Worldwide Anglican Communion Is Ended, Says Nigerian Primate

A month before the Lambeth Conference, the leaders of the "conservative", or traditionally Christian wing of the Anglican Church have declared that the Worldwide Anglican Communion no longer exists. The declaration came in a 94-page book, titled "The Way, the Truth and the Life," from the church leaders who were meeting at the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jordan. The Global South contingent of the Anglican Church represents 75% of the world's 77 million Anglicans.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that in the book, Archbishop Peter Akinola, the primate of Nigeria, states, "There is no longer any hope, therefore, for a unified Communion." The book was prepared by GAFCON Theological Resource Team and provides the theological and historical foundation for the movement of orthodox Anglicans that was to meet in Jerusalem June 22 - 29.

"We have made enormous efforts since 1997 in seeking to avoid this crisis, but without success. Now we confront a moment of decision. If we fail to act, we risk leading millions of people away from the faith revealed in the Holy Scriptures and also, even more seriously, we face the real possibility of denying our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ," Akinola wrote.

In related news, the Times of London reported in mid-June that the Church of England, the Anglican Communion's mother church, is in a state of crisis as 500 ministers threaten to leave if women are ordained as bishops. The newspaper reported that the ministers have said they would leave the church if the proposal is approved at the next general synod scheduled for July.

Calif. Episcopal Bishop Stresses Gay Marriage'

According to the Christian Post, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California now directly encourages same-sex couples to seek a church union. The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus released a letter on June 16, urging clergy to encourage all couples-including same-sex couples-to seek the blessing of the Episcopal Church as the California diocese works for the "full inclusion" of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) people. Last September the Episcopal Church decided not to authorize public rites of the blessing of same-sex unions, at least not until a broader consensus emerges in the global Anglican Communion or the Episcopal General Convention takes a definitive stance. "Although The Episcopal Church does not have canonical rites for same-sex marriage, it is our goal that all couples be treated equally by the Church, as they are equally loved by God," Andrus said in his letter.

Religion Today Summaries

GAiN to Rebuild Six Burma Villages Smashed by Cyclone

According to the Mission News Network, Global Aid Network (GAiN) has committed to long-term rebuilding in Myanmar communities devastated by Cyclone Nargis, working with six villages desperately in need aid. GAiN will rebuild homes and schools in each village over the next months, and is training 40 local people to build water filtration systems that use readily available natural materials. Ten systems will be installed in the next month, including one in each village. GAiN USA's water filtration expert and trainer commented, "The locals were so excited and so willing to work. It has been so good to work with them." The cyclone destroyed rice fields and contaminated the water supply of the Irrawaddy Delta region, and thousands of unrecovered bodies continue to putrefy water supplies.

Religion Today Summaries

Diggers in Jordan May Have Found Oldest Church

Archeologists have uncovered what may be the world's oldest Christian church. The discovery was made in the catacombs beneath the St. Georgeous Church in Rihab, Mafraq, in northern Jordan where a cave is believed to have housed the earliest Christians. Archaeologist Abdul Qader Hussan, head of the Rihab Centre for Archaeological Studies, said the cave dates from A.D. 33 to A.D. 70. "We have evidence to believe this church sheltered the early Christians-the 70 disciples of Jesus Christ."

The early Christians, described in the mosaic inscription on St. Georgeous floor as "the 70 beloved by God and Divine," are believed to have fled from Jerusalem during a time of persecution in the northern part of Jordan. They are thought to have sought refuge in the underground cave until persecution passed and later built St. Georgeous Church in A.D. 230.

Ministry Report, Assist News Service via MissionNet

Run-Up to Olympics: China Wages War On House Churches

Though the Chinese government has always persecuted house churches, a new reports indicates that the approaching Bejing Olympics have unleashed the first systematic crackdown, the Christian Post reports. The report, called "China: Persecution of Protestant Christians in the Approach to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games" by U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide and U.S.-based China Aid Association, documents governmental funding to the Ministry of Public Security for a campaign to eradicate house churches throughout China.

Tactics used to crack down on unregistered Christians include: targeting well-established unregistered churches; sending landlords directives ordering them to not rent space to those engaging in religious activities; charging Christians in the Xinjiang Region of separatism; expelling foreign Christians; targeting repression at the Chinese House Church Alliance; and carrying out the largest mass sentencing of house church leaders in 25 years.

