Correspondent J. D. Douglas traveled recently to Hong Kong to cover the Chinese Congress on World Evangelization. The following account is based mostly on the report he filed just days before Mao Tse-Tung died.
Chinese churches throughout the world sent some 1,500 representatives last month to the crowded city of Hong Kong (population: 4.5 million) to discuss in plenary sessions and seminars unity of the international Chinese community, the Chinese role in world evangelism, and strategy for reaching mainland China with the Gospel. Spawned by the 1974 Lausanne Congress on evangelization, the Chinese Congress on World Evangelization had as its chairman pastor-educator Philip Teng of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. It was directed by Thomas Wang of the California-based Chinese Christian Missions, along with an international committee of Chinese.
The eight-day congress took place in the 1,600-seat Kowloon City Baptist Church, where 200 volunteers helped to keep things running smoothly—and to keep the congress budget down ($160,000). Participants were responsible for their own travel and hotel expenses.
In a welcome speech, Teng noted that past international evangelism congresses had been sponsored by Western church leaders. It was time now, he said, for the Chinese church not only to receive but also to give. (Teng is president of the thirty-six congregation, 3,500-member Christian and Missionary Alliance body in Hong Kong, president of the Alliance Bible Seminary, head of the China Graduate School of Theology, and pastor of a 1.000-member Alliance church.)
Despite the strong ethnic spirit that prevailed, there were grateful nods to Western missionaries who had brought the Gospel to the Chinese in the first place. Veteran independent missionary Gladys Ward, who teaches at the Alliance Bible Seminary, was honored with a commemorative Bible for her fifty years of service in the area. Also, non-Chinese observers were invited from more than thirty denominations, missions, and publishing houses.
Some delicate maneuvers had to be carried out before the congress could convene in the British crown colony on the underbelly of mainland China. It has been said that the colony’s capture by the People’s Republic could be effected by just one phone call. Understandably, the government of Hong Kong strives to avoid international incidents. Thus was ruled out any congress statement of intent regarding the future evangelization of the mainland, a topic of one of the seminars and a constant prayer subject.
The Taiwanese delegation was unhappy about this enforced reticence. Their own numbers limited to fewer than 200 by the authorities, the Taiwanese complained of “compromise” and of “disloyalty to Lausanne,” and they pressed in vain for some statement on the forbidden subject.
One congress leader pointed out privately that participants came from twenty-seven regions of the world, each with its own political situation. The injection of political overtones into the proceedings would have nullified the spiritual impact of the congress, he said. He stressed that this single divisive issue, however, did not mar Taiwanese participation in other aspects of the congress.
The wording of the congress covenant/declaration also proved difficult, and a draft statement on church and state was finally omitted altogether. The document was still being worked on some days after the congress, although essential content was settled. It identified four “bridges” to be built: between the generations, between old and new thinking (especially regarding strategy and methodology), between East and West (“the Oriental church tends to stress the deepening of the spiritual life, while the Western church emphasizes results”), and between denominations for the pooling of manpower and physical resources.
The latter part of the congress was held in torrential rainstorms that claimed the lives of thirty residents of the colony. The first of two evangelistic meetings at the end of the congress was forced indoors by the weather, but some 3,000 attended the final meeting and closing congress ceremony in the 13,000-seat South China Stadium. (About 12 per cent of Hong Kong’s people profess Christianity; they are divided almost evenly between Protestant and Catholic churches. The largest Protestant body is the 25,000-member Church of Christ in China. There are more than sixty denominations and church-establishing missions, and nearly 500 foreign missionaries are working there. The churches of Hong Kong meanwhile have sent missionaries to other parts of the Chinese-speaking world.)
Director Wang was appointed general secretary of the new Chinese World Evangelization Coordination Service, to be headquartered in Hong Kong. It will function as a liaison organization and publish a newsletter.
Delegates to the thirtieth national convention of the 200,000-member Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada rejected, by a vote of 174 to 128, a move to change the bylaws to permit ordination of women. Since a two-thirds vote is needed to make a change, the motion fell far short of the required total.
