Wednesday, August 22, 2007

22 August 2007


Highlanders Meet Low-Lifes in Africa
[2] Presbyterian Church of Rwanda Turns 100
[3] Ghana's Presbyterians Called To Do at Home What They Do in the Diaspora
[4] Rule It or Ruin It Isn't Just an American Urban Problem
[5] From 30 to 900 to 30 in 100 Years
[6] ARP Plan Book Deadline
[7] Muslim Sues Egypt for the Right To Convert To Christianity

Highlanders Meet Low-Lifes in Africa

A short-term mission group from Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas learned the hard way that missions can be as dangerous today as it was in St. Paul’s time. The intent had been to work on an irrigation project and distribute Bibles, schools supplies, and medicines.

Published reports indicated that members of the team encountered four robbers armed with rifles and a machete. Three members of the team who were born in Kenya received the roughest treatment.

+ Highland Park Presbyterian Church, 3821 University Blvd., Dallas, Texas 75205

Presbyterian Church of Rwanda Turns 100

Speaking to thousands gathered on 19 August, Setri Nyomi, general secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), congratulated the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda on coming through many challenges during the past 100 years, including the horrific genocide of 1994 that killed almost a million people, divided churches, and left many scars.

“As a result, this church could have simply recoiled into a spiritual ghetto of self-preservation or protection of its own tribes. But no, with confidence in God, you have pulled through each challenge and committed yourself to prophetic witness as partners with Christ in transforming Rwandan society.”

+ Eglise Presbytérienne au Rwanda, BP 56, Kigali, Rwanda, Africa

Ghana's Presbyterians Called To Do at Home What They Do in the Diaspora

The Seventh General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana took place in August.

The Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama who was the guest of honour called on church and state to partner and overcome challenges such as poverty, malnutrition, the digital divide and unemployment. "To succeed, we must be mature to rise above things like gender, tribe, religion or social status that appear to divide us and rather pull forward as Ghanaians," he said. The VP urged Ghanaians to use the country's golden jubilee celebrations to nurture the right attitudes that would facilitate development.

"At 50 years, we ought to claim that we have finished wondering in the desert of bad governance, corruption, indiscipline, greed, pull-him-down syndrome, intolerance and other such attitudes.” Vice President Mahama observed that Ghanaians excel in the Diaspora but at home, fail to exert the same influence on issues impeding the development of the country. Then Mahama called on Christians to encourage the attitudinal changes necessary to bring forth a born-again Ghanaian, full of confidence, trust, initiative, respect and discipline.

Ghanaian Diaspora congregations are thriving in Washington, Philadelphia, and New York. Some observers place the number of self-sustaining Ghanaian Presbyterian churches in America at more than 50.

+ Presbyteria Nyanyui Hame le Ghana [Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana] PO Box 18, Ho, Ghana, Africa

Rule It or Ruin It Isn't Just an American Urban Problem

Kenyan Moslems decided to settle a land dispute with local Presbyterians the old-fashioned way; they set fire to the disputed property. When Presbyterians expanded a fence around their buildings they crossed into territory commonly used by Nubians for daily prayer. Observers indicate some 100 young people took the opportunity take out their anger on firefighters who attempted to preserve the compound.

The overcrowded Nairobi slum where the conflict occurred is occupied primarily by descendents of Egyptian and Sudanese soldiers who retired to the area at the end of World War I after service in the British army.

+ Presbyterian Church of East Africa, PO Box 27573-00506 Myayo Stadium, Nairobi G.P.O. Kenya, Africa

+ Reformed Church of East Africa, Kisumu Road, PO Box 99, Eldoret, Kenya, Africa

From 30 to 900 to 30 in 100 Years

St. Paul’s Evangelical German Reformed Church of Buffalo, New York, opened its doors in 1895 above a grocery at Seneca and Duerstein. It was an era when both the German Reformed Church and the Evangelical Church were expanding in Western New York. By the 11950s, the church had 900 members, and the sanctuary was filled to capacity for Sunday services.

Today, most of the 30 remaining members are older than 75. The transition reflects in part the changing character of the city but it also occurred as the United Church of Christ began to evaporate over the last 50 years. If the state of New York agrees, St. Paul’s will sell its beautiful facility to Berea Church of God in Christ for US$135,000.

+ St Paul's United Church of Christ, 49 Indian Church Road, Buffalo, NY 14210

ARP Plan Book Deadline

Information to be included in the 2008 ARP Plan Book is due to the ARP Center by 31 August. The plan book includes a calendar and monthly listings of various meetings on Synod and presbytery levels, including Women's Ministries meetings. Conferences, camps and retreats are included, as are reminders of deadlines throughout the year. Many ARPs find the plan book invaluable in keeping up with scheduled events. Information may be E-mailed to Betsy Johnsman

Each ARP church receives four copies at no charge; some purchase additional copies. To obtain plan books, send your order to the ARP Center, One Cleveland St., Ste.110, Greenville, SC 29601-3696. Cost is US$3 each, plus shipping. Cost is $4 for one plan book. For larger amounts, please request the number desired and a bill will be sent. Plan books for 2008 will be mailed out near the end of the year. Ordering now will help Central Services set a more accurate number for printing. 2007 plan books - free; US$1 for postage.

+ Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, One Cleveland St., Greenville, SC 29601

Muslim Sues Egypt for the Right To Convert To Christianity

A Muslim convert to Christianity filed suit against Egypt last week for refusing to legally recognize his change of religion, sparking a reactionary lawsuit by Muslim clerics and death threats against his lawyer. Mohammed Ahmed Hegazy, 24, brought a case against Egypt’s interior ministry on Thursday (August 2) for rejecting his application to replace Islam with Christianity on his personal identification papers.

“I think it is my natural right, to embrace the religion I believe and not to have to have a double personality for me as well as for my wife and my expected baby,” said Hegazy, who converted to Christianity when he was 16.

Though Egyptian law does not forbid conversion from Islam to Christianity, it provides no legal means to make the change. Converts to Christianity usually hide their identity to avoid torture and forced recantation at the hands of family members and security police.

Hegazy, whose wife Zeinab is four months pregnant, said that he wants his child to be born with Christian papers. The couple, who were forced to hold an Islamic wedding ceremony because of their legal status as Muslims, know that a Christian ID card will allow their child to take Christian religion classes in school, marry in a church and even openly attend services without fear of harassment.

+ Compass Direct News, PO Box 27250, Santa Ana CA 92799-7250