In a confrontation considered the crisis point in the fledgling denomination’s brief history, the newly rechristened Presbyterian Church in America (PCA; nee National Presbyterian Church last December) decided in its second General Assembly to consider itself as a city open to the world rather than a community needing the protection of massive walls labeled “Reformed.” At the same time it also, in effect, served notice that tongues-speaking charismatics would not be welcome in town.

It was a test of basic philosophies within the largely Southern-based church that everyone was expecting. Nobody, however, knew over which particular item on the agenda the battle would be fought. Ever since the organizing assembly in December in Birmingham (see January 4 issue, page 52), where the original lines had been drawn between hardline followers of latter-day Calvinists and those referred to by the hardliners as “evangelical,” the trenches had been dug and the guns loaded.

In Birmingham the church’s right wing, largely identified with some graduates of the new Reformed Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, had surfaced with such demands as that an absolutist stand be taken against so-called special gifts of the Holy Spirit, and against women’s work of any kind in the denomination.

Prior to the opening of last month’s four-day assembly, held in the First Presbyterian Church of Macon, Georgia (whose ante-bellum sanctuary has been placed in the National Register of Historic Places in America), observers agreed the denomination’s future would be decided over one of several subjects scheduled for consideration: charismatic experiences, inter-church relations, or overseas missions policy.

Setting the stage for debate, a large number of overtures (formal requests for action), chiefly from two of the church’s nineteen presbyteries, sought to guarantee not the slightest affiliation with any existing ecumenical or non-Reformed body, and to ensure that all extension work at home and overseas would be conducted either through established Presbyterian and Reformed churches or through new Presbyterian and Reformed work.

One overture to the some 600 commissioners (delegates) demanded that the PCA’s overseas missions agency “terminate its membership in the National Association of Evangelicals before the meeting of the [next] General Assembly.” (The PCA has thirteen missionary families serving in six countries.)

The battle was joined when a committee that had been working on the problem of overseas policy for nearly three days recommended missionary work in relationship “with other evangelical missionary agencies that welcome the services and teaching of missionaries holding the Reformed faith and polity.”

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Four hours later, following debate that was spirited but never acrimonious, sometimes heated but always polite, and unblemished by unfair parliamentary maneuvering, the assembly set the pattern that will no doubt become a general operational philosophy in all areas: Presbyterian and Reformed, open to cooperation with evangelical bodies, searching the Scripture for further light.

The vote was nearly six to one. Nearly four dozen in the minority signed a protest, but as in the case of the wife who reported after fifty years that she had often thought of murder but never of divorce, no suggestion of division was heard—not even in the back rooms.

On the issue of spiritual gifts, the commissioners adopted a pastoral letter stating that “any view of tongues which sees this phenomenon as an essential sign of the Baptism of the Spirit is contradictory to Scripture.” It cautioned against “any practice of tongues which causes division within the church or diverts the church from its mission.”

The commissioners also approved a replacement for a section of the PCA Book of Church Order, declaring that the “extraordinary officers … and gifts” of the church in New Testament times “have no successors since God completed His revelation at the conclusion of the Apostolic Age.”

A committee headed by Reformed Seminary teacher Jack B. Scott drafted the letter and replacement wording after last year’s assembly failed to agree on a position on the charismatic issue.

Pastor Erskine L. Jackson, 66, of Kosciusko, Mississippi, newly elected moderator of the 70,000-member PCA, commented: “If tongues are a true gift of the Spirit, it should produce unity. You wonder when it produces divisiveness if it as a true gift of God.”

In another major action, the denomination changed its name to avoid a contest with the National Presbyterian Church, a local congregation of the United Presbyterian Church located in Washington, D. C. Attorneys for the congregation had initiated steps to have the name registered with the U. S. Patent Office and were threatening to sue.

Debate in Macon centered not so much on the possible outcome of legal action as on “the Christian thing to do.” From a field of seventeen suggested names, the assembly first selected “National Reformed Presbyterian Church.” This too was opposed by the Washington church, but a spokesman said the congregation would not fight it in court. Overnight, sentiment developed for eliminating the word “National” altogether, “if we really mean to do the Christian thing.” In another extended session, nine proposed names were systematically eliminated before the commissioners overwhelmingly settled on the name finally chosen.

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In other action, a working relationship with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church was approved, aimed at making the OPC’s publications unit the publishing arm for both denominations. The PCA has been using the OPC’s Sunday-school materials.

