Church Helps Woman Rebuild Heart and Home After Katrina

c. 2007 Religion News Service NEW ORLEANS _ In the two years since Hurricane Katrina roared ashore along the Gulf Coast, countless thousands of people have been assisted by churches and other religious groups. This is the story of one of them. X X X Twice that day last spring, Barbara Duplessis rounded the block around Gentilly Baptist Church, driving slowly in circles, engulfed in a black depression. She parked and entered the church, and in asking for help in rebuilding her home from the volunteers inside, wept in the embrace of strangers Jackie and Linda James.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Update: Billy Graham Released from Hospital (RNS) Evangelist Billy Graham, who had been hospitalized for episodes of intestinal bleeding, went home Thursday (Aug. 30), his staff announced. Graham, 88, entered Mission Health & Hospitals in Asheville, N.C., on Aug. 18 and underwent a colonoscopy four days later.

Muslims Hope New Show Breaks Cultural Barriers

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Raja Musharaff is a Pakistani Muslim exchange student coming to America this fall. He’s not coming to join a terrorist cell, open a kabob shop or become a taxi driver. On the contrary, as one of the lead roles on “Aliens in America,” which premiers Oct. 1 on the CW Network, Raja is more than an amicable 16-year-old; he also emerges as a moral compass to his wayward host family in Wisconsin.

COMMENTARY: A New Year, a New Prayer

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) A cynical seminary professor once told me that prayers said during the “dog days” of summer don’t really count; prayers only become serious in the autumn during Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. He was joking, of course, but I often think about his remark as we approach the biblically mandated High Holy Days. The two days of Rosh Hashana (the Jewish new year) begin on the evening of Sept. 12.

What To Do With a Closed Church Building?

New Uses Can Breathe New Life Into Old Churches David Briggs looks at new uses for closed churches in this week’s full text article, linked above. Quote: Continuing the legacy of a building that for decades served as a spiritual beacon is important, particularly for people grieving the loss of their church, religious leaders say. Members of a closed church consider it “sacred space given by their ancestors, and they’d like to see it continue as sacred space,” said the Rev. Daniel Drew, who oversees local church mergers for the United Methodist Church.

COMMENTARY: Why Must College Students Party Till They Drop?

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Why are college students drinking and drugging themselves to death? Truth be told, it’s not just college-age folks who think they need to be anesthetized to face reality. Some students in high school and even grade school “experiment” to the point of unconsciousness or death. I don’t need to repeat the statistics here.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Gordon College Triples Endowment With $60 Million Gift BOSTON (RNS) An evangelical college on Boston’s North Shore is about to become nearly three times richer, thanks to a $60 million gift from a California couple whose two grandchildren attend the school. The gift to Gordon College from real estate developer Dale Fowler and his wife, Sarah Ann Fowler, catapults Gordon’s endowment from $33 million to $93 million. In honor of the gift, administrators on Wednesday (Aug. 29) unveiled a sign naming the Wenham, Mass.

Book Uncovers a Lonely, Spiritually Desolate Mother Teresa

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Ten years after her death, a new book of Mother Teresa’s personal letters illustrates a profound and private spiritual struggle _ much of it unknown to the world that would come to embrace her as a living saint. “Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light,” to be released Sept. 4, is a collection of Teresa’s personal letters to her spiritual advisers. For the most part, they are letters she never intended to become public and, in fact, had asked to be destroyed.

10 Minutes With … Aidan Delgado

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Nineteen-year-old Aidan Delgado had just signed the papers that made him an Army reservist when he heard the news that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center. In 2003, he found himself deployed at Abu Ghraib, just as the notorious prison’s abuse scandal was erupting around the world. By then Delgado was a convert to Buddhism and awaiting word on his quest for conscientious objector status _ which was granted after his one-year tour in Iraq. He is now an anti-war activist.

RNS Weekly Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Council Sets Dates for Ramadan, But Not Everyone Agrees (RNS) A council of Islamic legal scholars in North America has revised a fatwa from last year that determines when Muslims mark major holidays and other important dates such as the start of Ramadan. According to the new changes made by the Fiqh Council of North America, Ramadan begins Sept. 13, while Eid ul-Fitr, the holiday that marks the end of the holy month, will be celebrated on Oct. 13.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Colorado Megachurch Approves Successor to Haggard (RNS) New Life Church, the Colorado megachurch whose leader Ted Haggard was dismissed last year after a sex and drug scandal, has approved a new senior pastor. Pastor Brady Boyd, a pastor at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, received more than 95 percent approval in a Monday (Aug. 27) vote by the Colorado Springs congregation, a church secretary/treasurer announced in a message posted on New Life’s Web site. “This is a great day for New Life Church,” Boyd, 40, said in a statement.

COMMENTARY: The (Many) Dangers of Theocracy

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Which coarsening of our culture shall we see and blame on secularism? It could be early-teen girls in mascara and tight skirts strutting their stuff. It could be mature women with plunging necklines. It could be couples expressing exuberant affection in public or same-gender partnering.

New Forum Hopes to Get World’s Christians Talking

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Like cousins at a big family reunion, representatives of the various streams of Christianity from across the globe will gather this fall near Nairobi, Kenya. The Global Christian Forum is a rare opportunity for Christians who don’t always speak to each other _ and in some cases have never met _ to spend a few days together and simply get to know one another. It’s not, supporters and organizers say, meant to be a new large organization with a new large agenda for the world’s Christians. “Enormous numbers of Christians do not talk to each other,” said the Rev. Cecil Robeck, a Fuller Theological Seminary professor and Pentecostal who serves on the forum’s planning committee.

How Far Is Too Far in Enhancing Kids’ Genetic Traits?

c. 2007 Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly (UNDATED) Every evening before bed, 12-year-old Mitchell Greenwood gives himself a shot of human growth hormone. He’s healthy, but at barely 4 feet tall, he’s below the normal height for his age. “I’m just hoping that I get those couple of inches that I really want, that I’m taking it for,” Mitchell told the PBS program Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly. Mitchell is genetically pre-disposed to be short _ his mother, Lisa, is 5 feet 3 inches tall, and his father, Doug, is 5’4”.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Ailing D. James Kennedy Resigns Florida Pulpit (RNS) The Rev. D. James Kennedy, who used his Florida-based television ministry to establish himself as a leading voice for religious conservatives, has retired from Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale. Kennedy, 76, suffered a cardiac arrest in late December and has not returned to his pulpit of more than 48 years since falling ill. “We thank the Lord for his faithfulness to my father over nearly one-half century, through the impact this church has made in the lives of people in this congregation and community and the influence he has had on countless individuals around the world through radio and television,” his daughter, Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy, said in a Sunday (Aug. 26) announcement of her father’s retirement.