Lifeway loses Beth Moore
Bible teacher Beth Moore’s departure from the Southern Baptist Convention will majorly impact the denomination’s publishing arm, Lifeway Christian Resources. Moore was Lifeway’s best-selling author, at one point earning annual revenues of $30 million. Lifeway will continue selling Moore’s backlist of 25 Bible studies, but new material will be released by Tyndale House. Moore’s most recent title, Chasing Vines, sold 60,000 copies in one year. Lifeway was already struggling financially. In 2018, the year before it closed 170 retail outlets, it brought in $503 million. In 2020, after the impact of COVID-19, earnings were down to $206 million.
Missionary statue sent home
Walla Walla, Washington, will soon have two statues of Christian missionary Marcus Whitman. The state is replacing his statue in Washington, DC, with one honoring Billy Frank Jr., an activist who defended native fishing rights. The Legislature is sending the Whitman statue to Walla Walla, historic home of the Whitman mission. An identical statue stands there now, on the Whitman College campus. Historians debate Whitman’s success as a missionary, but his 1847 murder by members of the Cayuse tribe was used as political motivation for the annexation of the Oregon territory.
Pentecostals revise statement of faith
Australia’s largest network of Pentecostal churches has revised its statement of faith, updating the language and clarifying some of the Australian Christian Churches’ theology. References to the millennium were replaced by the historic proclamation that Jesus “will come again to judge the living and the dead.” Damnation is now described as “eternal separation from God,” without reference to “the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.” And the statement on Scripture, reduced by 85 words, now simply states the Bible is inspired and the highest authority in faith and practice.
Minister’s arrest prompts corruption charges
President Lazarus Chakwera was accused of corruption after an Assemblies of God minister was charged with misusing COVID-19 funds. Pastor Martin Mainja allegedly overcharged for capitol fumigation services and gave a kickback to the president’s son. Mainja reportedly defrauded the government of 96 million Malawian kwacha, the equivalent of about $122,000. Chakwera was head of the Malawi Assemblies of God for 24 years and has broad support from the church. He has previously fired one government minister and arrested 19 officials for misuse of COVID-19 money, pledging to end corruption.
Pentecostals clash with president
Bishop Francis Wale Oke, head of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, condemned President Muhammadu Buhari for not doing enough to stop the violence in the northern part of the country. More than 1,000 people were killed last year, according to Amnesty International, and hundreds were kidnapped by groups identified variously as “bandits,” herdsmen fueding with farmers, or Islamist militants, including Boko Haram. Oke said the president should “should tell his kinsmen” to “stop the mindless killings.” Oke also announced that he was now praying that God would remove Buhari from office. Buhari, who ruled in a military dictatorship in the 1980s and was elected to office in 2015, has condemned Christian groups for strirring up trouble. He said they are plotting to subvert democracy and remove him from office, but he will retain control “even if some unruly feathers would be ruffled in the process.”
Seminaries stopped from certifying clergy
The government has stripped the license of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Ingria’s Theological Institute. The seminary is the fifth Protestant school to lose the legal right to offer formal religious education since Vladimir Putin was reelected in 2018. The others are a Baptist institute in the Caucuses, a Baptist seminary in Moscow, a Pentecostal seminary in Moscow, and a Lutheran seminary in St. Petersburg. A 2020 law will require all clergy trained outside of Russia to be retrained by a licensed seminary. If a denomination has no approved educational institutions, it will not be able to certify clergy.
Baptist leader flees to UK
The head of the Baptist Convention of Hong Kong resigned a minute before flying out of the country, apologizing to his congregation for not saying goodbye and thanking unnamed coworkers for keeping his secrets. Lo Hing-choi supported the pro-democracy movement protesting mainland China’s encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy and a Beijing-aligned newspaper accused him of “scheming underground subversion.” His departing message reminded Christians of Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:16, to “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
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