Religion Today Summaries

UK Officer Says Converting Muslims Is "Hate Crime"

UK police in Birmingham have refused to apologize for the actions of a Muslim community support officer, who threatened to arrest two Christian ministers for "hate crimes," because they were preaching Christianity in a Muslim area according to British media reports.

Christian ministers Arthur Cunningham, 48, and Joseph Abraham, 65, were handing out leaflets and speaking with four Muslim youths about Christianity in Birmingham on February 19, when Naeem Naguthney, 30, a Muslim police community support officer (PCSO) told them to cease-and-desist from preaching to Muslims.

"He said we were in a Muslim area and were not allowed to spread our Christian message," Cunningham told the Telegraph. "He said we were committing a hate crime by telling the youths to leave Islam and said that he was going to take us to the police station."

India Church Gives To Bible Project Despite Famine

Despite the fact that their village is in one of the worst-affected famine areas of Manipur State in Northeast India, members of a rural church gave a donation to help distribute 1.2 million New Testaments across the country.

Ro and Mawii Pudaite of Bibles for the World, which has organized the project, recently visited the church and asked why members would be willing to provide what little money they had. The pastor responded: "When we heard about the need of printing Bibles for the people of a nation who have never had the Word of God in their language, we could not help but sacrifice . . . we would rather go without food than deny these dear people from having the Word of eternal life."

Response from the 600,000 people who have already received the Bibles is tremendous, said Mawii. "Some have received Christ as Savior and Lord," she said. "Many of them are seekers, wanting to know more, and we follow them." Ro added that along with donations, prayer is crucial to the ministry. "Pray that God will make His Word clear to those who are receiving the New Testaments," he said

Mission Network News

Anglican Bishop Warns Breakaway Clergy

The Anglican Journal reports that the New Westminster diocese in Vancouver has effectively banned five breakaway clergy from their previous parish property and leadership. Bishop Michael Ingham from the Anglican Church of Canada warned the five that they may not exercise ministry at their churches, are considered to be trespassing if they are on the property and may not remove anything, including books. Several parishes voted to leave the Canadian church in February over theological disagreements, including the blessing of same-sex unions. The parishes' clergy gave letters declaring that, although they relinquished their licensing, they planned to remain in their churches with the support of their congregations. Bishop Ingham said the diocese intends to "act legally to retain all property and assets belonging to these parishes and to the diocese" since schism, which is the "setting up of unlawful authority," cannot be allowed to stand.

Religion Today Summaries

Court Rule Favors Episcopal Churches In Virginia Test

Virginia Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows issued a second ruling on June 27 in favor of the eleven Virginia churches that have departed the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, by recognizing the constitutionality of the Virginia Statute on Religious Division. Bellows had already ruled in April that a religious division had occurred, and that the statute is applicable to this case. The Episcopal Church and the diocese are expected to challenge the court's decision.

A trial is scheduled for this fall on the question of property ownership itself. A majority of members in the 11 Anglican churches voted to sever their ties to the Episcopal Church and the diocese following disputes over the redefinition and reinterpretation of Scripture.

"The Episcopal Church and its increasingly liberal mainline counterparts refuse to accept what has become obvious: the majority of many congregations across the country do not want to depart their denominations, but will do so if liberal leadership continues down an unfaithful path," commented James D. Tonkowich, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD).

From an IRD press release

Religious Education In Britain Termed Violation of Rights

Though Christianity is the official religion of the United Kingdom, lawmakers and activists are working to extract religious activity in British schools, saying that teenagers' human rights are being violated. According to Cybercast News Service, students in most public schools are required to take religious education classes and participate in acts of collective worship. Many schools already neglect daily worship, and several exceptions apply to the requirement. The lawmakers said forcing a student to engage in these activities violated the European Convention on Human Rights, the report said.

Religion Today Summaries

More Teenagers Remaining Chaste, New Study Reveals

U.S. high school-aged children are becoming more aware of the problems and diseases associated with high risk and irresponsible behavior, according to a study released in early June by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The new data is from the CDC's 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System.

Compared to data from the 1990s, the study reveals that this generation of teens is having less sex, smoking fewer cigarettes and doing fewer drugs. About 46% of high school students in 1991 said they had never engaged in sexual activity. The 2007 survey reports that 52% of students said they were still virgins.

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
Disciple Banner Ad