Saturday, September 08, 2007

Instead of always being one of the chief bastions
of the social status quo, the Church is to develop a Christian counter-culture with its own distinctive goals, values, standards, and lifestyle -- a realistic alternative to the contemporary technocracy which is marked by bondage, materialism, self-centredness, and greed. Christ's call to obedience is a call to be different, not conformist. Such a Church--joyful, obedient, loving, and free--will do more than please God: it will attract the world. It is when the Church evidently is the Church, and is living a supernatural life of love by the power of the Holy Spirit, that the world will believe. ... John R. W. Stott image

Muslims threaten to seize Christian land in Nigeria
By StatGuy
September 7th, 2007


Muslim authorities in eastern Nigeria have
threatened to expropriate a piece of land belonging to Missionary Crusaders Ministries (MCM), a Nigerian Christian organisation. MCM bought the land intending to build a school of missions and discipleship.

the rest at Magic Statistics

Christianity Vs. the Old Gods of Nigeria
By DULUE MBACHU

ACHINA, Nigeria (AP) — Born to a family of traditional priests, Ibe Nwigwe converted to Christianity as a boy. Under the sway of born-again fervor as a man, he gathered the paraphernalia of ancestral worship — a centuries-old stool, a metal staff with a wooden handle and the carved figure of a god — and burned them as his pastor watched.

"I had experienced a series of misfortunes and my pastor told me it was because I had not completely broken the covenant with my ancestral idols," the 52-year-old Nwigwe said of the bonfire three years ago. "Now that I have done that, I hope I will be truly liberated."
the rest

Woman leaves Lutheran church, National adoption of resolution prompts action
By Diane Reynolds, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, September 08, 2007

Vicki Curtis has been a member of St. Benjamin's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Westminster since 1981, but when her denomination appeared to be softening its stance on homosexuality, she didn't hesitate to act. She left her church.Now she's doing what she calls "search the church Sundays" by visiting congregations with convictions closer to her own.

"The Bible says in Leviticus 18:22 that homosexuality is a sin and its penalty is death. My faith is built on what the Bible teaches, and I will not go where it isn't being followed," she wrote in an e-mail.

She was responding to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's adoption of a resolution at its 10th Biennial Churchwide Assembly in Chicago on Aug. 11 recommending that bishops and synods not discipline clergy or lay professionals in committed same-sex relationships.

This decision left the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, a conservative Lutheran denomination of 2.6 million members, equally perplexed about the actions of its larger relative, according to its president, Gerald Kieschnick.
the rest

Terry Mattingly: Presbyterian fight headed to Supreme Court?
Scripps Howard News Service
Saturday, September 8, 2007

To follow Presbyterian news updates, outsiders need to learn a few key facts.

The Presbyterian Church in America is not the same thing as the American Presbyterian Church. Also, Orthodox Presbyterians are not to be confused with Bible Presbyterians, Cumberland Presbyterians, Reformed Presbyterians, Associate Reformed Presbyterians or Evangelical Presbyterians.

This Presbyterian alphabet soup became less complicated in 1983, when the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. joined with the Presbyterian Church in the U.S., the so-called Southern branch. This created the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which today has about 2.3 million members.

Is that clear? If so, take a deep breath because Presbyterian affairs are about to get more complicated as new divisions and unions reshape the churches that trace their roots to John Calvin and his Reformed branch of Protestantism.
the rest

More faith schools are planned in an effort to integrate minorities
Alexandra Frean and Ruth Gledhill
From The Times
September 8, 2007

Thousands of Muslim children will be educated in new state faith schools under radical plans to extend state education to Britain’s minority religions.

The move comes amid growing concern that a generation of British Muslim children, whose parents may speak poor English or be poorly integrated in British society, could grow up in segregated communities.

The move would give the Government greater control over Muslim schools at a time when questions are being raised about whether some are adequately preparing children for life in Britain.
the rest

Church fears lawsuits over gay rights
By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent
07/09/2007

Church leaders expressed fears last night that Christians could be sued under proposed new laws to protect gays from harassment.

The Government is proposing to introduce the laws to protect individuals from hostile or humiliating “environments” as part of an overhaul of discrimination legislation.

But Christian lawyers and the Church of England warned that Christians could face legal action if they offended gays by expressing the traditional teaching that homosexual sex was immoral.

The row follows the bitter battle last year over the Sexual Orientation Regulations, which many Christians fear will erode religious freedom and are part of a growing secularisation of society.
the rest

Albert Mohler: "An Enforced Secularism" -- A Threat to the Pulpit

TLC: Pro-American Provincial Dean in Central Africa Ousted
09/07/2007

The political disputes over The Episcopal Church’s place within the Anglican Communion have spilled over into Central Africa, leading to the replacement of the provincial dean, the Rt. Rev. Trevor Mwamba, Bishop of Botswana.

The Rt. Rev. Albert Chama, Bishop of Northern Zambia, was appointed to replace Bishop Mwamba as dean by the church’s General Synod, which began meeting on Sept. 6 in Mangochi, Malawi.

The government-backed Harare Herald reported Bishop Mwamba was “relieved of his duties” due to his “pro-gay” and pro-American lobbying, and because he misrepresented “the province’s position on the issue of homosexuals.”
the rest

Added at 6:40 PM: Zimbabwe Anglican church to sever ties with gays: official

Friday, September 07, 2007

"The Lord our God spoke to us in Horeb, saying: "You have dwelt long enough at this mountain." "Deuteronomy 1:6

"If God allowed us to live on the "mountaintop,"

we would not experience trials, but neither would we achieve any victories. The Israelites had gathered at the foot of Mount Horeb while God spoke to them and gave them His law. It was a breathtaking experience! Fire and smoke covered that awesome mountain; lightning flashed, and loud trumpet sounds pierced the air in a deafening crescendo! The ground at the foot of the mountain shook, and the people trembled in fear (Exod. 19:16-25).

