Word leaked out that a number of young Christians from the West intended to stage a Jesus demonstration during May Day celebrations on Red Square in Moscow. So, the police were on hand to welcome the caravan of fifty-one youths and their leaders when they arrived from Finland. First, the Christians were hassled for hours over passports. Next, they were detained at a roadblock in predawn hours. Here they sang and witnessed to authorities. Then their Christian literature was confiscated and they were placed under house arrest at a motel miles from Moscow, and May Day on Red Square passed without their presence.
On the next day the police escorted them back toward the border. The group’s Jesus poster-decorated vans attracted attention all along the route. So did the crosses with the slogan in Russian, “Christ loves you,” that the youths wore. As they neared Kalinin (population 350,000), a number of Soviet Christians came out to meet them. En route to Leningrad on May 3, police noted other posters on the vans: “Stop Persecution of Soviet Christians!” That did it. No more posters. End of visit.
About half the young people were Americans, many of them affiliated with Youth With a Mission. The turnout was a bit disappointing to leaders. When the plans were laid in Denmark last summer, hundreds indicated their desire to participate. Nevertheless, a lot of Soviets got the message. Who knows, maybe Soviet Jesus people will be demonstrating next May Day as a result, says a planner of the operation.
Meanwhile, the executive committee of the Netherlands Reformed Church sent an Easter message to forty-five Soviet evangelicals who were jailed during 1972. At the same time, these church leaders assured the Russian ambassador in The Hague that the message was not an anti-communist one but was intended to express alliance, compassion, and encouragement. It did, however, protest Soviet persecution of Christians.
Correspondent Jan J. van Capelleveen attributes the gesture to Albert van den Heuvel, former World Council of Churches press officer who is now executive head of the Dutch church. Journalists had badgered the churchman as to why the WCC supports discriminated people everywhere except under Communism.
Although the statement is a first for the Dutch denomination, for years it has quietly been sending financial aid to Iron Curtain pastors who have lost their pulpits and pensions and to families of imprisoned believers.
At about the same time the Dutch sent their letter, four separatist Baptists in the Soviet region of Byelorussia were imprisoned for failing to register their congregations and for giving religious instruction to minors.
A month earlier, twenty-eight persons, mostly young adults, were baptized at the Moscow Baptist Church.
There are signs of increased Communist Party concern over the almost revivalistic spread of Christianity, especially among the young, in some areas of the Soviet Union. Knowledgeable travelers speak of certain cities that have been virtually sealed off by authorities because of the spiritual activity. According to these unconfirmed reports, the quarantines have been imposed to prevent the flow of Christian literature, leaders, and news.
At last word, cross-carrying evangelist Arthur Blessitt was plodding across Africa on his around-the-world witness trek. He had walked through France, Portugal, and Spain, crossed into Morocco, sailed to the Canary Islands and back, arriving in late February at Freetown, Sierra Leone, and then set out for Liberia. The former “minister to Sunset Strip” in Hollywood said he may interrupt his journey when the rainy season begins, back-track (via jet) for a few rallies, then take up his cross again at the next dry season.
It is known that conferences on promoting atheist education were held throughout the Soviet Union this month in response to such Party concern—and directives. At one in Vinnitsa, the head of the Scientific Atheism Institute remarked that “under present-day conditions, attention is being concentrated on convincing believers of the absurdity of their beliefs, on the expansion of their social and cultural horizons, and on attracting believers to labor, social, and political activities.” A month-long refresher course for lecturers in atheistic subjects, with heavy emphasis on students and youth, is going on in Samarkand, north of Afghanistan.
The area around Samarkand is reportedly one of the spiritual hot spots of the Soviet Union. Missionary J. Christy Wilson, Jr., visited a packed-out 1,000-member church there and was told by a leader: “We are praying for the Christians in the West, that God will deliver them from secularism.”
Rio Grande Record
Southern Baptist evangelist Richard Hogue, 25, is believed to have set a denominational record in a one-week crusade when nearly 1,800 professed Christ at Harlingen City, Texas. Most were Latin American teen-agers from the lower Rio Grande Valley area. Additionally, Hogue spoke in seventeen high school assemblies to about 10,000 students. The 550-member First Baptist Church of nearby Rio Hondo, the crusade sponsor, is following up.
