RNS Daily Digest

c. 2003 Religion News Service Jerusalem Christian Leader Prods Israelis, Palestinians on Peace JERUSALEM (RNS) Michael Sabbah, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, used his Christmas message to call on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to once and for all work toward peace rather than engage in bloodshed. Sabbah, a Palestinian nationalist and often-outspoken critic of the Israeli government, acknowledged that both Israelis and Palestinians have legitimate hopes and aspirations. “The Christmas message is first of all a message of hope and spiritual strength that opposes all material strength. Truly nobody, neither Israeli nor Palestinian, wants war and bloodshed.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2003 Religion News Service Openly Gay Episcopal Bishop Named 2003 Religion Newsmaker (RNS) Bishop V. Gene Robinson, elected in June as the first openly gay bishop of the Episcopal Church, was named the Religion Newsmaker of the Year by members of the Religion Newswriters Association. His approval and consecration, and the ensuing threats of schism in the U.S. church and the wider Anglican Communion, also were cited as the top religion news story of 2003 _ a ranking shared with criticism of the Anglican bishop of Vancouver, British Columbia, who approved same-sex unions. About a third of the 240 members of the Religion Newswriters Association took part in the annual survey. More than 80 percent of these selected Robinson as the top newsmaker.

NEWS FEATURE: Lutheran Pastor Finds `Breathing Space’ in South Bronx Church

c. 2003 Religion News Service NEW YORK _ For one Lutheran pastor, staring at the face of urban death made her feel more alive. In “Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx,” the Rev. Heidi Neumark details 19 years of work in one of America’s most poverty-ridden neighborhoods, blending Christian ministry with a call to social justice. “The South Bronx has an internationally negative reputation,” she said in her book-cluttered office on a Sunday morning before Holy Communion. “I felt there were other stories not being told.