As important as it was for God's people to have this inspiring encounter with Him, their Lord had not rescued them from Egypt in order for them to settle around a mountain in the wilderness. God delivered them so that they could conquer the Promised Land. God wanted to demonstrate His power to the Israelites so that they would trust Him in their conquest of Canaan. Finally, God announced that they had been long enough at the mountain; it was time to go to battle.

The mountain is an enticing place to set up camp. Peter, James, and John were prepared to reside on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus, but their Lord knew that a demon-possessed boy needed their assistance down below (Matt. 17:4, 14-18). At times God will graciously provide you a mountaintop experience. These times come in many settings: during your time alone with Him, at a Christian conference, by reading a Christian book, or at a prayer meeting.

You may wish you could spend the rest of your life basking in the glow of your encounter with God. But remember, these mountaintop encounters are God's way of preparing you for the battles that await you." ...
Henry Blackaby image

Hardline takeover of British mosques
September 7, 2007
Andrew Norfolk

Almost half of Britain’s mosques are under the control of a hardline Islamic sect whose leading preacher loathes Western values and has called on Muslims to “shed blood” for Allah, an investigation by The Times has found.

Riyadh ul Haq, who supports armed jihad and preaches contempt for Jews, Christians and Hindus, is in line to become the spiritual leader of the Deobandi sect in Britain. The ultra-conservative movement, which gave birth to the Taleban in Afghanistan, now runs more than 600 of Britain’s 1,350 mosques, according to a police report seen by The Times.
the rest

'A Wrinkle in Time' author L'Engle dies
By CARA RUBINSKY, Associated Press Writer
Fri Sep 7

HARTFORD, Conn. - Author Madeleine L'Engle, whose novel "A Wrinkle in Time" has captivated generations of schoolchildren and adults since the 1960s, has died, her publicist said Friday. She was 88. L'Engle died Thursday at a nursing home in Litchfield, said Jennifer Doerr, publicity manager for publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

The Newbery Medal winner wrote more than 60 books, including fantasies, poetry and memoirs, often highlighting spiritual themes and her Christian faith.

For many years, she was the writer in residence and librarian at the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City.
the rest image

Survey: Candidates viewed as 'least religious' are leading polls

"The candidates viewed by voters as the least religious among the leading contenders are the current frontrunners for the Democratic and Republican nominations,"
the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reports today.

Those candidates would be Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Republican Rudy Giuliani.

"As in the past," the Pew report continues, "most Americans continue to say that it is important for a president to have strong religious beliefs. And voters who see presidential candidates as religious express more favorable views toward those candidates than do voters who view them as not religious. But the latest Pew survey finds that candidates for the White House need not be seen as very religious to be broadly acceptable to the voting public."
the rest

This Fall's TV Season Is Rated X
Shows Are Diving Beneath Bedroom Sheets As Porn Goes Mainstream

Christian Science Monitor
By Gloria Goodale

TV shows have never shied away from trading on the sex appeal of their stars, but a quick look at the new fall season reveals that the overall TV landscape is about to get a whole lot sexier and more explicit. From the graphic grappling in HBO's new relationship drama, "Tell Me You Love Me," to the partner-swapping in CBS's "Swingtown," and the teen sex - including rape - of CW's "Gossip Girl," the sex is getting rawer and the camera ever closer.

This escalating emphasis on explicit scenes as well as themes is the result of seismic changes already rocking Hollywood and the larger society, say culture watchers: the competition for market share in a spiraling world of entertainment choices, the mainstreaming of pornography, and the explosive growth of an unregulated Internet.
the rest

'Next step' for pro-lifers
By Kevin Vance
September 7, 2007

The Paul Stefan Home for Unwed Mothers provides shelter for women such as (clockwise from top left) Alysson, Sienna, Erin holding Andrew, Ayanna holding T'Mari and Jennifer holding Mackenzie.

Virginia Catholics are putting their pro-life philosophy into practice with a new home for unwed mothers in Orange County. The Paul Stefan Home for Unwed Mothers, which welcomed its first mother in November, was founded from the combination of the vision of the Rev. Stefan Starzynski and the faithfulness and passion of a couple in his Fredericksburg-area parish.
the rest

Christian academies can reject 'gays'
Lawyers say state 'cannot unreasonably interfere with philosophies'

September 7, 2007

A team of Christian lawyers is arguing before a California court that Christian schools have every right to expel students who violate standards of Christian behavior, such as by allegedly engaging in homosexual activities.

The lawyers from the
Christian Legal Society and the Alliance Defense Fund are asking permission for the Association of Faith-Based Organizations to be added to a lawsuit over that issue. They say the result of the case against California Lutheran High School could affect the rights of members of the organization. the rest

Florida Chaplain Fired after Praying in Jesus' Name
from staff reports
9-6-2007


Hospital says he was not 'respectful of various faith beliefs.'

A Florida chaplain claims he was fired from the hospital where he worked because he prayed in Jesus' name. The Rev. Danny Harvey was chaplain at Leesburg Regional Medical Center for more than seven years, but was forced to resign for what the hospital said were “concerns” raised by patients.

Harvey does not take God lightly.
the rest

China Secret Police Infiltrate House Churches On Large Scale
Friday, 07 September 2007
By BosNewsLife News Center with BosNewsLife Senior Special Correspondent Eric Leijenaar

BEIJING, CHINA (BosNewsLife)-- Chinese secret service agents are massively infiltrating China's growing house church movement and pressure its leaders to leave Beijing before the Olympic Games are held there in 2008, well-informed Chinese sources and rights investigators told BosNewsLife Friday, September 7.

"It doesn't go as well with religious freedom in China as being reported," said Open Doors, a respected group supporting Christians "persecuted for their faith."

