Sunday, February 17, 2008

weekly news

January 24 - Methodists To Mull Divestment From Israel
Article: .Israel And The Last Days

The nation's largest and most prominent mainline Protestant denomination, the 11 million-member United Methodist Church - whose members include both President Bush and Senator Clinton - is set to take up the issue of whether to divest from companies that do business with Israel.

The meeting, which is to be held on Friday in Fort Worth, Texas, will mark the highest level of consideration that the subject of economic divestment from the Jewish state has received within the Methodist denomination.

Key questions hanging over the event will be whether the church will decide to use its $16 billion pension fund as an economic tool against Israel, and whether divestment would shatter the church's traditional relationship with American Jews.

If the church moves ahead with a divestment resolution on the national level, the denomination would become the largest Protestant group to embrace such a measure. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, which has 2.4 million members, voted in favor of such a measure in 2004.



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January 27 - Turkey warns against EU 'club of Christians'
Article: One World Government

DAVOS, Switzerland: Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan warned the European Union against becoming a "club of Christians" as he pushed on Saturday for Ankara's membership in the bloc.

"If the EU finds itself as a club of Christians.... it is against the very soul of the EU," Babacan told reporters on the sidelines of the annual World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

EU heavyweights France and Germany are both opposed to full Turkish membership, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been particularly vocal on the issue, arguing that the mainly Muslim country does not belong in Europe.

Babacan regretted that the issue of religion had apparently become a factor in the debate on Turkey's accession. "Religious lines should never be presented as a border," he said, adding that the current 27-nation composition of the European bloc already contained "huge differences" in terms of culture, religion and language.


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January 25 - Religious Leaders Celebrate 'Equality Sabbath' in support of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Oregonians
Article: Signs Of The Last Times

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Religious and congregational leaders celebrate the call to equality by observing Equality Sabbath January 25th - 27th, 2008. During their regularly scheduled Sabbath observance, participating congregations will focus on themes of inclusion and equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

"This weekend reflects a spiritual act of solidarity," says Rev. Tara Wilkins, Executive Director of the Community of Welcoming Congregations and chief organizer of the event. "We feel that regardless of one's sexual orientation or gender identity, we are all children of the same Creator."

Each Equality Sabbath observance will reflect the unique traditions of the individual participating congregations. Some congregations will discuss equality in the context of a sermon, host adult education classes, table at a coffee hour or fellowship time, or make inclusive music selections.



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January 27 - Jesus came to announce that God is at hand, says Pope
Article: Roman Catholic Church And The Last Days

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The "Good News" that Jesus came to announce mean that "God, in Him, is at hand, that he already rules amongst us as demonstrated by the miracles and healing he performs." "Where Jesus arrives, the creative Spirit brings life and heals men from the illnesses of the body and of the spirit. God's lordship manifests itself through man's complete healing."

"My dear young friends," he added, "I know that you are committed to those of your age you who are suffering from war and poverty. Continue on the path that Jesus has shown us to build true peace! "

The 'Good News' that Jesus proclaimed is best encapsulated by these words: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Mt, 4:17; Mk, 1:15). What does this expression mean? It certainly does not mean an earthly kingdom, one found in space and time; instead, it announces that it is God who rules, that God is Lord and this Lordship is present, current and in the process of being realised. The newness of Christ's message is thus that in Him God is at hand, that he already rules amongst us as demonstrated by the miracles and healing he performs. God rules through his Son made man and the power of the Holy Spirit, called the "the finger of God" (cf Lk, 11:20). Where Jesus arrives, the creative Spirit brings life and heals men from the illnesses of the body and of the spirit. God's lordship manifests itself through man's complete healing. This way Jesus shows God's true face, God at hand; full of mercy for every human being; the God that gives us the gift of life in abundance, his own life. The Kingdom of God is therefore life that asserts itself over death, the light of truth that dissipates the darkness of ignorance and lies."



