“When the Devil wanted nothing to happen,” according to an old Norwegian saying, “he set up the first committee.”

Under a mandate from the Nairobi assembly of the World Council of Churches to do something about religious liberty in Eastern Europe (see January 2, 1976, issue, page 31), the policy-making Central Committee of the WCC decided last month in Geneva to set up an advisory committee. It was the first full meeting of the 130-member group since the late-1975 WCC assembly (the WCC has 286 member denominations). Human rights in Eastern Europe was one of the major issues in Nairobi, and more journalists than Central Committee members turned out for the meeting in the expectation that some action would be taken. Some 100 advisors, guests, and staff were also on hand.

When the WCC’s general secretary, Philip Potter, met with reporters after adjournment, he suggested that the new panel might get to work on the human-rights issue by next March. The Central Committee’s next annual meeting is scheduled next July.

Per Lønning, the resigned bishop of the Church of Norway who suggested the origin of committees, stopped short of calling the WCC demonic and of suggesting that it will never do anything on the Eastern European situation. He did, however, point out the council’s inconsistency in dealing with issues.

“I am happy that in many important questions such as the racism issue, or in issues of peace and war, this council has not spoken so contextually that the challenge to the consciences has been allowed to disappear,” Lønning declared. “I hope the issue of religious freedom will not be allowed to disappear either.”

Potter was disposed to speak in general terms about the issue rather than being specific. So was William P. Thompson, stated clerk of the United Presbyterian Church U.S.A., who was the chairman of a panel that reviewed the general secretary’s recommendations on the subject. When someone objected to the vague language that was under consideration, Thompson, a lawyer, responded with an old saying from the American legal fraternity: “One is never unintentionally ambiguous.” The words in his enabling motion, he said, “were chosen with great care.”

Even though there was vigorous discussion of the issue, the Central Committee followed the lead of Potter and Thompson when the showdown came on the key motion. No hands were lifted in opposition.

In keeping with their recent practice, the council’s policy-makers were very specific on human rights in other parts of the world. South Africa was condemned for its “deceptive maneuver” to “perpetuate and consolidate apartheid” by creating black homelands such as the Transkei. The council’s member churches “and particularly the churches in South Africa” were urged to “do everything in their power to counteract the repressive violence of the regime” and to demonstrate “solidarity with the oppressed” in the white-ruled nation. The Smith government of Rhodesia was described as “illegal,” and the WCC committee’s resolution expressed grave concern over its “criminal measures of collective punishment and the continued denial of human rights.” The Turkish government was called to task for its expulsion of some Greek Cypriots from Cyprus and its organized immigration of Turks to Cyprus.

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One of the council’s most highly publicized agencies, the Program to Combat Racism (PCR), also got down to specifics during the nine-day meeting. It announced its sixth allocation of funds since creation of a “special fund to combat racism” in 1970. A record sum of $560,000 was distributed to thirty-seven groups in nineteen countries. Six of the grants were given in North America, among them an initial $10,000 for the fight to abolish the death penalty in the United States by the Legal Defense and Educational Fund of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The American Indian Movement, which has received previous grants from the PCR, got $15,000 in the 1976 allocation. Another $15,000 was given to the United Farm Workers, also a previous recipient. The newest donations bring to $2.11 million the total amount distributed through the PCR’s special fund.

Members of the Central Committee with backgrounds in various WCC programs spent most of their meeting time fighting for specific language in documents that would assure the continuation of those programs. Taking the most time of the committee as a whole was the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, near Geneva. This international study center’s future has been hotly debated since officers of the council decided last year that no more of the WCC’s undesignated income should go to keep Bossey in operation. That decision was reversed by the Central Committee, but the study center was put on notice that it will need to tighten its operation in order to get more funding after next year.

Much of the meeting was involved with housekeeping, with all units being directed to practice stricter financial controls. The committee launched a plan to develop more undesignated income from member denominations. Even though some member churches have increased giving since special appeals were made at the Nairobi assembly, the international monetary situation has meant that when those gifts were converted into Swiss francs, the WCC’s income was still not increasing. The 1977 budget adopted at the meeting is slightly below the spending authorized for 1976.

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In one attempt to save funds, some of the commissions that direct various programs will not have their first meetings until 1978. Others will begin work by 1977. Meantime, the programs will be run by the staff, with oversight by small “core groups” appointed by the Central Committee.

