News Briefs

AROUND THE WORLD: Gospel Communications Launches Volunteer Matching Site
Gospel Communications is launching an online volunteer matching site in partnership with TechMission to match Christians with volunteer opportunities in ministries serving under-resourced communities. Potential volunteers can search over 2,200 volunteer and short-term missions opportunities from over 1,300 organizations. The site is in partnership with TechMission's, which is the first major website to match volunteers with Christian volunteer service opportunities. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, the value of the donated time of faith-based volunteers in 2005 was US$51.8 billion dollars.'s partners serve over thirty-five million low-income individuals each year. In addition to matching volunteers to local volunteer opportunities, the site also has sections for short-term missions opportunities, virtual volunteering opportunities and volunteer opportunities for church small groups. (Christian Newswire)

ETHIOPIA: GRN Team Records Gospel in Twenty-four Languages
Three Global Recordings Network (GRN) recordists from Sierra Leone recently traveled to Ethiopia, where they recorded the gospel in twenty-four languages during a six-week period. Three Ethiopian believers assisted the team on “The Sheba Recording Project” by serving as readers, translators and a driver. In most of the areas the team visited, the people they encountered were animists. In some villages they were warmly received; in others, they were rejected and asked to leave. (Global Recordings Network)

FRANCE: Faith-based Organizations Not Using Assets to Fullest
Faith-based organizations have failed to use the power of their investment funds to transform global money markets, leaders of Christian, Jewish and Buddhist groups have been told at a conference on ethical investment in Paris. “The great faiths wield enormous economic power in stock and shares,” Joost Douma, secretary general of the International Interfaith Investment Group (3iG), told representatives of more than twenty faith-based groups. “The assets of 3iG's members alone are equivalent to more than the Bank of England's entire foreign currency and gold reserves.” (Ecumenical News International)

GERMANY: Charismatic and Pentecostal Christians among Most Faithful Churchgoers
Charismatic and Pentecostal Christians are among Germany's most faithful churchgoers. Although they make up only slightly more than one percent of all twenty-six million Protestants, they account for twenty percent of the worshippers on an average Sunday. These figures were released during the annual gathering of the “Circle of Charismatic Leaders” meeting 3-5 December 2007 in Kassel. The thirty-five leaders represent approximately 300,000 Charismatic and Pentecostal Christians from mainline, evangelical and independent churches. The mainline Protestant churches have twenty-five million members on their rolls. About four percent worship on a regular Sunday. Catholics go to church in greater numbers; fourteen percent of the 26.6 million Catholics attend mass. (ASSIST News Service)

HONG KONG: Fifty Million Bibles Produced
Celebrations are planned in China to mark the production of more than fifty million Bibles in the People's Republic by the Amity Printing Company, a joint venture between the United Bible Societies and the Amity Foundation, a Chinese Christian agency. “After the cultural revolution of 1966 to 1976, many Chinese Christians are doing their best to take the chance to read the Bible,” said Qiu Zhonghui, general secretary of the Amity Foundation. (Ecumenical News International)

MAURITIUS: Bible Society Responds to Rise in Violence
Violence pe briz lavenir nou zanfan (Violence is ruining our children’s future) is the theme of a campaign launched in October 2007 by the Bible Society of Mauritius in response to a rise in violent crime. “Cases reported to the police clearly indicate that there is an upsurge of violence in this country,” said Bible Society executive director Marc Etive. “This is the result of a profound sense of ill-being in our society. There is an urgent need to help people channel their energy in the right direction in order to reach their full potential as human beings. The Bible Society’s partners in the campaign include the Council of Religions, KINOUETE (an organization that rehabilitates ex-prisoners), the police department and the National Agency for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Substance Abusers. The Bible Society and its partners have printed three thousand posters and 100,000 brochures, which will be distributed across the country. (Bible Society)

NETHERLANDS: Ten Days with the Bible Travels the Country
Quizzes, television programs, dance workshops, Bible reading marathons and more were used to encourage people to engage with the Bible during the recent 10 Days with the Bible event organized by the Netherlands Bible Society. Across the country, 10 Days with the Bible events brought God’s word into venues such as schools, shopping centers, marketplaces and homes for the elderly. Many churches also celebrated Bible Sunday during the same period. Supporting materials provided both digitally through a dedicated website and in print ensured that both organizers and participants were guided and inspired. Firmly locating 10 Days with the Bible within its overall Bible engagement strategy, the Bible Society also used this initiative as the launch pad for a project designed to support Bible work in Eastern Europe. During the ten days, United Bible Societies translation consultant Dr. Marijke de Lang and Dr. Marina Lomova, who works in Moscow for the Institute for Bible Translation, toured the country giving presentations on translation work in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and Central Asia. (Bible Society)

