April 12 - May 2, 2010 
 News In Review
 Vol 5, Issue 13
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Dear Ron,

The News In Review newsletter is a service provided by Understand The Times that is a compilation of the news articles previously posted on our site . Understand The Times does not endorse these events but rather is showing the church the current events.  Our purpose of posting these articles is to warn the church of the Biblical deception.

 April 19 - N.Y. Episcopal Priest to Marry Gay Partner
 Article: Perilous Times

The priest heading an Episcopal parish in Bath, N.Y., has decided to marry his longtime gay partner, according to a recent announcement. The Very Rev. J. Brad Benson, rector of St. Thomas' Episcopal Church, plans to get married this summer in a state where same-sex marriage is legal.

The St. Thomas rector explained that he has begun to see the word "marriage" in purely legal terms and has come to realize that he and his partner "need" the legal rights and responsibilities afforded in a marriage.

After seeking legal marriage in another state, the gay couple will then seek the church's blessing through a liturgy which will be attended and presided by three bishops - Rochester Bishop Prince Singh, retired Bishop Jack McKelvey, and Maine Bishop Stephen Lane.

The announcement comes as more dioceses within The Episcopal Church have permitted clergy to wed homosexual couples despite the call by leaders in the worldwide Anglican Communion, of which The Episcopal Church is the U.S. arm, to practice gracious restraint in regards to the blessing of gay and lesbian couples.

Last summer, The Episcopal Church approved a resolution allowing "bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal" to "provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church."

The resolution also noted the need to consider providing theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships. The Episcopal Church does not permit its "Order of Marriage" to be used in the marriage of same-sex couples.

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 April 15 - Australia faces huge locust plague
 Article: Signs Of The Last Times

Farmers across the Australian Outback have been warned of a potential explosion of locusts in the coming months, after a plague of millions of the grasshopper-like insects swept across four states earlier this month.

Millions of the quick-breeding and fast-moving insects have damaged crops and caused havoc in country towns by infesting parts of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia - covering an area of approximately 500,000 square kilometres (190,000 square miles), roughly the size of Spain.

However this year's outbreak could potentially be worse than the devastating plague of 2004 - when locusts swept through eastern Australia damaging an area twice the size of England - because of recent rainfall across drought-affected inland Australia.

"Some farmers are taking it into their own hands because there's quite large scale damage on a lot of properties," he said.

And it is not just the horticulture and agriculture industries that have been hit by the bugs, the towns themselves are also being inundated with the pests which are a danger to drivers as they swarm over cars on country highways, as well as casuing a hazard to pilots flying aircraft.

"It's really really bad here, one of the 400m long fairways was just completely brown because it was covered in locusts," Mr Newey told The Times.

The biggest threat is yet to come according to authorities who have warned rural areas to brace for a further breakout as eggs laid by the current plague hatch in the Australian spring.

"Come the middle of September through to October across that entire inland area... we expect there to be some very large infestations again," Mr Adriaansen said.

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 April 26 - Major earthquake hits off Taiwan coast
 Article: Signs Of The Last Times

An earthquake struck off the southeast coast of Taiwan on Monday, causing buildings to sway briefly but no casualties or damage. The temblor was felt at the site of a massive landslide in northern Taiwan but did not hamper rescue efforts.

The 6.5-magnitude quake hit at 10:59 a.m. (0259 GMT), 195 miles (295 kilometers) off the southern Taiwan city of Taitung at a depth of 6.2 miles (10 kilometers), the U.S. Geological Survey said. The agency's initial report had put the quake's magnitude at 6.9.

In Taipei, buildings swayed for up to 20 seconds when the quake hit, but police said there were no reports of casualties or damage anywhere on the island. No tsunami alert was issued.

Earthquakes frequently rattle Taiwan but most are minor and cause little or no damage. However, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake in central Taiwan in 1999 killed more than 2,300 people.

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 April 24 - Methodists Step Outside Pews to 'Change the World'
 Article: Social Gospel

More than a thousand United Methodist churches have begun to "change the world" through radical service this weekend. The April 24-25 initiative is intended to get the nearly 8 million-member denomination out from the pews and into local and global communities where they can make an impact.

