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Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 17, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Nov. 17, 2008

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

  • Second School Collapses in Haiti
  • Methodist Bishops Say Lesbian Ordination Invalid
  • Mainline Church Removes Pews to Attract Believers
  • UN Runs Out of Food for Gaza Strip

Second School Collapses in Haiti

Mission News Network reports that yet another school buildings has collapsed in Haiti, injuring at least seven students. The collapse did not kill any students, unlike the collapse last week that killed more than 90 students and adults, but underscores the lack of structural engineering standards in the country. According to Eva DeHart of For Haiti with Love, both schools were probably U.S.-funded programs that were never inspected, allowing builders to add third and fourth floors to buildings only meant to support two. For Haiti with Love is committed to safety in all of its engineering and construction projects, following regulations are rarely given a thought in some parts of the country.

Methodist Bishops Say Lesbian Ordination Invalid

Religion News Service reports that the United Methodist Church's Council of Bishops said it will not recognize the ordinations of two women, including a lesbian, by the unofficial Church Within a Church movement, according to a statement released on Nov. 7. The ordination service of the two women, one a lesbian and one a gay rights activist, "was not approved by any United Methodist annual conference, board of ordained ministry or cabinet," the United Methodist News Service (UMNS) reported. While the United Methodist Church welcomes gays and lesbians as members, it considers homosexual activity "incompatible with Christian teaching'' and bars non-celibate gays and lesbians from the pulpit. The Church Within a Church, the organization that ordained the women, is made up of Methodists who are "dedicated to being the inclusive church."

Mainline Church Removes Pews to Attract Believers

The Associated Press reports that one suburban church is hoping to solve its shrinking membership problem not by changing the message, but by changing the buildings. St. Bartholomew's Church in White Plains, N.Y., an 80-year-old congregation, plans to remove two dozen pews from the sanctuary to create a more intimate setting where people can connect. "When people visited before, it seemed like a museum," said the Rev. Gawain de Leeuw, rector of St. Bart's for five years. "The church seemed empty. Each person could have had their own pew. Changing our sanctuary space immediately changed the way people feel in the church. It's an important start." The church that would hold 1,0000 people in the 1950s has now dwindled to about 50 to 60 people each Sunday.

UN Runs Out of Food for Gaza Strip

ASSIST News Service reports that the UN has no more food to distribute in the Gaza Strip, the head of relief efforts in the area has warned. A BBC story reported John Ging said handouts for 750,000 Gazans would have to be suspended temporarily. He dubbed Gaza's economic situation “a disaster.” Israel earlier denied entry to a convoy carrying humanitarian supplies. The BBC reported it has prevented the transfer of all goods into Gaza for nearly a week, blaming continuing rocket attacks by Palestinian militants. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) distributes emergency aid to about half of Gaza's 1.5 million population. Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev insisted any improvement would be dependent on the Hamas movement which runs the Gaza Strip.