Coming from a variety of denominations and faith traditions, 375 people attended “Heeding God’s Call: A Gathering on Peace,” a joint conference of Church of the Brethren, Mennonite Church USA, and Religious Society of Friends, held Jan. 13-17 in Philadelphia. The conference closed with a demonstration in front of a gun store. Two Mennonite demonstrators were arrested and charged with misdemeanors.
—Anna Groff, Meetinghouse
Calgary will host the third annual Cross the Street conference for equipping church leaders, staff, and lay people to share Christ’s message of love in their communities. The conference, to be held May 1–2 at Center Street Church, is organized by several ministries, including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada, ALPHA Canada, World Vision, Power to Change, and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.
InterVarsity press released the Global Dictionary of Theology in October, a unique project that presents not individual, unconnected articles, but pieces written in conversation with theologians around the world. Four MB Biblical Seminary professors and two alumni are among the 200 contributing authors drawn from a wide array of theological perspectives.
Walter and Elly Loewen donated 700 acres of Manitoba woodlands, fields, and peat bogs for Canadian Mennonite University’s Braintree Creation Care Centre. CMU has committed to keeping 80 percent of the land – a Nature Conservancy of Canada Priority Natural Area due to its concentration of threatened and rare species – in its original condition. The remaining 20 percent will be available for educational programs and other development.
Authorities in Burma (Myanmar) have increased restrictions on Christian activity in the capital city and surrounding areas. Orders issued Jan. 5 demanded Christians meeting in homes or apartments cease gathering for worship, threatening punishment, including jail terms, for pastors who refused to obey. Governed by a military dictatorship since 1962, the country’s population is 82 percent Buddhist, 9 percent Christian, 4 percent Muslim.
—Compass Direct News
The British Humanist Association began an advertising campaign with buses carrying the slogan, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Following suit, the Freethought Association of Canada is coordinating a campaign to bring the ads to Toronto and Calgary. Transit officials in Halifax and Vancouver have rejected humanist organizations’ advertisements reading “You can be good without God.”
Surpassing a goal set 10 years earlier, Microcredit Summit Campaign reports that more than 106 million of the world’s poorest families received a microloan in 2007. Nobel Peace Prize winner and Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus says the loans to 100 million very poor families touch the lives of half of the world’s poorest people. Microloans are used to help people living in extreme poverty start or expand tiny businesses in slums or remote villages.
Eden Health Care Services has partnered with 4 conservative Mennonite churches to offer mother-tongue addictions counselling services to Low German and High German-speaking immigrants in the Winkler, Man., area. In 3 years of operation, Mennonite Addictions Services reports a 65 percent success rate at overcoming addictions and has grown steadily. Language barriers and religious beliefs prevent patrons from accessing other Manitoba addictions services.
Amnesty International reports that economic exploitation is one of the single largest factors perpetuating conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The turmoil flared again in 2008, driving some 250,000 people from their homes in the weeks before Christmas, bringing the number of internally displaced people in Goma, provincial capital of North Kivu, to 142,000. DR Congo is rich in diamonds, gold, tin, coltan, and minerals critical to technological production.
—Christian Peacemaker Teams, Christian Week
Birthed as Christian Training Institute in 1940, Taylor University College in Edmonton will graduate 37 students this June, then close its doors permanently. The remaining 109 students of the Baptist university may be able to receive credit for their work at another school via block transfer agreements. The seminary arm of the school will remain open for its 89 students, and the newly opened E.P. Wahl Centre will continue to offer training for Christian leaders.
Survey findings released in January by Ellison Research show that 7 out of 10 American churchgoers would be at least somewhat open to switching denominations. The differences between Protestant and Roman Catholic respondents are dramatic, the former showing exclusive loyalty in only 16 percent of respondents while the 60 percent of the latter would only consider a Roman Catholic church. Researchers indicate the discrepancy may be at least in part due to the plethora of Protestant denominations reflecting little theological variation.