Religion Today Summaries - October 5, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - October 5, 2004

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

  • President Bush Cites Role Of Faith Groups In Disaster Relief

  • Ministry Urging Unity of Christians And Messianic Jews Stirs Concern, Support

  • Billy Graham Announces 2005 Crusade In New York City

  • Day Of Prayer Organizers Win Discrimination Lawsuit

President Bush Cites Role Of Faith Groups In Disaster Relief
Joni B. Hannigan, Baptist Press

Thanking Southern Baptists along with other faith-based groups such as the Salvation Army, President George W. Bush visited hurricane-stricken Florida for the fifth time in six weeks Sept. 29-30, eyeing damage to a citrus farm in Lake Wales hit by three of four hurricanes since Aug. 13, before visiting with a Southern Baptist disaster relief worker in Stuart. "Despite week after week of strain, faith-based groups, like Southern Baptists and the Salvation Army, are setting up kitchens to feed the hungry," Bush acknowledged in Lake Wales Sept. 29, while also bringing attention to the Red Cross and the National Guard for operating shelters, distributing supplies and keeping the streets safe. In the wake of Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Ivan, nearly 6,000 Southern Baptist disaster relief volunteers have helped prepare more than 1.6 million meals and completed nearly 5,000 cleanup and recovery projects, according to the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board. Florida Baptist Disaster Relief feeding and recovery units and local church volunteers were already in place and serving meals almost immediately following Jeanne. "Our nation is praying for the victims of these storms," Bush said when he was finished his tour, on the eve of the first-ever presidential debate in Miami. "We pray for all who come to their aid." Bush told reporters he has asked Congress to provide $12.2 billion to respond to Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne -- and asked local official to make sure the resources reach "the people who need it." He also pledged support to make sure that citrus remains a strong part of Florida's economy.

Ministry Urging Unity of Christians And Messianic Jews Stirs Concern, Support
Charisma News Service

A new ministry that urges Christians to embrace Messianic Jews is drawing mixed feelings among Jewish religious leaders in a California community. Started by Bill McCartney, founder of the men's organization Promise Keepers, The Road to Jerusalem (TRJ) will officially launch with an event at the 16,200-seat Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells on Dec. 3, The Riverside Press-Enterprise reported. Supporters say the gathering will kick off a worldwide campaign by TRJ to improve relations between Christians and Messianic Jews. Messianic Jews believe Jesus is the Messiah, but consider themselves Jewish and observe Jewish rituals. Jewish religious leaders, however, consider them Christian and are offended by their efforts to evangelize Jews. Some welcome TRJ as a way to bridge the gap between Christians and Jews, but others say the event is no more than a thinly veiled attempt to convert Jews to Christianity. "The thrust of our ministry is to see Gentile Christians link arms with Messianic Jews. Both of us see Yeshua (Hebrew for Jesus) as Messiah and we have that common bond." Pastor Raleigh Washington, president and chief executive officer of TRJ, stated. Rabbi Stephen Babkow, of Ohav Shalom Temple, a Messianic congregation in Cathedral City, said his congregation is excited about TRJ. "The fulfillment of Judaism is Christianity," he said. (

Billy Graham Announces 2005 Crusade In New York City
Baptist Press

Billy Graham has accepted an invitation to lead a New York City crusade at Madison Square Garden in June 2005, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association announced Sept. 30. Pastors from more than 150 New York area churches gathered to extend an official invitation to the evangelist, expecting him to bring "a history, a legacy, and most important, the anointing God has placed on him to speak a simple message by God's Spirit to the hearts of thousands," a statement by the organization read. "In response to 9/11, the churches in New York City expressed a collaborative effort to come together in response to a need," said A.R. Bernard, pastor of the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn and chair of the crusade, according to the BGEA release. "My prayer is that this crusade will bring us to a stage of collective effort, where each church plays a part, but we will make a difference together as a whole." The 2005 crusade will be Graham's seventh in the area and third at three different Madison Square Garden locations following meetings in 1969 and 1957. Graham's most recent visit to New York was a rally in Central Park in 1991, which set a record for the largest religious assembly in the city with more than 250,000 in attendance.

Day Of Prayer Organizers Win Discrimination Lawsuit
Jenni Parker, AgapePress

The organizers of a local celebration of the National Day of Prayer in Tucson, Arizona, have been granted a major award in a religious discrimination lawsuit against the city. According to an Associated Press report, event organizers Robert and Patricia Gentala, who originally filed suit in 1997, won their case against the Tucson officials last November. The Gentalas' suit claimed Tucson officials had charged the Christian event organizers for the use of city parks and the receipt of certain services, even though secular users were not charged for the use of these same facilities and services. A federal judge ruled that the city did indeed discriminate against the Day of Prayer organizers by charging them unfairly and had thereby violated their right to free religious expression. The court has ordered the city of Tucson to pay more than $255,000 in attorney fees to the organizers of the National Day of Prayer event.