"Despite some enthusiastic reports in the media, China's human rights are deteriorating. Since last year, Open Doors has established that the secret police is increasingly using harsher methods against the house church movement," the rights group told BosNewslife.
the rest

Pope says abortion "not a human right"
By Philip Pullella
VIENNA


(Reuters) - Pope Benedict rejected the concept that abortion could be considered a human right on Friday and urged European leaders to do everything possible to raise birth rates and make their countries more child-friendly.The 80-year-old German Pontiff told diplomats and representatives of international organizations that Europe could not deny its Christian roots because Christianity had played a decisive role in forging its history and culture.

"It was in Europe that the notion of human rights was first formulated. The fundamental human right, the presupposition of every other right, is the right to life itself," he said in an address at the former imperial Hofburg Palace. the rest

Texas seminaries victorious in 'landmark' religious freedoms case
Allie Martin
OneNewsNow.com
September 7, 2007

Seminaries in Texas have won what is being called a landmark religious freedoms case. Last week's unanimous ruling by the Texas Supreme Court overturned two lower-court opinions and a Texas law that gave the state power over seminaries and their training of pastors and ministry leaders.


Liberty Legal Institute (LLI) filed a lawsuit on behalf of Tyndale Theological Seminary in 1999, after the state's higher education coordinating board threatened to fine the seminary thousands of dollars as punishment for issuing theological degrees without seeking government approval of its curriculum, professors, and board. Kelly Shackelford, president of LLI, says the justices' ruling on Friday was clear. the rest

TLC: Reporter Apologizes for Misquoting Nigerian Bishop
09/07/2007

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has denounced as unchristian a statement demonizing gays and lesbians that was allegedly made by a Nigerian bishop and published by United Press International (UPI).

In a statement released by the Anglican Consultative Council’s press office on Sept. 7, Archbishop Williams expressed “deep shock” at remarks made by the Bishop of Uyo, the Rt. Rev. Isaac Orama. The Nigerian bishop has denied making the remarks attributed to him.

A Sept. 2 report widely circulated by UPI the same weekend that three former Episcopal priests were consecrated Anglican bishops for the United States was based on a News Agency of Nigeria article in which Bishop Orama was quoted in part saying: “Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman. Those who practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God’s purpose for man.”
the rest

Comments at Stand Firm

Comments at TitusOneNine

Well Done, Good And Faithful Servant
Thursday, September 06, 2007

D. James Kennedy died yesterday at the age of 76. I had the privilege of working for Dr. Kennedy for the past six years. A lot has been written in the last two days (and particularly good are the remembrances by Al Mohler, Sam Lamerson, and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel), and much more will be written. I just wanted to share two stories which give a glimpse from my own limited viewpoint of the impact of Dr. Kennedy's life and passion. The first story shows the sheer scale of his impact, and the second shows the individual side.

Two years ago I visited Tanzania, Africa for the first time. The village we were working in was called Kyela. To get there, one must fly into Dar Es Salaam on the East Coast of and then drive 10 hours on a two-lane road into the interior of the country, near the border of Malawi. It's quite rugged there, with many people living in bamboo homes with dirt floors.
the rest

Rwanda: Country to Anoint U.S. Bishops
7 September 2007
Joseph Mudingu

Kigali

Rwanda is set to ordain three American bishops next year, the House of Bishops of the Province of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda has announced.

The announcement comes days after Kenya and Uganda anointed US bishops in the latest move to denounce America's Anglican Church liberal stance on homosexuality.

A statement issued on Tuesday said that the House of Bishops of the Province of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda, which convened in Kigali early this week, appointed three American bishops who will be ordained and serve in the US.

The bishops will be answerable to the Anglican Church in Rwanda.

the rest

Church of England: Labour's equality law denies Christians right to oppose homosexuality
By STEVE DOUGHTY
7th September 2007

Labour's latest equality law will deprive Christians of the right of free speech, the Church of England has warned.

The Single Equality Bill could force vicars to conduct weddings for sex-change brides, deprive Christians of the right to oppose homosexuality and make church schools promote gay lifestyles in lessons, said the Archbishops' Council.

Church charities may also be barred from saying grace before meals or displaying crucifixes, it claimed.

The CofE document - endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams - warned that the Bill attempts to suppress freedom of speech and "amounts to an enforced secularism that fails to respect religious belief at all".
the rest

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. Psalm 27:14

Wait! Wait! Let your waiting be on the Lord! He is worth waiting for. He never disappoints the waiting soul.

While waiting keep up your spirits, Expect a great deliverance, and be ready to praise God for it.

The promise which should cheer you is in the middle of the verse—"He shall strengthen thine heart." This goes at once to the place where you need help. If the heart be sound, all the rest of the system will work well. The heart wants calming and cheering, and both of these will come if it be strengthened. A forceful heart rests and rejoices and throbs force into the whole man.

No one else can get at that secret urn of life, the heart, so as to pour strength into it. He alone who made it can make it strong. God is full of strength, and, therefore, He can impart it to those who need it. Oh, be brave; for the Lord will impart His strength to you, and you shall be calm in tempest and glad in sorrow.

He who penned these lines can write as David did—"Wait, I say, on the Lord." I do, indeed, say it. I know by long and deep experience that it is good for me to wait upon the Lord. ...CH Spurgeon art

Scientists a step nearer to creating artificial life
· New progress towards synthetic organism · Hope of fuels, drugs and ways to fight pollution

James Randerson, science correspondent
The Guardian
Thursday September 6 2007

To the untrained eye, the tiny, misshapen, fatty blobs on Giovanni Murtas's microscope slide would not look very impressive. But when the Italian scientist saw their telltale green fluorescent glint he knew he had achieved something remarkable - and taken a vital step towards building a living organism from scratch.

The green glow was proof that his fragile creations were capable of making their own proteins, a crucial ability of all living things and vital for carrying out all other aspects of life.

Though only a first step, the discovery will hasten efforts by scientists to build the world's first synthetic organism. It could also prove a significant development in the multibillion-dollar battle to exploit the technology for manufacturing commercially valuable chemicals such as drugs and biofuels or cleaning up pollution.
the rest

CDC: Suicide rate among U.S. girls soars
By GREG BLUESTEIN
Associated Press

ATLANTA - The suicide rate among preteen and young teen girls spiked 76 percent, a disturbing sign that federal health officials say they can't fully explain.

