Religion Today Summaries - October 11, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - October 11, 2004

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

  • Web Site Urges Christians to be 'Part of Strategic Prayer Force' for Nation 

  • The United Church Of Canada Calling for Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage

  • Congregations Nationwide Tune Into God Through 'Video Cafes'

  • Togo: Native Missionaries Welcomed to Muslim Community

Web Site Urges Christians to be 'Part of Strategic Prayer Force' for Nation
Charisma News Service

With the looming national elections, the nation's leading publisher of charismatic magazines, books and Sunday school curriculum has launched a new website to encourage Christians to be "part of a strategic prayer force" for the United States. Stephen Strang, publisher of Charisma magazine, said the Intercessory Prayer Initiative (IPI) was "born out of a desire to recruit an army of prayer warriors who are willing to go to the front lines of today's spiritual battle." "The times are serious, and there is an urgent need for believers to stand together in prayer for the will of God to be done in our nation and the nations of the earth," he added. "We believe we will see God's strategies and answers released into our nation and world as a result of our prayer." The IPI site posts prayer alerts with relevant points of intercession. It is updated on a regular basis and can be e-mailed to subscribers. For more information, visit to view the resources and subscribe to the free prayer alerts. The elections are set for Nov. 2.  (

The United Church Of Canada Calling for Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage

One of Canada's major Protestant denominations is calling on that nation's highest court to legalize homosexual "marriage." The United Church of Canada, an amalgamation of Presbyterian and Methodist congregations in that country, is arguably one of the most liberal denominations in North America. The UCC was one of the first churches to ordain homosexual pastors and has now joined with those calling for the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide. Lawyers for the Canadian government have, along with several other groups, gone before the Supreme Court of Canada to get its blessing on a draft bill that redefines marriage to include same-sex couples before bringing the bill before Parliament. Those who oppose homosexual marriage are making their arguments before the court also. According to Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper, one of the questions the Supreme Court justices are considering is whether the nation's churches will remain free to refuse to marry same-sex couples.

Congregations Nationwide Tune Into God Through 'Video Cafes'
Charisma News Service

A growing number of churches are tuning into God through "video cafes." According to The Washington Post, congregations across the country are offering services with TV sermons, in which a pastor preaches live in a more traditional service in one room, while people in the video cafe see only his talking head on a screen. The success of the technology has allowed churches to start low-cost branches miles from their main sanctuaries without having to find and hire another pastor to do the preaching. But some warn that bringing video sermons into a worship service could erode the sense of community in churches, The Post reported. Still, video venues are experiencing explosive growth nationwide. Seacoast Church in Charleston, S.C., records the head pastor's sermons Saturday night and delivers the videotapes by bus to eight locations for Sunday services across the city. The video services, launched two years ago, draw a total of 2,000, about a third of the congregation. Heartland Community Church in Rockford, Ill., has no preaching pastor on its staff and instead relies on a videotape library of sermons from other top preachers in the state. The recorded messages are reportedly so good that the congregation has grown from 100 members to 3,000 in six years. (

Togo: Native Missionaries Welcomed to Muslim Community
Christian Aid

Togo is one of many West African countries being overrun by Islam, yet native missionaries are seeing God work mightily in people's hearts as they persevere to spread the truth of Christ. One missionary reports that four chiefs of Muslim villages have openly expressed a desire to hear the gospel. He writes ecstatically, "Ten years ago I was persecuted in these villages, and people didn't want me because of this same gospel. But things have changed! The chiefs have invited us to preach to their people." He says this is the second time his ministry has been specifically called by village leaders to come preach. He believes "it is time for the biggest harvest in history." Though travel is difficult in these remote areas, missionaries continue to take the gospel to isolated villages where some have never heard it. They are pressed on all sides by the growing presence of Islam. Funded by oil-rich Muslims in Arab countries, Islamic groups can afford things like radio broadcasts, which they use to tell hundreds of people not only the "benefits" of Islam but also the "evils" of Christianity. A native missionary tells Christian Aid that just such a broadcast has begun in Togo. Christians in Togo request prayer as they continue to take the gospel to unreached tribes.