The Nairobi assembly’s much discussed emphasis on “confessing Christ” got little attention at the Geneva meeting, but a decision was made to plan the 1977 sessions around a theme of missions and evangelism. Also approved was a proposal from the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism to sponsor a major conference on missions in 1980. It will be preceded by conferences in 1977 on ecumenical dialogue, in 1978 on faith and order, and in 1979 on church and society. Major studies on militarism and disarmament were authorized also.

Military governments in Ethiopia and Uganda were the topics of short resolutions. No condemnation was expressed, but the general secretary was authorized to work with the All Africa Conference of Churches to take “appropriate action.”

Potter, the general secretary, was voted an additional five-year term during a closed session of the committee. He completes his first five-year term in 1977.

Provisional admission to membership was voted for five denominations: the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa, the Baptist Church of Bangladesh, the Methodist Church in Fiji, and the Protestant Christian Church in Bali, Indonesia. Their membership will be considered permanent if current member denominations do not file objections after being notified of the Central Committee’s action.

Translations Tussle

As reported earlier, all but four members of Wycliffe Bible Translators’ forty-person team left Nigeria by the end of June, in compliance with a government order issued in April (see June 4 issue, page 51). In the order, Wycliffe was asked to turn over its impressive linguistics center, located in Jos, to the University of Jos. Why the ouster? ACHRISTIANITY TODAYcorrespondent looked into the matter and filed this report:

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Since starting work in Nigeria in 1961, Wycliffe has been registered as the Institute of Linguistics, affiliated with Nigerian universities. The government’s official rationale for ordering an end to IL’s work is that the universities have now developed their own linguistics departments and therefore IL is no longer needed. As to other aspects of IL’s work, the government states that Nigerian church bodies can look after Bible translation, and there are government literacy agencies.

A government official has intimated, however, that the policy is a linguistic one, because of the need to unify the nation’s multitude of tribes with a common language. In the eyes of some government officials, development of small linguistic groups would not be in the national interest. A report by the University of Ibadan’s Savannah journal lists 396 distinct Nigerian languages, apart from dialects.

February’s attempted coup has increased the military government’s concern about minority groups. Most of the ringleaders were from small tribes in the Plateau area—ironically, IL’s operating base. The national paranoia following the assassination of Nigeria’s popular general Murtala Muhammad aroused suspicion of foreigners. In its northern edition, Nigeria’s largest newspaper, the Daily Times, came out with a scare headline story on the IL: “Another CIA Base Closed.” IL director Ronald Stanford and Nigerian Bible Translation Council members refuted the allegation of CIA involvement.

In Africa’s increasing nationalist awareness, there is a continent-wide suspicion of foreigners seeking information among remote tribal groups. An East African newspaper recently alleged that anthropologists doing research were really foreign spies. Tourists may be suspect.

Observers point out that the government’s decision regarding IL does not reflect opposition to Christian or missionary work, which still enjoys complete liberty in Nigeria. The institute was not registered as a mission, they say.

The Council for the Promotion of Bible Translation in Nigeria strongly appealed the government’s ouster decision, explaining that qualified consultants from overseas are still needed. The Nigerian trustees of the institute also put up a strong case for retaining IL’s linguistic center.

Negotiations resulted in the government’s agreement that the Nigerian trustees could register as a Nigerian organization with an immigration quota of ten foreign consultants, and could retain all IL property. However, only four persons from the 40-member IL team could remain in the country. None of the others, including the director, may return, and the remaining six quota places must be filled with linguists from outside Wycliffe’s membership. Nigerian organizations are appealing the latter decision.

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Wycliffe, facing similar difficulties in several other countries, is emphasizing the development of national linguists to carry on the work. Of the twenty Bible translation projects currently active in Nigeria, twelve should be completed by the end of this year.

While government leaders wonder about the effects of developing minority languages, tribal Christian response varies. Representatives of one small ethnic group said they would not use the forthcoming Scripture translation in their tribal language because they were literate in a trade language. But in the Higi language, a New Testament illustrated with culturally relevant photographs sold more than 2,500 copies in three months.

‘We see this work as a real challenge to us Nigerians,” said one member of IL’s Nigerian board. “It is our responsibility before God to make it possible for every Nigerian to read the Scriptures in his mother tongue.”

