A 42-year-old American missionary, Miss Irene Ferrel, was murdered last month by anti-government terrorists in the Congo. Three Roman Catholic priests from Belgium also were killed.

The slayings were part of a campaign of rampaging guerrilla forces reportedly led by Pierre Mulele, a 34-year-old former education minister in the cabinet of the late Patrice Lumumba. Mulele, also an associate of the imprisoned leftist leader Antoine Gizenga, recently returned from a period of exile in Egypt and Communist China.

Miss Ferrel and another missionary, Miss Ruth B. Hege, 57 years old, operated a church and a Bible school at Mungugu under sponsorship of Baptist Mid-Missions, an agency supported by the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches.

The wave of terror in the Congo—centered in Kwilu province—resulted in at least 150 deaths in all. Pilots of Missionary Aviation Fellowship who flew over the beseiged area reported that fifteen mission stations were destroyed or burning. As of the end of January a number of other American missionaries serving in the area had not been accounted for.

Miss Hege, of Wellington, Ohio, was taken to Leopoldville by United Nations helicopter after days of hiding and running from the rebels. She suffered an arm wound not believed to be serious. Earlier reports that she had lost a hand proved false.

Miss Hege told how she and Miss Ferrel heard noises outside their home at the Mungugu mission station at about 2 A.M. on January 26 and opened the door to a rain of arrows.

“Irene was hit right in the face by an arrow, over the nose, when we opened the door.… I was hit in the arm by an arrow,” she said.

“Irene was killed instantly. I was struck down first and she fell on top of me and they left us both for dead. The terrorists smashed up our home completely. I just lay there, not daring to move.”

Miss Hege said she somehow managed to crawl to a garage, hiding under leaves, until Christian villagers found her and took her to a nearby village. They then took her by bicycle toward safety, but were intercepted by more terrorists and returned to the mission.

“They left me there with a Congolese nurse,” she said, until January 28, when a United Nations helicopter arrived and took her to Leopoldville.

Before leaving the Mungugu station, she said, she buried Miss Ferrel.

Miss Ferrel, sponsored by the First Fundamental Baptist Church of San Diego, California, was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ernest H. Ferrel of Jerome, Idaho.

Miss Ferrel’s death was initially reported by another Baptist missionary, the Rev. Peter Buller of Mountain Lake, Minnesota, who was stationed about twenty miles from Mungugu. Buller said he had flown over the area on January 22 and had seen Miss Ferrel signaling for help. There was no place for the plane to land.

Article continues below

A number of other missionaries were evacuated following the uprisings. They included several from the Congo Inland Mission, maintained by the Evangelical Mennonite Church Conference of Elkhart, Indiana. Missionaries of the American Baptist Convention also work in the area, but there were no immediate reports of any casualties among them.

A Canadian U. N. officer, Lt. Col. Paul Mayer, was beaten up by Africans when he tried to negotiate the release of eight women missionaries and a man held captive at Kisandji. The group was subsequently evacuated, however, without incident.

An Amendment For Women

A majority of presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. (Southern) have approved a proposed amendment to the denomination’s Book of Church Order providing for ordination of women. By the end of January forty-three presbyteries had voted favorably on the amendment and twenty-three had voted against it. Only forty-one were necessary for the measure to carry.

The amendment proposal was initiated by the denomination’s General Assembly last spring. It must still be enacted by a vote of this year’s assembly before it can become church law.

A Lack Of Accord

Two ecumenically minded Roman Catholic scholars were prevented from addressing the literary and historical society of University College, Dublin, according to an article in the society’s magazine. The two, both well-known Americans, are Father John Courtney Murray, a Jesuit, and Father Gregory Baum, an Augustinian. Murray was one of four scholars barred from speaking last spring at Catholic University in Washington, D. C.

Says the writer of the article, Anthony Clare: “Neither of these men could be regarded as adhering to views which would be dangerous or detrimental to the beliefs and convictions of the students. But they do hold views on certain questions within the Church not in accordance with views held here.”

Since both Clare and the UCD authorities made it clear later that no academic ban was imposed, only one possibility remains. No comment was forthcoming, however, from the office of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. The Republic of Ireland, neutral in World War II and separate from the British Commonwealth since 1949, is 93 per cent Roman Catholic.