Leaders of the United Church of Canada (UCC) and B’nai B’rith have called a halt in their running feud, which has made regular headlines. The focus of the dispute was the UCC charge that Israel mistreated Palestinian refugees and the B’nai B’rith retaliation that the United Church was anti-Semitic.
Officials of the UCC and B’nai B’rith signed a joint statement. The United Church apologized for “the insensitivity and the inaccuracies” in an article in the church paper, the United Church Observer. The B’nai B’rith signers repudiated “invective as a form of expression and communication.”
B’nai B’rith has now withdrawn its libel suit against the church, and Observer editor A. C. Forrest has withdrawn his libel suit against B’nai B’rith.
Expressing regret at the “deep wedges of misunderstanding and acrimony between us,” the signers pledged a dialogue of reconciliation.
“We will not agree always on problems of the Middle East, but agree to respect each other’s differences,” remarked United Church moderator Dr. N. Bruce McLeod.
LESLIE K. TARR
SPREE ’73 is a British Explo: the aims and the teaching are the same—only the location and names have been changed. This is not surprising, because the man behind SPREE, Maurice Rowlandson, British director of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, attended and was impressed by Explo ’72 last year in Dallas. “I felt that a similar event could have an impact on Britain,” he says.
SPREE will be held August 27–September 1 in London’s Earls Court and Olympia, two huge exhibition halls, and in the 100,000-capacity Wembley Stadium for an evangelistic finale, where evangelist Billy Graham will be the main speaker. Rowlandson hopes that SPREE, standing for Spiritual Re-Emphasis, will “go on forever” as clued-up, revived Christians return to their local churches and ask their ministers to involve them in work in the church and in the neighborhood.
Training sessions led by Richard Harbour of Campus Crusade for Christ will use Crusade’s materials. More than 25,000 are expected to participate. They will attend classes and seminars during the mornings (evangelical church leaders will speak), then head for the streets in the afternoons to test their training. Evening concerts will have such artists as Cliff Richard and Johnny Cash.
So far enrollments are on the slow side, although planeloads are reportedly booked from abroad. A rush is expected toward the end, however.
SPREE’s aim, according to its publicity, is “to harness and use the growing enthusiasm of Christians across Britain and the continent, extending the Kingdom of God through the Church by mobilizing and preparing them to make known Christ as Lord and Savior.” The project is not without its critics, evangelical churchmen among them. Three main criticisms concern priorities, expense, and imposition.
Would not, they ask, resources be better used through existing channels, seeking to train people in their local churches? Would this not be preferable to whisking them away on a spree that may prove so unlike the local church situation as to be irrelevant to it?
As for expenditures, a SPREE budget of £500,000 (about $1.5 million—all but £168,000 of it to come from delegates’ registration fees) has raised some eyebrows. “At a time when missionary societies and others are in great financial need, can we afford the luxury of such a spending spree?” asks one evangelical minister. “Perhaps if some of the expensive entertainment and unnecessary free offers were dropped this incredible figure could be reduced.”
The major complaint heard, however, is that planners have imposed SPREE ’73 upon British evangelicals without seeking any consultation or advice outside the Graham organization’s inner circle. “They want our full cooperation,” complains a minister, “but they don’t tell us what they are going to do. Everything’s cut and dried before we know a thing.”
While some criticisms seem valid enough, the general feeling among British evangelicals is that, whatever its faults and shortcomings, SPREE ’73 should be supported for its worthy motives and goals.
Baptists Of The World
Contrary to an old joke, there are still a lot fewer Baptists in the world than there are people, but the gap is gradually narrowing. A Baptist World Alliance survey places the global total at 32.8 million. That includes only church members. If Sunday-school children and others who attend services regularly are added, the figure climbs to nearly 67 million.
Most Baptists are in the United States (24 million members). Next is India (731,000), then the Soviet Union (535,000, some of whom are really non-Baptists forced to register as Baptists), Brazil (400,000), Burma (275,000), the United Kingdom (261,000), and Zaire (225,000).