Lutheran Love

Money and mission were priority items on the agenda of the biennial meeting of the 3.1-million-member Lutheran Church in America (LCA), held recently in Boston. Approved was a special mission campaign to raise $25 million over three years, to be split about evenly between domestic and overseas projects. A freewill, open-ended hunger appeal, with anticipated receipts of about $7 million during the next two years, will be continued (hunger appeal gifts for the past two years totaled $6.75 million). A third money motion was the adoption of record budgets for the next two years: $37.4 million for 1977 and $38.5 million for 1978.

President David W. Preus of the American Lutheran Church (ALC) and ecumenical officer Thomas C. Spitz, Jr., of the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC), the recently formed “moderate” breakaway group from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, received standing-ovation welcomes and adieus during their appearances to deliver brief fraternal greetings. “We in the ALC,” reported Preus, “pledge you our partnership. Lutherans have a heritage worth claiming, a message worth proclaiming, a church worth sharing. The ALC applauds all of this evidence of LCA and ALC unity.” In a show of further evidence, the delegates recommended unanimously that LCA leaders “pursue with haste negotiations toward organic union with the American Lutheran Church” and report back in 1978.

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Spitz, also pledging cooperation, said, “We believe that our common subscription to the Scriptures and the Symbolical Books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church is both basis enough and reason enough for a total effort toward Lutheran consolidation.”

President Jacob A. O. Preus of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod was given a polite but cooler reception. Surprisingly, he responded frankly to a knuckles-rapping resolution adopted by the 1974 convention of the LCA that accused the LCMS of “fencing God’s Word and fracturing God’s people.” Preus retorted that his church’s doctrinal resolutions “reflect the scriptural and confessional position which the synod has maintained throughout her history.” Many delegates were incredulous when he announced that the LCMS controversy “is drawing to a close.” Fewer than ten of the 6,200 congregations, he said, have decided to leave the synod. “Missouri has overwhelmingly, at the synodical, the district, and the congregational level, decided that she is going to remain Missouri.”

He declared that the LCMS “is a haven for those who desire to be a part of a confessional church body which has been tested in the fires of affliction and has emerged triumphant over the forces that had the effect of muffling her voice in Christendom and throughout the world.” Then he invited “all who share the great seriousness of God’s Word and our Lutheran Confessions to join with us in witnessing to the biblical faith as we carry out our mission and ministry.” There was no rush to accept.

The most hotly debated item on the agenda was the proposed new service book and hymnal, to be published in cooperation with the ALC, the LCMS, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada. The joint hymnal project was begun in 1965. The often revised list of hymns, now totaling 510, was officially sanctioned. The convention, however, withheld its approval of the sections on worship services and occasional services in the hymnal, voting only “to approve in principle the liturgical portions and to authorize the Executive Council of the LCA to take final action following a review of its theology and whatever testing is deemed necessary.”

Of concern were several unclear sections about who could administer the Lord’s Supper, who should receive it, and who would be allowed to distribute it to shut-ins. The theology of the real presence of Christ, the use of “covenant” or “testament” terminology, the omission of the confessional from the communion service, and the avoidance of the implications of the reserved host were disturbing features to many delegates. A task force is making revisions.

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Of the numerous social-action concerns that were debated, school busing was the first to be considered. Significantly, the adopted resolution originated with the New England Synod, where Boston-based busing has caused considerable strife. Delegates overwhelmingly—there were fewer than a dozen negative votes out of a possible 685—agreed to urge that “all citizens and officials of government … support busing as a means to equal access to quality education when that cannot be achieved otherwise.”

The delegates called on President Ford to grant “unconditional amnesty to all persons who by action in the exercise of their conscience are in legal jeopardy because of their non-violent resistance to the Southeast Asia War,” and they urged Congress to halt development of the B-l bomber.


All Wet

The great flood present in all major religious “mythology” really did take place, says André Capart, director of the Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. It occurred, he asserts, in 6500 B.C. but did not cover the entire surface of the earth. A sudden melting of the polar ice caps lifted ocean levels 166 feet, covering the coastal areas of the world and leaving traces still visible, he explains. Undoubtedly there were some “clever peasants” who were able to gather their families and belongings in boats around the world, he acknowledges, but that story about Noah and the ark is “a mistranslation of ancient texts.”

