01: Overseas adoption has become a major concern of many evangelicals, but a less publicized movement has been growing among some evangelical churches dedicated to supporting prospective foster families in the U.S. Known as the 127 movement, it was first started as a project in Colorado in 2004 to provide the state mandated orientation and training to prospective foster parents but with a Christian perspective.
The group’s members acted as a support network to families that ended up fostering and then adopting a child. Since then other faith-based projects have started that seek to provide similar support structures to state-run foster systems. (Source: Sojourners, June)
02: The formation of the Nurturing Communities Project in the last few years and the publication of The Intentional Communities Handbook in 2013 suggest growing connections and interchange between older intentional Christian communities, including the Bruderhof, and more recent movements, such as the New Monasticism.
The project took shape as Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, a founder of the New Monasticism, which stresses urban engagement and communal living (in various degrees), collaborated with David Janzen, a leader of Reba Place, a Mennonite community that has existed for over 50 years. The project brings communities together for annual gatherings as well as offering mentoring by more experienced leaders of older communities. The anabaptist Brudherhof movement, which is associated with the Hutterites, is an active participant in the network.
The interchange and consultation with established communitarian leaders is important because new communities often phase out of an initial period of high energy as leaders and followers face interpersonal conflicts and a loss of enthusiasm, leading to a pattern of decline. The recent publication of The Intentional Communities Handbook, written by Janzen, serves as an instructional manual for would-be communitarians covering such matters as the question of whether one is called to community living, decision-making, gender parity, racial reconciliation, and ways to promote both bonding (internal cohesion) and bridging (engagement with the surrounding community) social capital. (Source: American Communal Societies Quarterly, April.)
03: The formation of a Christian political party among the dalits, or “untouchables,” in India represents the first such political effort by this caste. The party, called the Indian Christian Secular Party, put up more than 60 candidates, the majority of them Dalit Christians.
The party is an expression of increasing frustration that the other parties have not strongly opposed discrimination against Dalits, especially Christian ones. While Dalits are in all of India’s religions, Christian and Muslim dalits have not received the privileges given to Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh dalits that provide free educations and set quotas for government jobs and positions in the legislature. Alongside discrimination against Christian dalits, the party is also concerned about anti-conversion laws that target Christian churches engaged in evangelism and have led to anti-Christian violence.
One observer noted that because Christians are undercounted in India as they remain Hindu on government registers, the new party can make an impact on elections with their nominal presence. (Source: World Watch Monitor, May 12.)