For all young people between ages 10 to 24, the suicide rate rose 8 percent from 2003 to 2004 — the biggest single-year bump in 15 years — in what one official called "a dramatic and huge increase."

The report, based on the latest numbers available, was released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and suggests a troubling reversal in recent trends. Suicide rates had fallen by 28.5 percent since 1990 among young people.
the rest

Where Have All the Children Gone?
Comment by Michael Akerib
Special to Russia Profile

September 6, 2007

Can Russia Reverse its Demographic Crisis?

In 2000, newly elected President Vladimir Putin said that the most important issue facing Russia was its demographic decline, which currently numbers around 750,000 people per year.

Given the present fertility rate, Russia’s population will have shrunk by one-third by 2050, bringing it back to the low level of 1950 – 103 million, in a country still reeling from the massive population losses due to the Second World War. There are 1 million fewer children of school age in Russia today than in 1999. In the future, Russia is likely to have a smaller population than many of its neighbors, such as Iran and Turkey. To even maintain current population levels, Russian women should average 2.5 children, as opposed to today’s rate of 1.2. This is a most unlikely development.
the rest

Service, collaboration central in reorganization set for Church Center
Presiding Bishop, colleagues outline recommendations; plan includes satellite offices

06-September-2007

Raising levels of service to dioceses, congregations, and individuals – ‘equipping people to use their gifts’ - is at the heart of recommendations to reorganize work based at the Episcopal Church Center, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in a September 5 presentation to staff.

The goal ‘is to use the gifts and skills of the staff for the good of the whole Church,’ she noted, inviting participants in the staff-wide assembly to contemplate in new ways what it means to take on the ‘role of servant leaders’ for the Episcopal Church, formed of 110 dioceses configured in some 16 nations and territories.

‘This is about being the body of Christ,’ Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori added, underscoring that healthy bodies are capable of demonstrating flexibility, adaptability, and ‘building new connections.’ Every member of Christ's body is valued and essential, she said.

The Presiding Bishop said the reorganization would facilitate ‘excellence in management,’ encourage ‘churchwide thinking in all mission programs,’ and be ‘responsive and supportive of those who lead ministries.’ She emphasized that the reorganization ‘is not about budget cutting’ but about establishing the best possible deployment of personnel; ‘it is about effectiveness and servant leadership.’

the rest also here

Matt Kennedy: John Shelby Spong Writes to the Archbishop of Canterbury

September 6, 2007

I am waiting, now, for the Presiding Bishop to publicly repudiate this letter. As Bishop of Nevada, Presiding Bishop Schori invited John Spong to her diocese to "facilitate" a clergy conference. This invitation came despite his many publications that together represent a wholesale rejection not only basic tenets of the Christian faith but theism in general. As Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church it is her responsibility to publicly reject and repudiate the false teachings of John Shelby Spong; teachings that lead people away from Christ and toward eternal damnation. Moreover, given her willingness (and that of the province she leads) to defy Communion teaching and reject Communion requests I pray that she will also repudiate the contents of this letter. Otherwise, again, she risks association with them.

the rest at Stand Firm

Eritrean gov't steps up persecution of evangelicals
Allie Martin
OneNewsNow.com
September 4, 2007

Persecution against Christians continues in the African nation of Eritrea to the point, says Voice of the Martyrs, that public gatherings of evangelicals are no longer allowed.


According to Compass Direct News Service, a pastor who disappeared last month in Eritrea has not been found. It is the latest in a string of incidents involving persecution against Christians. Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs says that in 2002 the government of Eritrea told evangelical leaders that they were, in effect, closing them down.
the rest

Social workers 'reluctant' to investigate gay foster parents
05/09/2007

Social workers were reluctant to investigate two gay foster parents who were later convicted of abusing children in their care for fear of being seen as prejudiced, an independent report published today found.

The report was ordered by Wakefield Metropolitan District Council after Craig Faunch and Ian Wathey were jailed last year for sexual offences against four boys who were placed in their care.

The inquiry found the children had been let down by "failures in performance", both by individuals and in systems put in place by the council.
the rest

Deadline Looming
Thursday September 06th 2007
Jonathan Petre
Church of England Newspaper

Which way will Rowan jump? With just a fortnight to go before the crucial meeting of the Episcopal House of Bishops in New Orleans, that question is becoming ever more pressing. But the answer remains frustratingly elusive. Few believe that the American bishops are willing or able to deliver the moratoriums asked for in the Dar Es Salaam communiqué.

But what will Dr Williams do about it? The tactics displayed by Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office in recent months have done little to dissipate the clouds of confusion. The messages coming out have been mixed, to say the least. On the one hand, sources close to the Archbishop are insisting that he is committed to following through the Dar Es Salaam communiqué when he flies out for talks with the American bishops during the first two days of their meeting. But how strictly will he insist on its terms?
the rest

British Hindus upset by yoga ban at two churches
Leaders of Britain's Hindu community are expressing disbelief and outrage at claims by two English church ministers that yoga should be banned

Thursday, September 06, 2007
By Trevor Grundy

Leaders of Britain's Hindu community are expressing disbelief and outrage at claims by two English church ministers that yoga should be banned after saying that the meditative exercise is a sham and not compatible with Christianity.

"I have written to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, about the reported actions of the two men," Anil Bhanot, general secretary of the Hindu Council U.K., told Ecumenical News International. "These priests might appear to be advising Christians not to practice yoga because they believe it is based on a sham and a false philosophy. But what in effect they are saying is that Hinduism is a false religion."
the rest

First Things: The Pagan West
By Peter Leithart
September 6, 2007

When it arrived in the world, Christianity announced the end of sacrifice. But in its growth over the long centuries since then, it may have muted its own founding message, a victim of its own success. Does Galatians have much to say to people who have never worried about ritual contagion or the danger of contracting impurity from table companions? Does the Letter to the Hebrews resonate with people who have never seen a sacrifice, much less performed one? Can the New Testament speak to people who have lost all sympathy for primal religion?

