In the words of Philip Potter, organized international ecumenicity is in the wilderness.
That assessment of the World Council of Churches’ position, given by its own general secretary, summed up the feeling of many delegates on the last day of the council’s Fifth Assembly, held in Nairobi, Kenya. For the organization’s top executive and other veterans, as well as for the 80 per cent of the delegates who were attending their first assembly, it was hard to see ahead to any “promised land” after their eighteen days together in November and December.
Potter is confident, however, that there is at least a call to the “holy land” even though current ecumenical leaders may not see its features clearly. The 54-year-old Methodist from the West Indies has participated in one capacity or another in all five of the assemblies, and he has a theory about the council’s historical development that labels the fourth one (in 1968, at Uppsala, Sweden) as the “exodus.” It was that turbulent meeting which mandated a clear turn from more “churchly” activity to the more “worldly.”
Even though there may be general agreement on the WCC’s distance from Zion, the consensus ends there. Some of the delegates went home with a conviction that the ecumenical body is now headed toward an emphasis on evangelism and missions. For others, the council is finally ready to promote utopian socialism on a worldwide basis. Another group is convinced that the “holy land” is the organic union of all denominations. Still others think the WCC will concentrate on combatting repression, colonialism, and violence.
Whatever the destination, Potter is the WCC’s Moses. He became its top executive between the Uppsala and Nairobi assemblies, succeeding Eugene Carson Blake in 1972. He got a mandate to continue in the post when the new Central Committee, the between-assemblies policy-making body, met for a full day after the Nairobi assembly adjourned.
Sharing leadership duties with the general secretary during the next seven years will be the moderator of the new Central Committee, Archbishop E. W. Scott, Anglican primate of Canada. He has a reputation as a social activist as well as that of a unity advocate.
One of the Nairobi meeting’s little-noticed acts was the adoption of a revised constitution that concentrates power in the Central Committee. The old charter said that the assembly, in which all member denominations are represented in proportion to their membership, should “ordinarily meet every five years.” While the meeting pattern has never followed this provision strictly, the new constitution specifies the less frequent schedule of meetings “at seven-year intervals.”
Despite a projected deficit in 1976, the assembly elected an enlarged Central Committee, increasing the number by about fifteen. The new constitution allows up to 145, but the final number named in Nairobi was 136.
When the Central Committee meets in August it will have a full docket of matters committed to it by the 700 Assembly delegates. Among the first tasks will be to fill the many vacant spots on WCC commissions and committees. Most of them will be directed until then by staff along with only a “core” of advisory members.
In its eighteen days, the assembly was largely preoccupied with its African setting and with various presentations from the platform. Most of the business was crammed into the last week.
The assembly was the first in Africa for the WCC. Early in the program, delegates viewed a drama commissioned by the All Africa Conference of Churches to depict an African view of the missionary effort and its effect on culture. The play opened with non-Christian tribesmen living peacefully and closed with carnage after foreign Christians appeared. Its author and director was described as the product of mission schools who had since decided “not to continue in the church.”
Daily news reports reminded delegates of the fighting by rival factions in Angola, formerly Portuguese West Africa. The World Council has given funds to all three of the “liberation movements” in that country (see November 7, 1975, issue, page 57), but spokesmen emphasized that no money has gone from the special fund of the Program to Combat Racism since Angola’s independence day. Attempts were being made to send relief supplies to areas under the control of all the groups, officials said. The assembly passed a resolution calling for the cessation of all foreign military intervention, but the only nation named was South Africa. Nothing was said of the Cuban and Soviet assistance.
Kenya’s president, one-time freedom fighter Jomo Kenyatta, did not make a scheduled appearance at the assembly, but he invited delegates to a reception at his residence. He was also the featured speaker at the laying of the cornerstone of a new headquarters building for the All Africa Conference of Churches during the assembly.
Voted down was a motion to restrict grants from the Program to Combat Racism to non-violent groups. The Central Committee was authorized to determine the future shape of the WCC’s most visible program.
Repeated appeals were made during the assembly to leave specific details to the Central Committee, and delegates generally complied. There were exceptions, however. On the last day, for instance, Potter asked for passage of a statement condemning the government of Korea. One of the eight delegates named by member churches of that nation had been refused permission to travel to Kenya, and WCC attempts to get him (and three other Koreans who had been invited to participate in other capacities) out of the country failed. Even though the general secretary wanted specific action in this case, the delegates voted to refer the matter to the Central Committee.
