School assemblies are cancelled but crusade draws crowds.
Billy Graham was a relative unknown when he preached in Baltimore in 1949. Poor attendance during his 12-day crusade in the Lyric Theater showed that.
But times have changed, and Graham’s influence has become far greater. When the evangelist held eight days of meetings last month in Baltimore, an average of 30,000 gathered nightly at Memorial Stadium—home of the baseball Orioles, who were on a road trip. At least 12,000 people took the field during the meetings, going to the speaker’s platform to declare personal commitments to Jesus Christ.
Graham team officials seemed pleased by the response, and they praised local news media and community support. Baltimore Mayor William Schaeffer welcomed the evangelist at a Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast for 4,000 business and civic leaders. Welcoming Graham later at a crusade meeting, the mayor said, “There is more to a city that just buildings; it is spiritual rebirth that we are looking for.”
Clergy from more than 700 churches united behind the crusade. Organizers worked especially hard to get black churches involved; the city’s population is 60 percent black. Eddie A. Montgomery, president of the Baltimore Evangelical Ministers Association, said, “We in the black churches have really been promoting this crusade. This is the best we have had in Baltimore.”
The only low point came before the meetings began. Crusade-sponsored assemblies in public schools—a standard part of the team’s advance work—were canceled midway through the schedule in Baltimore.
Several teachers at Northwestern High School complained to the American Civil Liberties Union after Baltimore Colts defensive tackle Joe Ehrmann’s Christian testimony during two assemblies there. The ACLU threatened legal action if remaining school assemblies were not cancelled, and school officials complied.
Following the Baltimore meetings, Graham’s coming crusades were scheduled for Calgary, Alberta, Canada; San Jose, California; and Houston, Texas. But the biggest news was Graham’s recently announced massive three-week New England crusade in 1982—one of his most ambitious in years.
Graham team official Sterling Houston said one-night meetings will be held in major cities of the six New England states. There will also be eight days in Boston Garden, and a series of meetings at New England colleges and universities.
God’S Good Gaucho And Roundup Time In Glasgow
They liked Luis Palau in Scotland’s largest city. He kicked off his five-week crusade by drawing to the Kelvin Hall four times as many people as leading Socialist Tony Benn got at a political rally nearby. He ended with an overflow crowd of 11,000. Altogether, 5,095 went forward at the invitation of the 46-year-old evangelist dubbed by one columnist “God’s good gaucho.” With gifts still arriving, organizers expected that the $700,000 budget would be met comfortably.
Palau struck up a remarkable rapport with the Scots—not only because of admitting to “a Scotch Presbyterian great-grandfather who was much more into Scotch than Presbyterianism.” He did some thin-ice skating, such as telling people in an area with a high incidence of joblessness to thank God they were unemployed (“it gives you more time to pray”), and criticizing theological professors for allegedly undermining their students’ faith in the authority of Scripture. One union leader, whose industry had been decimated by closures, said: “He promises pie in the sky tomorrow; we try to put meat in the pot today.”
Though the Kirk’s general assembly was in session during the crusade, the Argentinian visitor was not invited to address the fathers and brethren. When this raised some eyebrows, an official spokesman declared: “Such a visit does not really fit into the general pattern of the assembly, which is a business meeting.” A prominent evangelical called this “disingenuous when the assembly has in recent years given a platform to political leaders and Roman Catholic bishops.”
Palau took the rebuff with equanimity. “There is plenty of work to do here in Glasgow,” he said.
But if the church establishment was un-enthusiastic, civic leaders joined with the common people and with individual ministers of all denominations in receiving him gladly. Lord Provost (mayor) Michael Kelly, himself Roman Catholic, gave Palau a civic reception.
“For the first time in this generation,” commented crusade chairman William Alston, “the gospel is the focus of attention in the community because the crusade has made it easy for us reserved Scots to talk about the gospel.”
The meetings were advertised on the sides of buses, in railroad stations, and in pedestrian precincts. Few among Glasgow’s 800,000 citizens were unaware of the crusade. “We don’t want any Brazilian coming here telling us about God,” shouted a man on the city’s subway to passengers on their way to Kelvin Hall.
Palau preached in Glasgow Cathedral, spoke at universities and colleges, visited pubs, talked with teen-agers on the street and shipyard workers on Clydeside, was a guest of the duke of Argyll in his castle, and participated in many TV and radio programs and newspaper interviews. He got a good press. “There is no play on the emotions,” conceded one national magazine, speaking of the inquirers, “they walk off as matter-of-factly as if he had asked for volunteers to help with the washing-up.”
