Pentecostals diversify leadership

The Assemblies of God passed a resolution at its annual meeting recommending each district dedicate seats on its presbytery to one person of color, one person under 40, and one woman. The Assemblies in the US has grown by about half a million members since 2005, in part through a strategy of “intentional inclusion” in the traditionally white Pentecostal denomination. Today, racial minorities account for about 44 percent of members, and there are two dozen official ethnic and language-group fellowships. The top leadership of the Assemblies includes ten white men, four black men, three Hispanic men, two Hispanic women, and two white women.

Bible theme park closes

The Holy Land Experience closed its gates for good after struggling financially for 20 years. The Orlando, Florida, theme park had reenactments of the Resurrection, a scale miniature model of first-century Jerusalem, an animatronic John Wycliffe, and a Trin-i-tee mini golf course, but always struggled financially. It was started in 2001 by a messianic Jewish pastor and taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007. Despite the infusion of millions of dollars, ticket sales dropped from about 250,000 annually to a little more than 100,000, and the park was losing about $5 million per year before COVID-19. The property was purchased by a Seventh-day Adventist health care company that runs 29 hospitals in Florida.

Pastor accused of assassination

Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a 63-year-old Haitian American doctor and pastor, has been accused by the Haitian government of plotting the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. For at least a decade, the Florida resident talked about the need for new leadership in Haiti and suggested he had been divinely chosen. Haiti experts are skeptical of the allegations against Sanon, however, saying he did not have the skill, platform, or financial resources to launch a coup. Protestant pastors, who had been some of Moïse’s fiercest critics, are now under pressure to prove they are not part of an “evangelical uprising.”

Legal backing for Coptic med student

The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) is trying to join a lawsuit to support a Coptic Christian medical student who was expelled from school for Facebook posts that opposed abortion. Rafael Zaki has removed the posts and apologized to the University of Manitoba Max Rady School of Medicine, but he argues he should be readmitted because the university shouldn’t regulate social media content expressing students’ personal opinions. The EFC would like to make a religious freedom argument before the court.

Diaspora asked for support

Francis Wale Oke, president of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, urged Nigerians living outside the country to “develop a positive disposition towards Nigeria.” Without the prayers and support of the diaspora, he said, Nigeria will become a failed state. A record 3,462 Christians were reported killed in the country in the first 200 days of 2021. Christian leaders have blamed the violence on President Muhammadu Buhari, who they say has not done enough to provide security. There are an estimated 1.7 million people in the Nigerian diaspora, who send back about $26 billion annually.

Second female bishop appointed

The Anglican Church of Kenya has appointed a second woman as bishop. Rose Okeno, who has served as priest for more than 20 years, will now lead the rural diocese of Butere. Her appointment ignores a moratorium on female bishops set by the Global Anglican Future Conference and may aggravate further controversy over the issue in East Africa. The church consecrated its first female bishop in January. When Emily Onyango accepted the appointment, she prayed that the doors of leadership would be open. Advocates for women in ministry in the Anglican Church in Kenya say the main reason women have not been allowed to lead is British tradition.

Earthquake discovery

Archaeologists believe they have discovered physical evidence of an earthquake in Jerusalem described by the prophets Amos and Zechariah. Amos 1:1 dates a vision to “two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah.” Zechariah 14:5, speaking of the “day of the Lord,” says, “You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah.” Recent excavation in Jerusalem revealed a layer of destruction, including a collapsed building, and smashed jars, bowls, and lamps. The disaster occurred about 2,800 years ago.

Christians hope for a new era of missions

Leaders of the Korean World Missionary Fellowship (KWMF) are concerned about the future of missions from Korea. The country once sent out the second-highest number of missionaries, and KWMF currently has more than 20,000, but most are in their 50s or 60s. A KWMF survey found 90 percent of them are worried about affording retirement, 70 percent have had legal trouble on the mission field, and 60 percent need counseling. South Korean Christians hope, nonetheless, for a new era of missions.

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Pastors arrested in crackdown

Nine leaders of the Golden Lampstand Church in the province of Shanxi were arrested as part of an ongoing crackdown on congregations that refuse to affiliate with the state-sanctioned Protestant church. Two of those arrested—husband and wife Wang Xiaoguang and Yang Rongli—previously spent three and seven years in prison for their faith, respectively. Golden Lampstand, part of the Sola Fide network of churches, had its building demolished by police in 2018. According to Foreign Policy, the Chinese Communist Party views religious devotion, whether by Uyghur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, or evangelical Christians, as the greatest threat to national security.

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