Religious News From Around The Web March 8, 2022

Dutch Football Superstar Embraces Islam; Jewish Telegraph Shares a Tale of Pride of a Ukrainian Jew Living in New York; New Denomination of United Methodist Church Announces a May 1 Launch

Dutch Football Superstar Embraces Islam

Clarence Seedorf and Sophia (@clarenceseedorf/Instagram)
Clarence Seedorf and Sophia (@clarenceseedorf/Instagram)

Football superstar Clarence Seedorf, one of the most successful players in UEFA Champions League history, took to Instagram this week to thank his wife for teaching him the “in-depth meaning of Islam.”

On March 4, Seedorf, who is planning to keep his original name rather than choosing a Muslim one, stated he is “joining the Muslim family.” He gave “special thanks to all the nice messages” he has received since announcing his decision.

Seedorf has been part of three Premier League clubs—AC Milan, Real Madrid, and Ajax—as a midfielder, and is the only footballer who has won the Champions League with three different teams.

“I’m very happy and pleased to join all the brothers and sisters around the world, especially my adorable Sophia [his wife] who has taught me more in-depth the meaning of Islam.”

Born in Suriname’s capital Paramaribo in 1976, and raised in the Netherlands where his family moved when he was three, Seedorf, who retired in 2014, has since been working as a coach. Since 2001, he has also created and operated football schools and community groups in Suriname, the U.S., and the Netherlands.

Last year, he joined influential Muslim martial artist Khabib Nurmagomedov in creating the Seedorf-Khabib Performance Club with the hope of “giving something back to the young generations,” according to The Middle East Eye.

Jewish Telegraph Shares a Tale of Pride of a Ukrainian Jew Living in New York

Russian Invasion of Ukraine 2022

With the world’s attention riveted on Ukraine, Natasha Hirschhorn, music director of Ansche Chesed, a Conservative synagogue in Manhattan, shared a very personal perspective on the invasion. It is all the more ironic in light of Russian President Putin’s justification for the invasion being his claim that the Ukraine has gone Nazi.

“In my lifetime, I fled Kyiv twice on my own,” says Hirschhorn. “Once as a 14-year-old escaping the radiation from Chernobyl, and again, in 1992, when I finally had a chance to come to the U.S.”

She states that Ukraine is home to one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe.

She speaks of watching “with admiration and pride” as the world discovers the extent to which Ukraine has embraced Jews, “including Volodymyr Zelensky, its truly heroic president.”

Hirschhorn is raising money to provide relief to her beleaguered countrymen and women as are so many people of all faiths and none.

CBS News has just published an updated list of relief organizations that are accepting donations for Ukraine. The list can be accessed here.

New Denomination of United Methodist Church Announces a May 1 Launch

Stephens City United Methodist Church (Creative Commons)
Stephens City United Methodist Church (Creative Commons)

A contingent of conservative members of the United Methodist Church announced they will form a new worldwide denomination on May 1, 2022. To do so requires a formal “divorce agreement” which has been stalled for the past two years because of the pandemic.

Called the Global Methodist Church, this new denomination does not subscribe to the United Methodist Church’s reversing bans against same-sex marriage and the ordination of openly gay clergy.

Organizers originally expected to launch the denomination after the next General Conference of the UMC, the only legislative body that can approve the tentative agreement arrived at before the pandemic. This step is needed for the churches and regional groups who are separating from the UMC to keep their property.

However, the General Conference, originally scheduled for 2020 and already delayed for two years because of COVID, is now scheduled for 2024. The United Methodist Church announced this delay because of visa problems, which they say must be resolved first because more than half the denomination’s members live outside the United States.

“Theologically conservative local churches and annual conferences want to be free of divisive and destructive debates, and to have the freedom to move forward together,” said the Rev. Keith Boyette, chairman of the Transitional Leadership Council, which is organizing the Global Methodist Church. “We are confident many existing congregations will join the new Global Methodist Church in waves over the next few years, and new church plants will sprout up.”

Under United Methodist law, church properties are held in trust for the larger denomination. However, Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, president of the UMC’s Council of Bishops, says “there have always been avenues for churches to separate from the denomination.”