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Feb. 20, 2020: Episcopal Church obsolete, SBC expels church, Nigerian schoolgirl

Feb. 20, 2020: Episcopal Church obsolete, SBC expels church, Nigerian schoolgirl

Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020:

Here are the latest headlines, brought to you by The Christian Post.

— Episcopal Church to be obsolete in 30 years, seminary president warns

The Episcopal Church's rapid rate of decline means that within 30 years no one will be attending Sunday services, according to Kristine Stache, interim president of Wartburg Theological Seminary.

Data on attendance shows that from 2008 to 2018, the denomination experienced a 24.9 percent decline in average Sunday attendance and a 17.5 percent decline in baptized members.

At the current rate of decline, the denomination will also have no baptized members in 47 years time, Stache told the denomination's Executive Council last Friday.

— Southern Baptist Convention expels Texas church 

The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee voted to disfellowship a Texas church for having a pastor who is a lifetime registered sex offender.

The Executive Committee voted Tuesday to expel Ranchland Heights Baptist Church of Midland for employing Phillip Rutledge who was convicted in 2003 of aggravated sexual assault charges against two girls. Rutledge has been a pastor at the church since 2016.

— Nigeria vows to 'redouble' efforts to free Leah Sharibu 

This week marks two years since Christian schoolgirl Leah Sharibu was abducted along with 109 of her classmates from her school in northeast Nigeria by a faction of the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.

Although most of her classmates were later released by the Islamic State West Africa Province — a breakaway group of Boko Haram — Sharibu was not. She was reportedly held back from her classmates in 2018 because she refused to recount her faith in Christ. 

Sharibu's mother, Rebecca, spoke at a protest in London Wednesday organized by Christian Solidarity Worldwide outside the Nigerian High Commission. There, she delivered a petition to the commission signed by over 12,000 people calling on the Nigerian government to take action. 

Last December, Nigeria was added to the U.S. State Department’s special watch list of countries that tolerate or engage in severe violations of religious freedom.

— Locust infestation could cause next famine in Africa, evangelical charity warns

A historic desert locust infestation in East Africa could cause the next major famine as people in the region are already struggling with hunger after droughts were followed by cyclone flooding, says Joseph Kamara, World Vision’s regional director for humanitarian and emergency affairs in East Africa. 

A growing spread of city-sized swarms of locusts has reached seven East African countries in recent months. The invasion has been described as something similar to an account from the book of Exodus as the grasshoppers have torn through crops, grass and other green vegetation. 

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged Tuesday that the U.S. will give $8 million dollars toward regional locust control operations in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

— Calvin Butts III, influential pastor of black church, under fire for endorsing Bloomberg

The Rev. Calvin Butts III, the influential pastor of the historic Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, is drawing strong criticism from some members of his church for throwing his support behind billionaire Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, who is currently under fire for his controversial support of stop-and-frisk policies that targeted mainly black and Hispanic residents.

The criticism has come in the wake of the revelation of audio, reportedly from a 2015 speech in Colorado, in which Bloomberg claims that "95%" of "murders and murderers and murder victims" are male minorities between the ages of 16 to 25 and the way to reduce violence in the city is to throw minority kids "up against the walls and frisk them."

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