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Soccer, Bush & Pope, Accokeek, Indonesia & Colombia

Soccer, Bush & Pope, Accokeek, Indonesia & Colombia

In Today's Edition:

English Churches Postpone Worship During World Cup ... London, May 28 (idea) -- Soccer and church will clash during the upcoming World Cup in East Asia. England's opening match against Sweden kicks off in Saitama (Japan) at Sunday worship prime time: 10:30 a.m. As millions of Britons will be glued to their TV screens, many churches are postponing their worship until after the match. The Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, has given his official approval. Unperturbed by the sports competition, Catholic churches will hold Sunday mass at the usual times. Some Anglican priests are also adamant that the church should not bow before soccer.

The Rev Geoffrey Kirk of Lewisham told the London Times the very idea of moving the service rendered him almost speechless: "If we in the Church of England have actually generated a group of Christians who are so brain dead that they cannot even record the thing on a video and discharge their primary obligation on Sunday morning to go to church, then we might as well pack up and go home."

Other clergy are trying to make the most of the situation. The Rev Harry Ross in Liverpool: "God must come first, but football is second." Ross will place his churchwarden in front of the TV in the vestry and get him to signal if England scores a goal during the service. That way he will keep the congregation up to date from the pulpit. Other churches plan to put up video screens and show the soccer match live before the worship service. The Rev John Hartley of Bradford will preach to the theme "Make Jesus the center forward of your life." And he has written a special evangelistic soccer hymn: "Before I met the Savior Jesus, my life was full of holes: I couldn't do the good I wanted, I couldn't score the goals."


Bush Discusses Scandals with Pope ... Rome/Budapest (ANS) -- U.S. President George W. Bush told Pope John Paul II on May 28, that he is concerned about the Catholic Church in America, which has been rocked by child sex abuse scandals. "I will tell him that I am concerned about the Catholic Church's standing," President Bush said before his talks with the Pope began. Analysts say the Catholic Church may be forced to pay hundreds of millions and possible even billions of dollars for legal costs in the coming decade.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters that during the 20 minute meeting Tuesday, President Bush and the Pope also discussed developments in Russia and the Middle East. President Bush and his eight-member delegation were met with full honors at the Vatican for what was Mr. Bush's second-ever meeting with the 82-year-old pontiff, reporters said.

Following their private meeting, the Pope told President Bush that he was very grateful for his visit, the Voice of America reported, adding that the pontiff "stood up from his chair to say: 'God Bless America'." (Reported by Stefan J. Bos)


'Hard-line' President Elected in Colombia; Christians Could be Targeted ... From "The Persecution & Prayer Alert" -- The Voice of the Martyrs, Canada -- On May 27, Alvaro Uribe Velez was elected president of Colombia. In his victory speech, Uribe said he would seek international support in a bid to reopen peace contacts with "groups outside the law," referring to both the rebels and right-wing paramilitary units loyal to the government. But he said peace talks would not begin unless the groups agree to a ceasefire and stop the practice of kidnapping civilians for ransom.

Christians have often been caught in the middle of the conflict. Last month, rebel forces closed down 11 churches in the town of Araquita, claiming that the church leaders were supporting the election bid of Uribe, despite statements from the pastors that they refused to be involved in politics. With Uribe's victory, there are concerns about increased violence throughout Colombia. If this happens, it will undoubtedly directly affect the Christians.

Glenn Penner, communications officer for VOM Canada, said, "It is obvious that the peace negotiations initiated by the past president failed to bring peace to Colombia. While we hope that the new president will be able to bring the rule of law to the country, we sincerely hope that Christians in rebel controlled areas will not be adversely affected by either rebel bands or paramilitary units loyal to the government. Often Christians have been caught in the middle of this civil war as both sides demand absolute loyalty. As Christians, we have only one ultimate Ruler."


Indonesian Christians Face Tough Decision ... Indonesian Christians are learning the hard way what it means to "forsake all and follow Christ," reports Christian Aid's "Mission Insider." A contact person in Indonesia says that Christians in some villages taken over by Laskar Jihad militant Muslims are being offered the opportunity to leave their villages, but on one condition: They must relinquish all right to their homes, businesses and properties, and never return to their villages again.

According to Mission Insider, some Christians have been "Islamicized" by being forcefully circumcised. Others are still living as Christians in their communities now controlled by militant Muslims. They are now being told they can leave without becoming Muslims-but the price they must pay for their freedom is to forsake everything they own and never return. Anyone who remains in the village must convert to Islam. Spokespersons for the Islamic community said they will never allow Christians to live in "their" village again.

Christian Aid has provided funds to pay for boat fare for those willing or able to escape from Muslim-held villages. Additional funds are needed to provide food, clothing, housing and other needs for thousands of Christians either chased out of their villages by rampaging Muslim militants, or who have escaped villages now controlled by the Muslims. For more information, visit http://www.christianaid.org


Court of Appeals Affirms Bishop Dixon in Accokeek Case ... (Episcopal News Service) -- On May 22, 2002, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit unanimously affirmed an earlier decision by the U.S. District Court recognizing the authority of Washington bishop pro tempore Jane Holmes Dixon to refuse the election of the Rev. Samuel Edwards as rector of Christ Church and St. John's Parish in Accokeek, Maryland. The decision stated, in part: "Our examination of this record, and our study of the organization and operation of the Episcopal Church, compels the determination that the court was correct in both its analysis and in its conclusion: The Episcopal Church is hierarchical."

Dixon refused Edwards' call as rector on the grounds that he was not "duly qualified" to be rector of the calling parish. She said she based her decision on reports of Edwards' teachings while executive director of the group Forward in Faith/North America (FIF/NA), including editorials calling ECUSA, "the Unchurch," saying that ECUSA practices "institutionalized lawlessness," that the "machinery" of the Episcopal Church is "hell-bound" and advocating "gumming up the works," and another urging clergy and congregations to "sever their connections" with ECUSA. She also cited Edwards' "willingness to break certain solemn vows that he took at his ordination" as an Episcopal priest; his "unwillingness to guarantee his obedience" to Dixon as his bishop; and his "lack of commitment to keeping Christ Church and church property" in the Episcopal Church.

Edwards, his attorneys and the parish vestry claimed that Dixon's "right of advice and objection" to his call as rector was limited to the 30 days following notification. Edwards' attorney, Charles Nalls, said that Dixon did not respond to the vestry until "more than 60 days after the notification, 30 days after notification of the intent to contract and two weeks after the ratification of the clergy contract," according to a letter he sent to Dixon. Edwards, his attorneys and the parish vestry have not yet announced whether they intend to appeal the latest court decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.