Advisory Panel Says the Canadian Military Should Not Hire Chaplains Who Believe in Conversion or Male Church Leadership

Religious groups in Canada are asking the minister of National Defence to reject an advisory panel’s recommendation for redefining military chaplaincy.

The panel, made up of four veterans, said the military should stop hiring chaplains who believe that polytheists should be converted to Christianity or who think church leadership should be restricted to men.

“The Defence Team … cannot justify hiring representatives of organizations who marginalize certain people or categorically refuse them a position of leadership,” the report said. “These faiths’ dogmas and practices conflict with the commitment of the Defence Team to value equality and inclusivity at every level of the workplace.”

Cardus, a Christian think tank, wrote a letter to the National Defence minister Anita Anand calling these recommendations “extremely troubling” and “explicitly prejudiced.”

It is not the government’s business to tell its soldiers what to believe or not to believe, Brian Dijkema, vice president of external affairs at Cardus, said to CT. “That’s just wrong.”

According to Dijkema, the report demonstrates “a very ignorant understanding of what religions actually do when they talk about their faith” and attempts to push out anyone “who believes that their faith is true and that others should be persuaded of it,” he said.

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Source: Christianity Today

Pope Francis Says Becoming Pope Made Him Less Rigid and More Merciful

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis said the goals he has achieved in more than nine years as pope were simply the fruit of the ideas discussed by the College of Cardinals prior to his election.

In an interview with Argentine news agency Télam published July 1, the pope said that objectives, such as the reform of the Roman Curia, were “neither my invention nor a dream I had after a night of indigestion.”

“I gathered everything that we, the cardinals, had said at the pre-conclave meetings, the things we believed the new pope should do. Then, we spoke of the things that needed to be changed, the issues that needed to be tackled,” he said.

“I carried out the things that were asked back then. I do not think there was anything original of mine. I set in motion what we all had requested,” he added.

The apostolic constitution reforming the Roman Curia, titled “Praedicate Evangelium” (”Preach the Gospel”) went into effect June 5.

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Source: America Magazine

George Liele Award Supports Mission Trip to Zambia

Larry Anderson, center front, director of church health and evangelism for the Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania/South Jersey, at a community outreach event during the Zambia Partnership mission trip to Lusaka, Zambia. (submitted photo)
Larry Anderson, center front, director of church health and evangelism for the Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania/South Jersey, at a community outreach event during the Zambia Partnership mission trip to Lusaka, Zambia. (submitted photo)

LUSAKA, Zambia (BP) – When Ricky Wilson began taking African American pastors on mission trips to Zambia in 2008, he had to dispel a myth.

“A number of the Africans have shared with us, what they were told (in the past) by the white missionaries, is that African Americans don’t care about the spiritual state of Africans in Africa. And we shared with them, a number of the African American pastors articulated that that’s not a truism,” Wilson told Baptist Press after his latest trip to Zambia.

“Because of the conflicts and issues that African Americans were dealing with in America, (we) had a lot on our hands during those times. But it’s not because people did not care, If you notice,” the earlier groups told Zambian pastors, “we brought all these pastors. That lets you know somebody must care.”

Wilson took a team of 21 African American pastors and laypersons from five states to Zambia April 22-May 6 for a multifaceted mission outreach through the Zambia Partnership in founded 15 years ago. Wilson is senior pastor of Christian Faith Fellowship in Downingtown, Pa.

A $5,000 George Liele Scholarship, an incentive launched in 2021 by the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention (NAAF) in partnership with the International Mission Board, helped cover expenses. Those taking the trip raised their own fare and other expenses in the two years preceding the trip, which Wilsons said amounted to $165,000.

The team held three days of simultaneous revivals at several churches, conducted pastors’ and women’s conferences and training, conducted community cleanup, held a multi-village cookout, and in advance of the trip, sent clothing and books. The partnership has built nine water wells since its founding, including two completed in 2022.

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Source: Baptist Press

Counting the Cost of Paying Ransoms for Missionaries

Image: Illustration by Joe Anderson
Image: Illustration by Joe Anderson

International Christian organizations and missions experts agree it’s not best practice to pay kidnapping ransoms.

But ransoms do get paid. And the impacts are hard to quantify. The cost is a burden borne by local churches, fellow missionaries, ministers, aid workers, and the many people they hope to serve.

A thousand dollars or a hundred thousand might tip the scales for kidnappers in the future, as they weigh whether to abduct more people. But one payment—or two, or three—might not tip the scales at all.

