Home » Christianity Today Magazine »

News and Reporting

News and Reporting

News and Reporting is a section of Christianity Today that compiles the most urgent and interesting news from around the world that you need to know.
News in this category: 30
Bookmark and share this category:  

News

CRC congregations weigh land acknowledgements amid rising awareness of indigenous injustices on both sides of the border.Visitors to a suburban Toronto congregation are greeted in the foyer or from the stage with the following: “The Community Christian Reformed Church of Meadowvale is located on the Treaty lands and traditional Territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.”The statement names the indigenous community that once stewarded the land where the Canadian church stands. But a visitor to one of Meadowvale’s hundreds of fellow American congregations across the border will likely find the practice of such “land acknowledgements” to be wholly unfamiliar.The discrepancy is part of a larger divergence within the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA) as the denomination’s 1,000-plus congregations—with one quarter in Canada and three-quarters in the United States—seek to serve amid neighboring cultures and governments moving at very different paces on addressing injustices done to their indigenous peoples.In Canada, where the native community is known as First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples, the abuse that many indigenous students suffered at residential schools was the subject of a national, years-long reckoning through a federally backed Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). In contrast, though many Native Americans in the United States experienced similar trauma, the schools’ aftermath has only recently gained mainstream attention.“Because of the [TRC] and the things that the government has done, the Canadian church has been encouraged to continue doing the work,” said Viviana Cornejo, the CRCNA’s racial curriculum and instruction specialist. “The United States as a whole is having a hard time dealing with the past. If ...Continue reading...
The ministry leader believed declining US churches could be revitalized by hearing Wesleyans “with a different accent.”H Eddie Fox, who hoped to renew American Methodism through evangelism and increased connections with global Christianity, died on Wednesday at age 83.Fox led World Methodist Evangelism for 25 years, teaching, training, and empowering Methodists and Wesleyans to share their faith, and encouraging churches to make evangelism a priority. He pioneered several new initiatives that were popular in United Methodist Church (UMC) congregations, and he helped American churches connect with fellow Wesleyans outside the United States, especially in formerly communist countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union.From 1989 to 2014, when Fox directed the world evangelism program, Methodists increased around the globe by about 1 million per year, even as the US membership of the UMC declined by about 2 million overall. Fox saw a direct link between the theology of the church and its vitality.“Wherever the church is faithful to the doctrine, the sound teaching, the Discipline, the way of life—which is the way you order your life—and the spirit, openness to the Holy Spirit, you'll find a church that's dynamic, contagious and alive,” he said when he retired. “And where that is not true, you’ll find a church to be a dead sect, having the form but not the power thereof. That’s been a focus of my ministry. It’s been a call we’ve stood on for many, many years.”Fox taught more Methodists how to share their faith than any one else in his lifetime, and became, for many, the evangelistic face of Methodism. He also taught at the Billy Graham School of Evangelism at Wheaton College for 15 years.“He was dynamic and alive with his passion for the gospel, especially evangelism,” ...Continue reading...
A South Georgia prosecutor is considering whether two Baptists were killed because they were Black.For 36 years, the murder of a Baptist deacon and his wife in the vestibule of their small white church off a two-lane highway in southern Georgia has been attributed to robbery, drugs, or revenge.But now the district attorney in Glynn County, Georgia, is considering filing new charges and naming a new motive: racism. If the prosecutor decides to try to bring the 1985 homicide to trial in 2021, his office will argue that 66-year-old Harold and 63-year-old Thelma Swain were shot to death because they were Black.According to District Attorney Keith Higgins’s office, the review is “ongoing,” as the prosecutor considers options and available evidence to make the case.The new evidence, collected and processed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), showed that the man convicted of the double murder in 2003 was innocent. Dennis Perry was released from prison in July 2020 after two decades of incarceration. Last week, the prosecutor dismissed all further charges, exonerating Perry.The GBI’s evidence points to another suspect: Erik Sparre. The mitochondrial DNA of two hairs found in the hinge of a distinctive pair of glasses left at the scene were matched to Sparre’s mother’s DNA, meaning they came from Sparre or someone in his matrilineal line.Sparre also told at least two people he committed the crimes and was once recorded on tape bragging about the murders.“I’m the motherf— who killed two n— in that church, and I’m going to kill you and the whole damn family if I have to do it in church,” he told an ex-wife while her family taped him, according to the extensive investigation of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.One of Sparre’s ex-wives said he ...Continue reading...
