Robert Runcie, the archbishop of Canterbury, is the first Western church leader to be officially received by the Chinese government. During his visit last December he tried to build bridges between British and Chinese Protestants. But more important, he wanted to determine the extent of religious freedom in the world’s most populous atheistic state.
For two weeks, Runcie was escorted by Ding Guangxun, president of the China Christian Council (CCC) and the leader of China’s official Protestant church. Ding says there are three million Protestants in China. However, reliable China observers say there are at least 20 million.
The disparate figures are easily explained: Ding ignores China’s massive house-church movement, which consists of millions who have chosen to worship illegally rather than submit to government regulation. The movement blossomed in the midst of severe persecution during China’s Cultural Revolution (1966–76). However, after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 and the subsequent political uncertainty, toleration of religion increased. Underground churches began to go public.
But religious freedom has its limits. Unable to halt the growth of Christianity, the government took steps to regulate it. In 1979, China’s Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), dormant for almost 20 years, was revived. Its constitution describes it as the “anti-imperialist, patriotic organization of Chinese Christians.” In addition, in 1980 the government established the CCC as TSPM’s sister organization to oversee Christian activities.
The government has sought to enroll all Chinese Christians in TSPM and to convince the world that its citizens enjoy full religious freedom. Since 1980, TSPM has printed more than 135,000 Bibles. But they are available only to members of the state-regulated church. And most of China’s Christians find unacceptable TSPM’s restrictions on evangelism, contacts with Christians overseas, and radio broadcasts, among other things.
Even so, TSPM has attracted some former house-church members. After spending years underground, they found the prospect of free, open worship too refreshing to resist. The increase in TSPM’s popularity has been accompanied by growing suppression of the house-church movement.
In 1982, the Communist party issued its definitive religious policy, stating that house-church meetings “should in principle not be permitted.” House-church leaders are frequently arrested, and Christian literature is often confiscated.
Runcie walked a tightrope in China on the issue of religious freedom. The evangelical Chinese Church Research Center, based in Hong Kong, reports that the Anglican leader “is aware of evangelical reports on China, but has chosen to make public friends in the hope that he can retain some private influence with the Three-Self leaders.”
“I have seen evidence that there are more churches opened, more Bibles available,” Runcie said, “and I can only assume that is the result of less political pressure against such things.” But he did not say China had achieved full religious freedom. And he doesn’t endorse the government policy that all church contacts with the West be channeled through Communist authorities. Chinese officials try to control foreign contacts because they suspect political motivations. Recently, two well-known Chinese Christians were executed. Evidence indicates they were working for the overthrow of the Communist government.
Meanwhile, millions of Chinese Christians—fearing persecution but wanting to remain faithful to the task of the church—must choose between China’s two churches. Hopeful that conditions will improve, they are thankful for the meager freedom they enjoy.
North American Scene
The Unification Church has launched an unprecedented national campaign to increase its membership. For the next three years, international teams of followers of Sun Myung Moon, the church’s leader, will rotate from city to city at three-week intervals. Fifty teams of 25 to 50 members each are planning “evangelistic” crusades in the nation’s major cities. They plan to spread their belief that Moon is the new messiah whose purpose is to complete the unfinished work of Christ. The membership drive is accompanied by a message that America is in trouble if it does not “stand up against immorality and communism.”
Instead of the Ten Commandments, quotations of American Presidents about the Bible are on display in Campbellsville, Kentucky, public schools. A 1980 U.S. Supreme Court decision struck down a Kentucky law requiring the posting of the Ten Commandments. When the Campbellsville school district opened its new high school, the board of education voted to decorate the walls with the words of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan.
An estimated 30,000 people at 56 sites viewed a live satellite broadcast of the December dedication of the Church Satellite Network (CSN). President Reagan called the launching of CSN “a significant advance in satellite communications.” And he recognized “the thoughtful leadership of those committed to utilizing the most modern means in the promotion of religious values.” Advertising agency president Michael Ellison, and Thomas Zimmerman, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, were instrumental in establishing the network.
