Global influence in the United Methodist Church
International | Plus, from Kew Gardens to Kashmir, it’s hot all over
by Mindy Belz
Posted 2/27/19, 11:32 am
AFRICA: United Methodists meeting in St. Louis on Tuesday reaffirmed the denomination’s teaching on sexual ethics, rejecting plans that would permit same-sex marriages and clergy to be sexually active outside of monogamous, heterosexual marriages. In rejecting a plan put forth by bishops in the second-largest Protestant denomination in the United States, the General Conference leaned into its global leadership—after the dean of Liberia’s Gbarnga School of Theology spoke a better word to his American peers on the matter of church teaching on same-sex marriage.
NORTH KOREA: A look at this chart shows why not just a few experts are giving U.S. President Donald Trump a tentative thumbs-up for North Korea engagement heading into this week’s second summit with leader Kim Jong Un. The reduced tensions (indicated by the chart’s two green boxes) stands in contrast to years of heightened alert and North Korean missile tests.
At the same time, North Koreans continue to flee human rights abuses and food shortages, plus Open Doors reports increased efforts “to eliminate all channels for spreading the Christian faith.”
AUSTRIA: Thirteen of 87 Iranian refugees in Vienna have been granted asylum in the United States and recently began arriving in Los Angeles. Their acceptance marked a long process: More than two years ago, they were invited to apply for asylum by the United States, then traveled from Iran to Vienna for final processing, where U.S. officials denied their applications on security grounds. Most have been stateless since. After a federal judge ordered their cases reviewed last year, all were denied again. As I previously reported, two-thirds of the group (originally 108 individuals but some received Austrian asylum or traveled to other countries) are Armenian or Assyrian Christians, the rest are other non-Muslims.
INDIA/PAKISTAN: After an Indian fighter jet Tuesday carried out a devastating airstrike in Pakistan—killing roughly 300 soldiers—as retaliation for a Feb. 14 suicide bombing, Pakistan on Wednesday shot down two Indian aircraft over its territory and launched strikes inside Indian-controlled Kashmir. A return to 1970s-era lethal cross-border exchanges finds little sympathy for Pakistan, which regularly uses jihadist proxies. “It’s a new world with no patience for terror as an instrument of policy,” warned Indian journalist Shekar Gupta.
NIGERIA: The Nigerian election commission announced early Wednesday that President Muhammadu Buhari won reelection in Saturday’s presidential contest against former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. The opposition rejected the results, causing some concern about unrest. At least 53 people have been killed in election-related violence.
VENEZUELA: Russia will be a sticking point in U.S. plans to pass a UN Security Council resolution calling for elections and humanitarian aid delivery in Venezuela.
GREAT BRITAIN: On Tuesday, the thermometer hit 70.16 degrees Fahrenheit in Kew Gardens—the hottest February day in Britain since records began in 1910.
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