In RUSSIA, Orthodox leaders will canonize the nation's last czar and his entire family, who died in 1918 at the hands of revolutionaries. Czar Nicholas II, his wife, Alexandra, and their five children will all become "passion bearers," the lowest level of sainthood in the Russian Orthodox Church. The decision settles months of controversy on whether the murdered czar should be given saintly status. Nicholas and his family—the last of the Romanov dynasty—were killed in the Bolshevik Revolution that ushered in the Soviet Union.

Police in CHINA released three American missionaries who were arrested Aug. 23 in a crackdown on a banned evangelical group. Dande Lin, 28, Henry Chu, 36, and Patrica Lan, 25—all Taiwan-born U.S. citizens—were among 130 Christian members of the outlawed evangelical China Fang-cheng Church taken into custody by police. The 500,000-member church was included on a list of 14 Christian groups labeled "evil cults" by the Chinese government last year.

The MENNONITE World Conference has elected its first woman president. The conference has more than 70 national-church members, many of which do not accept women as pastors. Nancy Heisey of Harrisonburg, Virginia, was elected president last month at the organization's triennial General Council meeting in Guatemala City. She will take up her post in 2003.

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