In Europe and North America, the Church faces an unprecedented challenge. American Christians don’t deal with paganism—not real paganism anyway. In the West, the Church is surrounded by the spiritual lethargy that accompanies a surfeit of wealth and aimless ease. We face a general accedia. Our neighbors are adherents of a sometimes jaded, sometimes gleeful, post-Christianity. The Church has triumphed over paganism before. But never before has she confronted a sophisticated civilization haunted by Christ.

Here, as on so many other questions, there’s much to be learned from Christians in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s a truism among African theologians that the Church has grown most rapidly where traditional African religions are strongest. According to Ghanaian theologian Kwame Bediako, this is no accident but highlights the “special relationship” that African “primal religions” have with Christianity. Like primal African religion, Christianity displays a strong sense of human finitude and sin, believes in a spiritual world that interacts with the human world, teaches the reality of life after death, and cultivates the sacramental sense that physical objects are carriers of spiritual power. Christianity catches on there because it gives names to the realities they already know and experience.
the rest

Fashion Rebels: Modeling for Modesty
Mark EarleyPresident,
Prison Fellowship

The models are sashaying down the runway, decked out in the latest fashions. One sports a bright cotton dress paired with a sweater. Another wears a flowered jacket over a pink pleated shirt. Yet another is modeling a green plaid dress with a matching jacket. The clothes are stylish and the models pretty.

But there's a big difference between this fashion show and the kind you would see in Paris or Milan. For one thing, the models are smiling, and they look healthy: no "heroin chic" here. For another, the clothing is modest.

It's the latest form of rebellion—and as the father of three daughters, I can tell you I welcome this kind of rebellion.


Fashion shows like this are put on by a faith-based group called
Pure Fashion. The group encourages teen girls to "live, act, and dress in accordance with their dignity as children of God." The shows feature ordinary high school girls modeling clothes that are trendy and tasteful. the rest image-Pure Fashion

Thousands of Spanish Families Boycott Homosexual Indoctrination Program
Whole Provinces and Schools Declare their Unwillingness to Teach the Material
By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
SPAIN, September 4, 2007

(LifeSiteNews.com)--Spain's socialist government is facing a bitter back-to-school fight this September as thousands of families boycott the pro-homosexual course "Education for Citizenship and Human Rights".

The Spanish Family Forum reports that at least 15,000 "conscientious objections" out of 200,000 students have been officially registered with school authorities. However, the number is understated because whole provinces have not yet reported figures from their areas.
the rest

UK: Hybrid embryos could be created within months
05.09.07

Hybrid embryos containing both human and animal material could be created in British laboratories within months.

The controversial research was given a green light yesterday by the UK's fertility regulator.

A shortage of human eggs led scientists to seek permission to make hybrid embryos from human skin cells and animal eggs such as those from cows, which are plentiful in slaughterhouses.
the rest

Fresh Concerns over Human-Animal Hybrid Embryos

Court asked to rule Jesus's crucifixion illegal
By Bogonko Bosire in Nairobi
August 30, 2007

A CASE on behalf of Jesus Christ has come knocking on Kenya's High Court door, lodged by a fervent Christian group that wants his conviction declared null and void and his crucifixion illegal.

Though cases to right historical wrongs are far from unusual around the world, Kenya's Friends of Jesus (FOJ) has reached back two millennia in what may redefine the quest for closure.

The petition was filed on Monday with the court registrar, raising a novel set of legal quandaries - not the least of which involves the statute of limitations and whether the high court has jurisdiction over the Son of God.

It was not certain when a ruling would be handed down.
the rest

Graham grandson returns to the flock
His prodigal son story includes a new book and leading a church in south Florida.

Associated Press
Published September 4, 2007

MARGATE - The pastor's hair is spiky, his beard is scruffy, his skin is tan. He talks of his youthful forays into drugs and sex. Even his name - Tullian Tchividjian - is far different from that of his famous grandfather.

He calls the family patriarch Daddy Bill. That's Billy Graham to you.

Tchividjian cuts a far different profile than evangelicalism's elder statesman. It's not that he isn't proud of his heritage. But at 34, back in the fold, with a book just out and a congregation to call his own, he says the spiritual path he's forging is all his own.

"I'm not sure that carrying my grandfather's torch is what I or any other young evangelical would want said about us," he said in an interview at his office. "There's a distinction of what God has called me to do and what God has called him to do."
the rest book

In the faith business
Christian retail industry continues to grow
By Briana Hovendick
September 05, 2007

At stores like Heart and Home Christian Store in Arvada, faith isn't just a genre. It's a storewide commitment.

Customers come to buy gifts, shop for home-school supplies or find books on grieving and other spiritual issues. If they need to, owners Richard and Vanessa Yochim will take the time to pray with their customers.

"I like the fact that we get to meet one-on-one with customers in a lot of ways," Richard Yochim said.
the rest

Christians Pay Tribute to 'True Warrior of Faith'
By
Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter
Thu, Sep. 06 2007

Noted by many as a visionary, innovator, and faithful servant of the Lord, Dr. D. James Kennedy was one of few pastors in his time to boldly preach Jesus both into the world and into the culture.

But years before impacting Christian communities across the globe, Kennedy was a college drop-out making thousands of dollars each month as a top dance instructor for dancing great Arthur Murray.

It wasn't until he heard Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse preach about heaven as a free gift during a Sunday morning radio broadcast that he made an about face toward becoming one of the nation's leading conservatives and fiercest voices in American politics.
the rest

Interview: Bishop John Shelby Spong and consumer-friendly religion
06-Sep-2007
By Scott Stephens

STEPHENS: In your latest book, Jesus for the Non-Religious, you reiterate: 'Christianity is dying ... The experience of Jesus is newly dawning and will in time create new forms.' Are you heartened, or concerned by, the prominence of militant atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens?