The assembly’s difficulty in deciding whether to be general or to name names came into clear focus on the document which came to be known as the “Helsinki resolution.” A drafting committee had brought to the floor a document describing the 1975 Helsinki Agreement on Security and Cooperation in Europe as “a sign of hope in a world tom apart by opposing ideologies.” The paper called on all signatory governments to implement its principles, including the clause calling for respect for freedom of religion.
A Swiss delegate’s attempt to amend the resolution by pointing to “restrictions on religious freedom, especially in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics,” brought the meeting to one of its most heated moments. Soviet speakers said there was no evidence of denial of rights. Westerners pushing for the amendment were accused of wanting to break fellowship with the Soviet bloc. There were amendments to the amendment, and the parliamentary situation got entangled. M. M. Thomas, who was then presiding, declared a tea break. The two veteran Soviet members of the Central Committee and the experts in the Moscow Patriarchate’s foreign affairs department, Metropolitan Nikodim and Vitaly Borovoy (see photo), rushed to the platform. They huddled there with Thomas, Potter, and other council leaders. A few minutes of debate followed the recess, but then a vote of 259 to 190 sent the document back to the drafting committee.
Overnight, the panel worked for a compromise acceptable to the Soviet delegation and the movers of the amendments. The result was one that spoke only of “alleged denial of religious liberty in the USSR” and asked all signatory governments to the Helsinki agreement to implement all provisions of the pact.
Finally approved by a show of hands, the resolution sent the whole discussion to the Central Committee, asking it to consult with member churches in all the affected nations. The resolution also requested the general secretary to report those consultations by the August meeting of the committee.
On some other topics, the assembly was specific. The new war in the former Portuguese colony of East Timor caused the delegates to ask for withdrawal of Indonesian forces as well as for Australian reception of refugees. A paper on human rights in Latin America castigated Chile and asked Argentina to be more hospitable to refugees. However, a floor attempt to include Brazil by name was thwarted by Brazilian delegates. Several Asian nations were identified as having human rights problems.
DUMPING THE REVEREND
The Right Reverend Mervyn Stockwood, outspoken Anglican bishop of Southwark, London, wants to abolish ecclesiastical titles such as Reverend and Venerable. He condemns them as both unscriptural and ridiculous. He feels that, like gaiters, they should be dumped in the trashcan of “pompous ecclesiastical absurdities.”
The six new presidents will be influential in the WCC’s decisions during the next seven years over what issues to handle in a general way and what issues to handle in detail. While the Central Committee officers (a moderator and two vice-moderators) have in recent times been more visible and more powerful than the largely ceremonial presidents, the members of the presidium still have a vote and power in the between-assemblies policy-making.
Most prominent and controversial member of the new presidium is 46-year-old Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Nikodim (born Boris Georgievich Rotov). The world traveler from Leningrad has been on the WCC’s Central and Executive committees since his denomination joined the council in 1961, but he is the first Soviet to be elected to the presidium. In addition to his other duties, he has been president since 1971 of the Prague-based Christian Peace Conference.
There was a widely publicized effort to keep Nikodim off the list of presidents, but it never got to the stage of a clear-cut issue at the Nairobi meeting. M. M. Thomas of India, the retiring moderator of the Central Committee, was suggested as an alternate, but he refused to stand for election. William P. Thompson, stated clerk of the United Presbyterian Church U. S. A., was generally given the credit for trying to prevent Nikodim’s elevation. The American Presbyterian succeeded, however, only in getting the assembly in a parliamentary tangle and apparently in getting the Soviets to substitute the name of one of their delegation for another on the Central Committee.
In addition to having its first Soviet, the new presidium will be unique in that it will have two women, Cynthia Wedel and Annie Baeta Jiagge. They are not the first women to serve as presidents, but they will be the first two to serve simultaneously. Mrs. Wedel, now an official of the American Red Cross, is an Episcopalian and former executive and then president of the National Council of Churches in the U. S. A. Mrs. Jiagge is a justice of Ghana Appeal Court and a member of that nation’s Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
Completing the presidium are J. Miguez-Bonino, a Methodist and dean of post-graduate studies at Union Seminary of Buenos Aires, Argentina; General T. B. Simatupang, a member of the Indonesian Christian Church and president of the Indonesian Council of Churches; and Olof Sundby, Lutheran Archbishop of Sweden.