Update: Judge rules epic of Gilgamesh fragment belongs in Iraq.Update (July 29): Two years after federal officials seized the artifact, a judge ordered Hobby Lobby to officially forfeit a rare clay tablet containing a portion of the epic of Gilgamesh. The tablet will be returned to Iraq.The Bible Museum, which was founded by Hobby Lobby owner and Bible collector Steve Green, has supported efforts to send the item back to its country of origin.The ancient Mesopotamian text was purchased from Christie’s auction house in 2014 before being put on display in Washington D.C. in 2017. Hobby Lobby is now suing Christie’s, claiming the reputable auction house provided false information and provenance documents making it seem the tablet could be legally purchased, and was not looted during fighting in Iraq.Hobby Lobby is also returning about 11,500 other antiquities to the Iraqi and Egyptian governments due to incorrect or incomplete documentation. Green has previously said he made a mistake, when he was building a collection for the Museum of the Bible, by trusting unscrupulous dealers.-----Original post (May 21, 2020): Another ancient document is causing controversy for the Museum of the Bible after a federal government prosecutor filed a claim that a six-by-five-inch clay tablet was stolen from Iraq. The US Attorney’s Office of Eastern New York says that Hobby Lobby legally purchased the Gilgamesh Dream Tablet for $1.6 million to loan to the museum, but the papers documenting the artifact’s purchase history were false.“In this case, a major auction house failed to meet its obligations by minimizing its concerns that the provenance of an important Iraqi artifact was fabricated, and withheld from the buyer information that undermined the provenance’s reliability," ...Continue reading...
Mishandled case in Wheaton has been a wake-up call for the relatively young denomination. Priests and parishioners in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) are expressing grief and anger over sexual abuse allegations against a lay leader in the Diocese of the Upper Midwest and the revelation that its bishop waited two years to notify churches in the diocese about the reports.Church leaders and advocates in Illinois and beyond see this case as a chance for the 12-year-old denomination to establish better practices for preventing abuse and to care well for survivors.After admitting he made “regrettable errors” in the process, Bishop Stewart Ruch III requested a leave of absence this month as the diocese investigates whether he and other diocesan leaders mishandled abuse allegations against Mark Rivera, a former lay leader at Christ Our Light Anglican in Big Rock, Illinois, and longtime member and volunteer at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois. Until his leave, Ruch was a pastor at Church of the Resurrection, the diocesan headquarters.On July 1, more than 30 female clergy in the ACNA published an open letter expressing support for the survivors and pledging to help the denomination create better processes for responding to abuse allegations with “urgency, compassion, accountability, and transparency.”The ACNA formed in 2009 when conservative churches broke with the Episcopal Church over disagreements on human sexuality. The denomination has about 1,000 churches and 127,000 members. Because it is still relatively young and small, it has the opportunity to make decisions in these early years to set a precedent for how it will handle cases of abuse. The incidents in the Diocese of the Upper Midwest are the most recent in a string of abuse cases to emerge in the ACNA within ...Continue reading...
While a baker from the same state won his challenge, court upholds Colorado anti-discrimination requirements for the owner of a creative agency. A US appeals court has ruled against a Christian web designer who didn’t want to create wedding websites for same-sex couples and sued to challenge Colorado’s anti-discrimination law, another twist in a series of court rulings nationwide about whether businesses denying services to LGBTQ people amounts to bias or freedom of speech.A three-judge panel of the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Monday denied Lorie Smith’s attempt to overturn a lower court ruling throwing out her legal challenge.The Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Smith, argued that the law forced her to violate her Christian beliefs.In the 2–1 ruling, the panel said Colorado had a compelling interest in protecting the “dignity interests” of members of marginalized groups through its law.The anti-discrimination law is the same one at issue in the case of Colorado baker Jack Phillips that was decided in 2018 by the US Supreme Court.The high court decided the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had acted with anti-religious bias against Phillips after he refused to bake a cake for two men who were getting married. But it did not rule on the larger issue of whether a business can invoke religious objections to refuse service to LGBTQ people.The Scottsdale, Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom also represented Phillips. Founded in 1994 by Christian leaders concerned about religious freedom, the group said it would appeal Monday’s ruling.“The government should never force creative professionals to promote a message or cause with which they disagree. That is quintessential free speech and artistic freedom,” the group’s senior counsel, John Bursch, said in ...Continue reading...