Atheists in Denver, Colorado, are protesting a proposal to convert two federal warehouses into shelters for the homeless. The atheists object to the proposal because the shelters would be operated by the Denver Catholic archdiocese. Billy Talley, of the American Atheist Recovery Group, told a government official that if the Catholics gain use of a government building, his group wants one too. “We are here for the … atheists and agnostics whose painful recoveries [from alcohol and drug addiction] can only be made more painful … by moralizing, praying, and preaching,” he wrote. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the right of the government to give property to churches.
Interest in the Bible increased significantly during 1983, designated as the Year of the Bible, the American Bible Society (ABS) reports. The society says it distributed 5.7 million copies of Scripture-related items. All of them were directly traceable to requests for materials designed in connection with the Year of the Bible celebration. The most popular ABS Year of the Bible item was a four-page selection called “God Speaks.” The booklet contains the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes.
Minneapolis Mayor Donald Fraser has vetoed an amendment to the city’s civil rights ordinance that would have defined pornography as a form of discrimination against women. Strongly supported by feminists, the measure was passed by the city council in a 7-to-6 vote. Fraser said the amendment’s definition of pornography was vague and too broad. He said the linkage between pornography and violence is “arguably not settled” and that “when in doubt, I probably err on the side of the First Amendment.”
The California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board has awarded death benefits to the homosexual lover of a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney who committed suicide. Earl Donovan will collect $25,000 as a result of the board’s ruling that he was dependent for total support on Thomas P. Finnerty, Jr., who died in 1976. The two lived together from 1949 until shortly before Finnerty’s death. The board determined that the homosexual nature of the relationship should not preclude Donovan’s rights as a primary dependent.
The U.S. Supreme Court has turned down a request that it enter the legal battle over Baby Jane Doe. Baby Jane is the name given to an infant born in October with spina bifida and other birth defects (CT, Dec. 16, 1983, p. 47). Without comment, the justices unanimously let stand an October ruling by the New York Court of Appeals supporting the parents’ decision against surgery that might prolong the baby’s life.
A recently issued Vatican document advocates sex education in public schools. The 36-page declaration, titled “Educational Guidance in Human Love,” is the result of more than 10 years of preparation. It accords the primary role of sex education to the family. But it calls on schools to assist and complete the work of parents. Though some Catholics noticed more liberal attitudes on issues such as homosexuality, the document generally was regarded as a stern restatement of the church’s traditional attitudes toward sex.
A drastic rise in pornography has led to sharp increases in woman and child abuse in Israel, says the Jewish feminist magazine Lilith. In a report called “Porn in the Promised Land,” mass media specialist Judith Bat-Ada quotes psychologists and others who say that pornography triggers rape, wife battery, incest, and other forms of sexual violence. Israeli police statistics show a 45 percent increase in reported rapes since pornography became popular. A rape crisis center in Tel Aviv reports that younger women are being victimized by rape.
The five judges of the Australian high court have ruled unanimously that the Church of Scientology is a legitimate religious institution. The decision overturns a lower court ruling that declared the church “a sham.” Once banned in several Australian states, Scientology will now enjoy tax-exempt status. Founded by L. Ron Hubbard, the organization claims 150,000 adherents in Australia and New Zealand. But critics say that figure is exaggerated.
Filipino president Ferdinand Marcos has alleged that Roman Catholic clergy and the middle class are plotting to topple his regime. Marcos, who has ruled the Philippines for 18 years, says the “clergy-bourgeois clique” was discussed in a Communist document “which fell into the hands of government authorities,” Catholic leader Jaime Cardinal Sin has called on Marcos to begin a process of national reconciliation or face a violent rebellion in the country.
The ABC film The Day After was seen by some 15 million Britons in December. The film depicts the effects of a nuclear attack on the city of Lawrence, Kansas. Despite sensitivity to the nuclear issue in England, three times as many Britons watched the televised wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer in 1981. British defense secretary Michael Heseltine said the film was politically biased in favor of a nuclear freeze. In a televised interview after the airing, he defended England’s policies on the issue. He did not participate in a studio discussion that followed the screening because it included the chairperson of Britain’s Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
A coalition of black Africans is urging that white Lutheran churches in South Africa and Namibia be dropped from the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). Presented at the All Africa Lutheran Consultation in Zimbabwe, the proposal calls for white Lutherans to be suspended from the LWF until they reject the South African government’s policy of enforced racial segregation, called apartheid.