Reelected honorary president was W. A. Visser’t Hooft, the Dutchman who guided the organization of the council and then served as its general secretary until his retirement. He was present and active throughout the Nairobi meeting.
A Thompson motion to provide for election of an additional honorary president and to have duties of the office specified by the Executive Committee was withdrawn before delegates could vote on it.
While the retiring Central Committee chairman, M. M. Thomas, would not allow his name to be proposed in opposition to that of Nikodim’s for the presidency, the Indian ecumenical veteran was voted a seat on the Central Committee. Also returned to that body was his vice-moderator during the past seven years, Pauline Webb of England.
The new Central Committee includes more women, more young people, and more representatives of churches in developing nations than ever before. The committee’s meeting on the day after assembly adjournment had been advertised to reporters as an open session, with the possibility of an executive session of a few minutes to decide some personnel questions. After an hour and a half for opening preliminaries and adoption of some rules changes, the new committee went behind closed doors for more than five hours to select its own officers and its Executive Committee, which is empowered to act on many matters between the annual sessions of the Central Committee.
When the elections were concluded, the Executive Committee also included more people from the youth, female, and “third world” categories than previously. Among the young members are Gundyayev Kirill, 29-year-old Russian Orthodox seminary dean, and Bena-Silu, a leader of Zaire’s Kimbanguist Church.
Named vice-moderators of the Central Committee (and thus members of the Executive Committee) were Jean Skuse, a Methodist woman who recently was appointed general secretary of the Australian Council of Churches, and Karekin Sarkissian, a native of Syria who is currently archbishop of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America. They, Archbishop Scott, and sixteen other members were elected to the Executive Committee during the Central Committee’s long executive session. Its next meeting will be in August.
The small Executive Committee will be faced with decisions on staff and budget during a year in which revenues are expected to fall far short of the amount necessary to carry on the program at the 1975 level. Few specific directives were voted by the assembly, but broad guidelines were approved. Potter told reporters at the end of the eighteen days that no program had been scrapped by delegates, and that there were requests for new staff and programs in several areas.
Among the problems facing administrators will be how to serve the expressed needs of the ever-widening circle of member denominations. There were 271 churches on the rolls before Nairobi. Fifteen more were admitted by the assembly, eight as full members and seven as associates (because they do not meet the minimum 25,000-communicant strength specified in the constitution for full membership). Among the newest affiliates are such African independent denominations as the Nigerian-founded Church of the Lord (Aladura) and the Kenya-based African Israel Church, Nineveh.
The assembly was unable to produce consistent WCC positions on a number of issues. One was a common date for Easter. Eastern Orthodox spokesmen refused to join in setting such a date until their own pan-Orthodox conference agrees on changing the time of the observance.
Another standoff issue was that of Zionism. Just before the assembly Potter had issued a statement urging the United Nations General Assembly to “reconsider and rescind” its resolution branding Zionism as racism. Palestinians and their friends at Nairobi were not able to get the WCC assembly to label the handling of Palestinian refugees as racism, but they were able to keep the assembly from saying what Potter had said before it met.
Continuation of the council’s program of dialogue with people of other faiths was voted, but not before addition of a preface opposing syncretism. The preface drew some bitter attacks, especially from Asians. Present on the platform as the program was considered were the first official assembly guests from non-Christian religions: a Jew, a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Muslim, and a Sikh.
Also taking an active part in the meeting were sixteen observers delegated by the Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. The Pope sent a message of greetings.
The presence of the non-Christian guests and the Roman Catholic observers was publicized widely. Not so noted was a group invited by the WCC as “conservative evangelical advisers.” Ten were supposed to have attended, but council officials could furnish the names of only five who attended: Michael Cassidy of the African Enterprise missionary organization in South Africa; Larry Christenson, charismatic Lutheran pastor from California; David Hubbard, president of Fuller Seminary; Juan Carlos Ortiz, charismatic pastor in Argentina; and John Stott, well-known Anglican preacher and author. Some of them stayed only a few of the eighteen days.
Other evangelicals were at the assembly in other categories, and a few of them had an off-the-record meeting with Potter to express their concerns. How their causes fare, as well as those of all others who were at Nairobi, will be seen in the coming seven years as Potter, his staff, and the new Central Committee look for what they think is the “promised land.”