Adam’S Rib In Norway: A Bone Of Contention
Can a vote for women’s lib be construed as a vote for theological liberalism? In Norway, apparently yes.
The conservative, non-state-related Lutheran Theological Faculty of Oslo (Menighetsfakulteten), reversing its position, voted 5–4 to approve the ordination of women to the Lutheran ministry. The majority statement called the New Testament passages that relate to the issue “products of their time” and therefore not binding.
In Scandinavia, the issue of women Clergy has taken on disproportionate significance because, say observers, it has been used by liberals to get parliamentary and media support to break the power of active churchgoers to determine policy in the state Lutheran churches. Over 90 per cent of Scandinavians belong to the state churches, but only a small minority attends. Ordination of women has been a weather-vane issue in Scandinavia because of its significance in church-state power struggles. Accepting it is widely regarded as capitulation to secular pressure, say the sources.
Conservative Swedish Lutheran scholar Seth Erlandsson, for one, believes that the vote is a symptom of the growing strength of liberals at Menighetsfakulteten, which trains over three-quarters of the clergy for Norway’s state Lutheran church. The school was founded and is supported by private contributions of those who want the clergy to get a conservative theological training rather than the predominantly liberal one offered at the University of Oslo. Erlandsson has publicly questioned the ethics of using designated gifts by evangelicals to pay liberal scholars.
Bringing Up Father
A rift has opened in the organization left by the late Father Divine, the black religious leader whose claims to being God forty years ago brought both adoration and hostile criticism.
Father (born George Baker in Savannah, Georgia) died in 1965. His followers, who claim he is “merely resting his body,” continue to operate missions in six U. S. cities and in Canada, Switzerland, and Australia.
Ever since his death, the movement’s missions, churches, grocery stores, laundries, barber shops, restaurants, newspaper, and two hotels have been administered by Mother Divine (formerly Edna Rose Ritching), the white Canadian whom Father took for his wife in 1946. Technically, the properties are owned cooperatively by the members, and Philadelphia lawyer Austin J. Norris guards the estate as the former private attorney for Father. Mother is described as just a spiritual head who, like Catholic clergy, lives at just sustenance level without owning property.
Now another claimant to the estate has appeared. He calls himself Jesus Emmanuel and says he is the son of Father Divine and legal heir to the movement’s holdings—estimated to be worth $4 million in Philadelphia properties alone. Born under the name William Gibson, he claims that Father’s movement is being run by a group of impostors.
The battle between Mother and “Son” seems destined for the courts, though Gibson’s chances at winning anything seem very slim—especially since acquaintances say they know who Gibson’s real father was.
JAMES S. TINNEY
When a white Southern Baptist congregation in Kansas City, Trinity Baptist Church, found it could not attract black adults to its services in a rapidly changing neighborhood, it could have sold its relatively new $175,000 building and relocated. Instead, it donated the building to a struggling black church as a gift.
Since the members of the white congregation are so widely scattered now in the suburbs, they decided not to try to relocate as a unit. So, without any major hassles among themselves, they handed over the keys and the deed to Spruce St. Matthews Baptist Church.
Earlier, Spruce St. Matthews became the first black congregation in Kansas City to leave the fold of the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Incorporated, and join the Kansas City (Southern) Baptist Association. This kindred relationship may have influenced Trinity’s choice, acknowledges Pastor Darrell Rickard of Trinity.
Since moving into the new quarters a short time ago, attendance at Spruce St. Matthews has grown from 100 to more than 500.
JAMES S. TINNEY
Many foreign missionaries and the agencies that sponsor them have been seriously hurt by the dollar devaluation. The arithmetic is simple: the mission dollar is worth less—much less, in some cases—than it was last year in many countries, and the result is a de facto salary decrease for personnel. More dollars are required for purchase of the same goods and services as before, placing increased demands on mission board budgets back home. On top of this, there is runaway inflation in some lands, making the crunch even worse. It all amounts to a severe financial crisis.