Faced by the strong demand for change, some 500 delegates meeting at Ottawa did authorize study of the ordination of women, telling the PAOC Commission to consider biblical, theological, and socio-cultural insights. That document is to be ready by the 1978 meeting.
Delegates also called on the government to crack down on the “widespread practice of abortion virtually on demand.” Abortion should be permitted only when the mother’s life is jeopardized, they said.
The PAOC has 837 congregations and preaching points in nine provinces, the northern territories, and Bermuda. In addition, there are 150 congregations in an autonomous conference in Newfoundland, Canada’s tenth province.
LESLIE K. TARR
Rhodesia: Storm Warnings
Two bishops have stepped up the war of words on the Ian Smith government of Rhodesia while guerrilla groups have continued armed attacks on the white-ruled land.
United Methodist bishop Abel Muzorewa, a self-exiled Rhodesian, during a speaking tour in the United States sanctioned armed guerrilla activity as a “last resort” to gain rule by the black majority. From a base in Mozambique he heads the African National Council, whose attempts to negotiate a settlement with Smith have broken down.
Irish-born Catholic bishop Donal Lamont of Umtali, a longtime critic of the Smith regime, was arrested last month after he released another verbal salvo. The bishop, who has worked in Rhodesia for nearly thirty years, issued a scathing open letter in which he said Smith policies were the root cause of guerrilla insurgency.
Charles Waddington, Rhodesia’s acting attorney general, disavowed any connection between publication of the letter and Lamont’s arrest. The government official said the bishop’s activities had been under investigation long before the letter was sent to Smith and members of Parliament. He was charged with two counts of not reporting the presence of accused terrorists in his missions and two counts of instructing his missionaries not to report them.
In the correspondence, Lamont had suggested that church missions and hospitals might be justified in giving illegal assistance—in the form of medical and pastoral care—to anti-government guerrillas. The bishop also rejected the legitimacy of the Smith government, claiming that the prime minister ruled without consent of the nation. He described the minority electorate that keeps Smith in office as “small and selfish.”
The letter was published the day after Umtali was shelled by guerrillas from across the border in Mozambique. The bishop was not jailed after his arrest, but a September trial date was set.
A Rhodesian Methodist minister who has been an officer in the African National Council, Henry Kachidza, was arrested and ordered detained for a year without trial, according to reports reaching London. He is a former secretary of the Bible society in Rhodesia.
In another development, a Congregational mission at Chipinga near the Mozambique border was ordered closed.
Baptists In Japan
Taking a great stride forward in the eyes of both pastors and missionaries, the Japan Baptist Convention (JBC), voted self-support in its thirtieth annual session.
Dependent financially on the Foreign Missions Board of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the JBC is receiving $159,000 this year from the United States. The SBC has sent funds for more than eighty years, according to Hoshikazu Nakajima, JBC executive secretary.
Beginning in January, the 175 churches (with 24,000 members) in the JBC are requesting $64,000 less, asking American support for only the Seinan Gakuin Seminary in Fukuoka. With a current enrollment of thirty, the seminary is costing the Southern Baptists $95,000 a year; in five years the JBC aims to pick up the total tab.
The JBC has 241 pastors and other full-time church workers, and it supports one missionary couple in Brazil. Southern Baptist missionaries from America wield no power in the JBC except as church members.
The annual meeting was described as the “most peaceful convention of recent years.” Most pastors could recall the late 1960s and early 1970s, when radical student groups disrupted religious conventions all over Japan, wearing helmets, waving red flags, and shouting slogans against “the establishment.” During those years certain pastors were taken bodily from the pulpit as radical students shouted, “We are going to preach today!” (The largest Protestant body in Japan, and perhaps the hardest hit—the 200,000-adherent, 1,600-congregation Nihon Kirisuto Kyodan [Church of Christ in Japan]—has not fully recovered yet. Bitterness and disagreements continue, and no pastors have been ordained since the student demonstrations began eight years ago.)
Nakajima, who is stepping down as JBC executive secretary after thirteen years, is credited by fellow Baptist leaders with “seeing us through” the riots. Formerly a Communist leader, he has been both iron-fisted and tender in overseeing the work, according to his colleagues.
