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All news in March 2018

March 2018
News > Church news

Faithful ministry

Evangelical churches in the UK currently face the challenge of maintaining gospel proclamation, as well as defending scriptural principles and teaching against attacks from all sides. According to evangelical organisations and gospel partnerships, traditional, Bible-believing congregations across the UK are not just facing the ongoing challenge ‘to do the work of an evangelist’, but also to be wise apologists and defenders of the faith, and to take a principled stand against counter-biblical policy. With increasing pressure, politically and socially, clamping down on Christianity, coupled with the rising influence of Islam and the lack of solid biblical teaching, sadly in many churches, Bible-believing churches must rise...

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March 2018
News > Society

British pensioners face starvation and loneliness

With approximately one million pensioners isolated from human company, a new government minister might help provide support for later life services. Labour MP Frank Field has revealed as many as one million older people are starving in their homes because of loneliness and isolation. His recent report to Parliament cites a woman in her 80s whose husband went into a care home with dementia. The district nurse who’d been visiting her husband to help with food stopped coming and, with no one else visiting, the woman did not eat a proper meal for nine weeks. She went unnoticed until a neighbour came two months later....

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March 2018
News > Induction

Induction – Otford welcomes new minister

On 27 January, approximately 250 people from 38 different churches and organisations met at St Nicholas Church, Sevenoaks, Kent, to celebrate the induction of Kevin Bracken as pastor of Otford Evangelical Free Church (OEFC) and give thanks to God. Rodney Lissenden, church secretary and a deacon of OEFC, introduced proceedings by thanking all the preachers who have faithfully supported the church during ten years without a pastor. Thanks were particularly given to Hayes Lane Baptist Church (HLBC), Bromley, for their ongoing support. Special gratitude was also expressed to St Nicholas Church for hosting the event (due to a lack of seating space at OEFC). Eddie...

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March 2018
News > Mission

Mission – Foundations laid at Fortrose

Fortrose Free Church has begun its long-awaited building project with the laying of its foundation. The new building, due for completion by this autumn, is expected to cost around £750,000, most of which has already been raised by the congregation themselves. To help reach their target, the congregation held an open day in December, with fellowship and food, raising £325. A carol service raised another £230. At the beginning of this month, the Sunday school baked and held a coffee afternoon, raising a further £306.50. This purpose-built church will replace the old one on the same site. The latter had been used for over a...

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March 2018
News > Mission

Mission – Glasgow church plant

In January 2018, Grace Baptist minister Daniel Funke and his wife Monet were sent as church planters to Govan in Glasgow, Scotland, where a Reformed Baptist church was threatened with closure. Starting again, the building provides a base to reach the 10,000 homes, for whose occupants this is the nearest evangelical church. The church meets 11.00am on Sundays. Daniel and Monet were commissioned by Grace Baptist Church, West Edinburgh, to lead this new congregation. They recently moved to Govan and are pleased to be involved in the life and work of this new church. After serving in the military, Mr Funke studied theology at Aberdeen...

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March 2018
News > Mission

Mission – CWI anniversary

Christian Witness to Israel (CWI), one of the oldest missions bringing the good news of Jesus to Jewish people, has marked its 175th anniversary. The special anniversary event, held at St Aldates in Oxford on 27 January, featured several of CWI’s international team of missionaries. These included Igal Vender, who works with Jewish homeless and drug addicts; and Aviel Sela, talking about his work with Holocaust survivors. They, and others, showed how their work is making a difference to the lives Jewish people. Rev. Joseph Steinberg, chief executive of CWI, stated: ‘For more than 175 years we in Christian Witness to Israel have remained resolute...

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March 2018
News > Mission

Mission – Riverboat launch for OM

Lelystad in the Netherlands witnessed the launch of Operation Mobilisation’s first riverboat, as it sailed to the Netherlands. The highly anticipated voyage was realised after more than two years of planning and groundwork, since mid-2015. Robert-Jan Sterk, project director of the Riverboat, has been working hard to realise the dream of a Riverboat ministry in OM and believes strongly in its mission. He said: ‘We are so thankful for the crew and staff onboard, which is made up of about 80 people — people who are passionate about Jesus and reaching out to others. We are seeing breakthroughs daily, and we are so excited about...