SPONG: It gives me great heart. But so does the rise of fundamentalist Christianity. I keep trying to build a community between radical (or rabid) fundamentalism, and this disillusioned secularity. My marching orders are in John's description of Jesus' purpose: 'I've come that they might have life.'
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China's Urban Christians an Unknown Quantity For Beijing
2007.09.04

HONG KONG—Christianity is gaining new converts in Chinese cities and towns, especially among the newly emerging and assertive professional class, and the trend is causing the ruling Communist Party some concern, experts say.

A prominent example of this phenomenon is rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who has been detained, kept under surveillance and sentenced to a jail term after he represented the underdogs in sensitive political cases. Gao is also a committed Christian, whose Beijing-based church has been raided by police on more than one occasion.
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Remarks by the Rt. Rev. John Guernsey at his Consecration in Uganda
(Church of Uganda News)
2nd September 2007
St. James Cathedral, Mbarara, Uganda

Mukama Asiimwe! Mukama Asiimwe! [Praise the Lord!]

I want to thank the Archbishop and the Bishops of the Church of Uganda for this surprising call. When I first came to Uganda in 1989, little did I know that one day I would become a priest in North Kigezi Diocese – what a blessing that has been! – and then be consecrated a bishop in the Church of Uganda. But God's thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways!

I give thanks and praise to the Lord Jesus Christ who saved me when I was a young boy. I was born to Christian parents, but by the grace of God I came to understand that the faith of my parents was not enough. I needed to turn to Jesus Christ for myself. I put my trust in Him and I was born again, and by His mercy I have walked with Him ever since.


the rest at TitusOneNine

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

TLC: What is the Purpose of an Anglican Covenant?
09/16/2007

There are two drafts of a proposed Anglican Covenant. One comes from the Windsor Report, and the other was released by a Covenant Design Group (CDG) appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Both drafts profess unity as the purpose of the covenant.

The Windsor draft (2004) said the covenant would be established “to foster greater unity and to consolidate our understandings of communion ...” The CDG draft (January 2007) would have the churches of the Anglican Communion covenant to “maintain the unity in the Spirit in the bond of peace, and to grow up together as a worldwide Communion to the full stature of Christ.”

These are pious words. But the reality is there are two divergent views of the covenant — a short view and a long view. The latter is far preferable.
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STATEMENT FROM THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS OF THE PROVINCE OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF RWANDA

The following Communiqué has been issued by the House of Bishops of Rwanda and is being forwarded at their request:

September 5, 2007

The House of Bishops of the Province of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda (PEER) met in Kigali, Rwanda on the 4th day of September 2007. Acknowledging the significant growth of the missionary outreach initiated by PEER in the USA, the House of Bishops considered nominations for additional missionary Bishops to further the work of the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA). The House of Bishops elected three bishops and appointed them to serve in PEER’s missionary jurisdiction in North America committed to extending God’s kingdom. The bishops-elect are the Rev. Terrell Glenn, the Rev. Philip Jones and the Rev. John Miller. The date for the consecrations has been set for the 26th day of January in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ 2008 following the Anglican Mission’s Winter Conference (January 23 – 26, 2008) in Dallas, Texas.

Provincial Secretary
PROVINCE OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH OF RWANDA


AAC blog

Up with Worship!
Ray Prtichard
Keep Believing Ministries

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!"

"Worship is: the submission of all our nature to God.

It is the quickening of the conscience by his holiness; the nourishment of mind with his truth; the purifying of the imagination by his beauty; the opening of the heart to his love; the surrender of will to his purpose.

And all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable, and therefore the chief remedy of that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin."

--William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1942-1944

A few weeks ago during a question and answer period at Gull Lake Ministries in Michigan, I was handed a piece of paper with a simple statement. "Please give us your definition of worship." As I prepared to give an answer, I was trying to recall the famous words of William Temple quoted above. Since I didn't have it on the tip of my tongue, I simply said, "Worship is the response of all that we are to all that God is." As I thought about it later, I realized that even though much could be added to that sentence, it will do tolerably well as a starting point. When we worship, we are responding in some way or other to who God is.
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Stand Firm: Dr. Stephen Noll: Apostolic Discipline
Apostolic Discipline: A Reply to Philip Wainwright

By the Rev. Prof. Stephen Noll
(via email)

The Rev. Philip Wainwright has recently posted an article on “Biblical Reasons for Staying” in The Episcopal Church (
here). As a fellow priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh who has written on the issue of church discipline, particularly in our current Anglican crisis (see various essays at www.stephenswitness.com), I shall venture a brief reply.

First of all, let me appreciate the fact that Philip Wainwright is seeking God’s will from Scripture. That puts us on a common footing and, frankly, out of step with many of the leaders of the Episcopal Church today. Secondly, I am going to assume, although he does not say so directly, that Wainwright agrees with Lambeth Resolution 1.10 that “homosexual practice is contrary to Scripture” and that he agrees with Paul that those who persist in sexual immorality will not inherit the kingdom of God (
1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:5).

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International focus turns to U.S. bishops
Lambeth likely to face boycotts

Solange De Santisstaff writer
Sep 4, 2007

The rift within the worldwide Anglican church over homosexuality is focusing attention on this month’s meeting, from Sept. 20-25, of the Episcopal Church’s bishops, since the national archbishops, or primates, of the worldwide Anglican Communion gave the bishops until Sept. 30 to agree to their demands concerning sexuality.

The controversy is also causing turmoil in the planning for the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the once-per-decade gathering of all the world’s Anglican bishops.
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Bishop's Campaign to Identify Why People Stop Attending Church
by Daniel Blake
Posted: Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The new Bishop of Oxford has launched a new campaign in the Thames Valley area to bring people back to church.