Article continues below
Collector’S Item For Lent

The Anglican Church of Canada, trying to liven up its annual Lenten homilies, got itself embroiled in a hot controversy.

The trouble centers on the man the Anglicans asked to write their Lenten study book for 1965: Pierre Berton, a 43-year-old Canadian journalist and TV personality—and author of a disputed article on sex.

Writing in Maclean’s, a popular Canadian magazine with a circulation of 500,000, Berton said last May that “society is going to have to accept the fact that premarital sex isn’t always a bad thing; what is bad is the sense of guilt, shame and sin which keeps young people at arm’s length from their parents.… We must make much less fuss about virginity and continence and realise that while they’re okay for some people, they are not necessarily okay for all.”

In a curious sequence of events following the appearance of the article, Berton lost his job as a contributing editor with Maclean’s and a few months later was asked to write the Lenten study book.

Canadian Anglican officials have since backtracked, saying that Berton’s book will no longer be the Lenten study book, but one of several.

“I personally think it’s a poor choice,” said the Rev. Desmond Hunt, Archdeacon of Kingston, Ontario, and rector of St. James Church there. “One wonders if it doesn’t look like an endorsement of all he said.”

“I don’t think it is,” he added, “[but] in the light of Robinson’s bookThe reference is to Anglican Bishop John Robinson’s book, Honest to God. At the Anglican Congress last summer in Toronto, a speaker was applauded after referring to the bishop’s “profoundly courageous” book. taking a liberal view of theology, and Pierre Berton taking a liberal view of morality, it looks as if the church is taking an accommodating stand.”

The church asked Berton to write the book because he is “a man of integrity and an outstanding writer,” said Canon W. E. Hobbs, director of the church’s Department of Information and Stewardship. “The church is interested in getting the lay point of view.”

The article in Maclean’s and the repercussions were “all known to the committee,” according to Canon Hobbs. The book will be about the Church in general, “not just the Anglican church,” he said.

Berton claims that his remarks have been distorted. The article generally denounced the inconsistency of public mores that outlaw premarital sex relations while tolerating petting and allowing sex to be presented to youth as “the key to everything.”

Article continues below

The father of six children, Berton does not balk at the implications of his views.

“At this point,” he wrote, “I fancy I hear a Greek chorus of well-intentioned old women caroling their slogan: ‘Would you want your daughters, etc …?’

“Well, I have several daughters, mesdames, and I must tell you that this is not a question that haunts my slumber. They are pretty levelheaded girls and if, in a moment of madness or by calculated design, they find themselves bedded with a youth … I do not really believe the experience will scar their psyche or destroy their future marriages. Indeed I would rather have them indulge in some good, honest, satisfying sex than be condemned to a decade of whimpering frustration brought on by the appalling North American practice called ‘petting.’

“Be that as it may, I pray one thing is clear to them: whatever occurs, they will always have the full sympathy of their parents.”

Berton emphasizes that he is not saying what stand the Church should take. “I’m just saying that it should examine the issues,” he says. “The Church has re-examined its position constantly [throughout history]. The Church of today is not the Church of the Spanish inquisition; it is not the Church of Martin Luther; and it is certainly not the Church of the first century.”

As to the teaching of the Bible on the subject, he says that one would have “trouble finding scriptural background to oppose” his views. He counters biblical injunctions against fornication by calling into question the accuracy of the translations of the original texts.

He adds that “the Bible says a lot that ministers don’t believe.”

Berton was approached about writing the book during the Anglican Congress last summer, and an official announcement from the church followed.

The Lenten book, which will be “constructively critical,” will deal with several social issues, he says, including “sex, race, and war.” Berton also plans to say something on the Anglican church service. Brought up in the Anglican church, Berton now “sporadically” attends services of the United Church of Canada.

Asked why he thought he had been asked by the Anglicans to write the book, Berton said, “They themselves are going through a period of self-examination. I think they wanted a Lenten book somebody would read.”


A Subtle Message

The floor show beginning next week at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach will have an aura that is distinctly religious or anti-religious, depending on the point of view.

There in the very unsanctified setting of the La Ronde Room a shapely Hollywood trio will bump and grind its way through a series of gospel choruses familiar to evangelicals everywhere.Such as “I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart,” “Give Me Oil in My Lamp,” and the warhorse, “When the Saints Go Marching In.” But pure motives are claimed by the opulently gowned trio led by Jane Russell, 42-year-old veteran of the screen whose appearance in Howard Hughes’s The Outlaw was one of the first skirmishes in America’s post-war sex revolution (see the editorial on page 26).

