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WITH OR WITHOUT RUSSIA, SPOKESMAN SAYS ORTHODOX COUNCIL IS ‘BINDING’
from: Crux Now

clerics await Patriarch Bartholomew (15 Jun) Despite calls for Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to postpone an historic Orthodox "Holy and Great Council," a spokesman says he can't because the decision to hold the summit in Crete beginning June 16 was endorsed by all Orthodox leaders, and Russia's pullout doesn't make the council any less "valid and binding."

A spokesman for the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople insisted on Wednesday that not only is a long-planned “Holy and Great Council” in Crete going ahead, despite decisions by several churches to boycott, but it remains a “pan-Orthodox” summit, the results of which are binding on everyone. “It is a great council, a pan-Orthodox council whose decisions are binding for the Orthodox Church,” said the Rev. John Chryssavgis, an archdeacon as theological adviser to Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. He made the statements in an on-line session with reporters from Crete.

The council, set to run June 16-27, was designed to be the first-ever gathering of the leaders of all 14 of the world’s independent or “autocephalous” Orthodox churches. In recent days, however, the Orthodox churches of Antioch, Bulgaria, Georgia and Russia have all announced they’re not coming and have called for the meeting to be postponed.

The pullout by Moscow is a special blow, since the Russian Orthodox Church represents roughly two-thirds of the estimated 250 to 300 million Orthodox Christians in the world. [read more...]


KAZAKHSTAN: BANK ACCOUNTS BLOCKED, FORCED TO PAY "EXPERT ANALYSIS" COSTS
by Felix Corley: Forum 18 News Service

(10 Jun) At least 26 people convicted of exercising their freedom of religion and belief have had bank accounts blocked by the government without being informed of this, and apparently without due legal process. They are also required to pay for "expert analyses" used to convict them. These people are included in a Finance Ministry Financial Monitoring Committee List of individuals "connected with the financing of terrorism or extremism."

One is a Christian prisoner of conscience. A Financial Monitoring Committee official said that individuals are not told if they are on the Financial Monitoring List. "The only way they would know is when they go to the bank and find their account is blocked and the bank then tells them." One human rights defender asked if "anyone who tries to help those prisoners of conscience .. might themselves be accused of financing terrorism?" [read more...]


SPEAKER OF UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT EXPECTS ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH TO GRANT AUTOCEPHALY TO UKRAINIAN CHURCH
from: Religious Information Service of Ukraine

(13 Jun) Chairman of Ukrainian Parliament Andriy Parubiy hopes that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I will hear the appeal of the faithful and Parliament to grant autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, Depo.ua reported. “I believe that Ukraine must have a unified Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” said the Speaker of Parliament. He noted that the Ecumenical Patriarch is in the position to adopt the historic decision regarding the restoration of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

“I believe this issue to be of great importance. I am confident that the Ecumenical Patriarch will hear the prayers of millions of believers who are convinced that there should be no church schism in Ukraine. There must be unity in love of God and love for Ukraine... and he will hear us, as the Parliament of Ukraine, which joins the prayers and petitions of Ukrainian believers,” the speaker said. As it was previously reported, the Parliament registered a decree to send an appeal to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew: MPs request him to grant autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. [read more...]


KAZAKHSTAN: HARSHER LAWS PLANNED AS 89-YEAR-OLD FINED
by Felix Corley: Forum 18 News Service

(14 Jun) At the age of 89 and a half, former Soviet-era Baptist prisoner of conscience Yegor Prokopenko has again been fined for leading a meeting for worship. He is believed to be the oldest victim of Kazakhstan's policy of fining those who exercise the right to freedom of religion or belief without state permission. Two Protestants in the same city were fined for drinking tea in a cafe after a Sunday meeting for worship.

With Kazakhstan's president ordering harsher restrictions in the Religion Law to be prepared by mid-August, and with likely new associated punishments in the Code of Administrative Offences, exercise of the right to freedom of religion or belief seems set to be punished even more widely.

Kazakhstan's 2011 Religion Law already violates the country's international human rights obligations. It bans meetings for worship by communities without state approval, meetings for worship in venues that have not been approved, distribution of books about religion and other religious items without state approval or in venues that do not have state approval for religious literature distribution, and discussing religion with others if the individual does not have state approval as a "missionary." [read more...]