Although Southern Baptist work in Japan is eighty-seven years old, the JBC itself is a post-war organization, as are most Protestant groups in Japan. The first SBC missionaries, two couples, arrived in Japan in 1889, just seventeen years after the first Protestant church (Dutch Reformed) was established, in Yokohama. In the early years the country was divided geographically between American (then Northern) Baptists and Southern Baptists; conferences were held jointly. In 1940 the two groups united to form the Japan Baptist Convention. In 1941, under a government edict, the JBC was one of thirty-four denominations forced to unite under the Kyodan church. It was also one of many that withdrew right after World War II.
One of the oldest pastors in the JBC, Shichiuemon Mugino, 72, remembers the pressure of the war years when the government required emperor worship. During the war, he recalls, Christians as well as all other “subjects” were required to bow toward the Ise shrine on designated holidays, to honor ancestors, to receive the talisman of the shrine of the sun goddess with respect, to have prayers and special meetings to pray for war victory, and to bow before the emperor’s photo or before his words whenever they were read to an audience. Some Holiness pastors who refused to comply were sent to prison, and others were sent to work in the coal mines.
Under the freedom now enjoyed in Japan, the JBC is concentrating on establishing new churches (sixty-five “mission points” are already being serviced). It is the largest of several Baptist bodies in Japan. In conjunction with other churches the JBC has also embarked on a study mission: it wants to know what the church can do about pollution, the imprisonment of Christians in Korea, and the Yasukuni Shrine situation. In the last ten years the government of Japan has given money to this Shinto shrine in connection with the worship of the war dead. In the post-war constitution that was drawn up under the late General Douglas MacArthur, church and state were declared separate. The JBC is intent on making that declaration stick.
NELL L. KENNEDY
Guatemala: Walls Of Love
More than six months after the devastating earthquake that killed 25,000 in Guatemala, evangelical relief efforts are still going strong—despite a dispute in the cooperative evangelical agency administering much of the aid.
Although it is impossible to calculate the total amount of aid channeled through missions, churches, and Christian relief agencies, it makes up a substantial portion of the estimated $60 million in materials and financial help received from nongovernment sources.
Temporary and permanent housing has been the biggest priority since the initial emergency situation passed. Over one million were left homeless by the February 4 quake, the worst disaster in Central American history. Tens of thousands are still living in flimsy shacks of cardboard or corn stalks and plastic—and this year’s rains have been the hardest in recent times.
At least 10,000 housing units have been constructed or are planned by various evangelical agencies. Most are being sold at subsidy with very low monthly payments. Tens of thousands of temporary shelters have also been provided. The Mennonite Central Committee, for example, is building 1,300 homes. CEMEC, the emergency committee of the Calvary Churches, a Pentecostal group, has built 1,500 temporary dwellings and is planning in cooperation with the government a permanent housing project of some 1,500 homes in an area “invaded” by landless squatters after the quake. Lutherans have built 400 houses in Zacapa and have plans for 600 more and a complete community development program. The Salvation Army is building 500 homes in Tecpán. The Central American Mission (CAM), while not directly involved in construction, donated materials for 2,600 homes. Thousands of volunteers from North America traveled to Guatemala to help rebuild homes and churches and to lend a hand in other projects.
Reconstruction of the estimated 500 evangelical churches destroyed is also under way. CAM and the Assemblies of God suffered the heaviest losses; each had about 130 churches affected. Thirty-four of the thirty-five Primitive Methodist church buildings were damaged.
A newspaper editorial by a well-known Catholic columnist recently commended the evangelicals for the speed with which they rebuilt their churches, while most of the Catholic churches still lie in ruins. A number of the massive, centuries-old Catholic churches were architectural treasures, and the government may help restore some of them.
Insurance on all the Presbyterian churches had lapsed just weeks before the quake. The United Presbyterian Church U.S.A. sent aid to Church World Service (CWS), the relief arm of the National Council of Churches (U.S.), which channeled it to CEPA, the Permanent Evangelical Committee for Aid of the Evangelical Alliance of Guatemala. The funds were not available for rebuilding churches. Members of the Eastminster Presbyterian Church of Wichita, Kansas, hearing of the plight, scaled down plans for their new educational complex and sent the $ 180,000 savings to Guatemala to reconstruct the thirty Presbyterian churches destroyed.
