Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:
- McCartney Resigns as President of Promise Keepers
- Sunday School Raided in Azerbaijan
- Episcopal Priest Resigns
- 12 Jailed Christian Leaders Remain Faithful in Laos
McCartney Resigns as President of Promise Keepers
Adelle Banks, Religion News Service
Bill McCartney has announced his resignation as president of Promise Keepers so he can continue to care for his ill wife. The resignation of McCartney, who founded the international men's ministry 13 years ago, is effective Oct. 1. McCartney notified the Denver-based ministry's board of his plans at its meeting Monday. "God has assigned me to be a husband and a grandfather," McCartney said in a statement. "The ministry of Promise Keepers is not finished; it is needed now more than ever. I am confident that the Lord will direct and empower the ministry to move forward in strength and support - the opportunities for PK are limitless." McCartney's wife, Lyndi, suffers from a severe respiratory illness and he had been on a board-approved leave of absence because of her condition. Promise Keepers reached its apex with a 1997 "Stand in the Gap" rally attended by hundreds of thousands of men. Since that time, it has had financial difficulties and reduced attendance. The organization has expanded some of its activities, specifically including men in foreign countries as well as pastors, prisoners and teen-age boys at some events. The ministry has plans for 17 events in 2004. Until McCartney's successor is chosen, Promise Keepers will be led by retired Army Gen. Alonzo Short.
Sunday School Raided in Azerbaijan
Charisma News Service
Police recently raided a Sunday school in Azerbaijan using Soviet-style "KGB methods." Pastor Fuad Tariverdi of the Greater Grace Protestant Church in the capital city of Baku said that authorities interrupted the congregation's Aug. 31 Sunday school class because they claimed the church "has no right to teach kids." The owner of the building used for Sunday-school meetings was also ordered by authorities to stop rental of the facility to the church. Tariverdi said the church currently does not have a meeting place for about 50 children for Sunday school. Tariverdi said Police Chief Mukhtar Mukhtarov has been "persecuting our church for years." "He always sends people to invite our leadership to talk to him and tries to prove to us that we are wrong, bad, illegal and tries to intimidate us, using Soviet/KGB ways and mentality," he said. Greater Grace was registered with the government in 1993, but it has been seeking re-registration for the last two years.
Episcopal Priest Resigns
An Episcopal priest in Maryland has quit his job, saying he can no longer submit to the heretical authority in the Episcopal Church. Pastor Steven Randall's resignation makes him the first Episcopal priest in the U.S. to resign in response to this summer's decision by church leaders to endorse an open homosexual as bishop. Randall says he will preach his last sermon at St. Timothy's Church in Catonsville, Maryland, this Sunday. But according to The Washington Times, he will be back in a pulpit the following Sunday as pastor of a new congregation. He estimates about half the members of his old church will be part of the new group, which will be meeting at a local gymnasium.
12 Jailed Christian Leaders Remain Faithful in Laos
John Lindner, Christian Aid Report
Imprisoned Christian leaders in Laos are facing nearly every trick in the books by authorities who are trying to get them to deny their faith, but they remain faithful. There were 21 Christian leaders from Munag Nong imprisoned, but nine were released in August. The remaining 12 must continually guard against tactics to thwart their faith. They could have been released had they agreed to the conditions set forth by the authorities. According to reports, they were told to confess to false charges that they did not have proper permission from local authorities to move their families to another village. They were also told they must not mention that they were charged on religious grounds. However, the leaders did not agree to those conditions and remain in jail. Authorities tried to place guns in their hands so they could photograph them and use the photos to charge them with illegal weapons charges, but again the leaders would not cooperate. The Munag Nong district police chief and administrative head told them they would release them if they signed an affidavit that they would no longer follow Christ or worship Him. Again, the Christians preferred to remain in prison rather than deny their Lord. Area Christians bring them food to prevent starvation.