March 3 - March 9, 2008 
 Weekly News In Review
 Vol 3, Issue 7
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The Weekly News In Review newsletter is a service provided by Understand The Times that is a compilation of the news articles posted on our site during the previous week.


 March 3 - No Future for Methodists Unless Change Occurs, Say Leaders
 Article: .Emerging Church

"There is no future for The United Methodist Church in the United States unless we can reach more people, younger people and more diverse people," said the Rev. Lovett Weems, a researcher and professor of church leadership at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, according to the United Methodist News Service.

The study showed nearly half of American adults said they left the faith tradition of their upbringing and either switched religious affiliations or left the faith tradition altogether. Of the 53 percent who left the Methodist Church of their childhood, 19 percent went to evangelical churches, 11 percent to other mainline Protestant churches 3 percent to historically black churches, and 8 percent to a non-Protestant religion. Moreover, 12 percent say they no longer are part of any faith group.

"For whatever reason, a sizable population raised in the Methodist tradition is no longer Methodist. Maybe we haven't done a good job of showing what is unique and special and important about being a United Methodist," said Scott Brewer, director of research for the United Methodist General Council on Finance and Administration, which collects statistics for the denomination, according to UMNS.

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 March 1 - Palestinians' bloodiest day as Israel kills 61
 Article: Wars And Rumors Of Wars

GAZA (Reuters) - Israeli forces killed 61 people in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, the bloodiest day for Palestinians since an uprising against Israeli occupation began in 2000. 

Israel, which lost two soldiers, seemed ready to press home its fiercest air and ground assault since it pulled troops back to the borders of the coastal enclave in 2005. It blamed rocket attacks by the Islamist Hamas movement for provoking four days of fighting, in which 96 Palestinians have been killed.

U.S. President George W. Bush sounded more supportive of his Israeli allies. While regretting all loss of life, his spokesman said: "There is a clear distinction between terrorist rocket attacks that target civilians and action in self-defence."

Aides to Abbas said fighting could wreck new U.S.-backed peace talks. Israeli officials said Palestinian chief negotiator Ahmed Qurie called his Israeli counterpart, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, to call off a meeting due on Monday. But Abbas's aides said no decision to suspend the process had been taken.

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 March 2 - New Bible reveals God's heart towards poverty and injustice
 Article: Social Gospel

The Poverty and Justice Bible, the latest release from Bible Society, has broken new ground as the first ever to literally highlight the more than 2,000 passages that reveal God's sorrow over poverty and injustice, and His command to believers to act to eradicate them.

Far from being irrelevant, the Poverty and Injustice Bible demonstrates that God's Word has "something to say about issues that resonate today", the bishop added. "This Bible connects with the very fabric of today's world, with all its problems and messiness - and has something powerful to say," he said.

Bible Society was inspired to develop the new Bible after Pastor Rick Warren, of Purpose Driven fame, admitted that had missed more than 2,000 verses that speak of God's heart for the poor despite studying theology and being a pastor for decades. He claimed that Christians risked losing their credibility if they failed to speak out against poverty and injustice.

Christian leader and commentator Tony Campolo added, "Here's proof that faith without committment to justice for the poor is a sham, because it ignores the most explicit of all the social concerns of Scripture."

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 March 4 - Moses was high on drugs: Israeli researcher
 Article: Misc.

High on Mount Sinai, Moses was on psychedelic drugs when he heard God deliver the Ten Commandments, an Israeli researcher claimed in a study published this week.

Such mind-altering substances formed an integral part of the religious rites of Israelites in biblical times, Benny Shanon, a professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem wrote in the Time and Mind journal of philosophy.

"As far Moses on Mount Sinai is concerned, it was either a supernatural cosmic event, which I don't believe, or a legend, which I don't believe either, or finally, and this is very probable, an event that joined Moses and the people of Israel under the effect of narcotics," Shanon told Israeli public radio on Tuesday.

Moses was probably also on drugs when he saw the "burning bush," suggested Shanon, who said he himself has dabbled with such substances.

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 March 5 - Pope: Roman primacy is "necessary" in the Church, today as in the past
 Article: Roman Catholic Church And The Last Days

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Roman primacy in the Church is "necessary", today as in the past it is "at the service of truth and charity" and "serves communion" in the one Church of Christ.  Benedict XVI made the remarks during the illustration of the figure of St Leo the Great, to whom he dedicated today's address for the general audience, to again assert the purpose of Petrine primacy and to recall its existence since the time of the undivided Church.  The affirmation comes on the eve of a visit from ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew I to the Vatican, and shortly after the Catholic-Orthodox meeting in Ravenna, which acknowledged the principle of the primacy of the bishop of Rome, leaving open the question of its concrete exercise in relation to the role of the synod.