The Glasgow crusade—the longest of Palau’s ministry so far—has been regarded by many as a steppingstone to a major mission in London in 1983, in association with British evangelists. Palau has also met a deputation from Northern Ireland to discuss the possibility of meetings there.
J. D. DOUGLAS
Zimbabwe Anglicans Get Their First Black Bishop
For the first time in its 91-year history, the 150,000-member Anglican Church in Zimbabwe—the country’s largest Protestant denomination—last month enthroned a black bishop as head of a diocese. He is 54-year-old Peter Hatendi, or Bishop Peter, as he is popularly known among the people.
The Zimbabwe Herald, Africa’s largest morning daily, praised the May election of Hatendi in an editorial: “The election of Bishop Hatendi is itself a manifestation of the new Zimbabwe,” it said. It added that “only if it is headed by Zimbabweans can the church escape the tag of propagating a ‘foreign religion’ ”
Hatendi was installed as bishop of the Mashonaland diocese, replacing Paul Burrough, who retired in May after 13 years in the post.
(There have been two autonomous Anglican dioceses in Zimbabwe: Mashonaland for the majority Shona people, and Matabeleland for the Ndebele tribal grouping; creation of two additional dioceses was planned.)
The Anglican church came to Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) with European settlers in 1890. Anglican and Roman Catholic chaplains accompanied the settlers from South Africa. At first, Anglicans had no intention of evangelizing blacks. But Bishop George Knight-Bruce arrived in 1891 and plunged directly into evangelism among them. Some blacks resisted the gospel, and African catechist Bernard Mizeki was murdered, becoming the country’s first Christian martyr.
Until now, says Bishop Hatendi, the Anglican church has never been integrated. Although whites have been sympathetic toward blacks, the two segments of the church have grown along parallel but separate lines. One of Hatendi’s goals is to foster racial unity, not by force, but through love. Anything less, the new bishop maintains, means a “failure to witness for Christ,” since Christ prayed that his church might be one.
Because of his wide cross-cultural experience, Hatendi seems equipped for his job. The former school teacher responded to his call to the ministry in 1954, attributing his decision to his “gratitude to the Lord for his salvation.” He trained for the ministry at Saint Peter’s Theological College in South Africa.
In 1963, after some years in the ministry in Zimbabwe, Hatendi went to England. There he became the first black curator of South Ormsby in Lincolnshire. After two years in that parish, he took advanced theology studies at Kings College, Cambridge. From 1968 to 1972 he was a tutor at an Anglican seminary in Zambia. He then worked with the Bible Society of Zambia until 1975, when he was transferred to Nairobi, Kenya, as the United Bible Societies distribution consultant for the Africa region.
Hatendi returned to Zimbabwe in 1978 and was elected a suffragan bishop in 1979. He inherits a white-led church. Although the rural parishes almost disintegrated because of the war, Hatendi’s outlook is positive. He contends that the birth of Zimbabwe a year ago was not a threat to the church, but a challenge and an opportunity for it to become self-reliant and free to obey its Head. He warns, however, that the church should not conform to the strong current of cultural nationalism. Rather, he said in an interview, it “should be the church of God, a unique and obedient communion, a ferment of reconciliation, peace, and friendship.…”
In dealing with a still racially divided society, he said, his church must go beyond mere coexistence and promote good relations. For that reason Hatendi sees his role as dual: being both a bridge builder and a bridge.
The group of persecuted Presbyterians in rural, southern Mexico received some justice last month (CT, May 29, p. 35). A governmental armed escort returned the group of about 300 to their village, San Lorenzo Temexlupan. They had taken refuge at San Pablo Presbyterian Church in the city of Oaxaca after suffering violent persecution. Two church leaders were murdered, many believers were burned out of their homes, and others had their property and livestock confiscated. No arrests were reported, although most got back their properties. The village’s isolation (not accessible by road) slowed the investigation. Sources blamed the violence on Catholic fanatics, incited by local pro-Marxist officials.
Improved relations between Cuba and Nicaragua have allowed Southern Baptists to provide literature to their Cuban counterparts. Southern Baptist missionary Stanley Stamps told the Baptist Press he gave Bibles, hymnals, and commentaries to 40 Cuban Baptist leaders over the past 18 months. At least six churches are using the new Spanish hymnal. Books were also sent to the Baptist Seminary in Havana. Lack of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba prevents direct shipment of Spanish-language literature.
