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Religion Today Summaries - September 22, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - September 22, 2004

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

  • After Ivan, Churches Shine Light Amid Storm's Destruction 

  • L.A. Episcopal Diocese Sues Breakaway Conservative Parishes

  • Russian Immigrants' Prayer Group Impacts Oregon Community 

  • Initiative on the Display of Ten Commandments Will Appear on Idaho Election Ballot

After Ivan, Churches Shine Light Amid Storm's Destruction
Sherri Brown, Baptist Press

Churches across damaged communities are finding opportunities to minister in the midst of the tragedy caused by Hurricane Ivan.  Ron Lentine, pastor of Myrtle Grove Baptist Church, had been working with a team of church members preparing to travel to south Florida to help victims of Hurricanes Charley and Frances. They never made it. "I guess God had other plans for us. Now we're helping our own community," he said. "If through this disaster we can reach people who otherwise have hardened their hearts toward God, then God has made this redemptive." Wind damage and flooding from Hurricane Ivan left much of the Florida Panhandle in pieces. Further north, tornadoes were spawned by the storm. More than 500,000 people have no power, no water and no phone service. Disaster relief teams from 13 state Baptist conventions have been deployed to Florida and Alabama, including feeding units, chainsaw crews and communication teams. Their presence is making a difference. "Believers have an opportunity to share this peace. The witness that you are in caring for the needs of others is going to be a witness for the Lord. The best thing we can do as a church is volunteer in the community and use this opportunity to share Jesus Christ with others,” said Pastor Tim McKnight of First Baptist Church in Flomaton, Ala.

L.A. Episcopal Diocese Sues Breakaway Conservative Parishes
Jim Brown, AgapePress

The Episcopal Church USA is retaliating against three conservative Anglican parishes in Southern California that left the denomination over its disregard for scripture. These churches abandoned the local diocese in mid-August, aligning themselves with an Anglican diocese in Uganda instead. In response, late last month lawyers for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles sent angry demand letters to St. James, All Saints, and St. David's Anglican churches, insisting that they return all of their Bibles and hymnals to the diocese, stop worshipping, and vacate the church property. A week and a half later, the diocese filed lawsuits against the three breakaway congregations. The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles claims the properties owned by the breakaway churches are owned in trust by the Episcopal Church USA. Attorney Eric Sohlgren, a legal spokesperson for all three California parishes, believes the diocese's lawsuit is financially motivated and completely unfounded. Speaking on behalf of the conservative Anglican churches, Sohlgren notes, "we just don't see any basis for the diocese and Bishop Bruno to be filing a lawsuit, trying to throw people out of church and take their bibles. It seems to violate some of the scriptural prohibitions against suing one's brother." Sohlgren says California courts will likely treat the three churches as separate corporate entities and allow them to keep their property. 

Russian Immigrants' Prayer Group Impacts Oregon Community
Charisma News Service

A prayer group made up of a dozen elderly Russian immigrants is touching lives in Portland, Ore., interceding for any and all who ask. Employees of the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), where Ukranians and Russians gathered for senior citizens' services, noticed how fervently the group prayed, "The Oregonian" reported. Through word-of-mouth, the prayer group took on a life of its own. The members, who belong to Ukraine Bible Church, Solamita Church and other Russian-speaking churches in Portland, regularly honor outside prayer requests, said Lisa Buffington, IRCO's senior and specialized services manager. Years ago in Russia and Ukraine, the Pentecostal Christians were fined, ostracized and threatened with prison because they prayed. They gathered secretly in houses or remote rural areas, but still communist police found them. Vasiliy Bosovik, 73, said that as a former pastor he had to keep a low profile back home. But Bosovik and others found refuge in Portland about a decade ago. The prayer group's leader, Sergey Safonov, 73, learned to say "God bless America" in English so he could say it to every American he met. "This country gave us bread and salt," said Safonov, referring to a familiar Russian expression. (http://www.charismanow.com)

Initiative on the Display of Ten Commandments Will Appear on Idaho Election Ballot

The United States' first-ever initiative on the display of the Ten Commandments will appear on the Idaho election ballot this November. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition says the measure could launch substantial similar activity in other states, where so many Christians are wondering how they can respond to "this erosion of religious freedom and the removal of God's name from the public square." In the Idaho state capital of Boise, Mahoney says, the lawmakers and citizens are "giving inspiration and hope to millions of Americans -- they're doing something. And we hope next year to have 50 of these initiatives across the country." However, if the initiative succeeds, supporters of the ballot measure are anticipating court challenges.