Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019:
Here are the latest headlines, brought to you by The Christian Post.
— Kidnapped Nigerian pastor freed after 7-month Boko Haram abduction
A Nigerian pastor who was abducted by the Boko Haram Islamic terrorist group seven months ago was freed on Sunday and said his captors demanded that he convert to Islam. The pastor of Living Faith Church (also known as Winners Chapel) was released along with another captive from Borno state. The pastor’s captors contacted his family and the church’s resident pastor a month after his abduction on April 10 to demand a ransom. Despite their demands that he convert to Islam, he never did.
Since 2013, Boko Haram insurgents have kidnapped over 1,000 children in Nigeria. One of the most widely reported Boko Haram abductions occurred in April 2014, when over 276 schoolgirls from the predominantly-Christian town of Chibok were kidnapped. In February 2018, 110 schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram in the town of Dapchi. About five of the Dapchi schoolgirls died while all others except one were released weeks later. The lone Dapchi schoolgirl who remains in captivity is Leah Sharibu. Reports have indicated that Sharibu was not released with the rest of her classmates because of her refusal to deny Christ.
— 8 UMC bishops say they can’t support denomination’s ‘current form of unity’ due to LGBT debate
Eight current and former bishops of the United Methodist Church have signed a statement supporting an end to the “current form of unity” for the denomination due to its yearslong debate on LGBT issues. Titled “A Call to Deeper Conversations Regarding New Expressions of Methodist Witness,” the statement argues that the UMC should “be honest about our current reality.”
The statement expresses support for proposals given by both liberals and conservatives within the United Methodist Church that would split the mainline denomination. Over the past several years, the UMC has had divisive debates over whether to keep its current stance, as laid out in the Book of Discipline, defining homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching.” This position includes a ban on the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals and a refusal to allow clergy to officiate same-sex marriages.
Although proposals to remove the language fail every four years at General Conference, opponents of the stance continue to increasingly resist the Book of Discipline rules on homosexuality.
For the 2020 General Conference, delegates will entertain multiple proposals regarding the debate, including multiple measures aimed at splitting the denomination. Last month, the conservative UMC advocacy group Wesleyan Covenant Association leadership officially endorsed the Indianapolis Plan for Amicable Separation.
— Top 10 cities where most generous Christians live: Barna study
Just in time for Thanksgiving, the Barna Group has identified the top 10 cities in America where the most generous practicing Christians live. The California-based organization, which has been tracking cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors for 35 years, identified the most giving markets in the United States, both in terms of donations to nonprofit and church giving.
When it comes to both church and nonprofit giving, three cities in southeast Idaho topped the list. In the cities of Pocatello, Idaho Falls, and Jackson, practicing Christians give an average of $17,977 to nonprofits and $15,601 to churches every year. Barna’s findings corroborate other studies highlighting Idaho as a generous state: Wallet Hub found Idaho to be the third-most generous state when it comes to charitable giving, and The Chronicle of Philanthropy found Idahoans give more than residents of every surrounding state except Utah.
— With biggest ‘Sunday Service’ audience yet, Kanye West to appear at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church
In what is expected to be his biggest “Sunday Service” audience yet, rapper Kanye West will be joining megachurch pastor Joel Osteen at his Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, on Sunday for a conversation that promises to be epic. West is expected to chat with Osteen for about 20 to 30 minutes during the church’s 11 a.m. service.
West and Osteen have been talking quite often recently, particularly since West has continued to profess his devotion to God. West released his first faith-based album, Jesus Is King, earlier this month, which has gone on to make Billboard history, ranking No. 1 on five charts as well as dominating the Top 10 slots on both the Hot Christian Songs and Hot Gospel Songs charts.
— Church votes to remove ‘First Thanksgiving’ tapestry over it being 'disturbing, hurtful'
Plymouth Congregational Church of Minneapolis, Minnesota, voted Sunday to approve the removal of a large tapestry called “First Thanksgiving” that has been on display in the church since 1974. The progressive congregation now believes the artwork is racially offensive.
In May, Plymouth’s Leadership Council announced that they were going to consider taking down the “Churchmen in the New World” embroidery and other displayed embroideries over concerns they conflicted with the church’s progressive values and were “disturbing and hurtful to people outside of the white-dominated mainstream.”
372 church members voted in favor of the leadership’s decision to remove the embroidery, while 182 voted to keep the display in the church.
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