“Faith” boards—those in which individual missionaries must raise their own support—are among the hardest hit. They have few or no cash reserves to tide them over in emergencies of such magnitude. Churches that support them often show reluctance to change their own fixed mission budgets, especially between annual congregational meetings. A number of faith missionaries are taking early furloughs or crash leaves to seek additional support.
A board with an annual budget of $500,000 will need about $50,000 extra this year to make up for devaluation, estimates Evangelical Foreign Missions Association secretary Wade T. Coggins. Sudan Interior Mission says it will cost about $100,000 to close the gap in its work across central Africa, $60,000 of it in salaries. Value-added taxes, inflation (cheap hamburger, $2 per pound; gasoline, more than $1 per gallon), and devaluation ganged up on missionaries in some European countries. Dollars there buy 30 per cent less than at the beginning of the year, reports the Greater Europe Mission.
The extent of the crunch varies. Latin America, South Africa, and other nations that devalued their own currency in line with the American move are little affected. But the situation is grim in Japan, Europe, and African countries that follow the French franc.
The American Baptist Convention has tapped reserve funds for salary increases for its missionaries in Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Okinawa. The currencies of Thailand and Zaire are still unsettled; adjustments will be made later for missionaries there.
An Assemblies of God spokesman says his denomination’s mission budget of $12.5 million must be increased by about $500,000 to take up the slack in thirty-seven affected fields. Seventh-day Adventists, who operate in 189 lands, took losses of about $3.5 million in devaluation, say officials. They warn that missionaries will be ordered home and other items cut unless the churches increase their giving. Youth for Christ people overseas say they have suffered de facto salary cuts of up to 20 per cent. The Lutheran Church in America reports its Asian fields were badly hurt; salary increases amount to $2,865 per month.
Many mission leaders see only two ways out of the predicament: cutbacks in expensive operations such as schools and hospitals or increased receipts from donors. Pessimists are already eyeing the former. Says one, a denominational executive: “Some churches haven’t changed their mission giving in twenty years. And the missionary is left holding the bag.”
Dollar, Dollars, And Dogma
White conservatives in Kansas City are at odds with one another over the proposed sale of a church building to the Nation of Islam (Black Muslims). Normally committed to the “law and order” line, Pastor Truman Dollar of Kansas City Baptist Temple, which boasts the city’s largest Sunday School (average attendance: nearly 1,500), has attacked the FBI, which he says has clearly violated the civil rights of the Muslims and intimidated him as well.
When it was learned that Dollar was negotiating sale of the modern-designed church to the Muslims for $300,000, FBI agent William Brookhart paid Dollar a visit. Dollar contends that the agent called Nathaniel Muhammad, head of the local mosque and a son of Muslim prophet Elijah Muhammad, a “liar, thief, and a black S.O.B.” Brookhart reportedly confided that he had been watching the Muslims in Kansas City for ten years, and that if the sale of the church were completed, the FBI would “bug” the church.
The white Baptists are eager to sell: the neighborhood has rapidly turned black, and they have already built a $1 million church plant on the outskirts.
Dollar said he took the personal visit by the FBI’s Brookhart as attempted harassment and an effort to discourage sale of the church to the black group.
The FBI is apparently not the only opponent of the sale. One of the members of Dollar’s church, a policeman, contacted the FBI agent and requested the visit with the pastor, it was later revealed. And some staff members of the local Calvary Bible College, unrelated to the Temple though doctrinally similar, have been critical of the sale to the “anti-Christian, heretical” Muslims. But Dollar says that he could “sell to the devil” in good conscience.
Sources say the Muslims had defaulted on the sales contract. The Baptists and the black realtor handling the sale, however, were expected to extend the time for the Muslims to make good the deal.
JAMES S. TINNEY
Dominican Republic: Getting It Across
Once again, Argentine-born evangelist Luis Palau has harnessed the mass media to reach virtually an entire nation for Christ. After each night’s rally during a recent two-week crusade in the baseball stadium at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Palau hustled over to the television studio of the national network channel for a half-hour talk show. Most viewers who called wanted to know how Christianity relates to sex problems and family relationships. Every night someone prayed to receive Christ on the air, and scores more professed faith in person at a TV counseling center.
