British teenagers are deserting the nation’s churches. A survey indicates that 71 percent of Britain’s teenagers who attended church at age 14 had left by the time they reached the age of 20. Half of those interviewed condoned sex outside marriage, and 40 percent supported homosexuality. Conducted by the British Council of Churches, the survey involved 90 congregations in England, Wales, and Scotland.

Baptist leaders in Nicaragua again are calling for Baptists worldwide to help change U.S. foreign policy in that country. In a letter condemning U.S. support for rebels fighting the Sandinista government, Baptist Convention of Nicaragua leaders write that “it is urgent that we make an all-out effort … to stop the plans for war and destruction against us.” Meanwhile, a former Sandinista claims the government is trying to destroy churches. In Nicaragua: Christians Under Fire, Humberto Belli states that the Sandinistas are dedicated to Marxist principles, including the elimination of religion.

Twenty-nine Christians in Nepal face from one to six years in prison for their evangelistic activities, according to the religious freedom group Christian Response International. Under Nepal’s law, people cannot leave the religion into which they were born. Christians can be jailed if they are caught trying to convert a member of the Hindu majority. A number of U.S. congressmen are mediating on behalf of the jailed Nepalese Christians.

Reports of tiny gatherings of Christians meeting in house churches are filtering out of North Korea. Not a single church building stands in the Communist country, but according to some estimates there are 1,000 house churches. The North Korean government tolerates minimal expressions of Christian faith, but will not permit the building of churches.

A top-level Church of Scotland study group cannot agree on whether God can be legitimately addressed as “Mother.” The group was appointed in response to intense reactions, pro and con, to a prayer offered at the annual meeting of the Women’s Guild of the Church. The prayer began: “Dear Mother God …” The panel so far has said it recognizes motherly elements in the fatherhood of God and that the Christian God is not a male.

The first Bible school in Austria is due to open this fall under the sponsorship of Gospel Missionary Union. A growing number of Austria’s youth are looking for church and mission vocations.

The United States last year was the world’s top exporter of arms to developing countries, according to a study conducted by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. The monetary value of arms agreements between industrial and nonindustrial nations fell last year. However, the U.S. share rose from 32 to 39 percent of the total.

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Glenn W. Barker, 63, provost of Fuller Theological Seminary, an ordained Conservative Baptist minister, theologian, teacher, and scholar who made major contributions to numerous works, including The Expositor’s Bible Commentary; May 1, in Pasadena, California, of a heart attack he suffered during a tennis match.

Ramsey Pollard, 81, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, pastor of Broadway Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee (1939–60) and Bellevue Baptist in Memphis (1960–72); April 20, in Memphis, of natural causes.

Will questions of creedalism and the ordination of women divide the 14-million-member body?

Once confined to the Old South, the 14-million-member Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) now stretches from Key West to Nome. With its numerical growth and its entrance into regions outside the South, the SBC has been faced with diversity not known in earlier years.

This month 36,302 Southern Baptist congregations will send messengers (delegates) to Kansas City for the denomination’s annual convention. For the first time in recent years, the issue of women’s ordination threatens to become a major issue at the meeting.

SBC president Jimmy Draper, a conservative, says it is not essential that Southern Baptists agree on the ordination question. Yet he concedes that the issue “has the potential of splitting the convention.” Reba Sloan-Cobb, a leader among SBC women activists, agrees. “This is more volatile simply because the churches that ordain women can be easily identified,” she says.

In previous years, resolutions skirted the problem out of respect to the autonomy of the ordaining body, the local church. However, fierce debate ensued at last year’s convention when Joyce Rogers, wife of inerrantist leader Adrian Rogers, sought to amend a resolution on women. Her proposal stated that the resolution “should not be interpreted as endorsing the ordination of women.” The amendment was defeated by a narrow margin.

Debate hit high decibels last fall when a local Southern Baptist association in Oklahoma voted against seating messengers from Oklahoma City’s First Baptist Church after it ordained three women as deacons. The California Redwood Empire Baptist Association took the same action against three churches that had ordained women. Montana’s Yellowstone Association passed a resolution criticizing the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board for hiring an ordained woman.

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However, the Chicago Metropolitan Baptist Association refused to disfellowship the 25-member Cornell Baptist Church for calling a woman pastor. Subsequently, an attempt to disenfranchise the church at the state level was beaten back by a vote of 509 to 189. Resolutions concerning the ordination of women as ministers were debated last fall in five other state Baptist conventions.

Says Sloan-Cobb: “The only way we can survive is to tolerate different views. I can tolerate Jimmy Draper’s ideas if he will allow me to have the same privilege.”

“We would let the issue lie, if the feminists would,” Draper says.

The ordination question is only one of the controversial issues that promises to surface in Kansas City. A suggestion by Draper earlier this year that Southern Baptists establish guidelines for belief is already a hotly debated subject in the denomination.

His suggested doctrinal guidelines—called a “creed” by critics—is partially a product of the conservative-moderate confrontation in the SBC. Biblical inerrantists have dominated the denomination on the national level for the past five years. They maintain that lax direction in the past permitted some institutions and leaders at the state and national levels to stray into liberalism. Since coming to power, conservatives have been calling for a restoration of theological balance in denominational institutions.

Draper, in a book titled Authority: The Critical Issue for Southern Baptists (Revell), suggested doctrinal “parameters” to which all Southern Baptist leaders and faculty members at SBC colleges and seminaries should agree. He asserts in his book that faculties at some of the denomination’s schools “grant only token acknowledgment to conservative views.”

Glenn Hinson, professor of church history at Wake Forest University, opposes Draper’s proposal. He likens the push for doctrinal agreement to a “corporation mentality” in which denominational employees cannot interpret Scripture for themselves, because “they ought to think like the corporation.”

With charges of creedalism being leveled against Draper, and with activists pushing for the ordination of women, this month’s meeting might present a difficult test for America’s largest non-Catholic denomination.

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