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In The News


In The News


August 30 - Activists shine light on forgotten causes

Article: Social Gospel
AIDS. Famine in Africa. The plight of Palestinian Christians and others in the Holy Land. They’re social justice issues that have long concerned some American Christians – though typically not those in evangelical circles. But that’s changing, say members of Fort Wayne’s Christian community, and one measure of just how much may be an interdenominational event Sept. 17.

“Forgotten People: A Call to Action” is bringing top activists on those global issues to Fort Wayne for a conference that aims to unite mainline and evangelical branches of the local Christian community, says Michael Spath, a conference organizer.

“The mainline churches have been known for world missions for a long time, but … the face of evangelicalism is changing,” says Spath, who leads the peace center and also teaches religion at IPFW.

Evangelical congregations are moving beyond a traditional emphasis on individual, born-again salvation, he says. "There has really become much more of a global awareness, a sense of there being one human family,” says Spath, a member of Plymouth Congregational Church of Fort Wayne – United Church of Christ.

“I think the evangelical churches in our community have become very sensitive to global concerns, and many of them are doing great things around the world.”

The Rev. Bill Campbell, pastor of Life Bridge Church, part of the evangelical Foursquare Gospel denomination, says evangelical mega-churches – including Willow Creek Church in suburban Chicago and Saddleback Church in Southern California – have been influential in setting the global tone.

One conference speaker is Lynne Hybels, who co-founded Willow Creek with her pastor husband Bill. She is the congregation’s Advocate for Global Engagement.

Other speakers are: the Rev. David Beckmann, a Lutheran pastor and economist who heads Bread for the World, an international advocacy group for food policies that solve the problems of famine and hunger; Princess Kasune Zulu, a Zambian-born global AIDS activist who tested positive for HIV after an arranged marriage with an infected man; and the Rev. Mitri Raheb, pastor of Bethlehem’s Christmas Lutheran Church who works with youth in the West Bank.

Attendees will be given specific ways to influence the issues individually and in their home churches, says the Rev. Roger Reece, executive pastor of Associated Churches.


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