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Kashmir priest arrested for baptising Muslims: The Church of England Newspaper, November 25, 2011 p 7. November 26, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of North India, Evangelism, Persecution.
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Bishop Pradeep Kumar Samantaroy of Amritsar

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

A priest has been arrested in the Indian state of Kashmir and charged with promoting religious enmity and outraging religious feelings after he baptised 15 Muslim young men who had converted to Christianity.

The Rev. Chander Mani Khanna, rector of All Saints Church in Srinigar in the Church of North India’s Diocese of Amritsar was jailed on 19 Nov 2011 by police following complaints laid against him by a local Muslim leader.

While India does not have a law forbidding religious conversions, a police official told the Hindustan Times Mr. Khanna had been booked for having violated laws against offering “allurements” to converts and for breaching the peace by having baptised the young Muslims.

The Bishop in Amritsar, the Rt. Rev. Pradeep Kumar Samantaroy denied claims lodged against Mr. Khanna.  The “allegations were fabricated and no material benefits were offered to anyone desirous of baptism,” he said, according to the website Christian Today.

“The Muslim youths were coming to Church for more than one year and they had voluntarily expressed their desire for baptism. The converts in detention have denied the allegation that they were forced to become Christians,” Bishop Samantaroy said.

The Christian Messenger reported that Mr. Khanna said he had not proselytized the young men, but would not turn away those who wanted to know more.  “It is my responsibility to preach God’s Word. I can’t refuse anyone. The house of God is open for all.”

According to Indian press accounts the 15 young men had been attending services at the church for some months.  When they asked to be permitted to receive Holy Communion, Mr. Khanna said that they would have to undergo a course of instruction and be baptized.  The young men agreed and were received into the church after they completed their catechetical training.

After a film of the baptism ceremony appeared on YouTube, the local Sharia court – which has no civil or criminal jurisdiction over non-Muslims – summoned Mr. Khanna to appear to answer charges that he had forcibly converted the young men.   According to AsiaNews, witnesses claim that police beat the converts to make them give evidence against the pastor.

The former Bishop of Rochester, the Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali stated that he knew Mr. Khanna “and he is a respected parish priest of the Church of North India who would never use underhand methods to evangelise.”

“I am astonished that such a person can be arrested by an India committed to religious freedom and democracy. I call not only for his immediate and unconditional release but also for protection for him and his family. Let us pray that freedom and justice will prevail in Kashmir for everyone: Muslim, Christian and Hindu,” Bishop Nazir-Ali said.

New Chinese Bible released: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 22, 2010 p 8. October 23, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Biblical Interpretation, Church of England Newspaper, Evangelism, Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui.
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Archbishop Kwong dedicating the RCUV Bible at St John's Cathedral in Hong Kong

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The first new translation of the Bible in Chinese since 1919 was launched last month at a ceremony at St. John’s Cathedral in Hong Kong.  On Sept 27 Archbishop Paul Kwong of the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (HKSK) dedicated the Revised Chinese Union Version (RCUV) of the Old and New Testaments.

Produced in collaboration by the United Bible Society and the Hong Kong Bible Society, the RCUV was twenty-seven years in the making and replaces the Chinese Union Version (CUV) prepared by British and American missionaries in the early years of the Twentieth Century.  Scholars from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and the United States sought to overcome the tremendous changes in the Chinese language seen in the past century.

The Hong Kong Bible Society stated that “conscious of the extreme importance of such a daunting task, the scholars involved in the project have been working diligently and prayerfully, imploring the Holy Spirit for guidance.  They have been weighing carefully every word and every expression, including the punctuation, confronting constantly with the original text, and consulting other versions, all for the purpose of producing a revision that conveys more accurately the message of the Bible.”

The revision of the New Testament is based on the Greek New Testament 4th Revised Edition published by the United Bible Societies in 1993. The revision of the Old Testament is based on the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia published in 1984, the Hong Kong Bible Society said.

Beside the issue of faithfulness and accuracy, there was also a concern about naturalness and fluency.  Changes are being introduced wherever the old text presents problems such as archaisms, ambiguities, or structures not conforming to current usage.

Certain words and expressions that formerly sounded smooth and natural have since become unnatural and unintelligible.  Chris Chow, marketing manager of the Hong Kong Bible Society, told the UCA New, as the translation produced 91 years ago had lost some of its meaning for modern Chinese speakers.

Mr. Chow cited the CUV’s use of the verb “rallying” in Galilee in John 7:1.  “This is now revised as Jesus ‘visits’ Galilee, since the word ‘rally’ nowadays carries the meaning of protest and confrontation,” he said.

“We hope this new translation will allow the nation of China and Chinese readers throughout the world to read, with familiarity and ease, the Bible’s life-changing message, ” said Marco Herrera, director of international ministries of American Bible Society.

