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Tuesday
Mar222016

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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Tuesday
Mar222016

Canadian pastor charged with espionage 

Kevin Garratt

(Photo: www.chinawatchcanada.blogspot.ca)

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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Tuesday
Mar222016

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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Tuesday
Mar222016

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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Sunday
Jan312016

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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Tuesday
Jan262016

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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Thursday
Dec172015

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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Thursday
Dec172015

Ambassadors for Peace program

‘People in Syria know their situation,’ says Rev. Nadim Nassar.

(Supplied Photo)

By Gavin Drake

A SYRIAN PRIEST has launched an innovative educational programme that is helping to turn young Syrian adolescents away from their feelings of hopelessness, despair and anger, and into Ambassadors for Peace – who then help to teach younger generations of Syrians.

The programme began last year in Lattakia [known biblically as Laodicea], a town on Syria’s Mediterranean coast, and has now expanded to Iraq. There is also talk

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Thursday
Dec172015

The most important Christian thinker you’ve never heard of

René Girard (1923-2015)

By Tim Perry

AFTER A RICH academic career spent mostly in California, the French philosopher and critical theorist René Girard died on November 4 at his home.  I doubt many of the Planet’s readers have heard of him. And that’s unfortunate. He is perhaps the last great twentieth century Christian thinker, and he is worthy of our most serious reflection in pulpits and pews as much as in lecture halls.

At a time when “big ideas” are sneered at as “totalitarian discourses” and Christian ideas are mocked more and more, René Girard stood

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Thursday
Dec172015

First Anglican confirmation rite in Moroccan capital

A NEW ANGLICAN congregation in Rabat has held its first confirmation service in what is believed to be the first such rite in the Moroccan capital.

The North African country has had an unbroken Anglican presence for just over 100 years with churches in Casablanca and Tangier – although the first Church of England church, in Tangier, has its origins in the time of Charles II.

Official statistics show that 99.9 per cent of the population is Muslim. Islam is the official religion

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