||FIRST, THE NEWS:
SERBIAN CHURCH BURNS IN NYC; FIRE IN 3 MORE ORTHODOX TEMPLES
(02 May) A large fire has destroyed the Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Sava in central Manhattan, New York City, on Orthodox Easter Sunday. There have been no victims, but the building no longer exists, priest Djokan Majstorovic said, and added: "This church brought together the whole community, it was the only one in New York, and now it's gone. This is terrible, a nightmare, my heart is broken."
More than 170 firefighters worked for four hours to contain the the blaze that broke out at 19:00 hours local time. The cause of the fire remains unknown at this time. Earlier in the day, more than 700 Orthodox believers celebrated Easter there. The building, dating back to 1890, was empty when the fire broke out. There were no casualties. The Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) bought the building, designated a New York City landmark, in 1943. The city’s fire commissioner Daniel Nigro told the New York Post that the cause of fire remains under investigation, RT reported. “It’s a very sad day today,” Nigro said.
Also on Sunday, a Macedonian Orthodox church burned to the ground in Sydney, Australia. Four persons, including two firefighters, suffered light injuries. Local fire department officials said that "candles or wiring" are among the possible causes. Media reports are speculating that the fire might have been the work of arsonists,who wished to steal the Easter donations left at the temple.
A 115-year-old Greek Orthodox Church in Melbourne was damaged in a blaze on Easter Sunday. Nobody was injured during this incident, while the cause remains unknown at this time. Fire also spread on Sunday in a hotel in a 19th century building on the premises of the Orthodox Monastery of Valaam, northern Russia, RT reported. The building was a national heritage site belonging to the monastery. [see more photos...]
TURKMENISTAN: CHILDREN'S SUMMER CAMP WARNING, FINES, NEW RELIGION LAW, "NO RELIGION" IN ARMY
by : Forum 18 News Service
(18 Apr) Secret police officers warned the pastor of the Baptist Church in Mary not to hold a children's summer camp in 2016 otherwise "it would be a different conversation", Protestants told Forum 18 News Service. One of the officers had led the raid on the same church's children's camp in 2013. Also in February, members of Greater Grace Protestant Church were fined for visiting the town of Tejen to talk to others of their faith. On 12 April, Turkmenistan's new Religion Law came into force. It retains the earlier ban on unregistered religious activity, while increasing the number of founders who can apply for legal status for a religious community from five to 50.
The new government Commission that controls religion needs to approve all religious literature and any new places of worship. Two senior members of parliament refused to discuss the new Law with Forum 18. Members of several religious communities complained that "no religion" is allowed during military service. "You can't have a Koran, Bible or other religious literature and you can't conduct prayers visibly," one told Forum 18. [read more...]
(29 Apr) Ukrainians called Easter the most important of the "May holidays." 67% of Ukrainian citizens that participated in the survey of Research-Branding-Group think so, Ukrainian Pravda.Life reports. For more than half of Ukrainian (58%) Easter holidays mean great mystery, for almost a third (30%) it is an occasion to meet relatives and friends, and for 8% it is just a weekend. The research shows that over two-thirds of Ukrainian (70%) regularly celebrate Easter. An important part of Easter is Lent. More than half - 54% - of Ukrainian respondents have indicated that they never observe Lent. 8% always observe it regularly, 33% only sometimes.
In two-thirds of Ukrainian households (62%) follow the tradition to bake Easter cakes at home, while a third (33%) prefer to buy it. The vast majority of Ukrainian (79%) this year plan to bless the "Easter basket", while one in ten (10%) do not, and many (11%) are still undecided. The study was conducted in the period from 11 to 21 April 2016 among residents of Ukraine (excluding Crimea, Sevastopol, uncontrolled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions). [read more...]
LUKASHENKO VISITS TRANSFIGURATION OF SAVIOR CHURCH IN SHKLOV ON EASTER
from: Belarus News
(02 May) Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko visited the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior in Shklov on Easter on 1 May, lit an Easter candle, had a warm conversation with the congregants and residents of Shklov, BelTA learned from the press service of the Belarusian leader. In accordance with a good tradition, Alexander Lukashenko visits churches in various regions of Belarus on Easter. This year, the head of state celebrated Easter in his native town. Talking to the residents of Shklov, he said that he is well aware of the problems of Shklov District and the people living there.
Belarus is a young sovereign state; a lot has been done and is still to be done for its development, the head of state said and added that he is responsible for the Belarusian land. “I am responsible for the people who entrusted this post to me,” the President stressed. Alexander Lukashenko urged Belarusians to work hard for the common good without throwing their problems on other people. The state, in turn, will provide necessary assistance. The President believes that everybody should critically evaluate the results of work and try to work even better. “Then everything will be all right,” the head of state is convinced. [read more...]
