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2018-01-01 14:50:28 Views : 697 |

News: 2017 on Christian Today: A year of triumphs and tragedies

ReutersA relative of one of the victims reacts after a church explosion in Tanta, Egypt, during a Palm Sunday service.

ishtartv.com - christiantoday.com

Sun 31 Dec 2017


It's been a momentous year. As well as the usual views and reviews, these are some of the news stories covered by Christian Today during 2017.



Donald Trump was inaugurated after a bitter and bewildering election campaign. Evangelical luminaries including Paula White and Franklin Graham took part in the ceremony, despite protests against the latter's inclusion because of his well-known views on Muslims and gay people. One of Trump's first acts was to attempt to ban Muslims from the US; the courts overruled him and the issue is ongoing.

In other news, the Provost of St Mary's, Glasgow, Kelvin Holdsworth, held a service which included a reading in Arabic denying the divinity of Christ. Jill Saward, a much-loved and respected campaigner for sexual assault victims after her own traumatic experience, died suddenly.



Evangelicals in the US scored their first big win with the nomination of conservative judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

Traditionalist bishop Philip North was appointed to the diocese of Sheffield. There is an outcry among supporters of women priests and he is ultimately forced to step down, casting an unflattering light both on the Church of England's episcopal selection procedures and its vulnerability to pressure groups.

John Smyth, an evangelical leader associated with the Iwerne camps for public school pupils, was revealed to have been a sadistic abuser. Among his victims was the future Bishop of Guildford.



Conservatives were up in arms about Disney's first openly gay character and love scene, in Beauty and the Beast – but is there a better way of handling this? The head of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Russell Moore, comes under fire for his criticisms of racism and of Donald Trump, but wins backing as well. Donald Trump has another go at banning Muslims. The former Queen's Chaplain Gavin Ashenden quits the 'liberal' Church of England. There's a Church in Wales row over whether Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans, is to be the next Bishop of Llandaff; he is gay and there are accusations of homophobia after he's passed over. Westminster is attacked by a terrorist with a van; Khalid Masood killed and injured more than 50 people.



The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, attended Spring Harvest. 'Jesus prayed that we would be united. Our witness depends upon us being united,' he said. 'How we experience the love of Christ is transformed by unity.' The National Trust got into a row over egg hunts – not Easter egg, note. God forbid a national body should have anything to do with religion.

In Egypt, 44 people were killed in bomb attacks on churches on Palm Sunday, April 9. Egypt's Coptic Christians have been frequent targets of Islamists. GAFCON, the conservative Anglican grouping, decided to appoint a 'missionary bishop' to England for congregations unhappy with the CofE.



A horrific attack on an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester left 22 people dead and many injured. 'There is a proper anger and rage in the face of events like this,' said the Bishop of Manchester.

Agroup of Coptic Christians traveling to a monastery in central Egypt were attacked by Islamists. At least 29 died and 24 were wounded. Many children were among the victims.

President Trump sacked FBI director James Comey and has had to fight off suspicions about his motivation. The Archbishop of Canterbury visited the Middle East, holding meetings with political leaders as well as religious figures.

At home, the CofE was showing increasing strains as moves by conservatives to create parallels structures gained pace.



Britain went to the polls in an election designed to cement the Conservatives' hold on power as the country entered negotiations on Brexit. It didn't work out like that. A disastrously poor campaign from Theresa May and a surge of support for Jeremy Corbyn saw a hung Parliament. The Liberal Democrats were badly hit and the Tories were forced to rely on the Democratic Unionist Party to prop them up.

The Scottish Episcopal Church, part of the Anglican Communion, voted to allow gay marriage.

Grenfell Tower burned down. It would emerge later that warnings about safety were ignored and that fire regulations were wholly inadequate. Churches ministered to the survivors. It was an appalling tragedy.

A damning report into the Church of England's handling of abusive Bishop Peter Ball found it 'colluded' in the abuse and excoriated former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey.



The Church of England voted to back special services marking new identities for transgender people and to call for the banning of 'conversion therapy' for gay people. The Charlie Gard case, where the parents of a baby with a life-threatening condition fought to keep him alive against doctors' advice, continued to make headlines; he died at the end of the month. Bible scholar and translator Eugene Peterson drew conservative ire with an apparent statement of support for gay marriage, but retracted it.



Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim is released from prison in North Korea. He had been in jail for more than two years accused of 'trying to use religion to destroy North Korea' and was in poor health. Christian Aid warned the East Africa famine crisis was the worst in a generation. President Trump faced fierce criticism over his response to disturbances in Charlottesville in which he appeared to blame 'both sides', leading to charges he was defending fascists. Evangelicals defended his statement as 'bold and truthful'.

The US city of Houston faced catastrophic floods after Hurricane Harvey. Conservative church leaders issued the 'Nashville Statement' condemning homosexuality and transgender ideology. Others condemned their condemnations.



Indian priest Fr Tom Uzhunalil, kidnapped in Yemen by Islamic State, was freed. Unfounded rumours that his captors planned to crucify him had circulated. Myanmar's vicious programme of ethnic cleansing against its Rohingya minority was denounced by the UN. The systematic purging of the Rohingha has seen horrific acts of violence committed by the army including rape, torture and the burning alive of children. Aung San Suu Kyi has failed to acknowledge the army's actions.

Evangelical Christians mourned the death of Muslim convert Nabeel Qureshi, a writer and speaker, who died of cancer at aged 34.



The worst mass shooting in modern American history sees Stephen Paddock kill 58 people and injure 546 more as he shot from the window of a Las Vegas hotel room. Church leaders led calls to prayer, while the stock price of firearms manufacturers rose.

A meeting of Anglican primates took place in Canterbury and despite tensions over gay marriage was judged a success at the time, though later conservative press releases appeared to contradict this.

The 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation was celebrated, recalling the occasion when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, though he probably didn't. Four British missionaries are kidnapped in Nigeria; one will die.



A gunman killed 26 people and wounded 20 others at First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, Texas, in America's worst church shooting. Devin Patrick Kelley was wounded as he left the church and later shot himself in the head. A pregnant woman and three of her children were among his victims.

Australia overwhelmingly backed same-sex marriage in a vote that left conservative Christian leaders 'deeply disappointed'.

Zimbabwe's ageing President Robert Mugabe resigned, giving the country some hope after years of misrule and corruption.

A minister in the Scottish Episcopal Church, Kelvin Holdsworth, sparked outrage when he suggested praying for young Prince George to be gay and in due course 'blessed with the love of a fine young gentleman'.



Pope Francis visited Myanmar and raised the plight of the Rohingya privately with its leaders.

Donald Trump announced the US would unilaterally recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, alarming and outraging most of the rest of the world but delighting his evangelical backers. Also in the US, controversial Republican Roy Moore is hit by allegations about serious sexual misconduct. Despite heavy backing by evangelicals, he loses the Alabama Senate race to Democrat Doug Jones in a stunning upset. Moore is challenging the result.

The Church of England is lambasted in an official review of the way it handled the George Bell case, in which a revered bishop was assumed to have been a paedophile on insufficient evidence.

An attack on Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta, Pakistan, left 11 dead and more than 50 injured.

The new Bishop of London is to be a former nurse, Sarah Mullally.


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