Coptic Christians under siege in Egypt

Protest against persecution of Christians in EgyptOn February 11, 2011 after 18 days of massive protests from Egyptians, President Hosni Mubarak resigned ending his 30-year presidency. The news was received with roars of approval and chanting. Many Egyptians had seen Mubarak’s long reign as very undemocratic. His resignation was seen as the people’s victory because it was their protests that had forced the outcome.

Now the power void left by the absence of the Mubarak regime is being felt by Egypt’s Coptic Christians who have been at the brunt of violence from Muslim extremists.

On Sunday night 25 Coptic Christians were killed and over 500 were injured in a riot that brought together Christians, Muslims and the police. The clash had been between Christians who were protesting a church attack and the Egyptian army who was ordered to break up protests of any kind.

According to Charles Lewis the religion reporter for the National Post, there had already been a “significant anti-Christian element in the army [and] increased frustration among the Copts as the rate of attacks on their community continues to increase. All this came together on Sunday.” It was the belief of Lewis that the incident on Sunday was “really a riot by the army.”

Coptic Christians currently make up 10 per cent of Egypt’s population. The start date of the Coptic Church was around 54 A.D. and the church was established there 600 years prior to Islam. “Egypt was one of the most Christian countries in the world before Islam and home to some of the greatest Christian theologians the world has seen,” said Lewis.

Q&A: Are Coptic Christians safe in the new Egypt? [National Post]

Steve Jobs co-founder of Apple dies

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple has died at the age of 56. The apple website issued the following release:

Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of apple.

Jobs was a practicing Buddhist. He had converted after a trip to India.

Amanda Knox found not guilty

Amanda KnoxAn Italian court has cleared 24-year-old  American Amanda Knox and her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito of charges relating to the murder of British student Meredith Kercher. They were facing up to 26 years if found guilty of the murder and sexual assault of Kercher which happened four years ago. Knox gave an impassioned final closing statement in Italian. “I did not do the things they say I did. I did not kill, rape or steal. I was not there,” she said. “I am paying with my life for a crime I did not commit … I am not the person they say I am. I am not into perversion and violence.”

In 2007, authorities found Kercher’s half-naked body, with more than 40 knife wounds, in the apartment she shared with Knox. Throughout the many years of the trial, Knox gained a huge amount of supporters in the United States who poked holes in Italy’s archaic justice system. Many arguments against Knox were theoretical with no hard DNA evidence or concrete proof that she was guilty.

In Italy, the crowd seemed to be dissatisfied with the verdict with many crying “Murderer” and “Shame” outside the Italian courtroom.

Knox is expected to be released within hours.

Casting Crowns concert review

A live painting of Jesus

Sunday night’s Casting Crowns concert turned out to be a great time of worship. Singer/Songwriter Lindsay Mccaul opened the show with a couple of self written numbers. She was followed by the Texas band The Afters who warmed the crowd with popular hits such as Chris Tomlin’s famous “How Great is our God”. Ohio band Sanctus Real came after. Lead singer Matt Hammmit shared a heartwarming song about his son Bowen who had struggled with illness for much of his young life.

After a short intermission, it was time for Casting Crowns. They opened their performance to an anxious crowd and played some new songs from their new record Come to the Well. They also replayed old hits such as “Praise you in the Storm”, “East to West”, and “Who am I”. Throughout the night, lead singer of Casting Crowns Mark Hall addressed the audience. He shared touching personal testimonies but also shared his self deprecating sense of humour. “I bet you all thought it was going to be Mercy Me up here,” said Hall. “I can only Imagine what you’re all thinking now.”

The highlight of the night was definitely during the band’s performance of their new song “Jesus, Friend of Sinners.” Along with the band’s performance, an artist did a live painting of Jesus with his hands on a huge black canvas. He was finished before the song ended and the result was spectacular. The crowd was in awe of this and many rushed to take photographs of this piece of art after the the CC encore.

CanadianChristianity.com and ConvergeMagazine.com would like to thank LMG Concerts for giving us access to this event.

Stay tuned for more event pictures as well as a video of the live painting coming tomorrow.

Dead Sea Scrolls now Online

The Israel Museum in partnership with Google have just made five of the eight the dead sea scrolls available online. Prior to the completion of this project, the scrolls could only be viewed at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Now they can be searched and read through here.