Nearly 150 million Africans could face famine in 1984, says Adebayo Adedeji, head of the United Nations’ Economic Commission for Africa. Drought, along with other catastrophes, has contributed to economic decline and political instability throughout the continent. Recently, former Nigerian president Shehu Shagari was deposed in a bloodless coup led by military ruler Mohammed Buhari. The country’s military gave way to civilian government in 1979. With 90 million people, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country.
Some 800 Pentecostals in Nicaragua are facing imprisonment for not registering for the military draft. At a recent national congress, the youths agreed not to answer the call of the Sandinista government, which is drafting men ages 18 to 40 to fight counterrevolutionaries.
The Churches of Christ in New Zealand have voiced strong opposition to abortion. At the denomination’s sixty-first annual conference, it passed a six-point statement condemning abortion in New Zealand and offering what it sees as a Christian viewpoint on the issue. The statement includes affirmations that human life begins at conception and that all Christians have a responsibility to protect human life.
Some 40 percent of Britain’s children, ages 5 to 16, have seen at least one videocassette showing violence and perverted sex. A Church of England research team interviewed 6,000 children before issuing its report. According to the study, more than 10 percent of children ages 9 and 10 have seen Driller Killer, which depicts a murderer killing a victim with a power drill. More than 3 percent have seen Cannibal Holocaust, in which a man is emasculated. Clifford Hill, a theologian and sociologist who led the research team, says the videos are being used as “baby sitters.”
A New Group Will Defend The Bible In Coming Lutheran Merger
A recently formed group of Lutherans will try to make sure that the new Lutheran Church in North America “identifies Scripture clearly as the Word of God.” The new denomination is scheduled to unite three Lutheran bodies by 1988.
The group, called Friends for Biblical Lutheranism, was formed in York, Pennsylvania, late last year. The group is reacting to a preliminary statement on the theological basis for the new Lutheran church, issued by the 70-member commission that is planning the new denomination.
That statement avoided describing the Bible as inerrant. Frank Seilhamer, pastor of Advent Lutheran Church in York, said his group wouldn’t fight for the word “inerrant.” But he added, “We would like to see it said somewhere that the Scriptures be cited as eternally true and the norm for the faith and practice of the church.”
“We feel that Scripture is being eroded in the church,” said Ben Johnson, pastor of Salem Lutheran Church in Saint Cloud, Minnesota. He added that some of those forming the new church “are trying to avoid identifying Scripture as the Word of God.”
“There has been a weakening position of the Scriptures in the church,” Seilhamer said. He and others said they feared that contemporary methods of interpreting the Bible ignored some aspects of the “clear biblical message” in order to deal with contemporary social concerns.
“They treat the Scriptures as culturally and historically conditioned documents, which I don’t believe at all,” he said.
Seilhamer and Johnson were critical of attempts to revise the church’s condemnation of homosexuality because, they said, such efforts represented attempts to contradict the clear teaching of the Bible.
“When biblical belief erodes, churches become [either] organizations selling positive feelings or social action agencies,” Johnson said.
In addition to making their views known to those shaping the new Lutheran denomination, Johnson said Friends for Biblical Lutheranism will try to hold Bible study conferences that would demonstrate the way they approach the Scriptures.
Members of the group say they don’t oppose the merger, which will unite the American Lutheran Church, the Lutheran Church in America, and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches. The new denomination will number about 5.4 million members.
RELIGIOUS NEWS SERVICE
Christian Schools In Maine Win Right To Operate
A federal judge in Maine has ruled that the state’s education department has no authority to shut down independent Christian schools merely because the schools do not have state licenses. Judge Conrad Cyr’s decision protects some 60 fundamentalist schools in Maine with about 3,000 students.
The lawyer for the defendents, William Ball, noted that the decision “is peppered with references to the Constitution,” and is likely to affect the outcome of similar cases in Nebraska and elsewhere.
The Maine suit stems from 1979, when the Maine Association of Christian Schools (MACS), founded by Herman C. Frankland, notified the Maine Department of Education and Cultural Services that MACS schools are “integral parts of their religious ministries and not susceptible … to state control.” MACS leaders felt that “Christ, not the state, is the sole sovereign in such matters” and “to permit such regulation would be to render unto Caesar that which belongs to God,” according to the court record.
