“Maybe there should be a new group,” suggested Des Moines Baptist pastor Paul Tassell in his keynote address to the thirty-second annual convention of the American Council of Christian Churches. “It could be called the National Association of Un-Separated Evangelicals and Agnostics—N.A.U.S.E.A.”
There was antidote aplenty at the Ames, Iowa, meeting last month, and a large dose was prescribed for Key 73. In an afternoon symposium entitled “Key 73—Satan’s Masterplan to deceive,” several things that especially upset the ACCC were identified: participation with Roman Catholics, Pentecostals, and members of the National Council of Churches, and the use of contemporary music and modern versions of the Bible.
President Thomas E. Baker of the Bible Truth Institute in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, cited differing meanings for “salvation” among Key 73 participants in his town. One, said he, proffered a sort of salvation by works, another salvation by either faith or works, a third salvation by baptism. In addition, Baker lamented, Key 73 gave townspeople copies of Luke and Acts in the Today’s English Version. “The King James Bible is the one and only Bible that [best] represents the Word of God in the English language,” he asserted, eliciting hearty Amens. ACCC officials carefully noted that his views on Bible translations were not officially those of the council but nevertheless accurately reflected the sentiment of many members.
Another symposium participant chided Key 73 for subjectivism. Pentecostalists preach experience, said Professor James Hollowood of Maranatha Baptist College in Watertown, Wisconsin, and the Roman Catholic mass is essentially a drama to make one feel close to God. “Key 73 makes people feel they know a Christ,” he said. That Christ “may make them shout, roll, or feel good, but he doesn’t save.”
In an interview, newly elected general secretary L. Eugene Mohr, 39, suggested that instead of clustering under an umbrella like Key 73, local churches should “continue and intensify biblical evangelism.” On a local level, he said, issues are less likely to become confused. Mohr, an Iowa General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC) pastor, will assume duties at the ACCC’s Valley Forge headquarters January 1.
Moving from its consideration of Key 73 as a defrauder of the faith, the council honored venerable Robert T. Ketcham, 84, a founder of both the ACCC and the GARBC, the ACCC’s largest constituent (210,000 members), with its first Defender of the Faith award (see photo). It was presented by ACCC president Ralph G. Colas, a Waterloo, Iowa, GARBC pastor.
Once that award might have gone to radio preacher Carl McIntire, also an ACCC founder and its predominant personality until control was wrested from him a few years ago, leading to a split in 1970. The usually vocal Bible Presbyterian minister from Collingswood, New Jersey, slipped quietly into—and out of—Campus Baptist Church, which hosted the convention. ACCC officials generally agreed he was “looking for friends.” At times he was seen standing alone.
McIntire didn’t take any large contributors with him, according to one official, but he apparently didn’t leave any either. Financial support of the council has been lagging (last year’s income: $32,000), but the treasurer’s report showed a modest balance and council leaders expect a boost from the sale of half-interest in more than forty acres of their Valley Forge headquarters land to a local developer. Also, says Mohr, interest in the ACCC is on the upswing, and an ACCC program on NBC television last month resulted in a lot of mail.
Reports from regional representatives emphasized their political activities: opposition to sex education in public schools and abortions in St. Louis, and support for capital punishment and the teaching of creation as well as evolution in California.
In other business, without discussion or dissent the forty-two voting delegates among the seventy-eight registrants (more than 300 attended the public evening sessions) reelected officers and passed half a dozen resolutions, including criticism of World Council of Churches activities (“deceptive and disastrous to the cause of Christ”), the charismatic movement (it’s not “in harmony with the Word of God”), crime on the streets and in government, and Key 73 and other “unscriptural alliances,” including the upcoming International Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland. The delegates reaffirmed their dedication to “biblical evangelism,” called for renewed emphasis on biblical teaching concerning the Holy Spirit, and encouraged the establishment of Christian day schools.
“Our resolutions may be characterized as negative,” confided general secretary Mohr, but “hardly any other council or group of churches is giving the unfavorable considerations. On the positive side, we still believe in preaching the Gospel, preserving the faith revealed in the New Testament, and promoting historic Christianity.”
The ACCC lists twelve constituent bodies plus a number of independent churches and individuals as members.
