Thursday, November 15, 2007

14 November 2007


[1] Louisiana's Largest Leaves
[2] Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Egypt
[3] India: Recent Incidents of Persecution
[4] Rifts Deepen Between Hungarian Churches and Government

Louisiana's Largest Leaves

First Presbyterian Church of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at 1,600 members the largest congregation in the Presbytery of South Louisiana - has voted to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) for the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC).

The vote by the congregation on 28 October - with less than one-third of its members present - was 422-60. The congregation also voted to authorize the session to make "for a transitional period voluntary gifts to the Presbytery of South Louisiana of some or all of the presbytery portion of the PC(USA) per capita contribution and such other mission gifts as the Session may designate, in its sole discretion."

Pastor Gerrit Dawson is a member of an EPC administrative commission that is coordinating the assimilation of former PC(USA) congregations into the EPC. First Church will be part of a "New Wineskins Transitional Presbytery" of the EPC for five years.

The church will take its property with it. The Presbytery of South Louisiana ceded it to the session a year ago.

+First Presbyterian Church, 763 North Blvd.,Baton Rouge, LA 70802 (225) 387-0617

Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Egypt

Middle Eastern Presbyterians in the United States got a chance to reconnect with one of their mother churches during a recent visit from the head of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Egypt. The Rev. Emile Zaki, general secretary of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Egypt, Synod of the Nile, made a “pastoral visit” to Middle Eastern Presbyterians in the US in October.

+ Evangelical Church of Egypt - Synod of the Nile, El-Kanisah El-Injiliyah, PO Box 1248, Cairo 11221 Egypt

India: Recent Incidents of Persecution

Jammu and Kashmir

At least four Hindu extremists attacked two Christians from the Believers Church in India (BCI) on 4 November in Jammu, the winter capital of the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir. A representative of the Christian Legal Association (CLA) told Compass that four extremists came in a vehicle, which carried the name of Shiv Sena, a Hindu nationalistic party, and beat two Christians identified only as Rinku and Santosh. The two Christians were on their way to meet a pastor in Arnia area of Jammu. A local leader of the BCI told CLA that the victims were brutally beaten, though they were not hospitalized. Although police refused to register a complaint against the attackers, they helped the Christians and the Shiv Sena extremists reach a compromise, which included a written apology by the Hindu radicals. About 6.7 million people in the Himalayan state are Muslim out of the total population of more than 10 million, while only about 3 million are Hindu, mainly concentrated in and around the Jammu city.


Four Hindu extremists on 4 November beat an independent pastor and filed “prostitution” charges against him near Karnataka state’s Gundelpet town. Dr. Sajan K. George, national president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, told Compass that the 50-year-old independent pastor, M. Thankaraj, received injuries on his head, right hand and chest. He was attacked at about 1 p.m. on Sunday in Hosalli Colony area while he had gone to see off a 33-year-old woman of his church, identified only as Thulasiamma, who had visited him for prayer and counseling. Thulasiamma was facing opposition from her family due to her conversion to Christianity, George said. The extremists held the pastor hostage till about 8 p.m., and then dragged him to the police station, where they filed the complaint against him for “prostitution.” Police readily registered the complaint against the pastor, but refused to file his complaint against the attackers, George added. The pastor was recovering in the Gundelpet Government Hospital, while police were investigating the allegations against him at press time.


Local villagers filed a police complaint against two Christian workers for “forcibly converting” people to Christianity on 30 October in Rajasthan state’s Jhunjhunu district. Panna Lal and Dhan Raj from the Believers Church in India (BCI) were arrested by police in Udaipur Vati area and kept in police lock-up for a night. The following day, police took them to a district official who granted them bail, a representative of the Christian Legal Association (CLA) told Compass. When CLA spoke to police, an officer said the Christians were arrested “under suspicion,” as they failed to prove their identities. The Christians were arrested while they were visiting one of the families that had recently received Christ. A few families in the area had become Christian by listening to a radio program aired by the BCI. The complaint was allegedly filed by the members of the village court who were opposed to the families’ conversion to Christianity.

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

Rifts Deepen Between Hungarian Churches and Government

As the school year in Hungary begins, the country's church-owned schools are facing renewed difficulties due to cuts in state supports, leading to a growing number of closures and mergers, writes Meanwhile, some religious leaders are accusing the Socialist-led government of deliberately trying to create the impression among the Hungarian people that the church is the "enemy."

The Country's leading Protestant denomination (Református) runs 109 educational institutions with 30,400 students, and employs 2,500 teachers. It says it has been forced to close down two art schools and lay off 50-100 employees due to financial hardships as a result of declining state support.

Despite this, the pinch is not being felt by all church-run schools. The Evangelical Church (Evangélikus or Lutheran) has not yet had to close or consolidate any schools, and recently opened a kindergarten in Hódmezõvásárhely and a primary school in Szombathely. The church employs approximately 1,000 teachers, and educate 11,000 students, said Zoltán Mihályné, head of the church's educational department.

Leaders of the Hungarian Reformed (Református) Church are accusing the Socialist-led government of launching a political and PR campaign to demonize Hungary's leading churches, and even to create unrest similar to that which rocked Hungary in October of last year, according to

"It is most disturbing that in the last five days there has been an institutional misdirection from the real problems, in particular the last year's affairs," wrote Bishop Gusztáv Bölcskei, president of the Reformed Church's synod, in a communiqué. The church has said it is willing to cooperate with the government to solve the "real problems" of society, such as shortcomings in the healthcare and education systems.

+ Magyarorszagi Reformatus Egyhaz, Abonyi u. 21, PO Box 5, 1146 Budapest Hungary