Additionally, Palau was a featured guest on a number of other shows. Newspapers and broadcasters gave his crusade extensive coverage, and one paper published a daily column he wrote. The pace was set after the first press conference when a daily headlined, “Evangelist Agrees With Marx.” Palau, marking the difference between Christ and religion, commented that religion “is the opiate of the people.” That remark, said Palau, drew a number of students to the meetings.
Except for a few separatist groups, all of the 120 or so evangelical congregations in Santo Domingo (population: 850,000) participated. Crowds averaged 5,000 nightly (there were 8,000 on youth night), with 2,600 reported decisions. Palau and his team conducted a school of evangelism on the side for about fifty young people and others. Using Campus Crusade for Christ materials and methods, they recorded 350 decisions on three forays into the market place.
Palau was able to penetrate upper social ranks, thanks partly to a lavish hotel breakfast for 200 business leaders, professionals, and politicians sponsored by prominent evangelical layman Alfonso Lockward. The second coming, suicide, and forgiveness were the main after-breakfast topics. Again, wide press coverage carried Palau’s comments to countless thousands of the four million Dominicans.
Palau, based in Mexico City, is affiliated with Overseas Crusades of Palo Alto, California.
Number One In Germany
An opinion poll conducted among 3,000 West German teen-agers in Kitzingen, only 5 per cent of whom belonged to church youth groups, reveals that the number-one question on their minds concerns life after death. Social and political questions, which the pollsters (public school religion teachers) expected to rank higher, interested them less, according to the survey.
The popularity of Eric Segal’s novel and movie Love Story appears to have brought the question of human love into the limelight, says evangelical editor Gerd Rumler. The survey, he says, shows that teen-agers are more interested in the meaning of love than in information about sex. It all shows that kids are “no longer asking how to live, but what to live for,” he adds.
China In Contrast
After a visit to China, where he served as a missionary from 1935 to 1941, Canadian Presbyterian missionary executive E. H. Johnson described the transformation in that country as “probably the greatest single event of the twentieth century.”
The most impressive thing about Chinese life, he said, was the “unbelievable release of creative energy throughout the whole country.” Although persuaded that Maoism failed to fulfill “the religious dimension,” he found a sense of purpose pervading Chinese society. “What a vast contrast between the commitment and dedication of those Maoist people and the pale, hypocritical expression of Christian faith that marks so much of our official church life.”
Religion In Transit
At least one congregation—Killarney Park Mennonite Brethren in Vancouver—has taken to heart recent admonitions from publishers about unauthorized copying. The church held a ceremony to burn all known copies of music that had been illegally reproduced. Said Pastor Bob Roxburgh: “It was a question of moral versus financial considerations. As Christians we were left with no other option.”
The International Catholic Communications Association gave top awards to the Southern Presbyterians for two best-rated radio programs: “What’s It All About?,” a weekly youth show on 600 stations, and “Rock Music: What’s It All About?,” a thirty-minute special.
Covenant Seminary in St. Louis, established in 1956 by what is now the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (current enrollment: 100), received accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
Mormons report 3.2 million members in seventy-eight countries. President Harold B. Lee says the steady growth is due in large part to 17,000 missionaries who are serving two or more years at their own or their families’ expense.
Vowing to work within the framework of the Southern Baptist Convention to counteract allegedly liberal trends, about fifty SBC ministers in an Atlanta meeting formed the Baptist Faith and Message Fellowship, with North Carolina pastor M. O. Owens as head.
Baptist Towers, a federally subsidized high-rise apartment house built three years ago by 100 Chicago Baptist churches, most of them black, is reportedly $100,000 behind in mortgage payments. Officials blame high taxes and say they will sue to get relief. If none is forthcoming, they will be forced to sell, they add. Across the nation, many church-backed residential facilities have been faltering financially or charging exorbitant rents.
A Methodist study team predicts that many “Old First” churches in central city business districts will not survive the present decade because the “supporting membership base” will all but disappear.
Campus Crusade has taken to the airwaves with a weekly television series, “Explo 73.” The music-interview-testimony-news show was launched in nine cities with plans to add others later. At the same time, the Southern Baptists premiered a gospel variety-show format, “Spring Street USA,” on twenty stations. Both shows are thirty-minute color programs.