Much of the initial emergency aid was channeled through CEPA, which represents a majority of the denominations within the country (several of the larger groups, however, comprising perhaps over half of the evangelical population, are not members). But CEPA, which received help from agencies such as Food for the Hungry, King’s Garden World Concern, MAP, and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, came under fire early in the operation for receiving substantial backing from CWS. In general, Guatemalan evangelicals are strongly conservative and highly suspicious of anything that smacks of ecumenism.
Unhappiness over the relations with CWS and other groups, as well as with the administration of programs, led to a shakeup within CEPA in July. Executive director Virgilio Zapata was succeeded by Jose Francisco Solorzano, a pastor of the Pentecostal Church of God of America. It was uncertain how much the change of leadership and reported financial difficulties would affect CEPA’s programs, which include twenty-four nutritional centers for children, seven health centers, literacy programs, and community development. CEPA staff was cut 40 per cent and salaries reduced. Two housing projects totaling 500 units, with help from CWS and Good Will Caravans of Costa Rica, were nearing completion and were not affected. Another CEPA project, an evangelical hospital for which equipment has been donated, is awaiting finalization of a grant of land from the city.
A statement by the Evangelical Alliance of Guatemala, CEPA’s parent body, repeated a declaration made last year that it has no links, direct or indirect, with any group that fosters “Catholic-Protestant ecumenism” or with the World Council of Churches and similar groups.
A CWS spokesman, meanwhile, denied that it has any relationship with the WCC. “If we were the World Council’s agent here,” he said, “why would they have their own man here?” CWS has channeled about $2.5 million into relief and reconstruction through CEPA and other groups. At present it is not aiding CEPA.
The disaster and the evangelical response have had a profound spiritual effect on the Guatemalan people. Hundreds of conversions were reported in the first days following the quake, and the open climate for the Gospel has continued. Many churches have mounted special evangelistic efforts. CAM, for example, reports some 1,500 decisions and 400 baptisms so far as a result of a widespread but low-key program of literature distribution, visitation, and short local campaigns.
On the whole, evangelical efforts to help the victims of Guatemala’s earthquake have made a solid impression on Christians and non-Christians alike and on the government. A pastor in the village of Petapa summed up the feelings of many of his fellow countrymen as he tried to express his appreciation to a group of American young people who had been rebuilding his church. “With the difference in language, we haven’t been able to communicate very well,” he said, “but every time we look at these walls, we will know that you love us.”
In another development, Guatemala’s Catholic bishops last month released a statement calling for extensive land reform and a more just distribution of wealth. The paper pointed out that 70 per cent of the people make an average of $42 per year. It charged that large landholders deprived poor farmers of lands they cultivated for centuries, resulting in violent outbreaks, and the document hit hard at government policies that reinforce Guatemala’s “repressive” circumstances. It cited hunger, illiteracy, juvenile delinquency, corruption of government officials, and the like. The needs of the people are “grievous and basic,” said the bishops.
STEPHEN R. SYWULKA
Private agencies that assisted Guatemala in the aftermath of the recent earthquake (see story above) generally were given high marks for their efforts by the U. S. Comptroller General’s office, the fiscal watchdog for Congress. The forty-page report, however, was critical of a lack of coordination. It recommended that a “government-established system” be set up in the future to ensure “the most effective use of all resources.” Part of the aid supplied by the private agencies came from the U. S. government; hence congressional interest.
CARITAS (Catholic Relief Services) and CARE were cited as among the larger voluntary agencies having “well-developed infrastructures throughout the country, built up over their long-term development in Guatemala.” As a result, said the report, during the chaotic first days following the disaster, they were receiving information on what was needed from their workers and contacts throughout the country.
The report noted that the “smaller voluntary organizations and those without ongoing programs in Guatemala did not have the capabilities to determine what was needed, where it was needed, or how to get it there. They were, therefore, more dependent on the Guatemalan government for information, direction, and logistics support.” The larger agencies meanwhile carried out their own programs based on their own information. This resulted in “a considerable potential for duplication of effort and, even more, for failure to meet all needs as quickly as possible.”