Dozens of leaders from the preacher's former congregation are calling for him to resign from The Trinity Church, where departing members are raising familiar concerns.Nearly 40 elders who served with Mark Driscoll during the final years of Mars Hill Church are publicly calling for him to step down from his current pastoral position and seek reconciliation with those he has hurt.“We are troubled that he continues to be unrepentant despite the fact that these sins have been previously investigated, verified, and brought to his attention by his fellow Elders, prior to his abrupt resignation” from Mars Hill, they wrote in a statement released today to CT. “Accordingly, we believe that Mark is presently unfit for serving the church in the office of pastor.”Driscoll founded The Trinity Church in Scottsdale in 2016, two years after resigning from Mars Hill at the conclusion of an investigation into his leadership. In recent months, several former Mars Hill elders have heard directly from members leaving The Trinity Church over concerns around Driscoll.The leaders who signed onto the statement say they felt a responsibility to clarify the charges against him as a way to warn current members of his church and continue to call the well-known preacher to the kind of repentance and restoration process he was never able to complete under Mars Hill.“This letter isn’t new information. It’s just information that hasn’t been widely spread,” said Ryan Welsh, who had been pastor of theology and leadership at Mars Hill. “Our hope is not just to point a finger. Our hope is to protect people and, by the Spirit’s work, that Mark would respond.”The 39 signatories represent the majority of the pastors who served at the church between 2011 and 2014, when formal charges were raised against Driscoll. The list includes former executive pastor ...Continue reading...
Parents reunite with sons and daughters at Bethel high school, yet more than 80 children remain with Kaduna kidnappers.Armed kidnappers in Nigeria have released 28 of the more than 120 students who were abducted at the beginning of July from Bethel Baptist High School in the northern town of Damishi.Church officials handed those children over to their parents at the school on Sunday. But Israel Akanji, president of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, said more than 80 other children are still being held by the gunmen.So far 34 children kidnapped from the school on July 5 have either been released or have escaped from the custody of the gunmen. It is unclear when the other children will be released. The gunmen have reportedly demanded 500,000 Naira (about $1,200) for each student.Akanji said the church did not pay any ransoms because it is opposed to paying criminals, but he added the church was unable to stop the children’s families from taking any actions they deem fit to secure their release.A spokesman for the Nigerian Police, Mohammed Jalige, said security forces and civilian defense forces were on a routine rescue patrol July 12 around the forests near the village of Tsohon Gaya when they found three exhausted kidnapped victims roaming in the bush. Two other students escaped on July 20 when they were ordered to fetch firewood from a nearby forest. Jalige said they were undergoing medical examinations.Gunman called bandits have carried out a spate of mass abductions from schools in northern Nigeria this year, mainly seeking ransoms.Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who won election on hopes that he would tackle Nigeria’s security challenges, has not been able to do much in addressing the growing cases of mass abductions from Nigerian schools.The BWA ranks Nigeria as the world’s second-most vulnerable country for Baptists ...Continue reading...
World Evangelical Alliance and Nahdlatul Ulama sign “The Nation's Mosque Statement” on sidelines of 2021 International Religious Freedom Summit, seeking a “harmonious world order.”The world’s largest Muslim organization accepts that Christians will try to convert its members. A new partnership with evangelicals seeks to ensure this does not lead to conflict.Last week, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) signed a statement of cooperation with Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), an Indonesian association with an estimated 30 million to 50 million members. Established in 1926 to counter Wahhabi trends issuing from the Arabian Peninsula, its name means “Revival of the Religious Scholars.”“Evangelicals very much aspire to proselytism, and so does Islam. So naturally there will be competition,” said NU secretary general Yahya Cholil Staquf. “But we need to have this competition conducted in a peaceful and harmonious environment.”Staquf spoke from the stage of the 2021 International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit in Washington. On its opening day, he and WEA secretary general Thomas Schirrmacher signed “The Nation’s Mosque Statement,” along with Taleb Shareef, imam of Masjid Muhammad, the first American mosque built by the descendants of slaves.Calling for “the emergence of a truly just and harmonious world order,” the statement seeks a global alliance to prevent the political weaponization of identity and the spread of communal hatred.Schirrmacher called the WEA’s cooperation with NU the product of deep theological dialogue, counter to the academic tendency to downplay truth claims. And as evangelicals, evangelism is at the heart of their effort.“We are working together for the right to convert each other,” the German theologian said.“Religious freedom does not mean that we agree, but that we live in peace with our deep differences.” ...Continue reading...
