Philippine rebels say they will behead missionaries tonight
Negotiate or "will start the cutting of the ribbons of the whites," said Abu Sayyaf Group chieftain Abu Sabaya. Philippine broadcast company ABS-CBN notes, "Wire reports … gave conflicting deadlines. … One report said Sabaya gave the government until noon Thursday [midnight EDT] while another stated that the bandit gave 72 hours or until Sunday for government to consider his demand."

In any case, it looks like Martin and Gracia Burnham, the kidnapped New Tribes missionaries, could use some prayer right now. Martin Burnham has already been injured in clashes between the rebels and military. "After telling RMN radio that … Burnham was shot several times by government troops three days ago, [Sabaya] later told DXRZ radio Burnham was hit by shrapnel from an M-79 rifle fired in an earlier clash," reports Reuters. In both cases, however, Sabaya said that the missionary was in a stable condition.

The Abu Sayyaf rebels are also holding another American and 10 Filipinos.

USA Today previews "annual summer bloodletting"
"Should gay clergy be ordained? Are same-sex unions blessed before God the same as the marriage of a man and woman? May a woman lead a church? … This summer, as Presbyterians, Lutherans, American Baptists and others meet to choose leaders and set policy, these touchy topics may dominate—or derail—their agendas." So predicts USA Today's Cathy Lynn Grossman. She's not exactly going out on a limb; such controversies have dominated denominational meetings every summer in recent years. "Denominational meetings shouldn't be controversial fights over the essentials of the faith," the National Association of Evanglicals' Rich Cizik tells the paper. "People should go to be trained and equipped to carry on their evangelism to the world." The National Council of Churches' Eileen Lindner also notes that the debates are also on essentials: "There are no higher stakes," she says. "This is about salvation" (she also calls the denominational meeting season "the annual summer bloodletting.") But there's no reason to wait for summer to follow the controversies. Most are already boiling over (see the news stories posted below.)

Denominational controversies:

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Church life:


  • And on the 50th Day | What Pentecost means—and not just to Pentecostals. (Edith Blumhofer, The Wall Street Journal)
  • A movement born in a stable | Pentecostalism, the second-largest segment of Christendom, began in L.A. Long-stalled efforts to memorialize the site are moving forward. (Los Angeles Times)
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  • Global convention testifies to Pentecostalism's revival | A century after a one-eyed preacher in Los Angeles fired up the Pentecostal flame that has now spread to half a billion worshipers worldwide, several thousand believers from more than 40 countries are congregating here for the World Pentecostal Conference. (Los Angeles Times)


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