Mixed report on growth and income given to Sydney synod: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 15, 2010 p 8. October 16, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper, Evangelism.
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Dr. Peter Jensen, the Archbishop of Sydney


First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

There were more people in the pews in 2009, but there will be less cash to support ministry in 2010, delegates to the Diocese of Sydney’s 48th synod learned this week.

In his presidential address to the Oct 11 session of synod, Archbishop Peter Jensen reported the Connect 09 evangelism programme led to a five per cent increase in church attendance last year.  However, the archbishop also reported the diocese was still feeling the aftershocks of the global financial crisis, and that declining rates of return on investments would mean a drop in income.

Dr. Jensen stated that “through Connect 09 the Lord has blessed our renewed commitment to the community, as a way of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with all.”

Based upon “the figures we have, and using considerable caution, we grew numerically in 2009.  Perhaps by even as much as five per cent” or 3000 people.

“To grow at all is significant; to grow by anything like that percentage is sensational,” Dr. Jensen said.

The Rev. Andrew Nixon, executive director of Connect09, told Synod the programme was “God’s campaign, in God’s time, with God’s people sharing God’s grace”.

A survey of parish evangelism and outreach found that 97 per cent of Anglican churches in the diocese had distributed Christian literature during the campaign, and “during 2009 between 40 and 50 percent of households in the Sydney diocese were contacted by their local church. That means that 1.75 million people were contacted and know that we want to connect with them,” he said. “That’s not just a good start, it’s a million good starts.”

Dr. Jensen said the Connect 09 “figures may be approximate. But grow we did in the very year when we all together prayed, shared the word of God and went out into the community. We give God our praise. Let us take fresh heart, and keep sharing the word of God.”

Dr. Jensen also used his presidential address to address the question of “what it is to be human in glittering Sydney,” singling out the issues of penal reform and euthanasia for special attention.

New South Wales’ prisons were overcrowded and understaffed, he said.  “We have too many gaols, we have far too many people in gaols, we keep them there too long, we have people on lengthy remand who are then proved innocent, we have a high percentage of prisoners with psychiatric illnesses, there is a disproportionate number of indigenous people in goal,” he said.

Dr. Jensen also criticized moves to legalize euthanasia, saying “my fundamental problem with it is that we are sinners and we do not have the moral capacity to administer it.”

The archbishop told the Synod the diocese was still reeling from the effects of the global financial crisis and the “financial issues are grave.”

“In round terms, it seems possible that the amount of money available” he said “to support diocesan works in the next few years is going to be reduced from the $7.5 million of 2010 to something like $4 million.”

The cutbacks in diocesan spending in 2008 were “only the beginning,” he said and warned that parishes might be asked to pick up a larger share of the diocese’s expenses in the years to come.

“We are,” Dr. Jensen said, “asset-rich but cash-poor.”

Irish Chinese are open to evangelism: CEN 3.07.08 p 6. March 9, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland, Evangelism.
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The Dublin University Far Eastern Mission (DUFEM) has released a report on evangelizing Ireland’s growing Chinese population, concluding that many of the immigrants are open to Christian evangelism, but little is being done to address their pastoral needs.

Coming from an avowedly atheistical society, most Chinese immigrants do not know how to “do Church”, and are unfamiliar with the language and concepts taught by Christian Churches, the survey found.  Chinese immigrants have come to churches, however, that meet their needs for community, and by their perceptions of the place faith plays in the lives of their Christian friends or co-workers.

Founded in 1886 to send Church of Ireland missionaries to China, the DUFEM withdrew from mainland China after the revolution of 1948.  In recent years it has supported students at Hong Kong’s Ming Hua Theological College, and recently has set up an English language training programme at what before the revolution had been Trinity College in Fuchow.

The March 6 report on mission and evangelism opportunities for Chinese students and immigrants in Ireland stated that of the 60,000 Chinese residents of Ireland, roughly 75 percent reported having no religious beliefs, 10 percent were Christians, 10 percent Buddhists and five percent followed other faiths, or held syncretistic views.

Most Chinese immigrants had come in contact with Christian evangelists, and the majority of those surveyed reported having received Christian literature in Chinese.  However, few appeared to respond to proselytizing from those whom they did not know beforehand.

The majority who had responded to an invitation to attend a Church gathering seldom returned, the study found, as it did not meet their expectations of what “church” would be.  Many inquirers said social and cultural relationships brought them to churches, and that they were not initially interested in theological arguments, or faith issues—nor did the overwhelming majority perceive any difference between Catholic and Protestant churches

Existing Chinese ethnic congregations were the most successful in attracting new Chinese worshippers.  However, the report said that an invitation to attend Church would most likely be accepted if it were extended by a Chinese Christian or Irish Christian “who is known to the respondent.  Being a Christian known to the respondent may be even more important than the ethnicity (being Chinese) of the inviter,” the report found.

The report concluded that the key to successful evangelization of Chinese immigrants was to offer worship in a culturally and linguistically familiar format, to offer social and education services that helped connect new arrivals to the wider Irish culture, and through the conduct and example set by those known to the new arrival to be Christians.