News and Views

News and Views

PBI News

Pastoral Bible Institute Annual Report for Fiscal 2021 The Directors of the Pastoral Bible Institute (PBI) and the Editors of our publication, The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, rejoice to have served another year in the work of the vineyard (Matthew 20:7).

This year was marked from beginning to end by the focus on the global pandemic. It created many challenges for the work, and resulted in almost no in-person contact with our fellow workers, even locally. We are grateful for the technology that allowed us to meet via videoconferencing, which allowed opportunities to expand personal global fellowship as brethren from around the world joined together in Bible conferences.

One difficulty for the PBI during the year was the slow delivery of our magazine in the U.S. Due to the election year priority mail and the severe personnel cutbacks caused by the pandemic, some issues of The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom never reached our readers. We alert all subscribers that in such cases, our online version is always available for reading, or we can e-mail a PDF version to you upon request. In the latter part of the fiscal year, the mail seemed to return to normal.

Our activities during the year in addition to publishing The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom included cooperation with Bible Students in Poland, India, and Croatia in publishing foreign-language versions of the magazine. Although not able to travel there, we again cooperated with the Berean Bible Institute in Australia in providing speakers for their conferences. Distribution of The Revised Version Improved and Corrected Bible continues to be one of our major efforts, and volunteers have updated online versions as well. We are thankful for all the workers that continue to provide their time to support the publication of The Herald of Christ’s Kingdom, and the work of the Pastoral Bible Institute.

In April, the Institute sponsored a one-day webinar on “The Miracle of the Restoration of Israel.” This webinar was based on our 2020 May/June issue of The Herald, celebrating the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the nation of Israel. The webinar had over 500 connections, with multiple listeners sharing those connections. Two special guests from Israel recounted their experiences of living in Israel and their faith in God and the promises to Abraham. The sessions of the webinar are available for viewing on the Bible Students YouTube channel.

PBI Directors Elected. The election of the Board of Directors was conducted during April and May by the membership of the Pastoral Bible Institute. The elected directors will serve for one year beginning in July. Those elected, in alphabetical order, are Todd Alexander, Jeff Earl, Len Griehs, Ernie Kuenzli, Tom Ruggirello, George Tabac, and Dan Wesol. These directors will appoint an editorial committee at the PBI Annual Meeting on July. The meeting will be held via videoconference at noon Eastern Daylight Time. A letter and notification of the meeting was sent to all members who have expressed a desire to participate in the election process.

The Directors of the Pastoral Bible Institute
May, 2021

Fiscal 2021 Financial Statement of the Pastoral Bible Institute

Income $30,365
Contributions ………………………………….. $7,948
Sale of Material ………………………………. 19,568
Herald Subscriptions ………………………… 2,769
Other ……………………………………………………. 80
Expenses $48,752
Printing of RVIC …………………………….. *$18,220
Herald Printing U.S. ……………………………..7,631
Herald Printing Foreign ……………………….1,852
Other Printing ……………………………………. 1,156
Mailing — U.S. ……………………………….….. 4,705
Mailing — Foreign ……………………………… 4,405
Repayment of Loan (RVIC)……………….   10,000
Other ……………………………………………… 783
Net Loss for Fiscal 2021…………………… ($18,387)
Net Worth, April 30, 2020 ………………… $143,377
Net Worth, April 30, 2021 ………………… $124,990

*1/2 of printing paid in Fiscal 2020, remainder plus shipping in 2021.

Religious

Pew Research Center’s just-released 2020 study “Jewish Americans in 2020” found that the gap between the Orthodox and the rest of the Jewish population is widening, religiously and politically. Almost half of Orthodox Jews do not see progressive Jews as Jewish. Sixty percent of Reform Jews, a significantly larger group than Orthodox, said they felt little or nothing in common with Orthodox Jews. Politics has grown in importance as the dividing point for Jewish thought in the same way as religion used to. Most divisions were over how one votes, not where they prayed. — Religious News Service, 5/12/2021

Since 2017, more than 1 million Uyghurs have been placed in one of the Chinese government’s 85 identified internment camps in Xinjiang. The government claims that the camps are vocational training camps set up to help fight back against religious extremism and terrorism. Escapees of the camps, however, have described them as nothing short of torturous. There are about 12 million Uyghurs, mostly Muslim, living in north-western China in the region of Xinjiang, officially known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). — BBC, 3/26/2021 (Editor’s Note: The Uyghurs speak their own language, similar to Turkish, and see themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations.)

Social

Nearly half the world’s people now reside in countries with fertility rates below replacement levels, indicating a shrinking global population excluding any demographic anomalies. — The Economist, 3/27/2021

An Associated Press analysis of state data reveals that during the coronavirus pandemic, child abuse reports, investigations, substantiated allegations and interventions in the U.S. dropped at a staggering rate, with over 400,000 fewer child welfare concerns reported and 200,000 fewer child abuse and neglect investigations and assessments compared with the same time period the prior year. — AP, 3/29/2021 (Editor’s note: While this does not necessarily indicate a lack of reporting abuse, the comparable numbers for other reported countries showed an increase in the number of reported incidents during the pandemic, No findings were reported as to the reasons for the disparity).