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March 2018
News > Mission

Mission – Binscombe challenge

How would you raise £100 in a month? Why would you bother? Members of Binscombe Church in Surrey have a good reason and some great ideas. They’re raising money for a new church building, fit for the purpose of reaching the local community with the gospel. Binscombe, just north of Godalming, is a housing estate with areas of severe deprivation that lacks community space where people can meet in a relaxed atmosphere. This is exactly what Binscombe Church provides and, in recent years, the church has increased the number of church and community activities to meet local needs. But there’s a problem: the current building,...

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March 2018
News > Mission

Mission – Ukraine mission

Earlier this year, the 23rd missionary conference of Hope to People was held in Rivne, Ukraine. The topic was the words of Paul, ‘So that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it’ (2 Timothy 4:17). Every day from 21-28 January, Christians who care about fulfilment of the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ, gathered at the Good Shepherd Community Biblical Missionary Church. At Sunday’s service, the ministers of both Good Shepherd Community (Rivne) and Source of Life (Zdolbuniv) churches preached on God’s view on mission. Conference delegates also listened to the testimonies of missionaries from Ukraine,...

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March 2018
News > Mission

Mission – Words for Life

Wycliffe has been exploring different ways to engage people from oral cultures with Scripture and stories from the Bible. The Bible translation organisation has been creating audio Bibles to help reach people groups through special media players, apps, the radio or online. Wycliffe has also been helping to foster Bible-listening groups, for people to hear the Word spoken in their own language, and creating songs based on Scripture for those people-groups for whom song forms an important part of their culture. According to a newsletter from Wycliffe, 160 million people are still waiting for the first verse of Scripture in their own language, while one...

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March 2018
News > Education

Education – Free Church bookstore closes

The Free Church of Scotland’s bookshop has closed its physical doors for the final time, as the denomination moves towards the provision of a new online book service. The decision to close the bookstore and move towards an online presence to increase the reach and impact of the Free Church book service was made during the last General Assembly. The closure will coincide with the retirement of Charles Douglas, who has managed the bookshop for the past 19 years. Mr Douglas said: ‘I’ve enjoyed my time at the bookshop and would like to thank everyone who has dropped in over the years. I’m looking forward...

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March 2018
News > Education

Education – Free Church School in Theology

The 66th Free Church School in Theology programme has been finalised for 2018. Speakers and subjects have now been chosen. They include Rev. E. Trevor Kirkland, speaking on ‘The Synod of Dort: causes and consequences’; Rev. William Macleod on ‘The work of Christ’ in Colossians 1:12-20; and Rev. Craig Dennison, on ‘Individual, leading personal types of Christ’. Rev. Dr Kevin Bidwell will also cover ‘What is driving identity ethics?’, while Rev. Maurice J. Roberts is to speak on ‘Personal piety in the ministry’. Also in the programme are daily prayer meetings, devotionals, book reviews and evening worship sessions. The Free Church School hopes to have...

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March 2018
News > Education

Education – Drag queen show for toddlers

Family Education Trust director Norman Wells has criticised an organisation that seeks to present the ‘fun’ of gender fluidity to toddlers, claiming this is desensitising children to their own identity. ‘Drag Queen Story Time’, supported by the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF), aims to ‘capture the imagination and fun of the gender fluidity of childhood, while giving children a glamorous, positive, and unabashedly queer role model. By providing spaces in which kids are able to see people who defy rigid gender restrictions, we allow them to imagine the world in which people can present as they wish’. The group, which conducts reading time and mini-dramas...