Restructure and doctrinal accommodation marked the annual convention of the Christian Business Men’s Committee held last month in Cleveland. About 1,400 attended, including 257 voting delegates representing 161 of CBMC’s 667 local chapters (CBMC’s total paid membership: 12,000, an all-time high). The delegates voted to establish an international council, giving autonomy to any country with ten or more CBMC affiliates. Presently, three “areas” outside the United States—Canada, Australia, and Europe—have representation on the board, but until now CBMC’s overseas policy has borne a very evident (and sometimes, to nationals, objectionable) made-in-the-U.S.A. stamp. A full-time president will head the U. S. operations—possibly only a case of CBMC executive secretary Evon Hedley’s changing titles at CBMC’s Glen Ellyn, Illinois, headquarters.
At the request of overseas members, CBMC’s board proposed dropping the word “pre-millennial” from the CBMC statement of faith while calling for more emphasis on reaching business and professional men for Christ. But widespread pre-convention opposition to the proposed change led the board to withdraw it. CBMC’s U. S. branch will continue to affirm belief in the pre-millennial return of Christ. A compromise agreement, however, exempts from such affirmation overseas members—many of whom are affiliated with churches that hold an a-millennial position (belief that Christ’s kingdom is spiritual rather than literal and already exists).
Key convention speaker Governor Jimmy Carter of Georgia testified of Christ’s importance in his life, and attorney Alfred Jackson of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, was elected to a second one-year term as chairman of the CBMC board.
For Sale, Quick
Caught in a financial crunch, the American Baptist Seminary of the West voted this month to close its campus in Covina, California, and move to Berkeley.
Founded as California Baptist Seminary in 1944 in Los Angeles by American clergyman Fred Drexler to be a voice for evangelicalism within the Northern Baptist Convention (later American Baptist Convention and now American Baptist Churches), it was not until 1958 that the ABC finally gave it official recognition. In the sixties the denomination’s theologically liberal Berkeley Baptist Divinity School (founded in 1871) became engulfed in theological controversy with its rather conservative constituency and suffered mortal financial wounds, forcing a merger with the Covina school (and a name change) in 1968 and the later closing of the Berkeley campus. Part of that campus—much of it rented to the University of California—now will be reactivated.
The seminary (it has 125 full-time students) is deeply in debt and behind in salaries. Several offers on the Covina property, valued at $3 million, fizzled, including one by the charismatic Melodyland School of Theology.
Some ABC members are concerned that a liberal trend already evident in the school will become more pronounced when it moves to Berkeley (some of the ABC’s eight seminaries are among the most liberal in America), but President C. Adrian Heaton says faculty members and trustees will continue to be required to sign an evangelical statement of faith, something Drexler included in the articles of incorporation.
For The Dogs
Flushed with success over the recent high-court reversal of his conviction for violating the California Education Code in granting diploma-mill doctoral degrees, Kirby Hensley has gone on to dedicate the First Church of Universal Life of Berkeley, California. Hensley claims he has freely dispensed 2.5 million ordination certificates (including those requested “for dogs, cats, raccoons, and leopards”) and, for a fee of $20 each, 20,000 D.D. degrees in the past eleven years. The Berkeley edifice, built by Mormons in 1954 for $210,000, is the largest property acquired so far by his non-creedal, autonomous “congregations.”
The semi-literate Hensley, welcomed by a well-dressed audience of 150 with the song “Hello, Kirby” sung to the tune of “Hello, Dolly,” said his objective in establishing the Universal Life Church was “to show that there is no man upstairs running the show.” “All I need is a little room,” said Hensley. “I don’t want to go to heaven or hell or be dominated by the church or the state.… This is the day of the individuality of man against corporate structures.”
He wants his church and D.D. ministers to receive the same tax and draft exemptions as recognized churches and ministers. And he’s confident that a recent marriage-for-one-year he performed in Los Angeles will stand up in court.
The service included reflections on Tom Paine’s thought by Unitarian attorney Peter Stromer and good wishes from Mormon leader Curt Bybee. The service had begun with a folk-song rendition of “There is a Balm in Gilead,” a balm for which loquacious Kirby expressed no need.
ROBERT L. CLEATH
Mission To The Strip
What’s a nice Southern Baptist boy like Jim Reid doing talking to nude showgirls backstage in the nightclubs of Las Vegas?
Counseling, that’s what!
Actually, the Reverend Jim Reid is no mere boy; he’s a 44-year-old married man and father of six and is known in the gaudy show and gambling city as the “strip chaplain.” For three years Reid has ministered to the employees and stars of some twenty major hotels as part of a new thrust in resort ministries by the Southern Baptists.