The suburban DC megachurch's recent scuffle over race and politics is symptomatic of a broader evangelical rift.The Washington-area megachurch led by best-selling author David Platt has affirmed three new elders—but only after a public tussle over politics, race, and alleged liberal drift, plus a lawsuit filed by dissenters.The conflict at McLean Bible Church is significant not only because of the congregation’s size and influence—with several thousand attendees and a prominent place in the DC church landscape—but also because the incident marks the latest salvo in an ongoing clash within American evangelicalism.After new elder nominees failed to be elected for the first time in the church’s history, Platt told the congregation in a sermon in early July that “a small group of people inside and outside this church coordinated a divisive effort to use disinformation in order to persuade others to vote these men down as part of a broader effort to take control of this church.”At a June 30 meeting, nominees Chuck Hollingsworth, Jim Burris, and Ken Tucker had failed to receive a clear 75 percent majority, the margin required for elder election. The total was either just above or just below 75 percent, depending on whether provisional ballots were counted, so a second vote was held July 18, at which all three nominees received at least 78 percent of the vote.The weeks between the two votes were tumultuous. Platt said in his July 4 sermon that people told voting members, in person and by email, that the elders up for nomination would have sold the church’s Tysons location to build a mosque, with proceeds going to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).Online posts on blogs, Facebook, and email charged Platt with pushing critical race theory, revising biblical teaching on sexuality, and aligning ...Continue reading...
Get the most recent headlines and stories from Christianity Today delivered to your inbox daily.
Conservative Methodists worry about their place in the denomination ahead of delayed plans for a split over LGBT issues.Regional leaders of the United Methodist Church (UMC) took control of an 8,000-member congregation in suburban Atlanta earlier this month after a lengthy conflict over who should pastor the church.The North Georgia Conference seized assets of Mount Bethel United Methodist Church in Marietta on July 12, a move that has sparked tensions already roiling over the denomination’s ongoing conflict around same-sex marriage and LGBT ordination.Back in April, North Georgia Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson reassigned Mount Bethel’s conservative pastor, Jody Ray, to a role in the regional office involving racial reconciliation and said a new pastor would be sent to the church.Ray turned down that assignment and left the denomination. In a sermon announcing his departure, he said to his children, “Your daddy did not bow the knee or kiss the ring of progressive theology.”Such a move by a regional conference “has never happened with a church of anywhere near this size or for this reason,” said Rob Renfroe, a UMC pastor in Texas and president of the Methodist publication Good News Magazine.Over the past year, Renfroe said, “at least four other senior pastors … were told that they were being moved without the pastor or the churches being consulted,” but those situations were resolved without a takeover by the regional governing body.All assets of a United Methodist church are held in trust for the denomination, meaning that though a local church technically owns its assets, they are able to be used only for the work of the UMC. When there is a conflict between the church and denominational leaders, the assets can be transferred back to the regional body and administered by them.In the case ...Continue reading...
The college is looking into “deeply troubling” allegations from victims who say its procedures were “enabling on-campus rapes.”A new lawsuit against Liberty University claims the Lynchburg, Virginia-based evangelical Christian school has “intentionally created a campus environment” that makes sexual assaults and rapes more likely to occur.The complaint points a finger at the “weaponization” of Liberty’s student honor code, known as the Liberty Way, which it claims makes it “difficult or impossible” for students to report sexual violence. It also claims such violence, particularly by male student athletes, was excused while the women who reported it faced retaliation.In a written statement, Liberty University said it was looking into the allegations, which it called “deeply troubling, if they turn out to be true.”The suit, brought by 12 women who chose to remain anonymous, was filed Tuesday in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York and first reported by ABC 13 News in Lynchburg. The women are said to include former Liberty employees and students and one woman who attended a summer camp on the school’s campus as a minor.Liberty was aware its “policies and procedures, as written and implemented, were enabling on-campus rapes,” according to the lawsuit.Some of the women, all identified as Jane Doe in the suit, allegedly were discouraged from reporting they had been assaulted because they were told they would be disciplined for violating the Liberty Way, according to the lawsuit.Some women who reported their assaults to Liberty’s Title IX office or campus police allegedly were subjected to investigations that presumed they had consented to sex unless they could prove otherwise, the suit said.Some allegedly were fined or penalized under the honor code, which ...Continue reading...