PHILIPPINES: WCC General Secretary Speaks on Christianity in Asia and Africa
Asia and Africa may become the center of gravity for twenty-first century Christianity, says World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary the Rev. Samuel Kobia, who has challenged Philippine church leaders to prepare for this shift. “Christianity is declining in Europe but growing in Asia and Africa,” Kobia, a Methodist from Kenya, told bishops and other church leaders in Manila. The WCC leader said that church buildings in Europe are being sold to Muslims, who are converting them into mosques, and to business people, who are transforming the churches into hotels, restaurants and other commercial centers. On the other hand, Filipino churches have begun to spread their reach overseas as they seek to minister to Filipinos seeking overseas jobs. (Ecumenical News International)

SWITZERLAND: Caring for the Aging Population in Europe
Europe's largest grouping of churches has noted the continent's steadily growing proportion of people over the age of sixty-five and is calling for the rediscovery of “the interdependence between generations.” The executive committee of the Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches said in a statement on 29 November 2007 that less than three percent of Europe's population was over sixty-five a generation ago, but that by 2050 it could be twenty percent, with only half of the population of working age. “Such changes bring new perspectives to much older human questions such as 'How should we view old age? What is the status of the elderly in our societies? How do we care for their needs?'” the CEC committee concluded after adopting a position paper on “Aging and the care for the elderly.” (Ecumenical News International)

UNITED KINGDOM: Walking School Bus Plan for Green Church of the Year
The first parish in England to be named the Green Church of the Year took steps to reduce its carbon footprint eighteen months ago with a “walking school bus” scheme for adults to walk children to school rather than driving them there in cars. Sixty separate daily car journeys have been eliminated since the Rev. Cathy Horder and other leaders set up a roster to escort the children to school. Since then, Holy Trinity (Anglican) Church at Cleeve near Bristol has switched to a green energy supplier, run its own recycling scheme and campaigned against the extension of the Bristol airport. (Ecumenical News International)

UNITED STATES: Third Annual Saddleback Global Summit on AIDS & The Church
The third annual Saddleback Global Summit on AIDS & The Church was recently held with a challenge from Dr. Rick and Mrs. Kay Warren to the more than 1,700 attendees for the Church to lead with love in the global response to HIV/AIDS. Warren emphasized that his church did not do this conference for a cause, but rather for a person, Jesus Christ. “If you want to know how much Jesus loves people with AIDS, just look at the cross,” he said. “It all comes down to whether you accept the world's or Jesus' response to AIDS. The world's response is A.I.D.S.: Avoidance, Intolerance, Distance and Superstition. But Jesus' mandate to respond to people with AIDS is for us to replace each of those with H.O.P.E.: Help, Openness, Presence and Education.” The two-and-a-half-day event featured more than ninety international speakers, including Sen. Hillary Clinton; Her Excellency Jeanette Kagame, First Lady of Rwanda; Her Excellency, Maureen Mwanawasa, First Lady of Zambia; Ambassador Mark Dybul, U.S. global AIDS coordinator; Dr. Peter Piot, UNAID executive director; Dr. Robert Redfield, Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland at Baltimore; and Pastor John Ortberg from Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in California. The Summit remains the only HIV/AIDS conference worldwide to be built entirely on a practical “local church-based” strategy designed to mobilize millions of congregations around the world for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. (ASSIST News Service)

UNITED STATES: Majority of Teens Okay Occasional Dishonest and Violent Behavior
A significant percentage of American teenagers, who are confident in their ability to make ethical decisions, regard dishonest and even violent behavior as necessary for success, according to the fifth annual Junior Achievement/Deloitte Teen Ethics Survey. The majority of teens surveyed (seventy-one percent) say they feel fully prepared to make ethical decisions when they enter the workforce. Yet thirty-eight percent of that group believe it is sometimes necessary to cheat, plagiarize, lie or even behave violently in order to succeed. Nearly one-quarter (twenty-three percent) of all teens surveyed think violence toward another person is acceptable on some level. Of those who think so, the justifications for violence include settling an argument (twenty-seven percent) and revenge (twenty percent). (Deloitte & Touche USA LLP)

UNITED STATES: Pat Robertson Steps Down as CEO of CBN
Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), has relinquished his duties as Chief Executive Officer of the network. He will continue on as chairman of the board. His son, Gordon Robertson, was named the new CEO. As chairman, Pat Robertson will continue active involvement in the ministry he founded as well as the presidency of Regent University. Gordon Robertson lived in Manila in the Philippines for five years and was placed in charge of CBN's Asian operations in China, India, Indonesia and Southeast Asia. He has assumed expanded responsibilities to include the production of CBN's flagship program, The 700 Club, its national and international news and its digital media division. (ASSIST News Service)