The Rt Rev John Pritchard, has launched the ‘Tell Bishop John’ campaign in efforts to identify why so many former churchgoers have stopped attending church.

Based on his findings, Bishop Prichard is hoping to find new ways to draw people back to church, and will look to tie the initiative in with Back to Church Sunday, a separate annual event taking place on 30 September.
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African Anglicans try to transform US church
Conservatives eye schism over gays
By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff
The Boston Globe
September 5, 2007

NAIROBI, Kenya - The subject of Sunday's sermon at St. Stephen's Anglican Church was repentance, and the preacher found an obvious example of the sinfulness of contemporary culture within the branch of his own denomination an ocean away in the United States.

Criticizing the Episcopal Church's embrace of gays and lesbians, the Rev. Samuel Muchiri told the 1,000 worshipers "we in Kenya feel this is not what God wants." An usher advised a visiting reporter to "remember that Sodom and Gomorrah was demolished because there were homosexuals." Another warned that the reporter could be assaulted if he asked worshipers about the issue, and said that America's permissiveness toward homosexuality had led Osama bin Laden to attack.

Those sentiments have been building for years, and now a group of Anglican archbishops is attempting to plant the seeds for a new, conservative Anglicanism in North America that will either transform or replace the Episcopal Church.


the rest at Virtueonline

Blog viewers still watch TV, read the paper
By Jennifer Harper
September 5, 2007

For all the hype, blogs have yet to replace traditional news outlets for most readers.

Only 13 percent of blog readers said that following the sites caused them to spend less time with newspapers, television and radio, according to a survey of 1,000 adults conducted July 30 to Aug. 1 and released last week by Synovate, a Chicago-based research group.

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FEC Won't Regulate Political Blogging

All UK 'must be on DNA database'
Wednesday, 5 September 2007

The whole population and every UK visitor should be added to the national DNA database, a senior judge has said.

The present database in England and Wales holds details of 4m people who are guilty or cleared of a crime.

Lord Justice Sedley said this was indefensible and biased against ethnic minorities, and it would be fairer to include everyone, guilty or innocent.

Ministers said DNA helped tackle crime, but there were no plans for a voluntary national or compulsory UK database.
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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

"Trees have their seasons at certain times of the year when they bring forth fruit; but a Christian is for all seasons."
... Ralph Brownrig
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Episcopal Life launches monthly video ’multicast’
(WebWire) 9/4/2007

’Episcopal Life Focus’ set to debut September 13.

"Episcopal Life Focus," a new monthly half-hour video "multicast" featuring church mission, ministries and news, is scheduled to debut on Thursday, September 13, at 8 p.m. EDT on Episcopal Life Online.

The program will remain available online for on-demand viewing, and for placement on local community access cable stations that make air time available free of charge, said Canon Robert Williams, director of the Episcopal Church’s Communication Office, which is providing the new resource.

"Many clergy and laypersons have commented over time that they would like to see more of the Episcopal Church and its mission, ministries, liturgies and music on television," Williams said. "Episcopal Life Focus is an efficient and low-cost way to begin to create that niche."
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Who Can Expel the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion?
Prefaceby Lisa Fox, in consultation with the Reverend Canon Robert J. Brooks

Much has been written and said by some people regarding the desire to expel the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion. Your humble editor never paused to ask exactly who has the power to do so – aside from the obvious and oft-noted fact that being in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury is the signal that a church is Anglican.

There has been a fair bit of discussion about the Episcopal Church constitution as it relates to such novel concepts as "alternative primatial oversight" or "submission" to the primates of the Anglican Communion. The broader questions, though, are in the context of the Anglican Communion and our dependence, interdependence, and/or independence from it.
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Comments at Stand Firm

The New Anti-Semitism
By Denis MacShane
Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Hatred of Jews has reached new heights in
Europe and many points south and east of the old continent. Last year I chaired a blue-ribbon committee of British parliamentarians, including former ministers and a party leader, that examined the problem of anti-Semitism in Britain.

None of us are Jewish or active in the unending debates on the Israeli-Palestinian question.
Our
report showed a pattern of fear among a small number of British citizens -- there are around 300,000 Jews in Britain, of whom about a third are observant -- that is not acceptable in a modern democracy. Synagogues attacked. Jewish schoolboys jostled on public transportation. Rabbis punched and knifed. British Jews feeling compelled to raise millions to provide private security for their weddings and community events. On campuses, militant anti-Jewish students fueled by Islamist or far-left hate seeking to prevent Jewish students from expressing their opinions. the rest

Pastor: Slain Korean Hostage was Killed for Refusing to Convert
By
Eric Young
Christian Post Reporter
Tue, Sep. 04 2007

The youth pastor who was leading the group of 22 South Korean aid volunteers in
Afghanistan was killed for refusing to convert to Islam, the head pastor of the church revealed after the final 19 former hostages arrived home.

“Among the 19 hostages who returned on the second (of September), some were asked by the
Taliban to convert and when they rejected, they were assaulted and severely beaten,” reported Park Eun-jo, pastor of hostages’ home church – Saemmul Presbyterian Church in Bundang, just south of the South Korean capital Seoul. the rest

Scientology Faces Criminal Charges
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
September 4, 2007

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- A Belgian prosecutor on Tuesday recommended that the U.S.-based
Church of Scientology stand trial for fraud and extortion, following a 10-year investigation that concluded the group should be labeled a criminal organization.

Scientology said it would fight the criminal charges recommended by investigating prosecutor Jean-Claude Van Espen, who said that up to 12 unidentified people should face charges.

Van Espen's probe also concluded that Scientology's Brussels-based Europe office and its Belgian missions conducted unlawful practices in medicine, violated privacy laws and used illegal business contracts, said Lieve Pellens, a spokeswoman at the Federal Prosecutors Office.

