Wednesday, June 4, 2008

4 June 2008

Presbyterians Week Headlines

[1] Eritrean Authorities Jail 34 More Christians In House Church Raid

[2] EPC's Meet with the Roman Pontiff

[3] Youth Essay Contest

[4] Douwe Visser is WARC's New Theology Secretary

[5] Free Church of Scotland General Assembly Moderator's Address

[6] Baghdad Presbyterian Church Council

[1] Eritrean Authorities Jail 34 More Christians In House Church Raid

Eritrean security police cracked down on more Christians again last week, arresting 34 evangelicals gathered for prayer and fellowship in a local home in Keren.

The police raid on 28 May targeted members of the Berhane Hiwet (Light of Life) Church in Keren, Eritrea's third largest city 124 miles northwest of the capital Asmara.

All 24 men and 10 women present were taken to prison, with their children left behind.

The Keren raid was the second round of arrests last week in Eritrea, where the oppressive regime has outlawed all independent Protestant churches since 2002, closing their buildings and banning gatherings in private homes.

Worshippers caught disobeying the blanket restrictions are arrested and tortured for weeks, months or even years. They are never allowed legal counsel or brought to trial.

The new arrests followed a spate of unconfirmed reports that began circulating throughout the capital of Asmara last week, indicating that several leading Protestant pastors jailed for four years without charges may soon face trial for treason.

Full Gospel Church leaders Dr. Kifle Gebremeskel and Haile Naizghi and Pastor Tesfatsion Hagos of the Rema Evangelical Church have been imprisoned since May 2004. Their exact whereabouts remain unknown, with their families and church members refused any access to them.

The government recognizes only the Eritrean Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran churches as legal religions, in addition to the traditional Islam practiced by half of the population.

+ Compass Direct News Service, Post Office Box 27250, Santa Ana California 92799, 949-862-0304,

[2] EPC's Meet with the Roman Pontiff

Moderator-elect Allen Roes represented the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) at a prayer meeting hosted by Pope Benedict XVI on 18 April 2008 in New York City.

The EPC was invited by the Archbishop of New York, Edward Cardinal Egan. There were leaders from many Christian denominations and organizations. EPC Teaching Elder Steve Hass, Vice President of World Vision and a member of the Presbytery of the West was also there.

In his address, the Pope spoke of Christ as the only Hope we have for unity in our world. Following the service and dinner, the Pope's book Jesus of Nazareth was given to each attendee as a parting gift.

+ Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 17197 N. Laurel Park Drive, Suite 567 Livonia, MI 48152, 734-742-2020,

[3] Youth Essay Contest

Fundamental Presbyterian Publications is once again sponsoring a Youth Essay Contest. This year the contest is for three groups: ages 10-12, 13-17, and 18-21.

ESSAY SUBJECT for the 10-12 and 13-17 age groups.

Explain one of the Shorter Catechism questions that deals with the subject of Creation. These are Shorter Catechism questions 9 and 10. The essays should be 800 to 1,000 words.

ESSAY SUBJECT for the 18-21 age group.

Develop the theme "The Biblical Basis for God's Creation of Man." The essays should be 1,000 to 1,500 words.


All essays should be typed double-spaced. Handwritten entries will be accepted, if written neatly. The judges will disqualify any entries which they deem to be illegible. In addition to the printed copy, if possible, provide your essay (as a text file) on a computer disk, or send it via e-mail. All quotes must be properly footnoted from primary sources.


Your name, address, phone number, e-mail address, and your photograph.


10 June 2008. All entries must be postmarked or e-mailed no later than 12:00 midnight, Tuesday, 10 June 2008, Eastern Daylight Savings time.


Age groups 10-12 and 13-17: $100 cash, plus Christian books.

Age group 18-21: $200.00 cash, plus Christian books.

The winning essays will be published and distributed by Fundamental Presbyterian Publications.

Typed entries and computer files will become the possession of Fundamental Presbyterian Publications and will not be returned.


