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Canada is the first country to pay its share ($33 million) of Haiti’s $825-million debt to foreign institutions. Stephen Harper urged other G20 countries to follow Canada’s example by honouring the international pledge to cancel the earthquake-ravaged country’s debt.—Canwest News Service
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After a ten-year shortage, some denominations now report 2 pastoral candidates for every vacant pulpit. In Nov. 2008, Mennonite Church USA had 99 pastoral openings, but 18 months later only 70 positions were available. As the number of openings declined, the number of candidates increased: from 30 in Nov. 2008 to 64 this May.—themennonite.org

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MDS encourages supporters to send personal cards offering support and prayers to those affected by the oil spill on the Gulf Coast. Address cards to “Gulf Coast Residents” and mail to Mennonite Disaster Service, Care and Prayer Cards, 1018 Main St, Akron, PA 17501.—MDS release

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Moroccan Christians say Muslim extremists in the country are aiding and encouraging the government to pursue them by vilifying them on social networking site Facebook. One Facebook user posted 32 image collages featuring dozens of Christian converts, calling them “hyena evangelists” or “wolves in lamb’s skins” who are trying to “shake the faith of Muslims.”—Compass Direct

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The Canadian government has adjusted its immigration plan. To aid in recovery from the recession, Canada will welcome more skilled workers (approximately 265,000 instead of the usual 250,000) in 2010.—Citizenship and Immigration Canada release

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This fall, Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Va., is offering a new program for students living with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, attention deficit issues, or other challenges. CoachLink assigns each participant a graduate student who serves as life coach. The program is supported by the Austin Frazier Memorial Fund established by the family of a young man with bipolar disorder who took his life in 2009.—themennonite.org

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Forty percent of the world – 2.6 billion people – engages in open defecation, according to the World Health Organization and UNICEF. This lack of washroom facilities causes an estimated 2 million preventable deaths each year – mostly children – from feces consumed in food and water, and spread by dust and flies. In India, it is said that more people have access to cellphones than toilets.—Los Angeles Times

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Jacksonville, Fla., has been chosen as the first U.S. city to host the 2011 Global Day of Prayer. Global Day of Prayer is a worldwide movement started in South Africa in 2000 to unite Christians for worship while mobilizing the church on social issues. The June 12 event is expected to attract 15,000 participants.—Global Day of Prayer release

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The Sea of Galilee may be running out of fish. Up to 80 percent of fish caught in recent years were under the legal size; scientists cite overfishing as a leading factor. The Israeli government imposed a two-year ban on fishing in Galilee.—Maclean’s

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Former Goshen College president J. Lawrence Burkholder died June 24 at 92. Current president James E. Brenneman credits him with putting the school on sound financial footing, beautifying its campus, strengthening relationships between the college and its community, and modeling to all that Christians can make a difference in civic, business, and political life.—Goshen release

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Canada announced it will invest $400 million in helping developing nations adapt to and fight climate change in 2010. This commitment meets the amount Canadian Foodgrains Bank and other Canadian development organizations requested.—Food Justice Network Update

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Jewish and Christian scholars have called for a full revision to the script of the world’s largest passion play, performed every 10 years in Oberammergau, Germany, saying it portrays Jesus’ Jewish opponents using extreme anti-Jewish stereotypes. The Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations, an umbrella for 30 interfaith centres across North America, recommended 17 edits. The play will not be staged again until 2020.—Huffington Post

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The Calgary Herald called on G20 leaders to do more to protect persecuted Christians in Turkey. The 1,700-year-old Ecumenical Patriarchate, the holiest centre of Orthodoxy, is being suffocated by Turkish authorities – closing theological schools and placing restrictions on church elections. Turkey is the birthplace of many New Testament churches, including Antioch, Galatia, Colosse, and the 7 churches of Revelation.—archons.org

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Almost a quarter of U.S. residents think scientists are hostile to religion. However, when Rice University assistant sociology professor Elaine Howard Ecklund surveyed nearly 1,700 scientists, she found close to 50 percent identified themselves with a religion and almost 1 in 5 attended a worship service more than once a month. Less than 6 percent of those scientists identifying as atheists were actively working against religion.—Huffington Post

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