A prominent Chicago minister dropped into the offices of Associated Church Press the other day. He told Alfred Klausler, ACP executive secretary, that his church board had voted to discontinue 350 subscriptions to the denominational paper. The usual reason given for such cancellations is disagreement with editorial policy. In this case, Klausler relates, “the members said they got their religious news via the Chicago dailies, Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News much faster and more thoroughly, and, possibly, reliably.”
“If this is true in Chicago, what about other urban centers?” Klausler asks.Regular readers of Christianity Today would be inclined to disagree. They get at least 5,000 words of interdenominational news coverage in each fortnightly issue. The magazine dispatches staff members or correspondents to more religious events in the United States and overseas than any other publication, religious or secular.
Whatever the merits of the complaints, the effects are being felt. Klausler reports that “both Catholic and Protestant religious press face circulation problems.” Indications are that religious journals may be in for a period of consolidation. Several major mergers have already been announced this year. The American Baptist News Service ceased publication April 1, except for news to the public media.
This week in Chicago, several hundred experts in religious communications are meeting to assess the impact of changing human attitudes. The event, the Religious Communications Congress, has as its theme “New Dimensions in a Secular Age.” Sponsors include more than forty organizations, among them the ACP, the Synagogue Council of America, the National Council of Churches, the Evangelical Press Association (EPA), and the National Religious Broadcasters.
Sensitivity toward the need for broad adjustments is seen also in the formation several weeks ago of the Christian Communications Council. This group represents a desire for new coordination by some leading evangelical organizations including EPA, the Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association, the Christian Booksellers Association, and the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association. James L. Johnson of Evangelical Literature Overseas was elected interim executive secretary.
Among new hopes for Christian communicators is one still in a very theoretical stage: the revival of rhetoric as a major discipline. Rhetoricians are getting a new lease on life these days through new courses being offered on campuses and through books and articles. They are drawing support from linguists and philosophers, too. For the latter, the study of rhetoric represents a major step beyond linguistic analysis, the focus of recent decades.
DAVID E. KUCHARSKY
Austerity At New York: Degree Dropping
It looks as if both an old tradition and a new educational experiment are over for New York Theological Seminary (formerly the Biblical Seminary). The school announced it will cease granting B.D. and M.R.E. degrees after May of 1971.
The trustees voted March 12 not to renew faculty contracts for the next academic year, but they will explore ways to continue existing S.T.M. and lay-education programs. This decision came only one year after the school started an experimental “student centered” B.D. curriculum.
The problem is money: over the last four years the school has sold all its property in New York’s fashionable “Turtle Day” section except the main building. But the cost of maintaining the B.D. program has outpaced revenue.
Dr. George Webber, an urban-ministries specialist, is expected to remain president of the school. Webber hopes the graduate institute offering degrees in pastoral counseling and urban ministries can continue. These programs have been heavily subscribed by metropolitan ministers and pay their own way.
Meanwhile, it was rumored there would soon be a change at another New York seminary. The Right Reverend J. Brooke Mosley, deputy for overseas relations of the Episcopal Church, was expected to resign to become Union’s president.
The last Roman Catholic missionaries serving in the former Biafra region left Nigeria last month. Unlike earlier groups deported (see March 13 issue, page 51), the final thirty-four were not charged with “illegal entry” into the country.
Assemblies of God missionaries are also gone from the Biafra region. During the civil war, notes General Superintendent Thomas F. Zimmerman, national members of the church not only held services but also established sixty new churches.
Now that rehabilitation has begun in Nigeria, the American Bible Society is working to restore Bibles lost and destroyed during the conflict. Last year the Bible Society of Nigeria distributed almost a million Bibles; this year, the society estimates it will need twelve to fifteen tons of Scriptures.
Dr. Akanu Ibiam, a former governor of Biafra and onetime medical missionary there, sees religious conflict in the civil war: most Biafrans are Christian; most other Nigerians are Muslim.
Religion In Transit
A group called Clergymen and Laymen for Justice, Order, and Peace was organized in Princeton, New Jersey, last month, headed by retired Navy and Columbia University chaplain Robert G. Andrus. He says that more than 100 ministers have signed his “pro-Nixon” statement and that the group intends to change the current public image of the Church as “being predominantly in support of the irresponsible moratorium approach to peace.”