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NEWS ALERT - January 27 - Filipino priest's healing ministry under observation after two die
Article: Signs And Wonders

.- A priest's healing ministry in the Philippines that attracts thousands of people will continue to be monitored following two deaths at a crowded healing service, said a senior official of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), the Sun Star reports.

Father Fernando Suarez, a 41-year-old member of the Companions of the Cross, has been holding popular healing services in both the United States and the Philippines. He left the Philippines for Canada in 1995, and was ordained a priest in 2002.

ABS-CBN News reported two people died at a Saturday service held by Father Suarez in Olongapo City that attracted a crowd of 10,000. One of them suffered a heart attack from the press off the crowd and later died. In addition, several people collapsed from the intense heat. Some blamed the deaths on the lack of security measures at the event.

The Philippines bishops' conference Public Affairs head Bishop Deogracias Iniguez Jr. said the church would not stop people from attending the priest's healing Masses. The bishop apparently acknowledged the authenticity of Father Suarez's healing gifts.



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January 28 - Rick Warren: Mainline Church Problems Need Evangelical Solution
Article: Social Gospel

Comment from Understand The Times:
Rick Warren seems to indicate that his P.E.A.C. E. Plan can unite evangelical Christians with Mainline liberal Christians. Depending on the definition of "evangelical" Christian, this would be difficult. Bible believing evangelical Christians believe that Jesus Christ is God and Saviour and Lord. Liberal Christians do not believe in the authority of Scripture, nor do they believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
Warren's P.E.A.C.E. plan, plans to work with other religions as long as those of other religions have a common goal to do good. According to Jesus, you can't be good enough to go to heaven without accepting Him and the Plan of salvation. Therefore the P.E.A.C.E. and the Plan of Salvation are two different plans.

"The reconciliation is that in a pluralistic world.we (Christians) need to be on the same team because we share the same savior," Warren contended Sunday, as he spoke with the dean of the Washington National Cathedral, Samuel T. Lloyd III, who observed that evangelical churches are thriving and full of vitality, while most mainline denominations are confronting worrisome membership decline.
"100 years ago the phrase 'social gospel' first came out," Warren responded. "Some people took that to mean only if we reform the social government and society and not personal faith in Christ Jesus - that is, if we make the world a better place - we don't need personal redemption." That idea led to mainline churches going "one way" and evangelical churches another way, he said.

In general, mainline churches focused on social morality such as fighting poverty, racism and economic justice. Meanwhile, evangelical churches concentrated on personal morality such as personal salvation, fighting pornography, and upholding family values.

"Who's right? The fact is both are right," Warren emphasized. "Somehow we got divided like Jesus didn't care about society or members of society didn't need Jesus. I think we need both."

"You can't just love your neighbor; you got to love God," Warren said. "And you can't just love God; you have to love your neighbors. And mainline protestant and evangelical - we need both wings."

Other points in Warren's talk Sunday included his global P.E.A.C.E. Plan and his belief in the need for a second reformation - one where Christians change their behavior to reflect what they claim to believe in.



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January 16 - Everything Hasn't Changed
Article: Misc.

In Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope (Thomas Nelson), Brian McLaren-one of the two or three most influential figures in the "emergent" movement-pursues a similar project, though one even more ambitious than Lakoff's. McLaren attempts nothing less than a reframing of what Jesus taught and what it means to follow him on the Way.

McLaren contrasts what he calls "conventional" frames ("frequently defined as 'orthodoxy,'" he writes) with "emerging" frames. So, for example, in the emerging view, "Jesus came to become the Savior of the world, meaning he came to save the earth and all it contains from its ongoing destruction because of human evil."

McLaren intends to correct an overemphasis on Last Things in the "conventional" view of salvation. Instead, he stresses "the privilege of participating in [Jesus'] ongoing work of personal and global transformation and liberation from evil and injustice."

McLaren sets this discussion in the context of an apocalyptic global crisis. Whereas Lakoff writes with urgency inspired by what he sees as a "radical revolution" brought about by American conservatives, McLaren speaks of our global civilization as a "suicide machine."