Three members of a group of captive Christian Aid Ministries workers were released last December by a Haitian gang known as the 400 Mawozo, after someone outside the Anabaptist organization paid the kidnappers. It’s unknown how much money the gang received, though the final amount was likely only a fraction of the original $1 million per person they demanded.

The remaining missionaries escaped. But money did exchange hands for three of them. As experts have assessed its impact over the past year, they haven’t reached a consensus on what it means for the future of missions in Haiti.

For some, it seems that the security situation in Haiti has deteriorated so significantly that paying one gang to release three missionaries had no effect at all.

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Source: Christianity Today

As Former Canadian Megachurch Pastor Bruxy Cavey Appears in an Ontario Court, More Abuse Investigations Are Carried Out at the Meeting House

Image: YouTube screenshot / The Meeting House. The Meeting House leaders offer updates and respond to questions at a June 7 community gathering.
Image: YouTube screenshot / The Meeting House. The Meeting House leaders offer updates and respond to questions at a June 7 community gathering.

Reeling from the arrest of their former teaching pastor, Bruxy Cavey, for sexual assault, and a growing number of sexual misconduct allegations against other previous pastors, leaders at The Meeting House are looking for ways to move forward.

“We are deeply sorry for the abuse and harm that has occurred, be it sexual, emotional, or spiritual in our church family,” Jennifer Hryniw, cochair of the board of overseers, recently told the congregation, which operates in 20 locations across Ontario. “We are deeply sorry for how many of these stories have been handled in the past. We continue to be humbled to now be the stewards of these stories.”

The Meeting House was supposed to be a humble kind of church. The Canadian Anabaptist congregation was built around movie theater venues and home gatherings and led by a modest pastor with long hair and baggy clothes.

But during the past few months, The Meeting House has been put to shame by the allegations of clergy sexual abuse.

Despite The Meeting House’s slogan of being “a church for people who aren’t into church,” it was often recognized for its high production value, its facilities, or having “all of the answers,” noted Quincy Bergman, a pastor at its Oakville, Ontario, headquarters.

“That creates almost—and I feel it in myself sometimes and in others—a smugness of who we are,” he told the congregation earlier this month. “God has a way of humbling you when you think you are too big for your britches.”

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Source: Christianity Today

The Election of Bongbong Marcos Polarized the Philippines. Now Evangelicals Are Working to Repair Burned Bridges.

Image: Ezra Acayan / Getty Images. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. won the May 9, 2022 presidential elections in the Philippines. He is the son of ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
Image: Ezra Acayan / Getty Images. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. won the May 9, 2022 presidential elections in the Philippines. He is the son of ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

Last month’s presidential election in the Philippines was deemed its most divisive to date. As the country inaugurates its new leader this week, are evangelicals ready to move forward?

The 2022 race in the 7,000-plus-island archipelago raised the typical election acrimony to new heights, including among Christians who championed the two leading candidates.

Brethren dissolved their friendships over political debates, mutually condemning each other for supposedly casting the future of the nation into ruin by the choice of their preferred candidate.

Churches reported how members left Bible study groups and even their local fellowships due to perceptions that their pastors or church officials endorsed “presidentiables”—presidential hopefuls—they opposed.

With president-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. formally taking his oath June 30, evangelicals have begun to come to a place of mutual understanding and have committed to pray for the new leader regardless of whether they voted for him.

Pastors, for their part, are channeling the momentum around the election to missional efforts to bless the country. They’ve discouraged members from burning bridges over politics.

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Source: Christianity Today

Nigerian Bishop Says Churches Are On Edge After Killing of Two More Priests Last Weekend

A leading bishop in Nigeria has said the killing of two priests last weekend has traumatised the church community.

Speaking to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Archbishop Matthew Man-Oso Ndagoso of Kaduna, described the fear and uncertainty after the fatal shooting of one of his priests, Fr Vitus Borogo, on 25th June.

The following day, Fr Christopher Odia was also killed in Edo State, in the south of the country. Both men appear to have been murdered during kidnapping attempts.

Archbishop Matthew said: “Everybody is on edge – all of us, the clergy, the lay people, everybody. People are afraid, and rightly so. People are traumatised, and rightly so.”

“With this situation, nobody is safe anywhere. If you go out of your house, even in the daytime, until you come back, you are not safe.”