Four Roman Catholic priests, all top government officials in Nicaragua, were asked by their church hierarchy to leave their secular jobs and return to the active priesthood. However, Maryknoller Miguel D’Escoto, head of the foreign ministry; Ernesto Cardenal, in charge of the ministry of culture; Edgard Parrales, of the ministry of social welfare; and Fernando Cardenal, in charge of the Sandinista’s youth movement, have resisted the order. Catholics throughout Latin America are closely watching the outcome.
Irish Presbyterians elected a leading evangelical, John Girvan, as moderator. The general assembly, meeting last month in Belfast, Northern Ireland, also was addressed by Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie—but only after a row. A motion to withdraw the invitation to Runcie was made by those who object to the Anglican primate’s alleged Anglo-Catholic position, directed toward reunion with the Roman Catholic church. It was rejected, and 50 assembly members walked out in protest.
Charismatic Christians in West Germany made their biggest showing to date with “Berlin ’81,” their mass rally last month in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium. At times, over 30,000 gathered in the 78,000-seat stadium. Organizer Vokhard Spitzer said he had seen it filled to capacity in a vision that inspired him to launch the project. Spitzer and his Christian Center in Berlin were roundly criticized prior to the event by state church Lutherans and by Catholics and free churches of both liberal and evangelical stripes, but were not drawn in to counterattacks. The meetings, featuring mostly testimonies instead of sermons or Bible studies, were conducted too much along American lines for many, but critics acknowledged they were orderly and free of excesses.
Dancing has been ruled out as an activity of the “Y” in Norway. The board of the YMCA and YWCA there voted unanimously, saying dancing is not fit for creating a sound, Christian milieu. They urged Christian youth groups that sponsor dancing to reconsider.
Eastern Orthodox member churches in the World Council of Churches have again served notice that they expect more attention in the ecumenical body. At a May consultation of some 30 Orthodox delegates and WCC staff in Sofia, Bulgaria, the Eastern churches demanded a “substantial strengthening” of their representation at all decision-making levels of the WCC “in proportion to their membership and historical importance.” They also asked that Greek be made an official working language of the WCC, and for introduction of a weighted voting procedure in adopting theological texts. This would alter the current situation in which, they complained, the more numerous “churches of the Reformation can easily reject” a position taken by the Orthodox members. Otherwise, the Orthodox delegates said, they might be compelled to return to their former “practice of [issuing] separate texts.”
Pentecostal believers in Medias, Romania, have been stymied for nearly two years by withdrawal of a building permit. Based on oral permission, the 200 to 300 members of one church had already built the basement for their new building when authorities ordered them to stop, and cut off gas and electricity. The temporarily roofed-over structure has no windows, so the believers meet using oil lamps for light and wood fires for heat—filling the building in winter with smoke.
Four Romanian Baptist pastors are being charged with embezzling church funds by the Department of Religion. The four (out of 30) pastors in the Bucharest district are among the most respected in the country and hold leadership positions in the denomination. The charges are clearly trumped up: the Department of Religion holds pastors responsible for all church finances, forbids withdrawals from bank accounts without its permission (which can take years to obtain), and thus drives the churches to deal on a cash basis. The department has attacked the four for supposedly inadequate documentation, although they have receipts and have kept careful financial records, as have the other pastors. It is attempting to blackmail the other pastors by informing them that irregularities have been found in their books, but that if they will keep silent and not speak up for the four, no charges will be made.
West Africa’s Mandingo people, made famous by Alex Haley’s Roots, are showing increased interest in gospel programs broadcast by Radio ELWA in Monrovia, Liberia. ELWA broadcaster Jomah Kamara, one of the few Mandingo Christians, recently visited a small city 150 miles from Monrovia for the first meeting with Mandingo listeners who correspond with ELWA. They urged him to stay seven days—three more than his planned three or four days. Before he left, the chief of the city asked him to return, and promised the use of the city hall to show Christian films.
The Mozambique government has eased restrictions on Christians, but many churches remain closed. According to Ron Mathies, Mennonite missionary to Swaziland, 28 Anglican and 2 United Methodist churches are still closed, six years after President Samora Machel took office and pledged to transform the country into “the first truly Marxist state in Africa.” However, Protestant pastors in some areas recently regained the right to conduct weddings and funerals, pray for the sick in hospitals, and even to work in cooperation with the government in assistance programs. “We no longer hear the old slogan, ‘Down with religion—God does not exist,’ ” said the general secretary of the Christian Council of Mozambique, I.D. Mahlalela.