About 3,000 people packed a hearing in the Maine state legislature in 1980, to back a bill exempting Christian schools from state control. The measure failed, and later that year Ball, newly hired by MACS, wrote the Maine commissioner of education saying that state statutes were directed only at public schools.
Then on October 9, 1981, after a year and a half of correspondence, the department notified nine new schools of its intention to “commence legal action.” MACS countered on October 16, 1981, by filing the complaint against the department that was heard in Cyr’s U.S. District Court.
The state education department argued that “pastors, administrators, or church schools … have induced habitual truancy through their statements to parents that the education of their children is a religious duty.”
The Christian school leaders responded that permitting the Department of Education to close the schools on these grounds “would violate the rights secured … by the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.” These amendments guarantee the freedoms of religion and speech and protect citizens from deprivation of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.
Cyr held that the intent of Maine legislatures, which have built the present school codes over some 30 years, was to direct the education department in the control of public schools only. Legal methods for dealing with students not in school require local superintendents, not the state office, to prosecute, and action could be taken only after due process procedures, including determining if the youngsters were receiving “equivalent instruction,” were exhausted, Cyr concluded.
“Everywhere throughout the opinion [Cyr is] suggesting the force of constitutional problems,” Ball said. He noted also that two powerful lessons for school authorities in Nebraska and elsewhere across the nation can be drawn from Cyr’s opinion. These are, first, that officials must be sure their actions are spelled out clearly by legislative mandate. And second, that references to the First Amendment, especially in the ruling’s 24-page, end-note addendum, make “a very valuable statement” that individual rights cannot be carelessly disregarded by government bureaucrats.
ERIC C. WIGGINin Maine
A vital tool grows rusty from disuse.
Is it constitutional or unconstitutional for students to meet for prayer and Bible study on school premises? Depending on where the school is located, the answer could be “yes,” “no,” or “maybe.” High school students in Texas, for example, may not hold Bible club meetings at school, but in Pennsylvania such meetings are allowed.
A patchwork of lower court decisions in recent years has confused school officials and alarmed churchgoers over the question of “equal access”—whether students may use school facilities for religious meetings on the same basis as other extracurricular clubs, such as debate, chess, or current events. The Christian Legal Society (CLS) has represented Christian students in three major equal-access cases.
While they await a definitive Supreme Court ruling on the issue, CLS has developed guidelines for school administrators and pastors faced with deciding what sorts of meetings should be allowed or encouraged. CLS’s Samuel E. Ericsson also points out that there is an “overlooked open door” for religious instruction, known as “released-time” programs.
According to Ericsson, students are entitled to equal access if their meetings are student-initiated and student-run rather than organized by the state, sponsored by the school, or led by a teacher. In addition:
• A faculty member may serve as a contact person for the group, but faculty involvement at meetings should be limited to maintaining discipline and taking attendance.
• A disclaimer stating that the school is neutral toward any religious creed should accompany group advertisements, and the club’s name should avoid any hint of school affiliation or sponsorship.
• The school should provide only a time and place to meet and a faculty contact person. No requests should be made for school funding, supplies such as Bibles, or any other benefits.
• Students may discuss controversial topics, including different world views and beliefs, but they should not engage in organized evangelism at school.
• School officials may distinguish between what is allowed at secondary and elementary schools. The courts are less likely to uphold an “equal access” principle for younger students.
• No court has addressed the issue of outsiders participating in the student-run meetings, whether they are parachurch representatives or local pastors. If nonreligious student groups are permitted to invite guest speakers or other outsiders, then a religious group also should be able to invite a guest.
• Unpopular religious groups may be discouraged by requiring a minimum number of student participants or parental consent for all extracurricular pursuits.
In addition to encouraging voluntary student meetings at school, Ericsson believes churches could play a vital role through “released-time” programs. Started in 1914 by pastors in Gary, Indiana, released-time programs allow students to leave school grounds every week for religious instruction.
For several reasons, the concept has been abandoned by most states even though it is thoroughly constitutional. The profusion of church-state court cases in recent decades, a shift in mainline church priorities away from evangelism, and the rise of the Christian day school movement have all contributed to the decline of released-time.
