News Briefs
April 2001

WFN improves service

Worldwide Faith News, the ecumenical news service used by countless journalists and researchers, is moving to a new Internet service provider.

The revised WFN home page will display the most recent 20 news releases posted to WFN and be updated dynamically, 24 hours a day, each time a new release is posted.

The UCC has played a major role in WFN since its inception in 1995. Two long-time UCC communication specialists, the Rev. George Conklin and the Rev. J. Martin Bailey, have been instrumental in WFN's success.

WFN's URL will remain the same:

Contacts needed

The Rev. Vilma A. Machín Vásquez, who staffs the Multicultural and Multiracial Transformation portfolio for the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries, encourages UCC members and churches who are concerned with these issues to contact her at 216-736-3717 or

Coalition formed to respond to tax cut proposal

In February, 125 religious and community leaders—including staff from the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries—met to form a coalitional response to the tax cut proposal of President Bush. The group's statement of principles says:

 The tax cut is too large and is fundamentally unfair;

  The tax cut jeopardizes the nation's ability to meet its domestic and foreign responsibilities, threatens the nation's fiscal stability and security, and inequitably distributes the benefits it provides;

  Any tax cut enacted into law must be far smaller and much more equitable than the Bush tax cut in order to meet the needs and interests of the American people.

UCC churches or groups wishing to endorse the coalition's statement can do so by e-mail, fax 202-293-2672 or phone 202-467-2304.

Faith-based social service plan under attack

President George W. Bush's plan to give tax money to churches and other religious organizations to fund "faith-based" social services appears to be in deep political trouble. The Washington Post has reported that the Bush administration "will delay action on parts of its plan to channel more government money to religious charities until it can quiet some of the surprisingly vehement opposition to the program." Numerous religious groups from all points on the theological and political spectrum have expressed opposition or concerns about the Bush proposal because of its implications for government-funded religion. Surprisingly, some of the strongest opposition to the plan is coming from Religious Right groups that enthusiastically backed Bush in the 2000 elections.

Canadian churches support U.S. Supreme Court decision

Canada's churches are supporting a U.S. Supreme Court decision forbidding the extradition of two alleged killers in Canadian detention to Washington unless the United States assures that the two men won't face the death penalty if convicted. The Supreme Court's decision has been welcomed by the Canadian Council on Justice and Corrections, a coalition of 11 denominations with some 14,000 congregations in Canada. The last execution in Canada took place in 1962 and the country abolished the death penalty in 1976.

Vatican meets with Protestants about indulgences

The Vatican held a consultation Feb. 9 and 10 with two organizations representing mainstream Protestantism to discuss the issue of indulgences, a practice of remission of temporal punishment for sin, that some contemporary Protestant theologians find perplexing. The consultation on indulgences brought together theologians representing the Vatican's Council for Promoting Christian Unity, the Lutheran World Federation and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.

Armenia celebrates 1,700 years of Christianity

As Armenia celebrates the 1,700th anniversary of Christianity as a national religion, the country's spiritual leader says his church faces major challenges as it seeks to rebuild its life in a newly independent state.

Catholicos Karekin II of the Armenian Apostolic Church told staff of the World Council of Churches that the bond between the Armenian people and the church had helped to preserve Christianity during 70 years of Soviet Communism.

UCC President hosts discussion

UCC General Minister and President, the Rev. John Thomas, will host a forum on "the heart of theology" beginning April 4 on the UCC website. Based on his paper, "Confessional Commitment in the United Church of Christ," the forum is an opportunity for UCC members—both lay and ordained—to explore how tradition influences our congregations today. Thomas' paper can be found at The forum, which continues through April 18, will can be accessed via the Forums and Prayer link on the UCC homepage.