Two days of rioting shattered the peace between Muslims and Christians in a poor section of Cairo, Egypt, last month. Crowds of Muslim youths burned the belongings of Christians living in the predominantly Muslim neighborhood, while elsewhere Christians took similar vengeance on Muslim property. Violence apparently erupted after a Christian accidentally threw garbage on his Muslim neighbor’s balcony. They exchanged insults, and bystanders joined in the ensuing fight. The Christian and Muslim communities were already disputing over a 180-square-meter plot where Christians wanted to build a church and the Muslims, a mosque. Rumors, spread about a Christian opening fire on Muslims praying at the site, deteriorated the situation. Tens of thousands of riot police restored order in the first sectarian rioting in Cairo.
Israeli Religious Minister Aharon Abuhatzeira, recently acquitted of bribery charges (CT, Nov. 7, 1980, p. 94), will now stand trial for embezzlement. The new charges alleged that Abuhatzeira embezzled a benevolent fund named for his father while he was mayor of Ramle. Abuhatzeira has broken from the National Religious Party to form his own independent Sephardic party: TAMI, a Hebrew acronym for “the Movement for Israeli Tradition.” The charges also renewed tensions between the country’s politically and culturally dominant Ashkenasi Jews of European background and the numerically larger Sephardic Jews from the Middle East and North Africa.
A mass demonstration accused the Christian community of Rehovot, Israel, of being supported by S.S. Nazi money. In the May incident, 350 demonstrators, including the city’s chief rabbi, also alleged that the Christians sought to continue the extermination of jews begun in the Holocaust. The crowds dispersed after police moved in to guard the home of Baruch Maoz, a Jewish-Christian worker for the London-based Christian Witness for Israel. Since then, the municipal religious council and Yad Le’achim (a government-subsidized organization whose basic purpose is educational work among immigrants, but which also has a strong antimissionary thrust) have mounted a mail and poster campaign calling for violence and harassment against the Maoz family and the Christian community.
Angry mobs attacked two churches in Sidon, Lebanon, following shelling of the area by Israeli planes in April. Muslim political leaders quickly came to the defense of Christian leaders, averting further clashes. Christians in the area fear further Israeli shelling will lead to physical attacks on them. While Israel has claimed it is acting in defense of Christians, a study last month by the Christian Science Monitor showed that church leaders are reluctant to reduce the many-layered Lebanese conflict to sectarian terms.
“What’s this, some kind of Christian Marxism?” asked a puzzled reporter in the Deccan Herland last month. He was referring to the seventh assembly of the Christian Conference of Asia just concluded in Bangalore, India. The columnist professed to be mystified by Christians who gather in luxury hotels to talk about the world’s oppressed, who disapprove of converting people to Christiaity, and who work against established governments.
The spiritual awakening in the Cambodian refugee camps appears to have run its course. At the Khao I Dang holding center on the Thailand border, for instance, only about 200 of a reduced population of 45,000 are church attenders today. The camp reached a peak population of 130,000 in July 1980, and at the time it was claimed there were “at least 26,000 converts” (CT, Oct. 24, 1980, p. 70). Some informed sources now say they believe the figure was closer to 10,000 converts, still a remarkable figure for refugees from a country that had fewer than 6,000 believers total before the mass exodus.
Indonesian evangelicals have formed their own missions fellowship. Gathered in Batu, East Java, in May for a missions consultation, representatives of 32 organizations created the fellowship to stimulate missionary outreach from Indonesia to other areas, and elected veteran evangelist Petrus Octavianus as chairman, and M. S. Anwari, of World Vision’s Indonesian affiliate, vice-chairman. The Indonesian authorities registered approval of the step by sending a representative of the Christian Religion General Directorate from Jakarta to address the meeting.
Vatican relations with China worsened after the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association last month called illegal the Pope’s appointment of 73-year-old Bishop Dominic Tang Yiming as archbishop of Kuang-chon (Canton). The group’s statement also said the move interfered with the affairs of the Chinese church. The Patriotic Association, formed as an organization independent of the Vatican by the Communists after their 1949 takeover, recently named Tang as bishop of Canton. Jailed in 1958, after being charged as a counterrevolutionary for his strong opposition to the association, Tang was released in June last year. The papal announcement made him the first Chinese archbishop the Vatican appointed since 1955.
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