Delhi has been cremating so many bodies of COVID-19 victims that authorities are getting requests to start cutting down trees in city parks for kindling, as a record surge of illness is collapsing India’s tattered health care system. Outside cities like Delhi, ambulance after ambulance waits in line to cremate the dead. Burial grounds are running out of space in many cities as glowing funeral pyres blaze through the night. India’s surge in coronavirus infections, growing at the fastest pace in the world, has left families and patients pleading for oxygen outside hospitals, the relatives weeping in the street as their loved ones die while waiting for treatment in the nation of nearly 1.4 billion people — AP, 4/26/2021
(Editor’s note: As of May 1, the publication deadline, India had 19.9 million confirmed coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, behind only the U.S., which has counted more than 32.4 million. More than 218,000 people in India have died, according to the Indian health ministry. Additionally, many Bible Student families in India have lost loved ones due to lack of space in hospitals to treat their illness.)

Political

Since the 1890s, hundreds of independent schools have operated in the English seaside resort town of Bexhill-on-Sea. Open from 1932 to 1939, the Augusta Victoria College (AVC) was a Nazi school for teenage girls and young women ages 16-21. Located on the south coast of England, the town of Bexhill has been historically considered a healthy and safe place for children while their wealthy parents worked or traveled abroad. Among AVC’s students were chief of German police Heinrich Himmler’s goddaughter, the daughter of Nazi Germany’s foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, the daughter of Hitler’s representative at the Vatican, Diego von Bergen, and the niece of German ambassador to Britain Herbert von Dirksen. — Times of Israel, 3/26/2021 (Editor’s note: A movie based on the school’s education of Nazi leaders’ children, “Six Minutes to Midnight” was released in March)

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte has issued an executive order banning the development or use of vaccine passports in Montana. Vaccine passports are documents that could be used to verify coronavirus immunization status and allow inoculated people to more freely travel, shop and dine. Vaccine passports have drawn criticism as a heavy-handed intrusion into personal freedom and private health choices. Gianforte encouraged all Montana residents to get vaccinated but said in a statement that it is “entirely voluntary.” Vaccine passports have been implemented in New York but the White House has said there will not be any federal vaccine passport program. — AP, 4/13/2021

Died — Hans Küng, a liberal Catholic theologian whose teachings and best-selling books called for reforms in the Catholic church and whose criticism of the idea of papal infallibility led to a formal censure by the Vatican. He did not oppose Catholicism, but what he viewed as an insular, self-reinforcing Vatican bureaucracy that amounted to an authoritarian regime. For centuries, he said, the Vatican had neglected its spiritual mission as it pursued the accumulation of power and wealth, with the pope reigning as an absolute monarch. — Washington Post, 4/8/2021

Seven years ago, pro-Russia separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine declared their independence, backed and armed by Moscow, which also seized the Crimean peninsula. Since then, cease-fires have been signed and broken and more than 14,000 people killed. Russia has moved its forces in and out of the border region. “This is the first stage of a return to a Soviet Union 2.0,” said Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president until 2019, in an interview. “That’s why there is all of this aggression, all of these military attacks. All of these things are only to renew the Russian empire.” — Wall Street Journal, 4/28/2021

Financial

A thousand years ago, when money meant coins, China invented paper currency. Now the Chinese government is minting cash digitally, in a re-imagination of money that could shake a pillar of American power. Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin have foreshadowed a potential digital future for money, though they exist outside the traditional global financial system and aren’t legal tender like cash issued by governments. China’s version of a digital currency is controlled by its central bank, which will issue the new electronic money. It is expected to give China’s government vast new tools to monitor both its economy and its people. — Wall Street Journal, 4/6/2021

The Securities and Exchange Commission awarded more than $500,000 to a whistleblower who raised concerns internally before submitting a tip to the Commission. The information allowed the Commission and another agency to quickly shut down an ongoing fraudulent scheme. The SEC has now awarded approximately $760 million to 145 individuals since issuing its first award in 2012. All payments are made out of an investor protection fund established by Congress that is financed entirely through monetary sanctions paid to the SEC by securities law violators. — U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission news release, 3/29/2021

From individuals with smartphones and a few thousand dollars, to pensions and private-equity firms with billions, yield-chasing investors are snapping up single-family houses to rent out or flip. They are competing for houses with ordinary Americans, who are armed with the cheapest mortgage financing ever, and driving up home prices. John Burns, whose eponymous real estate consulting firm estimates that in many of the nation’s top markets, roughly one in every five houses sold is bought by someone who never moves in. “That’s going to make U.S. housing permanently more expensive,” he said. — Wall Street Journal, 4/6/2021

This year, the federal government’s publicly held debt is projected to hit 102% of the country’s gross domestic product — the monetary value of all finished goods and services made in the country in a year. It would be the highest debt-to-GDP ratio since 1946, according to the Congressional Budget Office. About a third of the debt is now held abroad in countries such as China, Japan, and the U.K. The transactions provide the government with infusions of cash and — as long as the dollar remains the global reserve currency — offer individuals and institutions a safe way to sock away their wealth. — Wall Street Journal, 4/16/2021