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January 28 - Atlanta meeting unique enough to prompt real change, Baptists say
Article: Social Gospel

NEW YORK (ABP) -- The Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant meeting will feature some notable guests: Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, Tony Campolo and John Grisham, to name a few. But after the star-studded dust settles, what will emerge from the convocation?

Some say it's too soon to tell what exactly will come of the gathering, scheduled for Jan. 30-Feb. 1 in Atlanta. Organizers hope it will improve Baptists' image and unite them in a new wave of social activism. Others wonder whether it will lead denominational bodies to work closer together or urge grassroots entities to band together -- or both.

"My feeling is that we're taking the best people we know, the people in the trenches . and trying to connect that up and let that flow," Jimmy Allen, a former Southern Baptist Convention president, said. "And then our task is to find out what we have and to keep it moving."

"It's not just about making connections, it's about finding people" who share the same vision and goals," said Garland, who will speak in a session on breaking the cycle of poverty. "This event is asking, 'Where are we going as Baptists?'"

According to Allen, leaders have invited experts in fields like theology, law and politics so that they'll disseminate best practices and network with their Baptist colleagues.

"Yes, we've been shooting at one another for years," she said. "And instead here is a time when a time when we're saying, 'How many Baptists of different stripes and spots can we gather together to talk about what Jesus called us to do, which is to bind up the broken-hearted and set captives free and seek social justice and respond to issues of global poverty?'"



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January 25 - A Warm Protestant Welcome for Mary
Article:Ecumenical Movement - Protestants Uniting With Roman Catholics

Today, more and more Protestants are welcoming Mary back into their spiritual lives. Several new books by Protestant authors have spurred new interest in the Virgin Mother. And a joint Anglican-Catholic commission recently announced a landmark accord on Mary that could help bridge the gap between the two denominations. Mary's story, says Beverly Gaventa, a New Testament scholar at Princeton University and the coeditor of the book Blessed One: Protestant Perspectives on Mary, "is a wonderful example of divine grace that Protestants have neglected. It was seen as Catholic territory, but now the lines between denominations are dropping."
Like many Protestants, Norris says she learned next to nothing about Mary from her Methodist and Congregational upbringing, but after spending time in Benedictine monasteries she grew to identify with her. "Like Mary, I am invited each day to bring Christ into the world in my prayers, thoughts, and actions," she says.

Princeton theologian Robert Jenson, coeditor of the book Mary: Mother of God, says that the doctrinaire Lutheran pastor of his boyhood-who also happened to be his father-would have been appalled by his recommendation to pray to Mary. But for Jenson, appealing to Mary is not an insult to Jesus or God; it is much the same as prayerfully invoking the name of a deceased friend or relative.



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January 29 - President: World has not witnessed crimes bigger than Zionists'
Article: Wars And Rumors Of Wars

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in the whole history nobody has witnessed crimes like the ones committed by the Zionist regime against the Palestinian.

Speaking in a ceremony dubbed as "Appreciating the servants of the martyrs", the president said, "The Zionist regime in the past 60 years has surrounded people in their houses and has killed kids and adults in the name of fight against terrorism."
All who want to impose themselves by force have reached to their end and human beings will not accept their logic
, Ahmadinejad continued.

He concluded, "We must be patient and insist on our principles, so by God's help this puppet regime will collapse."



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January 29 - City Pastors Switch Pulpits for Solitude, Renewal
Article: Social Gospel

MT. BETHEL, Pa. - When city folk want a refuge from the hustle and bustle of the city and the laundry list of demands from daily life they come to the quiet hills of Pennsylvania. For New York pastors, finding renewal is also as simple as going back to the basics.

"Silence and solitude are the two most difficult spiritual disciplines in the West," Pete Scazerro, author of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, told a crowd of 300 New York church leaders who kicked off their annual prayer retreat at Mt. Bethel, Pa., on Monday.

"We're not a reflective people, we are a doing," said Scazerro to the church leaders. "But unless we get to God, we cannot send a life raft to our church."

