Lutheran World Relief (LWR) and IMA World Health (IMA) announced the opening of a country office in the war-torn nation of Yemen, which will allow the two organizations to partner together to administer much-needed aide to citizens experiencing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. For now, the Office will direct its efforts toward projects focusing on waste management and providing clean and safe water sources.
“The extent of the devastation of communities, dysfunctional infrastructure and health systems, coupled with chronic poverty and active conflict doesn’t compare with anything I’ve seen before,” said Umer Khan, Emergency Operations Director for both LWR and IMA. “Yet, I believe that with dedication of local communities and support to stimulate local capacities, the potential to overcome these challenges is even greater.”
Amidst the larger effort, one project in particular will employ local community members to remove trash and other debris from the streets. The refuse will be taken to one of three garbage collection facilities being constructed through this initiative. The project team will also hold hygiene awareness sessions and distribute informational brochures and 10,000 hygiene kits.
For the first time in its 105-year history, the Assemblies of God (AG) General Council has elected a woman to its executive leadership. Ohio minister Donna Barrett was voted in as AG general secretary during its biennial gathering on August 2nd.
Her nomination at age 59 comes as the denomination grows younger and more ethnically diverse. According to its own statistics, over half of AG adherents are under 35, and more than 43 percent ethnic minority.
“The gifts God gives sometimes end up in a container [that looks] different from what people are used to seeing and different than history,” Barrett said in her acceptance speech. “And the gifts that I have seem to be aligned with this position greater than any other ministry assignment I’ve had from the Lord in my past.”
The United Methodist Church has scrapped plans for its first General Conference meeting outside the United States. The global denomination had been planning to hold the 2024 meeting of its decision-making body in the Philippine capital of Manila, but those plans, first announced in 2015, are now off.
Sara Hotchkiss, business manager for the Commission on General Conference, said organizers could not find convention space available for two full weeks to host the gathering of United Methodists from around the world. So, the General Conference will be held elsewhere.
“No one has done anything wrong, or there’s no reason not to go. It’s just simply when we did a bid process, the facilities needed for the length of our conference were not available,” Hotchkiss said.
It was announced on Monday, 8/13 that America’s Bibles—most of which are printed in China and imported to the United States—are now exempt from the burgeoning trade war between the two nations.
With a 10-percent hike on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods looming next month, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) posted two long lists of items: one of imports from China that will become subject to tariffs on September 1, and one of imports whose proposed tariffs will now be delayed until December 15.
Missing from both lists: Bibles.
“Bibles and other religious literature are among the items removed from the tariff list and will not face additional tariffs of 10 percent,” USTR confirmed.
The news came as a relief to Christian publishers in the US, who warned this summer that the “Bible tax” would make some translations too costly to produce. China is the world’s largest Bible publisher, thanks to Nanjing-based Amity Press which has printed almost 200 million since 1988 in partnership with the United Bible Societies.
In the wake of the recent release of the 2019 Giving USA report, one of the most discussed findings has been that individual charitable giving took a dip in 2018—down 1.1 percent—against a backdrop of fourth-quarter market volatility, tax changes, and other shifts. But there was one area of individual charitable giving that bucked this worrying trend. Strong grantmaking from donor-advised funds show why growing adoption in recent years of these strategic giving accounts should be counted among most positive developments in philanthropy.
In fact, if results at Fidelity Charitable, a charity sponsoring one of the nation’s largest donor-advised fund programs, are indicative, donors using a Giving Account increased the amount they distributed to charity. In 2018, even as individual giving declined, Fidelity Charitable grants to charities increased by 17 percent in 2018 to $5.2 billion. This year is also on track for continued growth. Fidelity Charitable has already distributed $4.0 billion to charity this year, an incredible 48 percent increase over the same time last year.
Importantly, many of these donations are going to charities that donors support steadily year after year. In fact, a recent independent study from the University of Pennsylvania examined IRS data from nearly 1,000 donor-advised fund sponsoring charities from 2007 to 2016—and found that grantmaking from donor-advised funds tends to be resilient during economic downturns, making them crucial “rainy-day” sources of funding for charities.