A few hundred miles to the northwest, four Southern Baptist ministers are engaged full time in related evangelism to hordes of tourists who swarm to Lake Tahoe summer and winter.
Robert A. Wells, superintendent of missions for the Nevada Baptist Association, says the operation is “the most extensive resort ministry in the continental United States.”
In fact, the outreach has been so successful that Wells taught a two-unit course in resort ministries this fall at Golden Gate Baptist Seminary near San Francisco. The classes are believed to be the first offered on the subject in a major seminary.
Reid, a former SBC pastor in a suburb of Las Vegas, took in a stage show one Saturday night and wondered where the performers would be going to church the next morning. Nowhere, he decided. “I saw a vast mission field that wasn’t being touched,” he recalled in an interview.
The United Presbyterians had a chaplain in Las Vegas, according to Wells, but Reid is the first to minister strictly to show people. Reid, who wears show clothes and speaks the casino jargon, talks about his “ministry of presence”: “It simply says you’re there, that’s all.” Hanging around backstage, playing casino and chess, Reid got to know the stars and stagehands by their first names. “Some of the best counseling I’ve ever done is with nude showgirls who would never come to a church or my office,” Reid told seminarians at Golden Gate considering like ministry.
Reid’s first worship service to the casino crowd was in the Oo-la-la Lounge. “There was a painting of a tatooed lady on one wall and a sword swallower on the other,” he chuckles. “We called them our patron saints.”
Reid, assisted by a converted stagehand who has been licensed to preach, now conducts three regular Bible studies on stage between shows, has five prayer-therapy groups, and teaches English and reading classes. Out of the fifteen persons who attended his first Bible study on Mark’s Gospel at the Desert Inn, twelve who were uncommitted made professions of faith in Christ.
Reid has a TV program in which he interviews converted stars, and he also performs exorcisms, “breaking spells of witchcraft right and left.”
Important allies are restroom attendants in the lounges and hotels: when they see troubled tourists they hand out copies of Good News For Modern Man and tell them to see the strip chaplain. Reid says 47,000 copies have been distributed.
The Lake Tahoe ministry, directed by Chuck Clayton, pastor of Kings Beach church on the north shore of the mile-high emerald-colored water, includes Christian day camps in public campgrounds eleven weeks each summer. Volunteer workers camp with vacationers, and lead campfire and coffeehouse raps with youth and adults in the evenings, too. Clayton conducts informal services at the top of ski lifts in the winter.
Wells traces the beginning of the resort work to the summer of 1970, when a honeymooning Southern Seminary (Louisville) couple conducted services in an unused chapel at Squaw Valley built for the 1960 winter Olympics.
“We discovered that there’s a big revolution right now in how to use leisure time,” said Wells in an interview. “We like to think of our ministry as a soft sell. It is unique, but it can be done in any resort area. Leaders of other denominations are saying, ‘How can we tune in with you and help?’ ”
Religion In Transit
Thousands of free copies of Merlin Carothers’s best-seller Prison to Praise are being distributed through the Department of Corrections to inmates in California prisons.
Ohio authorities accepted a plan by evangelist Rex Humbard’s Cathedral of Tomorrow to repay about 4,000 security holders in forty states who had purchased $12 million in cathedral securities alleged by state and federal officials to have been illegally issued. A judge, however, ordered a section deleted from a covering letter. It advised investors of their right to donate all or part of their securities to the cathedral or to other parties.
A landmark conference of fifty or so evangelicals, many of them “name” personalities and most of whom hold liberal social and political views, will meet during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend at the Wabash Street YMCA in Chicago. They plan to hammer out a major declaration on biblical faith and social concern.
Stopping short of direct endorsement of ordaining professed homosexuals, the 42-member executive council of the United Church of Christ asked local denominational units responsible for ordinations to consider seriously a UCC agency’s statement on homosexuality. The statement concludes that homosexuality as such is no bar to ordination.
The 15,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas published a half-page ad in the Dallas Morning News urging Christians to support Israel in the Mideast crisis by writing letters to congressmen and making donations to the Jewish Welfare Federation.
Best-sellers: more than 2.5 million copies of Norman Vincent Peale’s A New Birth of Freedom, a 24-page booklet on America’s heroes published this year, and 4.5 million copies of his One Nation Under God have been distributed, mostly in schools, which get them free. The latter booklet, published last year, traces religious currents in American history.