“We are hard-pressed to find a clearer example of viewpoint discrimination.”A federal appeals court has upheld a 2019 ruling against the University of Iowa, affirming that the university discriminated against a Christian club by stripping it and dozens of other religious clubs of their registered status.A three-judge panel of the US 8th Circuit Court of Appeal on Friday found that a lower federal court correctly ruled that the university can’t selectively deregister student organizations. That ruling came on a lawsuit filed by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship after university administrators deregistered its local chapter along with multiple other religious groups.The university moved to deregister the groups after another faith-based group, Business Leaders in Christ, sued the university for kicking it off campus following a complaint that it wouldn’t let an openly gay member seek a leadership post.The appeals court said Friday that “we are hard-pressed to find a clearer example of viewpoint discrimination.”The university had not allowed Christian, Muslim, and Sikh groups to appoint leaders based on their shared faith, selectively enforcing its policy requiring all clubs to offer equal opportunity and access regardless of classifications including race, religion, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.According to Becket, which represented InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in the case, “the court warned that university officials who ‘make calculated choices about enacting or enforcing [such] unconstitutional policies’ should be on notice that they are not entitled to qualified immunity but instead will be held personally accountable for their actions.”Continue reading...
First IRF summit led by civilians not governments pulls off bipartisan participation as attendees welcome news on next ambassador.One word floated forebodingly between parentheses throughout promotional material for the 2021 International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit:Invited.Following the names of Nancy Pelosi, Antony Blinken, and Samantha Power, it indicated uncertainty if the key Democratic stalwarts would participate.As the approximately 1,200 registered attendees arrived, the distributed official program still did not include the current House speaker, secretary of state, or USAID administrator.However, Mike Pompeo, Blinken’s predecessor at the US State Department, had a keynote address from the stage.“There were a lot of questions heading into this summit, with a lot of hesitancy from the Biden people,” summit co-chair Sam Brownback told CT. “But we worked hard to make it bipartisan.”Unlike the previous two ministerial meetings held in Washington, DC (and a third held virtually in Poland), this year’s IRF gathering was organized by civil society, not governments.Brownback, the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom during the Trump administration, was now a private citizen. He partnered with Katrina Lantos Swett, former chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, who was appointed by former Democratic senator Harry Reid.Brownback chased the Republicans, and Lantos Swett the Democrats. Their friendship, Pam Pryor, senior advisor to the summit, told CT, is the “gold standard” in bipartisan cooperation.In the end, Lantos Swett was relatively successful. Unable to appear in person, Pelosi, Blinken, and Power all provided prerecorded remarks.“The summit demonstrates our ironclad commitment to international religious freedom,” stated Pelosi, “which ...Continue reading...
UPDATE: Mark Dever's church has its legal fees covered in the latest legal victory among congregations who sued over worship service limits during lockdown.Capitol Hill Baptist Church has settled a lawsuit with the District of Columbia over claims that its coronavirus restrictions violated the First Amendment by barring outdoor worship but permitting other outdoor activities.According to The Washington Post, DC agreed last week to pay $220,000 to Capitol Hill Baptist to cover its legal fees and stated that officials “will not enforce any current or future covid-19 restrictions to prohibit CHBC from gathering as one congregation.” The settlement said it was not an admission of wrongdoing by the city.Capitol Hill Baptist, led by 9Marks founder Mark Dever, was the first to sue over the District’s restrictions, following multiple attempts to secure a waiver from citywide restrictions, which didn’t permit church services of over 100 people, even if outside, masked, and socially distanced.Dever’s church based its request on its belief that the Bible calls churches to gather as one assembly—not in multiple services, multiple sites, or online. During the restrictions, it crossed state lines to gather outdoors in Virginia.“Ultimately, the church is not something we want to be in as a building,” said Dever in a clip from spring 2020. “It’s a people we want to be with. That’s why we Christians always gather, so that we can be with the people of God and do the things that Jesus has called us to do.”The church’s legal case initially resulted an injunction allowing congregants to return to worship in October 2020, months before all capacity limits were lifted in DC in spring 2021.Churches in other states have also won settlements over similar First Amendment claims. California will pay $2 million to cover legal ...Continue reading...