The manuscripts were discovered between 1947 and 1956 on the Northwest shore of the Dead Sea. Written in Aramaic, Greek, and Hebrew, they date between 150 BCE and 70 CE. The scrolls were likely hidden in caves when the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

“We are privileged to house in the Israel Museum’s Shrine of the Book the best preserved and most complete Dead Sea Scrolls ever discovered. They are of paramount importance among the touchstones of monotheistic world heritage, and they represent unique highlights of our Museum’s encyclopedic holdings. Now, through our partnership with Google, we are able to bring these treasures to the broadest possible public,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum.

Rob Bell resigns from Mars Hill

Rob BellMars Hill pastor Rob Bell, author of the controversial book Love Wins: Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, will be leaving the church that he helped propel into the spotlight. According to a statement issued on the Mars Hill church website, Bell, “Feeling the call from God to pursue a growing number of strategic opportunities … has decided to leave Mars Hill in order to devote his full energy to sharing the message of God’s love with a broader audience.”

The release went on to state, “It is with deeply mixed emotions that we announce this transition to you. We have always understood, encouraged, and appreciated the variety of avenues in which Rob’s voice and the message of God’s tremendous love has traveled over the past 12 years. And we are happy and hopeful that as Rob and Kristen venture ahead, they will find increasing opportunity to extend the heartbeat of that message to our world in new and creative ways.”

The pastor famous for denying the existence of hell plans to address the congregation on this Sunday and talk about his future plans to do work outside the confines of the church.

Rob Bell to Leave Mars Hill [Mars Hill]

Casting Crowns Concert Oct 2nd

Casting Crowns

CanadianChristianity.com in partnership with ConvergeMagazine.com and LMG Concerts is running a draw for Casting Crowns tickets. The Dove and Grammy award winning Contemporary Christian worship band will be playing at the Langley Events Centre on Sunday October 2 along with The Afters and Sanctus Real. Doors open at 6pm, and the show starts at 7 pm.

To ensure you have tickets to this event purchase them here from LMG concerts

To enter the contest, please send your favourite Casting Crowns song to info@convergemagazine.com

 

400th Anniversary KJV Biblethon

Title page of the first edition of the King James Bible in 1611In honour of the 400th Anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible, Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria is hosting a week long continuous reading of the KJV from cover to cover. Special guests will include Governor General Award-winning author Kit Pearson, CBC radio host Jo-Ann Roberts Victoria Poet Laureate Linda Rogers and, Times Colonist columnist Jack Knox. There will also be dramatic presentations by Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre, and nightly Psalms at 7:00 p.m. sung by the Cathedral Choir.  The Biblethon will take place from Monday September 19 to Saturday September 24.

For more information please visit this site

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repealed

Don't ask, don't tellFor many years the United States military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy protected closeted gay, lesbian, or bisexuals from experiencing discrimination and harassment. The same policy also prevented these same people from serving the military as openly gay. The policy was introduced in 1993 during the presidency of Bill Clinton who had made the campaign promise to allow people of all sexual orientations to serve in the military. Prior to that, homosexuality was considered incompatible with service and those found out were subject to automatic dismissal.

On September 20 at 12:01 a.m., the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy was repealed. While many from the LGBT community are celebrating this decision, some members of the community don’t think it goes far enough. While they are now allowed to be open about their sexual orientation without fear of discharge, they argue it still does not protect this group from any form experiencing harassment or discrimination.

The Family Research Council (a Christian American lobbying group) had urged the pentagon to postpone this decision. In a press statement released on September 19, FRC President Tony Perkins stated, “The American military exists for only one purpose – to fight and win wars. Yet, tomorrow, the U.S. military becomes a tool in reshaping social attitudes regarding human sexuality. Using the military to advance a liberal social agenda will only do harm to the military’s ability to fulfill its mission . . . Members of Congress are still waiting for answers to their questions about how opening the military to homosexuality will affect issues of religious freedom, conscience exemptions and same-sex partner benefits.”

Church offers Hebert family comfort

News of 3 year old Kienan Hebert’s abduction touched many of the residents of BC. On Saturday September 10th, Ron Rutley the pastor of the Hebert family held a special service at Sparwood Fellowship Baptist Church. That night Kienan was safely returned home by his abductor. The following is an excerpt from Rutley’s sermon:

“So while God did not cause this, He is still sovereign over this.  God can take something as horrific as Kienan’s abduction, something as terrible as every parents’ nightmare and sweep this awful event up into His own purpose so that good will come of it.  But we might never know the reason why, this side of eternity. It might be that a generation yet to come will look back at the events of this past week and see the reason behind them.  But we can’t, we are too close to them. So all we can do is trust in God’s purpose.  Trust that the Great King will take these awful circumstances and bend them to his good and gracious will.”

Hebert’s family church offers comfort to the community [BC Local News]