"It's a time of profound spiritual renewal for leaders who have extraordinary responsibilities," Mac Pier, president of COPGNY, told The Christian Post.

COPGNY seeks "to gather leaders in an upper room prayer experience with Jesus," said Pier, who has been involved with the organization in New York City since 1991.



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January 30 - 'We are approaching a nuclear peak'
Article: Wars And Rumors Of Wars

Iran is approaching a new "nuclear peak," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday but did not specify what kind of peek he might be referring to.
He also urged Western powers to help build nuclear power plants in his country, saying it would be "too late" if they did not decide to do so immediately, Iranian state television reported.

Speaking to a crowd on a visit to the southern port of Bushehr, where Iran's first light-water nuclear power plant is being built by Russia, Ahmadinejad urged other countries to participate as well.

"If you will not come, this nation will build nuclear plants based on its own resources and when you come some four years later it will reject your request and then not give you any opportunity," he said in a live television speech.

"I am addressing leaders of two or three powers; do you remember I sent you a message and told you to stop being stubborn? If you think that you can block the progress of the Iranian nation, you are wrong."



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January 28 - WEF meeting closes with call for collaborative leadership
Article: One World Government

THE WORLD Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2008 closed today with a call by business, government and civil society leaders for a new brand of collaborative and innovative leadership to address the challenges of globalisation, particularly the pressing problems of conflict - especially in the Middle East, terrorism, climate change and water conservation.
"Globalisation is forcing changes in how people collaborate in a fundamental way," said former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. "Globalisation is not going to go away - the question is what kind of globalisation do we have," said Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA).
According to Indra K Nooyi, chairman and chief executive officer of PepsiCo and an annual meeting co-chair, companies today have to be engaged in society, particularly on environmental issues. It is critical to running a business. Companies "really do believe we should be good corporate citizens," asserted another co-chair, James Dimon, chairman and chief executive officer of international banking group JP Morgan Chase & Co.
Panelists also expressed hope that a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be reached by the end of 2008. "I am confident that we will have a resolution this year," said Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, who is Professor in the Humanities at Boston University.


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January 25 - Devotion to Her has long been a Controversial Affair
Article: Roman Catholic Church And The Last Days

The Virgin Mary attained cult status in the earliest centuries of the fledgling Christian church. And despite a concerted effort begun by the Vatican 40 years ago to de-emphasize her, the mother of Jesus remains a powerful, albeit polarizing, force within the Catholic Church. The church's liberal wing claims the Mary cult is an unnecessary anachronism. Others-mainly conservative Catholics-argue that Mary is as popular as ever and want her reinstated as the Queen of Heaven.

"Ancient people needed a feminine figure in their worship," Boss says. "They were used to having goddesses." Moreover, virgin births of gods figured prominently in many ancient myths. And pioneering Christians often piggybacked on paganism to speed conversion. They built churches where pagan temples once stood and often proclaimed holy days that coincided with past pagan celebrations. Marian devotion went into overdrive in the Roman west in 431, after the Council of Ephesus agreed that Mary should be called Theotokos (Mother of God) rather than Christotokos (Mother of Christ). To be sure, there were dissenters who considered the title blasphemous. Nestorius, an early leader of the church in Constantinople, protested that God has always been, so he couldn't have a human mother.


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January 30 - Ahmadinejad: Israel has reached its 'final stage'
Article: Wars And Rumors Of Wars

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that the State of Israel, established 60 years ago this year, has reached the "final stage" before its destruction. And he called on the West to accept the fact of the Jewish state's "imminent collapse."

Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly threatened Israel with destruction, chose to make his comments while touring the town of Bushehr, where Russia is currently constructing a nuclear reactor for Iran.

Earlier this week Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak publicly aired his belief that the Iranians are already working to build nuclear warheads for the surface-to- surface missiles.

"What we have right now is the last chapter, which the Palestinians and regional nations will confront and eventually turn in Palestine's favor," the Iranian leader said in a nationally televised message.