Facing decline, Anglicans debate whether the suggestion represents a fresh missional strategy or a radical departure from their theological convictions. Petertide—the days around the feast of St. Peter on June 29—is traditionally one of the most joyful seasons for the Church of England, a time for ordination of new priests and deacons. But this year’s Petertide has been marred by what many have interpreted as an attack on the future of Anglican priesthood itself.As Britain’s national church prepared to gather for its General Synod, which began last Friday and runs through Tuesday, one of its most senior clerics submitted a paper for discussion arguing that the future lies not with clergy in the pulpit, but with worshiping communities led by lay people.Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell—second only in the hierarchy to the archbishop of Canterbury—first floated his ideas last year in a report from a “Vision and Strategy” committee that Cottrell heads. But its publication last month, just before the laity, bishops and other clergy attended the Synod sessions online, has caused an outcry.Cottrell’s latest reflections include not only a proposal for 10,000 lay-led communities within the next decade but a focus on young people: It urges a doubling of the number of children attending church and what he calls “active young disciples” by 2030.The Church of England, he maintains, has to become a “church of missionary disciples,” to “become younger and more diverse,” and to become a church “where a mixed ecology is the norm”—referring to a mix of digital and lay-led services.Cottrell’s plan does not include dismantling the ancient parish system, but his criticism of it—calling it ineffective “in the networks of contemporary life”—has caused fear ...Continue reading...
Both traditions are losing out to the unaffiliated.If there’s one overarching conclusion that comes from studying survey data of American religion over the last several decades, it is that fewer people identify with an established religious tradition every year. The ranks of religiously unaffiliated, also called the nones, have grown from just about 5 percent in the early 1970s to at least 30 percent in 2020.Religious demography is a zero-sum game. If one group grows larger that means that other groups must be shrinking in size. So that rise in the nones is bad news for churches, pretty much across traditions. When you sort Christians by denomination, mainline Protestants are continuing to show significant decline.By their own membership tallies, mainline denominations are showing drops of 15 percent, 25 percent, and even 40 percent over the span of the last decade. There is little room for triumph on the evangelical side; their numbers are slipping too.Examining these two traditions, though, shows us two different stories about how their churches are losing members and could offer a trajectory for what the American religious landscape will look like in the future.First, it’s important to point out that mainline Protestants—the grouping scholars use for denominations like the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Presbyterian Church (USA)—used to outnumber evangelicals by a significant margin in the 1970s. In 1975, just over 30 percent of Americans were mainline, while about 21 percent were evangelicals. However, those lines began to converge quickly, and by 1983 there were more evangelicals in the United States than mainliners.This rapid shift in American religion was driven primarily ...Continue reading...
In times of trials, Scripture strengthened and encouraged.Ainslee Moss felt the full weight of 2020.For her, the year included juggling the responsibilities of running several nonprofit thrift stores in York County, South Carolina, directing a women’s shelter ministry, coordinating drop-offs for new mothers and seniors unable to leave their home in the pandemic, and traveling back and forth to the hospital with her elderly father who was fighting heart problems and esophageal cancer.Her father, David Gentry, died at the end of the year, on December 27.“Definitely one of the most challenging years I think I’ve ever been through,” Moss said. “I had my days that I had my good cries, but I think one of the things that kept me sane in those times was knowing that God has our days numbered.”At the worst moments in 2020, she said, she turned to Psalm 34:1: “I will bless the Lord at all times” (ESV).According to data from the State of the Bible survey by the American Bible Society (ABS), Moss’s experiences over the past year are in line with many Christians in America.People who are “Bible engaged”—which the society defines as people who read Scripture multiple times per week and cite its impact on their daily lives as a key way they relate to God—struggled in 2020. They reported stress and anxiety at slightly higher rates than the rest of the population. But they also had more hope.“Jesus said, ‘In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world,’” John Farquhar Plake, lead researcher at ABS, told CT. “We see that played out in the lives of real people in the data.”The survey found that one-quarter of Americans are experiencing ...Continue reading...