"Change the World challenges the people of The United Methodist Church to see the world holistically by giving and serving beyond the four walls of sanctuaries and Sunday school classrooms," said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications. "Our hope is that not only will church members participate, they will invite neighbors in the community to work side-by-side with them to make a sustainable difference in diverse ways."

Many are also engaging in malaria initiatives as the "Change the World" event coincides with World Malaria Day on Sunday. Youth groups across the country are camping out under bed nets to show their commitment to ending malaria deaths in Africa.

Change the World is part of UMC's larger Rethink Church campaign, which was launched a year ago. Rethink Church challenges Christians to be more outwardly focused and engaged in the world and helps them reassess what it means to be people of faith.

"We've been trying to rethink church for several years - even before the current campaign started," the Rev. Dan Peil, pastor of Elk City United Methodist Church, Elk City, Okla., told the denomination's news service. "Change the World gives us one more chance to do that."

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 April 23 - 'Turning strangers into Friends' - Review of report from Catholic Bishops of England and Wales
 Article: One World Religion

"In Britain we are engaged in a process of learning how to construct and live in a society made up of different faiths". This is how Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster begins his foreword to a significant teaching document from the Catholic bishops of England and Wales on inter-religious dialogue published today. But it is, of course, not only Britain. The same could be said for almost all countries in a time of globalisation and migration.

For this reason Meeting God in Friend and Stranger needs to reach a wider readership than just British Catholics. An important attempt to "read the signs of the times" and, as a consequence, to promote the importance of inter-religious dialogue, it both draws on and tries to clarify some of the complex questions arising from the contemporary Catholic position about relationships with other faiths. It sets out simply what the Catholic Church means by dialogue, "a way of living in positive relations with others", and evangelisation, when Christians "enable the reign or Kingdom of God to permeate the minds and hearts, the cultures and activities of the world of their time", as well as clearly distinguishing them from "relativism" and "proselytism".

The basic theological underpinning is also carefully teased out. The root proposition is the universality of God's love, the corresponding unity - in diversity - of the human race and the irreducible primacy of human dignity. This means that Catholics are called to dialogue not as an optional extra. Dialogue is "intrinsic to our understanding of Church" as the "sacrament of humanity" whether it is dialogue of life, action, theological discussion or spirituality. Catholics must therefore strive to be "open to all that is true and holy" in other faiths, and moreover, to "acknowledge, preserve and encourage" their "spiritual and moral truths... together with their social life and culture".

Catholics "come together to pray" with other faiths - as Pope John Paul II did on occasions at Assisi - with each faith praying in its own way; they do not "pray together" with them. This is a subtle distinction yet one of understandable importance to religious leaders. The bishops are also refreshingly open about the problem posed to genuine dialogue by the harassment and sometimes persecution of Christians in some countries.

The Vatican II document, Lumen Gentium, says about Muslims, "and together with us they adore the one merciful God". But does it mean that when Muslims attend their Friday or daily worship, they are incidentally praying on behalf of Jews and Christians who share their adoration - but not necessarily their regular prayer life? This would be a comforting thought for those with a prayer deficit. If, as Christian theology holds, the "fullness of truth" will only be realised with the second coming of Christ, how, from a Christian perspective, can anyone be sure that non-Christian faiths are adequately described as containing only "glimpses of that one truth" or reflecting a single "ray of that truth" ? This would be a humbling thought for those disabled by certainty.

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 May 2 - Israeli officials: Obama to call world summit if Mideast peace talks fail
 Article: Israel And The Last Days

The task of interreligious dialogue isn't only a task for leaders of the world's religions, but rather one that corresponds to every member of the Church, says the archbishop of Westminster. Archbishop Vincent Nichols, who is also the president of the episcopal conference of England and Wales, noted this in the introduction to a teaching document of the conference on interreligious dialogue.

In his introduction to the 102-page text titled "Meeting God in Friend and Stranger: Fostering Mutual Respect and Understanding Between the Religions," the archbishop stated that there are those who believe that religious beliefs "are divisive and, at worst, belittling."

