The Adventist Review shares the following world news from Religion News Service as a service to readers. Opinions expressed in these reports do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Review or the Seventh-day Adventist Church. -- Editors
James Dobson Retires From Radio
eligious broadcaster James Dobson will end his hosting of the "Focus on the Family" program in February, a final step of resignation from the organization he founded more than 30 years ago.
The Colorado Springs, Colorado, ministry announced Dobson's plans October 30. Dobson resigned the presidency of the ministry in 2003 and stepped down from its board, along with his wife Shirley, in February.
"The Bible tells us that to everything there is a season--and Dr. Dobson's season at Focus on the Family has been remarkable," said Jim Daly, president and CEO of the ministry. "We're excited about continuing the work he began, and following the biblical principles
Focus spokesman Gary Schneeberger said in an interview Monday that the radio show will continue without Dobson, 73, and the decision did not relate to his health. "He's as robust as he ever was, perhaps more robust than a lot of us who try to keep up with him around here," Schneeberger said.
But the spokesman said the latest decision is an "emotional" one for Dobson and the board, as it will mark the end of official ties Dobson has had with the ministry he founded in 1977. The ministry said it plans "a series of events" to honor Dobson before the end of February, when his last broadcast will air.
Though the broadcaster has no immediate plans beyond finishing a book on raising daughters, Schneeberger said he expects Dobson to remain vocal about his views. "I would be shocked if we do not continue to hear him speak out in the public square because his passion for families and his passion for defending families is so strong," Schneeberger said.
The ministry has faced layoffs in recent years as a result of decreased donations and the changing economy. At its peak it had 1,400 staffers and it now has about 860.
Christian Prison Proposed in Oklahoma
A tiny town in Oklahoma is throwing its support behind a push to build a privately run, faith-based prison that would employ only Christians and attempt to rehabilitate inmates using biblical concepts.
Bill Robinson, founder of Corrections Concepts Inc., a Dallas-based nonprofit ministry, said he is living proof of how ex-criminals can become positive influences in society, with God's help.
"God gave me this vision ... to go build a prison," said Robinson, who was released 38 years ago and has ministered to inmates since 1985.
The town of Wakita, with 380 residents, hopes to welcome 600 more if the $42 million proposal is approved by the state Department of Corrections. A 150-acre site near the edge of town -- close to the Oklahoma-Kansas state line -- has been selected and the appropriate paperwork filed, Robinson said.
The facility would house men who have 12 to 30 months of their sentences remaining, he said. Prisoners would have to apply and be accepted on the conditions they would work, help subsidize their incarceration, and accept the faith-based programs and environment. Bible study and worship would not be required of inmates, Robinson said.
Jerry Massie, spokesman for the Department of Corrections, said the state doesn't have the funds to help support the bond-underwritten proposal, nor is he sure it can succeed if approved.
"I think it would be difficult," Massie said. "There's an array of needs the inmate population has: mental health problems, drug addictions. Specializing ... in a prison may be difficult."
Oklahoma operates three correctional facilities that incorporate faith- and character-based curriculum into their educational programs, Massie said. Those have proven successful, he said, while "maintaining that separation of church and state."
First Female Bishop Elected to Lead German Protestants
The Evangelical Church in Germany has elected Bishop Margot Kaessmann to be its new leader, the first time a woman has become the highest representative of 24 million German Protestants. The decision was made on October 28 by the EKD's highest governing body, its synod, meeting in Ulm, southern Germany.
Fifty-one-year-old Kaessmann, who is divorced, is the youngest ever chairperson of the EKD council, and is the successor of Bishop Wolfgang Huber, who is retiring at the age of 67. The EKD is the umbrella organization for 22 regional Lutheran,United and Reformed churches. It accounts for most of the country's Protestant Christians.
Kaessmann has been bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover since 1999. The general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, the Rev. Ishmael Noko, praised Kaessmann's election.
"The election sends a signal to the church worldwide that God calls us to leadership without consideration of gender, color or descent," said Noko, a Zimbabwean theologian.
Lutherans ask Forgiveness For 16th-century Persecutions
Lutheran World Federation leaders plan to apologize for their ancestors 16th-century persecution of Anabaptists, religious reformers whose successors include Mennonites and the Amish.
"We ask for forgiveness--from God and from our Mennonite sisters and brothers--for the harm that our forebears in the sixteenth century committed to Anabaptists," says a statement adopted unanimously on October 26 by the LWF's council.
The apology is now recommended for formal adoption by the highest LWF governing body, its assembly, meeting in Stuttgart, Germany, in July 2010.
Anabaptists, whose originally pejorative name means "re-baptizers,” stressed the need to baptize Christian believers, including those who had been baptized as infants. They were persecuted as heretics by both Protestants and Catholics, and many of them fled to America.
The Rev. Larry Miller, general secretary of the Mennonite World Conference, who attended the Geneva meeting, welcomed the vote by the LWF council. Miller said this request for forgiveness would require that Mennonites also change.
"Mennonites have learned from Lutherans that we are justified by faith alone, because we know that justification produces not only relations between oneself and God but also communion between the churches," said Miller.
LWF president, the Rev. Mark Hanson, who is also presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said the apology process had begun 25 years ago, "when we began to examine Luther's anti-Semitic
"We are also heirs of a tradition that has borne pain in the lives of others because of how our ancestors have written, spoken and communicated," said Hanson.
A document presented to the LWF council about the apology described repentance as "the only fitting response to the persecutions of the 16th century and the continuing Lutheran characterizations of Anabaptists in the centuries which followed." It noted how the Augsburg Confession of 1530, a central Lutheran statement of faith, explicitly condemned Anabaptists and their teachings.