The PCA is the outgrowth of a split within the 113-year-old Presbyterian Church in the U. S. (Southern) over what some conservatives felt was a drift away from theological orthodoxy and excessive involvement in controversial socio-political issues. Several exiting congregations lost their property in court battles; others are in litigation.

The PCA has grown by nearly 100 churches since it was organized with some 250 churches in December. It is served by about 260 ministers and is represented in more than twenty states, including some northern ones. The budget for the coming year is $1.8 million.Moon Eclipse

The Reverend Sun Myung Moon, 54, a self-proclaimed “prophet” from South Korea who is regarded by many of his followers as the Messiah (see March 1 issue, page 101), appeared before a capacity crowd at New York’s Madison Square Garden last month. But his impact was at least partially eclipsed by protests involving several hundred Christian demonstrators.

Moon’s Unification Church followers, including hundreds imported from Japan, Great Britain, and other foreign countries,Moon’s Unification Church is fight ing in court the possible deportation from the United States of 582 missionary trainees who allegedly violated their visitors’ vi sas by e ngaging in street vending on behalf of the church. plastered New York City with thousands of full-color posters and handbills that declared, “September 18th Could Be Your Re-birthday.” They also saturated local television and radio stations and newspapers in an advertising campaign that was estimated to have cost $350,000.

The main Christian opposition to the Moon effort came from a seventeen-church coalition called “Christians United For Jesus as Lord,” which was organized by Pastor Paul Moore of the Manhattan Church of the Nazarene. The main argument made by Moore’s group was that Moon improperly holds himself out as a Christian, even though he denies such basic Christian tenets as complete salvation for believers through Christ’s death on the cross. In addition, they charged that Moon encourages his followers to hail him, rather than Jesus, as the Lord of the Second Advent. A number of other Christian groups, including the forty-member Korean Ministers Association of Greater New York, also accused Moon of propagating false doctrines.

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The Christians United campaign captured the fancy of the New York news media, and Moore frequently found himself on television and in the newspapers. “Christians follow Jesus Christ, but moonbeams follow Mr. Moon,” Moore told interviewers.

On the night of the Madison Square Garden rally, hundreds of political demonstrators gathered in their own picket lines and charged that Moon is a “fascist preacher” who supports the South Korean “dictatorship.”

Christians United, mobilizing about 400 supporters, carried placards that proclaimed such things as “Jesus Is Lord, Not Mr. Moon.” They also distributed 50,000 tracts and 20,000 copies of the Gospel of Luke supplied by the American Bible Society. One of the Christians’ pamphlets used Moon’s slogan, “September 18th Could Be Your Re-birthday,” but the inside pages revealed an anti-Moon message: “Accept Jesus Christ as Your Saviour.… Don’t Settle for Moonshine!” Seven vans with huge pro-Jesus signs cruised the streets, and Christian United supporters handed out 2,000 fortune cookies that contained slips saying, “Jesus is Lord.” Inside the Garden, an executive rented a private box where a group of Christians prayed during the rally.

An ingenious strategy was concocted by Moore and his colleagues on the day of the rally when they learned from police that Moon’s followers had handed out 380,000 free tickets for only 20,000 seats in the Garden. Because a turn-away crowd seemed inevitable, Moore set up an “overflow concert,” with gospel music and preaching, at the nearby Glad Tidings Tabernacle, and he printed 10,000 handbills to announce the event. As expected, a capacity crowd forced police to close the doors of the Garden, and thousands of people were left milling around outside. Christians United volunteers immediately started circulating their handbills, and the result was a turn-away crowd at the Tabernacle. More than 1,000 people heard at least part of the gospel program, and Moore said that two dozen made Christian commitments.

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Meanwhile, a standing-room-only crowd at the Garden watched Moon’s colorful Korean Folk Ballet and heard his New Hope Singers. Then Moon himself spoke for two and a half hours. The crucifixion of Jesus was a “mistake,” he said, and a Second Coming is necessary to complete salvation. Drawing parallels between John the Baptist and Billy Graham, he said the world is entering a messianic era and must prepare to greet the “coming Messiah,” whom he did not identify. By the time Moon had finished his speech—which he punctuated with kicks, karate chops, tears, and even a song—only half of his audience remained. But he will have other opportunities to get his message across because New York was only the first stop on a planned evangelistic tour of eight major American cities. Already, the signs were out all over Washington, D. C.: “October 16 Could Be Your Re-birthday.”