“Z,” the French-made motion picture of political upheaval in Greece in 1963, has been picked as the outstanding movie of the year by national Protestant and Catholic film agencies.
According to a study by the Lutheran Church in America’s Commission on Evangelism, man’s current emphasis on materialism was rated the number-one reason for the decline in the denomination’s membership growth.
The United Methodist Church has asked that 25 per cent of the denomination’s expenditures for world service go to the black community for economic development and education.
The Southern Baptist Home Board has authorized the creation of a million-dollar loan fund for Negro and other ethnic Baptist groups.
The trustees of Southwestern Baptist Seminary—after a four-hour discussion—voted to delay construction of a proposed $125,000 home in Fort Worth for its president.
The American Council of Christian Churches’ Executive Committee went on record last month as being “unalterably opposed to the liberalization of present abortions laws … in the United States.”
Los Angeles’s radio station KRKD, established by evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, has been sold for $4,525,000 to a private broadcasting firm by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.
Riverside Church in New York City—where James Forman gained national attention with his Black Manifesto demands for reparations—has responded by setting up a $450,000 fund to help the disadvantaged. The action, however, met none of Forman’s demands.
A New Jersey Superior Court judge ruled that the Netcong school board must cease the daily classroom reading of prayers from the Congressional Record because the practice is “unconstitutional” and “an evasion of the values of our American heritage.”
Directors of Union Theological Seminary last month rejected a student-faculty assembly request that the school put up $400,000 from its $27 million endowment to help bail twelve Black Panthers out of jail in New York.
This spring Asbury College students not only thought about evangelism—they took it on vacation with them. A thousand collegians from Wilmore, Kentucky, divided into teams to testify about their revival experience (see February 27 and March 13 issues) in the U. S. and Canada, in Kenya, Africa, and in Colombia, South America.
Child Evangelism Fellowship will begin a national television ministry this fall.
The General Commission on Chaplains and Armed Forces Personnel has asked the nation’s military academies to end mandatory chapel service requirements.
A newly developed text for Holy Communion has been approved by the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship and is set for publication this summer.
An Alabama farm owned by Black Muslims plagued by the deaths of at least thirty poisoned cattle will be sold “to the Ku Klux Klan or anybody who wants it,” its manager declared last month after a series of harassments.
Charix, a popular and controversial teenage coffeehouse in Portland, Oregon, operated in the First Unitarian Church, voluntarily shut down last month. Police claimed it had become a haven for drug addicts, criminals, prostitutes, and other “undesirables.”
A taxpayers’ suit challenging federal construction grants to four Connecticut colleges with ties to the Roman Catholic Church was dismissed last month by a New Haven federal court.
Wheaton (Illinois) Academy (now called Wheaton Christian High School) severed ties with Wheaton College this month … Beginning next fall a major in religion will be offered by Wheaton College’s Bible department.
Westmont: Burning Heroism
Fast work by nearly 400 Westmont College students saved virtually all valuable records, books, and furniture during a morning blaze that gutted the school’s $750,000 administration building. Santa Barbara, California, officials say faulty wiring ignited last month’s fire.
Although ceilings collapsed during rescue operations, there were no injuries. Firemen, praising the heroism of students, bitterly contrasted the scene two weeks earlier when rioting University of California arsonists burned a bank building and drove firemen away.
“You kids deserve free tuition for this,” the fire chief declared to a drenched, weeping Westmont coed. “No, sir,” she replied, “we just love Westmont.” Then she returned to study for quarterly finals.
EDWARD E. PLOWMAN
Episcopal Bishop Gerald Burrill of Chicago, 63, announced that he will retire October 1, 1971, after heading the diocese for seventeen years.
Rabbi David Neiman, an associate professor in Boston College’s theology department, will become the first Jew to teach at the 416-year-old Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome next spring.
Geography professor Dr. Melvin G. Marcus of the University of Michigan will be the chief scientist of a team (SEARCH) making an expedition next summer to see if the remains of Noah’s Ark are buried under tons of rock and ice on Mount Ararat.
Dr. Samuel H. Sutherland, associated with Biola for thirty-four years and now president of Biola Schools and Colleges, will retire next August.
Next November Dr. Daniel F. Martensen will become editor of the Lutheran Quarterly, published by twelve Lutheran seminaries of the Lutheran Church in America and the American Lutheran Church.