ARTHUR H. MATTHEWS
Mozambique: Reeducating The Trapped
There are no member churches of the World Council of Churches in Mozambique, the former Portuguese East African colony. The country, however, was never far from the minds of delegates at the WCC’s Nairobi assembly, since the Marxist government there is one which the council helped bring to power. FRELIMO, which got funds from the WCC’s Program to Combat Racism when it was a liberation movement, is now ruling the nation.
Near the end of the assembly, the delegates received a letter from the officers of the Presbyterian Church in Mozambique, praising the council “as an instrument of unity and international peace” and applying for membership. WCC procedures for admission of new members require a six-month waiting period after the formal application is received, so the assembly was unable to admit the Body. The Central Committee will be authorized to act on the matter in August, though.
Even if no denomination is ever admitted from Mozambique, the country will continue to be a WCC concern. Several times during the assembly, newsmen asked for a WCC explanation of why the government it helped empower has jailed national pastors and Christian missionaries (among them two Nazarenes from America, Armand Doll and Hugh Friberg). There was no response. WCC spokesman were asked what the council had done to seek their release. There were only hints that anything had been done, and on the record a spokesman would say only that there was no written appeal to FRELIMO. (It was learned that at least one WCC executive visited Mozambique just prior to the assembly.)
In the letter from the Presbyterians was an acknowledgement of an invitation to send an observer to the Nairobi meetings. The letter, written by Church president Osias Mucache and moderator Isaias Funzamo, revealed much about the situation of the church there. A paragraph in the WCC’s “provisional translation” into English (from French) said:
At the present time, the major preoccupation of our church is the problem of adaptation to the new social structures of independent Mozambique. It is a matter, on the one hand, of finding new forms for the presence of the church in society, and, on the other, of finding means of devoting ourselves to the Christian edification of believers and of giving an effective biblical formation to the laity in view of their increasingly close collaboration in the work of evangelization. In this great work of reconstruction and reorganization in our church, we hope to have the collaboration of all our brothers in Christ, by prayer and the Christian experience of their country, and chiefly of those whose political system is similar to that chosen by the government of our country.
Another Presbyterian, Valente Matsinhe, identified in a news release of the Nairobi-based All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) as an “administrator” of the denomination, is also described as a FRELIMO general secretary in his area. Matsinhe told an AACC interviewer he was a “committed Christian and socialist.” He explained that FRELIMO knew that prior to independence Mozambique’s churches were controlled from “outside” and that this was inconsistent with the party’s policy of self-reliance. For this reason, said he, the government has designated one church organ, the Christian Council of Mozambique, to represent all churches.
“The government of Mozambique wants a self-reliant church and is very firm that only the Christian Council of Mozambique should represent all the Christian Churches,” he declared. He went on to ask the AACC for more assistance so that “we shall be able to mentalize the Christians toward their role in a socialist nation.”
The FRELIMO government has taken a hard line toward the churches and especially toward foreign missionaries. Armando Emilio Quebuza, the nation’s political commissar and interim minister, published an official “circular” last October accusing churchmen of a variety of crimes against the new nation. In a paragraph on the last of eleven pages of his document, he said:
Once we can detect these architects of division who travel in darkness from house to house and who stick leaflets threatening the dignity of the people, or who meet with a view to manipulating and making plans for ideological attacks or even attacks which are anti-Revolutionary and against our people, these people must be neutralized and the truth communicated to the competent bodies.
All this is because Mozambique people led by FRELIMO are decisively engaged in the construction of new men, liberated from all vicious qualities and all corrupt ambitions of imperialism. This will only be possible if we reeducate those who willingly and unwillingly fell into the former traps of imperialism.…
The “traps” identified in his paper are not only such denominations as the Nazarenes, but also African independent churches and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
After the WCC assembly in Nairobi, the plane to Mozambique’s principal city, Lourenco Marques, carried several assembly participants in addition to the observers from Mozambique. Some were WCC staff members going on an unpublicized mission. Also aboard was American William P. Thompson, stated clerk of the United Presbyterian Church and president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. Asked if he were going to Mozambique on behalf of the WCC, Thompson said he was not. The mission, he explained, was for his denomination. He added that he would be visiting the Christian Council, the Presbyterian Church, and missionaries of his own denomination.
Thompson’s observations, together with those of the WCC staffers on the trip, will no doubt be taken into consideration when the Central Committee considers its future relationships with churches in Mozambique.
ARTHUR H. MATTHEWS
In many denominations around the world battles are being fought over membership in the World Council of Churches. One such struggle involves the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, which has some 145,000 members in both Ulster and the republic.