In Utah, however, the Mormon church has systematically built several hundred released-time facilities near junior and senior high schools. Doug Bates, spokesman for Utah’s State Office of Education, says this program has prevented conflict over “equal access” inside school buildings. “It’s a financial drain on the church, but the church has felt it is well worth the effort,” Bates said. “A majority of students take advantage of it.”
Protestant and Catholic curriculum alternatives being used in the few hundred other released-time programs include materials prepared by Missouri Synod Lutherans, the Bible Club Movement, Child Evangelism Fellowship, and the National Council of Churches. In Wisconsin, the program is known as “Time Out,” and takes a high-energy, Young-Life approach.
Ericsson says released-time is immune to court challenge because it simply accommodates a child’s spiritual needs at the request of the parent and involves no state funds, personnel or facility. Nonetheless, “evangelical churches have abandoned the field,” says Ericsson. “When people began to say that the Supreme Court expelled God from schools, evangelicals played right into that” and lost an opportunity to reach 40 million American school children.
Guatemala After Ríos Montt: More Political Killings
Long after the dust settled from the August 8 coup that removed General Efraín Ríos Montt from the Presidency of Guatemala, the reasons behind the move by the military high command are still unclear. Most observers concur that the downfall of Latin America’s first professed born-again president was due to a combination of factors. These include pressure from right-wing politicians and the Catholic church, rumors that a mild land-reform program was being planned, and tensions between senior military officers and the young captains and majors who had put Ríos Montt in power and then instituted themselves as advisers. There also was unhappiness over the new value-added tax (IVA), which took effect August 1 amid a welter of criticism.
The joke going around that Ríos Montt was ousted because he was an IV Angelical may not have been far from the truth. But there was also a belief across the spectrum of Guatemalan society that the coup had been engineered in the U.S. embassy, presumably due to Ríos Montt’s refusal to take a hard line against Nicaragua and allow Guatemala to be used as a staging area for the “contras.”
Ironically, the new government headed by Gen. Oscar Mejía Víctores has made few substantive changes. The IVA continues (it apparently was a condition imposed by the International Monetary Fund), though it was eventually reduced from 10 to 7 percent. After much hemming and hawing about democracy, the elections for a constituent assembly have been announced for next July, the same timetable Ríos Montt had set.
And after a brief honeymoon and the manifestation of popular enthusiasm at the removal of the country’s most visible evangelical, relations between the government and the Catholic church are showing signs of strain, with charges of harassment of Catholic workers reminiscent of the days of Ríos Montt’s predecessor, Lucas García.
In fact, in many ways Guatemala appears to be returning to the style of the Lucas regime. Kidnapings, murders, and delinquency are increasing. Most of the government officials accused of corruption and jailed by the Ríos Montt administration have been freed; the guerrilla threat is looming again. While abolishment of the secret courts, one of Mejía Víctores’s first acts, was widely heralded, the comment is heard that they have been replaced with the paramilitary death squads that accounted for an average of 30 bodies daily left in ditches during Lucas’s last days.
Relations between Guatemala and the U.S. government were deeply chilled when one employee of a U.S.-funded educational program was killed recently and another kidnaped. Both were teaching Indians to speak Spanish. These acts were part of a new wave of political violence that left 98 dead in August, 163 dead in September, and 220 in October, according to the Washington Post.
Ríos Montt’s campaign for morality was an immediate victim of the August 8 coup. The speed and zeal with which government employees ripped off their badges and tore down the posters with the famous three fingers for “No lying, no stealing, no abuse” was astounding. Some officials objected to having to take the pledge and wear the badge as infantile and demeaning, but there seems to have been more than a grain of truth in the tongue-in-cheek comment by several newspaper columnists that “now we can all lie, steal and abuse again.”
Reaction among Guatemala’s evangelicals to Ríos Montt’s ouster was generally outrage and sorrow, but there were some expressions of relief. Some church leaders feared that Christians would be blamed for any government mistakes or shortcomings. And apart from a handful of advisers from his own Verbo Church, including the two elders who served as his right-hand men in the administration, Francisco Bianchi and Alvaro Contreras, Ríos Montt had little significant input from the country’s evangelical leaders.
The fear that when Ríos Montt went the whole evangelical church would pay for it seemed at first to be well grounded. Within hours of the August 8 coup, there were threatening phone calls to pastors, inquiries by uniformed and plainclothes police concerning church leaders, and at least two or three cases of interruption by police of church services.