Voting guides have been replaced by discussion questions as Christians consider the future.Anna Klein is excited to vote for change. The 27-year-old evangelical German schoolteacher supported Angela Merkel for chancellor in the last two national elections, but this year, as the long-serving Merkel steps off the political stage, Klein is going to support the Green Party’s Annalena Baerbock.Klein, who lives in the central state of Thuringia, says the September 26 election is historic. And she likes the idea of supporting a woman who could in some ways build on Merkel’s legacy of responsible leadership and in other ways “move in an even more transformational direction.”Her vote, at its base, is informed by her faith.“I’m not a conservative person politically, because I am not a conservative person when it comes to religion and its role in my life,” Klein said. “My understanding of faith is always one of a welcoming, yes-saying approach to change.”Baerbock is seen as an advocate for more dialogue and someone who will provide leadership on environmental issues, refugees, women’s rights, and education. Klein resonates with these priorities because of evangelical teachings about loving your neighbor and welcoming the stranger, Jesus’ respect for women, and the biblical mandates to care for creation.With the support of younger evangelicals like Klein, the Green Party seems to be pulling ahead in polls. It may garner enough votes to form a coalition government with the conservative bloc, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Christian Social Union (CSU).The idea of progressive Greens and center-right CDU-CSU governing together, hand in hand, might sound strange. But the environmental protest party has shifted to the mainstream, with a focus on being ...Continue reading...
With a denominational split delayed, some are willing to pay big to exit now.Caught in a decades-long battle over LGBT issues, with a proposed denominational split delayed again by the pandemic, dozens of conservative and progressive churches are leaving the United Methodist Church (UMC) without a tidy exit plan.Two years ago, factions in the United Methodist Church (UMC) agreed on a plan for splitting the denomination with conservative churches keeping their property as they leave. But the UMC has twice postponed its General Conference and won ’t meet until August 2022 to vote on the proposal, called the “Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation.”A United Methodist News review of US annual conference reports and publicly available journals found that the 54 conferences—regional UMC governing bodies—approved at least 51 disaffiliations in 2020. Annual conference reports for 2021 show that the annual conferences have approved 38 disaffiliations so far in 2021.Though the disaffiliations represent a sliver of the more than 31,000 United Methodist churches nationwide, they show that some churches are willing to take the hard way out of the UMC.“For us, we felt the Lord was leading us to go. As far as the protocol is concerned, it ’s something that is up in the air,” said Alvin Talkington, a member of the disaffiliation team at Boyce Church, a 100-member congregation in Ohio that left the denomination last fall.The decision to leave came after years of frustration with the East Ohio Conference for not valuing the church’s conservative doctrinal stance on issues such as homosexuality and not finding conservative ministers to serve the church.“Out of the last ten pastors, there might have been three or four who fit our doctrine,” ...Continue reading...
Updated: Evangelist celebrates “important movement for religious freedom in the UK.”Update (July 16): The British city of Blackpool must apologize for removing Franklin Graham ads from public buses, admit the act was discrimination, and pay the organizers of the Lancashire Festival of Hope a total of 109,000 pounds (the equivalent of about $150,000).Judge Claire Evans handed down the terms on Friday morning, with agreement from both sides. The city published the apology on its website and must pay the fines in one week.The court calculated the cost of removing the bus ads at 84,000 pounds for the Festival of Hope’s legal fees and an additional 25,000 for “just satisfaction,” because the city violated the UK Human Rights Act of 1998.When the city removed the ads, it claimed this was necessary because of “heightened tension” caused by Graham’s position on LGBT issues. But internal emails showed officials expressing their own disapproval of Graham and looking for a legal reason to stop the advertising campaign. Roughly 200 area churches sponsored Graham’s event, which was attended by about 9,000 people.“This is an important moment for religious freedom in the UK,” Graham said in a statement to CT. “We’re grateful to God for the final outcome of this case, and for what it will mean for churches and Christians across the UK in the years ahead. The Good News of Jesus Christ must be proclaimed. My prayer is that this case will encourage Christians to stand firm.”The terms cannot be appealed and the court order is public, so the case can serve as a precedent in British law.Evan’s ruling in April found that the city “gave preference to the rights and opinions of one part of the community,” while disregarding the rights and ...Continue reading...