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March 2018
News > Ethics

Ethics – Freedom of conscience for medics

Medical professionals may be given freedom of conscience over ethical decisions, if a bill is passed into British law. Brought to ensure conscientious objection rights for all medical professionals, the Conscientious Objection (Medical Activities) Bill, sponsored by Baroness Nuala O’Loan, was debated in Parliament earlier this year. The bill aims to clarify the law to ensure conscience protections are in place for all medical professionals, to protect them from discrimination, enabling them to fully participate in their chosen professions and care for patients to the best of their ability. Under the existing law, some medical professionals are not protected from unjust discrimination. GPs, as well...

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March 2018
News > Ethics

Ethics – NHS gives men smear tests

Men who register with their GP as women are being routinely invited to breast cancer screenings and smear tests by the National Health Service. This is still the case, even if men have not had the operation to become a woman and therefore do not have a cervix that would require a smear test. Conversely, guidance for Public Health England says that women registered as men will not ordinarily be offered the tests, even if they have not undergone surgery and therefore still have a cervix that would need routine tests for cancer. As reported by the Christian Institute, the NHS position has been described...

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March 2018
News > Society

Society – Church statistics

Church attendance is continuing to fall, according to the latest UK church statistics from the Brierley Consultancy. UK Church Statistics No 3 2018 Edition presents a thorough survey of church membership, churches and congregations from all four UK countries, outlining the years between 2012 and 2017, and giving a forecast for 2022. According to the study, there were 50,500 churches in 2017, although only around 42,000 met in buildings erected for the purpose of church worship. The study found there were 257 denominations in the UK, less than the 290 listed in 2013; the report suggested the main decline in the number of denominations is...

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March 2018
News > Society

Society – Truth Project

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has set up a forum to help all victims and survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The Victims and Survivors Forum is open to all and aims to make it easier for people affected by abuse to engage with the forum, which has been created by the inquiry, to help people come forward with their views and experience. The Truth Project seeks to hear from people if an organisation failed to protect them from abuse or failed to respond appropriately to allegations. Once the inquiry can understand what happened in the past, the aim is to take steps to...

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March 2018
News > Society

Society – Sharia inequalities

Muslim women must be given more protection from sharia law, when it comes to family law and divorce, an independent review has found. The government’s independent review, Applying sharia law in England and Wales, has recommended changes to offer greater protection for Muslim women. One of the recommendations — which has been rejected by the Home Office — is to create an official regulatory body for ‘sharia courts’. The report proposes the creation of a regulatory body, similar to Ofsted, to enforce best practice among sharia courts, particularly with respect to the treatment of women. Although this proposal ought to bring better transparency and accountability...

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March 2018
News > Society

Society – Greek case

The case is Molla Sali v. Greece, an inheritance dispute. Ms Molla Sali inherited the entire estate of her husband when he died, under the terms of a will he had drawn up in accordance with Greek law. Two sisters of her husband are claiming that, since her husband was a Muslim, the inheritance should be allocated according to sharia law, adjudicated by the mufti. There are provisions for sharia law to be applied to Greek nationals who are Muslims. Mrs Williams comments that a ruling at this level — that sharia law can have supremacy over a member state’s domestic law — could have dire effects on the Council of...

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March 2018
News > Persecution

Persecution: China – Chinese churches demolished

Officials have demolished two church buildings in Shaanxi province and Christians are concerned about increasing pressure since Xi Jinping became president in 2013. On 27 December 2017, local authorities in Zhifang village in Lauyu district, demolished a church, after claiming that it was built on illegally occupied land. According to media reports, almost 100 local Christians protested, some chanting, ‘Freedom of belief’. Also, official documents proving the church, built in 1999, had approval to use the land were posted on social media. Authorities subsequently sent officials to apologise and discuss compensation. But, less than two weeks afterwards, on Tuesday 9 January, authorities used dynamite to...

