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The Briefing

Imprisoned pastor freed
After two years of detention in Turkey, Andrew Brunson touched down on U.S. soil Oct. 13. Brunson was released after a 2- year incarceration stemming from disputed charges that could have led to life imprisonment. Although Turkey did not proclaim the North Carolina native innocent, a court in Aliaga released Brunson Oct. 12.

On his way home to North Carolina, Brunson stopped in Washington, D.C., where he met with President Donald Trump and prayed for him, The Christian Post reported.

Hurricane Michael hits churches ‘like a bomb’
Hurricane Michael damaged at least 50 Southern Baptist church buildings in Florida and Georgia, according to initial estimates. Despite the carnage, churches in Panama City and beyond held Sunday morning services just four days after Michael made landfall. In addition, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) teams from nearby states set up a kitchen and began serving meals to the community over the weekend in partnership with American Red Cross.

Message author enters hospice care
Eugene Peterson, the theologian and author best known for The Message translation of the Bible, is receiving hospice care, his family shared over the weekend. Many Christian leaders responded to the announcement by remembering Peterson’s influence and asking for prayer on his behalf. “Let’s everyone of us who have benefited much from this great man’s writing all stop and pray for him right now,” Ethics and Religious Liberty President Russell Moore said on Twitter. “And then let’s thank God for the model of a long obedience in the right direction.”

Canada considers euthanizing children
Doctors from a Toronto children’s hospital recently published policies on physician-assisted suicide for children. The policy, written at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, outlines the hospital’s decisions on which children would be euthanized under Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) law. The policy also reveals that in some cases, parents won’t be notified until after the child has died.

Seven traits of a healthy church leader
Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay, lists embracing change as one seven traits exhibited by healthy church leaders.

Sources: Baptist Press, Christian Post, Christianity Today

 

The Briefing

Greear: Catholic abuse report requires ‘bold steps’
A Pennsylvania grand jury’s report alleging unprecedented levels of sexual abuse and cover-up by Roman Catholic clergy has drawn reaction from Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear, who said Southern Baptists should respond to the report by taking “bold steps” to eradicate sexual abuse “from within our community.”

Christian college drops sex standards in law school bid
Trinity Western University (TWU) dropped its controversial community covenant after Canada’s Supreme Court ruled against what would have been the country’s first Christian law school. TWU’s quest to open a law school stalled in court for years after several law societies refused to accredit would-be graduates due to TWU’s covenant prohibiting sex outside of traditional marriage. On August 16, TWU’s board of governors decided to drop the covenant altogether.

White House rejects trade offer to release Brunson
The Trump administration has rejected an offer by Turkey to release U.S. pastor, Andrew Brunson, in exchange for the United States’ forgiveness of billions of dollars of fines. Turkey offered to release Brunson if the U.S. drops its investigation in Halkbank (formerly known as Turkiye Halk Bankasi), which faces fines for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Poll: Leave animals how God designed – except mosquitoes
A new survey released by the Pew Research Center finds seven in 10 Americans support genetically engineering mosquitoes to limit their reproduction. Evangelicals were equally supportive (69%). But when it came to using biotechnology on other animals, they were more reluctant than the general public.

Tim Tebow to produce upcoming film
Tim Tebow—the Heisman Trophy winner, football and baseball player, and television broadcaster—is now adding movie producer to his list of resumes. Tebow and his brother Robby are executive producers of an upcoming faith-based film, “Run the Race.” The fictional story tells of two brothers and high school athletes who see their relationship tested when they seek different paths. A release date has not yet been set for the film, which is in post-production.

Sources: Baptist Press (2), Christianity Today (2), Christian Post

The Briefing

Ken Hemphill to be SBC president nominee
Ken Hemphill, an administrator at North Greenville University and a former Southern Baptist Convention seminary president, will be nominated for SBC president, a coalition of Southern Baptists announced. Hemphill was president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1994-2003 and national strategist from 2003-11 for the SBC’s Empowering Kingdom Growth (EKG) emphasis, an initiative launched in 2002 calling Southern Baptists to renewed passion for God’s Kingdom.

