I’M Just A Kid, Man

It started with a pamphlet written by nine-year-old Benjamin Wertheim and reproduced and distributed by the ministry Jews for Jesus. The pamphlet featured a born-again Bart Simpson, of the popular animated television show “The Simpsons,” encouraging readers to consider the claim that Jesus is Messiah.

A representative of the Canadian Jewish Congress in Toronto notified the show’s producer, Twentieth Century Fox, which alleged copyright infringement. In a letter to Wertheim, Fox threatened to sue for as much as $100,000.

Various media reports quickly made Wertheim a celebrity underdog, reporting his reply to Fox: a handwritten letter explaining that, with an allowance of $2 a week, it would take him a while to pay off $100,000. Jews for Jesus executive director Moishe Rosen also wrote to the Fox attorneys, taking full responsibility for the pamphlet and threatening to countersue. In response, Fox said it would not take legal action if the ministry stopped distribution of the pamphlets. But Rosen said Jews for Jesus has no such plans. He regards the pamphlet as social commentary, noting that it was not used for financial gain.

Call For Spiritual Vitality

The disease is spiritual malaise. One of the symptoms is 22 consecutive years of decline. But the 3,500 United Methodists who recently attended an international gathering in Forth Worth, Texas, believe a cure is available.

Out of the meeting came a Council of Bishops’ letter sent to all of the denomination’s 38,000 local congregations with the request that it be read on November 18, 1990. The epistle called on congregations to “seek a new vision” of vitality and faithfulness to Christ.

The bishops state in the letter that the “central expression of ministry and mission in Christ’s name is the local congregation.” They have made available a 160-page “foundation document,” as well as teaching aids, in an effort to spark revival. The document is structured around the elements of Christian worship.

Rating The Charities

The percentage of overhead expenses at a charitable organization is not the sole criterion for evaluating that organization. Indeed, some have argued it can be immoral to be overly concerned about overhead costs. It may take a lot of money, for example, to oversee the safe transport of food to remote areas in Mozambique. Nevertheless, the percentage of money that actually ends up with the needy is an important factor in evaluating charitable groups. With that premise, the December issue of Money magazine surveyed the nation’s 100 largest charities.

The results were good news for religious organizations. Though only about one-fourth of the top 100 charities are religious in nature, religious charities captured five of the top ten rankings, including the top three spots. Interchurch Medical Assistance received the top ranking, followed by MAP International and Lutheran World Relief. Catholic Relief Services came in seventh; United Jewish Appeal was tenth. Other Christian organizations to be ranked included Food for the Hungry (14th), Larry Jones/Feed the Children (15th), World Concern (20th), Mennonite Central Committee (23rd), World Relief (31st), Compassion International (36th), Salvation Army (45th), World Vision (47th), and Habitat for Humanity (82nd).

Woman To Lead Ncc

Joan Brown Campbell in November became the second woman and the first female minister to be chosen to serve as general secretary of the National Council of Churches (NCC). Campbell, 59, was elected unopposed by the NCC General Board. An ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), she also has standing as an American Baptist minister.

Campbell will assume her new duties next month, following the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) assembly in Canberra, Australia. She is currently executive director of the U.S. office of the WCC and is known for her activist stands against racism and sexism. She replaces interim general secretary James A. Hamilton, who took over following the July 1989 resignation of Arie Brouwer.

Briefly Noted

Honored: Baptist theologian Bernard Ramm. In New Orleans late last year, Ramm, 74, was presented with a festschrift: Perspectives on Theology in the Contemporary World, by the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion. At the American Academy of Religion, he was the subject of four papers examining his pioneering work on the relation between science and Scripture.

Advocated: An end to church tithing by a group of Seventh-day Adventist women disturbed at their church’s refusal to ordain women. The Adventist Women’s Institute said it is establishing a special escrow account as an alternative.

Bequested: Nearly $39 million each to Asbury Theological Seminary and Samford University by late millionaire Ralph Waldo Beeson, who died October 15.

Died: On November 18 at the age of 76, one of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s founding pioneers, Charles Troutman, Jr. He was general director for InterVarsity-USA from 1961–64 and later spent 14 years as a missionary with Latin America Mission.

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