Article continues below

A dash of religion never hurt an act, say the show business moguls, and in this case it’s 50 per cent of the proceedings. And unlike many who sing of religion and couldn’t care less, these three performers are active in the Hollywood Christian Group, an interdenominational fellowship.

Singing with Jane are Connie Haines and Beryl Davis. They first joined voices impromptu-style at a benefit ten years ago in St. Thomas Episcopal Church of Hollywood, where Beryl attends. Later they made some recordings of gospel tunes, but they put off road tours until last summer. Appearance on national television shows thrust them on a wave of popularity.

In contrast to the usual run of nightclub entertainment, the act does not rely on seamy jokes or seamless costumes. Even so, the critics of the entertainment business have given it their blessing. “A trio of comely femmes with vocal chords to match,” said Variety of their stint at New York’s Copacabana.

The trio is unruffled because churchgoers consider its performance offensive. “The only reason we’re doing this is that it might do some good,” said Jane, without specifying the good. “We were kind of led to do it.”

British-born Beryl admits she had little to do with religion until she came to Hollywood and the two other girls got her interested in the Christian group.

Connie’s father was a Roman Catholic, but she was raised in her mother’s Baptist church where she recalls a “born-again experience” at the age of ten. She later sang at evangelistic rallies and enrolled at a Bible institute in Minneapolis, Northwestern Schools, planning to be a missionary. She changed her mind and decided that her mission in life was to sing “right where I was.”

Jane attends Bel Air Presbyterian Church in Sherman Oaks, California. Her mother is minister at a nondenominational chapel in the San Fernando Valley.

The message of the act is subtle, says Jane in a monumental understatement. “We’re not trying to beat them over the head.”

Article continues below
Keeping The Lord’S Day

Civil observance of the Fourth Commandment is a longstanding tradition in America, and one of the most active groups devoted to keeping it that way is the Lord’s Day Alliance, which celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary last month.

The alliance has two main targets: to make sure that Sunday is protected by law and—once protected—that it is meaningfully used by Christians. “Unless we use the day given to us for worship and religious education, we have no right to ask for legislation protecting it,” said Dr. Harold E. Mayo, former executive director and newly elected president of the alliance.

At its seventy-fifth anniversary meeting in New York, the alliance urged politicians to refrain from campaigning on Sunday.

Alliance leaders emphasize the results of a recent Roper poll showing that a majority of the people polled favored keeping Sunday for “the three R’s—Religion, Relaxation, and Relatives.”

According to the group’s chief elder statesman, Dr. Harry L. Bowlby, public support was not such an easy matter in the old days. He recalled an organized attempt to get Sunday observance branded as a “blue law proposition.” After a six-month battle that included public debates, the opponents conceded defeat.

The alliance, founded in 1888 as the American Sabbath Union, changed its name to the present one in 1908. Although its influence on the American religious scene is not widely felt, several denominations cooperate with it officially, and many other churches support it. The alliance was instrumental in securing Sunday as a holiday for mail carriers.

The alliance is not represented officially in each state. Among the state groups doing “significant” work, said Dr. Mayo, are the Pennsylvania Alliance, headed by Dr. Melvin M. Forney, who has written much of the alliance’s literature, and the New Jersey Alliance, headed by the Rev. Samuel A. Jeanes, which is currently sponsoring a “Go to Church on Sunday” billboard campaign.

The general program includes tracts, church bulletin covers, a motion picture entitled Triumphant Tradition, posters, and visits to churches by field representatives.


A Palace For The Emperor

The Japanese government announced last month that it would build for Emperor Hirohito a $26 million palace to replace one wrecked by Allied bombs during World War II.

The decision caused a measure of concern among Japanese Christians and some speculation that such an extravagant expenditure focuses an inordinate amount of attention upon the emperor. Thus far, however, there has been no evidence of any overt break in the separation of religion and state. The emperor still performs his Shinto worship ceremonies at the Kashikodokoro (the Shinto ceremony shrines) in another part of the palace grounds.

Shinto sources insist that the emperor is a symbol of the nation and is not the Shinto high priest, an object of worship as in pre-war Japan.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.