More ‘nones’ heading back to church
About 6 in 10 people who identify their religion as “nothing in particular” stayed that way over the years, while the rest made a switch. About half of the defectors moved away from traditional faith to atheism and agnosticism (20%), while almost as many moved in the other direction and returned to the church (17.3%). Of the 2010 nones, 13.3 percent became Protestant, and 4 percent became Catholic.

After ’08 tornado, Union “united as never before”
At the 10-year point since a tornado devastated the campus, Union University marked the anniversary with a day of activities Feb. 2 featuring former administrators, students and others closely involved with the event. Former Union President David S. Dockery, in a Founders’ Day chapel address, spoke on providence, hope and unity the university experienced from the Feb. 5, 2008, tornado.

Ontario deals blow to religious freedom
Physicians in Ontario who object to performing abortions or euthanasia on moral or religious grounds must refer patients who request those procedures to another willing doctor, the Ontario Superior Court ruled. A group of Christian doctors and professional organizations said the policy infringes on rights to freedom of religion and conscience guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Ontario Superior Court justices said, while the policy does violate physicians’ rights to religious freedom, such limits are justified when weighed in balance with the need to ensure access to care for vulnerable patients.

Plan hatched to save Zimbabwe seminary
A Southern Baptist missionary from Kentucky is hatching a plan to help pastors in Zimbabwe get the training they need to lead a new generation of Christians. Nick Moore, who serves as a professor at the Baptist Theological Seminary of Zimbabwe, said few pastors can afford to attend Bible classes. But with help through the Cooperative Program, and a few local laborers, Moore has started building chicken houses as part of a community development project.

US Judge blocks deportation of Indonesian Christians
A federal judge blocked the deportation of 50 Indonesian Christians who have been living illegally in New Hampshire. The group includes people who fled violence in their country two decades ago and had been living openly for years under an informal deal with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Judge Patti Saris in Boston ruled ICE cannot move forward with deportation until the Indonesians have a chance to make their cases for legal residence by arguing they would face persecution or violence if sent back.

Sources: Time Magazine, Christianity Today, BP News (3), The Christian Post

The Briefing

Supreme Court: Christian baker vs gay weddings
The case of a Christian baker in Colorado who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding gets its big day in court December 5. Advocates on both sides anticipate the case will set a nationwide precedent for whether the government can require businesses, organizations, and individuals to act against their own sincerely held religious beliefs—particularly following the legalization of same-sex marriage and equal rights granted to LGBT Americans.

Canadian Christian law school pleads case to court
The Canadian Supreme Court began hearing a high-profile religious freedom case on December 5 that will determine the fate of an evangelical law school in suburban Vancouver. Trinity Western University’s plans to launch a law program—a first for a Christian institution in Canada—were stalled for four years, as the school faced legal challenges over its campus covenant, which bars sexual activity outside of traditional marriage.

Fight not over to stop taxpayer-funded abortions in Illinois
Opponents of Illinois law HB40, which would allow state funding of abortion on demand for state employees and Medicaid recipients, have filed suit on behalf of pro-life organizations. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the law earlier this year, and the Thomas More Society filed suit last week.

Pence, Iraqi archbishop discuss aid to Christians
Vice President Mike Pence met with a leading Chaldean Archbishop to discuss how the U.S. government can best help the Iraqi Christian community in the aftermath of attackes by the Islamic State. Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil Bashar Warda oversees the archdiocese that has sheltered and aided thousands of Christians forced to flee their home three years ago. Iraqi Christians have been begging for funding to not only provide humanitarian assistance but also reconstruction aid. There are as many as 20,000 Christian families still in need of help to return home.

Egypt churches get permission to build after 20 years
Authorities in southern Egypt have allowed 21 churches to expand and rebuild, after a wait of about two decades. Some attribute this gesture to Vice President’s Mike Pence scheduled visit to the country later this month. The Minya Governor has approved 21 applications of churches in rural Minya governorate over the last six months. A local source was quoted as saying that Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is keen to “show the U.S. that Egypt is standing with the Christians and that there is no persecution in Minya governorate.”

Sources: Christianity Today (2), World Magazine, IB2news,  The Christian Post (2)