Coggan To Church: ‘Dither No Longer’

Despite rumblings about disestablishment and a series of amendments, the recent Church of England general synod accepted Prime Minister Callaghan’s proposals regarding the appointment of bishops. Disestablishment from the church’s favored position was never really a practicable proposition, and even the amendments that advocated further negotiation with the state were swept aside. By 390–29 the synod agreed to revised arrangements that will give the church a greater say in episcopal appointments. Ultimately, however, the decision remains in the hands of the state; technically, appointments to dioceses are made by the Queen on the advice of the prime minister. It makes no difference that the latter could be Muslim or Mormon, Jew or atheist (Callaghan is a Welsh Baptist).

Synod chairman Sir Norman Anderson, a well-known evangelical, warned the synod in a powerful speech that to reject the prime minister’s proposal would be to precipitate a head-on collision with the state. He felt that in practice the new proposals involving extensive consultations would give the church a decisive voice. If things did not work out that way, the church would “be free to approach the government again in terms of some further reform—but from a position of vastly greater strength than we have at present.”

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Archbishop of Canterbury F. Donald Coggan also urged acceptance of the proposals. “For decades,” he said, “this matter has been before the church; report has succeeded report.… We must dither no longer, but have the courage to make up our minds.” The church could then “use the privileges of its legal establishment for the service of God [and] devote its energies to the evangelization of the nation.”

So it was decided to take a substantial half-loaf and ignore the plaintive question raised by T. L. Dye of York: “Are we a colony of heaven on earth here, or are we a colony of 10 Downing Street [the prime ministerial residence]?”

At another session, General Secretary Philip Potter of the World Council of Churches also took pains to underline the Church of England’s subordinate role. Friction between it and the WCC, he suggested, could be reduced if the church could come to terms with the fact that it was no longer a dominant force.

Potter returned to the “racist Britain” charge that, made at Nairobi, had roused ill feeling in some quarters. Britain in the past three centuries, he said to the synod, had been one of the leading colonial and imperialist nations. The most responsible persons in community and nation had been associated with the Established Church of England. It was “a historical fact of life” that “colonialism and imperialism were accompanied by racism and the violation of human rights at home and abroad.”

In a newspaper interview the previous week, Potter had suggested that his critics would not “have carried on in the same way” at his WCC predecessors, both of whom (the paper pointed out) were white men. “I speak as Philip Potter,” he reportedly said, “and am not terribly conscious as a rule of being general secretary of the WCC.”


Mission From Japan

A July graduate of Japan Bible Seminary, Takashi Fukuda, 30, and his wife Aiko have completed Wycliffe Bible Translators training and have been assigned to translate one of the 150 minority languages of the Philippines. The couple organized Wycliffe Bible Translators in Tokyo after Fukuda read a Reader’s Digest article, “Two Thousand Tongues to Go,” and began translating English excerpts from the Wycliffe magazine into Japanese as a challenge to other young Christians. Eight other Japanese missionaries are working with Wycliffe.

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The Protestant churches in Japan have almost 100 Japanese missionaries serving in twenty-two countries. The heaviest coverage is in Taiwan, Indonesia, and Brazil, but some are scattered as far as Zaire, Kenya, Nepal, Jamaica, India, and Ethiopia.

The post-war missionary move of the church in Japan had to contend with bitter war memories in Southeast Asia at first. Most of those now on the field have gone out within the past ten years. At the same time, Japanese churches are assuming more financial responsibility for missionary work, and Japanese Christians are learning concepts of stewardship, an aspect of personal involvement relatively unknown until recently.

In 1971 the Japan Overseas Missions Association (JOMA) was formed, and presently it is composed of eleven evangelical groups (including Wycliffe). Non-JOMA affiliated agencies such as the Southern Baptists, Assemblies of God, and the Evangelical Alliance Mission are also sending missionaries from Japan.

According to JOMA executive secretary Andrew Furuyama, pre-World War II missionaries went from Japan to China, Mongolia, Southeast Asia, and South America.



Canadian headquarters of the Salvation Army ordered a Windsor, Ontario, corps to return an $8,283 grant it had received from Wintario, the provincial lottery. “Our opposition to gambling makes it impossible to accept lottery profits,” explained a spokesman. The leader of the Army’s Windsor youth band, who had requested the grant, said he recognized the problem, but pointed out that the Salvation Army opposed drinking, yet accepted money from breweries. He quoted Army founder William Booth as saying, “I would accept money from the devil to further the Lord’s work.”


