No Merger In Sight

Representatives of the nation’s two largest Lutheran bodies met in August for the first time in five years, but no one is predicting reconciliation between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the more conservative Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS).

The meetings were cordial enough. In fact, some participants who wanted to air the issues that divide the two church bodies, including women’s ordination and perspectives on ecumenism, found the meetings too friendly. Said Paul Werger, chairperson of the ELCA’s conference of bishops, “We stayed out of the trenches. We talked about what we have in common.”

Werger said he was disappointed the two groups did not share the Eucharist; this symbolized, he said, their brokenness. But Ralph Bohlmann, president of the LCMS, said Communion should not be shared without “full, comprehensive doctrinal agreement.” Representatives of the two groups expressed a desire for continued dialogue.

Support For Gays Growing

Homosexuals are welcome in the United Methodist Church. But the church has deemed homosexual practice “incompatible” with Christian behavior, and practicing homosexuals are barred from ministry.

Yet there appears to be a growing number of United Methodist congregations that oppose their denomination’s official stance. Forty-six churches have joined the Reconciling Congregation Program, which opposes any limits on ministerial roles of practicing homosexuals. Organizers of the effort hope to double that number by 1992, when the denomination meets in general conference.

The issue will likely be strongly debated at the church’s 1992 meeting. A 27-member special committee studying homosexuality is due to release its report next September. While its emphasis to date has been on consensus, some church members have openly wondered if, in its efforts to please everyone, the committee will fail to please anyone.

Ywam Guards Its Name

The Cape May (N.J.) Superior Court has ruled that a 23-member group once associated with the ministry Youth With a Mission (YWAM) may not continue using YWAM’s name, according to a press release originating from YWAM’s international office, based in the Netherlands. The fate of property at two New Jersey locations, with a combined estimated value of $800,000, awaits additional court action.

According to the press release, YWAM attempted reconciliation with what it called “the breakaway group,” but failed, leaving it with no choice but to go to court.

A report in last month’s issue of Charisma magazine referred to the breakaway group as YWAM-New Jersey. The report quoted spokesman Tom McFarren as denying allegations that had been leveled against the New Jersey group. Those allegations revolve around the group’s association with the Valley Forge, Pennsylvania-based Revival Corps International, whose members live communally and generally shun medical treatment.

The YWAM press release stated that some who testified in court were former members of the New Jersey group and described its practices as “cult-like.” Said Floyd McClung, director of international operations for YWAM, “We were very saddened to learn about some of the things going on in the name of Youth With a Mission, practices which clearly breached some of our foundational values, which include a commitment to openness, accountability, and personal … relationship with God.”

Briefly Noted

Planned: A move of the headquarters of the United Church of Canada from Toronto to a new site near Kitchener, Ontario. The move is scheduled to take place over the next two years.

Resigned: As president of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, George C. Fuller, effective next June. Fuller assumed his current post in 1982; he plans to devote more time to preaching and teaching.

Died: On July 31 at the age of 78, businessman and layman Howard Long, widely recognized as the catalyst for the translation of the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. After a business associate laughed at the language of the King James Version more than 35 years ago, Long pursued his passion for a scholarly translation in contemporary English. He petitioned the Christian Reformed Church to develop such a translation. The National Association of Evangelicals got behind the idea, and under the auspices of the International Bible Society, the NIV eventually became a reality.

Historian, scholar, and seminary professor Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, highly regarded as a leading evangelical Anglican theologian, of a heart attack at age 75. Hughes published over 50 books, including commentaries on books of the Bible, and English translations (from French and Latin) of Reformation-era works.

Affiliated: With UPI radio network, Independent News Service (INS), headed by veteran Christian newscaster Forrest Boyd. Boyd formed INS earlier this year when his Washington, D.C.-based International Media Service (IMS) network filed for bankruptcy.

Announced: A new scholarship fund for home-schooled students, by the Merrillville, Indiana-based Christian Home Educated Scholarship Society. Home-schooled students pursuing higher education often have no access to money available to students in traditional schools. Students must be educated through their last year of high school to qualify for a scholarship.

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