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21 Chibok girls freed

By Michelle Faul & Oyekanmi Olalekan

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) – NIGERIA’S GOVERNMENT is negotiating the release of another 83 of the Chibok schoolgirls taken in a mass abduction two-and-a-half years ago, but more than 100 others appear unwilling to leave their Boko Haram Islamic extremist captors.

The unwilling girls may have been radicalized by Boko Haram or are ashamed to return home because they were forced to marry extremists

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Lutherans and Anglicans: Closest of ecumenical cousins

By Sue Careless

THREE THEOLOGICALLY conservative church bodies, which entered into ecumenical dialogue six years ago with “nervousness” and “low expectations,” have been surprised to discover that they are, while not quite “sister churches,” at least “the closest of ecumenical cousins in Christendom.”

Participants in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS), and Lutheran Church – Canada’s (LCC) ongoing ecumenical dialogue have released

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Easter massacre in Pakistan 

(Staff)  A SUICIDE BOMBER blew himself up in a targeted attack on Christians in a large park in Lahore, Pakistan where hundreds of families had gathered to celebrate Easter. Among the 72 victims were more than 30 small children, who were playing outdoor games in the Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park. At least 320 people were injured, mostly women and children.

The Taliban faction Jamaat ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the March 27th bombing. “We carried out the Lahore attack as Christians are our target,” said spokesman Ehansullah Ehsan.

Last year the group carried out a bombing

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1,000-year schism bridged: Pope meets Patriach

The meeting of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill in February helped close an historic East-West divide in Christendom. 

IN AN HISTORIC step to heal the 1,000-year schism that has split Christianity, Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, met in Cuba Feb. 12th in an attempt to begin bridging Christianity’s East-West divide.

It was the first meeting between the leaders

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Canadian pastor charged with espionage 

Kevin Garratt


AFTER 18 MONTHS of holding him without charges, Chinese authorities have accused a Canadian Pentecostal pastor of “accepting tasks” to gather intelligence on China for Canadian spy services. On Jan. 28th Kevin Garratt was charged with spying and stealing state secrets in Dandong, the northeastern Chinese city where he and his wife, Julia, ran a popular coffee shop near a river overlooking North Korea.

The couple was detained Aug. 4, 2014. Julia Garratt was released Feb. 5. 2015 on bail

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Pastor, wife who opposed cross removals jailed 

The Chinese government accused Bao Guohua and Xing Wenxiang of embezzling money from their congregation. (Photo: Chen Jiangang)

A CHRISTIAN PASTOR in China who refused to remove a cross from his church’s roof has been jailed for 14 years for corruption and inciting people to disturb social order, reports say.

Chinese media said Bao Guohua had been found guilty

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Oldest monastery in Iraq destroyed 

(Staff) IN ITS CAMPAIGN to purge the Middle East of Christians, ISIS is also purging the landscape of their symbols.  This past January, satellite images confirmed what had long been rumoured – that St. Elijah’s Monastery in Iraq, a place of Christian worship for over 1400 years, had been destroyed.  The photos showed that the 27,000-square-foot stone structure, set into a hill overlooking Mosul, had been leveled. Estimates are that the destruction occurred in August or September of 2014, just after ISIS extremists had penetrated

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North Korea: Canadian pastor sentenced to hard labour

While visiting North Korea in January 2015, Hyeon Soo Lim’s church and family lost contact with him.

(Photo:Free Hyeon Soo Lim Community)

(Staff)  AFTER a mere 90-minute trial, a Canadian pastor has been sentenced in North Korea to life in prison with hard labour. The totalitarian regime had sought the death penalty for what it described as crimes against the state. Ottawa called the ruling “unduly harsh.”

South Korean-born Hyeon Soo Lim arrived in Canada in 1986 and founded the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, Ont., one of Canada’s largest Korean congregations. With 3,000 members, the church has an ambitious humanitarian program aimed at helping ordinary North Koreans.

Since 1997 Lim has made more than 100 trips to the so-called Hermit Kingdom, where food and fuel shortages are common and where dissent is crushed. During his most recent trip in January 2015 to monitor ongoing humanitarian projects, including orphanages and a nursing home, his church and family lost contact with him.

In early March, North Korean authorities confirmed

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Primates suspend Episcopal Church from full participation in the Anglican Communion

(Photo: Anglican Communion News Service)

By George Conger & Sue Careless

THE PRIMATES of the Anglican Communion have suspended the Episcopal Church from full participation in the life and work of the Anglican Communion. On Thurs., Jan. 14th a motion was presented to the archbishops and moderators gathered in Canterbury Cathedral; that motion called for the Episcopal Church to be suspended for a period of three years.

The resolution calls for the Episcopal Church – the American branch of Anglicanism – to lose its “vote” in meetings of pan-Anglican institutions and assemblies, but preserves its “voice,” demoting the church to observer status. The motion was passed by a two-thirds margin.

The Primates’ gathering was held from Jan. 11-16. A Primate is the chief bishop or archbishop of one of the thirty-eight churches (also known as provinces) of the Anglican Communion.

The motion asks that representatives of the Episcopal Church not be permitted to represent the Communion in interfaith and ecumenical bodies or dialogue commissions, nor serve on the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, nor vote at meetings of the Anglican Consultative Council – whose next meeting is this summer in Lusaka, Zambia.

Unlike the recommendations of the Windsor Report of 2004, which called for the “voluntary withdrawal” of the Episcopal Church from the life of the Communion, this vote directs the Archbishop of Canterbury to discipline the American church.

The Episcopal Church may not take part in the decision making process “on issues of doctrine or polity” either, agreed the Primates.

The motion further asked the Archbishop of Canterbury

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Muslim-Christian gathering: Brotherly Relations in Cairo

Several Anglican leaders meet with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar. Canadian bishop Charlie Masters is on the far left.

(Photo: Reuben Y. Ng / Diocese of Egypt )

SIGNIFICANT MEETINGS in Cairo in early November helped form alliances for peace between Muslims and Christians in Sudan, South Sudan and Malaysia.

The Most Rev. Mouneer Anis, Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East, organized meetings involving Anglican leaders, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar (the renowned Islamic university, mosque and centre in Cairo), and Pope Tawadros II, leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

The Most Rev. Daniel Deng, Archbishop of Sudan, thanked the Grand Imam, Ahmed el-Tayyeb, for his remarks that “have brought moderation into Sudanese society and saved lives.”

The leaders encouraged Grand Imam Ahmad el-Tayyeb to “play a role in combatting false Islamic teaching that is propagated by extremists, especially

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