the school buildings. “The magnitude of this attack is unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” said Gospel for Asia President K.P. Yohannan, “but our students and leaders are not discouraged.” Instead, they are asking God to bless their enemies. “Please pray that this will become an opportunity for us to share the love of Jesus to the people who are persecuting us,” one GFA leader from Orissa requests. The attackers have been identified as members of the Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a Hindu militant group.

Woman Led to Christ as Tornado Recovery Work Continues

As President Bush toured tornado damage in Alabama and Georgia, disaster relief workers from an Alabama Baptist association were sharing the love of Christ and leading at least one person to faith in Jesus, Baptist Press reports. “Today I have walked through devastation that is hard to describe,” Bush said. “Our thoughts, of course, go out to the students who perished. We thank God for the hundreds who lived.” Eight students died at the high school when a tornado touched down March 1. Another 12 people died elsewhere in Alabama, Georgia and Missouri from tornadoes. Volunteers from the Salem-Troy Baptist Association “immediately began working on the jobs we were assigned of putting tarp on damaged roofs,” wrote Otis Corbitt. One job the group took on was at the home of a woman that Corbitt referred to as Mrs. Willer. “Mrs. Willer is a retiree from New York state who had moved to Enterprise to be with extended family... She was in her house taking care of her 1-year-old great-grandson when the tornado passed over her neighborhood. She threw her great-grandson into the tub and lay on top of him as about a third of her roof was blown off.” Two days after the storm, Mrs. Willer still was visibly shaken. So as the men placed a tarp on her roof, one of the women sat with Mrs. Willer on her front steps for nearly two hours. The Baptist volunteer was able to calm her nerves. Corbitt writes: “Before we prayed I told her the reason we had come... was because our lives were a disaster before Jesus came to us and saved us from our sins.” After the prayer, the female volunteer embraced Mrs. Willer in a long hug. “During that hug, as tears streamed down their faces, Pat asked Mrs. Willer if she had ever asked Jesus to be her Savior,” Corbitt recounted. “She said no, but she wanted to.” Willer then accepted Christ, praying what was on her heart.

Episcopal Council Reaffirms Homosexual Stance

The Christian Post reports that the representative body of the Episcopal Church reaffirmed its position that homosexual members are an "integral part" of the American church body. "We wish clearly to affirm that our position as a church is to welcome all persons, particularly those perceived to be the least among us," stated the Executive Council in a letter to the Church. "We wish to reaffirm to our lesbian and gay members that they remain a welcome and integral part of the Episcopal Church." The council further welcomed those "who are not reconciled to certain actions of General Convention." The letter came at the close of a three-day meeting and a private conversation centered on a recent communiqué issued by the Anglican Communion.