A group of Irish Presbyterians who want their church to withdraw from the World Council of Churches sent observers on a fact-finding mission to the Fifth Assembly of the WCC in Nairobi. Clergymen James Neely and John Kelly, their travel expenses raised by the 1,000-strong anti-WCC group known as the Campaign for Complete Withdrawal, are to report their findings in a series of meetings around the country.
The Presbyterian Church in Ireland is deeply divided on the issue of WCC membership. At last year’s General Assembly a crucial vote was deferred for twelve months to allow for further discussion. A showdown is shaping up for this June when the assembly meets again. Both the pro-WCC and anti-WCC groups have been lobbying strenously through meetings and literature.
Opposition to the WCC concerns theology and finances. Some feel that the WCC has a liberal theological orientation that is out of step with churches of the Reformed faith, and they suspect that some WCC funds are helping to finance African terrorist groups.
The Inter-Church Relations Board is a major group within the denomination lobbying for staying in the WCC. It has prepared papers by local church scholars and historians outlining the Presbyterian Church’s official position and links with the WCC. One of the board’s leaders, cleric Ian McDowell, was a delegate at Nairobi.
A third group not yet committed either way was represented at Nairobi by WCC delegate Alastair Dunlop.
The outcome of the debate will probably remain uncertain right up to the final discussion at this year’s assembly in Belfast. Denominational information officer Donald Fraser, a pro-WCC man, predicts that the “prolonged debate at all levels in the church will probably lead to a majority for staying in the World Council.” Anti-WCC leader James Neely feels that the vote will be close but that his side will win.
One possible outcome is a compromise in which the church stays in the WCC with certain fixed guarantees to satisfy the dissidents. At any rate, whether the deliberations at Nairobi provided adequate ammunition for either of the warring factions in the church remains to be seen.
Some 1,200 persons, mostly Catholic nuns, attended a Detroit conference on ordination of women to the Catholic priesthood. A continuation task force was organized to press for ordination, and nearly 100 women who are actively seeking ordination signed a statement. Bishop Carroll T. Dozier of Tennessee, for one, came away convinced that the U. S. hierarchy had better take seriously what was said there.
At the prodding of the Roman Catholic archbishop of Baltimore, a mammoth mail-order charity operation conducted by the Pallottine order is being subjected to an audit. If the results are made public as promised they will reveal for the first time how much money is being attracted by the order’s highly sophisticated solicitations.
The Pallottine fathers gained notoriety in recent weeks through disclosures of their financial dealings with scandal-ridden politicians in Maryland.
The order is believed to be one of the largest mail-order charities in the country. It was founded in Italy in 1835 by St. Vincent Pallotti.
Included in alleged improprieties was a $54,000 loan said to have financed the 1974 divorce of Maryland governor Marvin Mandel. Mandel, who is Jewish, has since married a Catholic divorcee who converted to Judaism. Mandel is currently under federal indictment on fraud charges.
The order’s practices first came to public attention through an investigative account in the Baltimore Sun. The newspaper found that the order had spent more than $1.9 million in 1974 mailing 106 million computerized appeals for donations that, with a sweepstakes contest, may have brought in as much as $ 15 million. Of this amount, only $261,895 in cash and $146,148 in supplies were transferred to overseas missionary work, according to Pallottine records. The order declined to disclose how much it holds in investments.
THE CIA: KEEPING CLOSE
Republican senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon was among the churchmen disturbed by reports last year that the Central Intelligence Agency had used missionaries in its information-gathering operations (see October 10, 1975, issue, page 62). In August, Hatfield sent a letter to CIA director William Colby requesting that clergy and church officials be placed on the CIA off-limits list. (The CIA earlier had issued internal directives prohibiting operational contacts with Peace Corps volunteers and Fulbright scholars.)
In a reply made public last month by Hatfield, Colby said it would be neither “necessary nor appropriate” to bar CIA-clergy links. “In many of the countries of the world,” said Colby, “representatives of the clergy, foreign and local, play a significant role and can be of assistance to the United States through CIA with no reflection upon their integrity nor their mission.… Any sweeping prohibition such as you suggest would be a mistake and impose a handicap on this agency which would reduce its future effectiveness to a degree not warranted by the real facts of the situation.”
