This is the Urban Christian News podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to CBN News, Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, announced Thursday that it ordained three women as pastors. The church shared the news in a Facebook post, proclaiming that it was a “historic night.” “We ordained our first three women pastors, Liz Puffer, Cynthia Petty, and Katie Edwards! We’re so grateful to share this moment with you. Our best days are ahead of us!” Appointing women to the position of pastor goes against the traditions of the strictly male leadership within the SBC. Saddleback lists more than 24,000 members and 18 campus pastors, all of whom are male. Even though the newly ordained women are long-tenured staff members, the selection has garnered support and criticism.
According to the Associated Press, A confrontation between Israel and Hamas sparked by weeks of tensions in contested Jerusalem escalated Tuesday as Israel unleashed new airstrikes on Gaza while militants barraged Israel with hundreds of rockets. The exchange killed a number of militants and civilians in Gaza and at least three Israelis. The barrage of rockets from the Gaza Strip and airstrikes into the territory continued almost nonstop throughout the day, in what appeared to be some of the most intense fighting between Israel and Hamas since their 2014 war. The fire was so relentless that Israel’s Iron Dome rocket-defense system seemed to be overwhelmed. Columns of smoke rose from many places in Gaza. By late Tuesday, the violence extended to Tel Aviv, which came under fire from a barrage of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip. The outgoing volleys set off air raid sirens across the city, and the main international airport quickly closed. Hamas said it launched a total of 130 rockets, its most intense strike so far, in response to Israel’s destruction of a high-rise building in Gaza earlier in the evening.
According to the Associated Press, Grieving families buried their dead Sunday following a horrific bombing at a girls’ school in the Afghan capital that killed 50 people, many of them pupils between 11 and 15 years old. The number of wounded in Saturday’s attack climbed to more than 100, said Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian. In the western neighborhood of Dasht-e-Barchi, families buried their dead amid angry recriminations at a government they said has failed to protect them from repeated attacks in the mostly Shiite Muslim neighborhood. “The government reacts after the incident, it doesn’t do anything before the incident,” said Mohammad Baqir, Alizada, 41, who had gathered to bury his niece, Latifa, a Grade 11 student the Syed Al-Shahda school. Three explosions outside the school entrance struck as students were leaving for the day, said Arian. The blasts targeted Afghanistan’s ethnic Hazaras who dominate the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood, where the bombings occurred. Most Hazaras are Shiite Muslims. The Taliban denied responsibility, condemning the attack and the many deaths.
According to Christian Today, Rev Dr Bernard Randall is taking Trent College to court for discrimination, harassment, victimisation and unfair dismissal. He says he preached a sermon on the biblical view of gender identity and same-sex relationships after being approached by students who were confused and upset by some of the material being taught in a new LGBT-inclusive curriculum at the school. The curriculum was introduced at the independent school after a visit by Dr Elly Barnes, founder of Educate & Celebrate, an LGBT+ education charity. Dr Barnes held training with staff on how they could “embed gender, gender identity and sexual orientation into the fabric of your school”, he says. He says that when he raised concerns, he was told by the head teacher that he would be involved in any decision on whether the school would implement the Educate & Celebrate programme, but he discovered at the following staff training day in January 2019 that it had already been adopted. When he asked why he had not been included in discussions, he says it was because he “might disagree”. In a sermon called ‘Competing ideologies’, Dr Randall presented the Christian view on gender identity, encouraged debate and told the students, aged 11 to 17, that no characteristic in the Equality Act was more protected than another. He also told the students that they could make up their own minds about gender identity and sexuality. The following week, he was told that his sermon had hurt people’s feelings and that he was being suspended pending an investigation. He was also reported to Prevent, which deals with terrorism threats, and the Local Authority Designated Officer, the point of contact for child protection allegations. In August 2019, he was informed by the school that he was being dismissed for gross misconduct. Although his dismissal was overturned on appeal, he says he was forbidden from speaking on topics “likely to cause offence or distress to members of the school body”, and was told not to “publicly express beliefs in ways which exploit our pupils’ vulnerability”. He says the school also required that he submit a draft sermon in advance for approval and that an observer be present during services. He said, “Being reported as a potential terrorist, extremist and a danger to children are arguably the worst crimes you could be accused of. When I found out that they had reported me without telling me, my mind was blown trying to comprehend it. I had gone to such lengths in the sermon to stress that we must respect one another no matter what, even people we disagree with. I am not ashamed to say that I cried with relief when I was told that the report to Prevent was not going to be taken further. Yet I ended up being told that I had to support everybody else’s beliefs, no matter what, while my Christian beliefs, the Church of England’s beliefs, were blatantly censored. My story sends a message to other Christians that you are not free to talk about your faith. It seems it is no longer enough to just ‘tolerate’ LGBT ideology.” East Midlands Employment Tribunal is expected to hear his case from 14 June.
