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Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 25, 2009

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff

Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 25, 2009

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

  • Kenya Drought Leaves 4Million Needing Handouts
  • PC(USA) Panel Reaches No Agreement on Gay Relationships
  • Saddleback Church to Host Civil Forum on Reconciliation
  • Russian Orthodox Visit to Rome Signals a Thaw

Kenya Drought Leaves 4Million Needing Handouts

UK Telegraph reports that a three-year drought in Kenya has left up to four million Kenyans dependent on food and water aid. As crops have failed and the water shortage as worsened, food prices in some places have more than doubled. The drought has now spread to neighboring Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia and Djibouti, jeopardizing the delicate political structure of the region. "We've not seen a food crisis of this magnitude and severity in many years, and it is children who will suffer the most if the world fails to respond quickly," Ned Olney, Save the Children's vice president for global humanitarian response, said in a statement Tuesday. The Telegraph reports that near the town of Elwak in northern Kenya, where water tankers arrive only every four of five days and provide families with a few liters apiece, the need for water has sometimes resulted in fights and injuries.

PC(USA) Panel Reaches No Agreement on Gay Relationships

The Christian Post reports that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) publicly acknowledged the "honest and sincere disagreements" over homosexuality in the church in a new draft report. The denomination, however, stopped short of allowing each church to determine its approach to the question, as the Evangelical Lutheran Church moved last month. "What is the place of covenanted same-gender partnerships in the Christian community? The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) cannot agree," the Special Committee to Study Issues of Civil Unions and Christian Marriage said in its September report. "The question before us is not what issue will define us at any given moment, but whether then Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) can acknowledge that our unity in Christ supersedes any other claim or argument clamoring for our attention," the special committee stated, calling Presbyterians to listen to one another with openness and respect.

Saddleback Church to Host Civil Forum on Reconciliation

Rick Warren's Saddleback Church will host its next civil forum tonight, focusing on reconciliation. The event features Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda, and Croatia-native Dr. Miroslav Volf, Yale professor; both will share how the transformational power of reconciliation reunified their peoples after debilitating genocides. "These two men share a love for their native countries, and a desire to bring peace and prosperity through the revolutionary power of reconciliation to rebuild," said Warren, founding pastor of the Orange County, Calif. mega church and author of the best-selling book, "The Purpose Driven Life." "They have seen first-hand the influence that forgiveness and non-violence have had on Rwanda and Croatia - countries that were nearly destroyed and are now in the process of being unified, which should be an example to all of us."

Russian Orthodox Visit to Rome Signals a Thaw

Religion News Service reports that a Russian Orthodox official's five-day visit to Rome, including a meeting with the pope, is being seen as a sign of thawed relations between the two churches. Orthodox Archbishop Hilarion, who chairs external church relations for the Moscow Patriarchate, met with Pope Benedict XVI on Friday (Sept. 18) at Castel Gandolfo, the pope's summer residence. He also took part in a service at the Catacombs of St. Callixtus and spoke of the martyrdom of the early Christians in Rome. "Now, when the Orthodox and Catholic churches are not in Eucharistic communion, and when many Protestant denominations have deviated from the fundamental principles of Christianity, we must understand clearly that division is a sin that tears apart the body of the church and weakens the strength of Christian witness before the secular world," Hilarion said. Relations between the two churches have been more friendly since the ascension of new Russian Russian Patriarch Kirill I.