Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- Christian Woman Executed in North Korea, Activists Say
- Anglicans Alter Communion Ritual Due to Flu Scare
- Baptists Celebrate 400th Anniversary of Baptist Movement
- 2009 Crown Awards Recognize Best Independent Christian Films
Christian Woman Executed in North Korea, Activists Say
The Associated Press reports that a North Korean Christian was publicly executed in June. South Korean activists on Friday said that the woman, 33-year-old Ri Hyon Ok, was convicted of distributing Bibles, which are illegal under the totalitarian regime. She was also accused of spying for South Korea and the United States, and her family was sent to a prison camp the day after her execution. Public executions have decreased in recent years, according to a South Korean think tank, but they are still carried out regularly. An estimated 30,000-60,000 Christians live in North Korea, but statistics and knowledge of executions can only be reported by word of mouth under the repressive state.
Anglicans Alter Communion Ritual Due to Flu Scare
The Associated Press reports that fear of the H1N1 virus – also known as swine flu – is changing how some churches in England proceed with Communion. Two Church of England dioceses have eliminated drinking from the communal cup of wine, and will only eat the consecrated wafers. The Church allows the dioceses of Blackburn, Southwell and Nottingham only participate in half of the Communion ceremony under laws created in 1547. Churches in New Zealand, Chile, Argentina and parts of the United States have made similar changes to keep close contact at a minimum, hoping to prevent the disease's spread. "Particularly where vulnerable groups are involved, we think it's important that reasonable steps are taken to minimize the risk of church worship activity facilitating the spread of the disease," church spokesman Ben Wilson said.
Baptists Celebrate 400th Anniversary of Baptist Movement
The Christian Post reports that Baptists in the Netherlands gathered over the weekend to commemorate the 400th anniversary of today's Baptist movement. "In Amsterdam, the newly formed bakery congregation created a community whose worship and life together reflected more truly the New Testament pattern of a believers’ church," wrote Baptist World Alliance President David Coffey before the event. “In July 2009, a group of Baptists representing the world family will stand outside 120 Amstel Street, Amsterdam, and remember with prayerful thanksgiving some notable events that took place 400 years ago." A multitude of Baptist denominations exist, but together they make up the largest world communion of evangelical Protestants, the Post reports. More than 110 million people worldwide are identified with the Baptist movement.
2009 Crown Awards Recognize Best Independent Christian Films
The winners of the 2009 Crown Awards were announced at July's International Christians in Visual Media (ICVM) Catalyst Conference in Denver, Colorado. Since 1973, Crown Awards have recognized excellence in production and content of films and videos created to reflect Christian values in a secular world. Winners are selected by votes cast by a panel of judges who are all members of ICVM. This year, Crown Entertainment and Sherwood Pictures both took Gold Crown Awards in four categories, and "Beyond the Sky," a film by Bill Muir and Kevin Downes, received a Gold Crown Award in three categories. The film "Fireproof won the top awards for best picture and best screenplay.