Church of Nigeria Formally Accepts New Anglican Province

The Christian Post reports that the newly formed Anglican body in North America has gained official recognition from the Church of Nigeria, the largest province in the Anglican Communion.

Archbishop Peter Akinola, primate of the Church of Nigeria, has often called for return to orthodox tradition in the U.S. Episcopal Church. The Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria announced their decision of "full communion" with the new North American body on Friday.

"In this one action, leaders representing every diocese in the Church of Nigeria, which in turn count as members more than a quarter of the world's Anglicans, have declared themselves to be full partners of the Anglican Church in North America," said Bishop Robert Duncan, who is to lead the Anglican Church in North America.

Religion Today Summaries

Pastor Sent to Jail for Offering Abortion Alternatives on Public Sidewalk

On March 23 the Rev. Walter Hoye of Berkeley, Calif., was ordered to serve 30 days in county jail by Judge Stuart Hing of the Alameda Superior Court.

Hoye had been found guilty on January 15, 2009, of unlawfully approaching two persons entering an abortion facility in Oakland. Judge Hing had also ordered him to stay one hundred yards away from the abortion facility for three years.

At a hearing on February 19, Judge Hing stated that he had not intended to impose any fine or jail time on Hoye if he would agree to stay away from the abortion facility. After Hoye refused to agree not to offer alternatives to abortion-minded women, Judge Hing imposed a 30-day sentence and $1130 fine.

Dozens in the African-American and pro-life communities from around the nation who came out in support of Hoye were outraged by the sentence. Hoye is an African-American pastor who says he feels a special calling to work for the end of what he calls the genocide by abortion taking place in the African-American community. As part of his efforts, he would stand in front of an abortion facility in Oakland with leaflets offering abortion alternatives and a sign reading, "Jesus loves you and your baby. Let us help."

"It is absolutely incredible that in America an individual can be sentenced to jail for engaging in peaceful free speech activity on a public sidewalk," remarked Allison Aranda, Staff Counsel for Life Legal Defense Foundation. "Rev. Hoye is being singled out for particularly harsh punishment because he refused to agree not to offer help to women considering abortion. Where is the justice in that?"


Four Uzbek Protestants Jailed, Three More Detained in Homeless Shelter

Three Protestant Christians have each been sentenced to 15 days in prison in Andijan Region of eastern Uzbekistan after police raided a meal in a private home where the three were present, Protestants who preferred not to be identified, for fear of state reprisals, told Forum 18 News Service.

A further three Protestants present were held in a center for the homeless for between four and eleven days, for not having identity documents with them. In a separate case, a Baptist in the capital Tashkent was given a ten-day term in prison after some 20 officials from various state agencies-including the Presidential Administration-raided a prayer meeting in a registered church.

Officials told church members that they need special permission for any services apart from those on Sundays, though Forum 18 can find no requirement for this in published laws or regulations.

Attempts to discuss this upsurge in detentions of Protestants, and of Muslims, since the beginning of March with any official at the Uzbek Parliament's Human Rights Ombudsperson's Office were unsuccessful. The religious freedom situation is worsening in Uzbekistan, with many Christians and members of other religions being held without trial, receiving harsh jail sentences or serving time in labor camps.

Institute on Religion and Public Policy

One Thousand Scientists, Physicians, and Intellectuals Sign Manifesto against the Further Legalization of Abortion in Spain

Approximately one thousand scientists, physicians, academicians, and intellectuals have signed a statement rejecting the further legalization of abortion in Spain, and signatures continue to be added to the document.

The signers of the Madrid Manifesto, which comes in response to a proposal by the Socialist Worker's Party to allow abortion on demand during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, state that "we subscribe to the present Manifesto in defense of human life in its initial, embryonic, and fetal stages, and we reject its manipulation at the service of lucrative economic or ideological interests."

Signers include over 200 members of the Royal Academies of Medicine, Pharmacy, Moral and Political Sciences, Exact, Physical, and Natural Sciences, Jurisprudence and Legislation, History, and Fine Arts, and Gynecologists for the Right to Life, Pediatricians for the Right to Life, Psychiatrists for the Right to Life, and the Professional Association of Freelance Medical Practitioners, according to the Spanish newspaper ABC.

"There exists overwhelming scientific evidence that life begins at the moment of fertilization," states the Manifesto.

After stating more evidence for the humanity of life in the womb, the signers conclude that "abortion is not only an act of voluntary interruption of pregnancy' but a simple and cruel act of interruption of a human life'" and that "abortion is a drama with two victims: one dies and the other survives and suffers daily from the consequences of a dramatic and irreparable decision."


Church Resumes Services a Week after Pastor Slain

Baptist Press reports that roughly 200 people came back to First Baptist in Maryville, Ill., on March 15 to listen to a guest pastor whose own church experienced a deadly shooting.

Al Meredith, pastor of Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, where seven people were murdered by a gunman nearly 10 years ago, told members of the church, "I've come here to be with you to let you know there is hope."

Fred Winters, First Baptist Maryville's pastor, died the previous Sunday when a gunman entered the sanctuary and shot him on the platform. Meredith encouraged the congregation to use the opportunity to share the Gospel and grow in spite of the attack.

"We've been praying for these kinds of opportunities, and we didn't even have to budget for it. Fred would like that," Meredith said, referring to the slain pastor's thriftiness.

Religion Today Summaries

Detroit Churches Offer Job Help and a Prayer

The Detroit News reports that the city's churches are becoming career centers, providing laid-off workers with services like resume writing and interviewing tips.

"We have seen our own members facing these major transitions. At a time when this is really prevalent, we can't ignore it," said the Rev. Barry Allen, pastor of Bethesda Christian Church in Sterling Heights. "It's a hard, hard transition in life, even if you know it's coming."

While Allen notes that the focus is getting practical help to the community, the church does include its faith. Allen does not always include prayer or Scripture references at workshops, but often hands out prayer request sheets to those attending.

Religion Today Summaries

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