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Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 30, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 30, 2009

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

  • First Female Bishop Elected to Lead German Protestants
  • Church Renovation Prompts Muslim Mob Attack in Egypt
  • Zimbabwe Church Leaders Appeal for Governmentt Unity
  • Compassion International Sends Ethiopia $1M in Aid

First Female Bishop Elected to Lead German Protestants

Religion News Service reports that the Evangelical Church in Germany has elected Bishop Margot Kassmann to be its new leader. This is the first time a woman has become the highest representative of 24 million German Protestants. The decision was made on Wednesday (Oct. 28) by the EKD's highest governing body, its synod, meeting in Ulm, southern Germany. Fifty-one-year-old Kassmann, who is divorced, is the youngest ever chairperson of the EKD council, and is the successor of Bishop Wolfgang Huber, who is retiring at the age of 67. The EKD is the umbrella organization for 22 regional Lutheran, United and Reformed churches. It accounts for most of the country's Protestant Christians. The general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, the Rev. Ishmael Noko, praised Kassmann's election. "The election sends a signal to the church worldwide that God calls us to leadership without consideration of gender, color or descent," said Noko, a Zimbabwean theologian.

Church Renovation Prompts Muslim Mob Attack in Egypt

Assyrian International News Agency reports that interfaith violence continues to simmer in Egypt. A Muslim mob reportedly held a church congregation captive during their Tuesday evening service until the village mayor and police dispersed the mob. The Church of St. George in the village of Nazlet Albadraman recently obtained the necessary permits and began restoring the church's tower, apparently irritating the town's Muslim population. The incident began after a Muslim man accused the church on its front steps, saying, "This way you are causing sectarian sedition, you have to stop your building works." The mob broke church windows and vandalized cars, shops and Coptic homes before security forces intervened. Pastor Habib Ghattas told reporters that he had to call state security as well as the town's security forces, but "they did take their time arriving on the scene, as usual."

Zimbabwe Church Leaders Appeal for Government Unity

The Christian Post reports that Zimbabwe's faith leaders have taken an encouraging role in the country's government as its power-sharing agreement crumbles. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from a tenuous partnership with President Robert Mugabe's earlier this week. "To us, this may indicate the first step towards the disintegration and failure of the inclusive government," the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance said. "We are concerned that the collapse of the inclusive government may lead to widespread violence in the country which will have a negative impact on the region." The interdenominational group says they still "pray and hope that the agreement can be retrieved and made to work," said the Zimbabwe Christian Alliance. "It is clear to us that the total failure of this transitional government may lead to chaos and bloodshed."

Compassion International Sends Ethiopia $1M in Aid

Responding to Ethiopia's ongoing famine, Compassion International is sending $1.4 million to the beleaguered nation. The emergency aid will go to help 6.2 million people facing starvation. Most of the funds, part of an effort that began in March and will continue at least through the year's end, will be used for direct food relief and medical supplies. Part of the money will help develop small businesses in the hardest-hit communities. "In these communities that are continuously dealing with food source issues, we are helping individuals to withstand and perhaps even avoid food crises in the long term - not just by helping them in the short term but also by supporting small business enterprises," said Mark Hanlon, senior vice president of Compassion International, USA. The group has been working in Ethiopia since 1993.