• Russian patriarch Alexi II and Constantinople patriarch Bartholomew I have mended a rift and prevented a full schism. Alexi suspended relations in February over the Orthodox church in Estonia (CT, April 29, 1996, p. 55). In a joint statement issued May 16, the patriarchs said they would use "extreme dispensation" and "allow the Estonian Orthodox the freedom to choose to which ecclesiastical jurisdiction they wish to belong."
  • The city of Kharkov in Ukraine canceled an international festival of Jewish music and dance May 24 to 26, causing Messianic Jewish organizers Hear O Israel Ministries of Rochester, New York, to lose $250,000. Militia surrounded the football stadium where the festival was to be held and told Hear O Israel executive director Jonathan Bernis he needed government religious affairs approval to stage the event. Seventy Christians from the United States had paid their own way to participate in the festival.
  • Three Muslim extremists accused of murdering a Pakistani Christian outside a Lahore courtroom in 1994 (CT, May 16, 1994, p. 48) have been acquitted due to a lack of evidence. One of the three, Muslim cleric Maulvi Fazl-e-Haq, had been a plaintiff in a case accusing 20-year-old Manzoor Masih of blaspheming the prophet Muhammad. Masih died from a head wound, while the other two Christians were wounded. The Christians were later acquitted of blasphemy.
  • Art Gay, 59, is stepping down after five years as president of the Wheaton, Illinois-based World Relief (WR) July 19 to return to parish ministry in the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference. During Gay's tenure, WR began relief-and-development work in Rwanda, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Myanmar, Yugoslavia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovinia.
  • Thomas R. Koch is the new general director of BCM International (formerly Bible Club Movement), an Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, organization with more than 700 missionaries in 45 countries. Koch served as founder and director of Serving Other Servants Ministries from 1989 to 1995.
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