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January 30 - United Church of Christ Seeks to End Feud with Scientists
Article: Misc.

The United Church of Christ announced Tuesday the launch of its new web-based advertising campaign to reach out to scientists to end the age- old rift between the religious and scientific community.
Efforts toward reconciliation include the purchase of ads on more than 30 popular science-oriented blogs for the month of February. The ads aim to promote both a pro-science, pro-faith message.

"Our hope is to begin to move the church to the place where its public image, public witness and public identity is one of a community of faith that is eager to engage science and to welcome and honor scientists," said the Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president, in a statement.

The 1.2 million-member UCC said the science campaign is part of its "God is still speaking" initiative, which seeks to reach out to groups of people that have been marginalized by the church, either intentionally or unintentionally.



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January 30 - Rick Warren Challenges N.Y. Pastors with Purpose Strategy
Article:One World Religion

MT. BETHEL, Pa. - The California pastor who has helped churches worldwide increase attendance by leaps and bounds through his "purpose driven" phenomena now has his eye on New York City.
Speaking at the 17th annual Pastors' Prayer Summit in Pennsylvania Tuesday, Rev. Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, asked for the collaboration of 300 pastors and church leaders from the Greater New York area in launching a region-wide 40 Days of Purpose campaign. "One drop of rain is worthless - it can't do anything. But a thousand drops of rain and a million and a billion drops of rain can turn a desert into a forest," said Warren.

Some pastors who listened to Warren's pitch were hopeful that the purpose driven campaign could be the gateway to the unity they have been longing for. "It would help people see unity [among the churches]. They hear about it, talk about it, but they have never seen it," said Trevor Rankine, pastor of World Harvest Deliverance Church in Queens, during a regional breakout session at the retreat.



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January 31 - Baptists Mike Huckabee, Rick Warren to speak at preaching conference
Article: Misc.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (ABP) -- Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and best-selling author Rick Warren, both ordained Southern Baptist pastors, will speak about how to use the pulpit to address political, social and cultural issues at a preaching conference in April.

The two men will be the main draw of a 19th annual national conference on preaching hosted by Preaching Magazine and preaching.com. The event will be April 7-9 in Washington, D.C.

Warren has set a precedent for using his pulpit to speak about global warming and HIV/AIDS and has invited several prominent political figures -- including presidential contenders Senators Barack Obama (D- Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) -- to speak in his church.

Huckabee, in the middle of a campaign to win the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, is a good example of someone who has connected the pulpit with politics, Michael Duduit, editor of Preaching Magazine, said.

"We recognize that lots can happen between now and April 7 due to campaign demands, but we are hopeful he'll be able to keep this on his schedule as a unique opportunity to speak to fellow preachers gathered in the nation's capital," Duduit said in a news release about the event.



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February 1 - Canada to become next OPEC
Article: Misc.

The United States' oil dependence on Canada, already America's largest supplier, is about to grow under a plan to build a new pipeline to transport oil from the tar sands of Alberta into the central part of the nation.

TransCanada Corporation, a public company traded on the New York Stock Exchange, has announced the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline has been given a final Environmental Impact Statement approval from the U.S. Department of State because of the limited adverse environmental impacts that are expected.

Now that the EIS is finished, TransCanada expects to receive authorization soon to begin the construction and operation of the pipeline at the U.S./Canada border crossing.



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February 1 - Al Gore's Green Message Resonates with Baptists
Article: Social Gospel

Former Vice President Al Gore found a responsive crowd among thousands of Baptists when he brought his green message to Atlanta Thursday.
Speaking to nearly 2,500 Baptists at a luncheon during a wider Baptist gathering, Gore, a Baptist, challenged them to face the very real moral crisis of global warming and appealed to save God's creation.

"He decried religious leaders who rejected global warming as a real crisis and urged the Baptist crowd to spread the message of the dangers of climate change.

"We who are Baptists are not going to tolerate heaping contempt on God's creation," said Gore, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change. "It's up to us to send that message, as Christians, as Baptists, as Americans."

