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Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 7, 2008

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Oct. 7, 2008

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

  • PC(USA) Minister Cleared in Gay Wedding Case
  • Three More Christians Murdered in Orissa
  • After Theological Split, a Clash Over Church Assets
  • Billy Graham Turns 90, Public Invited to Send Stories

PC(USA) Minister Cleared in Gay Wedding Case

Religion News Service reports that a Presbyterian Church (USA) court in Pittsburgh ruled Thursday (Oct. 2) that a minister did not violate Scripture or church law by wedding two lesbians because the ceremony was not a marriage under church or state law. The PC(USA) permits ministers to preside over same-sex unions as long as they are not purported to be marriages. The Rev. Janet Edwards of Pittsburgh did not perform a marriage when she wed a lesbian couple in 2005 because Pennsylvania and the PCUSA define marriage as heterosexual unions, ruled the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Pittsburgh Presbytery. "Whatever ceremony the accused presided over," the nine-member commission said in an unanimous ruling, "it was not, and could not have been, a marriage ceremony." The court also said that there is "no evidence" that Edwards presented herself as a Presbyterian minister when she performed the wedding.

Three More Christians Murdered in Orissa

Compass Direct News reports that at least two more Christians were killed Saturday in Orissa state’s Kandhamal district after Hindu extremists this week set fire to nearly 400 homes there and in Boudh district. A third man succumbed to axe injuries on Wednesday (Oct. 1). Weeks after Hindu extremist violence erupted against Christians, this morning tribal peoples in Sindhipankha village killed Dushashan Majhi, a local influential Christian, first shooting him and them cutting him to pieces. The mob then turned on Sanyasi Majhi, also said to be Christian, who was with Dushashan Majhi. There were unconfirmed reports that a third victim was killed along with the other two. A local Christian who wished to remain unnamed told Compass that after killing the two men, the assailants massacred cattle belonging to village Christians and burned Christian-owned houses. At least one man died and 14 others were wounded in an attack on Hrudangia village Tuesday, and many remain hospitalized with axe wounds.

After Theological Split, a Clash Over Church Assets

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh voted Saturday to leave the national church over issues of biblical authority and homosexuality, becoming the second U.S. diocese to leave. But some issues of separation of only beginning, the New York Times reported. Property in the diocese amounts to the millions of dollars, but each side has an opinion about who owns what. Joan Gunderson, who helped create the group Across the Aisle to fight secession, put it: “Their position is that the diocese left when they did. Our position is that the diocese didn’t leave, individuals did.” A clear majority voted out of the church Saturday, with 119 of 191 lay members voted in favor of leaving the national church, as did 121 of 160 clergy members. The issues leading to secession hovered just under the surface for the past 30 years, erupting when openly gay bishop Gene Robinson was ordained in 2003.

Billy Graham Turns 90, Public Invited to Send Stories 

According to BGEA, Billy Graham has preached the Gospel inperson to nearly 215 million people at hundreds of events and countless millions more via television and radio. Now, all of the individuals, churches and ministries he has impacted have a unique opportunity to say something in return as the evangelist turns 90. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) announced it is collecting stories and birthday wishes for the evangelist, who turns 90 on November 7, 2008. All who have been personally touched by an aspect of Billy Graham's ministry are welcome and encouraged to visit www.billygraham90.com to share a greeting or a personal story about his ministry they feel would encourage Mr. Graham at this milestone. Submissions will be accepted until November 1.