Bandits murdered Fr Vitus while visiting family at Kaduna Correctional Centre Farm, Kujama. They kidnapped the priest’s younger brother and one other man.

Archbishop Matthew said the church was still struggling to understand why the pastor was killed.

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Source: Premier Christian News

Here We Go: John Wesley’s First Methodist Chapel in Bristol to Be Available to Host and Officiate Same-sex Marriages

The Christian LGBTQ community is celebrating after the world’s oldest Methodist building announced it will be officiating same-sex marriages.

The New Room in Bristol was the first chapel set up by evangelist and founder of Methodism, John Wesley.

In a Facebook post, the church said: “We are delighted to announce that John Wesley’s New Room is now available to host, officiate, and celebrate same-sex weddings!

“John Wesley believed in sharing God’s Love with everybody and we hope that this step brings Wesley’s message of inclusivity into this century.”

Its decision comes after the Methodist Church voted last year to allow same-sex marriage – although local congregations and ministers can decide whether they want to register their building and themselves as an authorised registrar.

Rev Mandy Briggs from New Room described the decision as a “natural step.”

“The chapel has been a venue for services organised by Christians at Bristol Pride since 2018 and so this registration feels like the natural next step.”

She also said the move was “the latest step in our journey of allyship with the LGBTQIA+ community.”

But Rev Gareth Higgs, vice-chair of Methodist Evangelicals Together told Premier Christian News he is saddened by the decision:

“I do think that in the places of such significance for our movement…we don’t know what John Wesley would think if he was alive today, but we do know what he thought when he was alive and he affirmed the only pattern of marriage that we find in Scripture, which is that marriage is between one man and one woman… and so to suggest that we don’t know what he thought, is wrong.

“I agree that it’s complete conjecture, to think if he was around today, what he would think, but we do know historically what he thought and of course, that used to be part of our doctrinal base that the teaching of John Wesley just appears that we’re able to be selective when we want to be on certain issues in the Methodist church today,” Rev Higgs continued.

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Source: Premier Christian News

Black Curate Who Accused Church of England of Blocking Him From Priesthood for His Conservative Views is Ordained in the Free Church of England

Rev Calvin Robinson, a curate who made headlines in recent months for accusing the Church of England of blocking him from priesthood, has been ordained in a Free Church of England church in London.

“When God calls you to something no person can get in his way no matter how wicked or woke,” Robinson told his fellow GB News presenter Nana Akua.

“People try to get in the way of God’s plan, but no one can do that,” he continued.

Rev Robison left the Church of England earlier this year, after he accused it of blocking his progression because of his right-wing political views.

In May, he told Premier Christian News he was due to start a curacy at a church in Holborn, London but after weeks of silence the role was no longer available for him.

He then submitted a subject access request which requires the church to release all personal information on him and he said it showed church leaders were uncomfortable with his social and political views and would be a distraction.

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Source: Premier Christian News

Church of England Criticized for Not Delivering on Commitments to Tackle “Institutional Racism”

The head of the Archbishops’ Commission for Racial Justice has strongly criticised the Church of England for not delivering on commitments made to tackle institutional racism.

In his foreword to the first of six twice-yearly reports looking at the response of the Church to recommendations made in a report by the Racial Justice Taskforce in 2020, Lord Boateng wrote :

“I have been struck by how much the Church of England’s institutions today, despite many statements of good intent, are seemingly unable to deliver on commitments made.”

Lord Boateng said at least £20 million needs to be set aside to implement the 47 recommendations which were identified in the 2020 report ‘From Lament to Action’. But he said he was “at a loss” to understand why a Racial Justice Directorate had still not been established as that was leading to a delay in delivering agreed commitments.

Speaking of a sense of deep hurt and pain encountered during the process both for himself and for those who have experienced or who are still experiencing racial injustice within the Church of England, its institutions, and practices, he said:

“I wish I could say something that would make this hurt and pain less, I am afraid I cannot. This is a painful process, and necessarily so, in that the response to an examination of racism and the exposure of injustice is often one of denial and defensiveness or obscuration and delay. This must not go unchallenged.

“There is a need in these circumstances to speak truth unto power. The truth is that in many places the Church in terms of its institutions and buildings great and small is not a place where people of colour will find either their appearance or experience reflected.”

The report said there is still no guarantee the Commission could gain “unfettered access” to all the relevant documents and that overstretched individuals were working in challenging circumstances where they felt vulnerable and unsupported.

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Source: Premier Christian News