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Religion Today Summaries - May 4, 2006

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - May 4, 2006

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

  • Hopegivers International President Granted Bail in India
  • Western Church is Waking Up to Worldwide Needs
  • Radical Muslims Stop Church Services in Indonesia
  • American Baptists May Split Over Homosexuality

Hopegivers International President Granted Bail in India

Hopegivers President Dr. Samuel Thomas received bail May 1 from the Jaipur High Court and will be released after spending 47 days in Kota Central Jail in Rajasthan, India, ASSIST News reports. Dr. Sam, as he is known to millions around the world, has been held on charges that he “created communal disharmony.” According to a news release, “Hopegivers Founder Bishop M. A. Thomas was also granted bail on the same charge from India’s Supreme Court on April 20.” The news of Dr. Thomas’ release is being applauded by supporters of the humanitarian mission worldwide. Hopegivers is still waiting on decisions from the courts for their operating licenses to be restored and for their bank accounts to be unfrozen in Rajasthan.

Western Church is Waking Up to Worldwide Needs

The Church in the West is “gearing for action” and poised to play its part in the next great move of fulfilling the Great Commission, says New Zealand missionary to China Julie Bell in an ASSIST News story. While the Western church is often criticized for inaction and selfishness, Ms. Bell believes if that was ever the case then the tide has turned. “As missionaries, we feel like the Church is gearing for action,” says Ms. Bell, who with her husband, Doug McGowan, heads up the Autumn Rain ministry which supplies the underground Church in China with Bibles and teaching materials. “There is a mobilization taking place,” she said. “Christians are restless and sick of ‘playing church’. People are willing to eject themselves from out of the comfort zone and more and more people are saying, ‘Yes, I want in’. “They are increasingly aware that we are called to be global Christians, to accept our destiny for our day and generation. It’s not something we want to miss or short-change ourselves with.”

Radical Muslims Stop Church Services in Indonesia

Compass Direct reports that radical Muslims in mid-April forced three churches to cease services in North Jakarta and the provinces of West Java and Tangerang, claiming the meetings were disturbing Islamic communities. On April 17, a group of 150 people bullied Pastor Yoshua Sugiharto into ceasing worship activities of his Shining Christian Church in West Semper, North Jakarta. In West Java province, police asked the St. Clara Catholic Church in North Bekasi district not to hold a Good Friday worship service on April 14 after Muslim groups threatened to disrupt it. And a mob of some 500 Muslims forced the Ciledug Catholic church, meeting in a residential building in the Regensi Bintaro Ciledug housing complex in Tangerang province, to cease services.

American Baptists May Split Over Homosexuality

A Christian Post story reports that delegates representing congregations of the American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest voted overwhelmingly Saturday to recommend severing ties with the national denomination in a dispute over homosexuality. The matter now goes to the board of directors, which has already recommended withdrawal due to "deep differences of theological convictions and values." The board was scheduled to meet May 11. There has been a growing split within the 1.4 million-member American Baptist Churches. The denomination has taken previous stands against gay sex. But it has not disciplined congregations with liberal gay policies, drawing the ire of the Pacific Southwest region and others.