Religion Today Summaries - May 25, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 25, 2009

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

  • Prominent Missiologist Dr. Ralph Winter Dies
  • N.H. Governor and House in Gay Marriage Standoff
  • Relations Warms between Russian Orthodox Church and Vatican
  • Shuttered Stores Find New Life as Churches


Prominent Missiologist Dr. Ralph Winter Dies

ASSIST News Service reports that one of the most significant missiological thinkers of the twentieth century, Dr. Ralph Winter, passed away May 20. He was 84. Dr. Winter founded the U.S. Center for World Mission (USCWM) in 1976 and the William Carey International University a year later. At Fuller Theological Seminary’s School of World Mission, Winter taught mission history and leadership training. His 1974 address to the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization created a seismic shift in mission strategy, with his call to evangelize people groups outside the focus of established mission efforts. “He was constantly thinking outside the box,” said Dr. Dale Kietzman, a professor at William Carey. “He did this to such an extent that you weren’t sure what the box was anymore.”

N.H. Governor and House in Gay Marriage Standoff

Baptist Press reports that the New Hampshire legislature is in a standoff with Gov. John Lynch over a bill that would legalize "gay marriage." The House voted 188-186 May 20 to reject the Governor's amendment to the bill, which includes language protecting religious groups. Colin Manning, a spokesman for Lynch, said the governor was firm in wanting religious protections if "gay marriage" is to be legalized in the state. Sam Taylor, pastor of Nashua Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist congregation, told Baptist Press the House action shows what's really at stake in New Hampshire. "The fact that the New Hampshire House of Representatives refused to accept Gov. Lynch's very reasonable amendment demonstrates the radical agenda of those who are trying to force this bill into law," Taylor said.

Relations Warms between Russian Orthodox Church and Vatican

The New York Times reports that the lost frost between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Vatican may be thawing. The Vatican has encouraged the recent dedication of an Orthodox church on Russian Embassy property near the Vatican. The two churches also cooperated for dedication services, as when the choir of the Danilov Monastery, the seat of the Moscow Patriarchate, sang in a Roman basilica on Sunday. Church analysts say the new leadership in both churches favors closer ties, and Patriarch Kirill's new position as head of the Orthodox church may even lead to an invitation for Pope Benedict XVI to visit. Tensions between the churches have existed for years over issues of jurisdiction and authority.

Shuttered Stores Find New Life as Churches

Religion News Service reports that at Prime Outlets in Huntley, Ill., a former Mikasa fine china store will soon become the home of Christian Life Church. "This provided an opportunity, from moving from being kind of a homeless church, if you will, to find a home," said Pastor Daryl Merrill, whose church had been renting space weekly at a local hotel. The tough economy may have shuttered some retail stores, but the vacant spaces aren't necessarily sitting empty: some are becoming new locations for worship. Churches have considered former big-box sites, closed auto dealerships and mall locations. Experts say it's a potential win-win situation for both churches that want to have a location they can use every day -- rather than once-a-week arrangements at schools or hotels -- and property owners having trouble finding new tenants.