After a gap of over 1,200 years, including 55 years of preparation, the planned Holy and Great Council of the Eastern Orthodox churches has turned into a cliffhanger only days before it is set to open.
The historic summit of the 14 Orthodox member churches was called by their spiritual head, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, to promote unity among the faithful who had grown apart by geography, language, and customs.
The debate — over how to debate the rules — became so convoluted that at one point Missouri delegate Margie Briggs called for prayer and said:
“I believe we are confusing God at this point.”
The Rev. Jerry Kulah has nothing but gratitude for the United Methodist Church.
In 1833, American Methodists sent their first missionary to his country, Liberia, which was founded for freed American slaves. Melville B. Cox died four months after he arrived in Africa, but the missionary’s legacy lives on in the United Methodist Church’s fastest-growing region, and in his words to his own church back in North Carolina: “Let a thousand fall before Africa be given up.”
Amid protest, song, and fears of a denominational breakup, United Methodists at their quadrennial General Conference decided yet again not to decide anything regarding LGBT rights.
But in a groundbreaking move, the delegates from the U.S. and abroad voted 428-405 on May 18 to allow the church’s Council of Bishops to appoint a commission to discuss whether to accept same-sex marriage or ordain LGBT clergy.
Religious freedom remains under “serious and sustained assault” around the globe, according to a new annual report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
“At best, in most of the countries we cover, religious freedom conditions have failed to improve,” commission chairman Robert P. George said May 2.
“At worst, they have spiraled further downward.”
Church closings are nothing new in the United Kingdom.
In the past six years, 168 Church of England churches have closed, along with 500 Methodist and 100 Roman Catholic churches.
“Christianity in Britain has seen a relentless decline for over 100 years,” says Linda Woodhead, a sociologist at Lancaster University.
With North Korea leading the way and Islamic extremism rapidly expanding, 2015 was the “worst year in modern history for Christian persecution,” according to a group tracking this issue.
IN 1900, 1 percent of Korea’s population was Christian. By 2010, roughly 3 in 10 South Koreans were Christian, including members of the world’s largest Pentecostal church, Yoido Full Gospel Church, in Seoul. The faith has exploded, and so now have the questions.
Each of the past several summers in Washington, D.C., I’ve met with 50 young Christian leaders from South Korea to discuss biblical social justice as it applies to their Korean context and perspectives on our shared Christian faith. They highlighted challenges they face, such as confusing financial and church growth with God’s favor; the stress that youth face in their ambition for a viable career; and the roles sometimes assigned to women and men in both church and society.
They also posed a critical question: Do you think of yourself as a Christian first or an American first? Out of our deep exploration came three convictions: First, national identity can be a deep blessing, but it cannot be our primary identity. Second, discussion works best without immediately judging our priority lists or our neighbors’ lists harshly. Third, the order of our lists should never be the cause of harm.
These rich dialogues with Korean faith leaders set the stage for an unusual opportunity: attending the Global Forum for the Future of World Christianity held on Jeju, the politically contested island off the coast of South Korea.