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Global Briefs for June 29

Disappearing Gazan Christians: Gaza’s historic Christian community could disappear within the next generation, a U.K. charity has warned. A survey conducted in 2014 said the Christian Palestinian population in Gaza has shrunk to just 1,313 out of a total population of almost 2 million.

Jeremy Moodey, CEO of Embrace the Middle East, a charity doing humanitarian work in the area, says new evidence shows a further emigration has led to reduction by almost 10 percent since then.

The pace of emigration may even be accelerating, he said. During Easter some Christians were given permits to leave the blockaded territory, and about 40 did not return. He said while this did not sound like a large number, it is significant in the context of the overall population.

“This is a small community that traces its Christian origins right back to Bible times,” Moodey said at the launch of an appeal for Palestinian Christian relief work in Gaza with the Diocese of Jerusalem as its major partner.

“The emigration figures are very worrying, but those who are left make a massive difference out of all proportion to their number. They work in a tiny land beleaguered by three recent wars and a 10-year blockade. Their impact in a largely Muslim community, among young and old, male and female, is significant and needs our solidarity and support,” he said.

“Christians in Gaza run five schools, a hospital, four primary healthcare clinics, two vocational training centres, a YMCA community center and several other social projects. It’s an incredible commitment, and a humbling witness to their Christian faith. In Gaza, practically everyone bears the physical or psychological scars of war.”

General Synod to Meet Privately: In an attempt to stave off schism about sexuality, General Synod members will meet for three days behind closed doors. The 550 members will depart from the usual Synod standing orders in groups of 20 for intensive discussion and debate.

There is no strong expectation that agreement will break out between opposing positions. The aim is to persuade members to recognize one another as fellow Christians. The architect of the sessions is David Porter, now chief of staff for Archbishop Justin Welby at Lambeth Palace.

At this stage it’s a good question how many Synod members will turn up and stay the course. Some conservative evangelicals have expressed serious misgivings about what they say is a manipulative process.

After the conversations the House of Bishops will draft an agreed statement on same-sex relationships. The aim is to try to restrict numbers of parishes at either end of the spectrum that may feel no choice but to leave the church over the issue.


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