Garner Ted Armstrong, 42, took his Worldwide Church of God law-and-prophecy message to Dallas last month, and 12,000 heard him in a three-night stand. The WCG claims 85,000 members in 260 churches around the world, a 2.5 million-circulation magazine (sent free), programs on 300 radio and 100 television stations, and a budget that is said to exceed $40 million.
Newspaper ads reportedly netted eighteen priesthood candidates for the Catholic Church in Montreal. A Catholic spokesman notes that there were a number of other inquiries also.
The U. S. Postal Service last month issued an official pictorial envelope with first-day stamp cancellation to mark the 250th anniversary of Boston’s Old North Church.
Sponsors are putting together in Toronto a Karl Barth Society of North America to “recall the Church to its biblical, catholic, and ecumenical nature,” apparently by preserving and propagating the neo-orthodox theologian’s thoughts.
Construction of new churches and other religious buildings, reversing a downward trend, increased by 5 per cent in dollar value last year, according to the U. S. Department of Commerce. But with inflation, the estimated $852 million worth of new buildings really represents 4 per cent less construction than in 1971. If converted to 1967 dollars, the value dips to $565 million.
ABC television in Los Angeles gave news coverage to a week-long evangelistic happening by the young people of First Baptist Church in suburban Van Nuys. The event drew crowds of 1,000 or more at a time to the light-and-sound show on a vacant lot. Scores who made decisions were enrolled in Bible-study groups.
Tiny Poolesville (Maryland) Presbyterian Church is producing a complete concordance to The Living Bible. The fifty-eight members dug up $6,500 to finance it. Several got free computer use from employers; others volunteered photocopy and promotion skills. The church says it needs 600 orders of the $24.95 volume to break even.
The Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs and the American Baptist Convention joined the National Council of Churches on the side of anti-communist preacher Billy James Hargis in a U. S. Supreme Court case aimed at getting Hargis’s tax exemption reinstated. But Hargis fellow-traveler Carl McIntire parted company, saying he did not wish to travel with “the Lord’s enemies.”
So far, about forty of the 150 Catholic dioceses in the United States are participating in Key 73.
The New York State Council of Churches announced its support of a bill that would permit the sale of contraceptives to youths under 16.
Under pressure from parents, a few clergymen, and a representative of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, urban Montgomery County, Maryland, discontinued “The Bible as Literature” units in junior and senior-high English classes.
A group of law students at George Washington University have organized VIOLENT (Viewers Intent on Listing Episodes of Violence on National Television) to monitor TV programs that allegedly teach young viewers the ways of violence.
United Church of Canada minister Michael Zuk, 47, mayor of Spirit River, Alberta (population 1,100), as well as pastor of its UCC church, read a resignation letter to his congregation, charging mental cruelty by political opponents in the church.
Recipients of the new Claremont (School of Theology) Awards for Excellence in communication arts: Dan L. Thrapp (journalism), religion editor of the Los Angeles Times, and Harry C. Spencer (radio and television), United Methodist Church communications executive.
In 1946 Samuel Sobel became the first rabbi to be commissioned a chaplain in the Navy; now he’s the first Jewish chaplain to head the 200 Marine Corps chaplains.
Bishop Charles F. Golden, 60, of Los Angeles, assumed the presidency of the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church last month. He is a black.
Director Mariano Di Gangi of the Bible and Medical Missionary Fellowship was elected president of the Evangelical Theological Society of Canada.
Lutheran Church in America communications director R. Marshall Stross received the Religious Public Relations Council’s top award this year for “creative and effective religious communication.”
BERNICET.CORY, 73, co-founder and executive of Scripture Press Publications; in Wheaton, Illinois.
MACKE.JONAS, 89, founder of the Church of God in Christ in Ohio and one of its bishops; in Cleveland.
ALBERT RHETT STUART, 67, retired Episcopal bishop of southeastern Georgia; in Savannah.
CORNELIUS P. TROWBRIDGE, 74, Episcopal clergyman and former president of Planned Parenthood; in Wilmington, Delaware.