UKRAINIAN RADA DRAFTS BILL PERMITTING TO DETERMINE FUTURE OF CHURCH PARISHES BY VOTING
from: Interfax-Religion

(06 Jun) The Verkhovnaya Rada committee for cultural and spiritual issues has advised deputies to pass a bill on the procedure of changing the jurisdiction of religious communities. This document "is meant to legalize hostile church takeovers," the press service of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate said. In line with the bill that implies amendments to the law of Ukraine on the freedom of conscience, and religious organizations, any outsider can consider himself a member of a certain parish and vote for its transition to another jurisdiction.

"Scores of churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have been seized according to this pattern," the report said. Speaking at an Easter reception at the Foreign Ministry on Thursday, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia urged the international community to protect Orthodox Christians in Ukraine saying that "raiding takeovers of churches by representatives of non-canonical religious groups, unfortunately, with the support of nationalists, and often local authorities, continue." The patriarch said 31 churches of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate have now been taken over and 12 are at risk of takeover. [read more...]


PARLIAMENT ADOPTS AN APPEAL TO ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH ON GRANTING AUTOCEPHALY TO UKRAINIAN CHURCH
from: Religious Information Service of Ukraine

(16 Jun) Parliamentarians asked Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I to issue a decree granting autocephalous status to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine and to recognize invalid the act of 1686, by which Moscow annexed the Kyiv Metropolis from the jurisdiction of Constantinople.

The Parliament voted in favor of the appeal to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I requesting to grant autocephaly (independence) to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Decree No. 4793 was voted for by 245 MPs, against – by 20, 1 MP abstained, 66 did not vote.

The Ukrainian Parliament appealed to the Ecumenical Patriarch asking him as follows:
• to recognize as invalid the act in 1686 as the one adopted in violation of the sacred canons of the Orthodox Church;
• to take an active part in overcoming the church schism by convening Ukrainian unification council under the auspices of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which would solve all controversial issues and unite the Ukrainian Orthodox Church;
• for the benefit of the Orthodox Church in Ukraine and the integrity of the Ukrainian nation, to issue a Tomos granting autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine, under which it can take its rightful place in the family of Local Orthodox Churches. [read more...]


CRIMEA OCCUPATION AUTHORITIES KICK KYIV CHURCH OUT OF ITS CATHEDRAL
from: Ukraine Today

(15 Jun) Russian-backed occupation authorities in Crimea (Property and Land Relations Ministry) obligates the Crimean Diocese of the Kyiv Patriarchate's Ukrainian Orthodox Church to pay USD 7,600 and give up 112 sq. meters on the ground floor of the Cathedral in Simferopol. The so-called Sevastopol Court of Appeal endorsed the relevant decision on June 13. This is reported by Archbishop Clement of Simferopol and Crimea, according to Voice of Crimea.

"On June 14, Sevastopol's Court of Appeal met. We addressed the court with a claim to cancel the Crimean Arbitration Court's decision as of January 14, 2016, which would force us to vacate part of the church and pay a huge fine. The Court of Appeal supported the Crimean Arbitration Court's decision. Any day now we expect executive service officers to turn up and implement the court's decision." states Archbishop Clement. [read more...]


OTHER NEWS HEADLINES:

UZBEKISTAN: HARSHENED CRIMINAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE CODE PUNISHMENTS
from
Forum 18 News Service

THOUSANDS OF BELIEVERS MARCH THROUGH CENTER OF KYIV FOR PROTECTION OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
from
Religious Information Service of Ukraine

WOMEN IN MOSCOW, RUSSIA GET PREGNANCY CENTER
from
Mission Network News

SERBIAN CHURCH SAYS WILL LEAVE FORUM ON CRETE IF POSITION OF THOSE WHO REFUSED TO PARTICIPATE IN IT IS IGNORED
from
Interfax-Religion

UOC(MP): RADA PLAN TO ASK PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW TO RECOGNIZE SCHISMATICS IS ABSURD
from
RIA Novosti

METROPOLITAN HILARION: ALL CHURCHES SHOULD PARTICIPATE IN THE PAN-ORTHODOX COUNCIL
from
Russian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate

AN INTERVIEW WITH ROMAN: SUMMER BIBLE CAMP MINISTRY
from
Mission Eurasia

ORTHODOX WORLD HEADING TOWARD A NEW SCHISM – OPED
from
Eurasia Review

ESTONIAN GOVT ALLOCATES 187,500 EUROS FOR STATE TO BUY ST. ALEXANDER'S CHURCH OF NARVA
from
Baltic Times

See HOSKEN-NEWS Daily for more of the latest news!


NOW, OUR VIEWS:

De Fide Orthodoxa This week I've finished my editing of a classic in Christian literature: De Fide Orthodoxa: An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith by St. John of Damascus: the only freely available versions were rife with scanning errors and typos, which I've now cleaned up. (I've also updated Overview of the Liturgy, Short Glossary, and What is Orthodoxy; get more free literature here - www.Agape-Biblia.org/literatura/).