Kazakhstan pledges improvements at 2021 IRF Summit in Washington DC, following footsteps of neighboring Uzbekistan.Now two of “the five ’Stans” are becoming bigger fans of—or, as Gen Z would say, “stanning” for—religious freedom.“In Kazakhstan, all denominations can freely follow their religion,” said Yerzhan Nukezhanov, chairman of the Central Asian nation’s committee for religious affairs, “and we will continue to create all necessary conditions for religious freedom.”Speaking at the 2021 International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit in Washington, DC, Nukezhanov signed a memorandum of understanding with Wade Kusack, head of the Love Your Neighbor Community. It sets a three-year roadmap that will train local imams, priests, and pastors in dialogue, culminating in the establishment of religious freedom roundtables in nine Kazakh cities.“It is a front door approach in openness and transparency with the government,” Kusack told CT. “Mutual trust is built one relationship at a time.”An ethnic Belarusian, Kusack is also the senior fellow for Central Asia at the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE), the American NGO which helped shepherd Uzbekistan’s efforts to improve its IRF standing. In 2018, top Uzbek officials pledged reforms at the first Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, convened by the US State Department.Later that year, the State Department removed Uzbekistan from its list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) for the first time since 2005. Downgraded to Special Watch List status, by 2020 the nation had made enough progress to be delisted altogether.Recent developments in Kazakhstan were hailed as a “proof of concept” for the engagement model of IRF advocacy. Not listed as a CPC by the State Department, the ...Continue reading...
Kazakhstan pledges improvements at 2021 IRF Summit in Washington DC, following footsteps of neighboring Uzbekistan.Now two of “the five ’Stans” are becoming bigger fans of—or, as Gen Z would say, “stanning” for—religious freedom.“In Kazakhstan, all denominations can freely follow their religion,” said Yerzhan Nukezhanov, chairman of the Central Asian nation’s committee for religious affairs, “and we will continue to create all necessary conditions for religious freedom.”Speaking at the 2021 International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit in Washington, DC, Nukezhanov signed a memorandum of understanding with Wade Kusack, head of the Love Your Neighbor Community. It sets a three-year roadmap that will train local imams, priests, and pastors in dialogue, culminating in the establishment of religious freedom roundtables in nine Kazakh cities.“It is a front door approach in openness and transparency with the government,” Kusack told CT. “Mutual trust is built one relationship at a time.”An ethnic Belarusian, Kusack is also the senior fellow for Central Asia at the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE), the American NGO which helped shepherd Uzbekistan’s efforts to improve its IRF standing. In 2018, top Uzbek officials pledged reforms at the first Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, convened by the US State Department.Later that year, the State Department removed Uzbekistan from its list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) for the first time since 2005. Downgraded to Special Watch List status, by 2020 the nation had made enough progress to be delisted altogether.Recent developments in Kazakhstan were hailed as a “proof of concept” for the engagement model of IRF advocacy. Not listed as a CPC by the State Department, the ...Continue reading...
With a denominational split delayed, some are willing to pay big to exit now.Caught in a decades-long battle over LGBT issues, with a proposed denominational split delayed again by the pandemic, dozens of conservative and progressive churches are leaving the United Methodist Church (UMC) without a tidy exit plan.Two years ago, factions in the United Methodist Church (UMC) agreed on a plan for splitting the denomination with conservative churches keeping their property as they leave. But the UMC has twice postponed its General Conference and won ’t meet until August 2022 to vote on the proposal, called the “Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation.”A United Methodist News review of US annual conference reports and publicly available journals found that the 54 conferences—regional UMC governing bodies—approved at least 51 disaffiliations in 2020. Annual conference reports for 2021 show that the annual conferences have approved 38 disaffiliations so far in 2021.Though the disaffiliations represent a sliver of the more than 31,000 United Methodist churches nationwide, they show that some churches are willing to take the hard way out of the UMC.“For us, we felt the Lord was leading us to go. As far as the protocol is concerned, it ’s something that is up in the air,” said Alvin Talkington, a member of the disaffiliation team at Boyce Church, a 100-member congregation in Ohio that left the denomination last fall.The decision to leave came after years of frustration with the East Ohio Conference for not valuing the church’s conservative doctrinal stance on issues such as homosexuality and not finding conservative ministers to serve the church.“Out of the last ten pastors, there might have been three or four who fit our doctrine,” ...Continue reading...

FamilyNet Top Sites Top Independent Baptist Sites KJV-1611 Authorized Version Topsites The Fundamental Top 500

Powered by Ekklesia-Online

Locations of visitors to this page free counters