- The Washington Times - Friday, February 9, 2007

Mission head upset with internal feuding

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A leader in Southern Baptist evangelism says he’s “heartbroken” over feuding within the denomination over theology and worship styles and says it’s distracting from the critical work of religious outreach.

Bill Curtis, chairman of trustees for the North American Mission Board, said the disagreements are intensifying as baptisms in Southern Baptist churches are at their lowest level in 12 years and 73 percent of member churches are either not growing or declining.

“I am heartbroken by what I am seeing,” Mr. Curtis wrote in the February/March issue of the Southern Baptist journal. “The ultimate result of this behavior will not be greater denominational purity — it will be missed evangelistic opportunity.”

The 16.3 million-member conservative denomination, which believes the Bible is the inerrant word of God, has seen internal conflicts increasing in recent years over whether Southern Baptists can speak in tongues during worship and other issues.

Mass for slain priest focuses on peace

ANKARA, Turkey — The head of Italy’s bishops expressed hope for dialogue and peace between faiths and for religious freedom at a memorial Mass for a Roman Catholic priest slain in Turkey a year ago.

The Rev. Andrea Santoro was fatally shot Feb. 5, 2006, as he knelt in prayer in his church in the Black Sea port city of Trabzon. The killing happened at a time of widespread anger in the Islamic world over the publication of caricatures of the prophet Muhammad.

A 16-year-old is serving an 18-year prison sentence for the slaying that was thought to be linked to the outrage over publication of the caricatures in European newspapers.

“We are here to contribute to peace between peoples and religions, to witness that dialogue between religions is possible,” Cardinal Camillo Ruini said at the service Monday.

“We are here to ask God to enlighten everyone’s heart and mind so that freedom of religion is emphasized in all four corners of the world,” he said.

Methodist court to meet in Manila

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The high court of the United Methodist Church is holding its first meeting outside the United States in acknowledgment of the denomination’s worldwide growth.

The Judicial Council is set to meet April 25-28 in Manila.

In 2000, a lawyer from Cabanatuan City, Philippines, Rodolfo Beltran, was elected to the panel, the first person outside the United States to serve on the court. He invited the other members to hold a meeting in his home country.

At the meeting, the council will reconsider its decision from last year on the number of delegates that the Methodist Church of the Ivory Coast can send to the 2008 General Conference. That assembly is the top policy-making body for the church.

BYU pulls Web page explaining polygamy

SALT LAKE CITY — Brigham Young University officials have yanked an assistant dean’s addition to the official school Web site that sought to explain polygamy in the Mormon church.

Jim Engebretsen’s Web page — polygamy.byu.edu — came down Monday shortly after it was posted when officials said it violated university policy.

Mr. Engebretsen did not have approval to post the “personal project” on the school site, said BYU spokeswoman Carrie Jenkins.

Mr. Engebretsen directs the master’s degree of business administration program and serves as an assistant dean for corporate relations and career placement at BYU’s Marriott School of Management.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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