Hatfield, a Conservative Baptist who attends Fourth Presbyterian Church in Washington, next appealed to President Ford. He pointed out to Ford that many innocent missionaries are harmed by the CIA’s policy, and that legitimate missionary programs are “suspect and frustrated by the taint of previous CIA involvement with other religious groups.” Further, said he, such CIA-mission ties “pervert the Church’s mission and create the view that the United States will resort to any means in pursuit of its particular interests.”
Presidential counselor Philip W. Buchen replied, saying that Ford “does not feel it would be wise at present to prohibit the CIA from having any connection with the clergy.” Explained Buchen: “Clergymen throughout the world are often valuable sources of intelligence, and many clergymen, motivated solely by patriotism, voluntarily and willingly aid the government by providing information of intelligence value.” A review of the matter, however, is underway within the CIA, added Buchen. The review is to determine “whether any regulations are needed to guide the CIA in its future relations with clergymen,” he stated.
Hatfield last month introduced legislation in the Senate aimed at ending the CIA’s religious connections (see editorial, page 23).
A missions executive in Washington, D. C., shook his head when informed of the government’s stance on CIA-clergy relationships. “This is bad news for our missionaries overseas.” he said.
Shaking Up The Pentecostals
It didn’t register on the Richter scale, but a sharp jolt shook up the fifty delegates and other participants at last month’s fifth annual meeting of the scholarly Society of Pentecostal Studies, held in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The jolt came not through a new upper-room visitation of the Spirit but in a banquet talk by the main speaker, Nazarene clergyman Timothy Smith, the renowned Johns Hopkins historian. Smith challenged his audience of old-line or “classic” Pentecostals and modern-day charismatics to abandon the use of tongues.
While acknowledging that tongue-speaking is attractive “because of its mystery” and because it “transcends the rational” and represents a “renunciation of intellectual pride,” Smith nevertheless declared that the modern use of tongues is a “mistaken bypass” based on a misunderstanding of Scripture. He maintained that glossolalia in the New Testament refers to known dialects, not unknown tongues. The entire thrust of Scripture is “reasonableness and clarity,” he argued, and unknown glossolalia would defeat understanding. Concluding that there is “no evidence of [such] religious glossolalia in the New Testament, the early Church, or in history,” Smith called on Pentecostal leaders to “use intellectual honesty responsibly to face this misuse.”
Not surprisingly, there was some aftershock. Pentecostal responses offered by Russell Spittler and Hollis Gause criticized Smith on exegetical grounds, and informal discussions continued on into the night.
In his first paper, “Radical Wesleyanism and American Culture,” Smith emphasized that Christian perfectionism “was the dominant influence in promoting nineteenth-century American idealism.” This paper created no controversy since most Pentecostals recognize the vital part played by the Wesleyan-Holiness movement in producing the Pentecostal movement.
Smith’s challenge—reflective of increasingly vocal views in the Wesleyan-Holiness camp—could be the beginning of deeper dialogue between Wesleyans and Pentecostals. In the closing business session of the conference, the delegates elected Assemblies of God educator Donald Argue as their president, and they strongly suggested that the next annual meeting be devoted to a study of the biblical basis of Pentecostal teaching and practice in order to respond to Smith’s challenge.
Most of the other papers concerned the conference theme—“The Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements: Where Are They? Where Are They Going?” Black Pentecostal scholar Leonard Lovett called for “more authentic social involvement among the oppressed.” Grant Wacker, a Harvard graduate student, suggested that Pentecostal and charismatic groups are growing rapidly around the world because of the great stress of the 1960s and 1970s. “People need the Comforter in times of stress,” he concluded. Another student, Harold Hunter, asserted that ancient texts show glossolalia flourishing in the early Church during the persecutions but slowly fading away after A.D. 325 when the Church gained acceptance in the Roman Empire.
Two papers on the music of Pentecostalism added insight on current trends. Joseph Nicholson of Evangel College called on Pentecostals to “evaluate musical texts for correct theology” and to develop a greater appreciation for the great old hymns of the Church. On the other hand, Phil O’Mara, a Catholic charismatic researcher, explained that Catholic charismatics were much less interested in the “old hymns” than in “folk, gospel-rock, and Protestant-inspired “choruses.” His study of song-books used by Catholic prayer groups found that as many as one-third of the songs were written by Protestant Pentecostals. Thus Pentecostals and charismatics seem to be moving in opposite directions on the matter of hymnody.
The three-day conference was hosted by the Word of God Community in Ann Arbor, the 1,500-member nerve-center of the Catholic charismatic renewal movement.
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