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10/21/2014

Thousands of Iraqi Refugees in Desperate Need of Aid as Winter Approaches

With winter coming soon, religious minorities in Iraq face uncertain times.

With winter coming soon, religious minorities in Iraq face uncertain times.   In anticipation of winter, Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) will deliver to thousands of displaced Iraqi Christians food, shelter, schooling and gifts for children in a concerted emergency relief program.   "There is an absolutely overwhelming need... people cannot be expected to survive in tents," John Pontifex of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) told Christian Today.   The $5 million plan announced by Aid to the Church in Need, one of the largest in the charity’s 67-year history, also includes pastoral support for priests and Sisters displaced by the crisis that has swept the country.   "These people left their homes with nothing other than the shirts on their backs. They need warm clothes, housing, schools, and they need greater protections to ensure that they don't fall to the mercy of extreme militants," said Pontifex.   ACN maintains the Christian communities are dependent on outside assistance and have been supported by the Church since they arrived in Kurdish northern Iraq. Many of them have found refuge in Ankawa, close to the regional capital, Erbil, and further north in the region of Dohuk, close to the Turkish border.       Publication date: October 21, 2014 read more
10/21/2014

Mark Driscoll's Resignation Prompts Church Leadership to Return

Two former Mars Hill leaders have alluded to returning to the church since Mark Driscoll has resigned from his position as senior pastor of the megachurch.

Two former Mars Hill leaders have alluded to returning to the church since Mark Driscoll has resigned from his position as senior pastor of the megachurch.    Kevin Potts, a former leader of Mars Hill said he is planning to return to his role.    Potts said, "Hopefully helping that church rebuild into something that glorifies Christ. I'm not exactly sure what's going to happen when I show up to church tomorrow morning…My purpose isn't to show up and say, 'Ha ha, Mark's gone, we won.'"   Former church elder Rob Smith is also believed to come back to the megachurch ministry. He recently wrote "is my prayer that I am not the only bruised and wounded soldier limping back."   Driscoll announced last week that he would be resigning from his position. The megachurch pastor had previously announced that he would take a six-week hiatus from leadership after he was accused of plagiarism, misuse of funds and abuse of power.    The Mars Hill Church posted the following statement following Driscoll’s announced departure from the ministry: "The Board of Overseers has accepted that resignation and is moving forward with planning for pastoral transition, recognizing the challenge of such a task in a church that has only known one pastor since its founding. Mark Driscoll was not asked to resign; indeed, we were surprised to receive his resignation letter."     Publication date: October 21, 2014 read more
10/21/2014

7 Lessons from the Vatican’s Wild and Crazy Synod on the Family

Catholic leaders wrapped up their two-week Vatican summit on the challenges of modern family life without reaching a consensus on a number of hot-button topics. So where does that leave the church?

Pope Francis and senior Catholic leaders wrapped up their two-week Vatican summit on the challenges of modern family life on Sunday (Oct. 19) without reaching a consensus on a number of hot-button topics. So where does that leave Francis’ papacy? And the church?   Here are seven takeaways:   1. Hard-liners won the battle   A midpoint status report on the debate among some 190 cardinals and bishops was described as a “pastoral earthquake” because of its unprecedented (for Catholic churchmen) language of welcome of and appreciation for gay people, as well as divorced-and-remarried Catholics and cohabiting couples.   The media tsunami over that apparent breakthrough panicked conservatives, who waged an intense public and private campaign to make sure none of that language — apparently favored by Francis himself — made it into the synod’s final report. They succeeded, and even the few watered-down paragraphs on gays and remarried Catholics did not reach the two-thirds threshold needed for formal passage.   Hard-liners claimed victory, and headlines spoke of Vatican “backtrack” and a “resounding defeat” for Francis that left his papacy “weakened.”   2. Reformers may win the war   That could be a Pyrrhic victory, one that cost more than it was worth. If the controversial passages did not reach the two-thirds benchmark they nonetheless won strong majorities. In addition, a growing number of reform-minded bishops say they voted against the contentious proposals because they did not go far enough in emphasizing the church’s welcome, respect, and value for gays ... read more
10/21/2014

Iranian Pastors, Deacon Sentenced to Six Years in Prison

Two Iranian Christian pastors and one deacon have been handed down six-year prison sentences for their alleged “crimes.”

Two Iranian Christian pastors and one deacon have been handed down six-year prison sentences for their alleged “crimes.”    Pastors Benham Irani and Matthias Haghnejad and deacon Silas Rabbani will be forced to spend six years in isolated prisons; Irani will be sent to a prison in the northern city of Zabol, while Haghnejad and Rabbani will serve their sentences in a prison on the island of Minab.    Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Operating Officer Andy Dipper said after the sentences were announced, "We are deeply concerned by the six-year sentences given to pastors Irani and Haghnejad and deacon Silas Rabbani, and the fact that they will serve these sentences so far from their families and home towns.”   Irani’s sentence will actually extend 12 years because he had previously been charged with “action against the state” and “action against the order” in 2006.    Dipper said, "We are particularly appalled by the extra six years given to pastor Irani, who has already endured ill-treatment whilst in prison and now faces nearly a decade in prison on trumped-up charges. We urge the Iranian government to release without delay every person who is imprisoned for their faith. Their incarceration contravenes international covenants guaranteeing freedom of religion or belief, to which Iran is party."     Publication date: October 21, 2014 read more
10/21/2014

ISIS Launches 15 Simultaneous Attacks on Kurdish Territories

ISIS militants have once again begun pushing for more territory as the terrorist group has launched 15 simultaneous attacks on land controlled by Kurdish forces.

ISIS militants have once again begun pushing for more territory as the terrorist group has launched 15 simultaneous attacks on land controlled by Kurdish forces. The group attacked several locations in northern Iraq Monday, as well as the Mosul dam, and the Sinjar mountain range.    In an attack at a Peshmerga checkpoint, six security personnel were killed, and seven more were critically injured.    A senior official at the Ministry of Peshmerga said that the terrorists' attack against the Sinjar mountain range was not successful. "ISIS failed in their attempt to control the village of Sharaf ad-Din after Peshmerga forces repelled the attack and managed to kill a number of ISIS militants," the official said.   U.S. continues its push against ISIS with airstrikes. In Syrian city of Kobani, cargo planes dropped weapons Sunday night (Oct. 19), ammunition and medical supplies.     Publication date: October 21, 2014 read more