Fundamental Presbyterian Publications

P. O. Box 26164

Charlotte, NC 28221-6164


+ Bible Presbyterian Church

[4] Douwe Visser is WARC's New Theology Secretary

Dutch theologian and pastor Douwe Visser, 54, is the new Executive Secretary for Theology and Ecumenical Engagement for the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC). He joins the Geneva secretariat on 2 June 2008.

Visser replaces Odair Pedroso Mateus who left WARC for a position at the World Council of Churches (WCC) in May 2007. Visser is a minister in the Protestant Church in the Netherlands at Rotterdam-Overschie and the former president of the Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC).

WARC and REC have agreed to merge in 2010 to form the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC). Visser resigned as president of REC to join the WARC staff team.

+ World Alliance of Reformed Churches, 150 route de Ferney, Post Office Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland, +41 22 791 6240,

[5] Free Church of Scotland General Assembly Moderator's Address

The Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, the Rev Kenneth M. Ferguson, has chosen the theme of holiness for his Address to the General Assembly.

Ferguson says: 'There are many who would describe holiness as a bleak kind of doctrine: an unattractive, outdated, discouraging concept that is in essence, either a series of prohibitions against sin, or a framework of legalistic rules, so that those who claim success in living this way invariably adopt a "holier than thou", intolerant attitude to others.'

But Ferguson insists that such attitudes are not the result of true holiness but of a judgmental, legalistic lifestyle like that of the Pharisees, whom our Lord condemned for their hypocrisy. 'Holiness on the other hand is not hypocritical but beautiful - it beautifies a person's life because God Himself is the Author of it. His gracious presence and blessing adorn His people's lives. Those who are most holy are most Christ-like.'

In the pursuit of such Biblical holiness Ferguson recommends the Shorter Catechism and quotes the philosopher John Stuart Mill, who said in his essay On Liberty: "The Shorter Catechism and study of the Bible have sharpened the wits of Scotsmen, as to make them stand foremost in the ranks of mental philosophy", and adds 'Maybe it is time for our Nation to re-discover the treasure that is the Westminster Shorter Catechism!'

Ferguson quotes the Anglican writer, John Stott, who said that we, Christ's followers, are sent into the world as His witnesses, 'In order to penetrate other people's worlds, as He penetrated ours; the world of their thinking, their misunderstandings of the Gospel, the world of their feeling, their pain, and the world of their living.'

Yet, this involvement with the world is to be undertaken, says Mr. Ferguson, while at the same time maintaining untarnished the standards of Jesus Christ, and not compromising our own Christian integrity. In fact, He says 'True holiness is a Christ-likeness that is lived out in the real world.'

+ Free Church of Scotland, 15 North Bank Street, The Mound, Edinburgh, EH1 2LS, Scotland, 0131 226 5286,

[6] Baghdad Presbyterian Church Council

The following is a letter, edited for clarity, from Yousif Al-Saka, General Secretary of the Presbyterian Churches in Iraq:

"Please distribute this message to all brothers and sisters in churches which have an interest in the Baghdad Presbyterian Church."

"We are pleased to inform our brothers in all of the churches that the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Baghdad convened on the morning of Friday 30 May 2008 in accordance with the church constitution in order to elect a new church council for two year terms."

"The election was carried out in a brotherly democratic manner. The required reports were presented by the outgoing president of the council, and by the cashier - concerning church accounts, which is reviewed by a legal auditor assigned for this purpose. The reports were discussed and approved."

"The church council election results were announced:

1- Elder Yousif J. Al-Saka President of Church Council

2- Elder Mazin D. Kaia Vice President of Church Council

3- Elder Jalal Salomy Cashier of the Church

4- Elder Kasi Kabas Council secretary"

"Additionally, five brothers were elected as Church Council members."

"Elder Yousif Al-Saka remained in his post as General Secretary of the Presbyterian Churches in Iraq, which is headquartered in the Church of Baghdad."

"We thank the Lord for this arrangement, as we believe that any management in the church is from the Lord and by His direction. Pray with us that the Lord may keep these brothers safe and give them strength and power in their work for the service of the Church. Amen."

+ Yousif Al-Saka, General Secretary, Presbyterian Churches in Iraq