At the same time, some vandalism of Catholic shrines was blamed—with no evidence—on the evangelicals. A new Catholic militancy was evident in the massive celebration of the Assumption of Mary (the Virgin of the Assumption is Guatemala City’s patron saint) on August 15 when a capacity crowd in the soccer stadium heard Msgr. Ramiro Pellecer, the acting archbishop, call for a crusade to convert evangelicals back to the one true church.
A group of evangelical leaders met with head-of-state Mejía Víctores and were told the incidents of harassment were due to “misunderstanding” by low-level officials and would stop. Since then, according to the Rev. Guillermo Galindo, president of the Evangelical Alliance of Guatemala, the situation has improved greatly.
Apart from the half-dozen members of the Verbo Church who lost their jobs in the government, the most prominent evangelical Christian official to fall victim to the coup was Jorge Serrano Elías, president of the Council of State, an advisory body formed by Ríos Montt to draft legislation, and a member of the large, Pentecostal Elim Church. Serrano Elías was initially confirmed in his post by Mejía Víctores, but a few days later, despite a unanimous vote of confidence by the council, he was removed. Shortly after that the head of state abolished the council itself, saying it had fulfilled its purpose.
As for Ríos Montt, he has been living quietly at home since August 8, getting involved again with his church and the Verbo Christian School where he had served as administrator. He has not made any public statements, although he did tell a reporter from Guatemala’s new Christian daily newspaper, La Palabra (The Word), “The military called me to the presidency and the military took me out. I’m satisfied that when I was in the office I did my duty.”
STEPHEN SYWULKAin Guatemala
Federally Funded Program Has Helped Christian Colleges
A series of federally funded workshops has boosted the level of academic excellence at many of America’s Christian colleges. Arranged by the Christian College Coalition, the workshops will culminate this July with a month-long Interdisciplinary Institute on Christianity and the Humanities.
The project has been funded by a $125,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The federal grant is a first for academicians seeking to integrate scholarship and Christian faith (CT, Oct. 22, 1982, p. 62).
Kenneth Shipps, academic dean at Barrington (Rhode Island) College, said the workshops have acknowledged Christianity’s role in the development of Western values, art, and literature. The program has been a boon to the 70 colleges that are members of the Christian College Coalition.
This summer’s institute, to be held at Barrington College, will bring together faculty from a variety of liberal-arts disciplines. Participants will concentrate on improving teaching skills and developing a better understanding of the role Christianity plays in their subject areas.
Up to one-third of the faculty participants will be selected from colleges outside the Christian College Coalition, an association for distinctively Christian institutions. Instructors will include Shipps and Jerry H. Gill of Barrington College; Arthur F. Holmes of Wheaton (Illinois) College; and James E. Barcus of Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
Methodists Form A Mission Agency Outside Official Church Channels
After watching their denomination’s overseas missionary force shrink from about 1,500 in 1965 to 500 today, several dozen United Methodist ministers decided it was time to take action. They have moved outside official church channels to form the independent Mission Society for United Methodists.
The church’s official Board of Global Ministries has argued with evangelical United Methodists for a decade that U.S. missionaries are not needed as they were in the past. The official mission agency says indigenous churches are able to evangelize their countries on their own. But the founders of the new mission society, primarily pastors of large congregations from across the country, said Methodists overseas are asking for more American help, especially to help equip them for evangelism.
The new mission society will try to fill those needs as well as send missionaries to areas where there are no churches, said L. D. Thomas, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Thomas is chairman of the new mission agency.
“This reflects the failure of a decade of dialogue with [the Board of] Global Ministries to persuade it to send missionaries to make disciples of Christ as well as to be involved in social missions,” he said.
Thomas said the board’s emphasis on liberation theology in missionary screening and orientation has kept hundreds of qualified United Methodists from entering the denomination’s missionary force. He said many of those candidates have become missionaries for independent agencies and raised their support from individual United Methodist churches. “Many want to get back into the denomination,” he said.