His green message came in the middle of a broad Baptist meeting which has drawn Baptists from over 30 organizations representing 20 million Baptists throughout North America. The "Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant" is spearheaded by former President Jimmy Carter and aims at ending internal divisions and creating cooperation among Baptists around social causes.



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February 2 - Church dropouts a worry
Article: Signs Of The Last Times

American church leaders fear that the next generation of church members and leaders may be a no-show.

A variety of polls suggest that 60 percent to 70 percent of high school students active in their Protestant churches drop out after graduation. Traditional wisdom says they will be back when they are older and raising their own families, but even that is uncertain.

Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, has said that the dropout rate is growing among both public and Christian school graduates. He said churches have failed to relate to these students, or to be relevant to them.

The Rev. Alex Himaya, pastor of the Church at Battlecreek, said young Americans increasingly view church as judgmental, irrelevant and homophobic.

Tulsa college students in an informal poll said
many of their peers find church boring, repetitive and irrelevant to their lives.



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February 2 - Federal judge bows to homosexual demands in Oregon
Article: Signs Of The Last Times

PORTLAND, Ore. - A state law allowing homosexual couples to register as domestic partners belatedly took effect Friday after a federal judge ruled the state's process of disqualifying petition signatures was consistent enough to be valid.

The state quickly announced that the domestic partnership applications were available online, and jubilant gay-rights activists predicted hundreds of couples would line up on Monday morning at county offices to register.

The petitions fell 96 signatures short of the 55,179 needed to refer the law to the November 2008 ballot. The petitioners claim that county clerks rejected signatures improperly.

But Mosman said signatures on a petition amounted to, "a call for an election, not a substitution for an election."



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High-level UN official supports document calling for elimination of Zionism
Article: Israel And The Last Days

The head of a pro-Israel ministry says it's absolutely reprehensible that a high-level U.N. official would throw her support behind a major Arab document that commits to the elimination of Zionism. &n bsp;
According to the Canadian National Post, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Louise Arbour -- a Canadian -- endorsed the Arab Charter on Human Rights earlier this month. But the wording of that charter has incensed a number of critics, including U.N. Watch, which has asked for a clarification on an inflammatory statement which says "all forms of racism, Zionism and foreign occupation and domination" should be "condemned and efforts must be deployed for their elimination."

Jan Markell, founder and director of Olive Tree Ministries, says the Arab document is a complete distortion of what Zionism really means. "Zionism is simply the movement for the Jewish self-determination that asserts the inherent and international acknowledged right for Israel to exist," describes Markell. "So they're off on [a] totally wrong premise ... that Zionism equals racism."


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February 2 - Peace agreement in Middle East possible within year: Blair
Article: Israel And The Last Days

London, Feb 2: The Middle East Quartet's special envoy Tony Blair thinks a peace agreement in the Middle East is possible by the end of the year, according to an interview published by The Times Saturday.
"This is a deal that could definitely be done, and it could definitely be done this year," the former British prime minister told the paper.

The most important thing, according to Blair, was to answer the question whether the Middle East was to become a moderate and modern region or one dominated by "a particular and exclusive and wrong-headed view of Islam and a major threat." "There is nothing more important to world peace than resolving this question," he said.

Blair said he trusted in the
peace efforts made by the US. "The American engagement in this has altered significantly both in quality and quantity in the past two months, there is no doubt about that," Blair said.


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NEWS ALERT - February 2 - Archbishop bans Suarez's healing sessions in Pangasinan
Article: Roman Catholic Church And The Last Days