Near Miss

Late one night last month communications staffer Bill Nyman of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (Wycliffe Bible Translators) returned to the SIL’s guest house in Bogota from the airport where he had picked up a colleague. With him were his daughters and one of their friends. A brown paper parcel lay on the doorstep. One of the girls joked that it might be a bomb. When she picked it up, it began to sputter and smoke.

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Nyman shouted for everyone to take cover. The girls ran across the street and threw themselves down; the men ducked behind Nyman’s car.

A moment later the bomb exploded, blowing the steel front door through another door and upstairs where twenty people were sleeping. No one was hurt.

Elsewhere in the city that night three other bombs exploded outside buildings linked to Americans.

Vatican Turmoil

Under attack from different sides, the Vatican has struck back.

Dissident leftist priest Giovanni Franzoni, an open backer of the Communist party, was defrocked. Franzoni, a former Benedictine abbot, has been living in a Rome slum where he is active in social work and political affairs. Just before the June elections he came out publicly for the Communist party. Already under a two-year suspension from priestly duties, he was in effect challenging the Vatican’s repeated assertion that Marxism and Christianity are incompatible. The action to reduce him to lay status is seen as a warning to the growing number of other restless, politically active priests in Italy.

On another front, the Vatican spoke out strongly against the growing public sentiment and pressure to permit dozens of women of an area near Milan to have abortions. The women were exposed to a toxic substance following an explosion at a chemical plant.

One of the Vatican’s most volatile problems involves conservative French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, 70, a traditionalist who has opposed many of the reforms of Vatican II and who has directed personal attacks against Pope Paul and his predecessor, Pope John XXIII. Lefebvre, who has run a small unauthorized seminary in Switzerland to train priests in traditionalist ways, was suspended from his episcopal functions in late June—when he was to have ordained a dozen new priests. The archbishop proceeded with the ordinations anyway, and he announced he would celebrate a Tridentine Latin mass on August 29 in Lille, France, where he was born—even though his priestly rights were revoked, and even though the local bishop refused to grant permission for the mass, as required by church law.

The Vatican’s indefinite suspension of Lefebvre is the most severe sanction against a prelate in recent memory. He is thought to have about 25,000 followers in France. Some observers believe schism will occur—a virtual certainty if the archbishop is excommunicated.

Living Chinese

The New Testament volume of the New Chinese Bible was released recently, the third major Chinese translation in less than two years. Sponsored by the Lock-man Foundation of California and produced by a committee of Chinese scholars, the new Bible is intended for a wide Chinese readership in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Manila.

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In January of this year another Bible committee came out with the New Testament in Today’s Chinese, a close rendering of Today’s English Version, popularly known as Good News For Modern Man.

Prior to the release of these two, the Bible Society in Hong Kong published The Contemporary Gospel (Living Chinese New Testament) in December, 1974, the first Asian edition of the Living Bible. Expected to top 500,000 sales by the end of the summer, it is available in various formats and language styles. It is intended for use in mainland China as well as elsewhere, and some copies are in the new simplified script introduced by Communist leader Mao Tse-tung, while others are in the standard Mandarin and Cantonese script.


Religion In Transit

In a roll-call vote, churches of the 5,200-member Seventh Day Baptist General Conference at the group’s annual meeting voted 355 to 227 to withdraw from the World Council of Churches. The Seventh Day Baptists have been a member of the WCC from its outset.

Officials of World Vision Internationl denied a report in a Washington Post story from Bangkok that claimed WVI used street boys in South Viet Nam to collect intelligence for U.S. officials. The story attributed the report to former Boston teacher Dick Hughes, who headed the “Vietnamese Shoe-Shine Boys Foundation.” A WVI spokesman sternly rebuked the Post for failing to check out the unsubstantiated report (which he attributed to unhappy Vietnamese left behind during WVI evacuation efforts).

Newsweek reported that evangelist Billy Graham was discussing with ABC-TV management a proposed series of TV network appearances, including both a regular program and specials.

