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Young leader
Mark Russell (right), a 30-year-old youth minister and Reader at Christ Church, Chorleywood, in Hertfordshire, has been recommended to General Synod as a new member of the Archbishops' Council. If approved in February, he will replace Jayne Ozanne, who stepped down at the end of last year after five years.

Mr Russell served as an accredited lay preacher and youth pastor in the Methodist Church in Lurgan, Northern Ireland, before coming to England in 1999. He was chosen from 24 applicants.

Bishop berates 'mean-spirited' laity
THE BISHOP of Lancaster, the Rt Revd Stephen Pedley, has berated "mean and intransigent parishes" for discouraging and obstructing their clergy. Writing in See, the Blackburn diocesan newsletter, the Bishop makes reference to "wicked stories of verbal abuse and insensitivity - thrown at clergy by hard-hearted and hard-headed parishioners".

Every congregation needs at least one "awkward person", says the Bishop. But he goes on: "What really distresses me and unsettles my faith is those parishes which seem almost blatantly, almost institutionally, to discourage their clergy. They ask for leadership and energy and vision, and then obstruct it the moment it begins to be offered.

"Too many clergy have been destroyed in spirit by mean and intransigent parishes. I even come away from some parishes thinking that they don't deserve a priest. Let's move the priest, then, to somewhere where he or she will be loved and valued." The Bishop declined to comment further.

Scots stand by Angolan pastor
CHURCH LEADERS in Scotland have made an urgent appeal to the Home Secretary on behalf of Makielukele Nzelengi Daly, an Angolan pastor whose asylum application has been turned down. Pastor Daly was released with his family from Dungavel Detention centre last week after local churches raised £4000 bail.

The Scottish Primus, Dr Bruce Cameron, was one of the signatories to the letter, which described Pastor Daly as "a highly respected church leader". The church leaders have asked for an urgent meeting with the Home Secretary.

Police halt rampage
A STOCKPORT VICAR has praised the police for successfully moving on a gang of youths who had been causing a nuisance during services and in the vicinity of St Saviour's, Great Moor. The 22 youths, all of whom came from outside the area, burst into the church and shouted abuse during a healing eucharist before Christmas, said the Vicar, Canon Diane Cookson, on Tuesday. All the youths have been served with Antisocial Behaviour Orders that prohibit their return.

Bush cash to fund Anglican scheme
A TEACHING programme aimed at preventing HIV/AIDS in South Africa and funded by $10 million from President Bush's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief will be implemented by the Anglican Church. The Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Njongonkulu Ndungane, and others met the country's deputy president, Jacob Zuma, this month, to brief him on the Siyafundsia (Teaching our Children) ecumenical scheme.


French Protestants fear secularists
FRENCH Protestant leaders are concerned that their churches are suffering, as politicians emphasise the division between Church and state, 100 years after the law that separated the two. The Revd Jean-Arnold de Clermont, president of the Protestant Federation of France, has warned of a climate of "secularist zeal".

Church in Burundi appeals for help
THREE years of drought and cereal disease in Burundi have led to food shortages, which now threaten the provinces of Kirundo, Muyinga and Ngozi. Hunger is widespread, and people are dying every day.

The Anglican Church in the country has appealed for more help. "Life is particularly hard for those still living in camps for the internally displaced due to war," it says in a message to the Anglican Communion. Further information is available from: www.anglicancommunion.org/acns.

Zimbabwe MP jailed over farm taunt
ZIMBABWEAN Christians have condemned as blatantly unjust the sentence of hard labour on 47-year-old Roy Bennett, an opposition MP from the Movement for Democratic Change.

He was convicted after a scuffle with Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, who had taunted him on the loss of his farm, which had been taken over by "war veterans", leaving one worker murdered, two girls raped, and others beaten. "We regard him as a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned for his stand as a popular opposition MP," said the group, Churches for Justice and Peace.

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Christian fiction in a novel form

Christian fiction in a novel form

Catherine Fox could not find a publisher for her latest novel, until she decided to serialise it as a blog. She talks to Sarah Meyrick  Subscribe to read more

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Reminder: never buy a girl a pink Bible

Peter Graystone suggests some unexpected role-models for Christian girls  Subscribe to read more

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