Comment from Understand The Times:
Just a little over one week ago, I was in Antipolo City in the Philippines attending a "healing mass" with Saurez. I narrowly avoided being trampled as I made my way into the Catholic Church to get close up video of the priest dressed in white, just like Benny Hinn. The people were hysterical trying to get into the church through the gates that barred the doorways.
Saurez was holding a monstrance claiming that it was the Eucharistic Jesus that was healing. While people that I interviewed claimed they had been healed, there was no evidence. People were lying dying on stretchers. We prayed with several who were conscious. Saurez apparently was not interested in the terminally ill.
Two days later in another location in the Philippines, several people died who had come to the healing meetings. It is obvious that the healing priest chose the Philippines for his show. However, I will predict that this circus will not be over. Others like Saurez will demonstrate that there is "healing power" in the Eucharistic Christ.
Saurez plans to build a shrine in the Philippines where he is raising funds to build a giant statue of the "Queen of Heaven" surrounded by shrines where people can come and be healed by the Eucharistic Jesus. The Queen of Heaven, who Roman Catholics call "Mary" the mother of Jesus, claims that she is the mother of the Eucharistic Jesus, who is the one who is healing.

All of this can be understood in light of the warning that Jesus proclaimed in Matthew chapter 24 regarding false christs appearing demonstrating lying signs and wonders.
As an aside, Pastor Rick Warren claims that when Jesus was asked about the signs of the last times, Jesus said: "When the disciples wanted to talk about prophecy, Jesus quickly switched the conversation to evangelism. He wanted them to concentrate on their mission to the world. He said in essence, "The details of my return are none of your business." Purpose Driven Life, pages 285, 286.
Perhaps Pastor Rick will have to consider working together with the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines to establish his P.E.A.C.E. plan.

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DAGUPAN CITY, Pangasinan -- Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz on Saturday said he will stop Fr. Fernando Suarez, known in the country as the "healing priest," the next time he visits Pangasinan and tries to conduct healing masses in his archdiocese. Cruz, whose archdiocese covers 26 parishes in central Pangasinan, said too many questions hound Suarez's "miraculous healing."

"There's no problem that some people are gifted to cure as practically all saints have done this during their lives," Cruz said. But he said with Suarez's popularity now, his healing masses are "open to abuses, like superstition, hysteria, fanaticism, and money."

"There is already a question of hysteria, not to mention credulity [among the people]," Cruz said. "It is too much to say that Father Suarez resurrects the dead."

"But the biggest question is the money. He is selling rosaries and other religious articles that have healing powers kuno (supposedly)," he said. Cruz said even in Canada, the bishop of the diocese where Suarez belongs had banned Suarez from holding healing masses because of the sale of religious articles supposedly with healing powers.

According to reports, the Mary Mother of the Poor Foundation, which Suarez heads, is building the Montemaria shrine in Batangas City. The centerpiece is the 33- story-high statue of Mary Mother of the Poor.

He said Suarez could hold healing Masses freely in Metro Manila and Batangas because the bishops there allowed him to do so. "They believe in him. And that's okay," he said. But Cruz said he wished Suarez well. "I hope he really cures -- and I want that very clear -- and cures as many [sick people] as possible, especially in this country where medicines, seeing a doctor, and hospitalization are very expensive," he said.



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February 1 - Leader urges evangelicals to heal the world
Article: Emerging Church

McLaren takes his message to Charlotte this weekend for a series of talks -- including one in which he'll engage in a "trialogue" with some Muslims, Jews and Christians. The Observer recently talked to McLaren by phone. Here's an edited transcript.

Q: You want Christians to focus less on getting themselves and others "saved" and up to heaven and focus more on healing the hurts of today's world. So when Jesus said, "As the father sent me, so I send you," he was talking not about conversions but about tackling the world's problems?

A: Actually, I would put the two together. If we keep recruiting people to evacuate the Earth, then every person who gets saved is taken out of the action.

Q: Poverty, which Jesus talked a lot about, is still with us. But a lot of Christians today want to talk more about other things: homosexuality, abortion, evolution. Why?



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February 2 - Baptist reach for common cause
Article: Ecumenical Movement - Misc.

"We respect that we have differences, and I think that we're willing to find common cause, even though we have those differences," said Daniel Vestal, the coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a moderate Baptist group.

But the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant, a three-day gathering of some 10,000 Baptists that ended yesterday, is also testing the limits of that big-tent diversity. Some are asking how far Baptists are willing to go without going too far.