What should have been established, said the report, was a central information-gathering and analysis point that would have given an hour-by-hour picture of what was needed and where, and that would have provided liaison among all the voluntary agencies as well as with the government.
Other “major voluntary agencies” listed in the report were: the Salvation Army, Seventh-day Adventist Welfare Service, Baptist World Alliance, Church World Service, OXFAM/World Neighbors, Mennonite Central Committee, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Permanent Evangelical Committee, Save the Children Federation, and the Red Cross. The estimated monetary value of supplies provided by the voluntary agencies is more than $20 million, the report adds.
Easing Transplant Shock
Nineteen months ago a plan combining church-growth strategy and mass evangelism was put into motion in Rosario, the second largest city of predominantly Catholic Argentina (metropolitan population: 1.5 million). One goal was the establishment of sixty-eight new churches by this September. As of July, thirty-five new house churches had been founded.
Seventy pastors and leaders of the evangelical community in Rosario gathered last September for a church-growth workshop conducted by specialists from Argentina and the United States. Another workshop was conducted this month to evaluate progress and to provide more push. Leaders included Vergil Gerber of Evangelical Missions Information Service, Wilfred Bellamy, formerly general secretary of the New Life For All movement in Africa, and members of the Luis Palau evangelistic team, originators of the Rosario experiment.
Palau will open a three-week crusade in a Rosario stadium on October 25. Concurrently, his associates will hold crusades in neighboring cities. And there will be live television shows nightly using a question-answer format. Interested viewers will be directed to a counseling center near them (hundreds of counselors have already been trained to man some two dozen centers). Converts will then be directed into the newly formed house churches. In this way, Palau hopes to ease the transplant shock that has hindered effective follow-up of converts in past crusades.
Church-growth expert Donald McGavran of Fuller Seminary, for one, is keeping an eye on Rosario. He says it “may prove to be a breakthrough in evangelism and a model for future mass evangelistic efforts all over the world.”
Religion In Transit
A Massachusetts law prescribing a period of silence for meditation or prayer in public schools does not violate the constitutional provisions of the First Amendment, a three-judge federal court panel ruled in Boston. The 1966 law was adopted after the U. S. Supreme Court ruled against prayer in the schools. It provided for a minute of silent meditation but was amended in 1973 to allow for meditation “or prayer.” The case involved a battle mainly between a unit of the American Civil Liberties Union and the new pro-prayer Christian Civil Liberties Union, founded by Rita Warren of Brockton, Massachusetts.
First, some church people (including influential persons in government) raised their voices against the controversial song, “It Was on a Friday Morning,” in the new Armed Forces hymnal. They applauded when it was ordered to be excised or opaqued in Veterans Administration institutions by VA chief of chaplains James Rogers (see August 6 issue, page 40). Now some other church people are hollering. Leon A. Dickinson, Jr., chaplaincy liaison officer with the United Church of Christ, accused Rogers of caving in to “petty religious opinions of the powerful,” and he questioned whether the order constituted “unlawful defacement and destruction of government property.” And, says executive James A. Christison of the American Baptist Churches. “We can’t allow government officials to censor books like this.…”
“Those who argue that the cross is a mere secular symbol ignore 2,000 years of history,” said the Oregon Court of Appeals in ruling that a fifty-one-foot-high cross in a city park in Eugene is unconstitutional (it violates church-state separation). The court was not swayed by a 1970 city charter amendment designating the cross, built in the 1960s, a war memorial.
The Hartford Seminary Foundation’s library of 240,000 books, pamphlets, and periodicals has been shipped to the 500-student Candler School of Theology (United Methodist) at Emory University in suburban Atlanta. The $1.75 million transaction stemmed from Hartford’s 1972 decision to change from training future church workers to servicing those already in the clergy.
Teen Challenge has a 70 per cent cure rate from addiction and is the “best drug rehabilitation program around,” according to a government-financed report submitted to the National Institute of Drug Abuse in Washington. The emphasis on the spiritual is what makes the difference, according to physician Catherine B. Hess, who conducted the $150,000 research project. Expressing surprise at the findings, she said she had felt previously that the best answer lay in methadone, a substitute drug.