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March 2018
News > Persecution

Persecution: UK – Christian teacher branded ‘radicalisation threat’

Bristol Employment Tribunal has heard the case of Christian teacher Bristol Employment Tribunal has heard the case of Christian teacher Svetlana Powell, who was dismissed from the T2 Apprenticeship Academy after she answered questions from students. Mrs Powell, who has taught for 17 years, was branded a ‘radicalisation threat’ and dismissed in July 2016, after a student asked for Mrs Powell’s personal view on homosexuality. Two days later, the government-funded Academy’s HR Officer, Stacy Preston, told Mrs Powell that she was fired for ‘gross misconduct’ with immediate effect. The full details reveal that the student who asked the question professes to be a Christian and...

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March 2018
News > Persecution

Persecution: UK – Ofsted calls out Christian Institute

Ofsted’s chief inspector of schools, Amanda Spielman, has berated traditional branches of the church and the Christian Institute, intimating these were ‘extremists’ who ‘pervert’ education. As reported in The Times, Ms Spielman gave a speech to Anglican school leaders, in which she said, ‘Rather than adopting a passive liberalism that says “Anything goes”, for fear of causing offence, school leaders should be promoting a muscular liberalism’. By this, she meant the most conservative voices in a particular faith should not be assumed to ‘speak for everyone’. Ms Spielman commented: ‘Imagine if people thought the Christian Institute was the sole voice of Anglicanism’. Responding to her...

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March 2018
News > International

International – Singaporean seminary

The new semester at Singapore’s Emmanuel Reformed Bible College (ERBC) started on 5 January, with approximately 50 pastors, lay leaders, students and church members from Life Bible-Presbyterian Church who attended. In a newsletter, dean of students Jack Sin commented: ‘We thank God for six new full-time students who joined the college, and many part time students — about 80, so far. One of the full-time students is from Singapore; the others are men from Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia, India and South Korea. Mr Sin asked for prayer for these men as they begin their theological training, and for the five second-year students, from Vietnam, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. He...

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March 2018
News > International

International – Former gymnast’s testimony

Rachael Denhollander, former gymnast and committed Christian, delivered a strong and clear testimony of God’s saving power while appearing in court. Ms Denhollander, who had been sexually abused by disgraced team USA gymnastics doctor Larry Nasser, was given 40 minutes to address the court and Nasser during his sentencing. Instead of using the time to berate her abuser, she preached a clear message of sin, the need to repent, and God’s wonderful grace. The full transcript is available on news channel CNN (turned at 25 minutes), when Ms Denhollander refers to Nasser’s earlier courtroom appearances, in which he brought his Bible and spoke about prayer....

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March 2018
News > International

International: Yemen – Children at risk

Thousands of Yemeni children have been killed or injured in the conflict with Saudi Arabia, children’s agency UNICEF has warned. According to aid organisations, war-torn, wracked by famine and disease, Yemen is enduring what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. In a recent UNICEF report, it said a further 400,000 children are severely malnourished and fighting for their lives. Three million children have been born into the war and are ‘scarred by years of violence, displacement, disease, poverty, undernutrition and a lack of access to basic services’. All in all, more than 11 million children, that is ‘nearly every child in Yemen’,...

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March 2018
News > International

International: Afghanistan – Taliban kill 40 in Kabul

More than 100 people have been killed and 150 wounded in a suicide bombing in the Afghan capital of Kabul in January. As reported in the London Evening Standard, the attacker is said to have used an ambulance to get through a security point, telling police he was taking a patient to a nearby hospital. The man then detonated explosives at a second check point, according to Afghanistan’s interior ministry. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, which sent thick, dark smoke into the sky from the site of the explosion near a former government building. Witnesses said that the area, near the offices...

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March 2018
News > International

International: Syria – Syrian perception

An independent delegation of politicians and religious leaders has visited conflict-ridden Syria to hear the views of local Syrian leaders. Last year, the delegation, which included Baroness Cox, Lord Hylton and Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, listened to what Syrians were thinking about their current conflict situation and what is needed to resolve it. Many at home and abroad are concerned that ‘moderate’ opposition fighters in Syria supported by Britain are, in fact, dominated by foreign Islamist militants, while sanctions from the West are strangling the country, especially with a lack of medical supplies. Jihadist groups have terrorised local Christians, defaced icons and statues...

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