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The issuses topping the agenda are Iraq, minimum wage and immigration reform.
Christian leaders began 2007 by outlining their social agenda for the new Congress. During a teleconference held Jan. 9, the National Association of Evangelicals urged Congress to help reduce pollution, raise the standard of fuel efficiency and provide proper care of natural life and natural habitat. Meanwhile the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq called for an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq, and Sojourners expressed support for raising the minimum wage, the Christian Post reported. Sojourners is a supporter of the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign, a nonpartisan coalition of faith-based organizations, including the Episcopal Church USA, that is urging Congress to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour. Also last week the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), which is led by Pentecostal minister Samuel Rodriguez, sent an open letter to Rep. Nancy Pelosi urging her to see that Congress develops a compromise on immigration reform. “The current state of immigration in this country is a complex situation; nevertheless, we as Americans have the intellectual wherewithal, the political acumen and the spiritual fortitude to reconcile the principles of law and order with a pathway to citizenship for those that seek to live the American dream,” the letter stated. The NHCLC is calling on Congress to pass legislation that protects U.S. borders, ends illegal immigration and creates ways for families without legal status to gain citizenship. read more

Evangelicals and Scientists agree that creation care must be a top prority.
In an unprecedented collaboration, leaders from the National Association of Evangelicals and the Center for Health and Global Environment at Harvard Medical School convened in Washington, D.C., Jan. 17 to issue a joint statement that calls on the nation’s leaders to address environmental issues such as global warming. “We scientists and evangelicals have discovered that we share a deeply felt common concern and sense of urgency about threats to life on Earth, and that we must speak with one voice to protect it,” said Eric Chivian, Nobel laureate and a speaker at the event. The group’s “Urgent Call to Action” was sent to President George W. Bush and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling for drastic changes in values, lifestyles and public policies to avert disastrous changes in the climate. “We are glad to be partnering with our friends in the scientific community,” said Florida pastor Joel Hunter, who resigned as president of the Christian Coalition of America last year because the organization would not broaden its agenda to include such issues as protection of the environment. “They have the facts we need to present to our congregations; we have the numbers of activists that will work through churches, government and the business community to make a significant impact.” The group’s next step is to meet with congressional leaders to bring more attention to “creation care” issues.

Photo Credit: Copyright 2007 R. Jeffery Grace read more

Passion Event Makes Global Impact

Attendees at the Passion 07 conference that concluded last week in Atlanta were challenged to make a global impact. Responding to the event’s theme, Do Something Now, the more than 23,000 young adults exceeded organizers’ goal of raising $500,000 by contributing $700,000 toward various global initiatives. The sponsored projects include digging 38 wells in Africa, building a freedom center in northern Iraq, translating the New Testament into the language of the Dela and Rikou people of Indonesia, and sponsoring 100 life-changing surgeries for children. “Colossians 1:6 says, ‘All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit,’” Passion Conferences founder-director Louie Giglio told the crowd. “The same changing power in your lives is working all over the world. This gospel is bearing fruit and growing, and we can see that in what you’ve done through the Do Something Now campaign.” Drawing participants from all 50 states and 33 nations, Passion 07 assembled such speakers as John Piper and Beth Moore, and several worship artists, including Chris Tomlin, David Crowder Band, Charlie Hall and Matt Redman. Giglio said Passion is planning to host smaller gatherings in cities around the U.S. this fall and early winter of 2008. Next year he said the conference will go international, touring 20 cities in 15 countries. read more

A recent study found that nearly all of the 811 Protestant ministries surveyed engaged in evangelism during 2006. The survey by Ellison Research of Phoenix, which was published in LifeWay magazine, found that 97 percent of the churches studied held evangelistic activities last year. Vacation Bible School was the most popular action, with 70 percent of the churches participating. Distributing tracts and other literature had the second highest participation, with 59 percent reported use. The study found that while it was common for Protestant churches to evangelize, the methods varied according to denomination. Noncharismatic evangelical churches were likely to participate in diverse evangelism activities, from pregnancy counseling to sports programs. But they were less likely to engage in community programs such as outreaches to the homeless, blood drives and domestic-violence programs. Pentecostal churches frequently used concerts, revivals, “invite a friend to church” days and audio-visual productions to evangelize. But they were less likely to host vacation Bible schools, the study found. In general, 39 percent of churches said it is more important to focus on programs that address spiritual needs rather than physical needs. read more

A recent study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center of Excellence in Cancer Communications Research found that female cancer patients who prayed in online groups recovered faster.

A recent study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center of Excellence in Cancer Communications Research found that female cancer patients who prayed in online groups recovered faster. Researchers studied breast cancer patients through a computer-based health program, where the test group was surveyed before the experiment began and then again four months after.

The study found that the women whose text messages included a high percentage of words such as “pray,” “worship,” “faith,” “holy” and “God” had low levels of negative emotion and high levels of functional well-being. “From a psychological standpoint, there are a variety of reasons why cancer patients may benefit from prayer—whether on the Internet or elsewhere,” said Bret Shaw, lead author of the study.
“In reviewing the messages, some of the most common ways study participants used religion to cope with their illness included putting trust in God about the course of their illness and consequently feeling less stresses, believing in an afterlife and therefore being less afraid of death, finding blessings in their lives, and appraising their cancer experience in a more constructive religious light.”  read more

Christian clerics from northeast India are traveling to foreign countries to help revive the faith and fill shortages within Baptist and Presbyterian churches, the Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) reported. The demand for these leaders comes as a result of a sharp decline in ordained ministers to perform traditional ministry duties such as marriages and funerals. “We have about 150 pastors from the northeast preaching the gospel and assisting dying churches in countries like the U.S., China, Thailand, Cambodia and other countries,” said the Rev. Ngul Khan Pau, general secretary of the Council of Baptist Churches in Northeast India. According to IANS, many of India’s clerics believe the influx of ministers to foreign nations such as the U.S. is a “thanksgiving gesture,” acknowledging Americans’ missions work in India. “It is an irony that our Christian ministers are now spreading the message of Jesus Christ in a country whose missionaries sowed the seeds of Christianity in the northeast [of India],” Pau said. read more
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