Mrs. John C. Bennett, wife of the president of Union Seminary in New York, was among 182 persons arrested while trying to block the entrances of four draft boards in lower Manhattan last month during a loosely coordinated national protest against the war.
The new director of the Selective Service System is a United Methodist layman. Californian Curtis W. Tarr, 45, and his wife helped start a new church in Chico fifteen years ago, and he was a lay leader of the denomination’s Shasta District of the California-Nevada Conference.
Ulster militant minister Ian Paisley announced that collections in his Martyrs’ Memorial Church in Belfast totaled $183,000 during 1969. (The highest income for a Church of Scotland congregation was $60,000 for St. George’s West in Edinburgh.)
The National Council of Churches has named Randolph Nugent, a black minister who is an executive in the United Methodist Church, as NCC Associate general secretary for overseas ministry.
Evangelist-lecturer Dr. J. Edwin Orrreceived a doctor of theology degree from Serampore University, founded by William Carey in 1818. Orr said he is “the only living recipient of a doctorate earned in this historic institution” in India.
Eugene A. Dean of Austin, Texas, has been elected executive director of Presbyterian Survey, the official Southern Presbyterian magazine.
Grady Parrott, for twenty-one years the president of Missionary Aviation Fellowship, retired this month; replacing him is Charles J. Mellis.
Colman McCarthy of the Washington Post and Dan Thrapp of the Los Angeles Times were named co-winners of the Faith and Freedom Award in Journalism last month.
Sister Eleanor Niedwick, 25, doesn’t wear a habit, and she keeps her badge and her gun in her purse. She is a plainclothes officer in Washington, D. C.’s police-community relations division who rides a scout car and lives in the Daughters of Wisdom convent.
Former Roman Catholic Bishop Dr. James P. Shannon has resigned from his post as vice-president of St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in order to prepare for a career in law, according to the Minneapolis Star.
Dr. William M. Wiebenga, 32, a Calvin College (Christian Reformed Church) graduate who holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Yale, was named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Methodist-related American University.
The civil-rights movement that has headed the political protest of the past two years in Northern Ireland shows signs of a split. Some prominent members have resigned, alleging that it is being taken over by extreme left-wing and revolutionary elements.
The just-published New English Bible is a runaway best seller, with 20,000 copies a week printed last month; orders were running at 10,000 a day.
Vatican City has experienced its first labor strike: employees at the Vatican museums refused to open the doors. They want—you guessed it—more pay, Italian Radio reported.
The names of women employees in the Vatican secretariat of state have been published for the first time in the Holy See’s annual yearbook. Women have been employed in various Vatican offices for a long time, spokesmen conceded; at present sixty-six are on the Vatican payroll.
The first Mormon stake (official district) in Asia was established in Japan last month, sixty-nine years after the church’s first missionary arrived there.
A delegation of the World Council of Churches’ Commission on Faith and Order shared with Orthodox churchmen the 1,100th anniversary of Orthodoxy in Bulgaria last month.
Men in Action, affiliated with the West Indies Mission, is planning an emphasis called “Christ for All” in Haiti’s southern peninsula. It is hoped 2,000 prayer cells can be organized.
A World Council of Churches evangelism official spent three weeks in the United States last month establishing contact with black Pentecostals. “They combine Pentecostal spirituality with political and social awareness,” said Dr. Walter J. Hollenweger.
Britain’s chief rabbi, Dr. Immanuel Jakobovits, has urged a strict moratorium on further “test-tube baby” experiments until complex moral issues have been examined. “To reduce human generation to such stud farming methods would be a debasement of human life,” he said.
Trans World Radio, the largest religious broadcasting network in the world, was honored on its fifth anniversary of operation in the Caribbean by commemorative stamps issued by the Netherlands Antilles government.
One million dollars in money and materials is the goal of the World Relief Committee of the Christian Reformed Church this year; expenditures in Korea will exceed $400,000.
The World Council of Churches has appealed for $4 million to assist churches in the Nigeria Christian Council in relief and rehabilitation programs.
The United Methodists and United Presbyterians contributed more than half of the $652,747 given by U.S. denominations to the 1969 general budget of the World Council of Churches.
The Office of Worldwide Evangelism-in-Depth (Latin America Mission) is publishing a paper called In-Depth Evangelism Around the World.
Blessed John Ogilvie will become Scotland’s first saint since 1256, according to Father Pedro Arrupe, general of the Society of Jesus.
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