WILLIAM W. BRECKBILL, 67, organizer and pastor of the Evangelical Methodist Church denomination, and a leader in the American Council of Christian Churches and the International Council of Christian Churches; in Williamsburg, Pennsylvania, of a heart attack.

ERNEST C. COLWELL, 73, New Testament scholar, former president of the University of Chicago, and first president of the interdenominational Claremont School of Theology in California; in Deland, Florida.

JAMES H. STRAUGHN, 97, retired United Methodist bishop and an architect in the unification of American Methodism in the thirties; in Baltimore.

SADIE WILSON TILLMAN, 79, prominent Methodist churchwoman, former vice-president of the World Council of Churches and a member of the WCC’s Central Committee; in Nashville, Tennessee, of a heart attack.

HAROLD L. YOCHIM, 71, American Lutheran Church leader and for twenty-three years president of the church’s Capital University in Columbus, Ohio; in Columbus, of a heart attack.


Many were the sermons at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Woodburn, Oregon, that were interrupted by woodpeckers pecking away at the church belfry. But things are quieter now. The congregation decided to give the birds the bird—literally. A large, stuffed owl presently stands guard outside the holey wooden tower, and those pesky peckers are keeping their distance.

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Deprogrammer Patrick: Pressing His Case

Cult deprogrammer Ted Patrick, convicted in Denver, Colorado, recently of the false imprisonment of two Denver women (see July 26 issue, page 38), says he will appeal to the state supreme court. (He’d been given a $1,000 fine and a year in prison; except for seven days of the jail term, those were suspended.) In the meantime he will remain free. Although ordered not to engage in such practices, his name has nevertheless cropped up in newspaper stories around the country in connection with alleged deprogramming incidents.

Last month Patrick was indicted by a federal grand jury in Seattle on charges of kidnapping Kathy Crampton from the “Love Israel” sect and transporting her to San Diego for attempted deprogramming. The case was given wide publicity on a CBS television documentary (see August 31, 1973, issue, page 40).

Patrick’s legal problems in the Denver case continue. He and the parents of five Denver girls have been sued by the girls for $2.5 million in damages for alleged suffering incurred when two of the girls were kidnapped for deprogramming. The other three are roommates of the pair and all five claim damages for harassment by Patrick and the parents. (The parents who pleaded “no contest” to a misdemeanor on the false imprisonment charge earlier, are on probation with orders not to contact the girls.)

Meanwhile, a California legislative committee has begun a probe into the non-profit status of various religious sects. The first hearing in Los Angeles, under the chairmanship of state senator Mervyn Dymally, centered on deprogramming and the “dangers” of the sects. Among the featured witnesses were Patrick and numerous parents whose children have joined the sects. Charging that the sects exercise mind control over members, the parents said they wanted the state to intervene in some way.

Several dozen parents met recently in Denver and formed a new organization, Citizens Freedom Foundation (CFF), to muster support to restrict the influence of religious sects. Many of the parents in CFF have called on Patrick to help “deprogram” their children, but a spokesman says Patrick has no official connection with the organization.

Spreading The Word

Bibles—249 million in full or in portions—were distributed through the United Bible Societies in 1973, up more than 14 percent over 1972. And despite paper shortages, persecution, and inflation, said UBS general secretary Ulrich Fick, translation and production work shot up, too.

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The UBS, with headquarters recently moved from London to Stuttgart, placed 40 per cent more full Bibles last year than in 1972, and 42 per cent more portions. Translators servicing the UBS’ fifty-six member societies in 1973 translated the Scriptures into twenty-six new tongues, bringing the language count to 1,526. The UBS annual report, released last month, also said translations were made last year in seven new Latin American Indian languages in Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, and Argentina.

The UBS, formed in 1948, raised its budget in 1973 to $9.4 million, up from 1972’s $8.7 million. New directions cited by Fick: Except for countries where Christian churches are a small minority, congregations rather than colporteurs must distribute Bibles, and Roman Catholic cooperation in translation and distribution projects is increasing. Hierarchies in Spain, Portugal, and Brazil now officially recommend that Catholics use Bible-society New Testaments, and the World Catholic Federation for the Biblical Apostolate has also moved to Stuttgart, making joint work easier.


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