Evangelical Leader Confesses, Quits
India Evangelical Mission founder Theodore Williams has admitted to an adulterous relationship and resigned from all leadership posts in evangelical organizations.
Williams, 58, recently had been appointed cochairman of AD 2000 with Billy Graham and Bill Bright. He had served on the international board of World Evangelical Fellowship (WEF) and held various leadership posts with the Evangelical Fellowship of India, World Gospel Mission, and “Back to the Bible” radio broadcasts. A popular convention speaker, Williams has canceled all bookings for the next year. He founded India Evangelical Mission in 1965 and had been its board chairman. Williams has given up his housing with the organization in Bangalore.
Jun Veneer, international WEF director in Singapore, said Williams had resigned “due to moral failure in his personal and family life.” Williams has submitted to India Evangelical Mission leadership for a restoration process. Authorities have decided Williams will not be involved in ministry for a year. He and his wife of 22 years remain together.
“We realize this is a time in which donors who have given because of Theo will feel betrayed,” says WEF North America director Galen Hiestand. “But there also is a personal side of a man who has stepped down responsibly and who needs to be forgiven and loved.”
Parliament Crisis Sinks Religion Law
The government turmoil in Russia has in effect scuttled a proposed law that would have prohibited independent activities of foreign religious organizations and their representatives, according to Parliament member Gleb Yakunin.
In July and August, the Russian Parliament passed laws to restrict religious freedom (CT, Oct. 4, 1993, p. 62), but both measures were vetoed by President Boris Yeltsin. The September 21 dissolution of Parliament by Yeltsin “buries” the law, according to Yakunin, who was the lone member out of 167 to vote against the first version.
Yakunin, a dissident Russian Orthodox priest who was stripped of his parish and imprisoned before Communist rule collapsed in 1990, says the religion law was “one link in a big chain with which the Parliament was trying to kill democracy in Russia.” He says the December elections Yeltsin has called for will be the crucial test for the survival of democracy in the country.
Ad Flap Spurs Evangelism
A controversy over Morris Cerullo’s Mission to London, which has been criticized for a “show biz” approach to healing and for making exaggerated claims, may pave the way for a British evangelism campaign that will be unusual by featuring British evangelists instead of Americans.
In August, the Church of England Newspaper asked its readers if the paper should cancel Cerullo’s advertising, as England’s Baptist Times already had done. Managing editor John Martin says reader reaction has been “absolutely overwhelmingly against our taking the advertising.” He says the paper will cut back but not eliminate the advertising.
Though the paper has run criticism of Cerullo’s tactics, Martin says its editors felt a need to do more than just write about the subject. As a result, they are working to organize an evangelistic campaign that will avoid some of the controversies generated by American evangelists in England.
PEOPLE AND EVENTS
The Japanese Evangelical Lutheran Church (JELC) has issued a public confession of “deep repentance” for its role in World War II. In a statement, the JELC declared, “As a result of the forced union of Christian churches in 1941, our church weakened its confession, prayed for Japan’s triumph in war, and compromised itself with the military government.”
• The Bible League, an international Scripture-placement organization with offices in 17 nations, dedicated a new 16,500-square-foot addition September 13 at headquarters in South Holland, Illinois. The organization, founded in 1938 by William Chapman, produces around 30 million Bibles, New Testaments, and Scripture portions annually.
• The Vatican last month dispatched Cardinal Roger Etchegaray to China, making him the highest-ranking papal envoy to visit the country officially since the 1949 Communist revolution. At the same time, China freed two Roman Catholic lay leaders from prison camps in Hebei province, Zhang Youshen and Zhang Dapeng. The moves signal a continued easing of tensions between the Roman Catholic Church and the Chinese government, which often has persecuted leaders for refusal to renounce allegiance to the pope.
Meanwhile, the highest-ranking delegation of Chinese government religious-affairs leaders ever to visit the United States since the founding of the People’s Republic of China wrapped up an eight-city tour October 12. The visit to study how the Christian church impacts society was hosted by East Gates Ministries International, headed by Ned Graham, son of Billy Graham.
• Lutheran Bible Translators (LBT) missionary Alan Grossman, 31, was shot in the leg September 22 when three burglars broke into the LBT office in Monrovia, Liberia. He was not seriously injured and is recovering from the wounds.
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