In 2020, an equities market that had been in existence for less than two years attracted nearly half of all IPO (Initial Public Offerings) proceeds in mainland China. Star Market — or, to give it its impressive full name, the Shanghai Stock Exchange Science and Technology Innovation Board — has a growth story as remarkable as the “new economy” companies that flock to its doors. The market has also drawn scrutiny for its dramatic first-day trading gains and wild price swings. But given the huge returns on offer for investors, and high multiples on offer for companies, there are few complaints to be heard. — IR Magazine, 4/2/2021

Israel

Israel’s population has reached 9,327,000 million, the Central Bureau of Statistics [CBS] said in its annual report. Some 74% of the population (6,894,000) are Jews, about 21% of the population (1,966,000) are Arabs, while 5% of the population (467,000) are non-Arab Christians, those from minority religions and people listed as non-religious in the census. The report also states that during the establishment of the State of Israel, on May 14, 1948, the country’s population stood at about 806,000 people. Around that time, the percentage of Jews was about 82%. Since 1948, about 3.3 million immigrants arrived in Israel, of whom about 1.5 million arrived after — Ynet News, 4/12/2021

In the footsteps of the Abraham Accords, a recently signed partnership between two Israeli and Emirati entities aims to bring greentech innovation to the Gulf region and to Israel. The deal between Gulf-Israel Green Ventures (GIGV) and the UAE’s [United Arab Emirates’] United Stars Group aims to expand people-to-people, business and economic cooperation through the exchange of green technologies— solutions that promote sustainability by mitigating the negative environmental impacts of development. These include reducing the use and depletion of resources through water recycling, energy-efficient buildings, and renewable energy. — Jewish News Service, 3/26/2021

Matt Lee, AP’s diplomatic reporter, simply asked Ned Price, the US State Department Spokesman to name the recent agreement signed between Israel and numerous Middle East countries under President Trump, and Price refused to say the agreement’s name, the “Abraham Accords,” repeatedly preferring to call it a normalization agreement. — Jewish Press, 4/3/2021

New Israeli technology will allow doctors to diagnose melanomas and other skin cancers in 10 seconds without cutting into the body. Assessing potentially cancerous lesions is generally a painful and lengthy process that normally relies on biopsies. Tel Aviv University scientists say this new method analyzes lesions while still on the skin using infrared light. While this isn’t a new discovery, the Israeli team has pioneered a way to assess lesions, including what type they are if cancerous, using light while they are still on the body. — Times of Israel, 4/19/2021

Israel is the most resilient country in the Middle East, according to a study published by the Institute of Economics, Society and Peace in the Middle East Studies at the Western Galilee Academic College. The study ranked Middle East countries based on six main criteria — economic, social, gender equality, the degree of openness to globalization, ethnic variance, and religious variance — using quantifiable figures from sources such as the World Bank. Based on these criteria, researchers from a wide range of fields found Israel the strongest country in the region, followed by Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates [UAE]. The countries at the bottom of the list are Jordan, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen. The strength index does not account for military might, [but] rather reflects the degree of overall welfare among the people of each country. — Bridges for Peace, 3/19/2021

An Israeli company has received European approval for its rapid coronavirus test poised to help kickstart international travel. The handheld SpectraLIT machine eliminates the need for complex lab equipment by shining light through samples and giving immediate results using the spectral signature. Staff in airport booths who are currently tasked with collecting test samples and dispatching them to labs will simply have a machine at hand and be able to give passengers results after just 20 seconds of analysis. SpectraLIT consistently achieves relatively high accuracy — 70-80 percent — and is an important addition to the market because it will be very cheap — The Times of Israel, 3/31/2021

In a partial return to a pre-Trump-era norm, the US State Department’s annual report on human rights violations around the world published in March referred to the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights as territories “occupied” by Israel. — AP, March, 2021

Readers Speak Out

I was very disturbed by the article that appeared in the 2020 Memorial issue entitled “Memorial Issues.” The article suggested that the Church does not share with Jesus in the cup and the bread — sin offering. Why is there such an effort to prove there is no secondary application? The fact that we share in the sin offering with our Lord is a basic tenet of the Bible Student movement. All other Christians think that the bullock, goat, and scapegoat in the Tabernacle represent various aspects of Jesus’ sacrifice. I understand that the article was published with this viewpoint included, but it can’t undo the harm that the article will or has caused. — Ellie Rozmus

Editors’ response: That the saints share in the sufferings of Christ is clearly expressed in the New Testament (Romans 8:17, 2 Timothy 2:11,12, Romans 12:1). Neither the article, nor its author, suggest otherwise, or against the common view of Leviticus 16. The article discussed only the memorial emblems as represented by Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 10:17. The Authorized King James Version is recognized as a less accurate translation than Wilson’s Diaglott, and most other versions. The purpose of the article was to explore this issue. For further consideration, see the PBI booklet, Three Views of the Passover and Reprint 4685.

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