Church Discipline

The Presbytery of the Redwoods in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in December filed a disciplinary charge against Jane Adams Spahr, who participated in a same-sex marriage ceremony. Jim Berkley of Presbyterians for Renewal brought the charges, saying Spahr violated the denomination's Book of Order. o United Methodist minister Beth Stroud lost her ministerial credentials in December. A church jury found her guilty of "practices incompatible with Christian teaching." Stroud openly practices lesbianism, in violation of church law.

Court Okays Gay Marriage

Canada's Supreme Court, in a long-expected decision, says marriage between homosexuals is constitutional. The advisory opinion, called a reference, was announced December 9. Now the issue shifts back to the House of Commons, to see whether gay marriage will become legal at the federal level. The justice minister says legislation will be introduced as soon as members return to work at the end of January. It could pass in a matter of months.

Churches Under Fire

In December, gunmen set off explosions in two churches in Mosul, northern Iraq. No one was hurt, but the Chaldean and Armenian church buildings sustained damage. o In November, the People's Court of Ho Chi Minh City handed out harsh sentences to six Vietnamese Mennonite church workers. Nguyen Hong Quang and five colleagues were charged with "resisting officers of the law while doing their duty" in connection with a March 2 incident involving a nonviolent confrontation with two undercover government operatives at their church. According to Compass Direct, the court sentenced Quang, general secretary of the Vietnamese Mennonite Church, to three years in prison. Evangelist Pham Ngoc Thach received a two-year sentence. Nguyen Thanh Phuong, Nguyen Thanh Nhan, Le Thi Hong Lien, and church elder Nguyen Hieu Nghia received sentences ranging from nine to twelve months. After serving their sentences, Nguyen Hieu Nghia and Nguyen Thanh Nhan were released in December.

College Closes Doors

William Tyndale College, a private Christian school in Michigan with fewer than 300 students, closed its doors on December 31. Officials said enrollment was too low. The closing came despite a $1 million matching grant provided by Regent University in May 2003.

Related Elsewhere:

The Presbyterian church's news service has more about Jane Adams Spahr.

The United Methodist Church has more on the Beth Stroud trial.

More about the Canadian Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex marriage is available from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

More information on the churches bombed in Mosul is available from Reuters.

More on Vietnamese persecution of Christians is available from Compass Direct.

More about William Tyndale College is available from their website.

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