THREE-FOURTHS OF RUSSIANS DO NOT OBSERVE THE GREAT LENT, BUT PLAN TO CELEBRATE EASTER
(29 Apr) Most of Russians (75% in general and 72% of those who call themselves Orthodox believers) did not have any special diet during the Great Lent, which this year ends on April 30, the Lavada-Center told Interfax. During the poll held on April 22-25 among 1600 people in 137 cities and towns of Russia it became clear that only eight per cent of Russians in general and nine per cent of Orthodox believers were going to observe the fast during the last week before Easter.
Another 14% of respondents (16% of Orthodox believers) observe the fast partially (for example tried not to drink alcohol and restrict themselves in food). Only one per cent of Russians (one per cent of Orthodox believers) strictly observe the fast. A majority of Russians are going to celebrate Easter. 66% of respondents will decorate Easter eggs (74% of Orthodox believers), buy or bake Easter cakes - 66% and 64% respectively, some will go to see their friends or will welcome guests at their homes - 50% and 55% respectively. 19% of Russians will have Easter cakes blessed, 6% will go to church, 7% will just make presents to their relatives. [read more...]
WHAT IS PASCHA? ORTHODOX EASTER 2016: RUSSIAN, GREEK & OTHER EASTERN CHURCHES CELEBRATE [PHOTOS]
from: International Business Times
(29 Apr) From Greece to Russia, Orthodox Christians around the world celebrate Easter Sunday on 1 May this year. While many Christians celebrated Easter on March 27 based on the Gregorian calendar, for Orthodox followers who use the Julian calendar, the date falls much later this year. Next year the Gregorian and Julian calendars align and Easter will fall on April 16 for both Orthodox and Western Christian churches.
Orthodox Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ and shares unique traditions, from colorful eggs to palm fronds. Some refer to this feast day as Pascha from the Greek transliteration. The large celebrations and prayers take place across Orthodox churches after the end of Lent to mark the ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven. There are approximately 200 million to 300 million Orthodox Christians around the world, with large followings in Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Egypt and Ethiopia.
In the streets of Kiev, Ukraine, traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs, known as pysanky, are on display for the holiday. Outside of beautiful, decorative eggs, it is traditional for eggs to be dyed red to symbolize the life and the blood of Jesus Christ. It is common for people to also play games with eggs, banging them against each other. Whoever ends up with the noncracked egg is supposed to have luck for the coming year. Many worshippers also bring baskets full of food and special breads to church Easter Sunday to be blessed.
Thousands of people visit Jerusalem every year to take part in Holy Week ceremonies and processions from Palm Sunday until Easter. It is traditional for palm fronds or pussy willow branches to be given out and blessed at church services on Palm Sunday. [see more photos...]
OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:
THIS YEAR EASTER TO BE A TEST FOR CHRISTIANITY FOR RUSSIA - POROSHENKO
from Religious Information Service of Ukraine
RUSSIAN-BACKED SEPARATISTS IN UKRAINE KILL THREE DESPITE EASTER ARMISTICE
from Vatican Radio
DESPITE UKRAINE CRISIS, GOD CHANGES LIVES
from Mission Network News
POROSHENKO CALLS FOR THINKING ABOUT CREATING UNITED ORTHODOX CHURCH IN UKRAINE
from RIA Novosti
ABOUT 4 MILLION PEOPLE PRAYED AT PASCHA EVE SERVICES IN RUSSIA - THE MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS
HIS HOLINESS PATRIARCH KIRILL MEETS WITH A GROUP OF PILGRIMS FROM CHINA
from Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate
LOLA AND MIRJAN’S STORY
from Mission Eurasia
DALLAS HAS A SAINT
from Russia Insider
'HOLY FIRE,' FIREWORKS: ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS CELEBRATE EASTER
from Daily Mail
See HOSKEN-NEWS Daily for more of the latest news!
NOW, OUR VIEWS:
Our first news article SERBIAN CHURCH BURNS IN NYC; FIRE IN 3 MORE ORTHODOX TEMPLES raises the obvious question: what is the connection between these four Orthodox cathedrals in different parts of the world all catching fire on the same day, on Orthodox Pascha (Easter)? Some sources speculate that it is because of Orthodox pressure against the Catholic Church wanting to canonize a Serbian bishop who collaborated with the Nazis. This canonization process was put on hold by the Vatican.
It is very interesting to note that in both Ukraine and Russia, two countries claiming a high percentage of Orthodox Christians in their respective populations, relatively small percentages of the people would observe Lent and Pascha in a religious way: see our news articles UKRAINIANS CONSIDER EASTER IMPORTANT BUT SELDOM OBSERVE FAST – RESEARCH and THREE-FOURTHS OF RUSSIANS DO NOT OBSERVE THE GREAT LENT, BUT PLAN TO CELEBRATE EASTER. Thus the celebration of Christianity's most holy day has taken on a largely secular character in these countries.
