Baptist pastor gunned down while praying
Baptist minister Sergei Bessarab was shot 13 times with a Kalashnikov assault rifle Monday evening, apparently while he was praying in his church in the northern Tajikistan town of Isfar, near the borders of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
Reuters quotes officials saying that nothing was taken from the church and a motive is unknown. The Itar-Tass news agency says Bessarab was a missionary from the capital, Dushanbe, and the local leader of the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists.
According to Operation World, Christians make up only 1.4 percent of Tajikistan's population, with only 4,000 Protestants (about .06 percent of the population). Baptists are the largest Protestant group in the country, with about 500 members and 1,000 affiliates in 20 congregations.
Forum 18, an Oslo-based persecution watchdog/news agency, reported earlier this month that its reporters were "told by some that an official campaign against Christian proselytism may soon be launched." Expect Forum 18 to have more on Bessarab's murder in the next few days.
That's about all Weblog knows at this stage: The only Sergei Bessarab on Google is a Russian landscape artist.
Washington Post: Conservative Episcopalians plan widespread disobedience to church law
"Episcopalians who oppose the consecration of a gay bishop are preparing to engage in widespread disobedience to church law in 2004, according to a confidential document outlining their strategy," Washington Post religion reporter Alan Cooperman reports in today's edition.
The main author of the six-page plan, Geoff Chapman, says the document is legit. "Our ultimate goal," he wrote, "[is a] replacement jurisdiction … closely aligned with the majority of world Anglicanism." ...1
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