The Catholic faith, Archbishop Nichols continued, "instructs us and guides us not only in the unique pathway to God through Jesus Christ, but also in the manner in which we are to learn about and cooperate with people of other faiths."That work of learning about and cooperating with other faiths, he added, is "a task and a duty which falls to us all."

"Our parishes often include Catholics from Africa, India, Vietnam, South America, the Caribbean and the Philippines, not to mention those who came from Poland and Italy in the 1940s, and the immigrants from Eastern Europe over the past few years." The bishops note that the Church in the United Kingdom "has been greatly enriched by this diversity, showing us how the one Gospel can be 'inculturated' in many different ways."

"To turn away from even the attempt to dialogue is to despair of the power of God and of his risen Son to advance his own Kingdom of peace and love," the text adds. "It is to forget that the work of dialogue, as with all forms of evangelization, is not our work at all, but his. We are merely his 'earthen vessels,' whose limitations show that the extraordinary power belongs to God, and does not come from us."

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 April 29 - Preacher debunks damnation theories
 Article: Perilous Times

What do pygmies in Africa and gays have in common? They are both going to heaven. At least that's what those exploring universal reconciliation believe.

Because she always feared for people who weren't exposed to Christianity, bar church minister Kathy Price started pursuing universal reconciliation, the belief that all people will receive salvation and won't end up in the fiery bowels of hell.

Williams gained notoriety being one of the first high profile 'Ex- gays' to openly acknowledge years later that he was still gay. He says homosexuality, or sin for that matter, is a "non-issue" with God. He doesn't promote or defend any lifestyle but teaches strictly from the Bible that all of humanity received freedom from sin and judgment through the death of Jesus Christ.

Price said she doesn't know anything for sure, but she said universal reconciliation settles better with her than the things she's learned all her life. She believes that Christ died for everyone's sins. The doctrine of hell has alienated people from seeking God's grace. After all, would a loving God damn people for eternity just because they don't believe?

Williams believes sin began with Adam but ended with Jesus Christ. He said some books of the Bible such as the letters of the New Testament, for example, is commentary on scriptures as opposed to the scripture itself.

Williams is also concerned about people around the world who aren't Christian and doesn't believe God would toss them in to hell. Williams struggled as a child believing in God in fear of punishment. When he finally believed without fear of punishment he said his faith became much more powerful.

Williams admits he's been called a heretic and kicked out of many churches, something he's not ashamed about. "The definition of heresy is that you think and believe something that is outside of the society's realm of normality. That's what heresy is. I am a heretic, I preach heresy, because I do not agree with the religiously accepted view of the cross which teaches that Christ's a failure, I teach he's victorious," Williams said.

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 May 2 - Mary helps us see the face of God in Jesus' face, Pope says during Turin visit
 Article: Roman Catholic Church And He Last Days

The Holy Father prayed the Regina Caeli after Mass in Turin's St. Charles Square on Sunday. Saying Mary teaches us to recognize the face of God in Jesus' human face, Pope Benedict asked for her intercession for workers, those in jail and all believers.

To Mary, said the Holy Father before the recitation of the Regina Caeli, "I entrust this city and all who live here."

Speaking the day after Italy celebrated the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, he implored that Mary keep watch over families, the "world of work" and those who have lost their faith and hope. Benedict XVI also asked for her intercession in comforting the sick, those in jail and all who suffer.

"He reflected on the Virgin Mary as "she who more than any other has contemplated God in the human face of Jesus. She saw him just after birth, while wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger; she saw him just after death, when after being taken from the cross, they wrapped him in a cloth and took him to the tomb." The image of her tormented son was imprinted within her; but this image was then transfigured by the light of the Resurrection," Pope Benedict said. "In this way, the mystery of the face of Christ, mystery of death and glory, was kept in the heart of Mary."

"From her," he taught, "we can always learn to look at Jesus with love and faith, to recognize in that human face the Face of God."

The Holy Father concluded by thanking all who have worked to prepare for his visit and the special exposition of the Shroud, which he personally called for in 2008. He said he hoped that it would bring about a "profound spiritual renewal."

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

Ron Pierotti

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