Religion news 1 July 2021

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Image credit: Pxhere

Methodists vote for same sex marriage

The Methodist church in Great Britain has voted to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in church. The decision by the Methodist Conference followed 30 years of debate including discussion among the whole church in the past year under the title “God in Love Unites Us”. The vote was 254 in favour and 46 against, but the conference debate revealed that opposition is so keenly felt that members have already left the church in anticipation of the vote. In America, the Methodist church faces a split over the same issue, with a breakaway group the Global Methodist church, attracting support from across the world.  

Christian leader Joel Edwards has died aged 70

The Rev Dr Joel Edwards, CBE, former general director of the Evangelical Alliance and a Christian leader prominent in public life, has died from cancer at the age of 70. Among his many roles, he was International Director for Micah Challenge, a campaign against global poverty;  a Commissioner on the Equality and Human Rights Commission and an adviser to the Church of England on its new Racial Justice Commission. An Assemblies of God pastor, he was known to millions through interviews on news programmes and Thought for the Day on Radio 4. Tributes have been pouring in on social media, where he left a message saying a final goodbye to those who had prayed for him during his illness and commending his family. “I have gone home”, he wrote. “I wait to welcome you”.

LSE report says Christians in India are living in constant fear of Hindu Nationalists

Researchers at the London School of Economics report that Christians across India are living in constant fear, as a systematic campaign of violent harassment, rape, and murder is waged against them. The report was commissioned by the Christian charity Open Doors, which highlights the persecution of Christians worldwide. The report says violence and discrimination against religious minorities in India is being waged by vigilante mobs of Hindu nationalists.  It says the attacks and persecution are ignored, or condoned by the state.  During the Covid pandemic, Christians and Muslims have been targeted in concerted campaigns of misinformation, the report says, including claims that they are deliberately trying to spread the virus and infect Hindus through their acts of worship.

Pope to meet survivors of Canadian Catholic residential schools

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops says Pope Francis has agreed to meet Indigenous survivors of notorious residential schools in December. The announcement comes weeks after hundreds of unmarked graves and 200 bodies were found in the grounds of two schools, where children had been taken away from their parents to be integrated into Canadian society. They were run by the Catholic church for more than a hundred years until the 1960s. The Pope has been called upon to formally apologise. In the last few days, four Catholic churches in Canada have been razed to the ground by fire.

Methodists allow online comunion

The Methodist church is allowing online communion, so long as it is celebrated live and not recorded. There has been resistance to celebrating communion online during the pandemic, on theological grounds. But the Rev Dr Peter Phillips, Director of the CODEC Research Centre for Digital Theology, says this is a move to a hybrid church model, inspired by the lockdowns, which is more inclusive. Online communion is still not permitted in the Church of England and the Roman Catholic church. Premier Christian news story here

Jewish museum re-opening to the public

The Jewish Chronicle reports that the Jewish Museum in London will open to the public again on 11 July after a 15 month closure due to the pandemic. It is using  £295,000 from the government’s recovery fund to create new forms of inquiry, such as allowing people to digitise the collection, see and handle objects and browse the library. During the lockdowns, its virtual programme reached 130,000 people.

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