Sociology of Homosexuality, an appreciative and sympathetic study of homosexuality as a way of life, is being taught this year at Humber College in Toronto. The teacher is anthropologist Earl Reidy, an admitted homosexual. He says the course is designed to help gays accept themselves and adapt to their life-style and to help “straights” overcome “common misconceptions.” Humber has 6,000 full-time students and thousands of part-timers.

Navy officials canceled a week-long revival planned at Whidby Island Naval Air Station near Seattle last month. The cancellation came after the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups asked a federal court to stop the event. A letter signed by Commander Bernard Minetti, recently converted base operations officer, had been sent to area churches inviting people to an “old-fasioned tent revival.” It was billed as a back-to-Christ renewal campaign featuring a variety of preachers. The letter was marked “Official Business” and “Postage and fees paid: Department of the Navy.” It offered free parking for campers and trailers and at least one meal in the Navy galley. Base commander Richard S. Hopper voiced regret that his personnel could not “share a religious experience with their civilian friends.”

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Monroe County, Indiana, school trustees banned distribution of the Bible inside school buildings by the Gideons, a practice instituted in 1972 under pressure from local churches.

Catholic archbishop John F. Whealon of Hartford, Connecticut, granted preacher status to nun Kathleen Cannon, chaplain of Albertus Magnus College in New Haven. The designation gives her the right to deliver sermons from the church pulpit during mass. The archbishop says she is the first woman preacher in the history of the Catholic Church.

The Christian Broadcasting Network announced it will broadcast an hour-long pre-election television special over 120 TV stations on September 17 calling the nation to prayer during the seven weeks preceding the election. A number of well-known Christian leaders, evangelists, and other personalities will be featured.

Missouri voters defeated by a vote of 57 to 43 a proposed amendment to the state constitution authorizing limited aid to non-public schools.

Sunday sales “are humming like a church organ” in shopping centers throughout the nation, Business Week has reported. Thirty states still have blue laws banning certain types of store openings, but enforcement has been lax, said the magazine. The nationwide trend is toward seven-day shopping, according to the article.

A national conference of 275 Lutheran and Catholic college students and campus ministers in a meeting at Collegeville, Minnesota, last month issued a plea to their parent church bodies to permit intercommunion.

After protests by fellow Catholics and on the advice of Archbishop Thomas J. McDonough, black priest Edward Davis called off a speech in his Louisville, Kentucky, church by Communist-party activist Angela Davis. Pastor Gilbert Schroerlucke of West Broadway United Methodist Church then agreed to have the speech at his church, a decision denounced by Methodist bishop Frank L. Robertson “as totally incompatible with the teaching of the United Methodist Church.” There were more protests. After Ms. Davis’s appearance, Schroerlucke spent eight days in a hospital after suffering what was described as chest pains.

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Canada’s churches are suffering from a shortage of clergy, according to a published survey, and the hardest hit apparently is the Presbyterian Church in Canada, in which 12 per cent of the pastoral charges lack ministers.

Divorce, rather rare until recent years in Orthodox Judaism, has become increasingly commonplace, involving 10 per cent of its adherents, according to reports released at the annual convention of the Rabbinical Council of America.

The 215-church, 62,000-member American Baptist Churches of New Jersey will join other religious and civil-liberties groups in a federal lawsuit opposing the teaching of Transcendental Meditation in four New Jersey school systems.

Teachers in Catholic schools began organizing unions in the early 1960s to gain better pay, benefits, and working conditions—but not without opposition from church officials. In 1971 the National Labor Relations Board began asserting jurisdiction over large non-profit organizations. Within the past year the NLRB ordered union elections for schools in Los Angeles and Chicago. The unions won, but the school officials are fighting the decisions, saying the NLRB’s involvement in church affairs is unconstitutional. Irate teachers accuse the church of hypocrisy: the church is an advocate of the rights of workers to organize—except when its own interests are at stake.

Baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn is chairman of the interfaith National Bible Week November 21–28 and founder-chairman Ray A. Kroc of the McDonald’s hamburger empire is associate chairman. Kroc, in his seventies, still supports the church he attended as a child. Harvard Church of Oak Brook, Illinois.


BENJAMIN P. BROWNE, 83, noted religious journalist and American Baptist educator; in Alhambra, California, of leukemia.


Paul M. Stevens, 61, radio and television executive of the Southern Baptist Convention, was selected by President Ford to be a director of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. SBC programming is aired in twelve languages on 3,700 U. S. radio and TV stations and on the military network.