Benedict XVI recalled the best-known episode in the life of Leo the Great, when in 452 he went to Mantua and convinced Attila, leader of the Huns, not to continue with his invasion.  "It was a memorable sign of the peacemaking activity conducted by the pontiff". 

He was "a theologian and pastor, at the service of communion and a tireless promoter of Roman primacy, showing himself an authentic heir of the apostle Peter, and the Eastern bishops also showed in their awareness of this". 

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 March 4 - Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Jain, Hindu Leaders to Meet With Pope Benedict XVI in Washington
 Article: One World Religion

WASHINGTON, March 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ - Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Jain and Hindu communities will meet with Pope Benedict XVI April 17, at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center during the April 15-20 papal visit to the United States.

The meeting will include a papal address, greetings from inter-faith leaders and the presentation of symbolic gifts by young members of each community.

Bishop Richard Sklba, chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, noted that the theme Religions Working for Peace will run through the meeting, to which 200 leaders have been invited.

The cry for peace in our world calls for religious bodies to come together, Bishop Sklba said. This meeting denotes the Holy Fathers belief in the need for religious bodies to stress the goal for peace which lies at the heart of all religions. It exemplifies what must happen all over the world.

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 March 4 - Muslim scholars, Vatican officials talk
 Article: Ecumenical Movement - Other religions Uniting With Roman Catholics

VATICAN CITY - Muslim scholars who have called for greater dialogue with Christians began two days of talks Tuesday with the Vatican to prepare for what church officials say will be a historic audience with Pope Benedict XVI.

The group includes representatives of 138 Muslim scholars and intellectuals who wrote to Benedict and other Christian leaders last year urging Christians and Muslims to develop their common ground of belief in one God.

Tauran himself has said the planned papal audience, which Benedict proposed as part of his official response to the Muslims' letter, could start a "historic" dialogue between the faiths.

The Vatican has welcomed the Muslim letter as an encouraging sign, eager to improve relations with moderate Islam ever since Benedict angered many in the Muslim world with a 2006 speech about Islam and violence.

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 March 5 - United Methodist Church Groups Targeting Israel
 Article: Israel And The Last Days

WASHINGTON, March 5 /Christian Newswire/ -- Several groups within the 7.9 million member United Methodist Church are targeting Israel with divestment proposals and hostile publications.


  • The United Methodist Board of Church and Society (GBCS), the church's official Washington-based lobbying office, is urging church members and church agencies to divest from Caterpillar, Inc. Their resolution, which will go before the United Methodist General Conference in April 2008, accuses Peoria-based Caterpillar of facilitating Israel's destruction of Palestinian property. Five regional annual conferences within United Methodism have passed similar resolutions.


  • The New York-based United Methodist Women's Division has published a children's book containing anti-Israel themes, "From Palestine to Seattle; Becoming Neighbors and Friends." The booklet portrays Israel as an oppressor of Palestinians while omitting nearly all mention of terrorism.


  • The Washington-based Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA), a liberal caucus group within United Methodism, has outdone the church's official lobby office by calling for divestment against ALL "companies supporting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and other violations of human rights in Israel/Palestine."


  • The United Methodist Women's Division also has released a mission study for 2007-2008 that portrays Israel as virtually the sole aggressor in the Middle East. The study is for use by nearly 700,000 United Methodist Women's members across the nation.

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 March 7 - Israel on alert after deadly Jerusalem attack
 Article: Israel And The Last Days

Comment from Understand The Times:
Last night from our hotel room in Jerusalem, we heard machine gun shots then a few minutes later the sound of many sirens as police and ambulance vehicles rushed to the scene. Our hotel room was just two blocks from the location where this terrible senseless shooting took place.
Our tour group had spent the afternoon touring the Jewish Holocaust museum and witnessed the atrocities that took place during the Second World War as the world stood back and watched and did nothing. One of the events that proceeded the Holocaust was the boycotting of Jewish businesses by so-called Christian churches.
A few days ago we posted an article indicating churches are doing the same thing in our day. Last night's slaughter near our hotel was a grim reminder that we are in perilous times and that history is being repeated.
As the Jews are being slaughtered the church is once again boycotting the Jews. The Bible indicates this is just the beginning of what to expect.
Understand The Times will do all we can to support the Jews as the Bible the teaches.

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israel went on alert on Friday as crowds mourned eight teens killed by a Palestinian at a Jewish religious school in Jerusalem in an attack that threatened efforts to mend faltering peace talks.

Eight students -- most of them 15 or 16 years old -- were shot dead late Thursday at the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, a seminary in predominantly Jewish west Jerusalem. Another nine were wounded.

A Palestinian from east Jerusalem had entered the school with an assault rifle and headed for the library, where he opened fire.

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We hope the Weekly News In Review has been a blessing to you.

In Jesus,
Roger Oakland

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