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Pakistan, Debt Relief, Anglicans & Mother Theresa

Pakistan, Debt Relief, Anglicans & Mother Theresa

In Today's Edition:
  • Security High Around Pakistan Churches 
  • Anglican Leader Modifies Outlook On Homosexual Marriages, Priests
  • Church Lifts 'Burden of Bills' from Parishioner
  • Mother Teresa Voted Greatest Citizen

Security High Around Pakistan Churches ... From CNS News - Pakistan's law enforcement agencies provided security to churches during worship services Sunday following terrorist attacks on a Christian school and hospital last week. A heavy contingent of troops and policemen were deployed around major churches, where services were reported to have gone ahead without incident.

One of some 20 Pakistani nurses injured during last Friday's hand grenade attack on a hospital chapel in Taxila died at the weekend, bringing the death toll to four. Another two remain in serious condition. One of the three terrorists also died in the attack, which occurred as the nurses filed out of the chapel after early-morning prayers at the Presbyterian-run mission hospital. Earlier in the week six Pakistani adults died in an attack on a Christian school for foreign children.

The Pakistan Christian Congress has urged the government to act to protect the minority. PCC head Nazir Bhatti said Christians were living in such fear their leaders were hesitant to condemn the terrorist groups.

Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom also called on President Pervez Musharraf to clamp down on Islamic extremists and to throw out laws that prejudice religious minorities. "As long as Pakistan has laws that make religious minorities second class citizens, it creates an atmosphere that prompts massacres like those this week," said senior fellow Dr. Paul Marshall.

Church Lifts 'Burden of Bills' from Parishioner ... According to a report from New Jersey.com, Cheryl Moore was recently saved from her debt, thanks to New Hope Baptist Church. The church's pastor, Frances Manning, discovered that many members of her congregation were "debtors instead of investors," so she decided to let her flock "follow the lead of several Baptist churches across the nation and step in."

The church sent out an appeal to its 400 members who responded by returning a total of $3,400 in donations. At a ceremony last week, Moore was selected from among six applicants to be the first in the congregation to be "financially delivered." The church wrote a check for the total balance and closed her credit card account.

One of the first churches to start debt revivals, Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Norfolk, Va., reported a 25 percent increase in the amount of money tithed within the first 12 months of implementing the program last year. The pastor, Bishop C. Vernie Russell Jr., coined the phrase most debt revivals use: "You can't serve your Master and MasterCard at the same time." The Hackensack church hopes to hold four debt revivals every year until all 400 members are debt-free.

Anglican Leader Modifies Outlook On Homosexual Marriages, Priests ... From CNS News ... The next Archbishop of Canterbury has encouraged evangelical groups but angered pro-homosexual organizations by letting an Anglican resolution against gay marriages and gay priests stand. In a letter to the Anglican Church's regional branches, Archbishop-elect Rowan Williams said he wouldn't challenge the 1998 Lambeth Conference motion.

Williams said the declaration against homosexual unions and the ordination of practicing homosexuals "declares clearly what is the mind of the overwhelming majority in the Communion" - even though he voted against the motion at the time, while serving as Bishop of Monmouth. Williams wrote that the leader of the church is "not someone elected to fulfill a program or manifesto of his own devising, but to serve the whole Communion."

"I have to distinguish plainly between personal theories and interpretations and the majority conviction of my Church, and have always tried to make such a distinction when I have been questioned on this subject," he said. "My ideas have no authority beyond that of an individual theologian."

Andrew Carey, a freelance journalist who has been following the dispute over homosexual unions and priests, said Monday that the Archbishop put up a firm barrier between his personal views and the official Church line. "He's always been clear that there's a difference between his role as a bishop and his personal views as a theologian," said Carey, who writes for the Church of England newspaper.

The Anglican American Council was one of the groups that expressed reservations about Williams' views on homosexual ordination when he was named Archbishop last month, and a spokesman for the group said Monday that the AAC was taking a "wait and see" attitude. "We see this letter as encouraging," spokesman Bruce Mason said by phone from Washington. "It remains to be seen how this will play out in the Archbishop's actual actions."

Mother Teresa Voted Greatest Citizen in India ... According to AP, Mother Teresa, a Catholic nun who "spent her life caring for the poor in the slums of Calcutta," has been named "India's greatest citizen" in a poll by "Outlook" magazine. Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace prize in 1979 for her work in Calcutta. In the poll, she beat out India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who came in second. Indira Gandhi, India's prime minister for 15 years, placed fourth in the list of 10, according to AP. Mother Teresa was voted the greatest Indian since the country's independence in 1947, from a poll of more than 50,000 responses.

Mother Teresa, born in 1910 in the Macedonian capital of Skopje, eventually took Indian citizenship. She died in Calcutta in 1997 at age 87. Her order runs many centers around the world. "We are very happy and we are proud to hear this news," said Sister Nirmala, who heads Mother Teresa's order, the Missionaries of Charity, in Calcutta.