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.)
- Bishop says clergy members trying to destroy diocese | Six congregations have left Episcopal Church for Anglican Mission in America—the largest number of church defections in the country (The Rocky Mountain News)
- Congregation goes to court to get back into church | Majority of New Zealand Methodist congregation left over homosexuality (The New Zealand Herald)
- Bishop stalls on same-sex blessings | Lesbian Anglican wonders when her church will recognize same-sex unions (The Vancouver Sun)
- Adventists settle with local splinter group | Agreement allows church to identify itself in national advertisements and literature as "founded by Seventh-day Adventist believers," not a Seventh-day Adventist Church. (The Miami Herald)
- Also: Adventists resolve dispute (The Washington Times)
- No Sabbath peace for divided church | Bishop, embattled Md. priest conduct competing services (The Washington Post)
- Earlier: Bishop and Md. priest ordained for face-off | Clerics at odds both say they intend to preside at the church's morning worship services. (The Washington Post)
- Trinidad sees its U.S. archbishop as Vatican slight | Critics say appointment is "re-Romanization" at best, "recolonization" at worst (Los Angeles Times)
- Orthodox Church fractures in Ukraine | Efforts of Kiev faction to break from Moscow strain relations throughout Eastern Christianity (The Washington Post)
- Churches try to retrieve grand trappings of past | Catholics and others seek to correct the sins of the 1960s and 1970s when a renewal movement sought to update worship and simplify architecture. (The Sun, Baltimore)
- Taking a leap of faith, all the way from India | After decades as 'spiritual nomads,' a group of Indian Christians in the Baltimore area finally has its own worship space. (The Sun, Baltimore)
- Community relations 'nerve racking' for the churches | Irish report asks if churches are prepared to become involved in community relations work "as more than mere political correctness" (The Belfast Telegraph)
- Friendships form as black and white churches integrate | A Cypress, California, congregation joins a small number of ministries that add color to today's monochromatic churches. (Los Angeles Times)
- Eyes that see the glory | Churches, artists coming to terms again (The Dallas Morning News)
- Evangelist puts fear of God into pilferers | Liverpool Cathedral has been swamped with hotel bath robes and library books after a preacher urged his congregation to return stolen property. (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- Vicar in tune with karaoke hymn-singing | After organist left, church got desperate (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- 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)
- 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)
- Why saints go marching on | The present Pope has made more saints than all his predecessors put together. However medieval it might seem, the idea of sainthood still exerts a powerful pull (The Times, London)
- Online evangelization yes, confessions no | "It will never be possible," says Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communication (Reuters)
- Mother Teresa to be saint 'within months' | So says archbishop in charge of investigating her cause in India (The Daily Telegraph, London)
- Ordination of O'odham deacons is historic first | Religious power shift on the reservation shifts from non-tribal priests and nuns to the American Indians. (The Arizona Daily Star)
- Catholic prelates split on use of media | At last week's "extraordinary consistory," cardinals seemed unable to decide how much they could say in explaining, through the news media to the global church, what they discussed as they considered the challenges facing the church. (The Boston Globe)
- Race issues surface in school's bid for church league | A mostly black school's rejection from a mostly white Catholic athletic league has ignited controversy in Chicago, a city that is both heavily Roman Catholic and in many ways still simmering with deeply rooted racial divisions (The New York Times)
- Also: Catholic sports league accused of racism | Parishes denied membership to a black church's grammar school, citing concerns about the safety of players (Associated Press)
- Also: Archdiocese steps in after league rejects black school | Office for Racial Justice will promote reconciliation between St. Sabina and the conference (Chicago Tribune)
- A man of papal quality | Could Chicago's Francis Cardinal George be the next pope? (George Will, The Washington Post)
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