"This is just a first step, and we've got a long way to go to become a community that overcomes all the divisions that the culture has imposed upon us," said author Tony Campolo, professor emeritus of Eastern University. "And that's one of the great challenges, and we hope that this new covenant is going to move in the direction of reaching that end."

Campolo, a sociologist, scanned the crowd at the Georgia World Congress Center on Thursday morning and pegged it as 90 percent white. Around his neck, he wore a brightly colored stole to show solidarity with gay and lesbian Baptists.



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January 31 - WCC leader and Pope seek dialogue and cooperation
Article: One World Religion

For the first time, a general secretary of the World Council of Churches has taken part with a pope in a Rome service to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which ended last week, recalling the centenary of this initiative born in the United States in 1908.

"I want to assure you of our commitment to continue our co-operation in the best possible way," said WCC general secretary the Rev Dr Samuel Kobia.

Underlining that "the world needs a church that is one and united in its witness," Kobia referred to the unrest in his home country which has led to more than 800 deaths. "The common witness of the churches for reconciliation and healing of the nation is crucial for peace in Kenya," the WCC general secretary stated.



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Febuary 2 - Bill Clinton calls for Baptist unity
Article: Ecumenical Movement - Misc.

According to the Religion News Service, Clinton told the delegates that there must be a renewed push to heal ideological splits with more conservative Baptists. "We have to meet this schism with respectful disagreement. "We must approach those who disagree with an outstretched hand, not a clenched fist."
The three day meeting...called a "Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant"... was organized by former President Jimmy Carter and was largely boycotted by conservative Southern Baptists. One SBC spokesman had called it a Democratic party prayer meeting because of the high profile given Democrat speakers. The day before the Clinton address, former Vice-President Al Gore was given the platform to sell his global warming campaign.
The meeting also heard from well-known author, John Grisham. Baptist Press reports he criticized the Southern Baptist church where he grew up for teaching that the Bible is the infallible, inerrant Word of God. According to the BP article, Grisham called churches holding such beliefs intolerant and harmful to the cause of Christ." The church was proudly intolerant of other people, other denominations, other religions," Grisham said. "Sadly, in many ways and in many places, that church still exists today."


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January 31 - Carter Launches Bold Baptist Movement to End Factions
Article: Ecumenical Movement - Misc.

Thousands of Baptists - black, white, theologically conservative, moderate, Republican and Democrat - opened on Wednesday a historic meeting that former president Jimmy Carter called "the most momentous event" of his religious life.
The gathering is billed as the broadest of its kind among Baptists across North America since they split over slavery in 1845. The cause is unity across racial, theological and political lines and an end to their internal divisions.

"For the first time in more than 160 years, we are convening a major gathering of Baptists throughout an entire continent, without any threat to our unity caused by differences of our race or politics or geography or the legalistic interpretation of Scripture," said Carter, 84, who spearheaded the new movement.



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February 3 - Pope rewrites prayer following Jewish protest
Article: Ecumenical Movement - Misc.

LONDON - Jewish leaders have welcomed Pope Benedict XVI's decision to reformulate the Catholic Church's traditional Good Friday prayers.

The removal of references to the "darkness" and "blindness" of the Jews for their refusal to recognize Jesus as the messiah was a sign the pope was "deeply committed to advancing the relationship with the Jewish Community," Rabbi David Rosen, chairman of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, told The Jerusalem Post.

The new text will drop all reference to the "blindness" of the Jews, Milan's Il Giornale newspaper reported on January 18. The pope has prepared a draft version of the new prayer, which will be released in time for Holy Week celebrations in March, the report said.

The Latin prayers for Good Friday ask Catholics to "pray also for the Jews that the Lord our God may take the veil from their hearts and that they also may acknowledge Our Lord Jesus Christ," and ask God not to "refuse your mercy even to the Jews; hear the prayers which we offer for the blindness of that people so that they may acknowledge the light of your truth, which is Christ, and be delivered from their darkness."



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