According to the Associated Press, The mother of a Black man pursued and killed by white men who said they suspected him of a crime says she is “thankful, very thankful” that Georgia has repealed its Civil War-era citizen’s arrest law. Wanda Cooper-Jones, the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, spoke Monday after Gov. Brian Kemp signed House Bill 479, which says bystanders can no longer make an arrest in Georgia if a crime is committed in their presence. “I think the signing of this bill will make people think before they take action into their own hands,” Cooper-Jones said. “Unfortunately we had to lose my son in this manner. Had this bill been in place, I think it will protect young men as they are jogging down the street.” The law is a continuing reaction to Arbery’s death, which was recorded on video by one of three men now charged with murder. The outcry over the shooting also pushed lawmakers last year to pass a new hate crimes law in Georgia, more than 15 years after the state Supreme Court overturned an earlier law. “This bill makes Georgia the first state in the country to repeal its citizen’s arrest statue,” Kemp, a Republican, said before signing the measure. “Today we are replacing this Civil War-era law, ripe for abuse, with language that balances the sacred right of self-defense of person and property with our shared responsibility to root out injustice and set our state on a better path forward.” Those who had long pushed for the repeal said the law was approved in 1863 to round up escaped slaves and was later used to justify the lynching of African Americans. Some other states are now also considering repealing such laws.
According to CBS Sports, Texas linebacker Jake Ehlinger was found dead Thursday, according to police in Austin, Texas. Ehlinger, the younger brother of former Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger, was entering his third season with the program. Authorities said his death is “not considered suspicious.” Police were called to an address on West 22nd Street in Austin at 12:18 p.m. Thursday, which is where Ehlinger was found. Authorities did not say how Ehlinger was found or release a cause of death. Ehlinger did not register any playing time during his first two seasons with the program but was a two-time member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll. The former Austin Westlake High School standout led the powerhouse prep program with 97 tackles as a high school senior before joining his brother at Texas. The Indianapolis Colts recently selected Sam Ehlinger in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
According to Deadline, Duck Dynasty star and Dancing With the Stars runner-up Sadie Robertson Huff has signed a deal with Dumb and Dumber and The Princess Switch producer Brad Krevoy to adapt her novel, Life Just Got Real, into a scripted series. The series will mark Robertson Huff’s debut as a producer and follows the lives of two high school girls, both with drastically different backgrounds, who join a reality TV show only to realize that “life is messy, love is hard, and second chances don’t come around every day.” Robertson Huff will make guest appearances on the show. The series is being developed with Alfonso H. Moreno attached to showrun and Amanda Phillips and Krevoy’s MPCA set to executive produce. Robertson Huff said, “I am so excited to jump into the world of scripted television, and to be doing it with Brad [Krevoy] who has been producing positive, inspirational entertainment for years. My hope is that this would be an encouraging show for people to watch together that has an inspirational message woven within. I can’t wait to get started!”
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In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!