Death: Shirley Wagers, a 72-year-old man, after being bitten by a rattlesnake at a snake-handling service in a church near London, Kentucky.
The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee of Grand Rapids, Michigan, is training volunteers to act as spiritual counselors when disaster strikes an area, augmenting relief efforts.
A record 1,889 messengers (delegates) dispensed with the planned program at the three-day annual meeting of the Missouri (Southern) Baptist Convention to concentrate on settling a year-long controversy over convention leadership and alleged finances. A number of board members were replaced and a committee was instructed to implement policy reforms, including a closer accounting of finances. The central figure in the controversy died in August.
A survey shows there are 75,000 black Southern Baptists among a total membership of 12.6 million. About 130 blacks are denominational employees (10 staff, 120 clerical) and 110 serve as home missionary personnel.
While 68 per cent of those surveyed in a 1969 Gallup poll said premarital sex is wrong, only 48 per cent say so now.
Methodist bishop Abel T. Muzorewa of Rhodesia, an evangelical who is one of his land’s leading civil-rights advocates and president of an organization working for majority government in Rhodesia, is one of six recipients of United Nations awards for achievement in human rights. If his government does not lift a travel ban against him, the bishop will be absent from the awards event December 10 in New York.
Brazil will have its first non-Catholic president when Ernesto Geisel, 65, takes office next March. Though not a practicing Lutheran, the career military man is a product of Brazil’s German Lutheran colony, and his maternal grandfather was a Lutheran pastor.
Staffer Ann Douglas of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), daughter of a black United Presbyterian minister in Greensboro, North Carolina, was named IFCO’s acting director.
Austin Miles, reputedly America’s top circus ringmaster, was named by the Assemblies of God to be its first international show-business chaplain. A licensed AOG preacher, he has been active in outreach and Sunday-school work in circus circles.
Greater Europe Mission’s new Canadian director: Reuben Goertz, formerly a missionary to Germany and an executive of a Nebraska children’s home.
Pastor Gilbert D. Smith of Trinity Church, Victoria, is the new moderator of the Presbyterian Synod of British Columbia. A native of Ireland, he describes himself as a conservative evangelical theologian.
Canadian Christian and Missionary Alliance regional superintendent William J. Newell is the new executive director of World Vision of Canada.
Ex-queen Frederika of Greece, who fled in the coup of 1967, says she has converted to the 1,200-year-old Indian philosophy of Advaita, which stresses the importance of scientific reason. She has been studying the religion at Madras University in India and now wants to spread it to the West. Princess Sophie, her 25-year-old daughter who is wife of Spain’s Don Carlos (named by Generalissimo Franco as his successor), has joined her in the faith.
Between 100,000 and 150,000 Ethiopians have perished in droughts, another two million are threatened, and 88 per cent of the nation’s cattle are gone, according to a British relief-agency report. The Sudan Interior Mission, deeply involved in relief work, says disease is making matters even worse. Meanwhile, government officials in neighboring stricken Southern Sudan have appealed to the missionary-manned Africa Committee for Rehabilitation of Southern Sudan (ACROSS) to supply short-term “Protestant Christian” teachers for secondary schools and the University of Juba.
Construction has begun on the first Christian hospital in 98 per cent Buddhist Cambodia, says World Vision’s W. Stanley Mooneyham. Meanwhile, as the first fifty-five-bed stage gets under way in Phnom Penh, World Vision is establishing medical clinics, including two mobile ones, and building homes for 6,500 refugees and five schools for 1,000 children.
The Ecumenical News Service of the South African Council of Churches reports “enormous interest” in the charismatic movement. Anglican bishop B. B. Burnett disclosed he speaks in tongues, and newspaper stories have cited outbreaks of glossolalia among the theological faculty and students at Anglican St. Paul’s College and at Rhodes University, where Presbyterian, Congregational, and Methodist ministers are trained. The Durban Tribune says the movement is widespread in the Catholic Church.
Twenty-three South Korean Baptist churches conducted a simultaneous evangelistic crusade last month, and there were 14,000 conversions, according to a Korean news service.
Of the 245 South Korean foreign missionaries, 204 are working with overseas communities of Koreans and 41 are involved in cross-cultural mission (involving a foreign language and environment), notes Correspondent Sam Moffett.
World Council of Churches staffer Graeme Jackson says the Evangelical Church of North Viet Nam has 10,000 members and 26 pastors. He recently visited church leaders in Hanoi.
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