''They also face charges of being ... a criminal organization,'' Pellens said in a telephone interview.
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U.S. churches find financial transparency
By Ed Stoddard
DALLAS, Sept 4

(Reuters) - The growth of megachurches in the United States has spawned mega revenues, leading many to find the financial light and embrace transparency to assure their congregations that their offerings are well spent.

Many now have come to resemble corporations in their structure, with chief financial officers, lines of credit for expansion projects, and some very large income statements.

"The Bible speaks about money as much as any other topic and so we feel we need to communicate about money or anything financial on a regular basis," said Tim Tracey, Executive Director of Operations at Northland, a megachurch with 12,000 regular worshipers in Longwood, Florida.

"The money that supports a church comes from the congregation and so they need to be informed completely. It's not the leadership's money, it's ultimately God's money," he told Reuters in a telephone interview.
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Chinese military hacked into Pentagon
By Demetri Sevastopulo in Washington and Richard McGregor in Beijing
September 3 2007

The Chinese military hacked into a Pentagon computer network in June in the most successful cyber attack on the US defence department, say American ­officials.

The Pentagon acknowledged shutting down part of a computer system serving the office of Robert Gates, defence secretary, but declined to say who it believed was behind the attack.

Current and former officials have told the Financial Times an internal investigation has revealed that the incursion came from the People’s Liberation Army.
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Inaccessible Light
Anthony Esolen

I've been thinking some more about the story of Mother Teresa's dark night of the soul. It seems to me that the question at the heart of her experience is, "Who is God? What is His Name?"

"We know His holy Name," one of my brethren might respond. "It is I AM, that is, I AM the one of whom existence cannot be predicated in the same way as it is predicated of anything else, since God is His own existence, and is the cause of the existence of all things."

But we Christians also believe in the Trinity -- and therefore, to concentrate an insight from Pope Benedict, we must conclude that relationship too is a primary thing: that part of what it means essentially to be is to be for. To put it a different way, the name of God is what Saint John says: "God is Love," a Love that took flesh of the Virgin and dwelt among us.

The structure of love, then, is not what the pagans took it to be in Paul's day, and not what pagans take it to be now in our own. It is also not exactly what too many Christians take it to be. Granted, the soaring visions of Plato in the Phaedrus and the Symposium touch the unsuspected truth, here and there: Love is not merely desire for a good that you do not have, but also, more mysteriously, the outpouring of the soul, which entails a healing of that soul. Plato's myth assigns to Love the parentage of both Plenty and Poverty -- and he comes breathtakingly near the heart of the matter.
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Monday, September 03, 2007

To look back upon the progress of the divine kingdom upon earth is to review revival periods which have come like refreshing showers upon dry and thirsty ground, making the desert to blossom as the rose, and bringing new eras of spiritual life and activity just when the Church had fallen under the influence of the apathy of the times, and needed to be aroused to a new sense of her duty and responsibility.... Every mighty move of the Spirit of God has had its source in the prayer chamber.
...EM Bounds image

UK: Human-animal embryo study wins approval
Mixing cells and eggs to be allowed in search for new medical treatments
Ian Sample, science correspondent

The Guardian
Tuesday September 4 2007

Plans to allow British scientists to create human-animal embryos are expected to be approved tomorrow by the government's fertility regulator. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority published its long-awaited public consultation on the controversial research yesterday, revealing that a majority of people were "at ease" with scientists creating the hybrid embryos.

Researchers want to create hybrid embryos by merging human cells with animal eggs, in the hope they will be able to extract valuable embryonic stem cells from them. The cells form the basic building blocks of the body and are expected to pave the way for revolutionary therapies for diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and even spinal cord injuries.
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How Great Thou Art

TitusOneNine: From NPR: Three Traditionalist Episcopal Priests Return to U.S. after African Consecrations
Posted by Kendall Harmon
September 3, 2007


Three American priests who left the Episcopal Church after it appointed an openly gay bishop in 2003 have been consecrated as bishops in Africa. They're returning to minister to American congregations, but will report to conservative churches in Africa.
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Listen to it all

President Bush makes surprise visit to Iraq
By Julian E. Barnes
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 3, 2007

AL-ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq -- President Bush landed in Iraq today on his third surprise trip to the war zone, this time intent on emphasizing his belief that the current strategy is working to ease violence.

The visit, to a military base in Anbar province about 120 miles northwest of Baghdad, came on the eve of a crucial assessment on the progress of the war --and the success of recent U.S. troop "surge" -- being prepared by his administration and the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petreaus.
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L.A. Then and Now
The young preacher's crusade in a giant tent drew 350,000 people over eight weeks.

By Cecilia Rasmussen
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 2, 2007

During a career spanning more than half a century, religious crusader the Rev. Billy Graham urged presidents, gangsters and African lepers to "take Christ into your heart and be saved."

But it was his first crusade, in Los Angeles in 1949, that catapulted him to religious stardom.

He called it the Greater Los Angeles Billy Graham Crusade at the "Canvas Cathedral With the Steeple of Light." Graham, then 30, drew 350,000 people over eight weeks to a huge tent at Washington Boulevard and Hill Street. About 3,000 nonbelievers committed their lives to Christ, according to Times stories then.

On Sept. 25, 1949, the young Southern Baptist preacher from North Carolina launched his L.A. crusade, sponsored by hundreds of Christian leaders in Southern California. The faithful filled the seats each night, with thousands more standing outside or listening in parked cars, as Graham quoted Scripture and discussed his tours of Europe after World War II.
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Kenya: Split in Anglican Faith Now Inevitable
2 September 2007
Paul Redfren

Nairobi

The consecration of two US bishops by Kenyan Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi in Nairobi on Thursday may prove to be a pivotal moment in the unity of the Anglican faith worldwide.

Commentators say that the consecration of Bill Atwood and William Murdoch moved the 77 million-strong communion of Anglicans "a further step towards schism".

But, in reality, the tipping point will come at the end of this month when the Episcopal Church in US is expected to decide whether or not to consecrate another openly gay bishop, following the ordination of Gene Robinson four years ago. the rest