• Ishmael Noko, Lutheran World Federation general secretary, urged Zimbabwean authorities in April to release the results of the country’s March 29 elections. Noko, a Lutheran theologian from Zimbabwe, called the “vacuum of information” unacceptable. He also expressed concern about reports of violence and intimidation against the media, those from the non-ruling party and other groups.
• ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson praised the U.S. House of Representatives for adopting the bipartisan 2008 Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde U.S. Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Reauthorization Act. The bill would more than triple the original spending to $50 billion over five years. Hanson urged the Senate to approve the bill as well, saying it “establishes the necessary framework to transition current U.S.-supported emergency-focused AIDS programming into a sustainable, integrated effort to save lives, restore hope and build true security in many of the poorest countries in the world.” The original bill, the 2003 President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, committed $15 billion over five years and focused on 15 countries.
• The Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent U.S. federal body based in Washington, D.C., asked President George W. Bush not to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing unless China discernibly changes its policy toward Tibet. As the August games approach, protestors worldwide continue demonstrations related to China’s crackdown in Tibet and its close relationship with Sudan’s government, which has been accused of human rights abuses in Darfur.
• Lutheran World Federation Cambodia received a gold medal for its community-based disaster risk management from the Royal Government of Cambodia in Phnom Penh. The award recognizes the LWF’s achievements from 2005 to 2007 in implementing community-based disaster risk management projects in 300 targeted villages in Battambang, Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Speu provinces. It is the second time LWF Cambodia has received the award.
• Southern Baptists reported a 2007 membership of 16,266,920—a drop of almost 40,000 over the previous year. The denomination also had fewer baptisms in 2007—345,941, as compared to 364,826 in 2006. However, the church body had slight increases in worship attendance (6.15 million).
• ELCA International Disaster Response sent $50,000 to help meet basic needs of people in Eritrea after 30 years of conflict and frequent drought. The funds were sent to Action By Churches Together for use by the Lutheran World Federation. To help, visit give online or send checks to ELCA International Disaster Response, P.O. Box 71764, Chicago, IL 60694-1764; 800-638-3522.
• The faculty senate at Calvin College, a Christian Reformed Church school in Grand Rapids, Mich., voted to allow some safety personnel (those who were previously police officers) to carry handguns on campus and to ban all other guns from its facilities. At presstime Calvin’s board had yet to approve the proposed Use of Force policy. “You have to prepare for the worst-case scenario and hope it will never happen,” said William Corner, Calvin’s campus safety director.
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