Our first Pascha time in the USSR was in 1991, in the waning days of the Soviet Union. We visited the parents of some Russian Jewish immigrants to the U.S. whom we knew, and they told us that they would be celebrating Pascha - what a surprise, Jews celebrating Christ's resurrection! They said it was just a cultural thing to do. They were an elderly couple whose parents had actually helped Lenin lead the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, and they told us: "Communism was an experiment that should have been tried on animals first."
In the West, Easter is just a one-weekend celebration. As in Ukraine and Russia, few people in the West strictly observe the Lenten fast or the Holy Week strict fast. But practicing Orthodox Christians will fast for the six weeks leading up to Holy Week, then increase the fast during Holy Week, especially on Good Friday when they are encouraged to practice a total fast, drinking only water. That makes the Paschal eve service a time of great rejoicing when they shout: "Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!" in English, Slavonic, Greek and possibly Arabic. Then the bishop or priest blesses the Easter baskets filled with meat, sausage, cheese, eggs, wine and other non-fasting foods, and they break the fast. But the celebration of Pascha doesn't end that weekend, the Orthodox continue singing in church and greeting each other with "Christ is risen! Indeed He is risen!" for the next six weeks, up until Pentecost.
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Welfare or Workfare?
This debate has been going on for over a decade now: Should able-bodied people receiving public assistance be required to work? That is, should we have Welfare or Workfare? As you see in this photo, many protest against "workfare" as low-paying, menial, meaningless work that simply exploits these new members of the workforce.
It takes little insight to realize that "EXPLOITATION" is a fairly typical Marxist denunciation of workfare. The real purpose of workfare is to require able-bodied unemployed people who are unable to find and keep a regular job to find at least minimum-wage work, so they are motivated to find better-paying work for themselves with a little upgrade of their skills, rather than sitting around and collecting welfare. The phrase "REAL JOBS NOW" implies that they want better-paying jobs rather than minimum-wage work, but for this they need better skills.
If the minimum wage for unskilled workers is raised to $15/hour, it will cause many low-skill jobs to be eliminated by automation, and thus the minimum wage for those laid-off workers becomes $0/hour. What they need is a three-pronged approach of preparing job search documents, vocational education, and job search assistance: see points #2, #3, and #4 at www.Agape-Restoration-Society.org for how we are helping them improve their skills and find a job!
So as Christians, we must not let ourselves to be co-opted by leftist political rhetoric: we need to change the narrative to a Biblical worldview of work. After the Flood, God promised Noah: "While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease" (Gen. 8:22). Notice the yearly cycle of seed time and harvest, man's work as part and parcel of sowing and harvest, day and night, the seasons of summer and winter.
In the Psalms we read - "You make darkness, and it is night, In which all the animals of the forest prowl. The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their food from God. The sun rises, and they steal away, and lay down in their dens. Man goes forth to his work, to his labor until the evening. O Lord, how many are your works! In wisdom have you made them all. The earth is full of your riches" (Ps. 104:20-24). Animals instinctively know how to gather food and hunt. Man is part of this cycle of life, rising when the sun comes up and going forth to his labor until evening. All this is part of the Lord's works and wise plan.
Also, in Ps. 128:1-2 it states - "Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways. For you will eat the labor of your hands. You will be happy, and it will be well with you." Receiving the reward of the labor of our hands gives us a sense of self-worth and makes us happy about life. In contrast, living off charity or welfare diminishes one's self-worth and sense of well-being. The prophet Isaiah retells this cycle of seed time and harvest -
"Does he who plows to sow plow continually? does he continually open and harrow his ground? When he has leveled the surface of it, doesn't he cast abroad the dill, and scatter the cumin, and put in the wheat in rows, and the barley in the appointed place, and the spelt in the border of it? For his God does instruct him aright, and does teach him. For the dill are not threshed with a sharp threshing instrument, neither is a cart wheel turned about on the cumin; but the dill are beaten out with a staff, and the cumin with a rod. Bread grain is ground; for he will not be always threshing it: and though the wheel of his cart and his horses scatter it, he does not grind it. This also comes forth from the Lord of Hosts, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in wisdom" (Is. 28:24-29). There are different kinds of labor, depending on the season and the need. Again, this is wisdom, part of God's plan for mankind.
There are different kinds of labor, depending on the season and the need. Again, this is wisdom, part of God's plan for mankind. We get a sense of goodness and satisfaction from being rewarded for doing good work - "Behold, that which I have seen to be good and proper is for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy good in all his labor, in which he labors under the sun, all the days of his life which God has given him; for this is his portion. Every man also to whom God has given riches and wealth, and has given him power to eat of it, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor -- this is the gift of God" (Eccles. 5:18-19). What does the Lord tell us in the New Testament about this?
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Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...
Bob & Cheryl
p.s. Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.
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