This classic work De Fide Orthodoxa was written while St. John was a court official for the Muslim Caliph of Damascus. During the centuries of Muslim rule in the Middle East, Balkans and Mediterranian basin, many educated and skilled Christians were enlisted to serve their Muslim overlords, and sadly many of them compromised their Christian faith - but not St. John! He continued to write and speak about his Christian faith, and for this the Muslims cut off his right hand and cut out his tongue.

Let us not be afraid to speak up and write about our Christian faith, even in the face of today's intimidation that calls us "religious fanatics," "misogynists," "bigots" and "haters" when we stand up for traditional Christian values such as freedom of religious confession, the right to life, the value of earning one's living, and limiting sexual unions to the marriage of one man and one woman.

In our first news article WITH OR WITHOUT RUSSIA, SPOKESMAN SAYS ORTHODOX COUNCIL IS ‘BINDING’ we sadly report that Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill has decided not to attend the "Great and Holy Council" scheduled for June 16-27. Leaders of some other Orthodox churches closely linked to the Moscow Patriarchate have also withdrawn, stating they need more time to prepare or they disagree with the agenda, although all of these church leaders just a few months ago had signed an agreement endorsing the dates and the agenda for the Council.

Our third news article SPEAKER OF UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT EXPECTS ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH TO GRANT AUTOCEPHALY TO UKRAINIAN CHURCH provides a clue as to the real reason behind these withdrawals: the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople may be leaning toward granting independence to the Ukrainian church, which when coupled with many Ukrainian Orthodox parishes voting to leave the Moscow Patriarchate - see UKRAINIAN RADA DRAFTS BILL PERMITTING TO DETERMINE FUTURE OF CHURCH PARISHES BY VOTING - could reduce the Moscow Patriarchate to half its size and influence. Also see PARLIAMENT ADOPTS AN APPEAL TO ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH ON GRANTING AUTOCEPHALY TO UKRAINIAN CHURCH.

Just in: www.Portal-credo.ru (in Russian, posted on 16 Jun) Protodeacon Andrei Kuraev, who recently was removed from his position as a spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate, stated that when the Polish Orthodox Church demanded separation from the ROC(MP) in 1924, it was documented that the Kiev metropolitanate also had the right to sovereignty. Further, he said that the Ecumenical Patriarchate will fight for Ukraine's separation from the ROC(MP) because "Patriarch Bartholomew is upset with Moscow's maneuvers, and the fact that he has cancer and with not long to live wants to leave his mark in history by calling this Council and recognizing the Ukrainian Church's independence from Moscow, first as under Constantinople's umbrella, and later as an autonomous Church." (my translation)

Thus Moscow's effort to control the process by withdrawing is likely to backfire: by not being present at the "Great and Holy Council," the Moscow church and her allies lose the ability to disagree and fail to reach consensus at the Council. Orthodoxy is governed by the principle of conciliarity, i.e., consensus. If the Churches that attend the Council all agree on its agenda and decisions, those conclusions will be binding even on the Othodox Churches that do not attend. So by insisting on being in control, having its own way or else walking out, the Moscow Patriarchate may end up completely losing control of the situation. This same principle is illustrated by the following:

"Ironically, at a recent media forum titled, 'The New Era of Journalism: A Farewell to the Mainstream,' Russian propaganda chief Dmitry Kiselev argued that in the world of social media, there really is no need for traditional news anymore. With the Russian government’s war on social media, Russians are in effect denied both. Russians are living behind a wall of unreality, in a state of 'information isolation,' as described by the Levada Center, an independent Russian polling organization. Only 1 percent of Russians receive news from foreign sources on a daily basis. Tragically, 87 percent never do." (Source: http://dailysignal.com/2016/06/10/putin-ups-his-persecution-of-social-media-users/, more on this here: http://dailysignal.com/2016/06/15/snapshots-from-a-trip-to-russia-to-talk-new-era-journalism/.)

- By attempting to "control the narrative" of decisions and information, one often ends up by diminishing one's own circle of influence, as soon as a little child calls out - "The Emperor has no clothes!"


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Seek the Welfare of the City, Part 2

seek the welfare of the cityIf you haven't yet read Part 1, click HERE. In case you're thinking about Jeremiah 29:7 - "That was then, but this is now!" - well, you're in for a surprise. It explains in Part 1 that there were beggars who refused to work, and Christian philanthropists were warned not to give them money: "Here we clearly see the goal of the social ministry of the Church: 'The role of social work is to make the recipient aware of the need to change' - unless the poor or disabled person makes a commitment to change, our efforts to help may be in vain." Human nature hasn't changed much in the past 2,000 years!