After eighteen years and more than 700 sermons, Southern Baptist Herschel H. Hobbs, 68, is bowing out as preacher on The Baptist Hour, a radio broadcast aired on 394 stations. His final message was scheduled for September 26.
The U.S. government has given its seventy-seven-acre, seventy-building former Valley Forge Army Hospital to the 475-student Northeast Bible College, related to the Assemblies of God denomination. The college will move to Valley Forge from Green Lane. Pennsylvania, in January and change its name to Valley Forge Christian College. Northeast got the property after Pennsylvania failed to come up with enough money to convert it into a state veterans’ home.
Bishop Myron F. Boyd, a well-known Free Methodist Church leader and broadcaster who suffered a crippling stroke a year ago, has retired.
Argentine-born evangelist Luis Palau was named president of Overseas Crusades, the California-based mission agency with which he has been associated for some years. He succeeds OC’s founder, Dick Hillis, 63, who stays on as “Senior Counselor.”
Scottish-born George Docherty has retired as pastor of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. He succeeded the renowned Peter Marshall there twenty-six years ago, and he was deeply involved in civil-rights activities during the 1960s.
A Catholic priest working in Mozambique is quoted in an Italian weekly as saying that the leaders of the FRELIMO party are pushing church people aside in their efforts to create a Marxist society without God. The same ones, he observes, whom “many of us helped in the liberation … from colonialism just about manage to put up with us now, and nationalize all our educational and welfare institutions. They confiscate our car, which we need to keep in touch with our congregations.… In short, they do not actually expel us from Mozambique, but they take everything away from us so that we go ‘voluntarily.’ ”
More than 250 churchgoers in the Soviet city of Sverdlovsk have appealed to General Secretary Philip Potter of the World Council of Churches to help them get rid of their bishop, who, they allege, is not fulfilling his pastoral duties. They accuse Bishop Kliment of reducing the number of priests in the city, cutting back on services, and seldom officiating in the cathedral, according to a document given Western reporters by dissidents.
Discussions in the Soviet Union between clergy of the Church of England and the Russian Orthodox Church resulted in agreement on little. The Orthodox were especially apprehensive about the possible Anglican approval of ordination of women. If that happens, they warned, it “will create a very serious obstacle to the development of our relations in the future.” Elsewhere, the Vatican recently published an exchange of letters between Archbishop of Canterbury Donald Coggan and Pope Paul VI. The Pope expressed concern similar to that of the Orthodox about the effects of women’s ordination.
Death: Herman Otto Erich Sasse, 81, of Adelaide, Australia, a renowned Lutheran theologian and evangelical statesman.
Communist-dominated coalitions now run local governments covering more than one-third of Italy, and the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano claims the Communist “escalation against Catholic educational and welfare institutions is in full swing.” One example: Communists set up municipal nursery schools and end subsidies to those run by parish churches. As a result, hundreds of church-owned schools have been forced to close.
Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski of Poland has turned 75 but will stay on the job indefinitely. Although he has clashed with both the government and the Vatican in the past, both want him to stay because of the loyalty he commands among the country’s 30 million Catholics—90 per cent of the population. In Poland, unlike other former Catholic countries in eastern Europe, the Catholic Church has gotten stronger since the Communists came to power.
One million public school children ages 12 to 19 in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro will receive a copy of the Portuguese edition of the Living New Testament over the next two years. A request for the volumes was made by the state director of education, and fulfillment arrangements were made by Living Bibles International, World Home Bible League, and Brazilian church leaders.
The Dutch have only two channels from which to select their after-dinner TV viewing. On Thursday evenings during prime time, the five-year-old Evangelical Broadcasting Company airs two and one-half hours of Christian programming on one of those channels, and the government pays the bills (as it does with other broadcasting companies). Air time is allotted in proportion to the number of private supporters. EBC has 155,000 and is shooting for 250,000, according to World Wide Challenge.
LUTHER A. WEIGLE, 95, United Church of Christ clergyman, Yale educator, champion of prayer and Bible reading in public schools, and ecumenist who chaired the committee that produced the Revised Standard Version of the Bible; in New Haven, Connecticut.
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