Thomas P. Bailey is the new president of the 94-year-old Nyack College, a growing school of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. His brother Nathan is president of the CMA.

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Educator Craven Edward Williams of Davidson College in North Carolina was named president of Gardner-Webb College, a Southern Baptist school in the same state.

Gerhardt W. Hyatt, 60. who retired last year as chief of chaplains of the U. S. Army, was named president of Concordia College, a Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod school in St. Paul, Minnesota.

World Scene

Australia’s highest court has given the green light to a planned merger of the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Congregational churches into the Uniting Church of Australia. The court rejected challenges by a Presbyterian clergyman and layman. The wedding date is June 22, 1977, barring appeals and legislative snags. The new denomination is expected to have some 2.5 million members.

Britain’s Evangelical Alliance, embracing more than 700 churches and other groups, has sharply denounced a “Manual of Technique for Deprogramming Technicians” that claims the alliance actively counters the “menace of the cults” and is a good recruiting ground from which to get deprogrammers (persons who use force and psychological techniques to extricate others from offbeat religious groups). Alliance executive Gordon Landreth says his organization “utterly condemns the practices recommended in the manual” (kidnapping, torture, fees of $4,000). The manual is published by a virtually unknown group and may be a spoof.

Hundreds of persons watched in horror as Protestant pastor Oskar Brusewitz doused himself with gasoline, then lit a match on the square in Zeitz in East Germany. He died of burns. One of two signs he carried said, “The churches accuse the Communists of oppressing young Christians.” Embarrassed government leaders alleged that the clergyman was a sick man who suffered from delusions. Several hundred Protestant pastors have asked for permission to leave the country, but church leaders want them to stay put: their congregations need them.

Nearly 2,000 Polish Catholic men and women missionaries are serving in Africa, Latin America, Oceania, and Asia, according to Catholic sources.

Religious liberty in Communist-ruled Laos is being curtailed, claim Vatican sources. Catholic schools, orphanages, residences, and churches have been taken over by the government and religious education has been eliminated. Two of the six Catholic churches in Vientiane, the capital, may still be used for weekly services, the sources say. About 34,000 of Laos’s 3.3 million people are Catholics. Most of the population is Buddhist. Only two of Vientiane’s eighty-seven Buddhist pagodas remain open.

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Israeli officials say their government “in no way” extended any help to the producers of the controversial film The Passover Plot, based on a 1965 book by British scholar Hugh Schonfield. And there was no legal way they could prevent its filming on Israeli soil, they say. Their statement was in response to storms of protest by Christian communities in the Holy Land. The film shows Jesus being killed unexpectedly while trying to stage a fake death.

General Secretary Philip A. Potter of the World Council of Churches has appealed to President H. Kamazu Banda of Malawi to release Jehovah’s Witnesses who have been arrested for practicing their faith and to allow them to return home to lead a normal life. Potter described reports of persecution and torture of JWs as “most disturbing.”

Women ordained abroad as priests in the Anglican Communion cannot be allowed to officiate in the Church of England, according to an official report. Any change in the recognition of women’s status must be made by the church, not by bishops or archbishops.

Elders of Evangelical Church in Abeche, Chad, decided to move the distribution of relief food from a residence to the church, intending to tie the relief effort more closely to the church’s witness. Wheat was handed out to Abeche’s poor following a sermon. But angry Muslim activists protested, claiming the Christians were using food to proselyte poor Muslims, and rock throwing ensued. The government ordered that food distribution at the church be suspended. Mennonites who supply the relief food say it should be given with no strings attached.

Large cracks have appeared in the great dome of the cathedral in Florence, Italy, an architectural and engineering masterpiece that dates from the fifteenth century.

A Turkish court has jailed or fined forty-two Jehovah’s Witnesses on charges that they are members of a foreign-based organization without permission.

A cooperative Protestant theological school has been founded in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, as a result of the unifying influences and “stimulus” of the 1974 evangelism congress in Lausanne, according to European Baptist Press Service.

The government of Czechoslovakia was described as “one of the most repressive in eastern Europe in regard to the exercise of human rights” by a spokesman for America’s Catholic bishops. Latest evidence: a ban against joining religious orders of women that “will mean the liquidation of the twenty-two religious orders.”

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