On our www.Agape-Restoration-Society.org home page you'll see a link near the top: "Get Your Life on Track." Click on that link to see several Scriptures illustrating the lifestyle that Christians should have. At the bottom of that section is another link: "Do you want to be restored to wholeness?" That link takes you to our Problem Assessment: Physical and Spiritual Rehabilitation Plan which we fill out with our disabled or unemployed clients. Midway through the form, after gathering the client's work and health history, are the following words:

I want to be restored to wholeness, and therefore I am ready to change my lifestyle.
Signature: I, _________________, agree to follow the plan.

The client must be willing to change his/her mindset and lifestyle. Here is what the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians, chapter 3 about this:

"6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother living in idleness, and not after the tradition which they received from us. 7 For you know how you ought to imitate us. For we were not idle among you, 8 neither did we eat bread from anyone's hand without paying for it, but in labor and travail worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you; 9 not because we don't have the right, but to make ourselves an example to you, that you should imitate us. 10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: 'If anyone is not willing to work, neither let him eat.' 11 For we hear of some who among you walk in idleness, who don't work at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now those who are that way, we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and earn their own living. 13 But you, brothers, don't be weary in doing good. 14 If any man doesn't obey our word in this letter, note that man, that you have no fellowship with him, to the end that he may be ashamed. 15 Don't count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother."

What did the Early Church Fathers have to say about the above Scripture passage? -

"Paul strongly emphasizes, in strict words of command, the importance of labor, especially manual labor, as an accompaniment to prayer and fasting. These religious acts must never substitute for hard work (Chrysostom, Augustine). Prayer without work is a pious pretext (Cyril of Alexandria). There is no inconsistency between trusting God to provide and engaging in hard work in order to support ourselves and not be a burden on others (Augustine, Caesarius of Arles). Faithful and hardworking members of the congregation must be careful to make a sharp separation between themselves and those brothers and sisters who are living in a disorderly way (John Cassian, Theodore). Paul holds himself up as “the form of a believer,” expecting the Thessalonians to see in him how one ought to live (Chrysostom, Pelagius). In our pursuit of faithful discipleship we are to avoid the controversy that arises from idle questioning and curiosity (Basil). Christian bothers and sisters who depart from the discipline and charity required by faith are to be directly confronted (John Cassian). There is the very real danger that if we consort with erring brothers and sisters, we will be infected with their wrongdoing (Cyprian)." (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture [digital version], IVPress)

In the ancient Greco-Roman Empire it was common for the poor to attach themselves to a wealthy patron who would feed them, sometimes in exchange for being mistreated and made the butt of jokes, at other times in exchange for serving their patron. But there were some poor who would simply flatter their patrons, going from one patron's luxuriously spread table to another patron's table. This latter case was so embedded in the culture that it became the subject of ancient comedies and training in rhetoric: such people were called "parasites." In the above Scripture passage, St Paul warns against such behavior that would bring the Christian community into ridicule. St. John Chrysostom was trained by a rhetorician who used such stories, and Chrysostom adopted it in some of his writings:

CONTINUE READING in our Hosken-News Blog, and write your COMMENTS there!


For a daily reminder to pray for the items below, go to My Daily Prayer Guide and click on the "H-N pr." link!

Prayer and Praise:

Sun. - Pray for unity among the Orthodox Churches at the Great and Holy Council in Crete, despite Russia's and other Church's pullout.
Mon. - Intercede for those Christians in Kazakhstan falsely accused of being "connected with the financing of terrorism or extremism."
Tue. - Ask God that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will grant autonomy and eventually autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.
Wed. - Pray for 89-year-old former Soviet-era Baptist prisoner of conscience Yegor Prokopenko, fined for leading a worship meeting.
Thu. - Ask the Lord that Ukraine's Verkhovnaya Rada will pass a law letting religious communities vote to change their jurisdiction.
Fri. - Pray for the Crimean Diocese of the Kyiv Patriarchate's Ukrainian Orthodox Church that was recently kicked out of its building.
Sat. - Intercede with the Lord that all Christians will "Seek the Welfare of the City" and not default to "let the government do it."

Who Are We? / Map of former USSR   Please remember to pray for Christians in the former Soviet bloc countries, and for...

  Your fellow-servants,

  Bob & Cheryl

  p.s. Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.