Dissatisfaction with the 9.5-million-member church’s Board of Global Ministries has been growing. The agency was widely criticized last fall when it nominated Peggy Billings, then head of the church’s most controversial social action office, to be the new director of overseas missions. Several evangelical pastors warned they would start a separate missions agency if Billings’s nomination were confirmed. She later was confirmed, galvanizing support for an independent missions agency that extended beyond evangelical circles, including a number of middle-of-the-road United Methodists.
That was apparent last month when the independent mission society announced it had hired H. T. Maclin away from the Board of Global Ministries. Maclin will be director of the new Mission Society for United Methodists. A former missionary, he had promoted mission programs for the Board of Global Ministries since 1974.
In addition, the new mission society has on its board of directors James H. Pike, professor of missions at the United Methodists’ Wesley Seminary in Washington, D.C.; Ken Weatherford, president of the United Methodist national men’s organization; and Gerald Anderson, director of the Overseas Ministries Study Center at Ventnor, New Jersey.
Randolph Nugent, chief executive of the Board of Global Ministries, has said the new mission society likely will “harm more than help the mission of the church. Wherever rivalry and duplication of mission efforts occur, the result diminishes the witness of those who would proclaim Jesus Christ.”
Campus Crusade Plans To Build A Grad School And A Housing Development
Campus Crusade for Christ International is known for its aggressive evangelistic efforts conducted on American college campuses as well as in Third World nations. But in San Diego, the parachurch organization is moving from gospel tracts to housing tracts.
In 1979, Campus Crusade purchased more than 5,000 acres in San Diego for $28 million. The organization plans to build a graduate university, a housing development, and a high-technology industrial park.
For William R. Bright, Campus Crusade founder, such plans aren’t unrealistic. The organization he founded in 1951 now boasts an international staff of 16,000 and an annual budget approaching $100 million. Bright says his organization is ready to move into the field of higher education.
“God has instructed me to marshal the resources of this ministry to develop the International Christian Graduate University [ICGU],” Bright has said. Promotional literature proclaims: “We are not building another traditional Christian university. What God has now called us to do with this university far surpasses all else that had been done in Christian or secular education.”
The ICGU has been operating a school of theology at Campus Crusade headquarters near San Bernardino, California, since 1978. Branches have been established in Kenya and in the Philippines. The San Diego campus would feature ten schools, including theology, business, law, and medicine. University officials would not say whether Campus Crusade would move its headquarters to the new site.
Lane Adams, ICGU vice-president of spiritual integration, says the new graduate school will provide “a true biblical world view in all disciplines.” That dimension is lacking, he says, even in some Christian institutions.
ICGU provost Ed Pauley is recruiting faculty. Theologian Carl F. H. Henry is scheduled to lecture part-time. And Charles Ryrie, formerly of Dallas Theological Seminary, has been retained to develop the school’s doctrinal statement. Faculty, but not students, would be required to sign the document.
The graduate university is only one part of Campus Crusade’s planned development in San Diego. The school would occupy only 1,000 acres of the 5,000-acre tract, called La Jolla Valley. The entire package is managed by University Developments, Inc., a consortium of Campus Crusade and Tecon Reality, a business holding of Clint Murchison, owner of the Dallas Cowboys.
On the remaining 4,000 acres, the organization plans to build a planned community modeled after Rancho Bernardo, a fashionable north San Diego suburb. The commercial and residential development of La Jolla Valley will be used to “perpetually endow the university,” according to Bright.
The area would be developed over a 30- to 40-year period, providing new roads, 25,000 new homes, and jobs. However, not everyone supports the project. San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock has called it “planned urban sprawl.” Environmentalists, a number of local residents, and some members of the San Diego City Council don’t welcome the prospect of 40,000 new residents coming into the area.
Officially, the La Jolla Valley area has been given “future urbanizing status” with no development permitted until 1995. To proceed with current plans, the area would have to be changed to “present urbanizing status.” One such reversal has been allowed for another development. Meanwhile, the La Jolla Valley planners have spent more than one million dollars for fees and studies, while the city council continues to squabble over changes in development rules.
La Jolla Valley spokesman Carl Baehne says some opponents view the university as a Trojan horse used to smuggle in the residential and commercial development. But he says the project has a good chance for approval.
The issue presents a major test for Mayor Hedgecock, a Republican elected last year on a “controlled growth” platform.
The San Diego zoning board is expected to make a recommendation on the development this month. The city council could vote on the issue as early as next month.
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