The North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church, supporting women's ordination in its partner church in Latvia, adopted a resolution stating that exclusion from the pastoral ministry is a humiliation of women and is incompatible with the fact that men and women are made in the image of God. While the ordination of women is possible in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia, the church's archbishop, Janis Vanags, suspended this pastoral act in 1993.
The leadership of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Austria said its members disapprove of Vienna pastor Erwin Neumann's blessing of a lesbian couple and asked him "to await and respect the syn od's decision." There won't be any disciplinary measures because Neumann has, under protest, accepted this commitment.
Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey granted Finnish pastor Jaakko Rusama permission to offi ciate as a priest in the Church of England. The permission was granted on the basis of the recently signed Porvoo Declaration.
Chief Ita Bassey Etuk, the leader of Nung Udoe village in Nigeria, called on the Lutheran Church of Nigeria to ease its strong insistence on monogamy in marriage, saying it deters would-be students from entering the seminary. Etuk appealed to the church to review some of its doctrines that he said had outlived their usefulness in a tradit ional African society.
The U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp commemorating Hanukkah, its first stamp taking note of a religious holiday other than Christmas. The 32-cent stamp features a multicolored sketch of a contemporary Hanukkah menorah, the candleholder used during the eight-day Jewish festival. Israel simultaneously issued its version of the stamp.
The Cleveland City Planning Commission approved plans by the United Church o f Christ to build a seven-story, 93-room commercial hotel in downtown Cleveland. The church hopes the hotel will help the 1.5 million-member denomination both save and make money. "Having our own hotel [for church-related meetings] could produc e an annual savings of up to $130,000," said Thomas Dipko, executive vice president of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries. "At the same time, the return on the investment of constructing and leasing the hotel would at least equal the 5 percen t return required by board policy from our investments in stocks and bonds."
In eastern Zaire, a few people reached safety but more than 1 million — including some 300 orphans — were caught in a dangerous and complex crisis in November. Hundr eds of thousands of Rwandans fled refugee camps; and refugees on the move succumbed to thirst, hunger and sickness. Lutheran World Federation workers in Goma distributed blankets an d food to 200,000 refugees who left a camp that was attacked. LWF has provided $2.6 million worth of aid to the region since 1994. Rwanda urgently needs more human rights monitors and fair trials for people accused of genocide and human rights abuses in 1 994, said Kathryn Wolford, Lutheran World Relief president.
Henri Nouwen, noted author on spirituality, died Sept. 24 in The Netherlands at the age of 64. Ordained a priest in the Roman Catholic Church, he was se rving as chaplain of the L'Arche Daybreak Community in Toronto, a home for people with developmental disabilities. His best-known work is The Wounded Healer.
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