Wainfleet, Ontario, pastor Robert K. Leland, 40, will become executive minister of the forty-congregation Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada in August.
Administrator Stanley B. Long of the American Tract Society changed jobs last month to become executive director of the Tom Skinner evangelistic organization.
Resigned: President Arthur R. McKay of a Rochester, New York, complex embracing Colgate Rochester Divinity School, Bexley Hall, and Crozer Seminary. The United Presbyterian clergyman, formerly president of McCormick Seminary, wants to return to the pastorate.
Gordon College executive Daniel E. Weiss, 35, has been named president of Eastern Baptist College and Seminary in Philadelphia.
Black Baptist youth evangelist Melvin Floyd of Philadelphia, a former policeman of note, received a top Freedoms Foundation award.
Seventh-day Adventist publicist Paul Lee Becker of Nashville was elected president of the Religious Public Relations Council.
Texan James E. Andrews, 44, a Presbyterian clergyman who was formerly a publicist and presidential assistant at Princeton Seminary, has been nominated to the top staff post (stated clerk) of the Southern Presbyterians. He is now assistant to Stated Clerk James A. Millard, Jr., whose resignation takes effect next month.
Christian literature will be classed with pornography under a new law in Yugoslavia and, like pornography, will be subject to a 30 per cent tax, according to a European Baptist Union report.
More than 18,000 persons from 100 nations, the majority of them young adults, visited the famed Taizé, France, ecumenical community at Easter in preparation for next year’s launch of an international Council of Youth, a spiritual-renewal movement.
Sixteen apparently disillusioned Jews returned to the Soviet Union after two years in Israel and a year of waiting in Vienna for Soviet reentry permission. The emigrants, the largest single group of Jews permitted to return after renouncing Soviet citizenship, charged the Israeli government with deception and inhumanity.
Twenty Mennonite hospitals, schools, and other mission facilities in India are among the latest properties to be transferred to the Evangelical Trust Association of North India (ETANI), now serving about twenty denominations. ETANI was set up after a law was passed last year forbidding the holding of property by a foreign-based organization.
Youth for Christ in the Netherlands, now operating nearly fifty coffeebars, is getting an assist from the Christian Reformed Church (Gereformeerde kerken) to mount evangelistic campaigns in the Amsterdam area.
The fiercely atheistic government of churchless Albania executed a Catholic priest after he baptized a child; the regime claims he was guilty of anti-state crimes.
In a project organized by the evangelically oriented Festival of Light, petitions bearing 1.3 million signatures and calling for a campaign of national decency in England were presented to British prime minister Edward Heath.
The Romanian Orthodox Church has requested from the London-based United Bible Societies (UBS) enough paper to print 100,000 Bibles. It also asked for 5,000 copies of the Gospel of Matthew in Braille. The UBS will pick up the $115,000 tab.
A new immigration law in Thailand gives missionaries first crack at residence visas. The government has officially encouraged religious leaders to propagate their faith, especially among young people.
Six Methodist churches and five church schools were destroyed or badly damaged during a storm that ripped across the Tonga Islands last month, leaving hundreds homeless. An estimated half of Tonga’s people are members of the Free Wesleyan Church (Methodist Church).
Pedro Luciano Paredes Encina, director of the Radio Council of the Methodist Church of Chile, has called for a “strategic alliance” between Christians and Marxists, but acknowledges that while “our message … is acceptable to the various Marxist elements, and although we do not conceal our philosophical differences with Marxism, our stand angers conservative and reformist elements in the church.”
More than 13,000 Israelis signed petitions calling for a law to prohibit missionary activity in Israel.
More than 1,000 persons professed Christ in two evangelistic campaigns in Baguio City and M’lang in the Philippines led by North Carolina Baptist pastor Mark Corts. Nationals have organized follow-up rallies and Bible-study groups.
A survey shows there are now about as many Anglicans outside the 32-million-member Church of England as in it.
There’s a Youth for Christ rally in Wellington, New Zealand, which is attended consistently by 2,000 teenagers, say YFC leaders.
Church agencies have channeled $13.5 million into Bangladesh through a World Council of Churches-sponsored relief organization, according to a WCC report.
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