* David Stevens, new director of the 1,500-member Christian Medical and Dental Society (CMDS), says the group must take the lead in promoting a biblical perspective on current medical issues. "The medical community and those we serve must develop firm moral stances on the key bioethical issues of our day: abortion, aids, euthanasia, human sexuality, in vitro fertilization, withdrawal of medical treatment, and the use of fetal tissue in research." Stevens previously served as director of the World Medical Mission in Boone, North Carolina.
* Molly Marshall, the first woman granted tenure at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's school of theology in Louisville, Kentucky, resigned August 19 when informed by President R. Albert Mohler that charges for her dismissal would be initiated if she did not. Mohler indicated that the teachings of Marshall, who had been at the seminary since 1984 and tenured since 1988, had strayed outside acceptable boundaries. Marshall, whose resignation is effective December 31, has been accused of espousing universalism and feminist theological views, charges that she denies.
* The state of Mississippi is appealing a September decision by a U.S. district judge that the state's new school prayer law is unconstitutional. The legislature passed a law earlier this year permitting student-led prayer at school-related activities. After the American Civil Liberties Union and People for the American Way filed suits, the judge ruled that prayer should be allowed only at graduation ceremonies-because of previous court rulings-but that other student activities did not have sufficient safeguards providing for opt-out plans.
* Meanwhile, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld a lower court order in September, ruling that a portrait of Jesus that has been hanging in a Bloomingdale (Mich.) high school hallway for 30 years is unconstitutional because of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. Student Eric Pensinger, an agnostic, had filed suit in 1992, claiming "psychological damage."
* California Gov. Pete Wilson in September vetoed what would have been the first state law to allow unmarried couples, heterosexual or homosexual, to register with the state as "domestic partners" and receive some of the legal and property benefits of marriage rights. Wilson said governments should instead "encourage and reward marriage and the formation of strong families."
* Wilson also signed a bill that makes intentional disruption of religious services a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. The law is a response, in part, to a demonstration by homosexuals in 1993 outside Hamilton Square Baptist Church in San Francisco (CT, Nov. 8, 1993, p. 57). Church officials say rioters vandalized church property and hurled rocks at churchgoers.
* After receiving more than 100,000 letters of complaint, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) voted 3 to 0 on September 19 to drop religion from proposed workplace harassment guidelines. Numerous Christian groups had opposed the plan, fearing that everything from wearing a cross necklace to inviting a coworker to church could become grounds for a federal lawsuit (CT, April 25, 1994). The Senate and the House of Representatives voted to forbid the EEOC from enforcing the rules.
* "Latin America Evangelist," the magazine of Latin America Mission since its founding in 1921, ceased publication with this month's issue. The 20,000-circulation Miami-based quarterly magazine will be replaced with a bimonthly fundraising newsletter.
* Robert W. Provost became president September 1 of the Loves Park, Illinois-based Slavic Gospel Association, an interdenominational mission organization working in the former Soviet Union. Provost, who succeeds John B. Aker, has been European regional director for send International and president of Infocentre, Ltd.
* International Bible Society has published the Contemporary Vietnamese Bible, the first Vietnamese Bible translation since 1926. The International Bible Society began the translation in 1974 and finished the New Testament in 1982. "The Contemporary Vietnamese Bible is ready just as trade barriers are loosening and relations are warming," International Bible Society president Lars Dunberg says. "The new Bible will find a ready audience."
* Paul D. Kooistra is the new chief executive officer of Mission to the World, the Atlanta-based overseas missionary agency of the Presbyterian Church in America, which has more than 600 missionaries serving in 60 countries. Kooistra had been president of Covenant Theological Seminary in Saint Louis for nine years.
* Elka, the first member of the Wai Wai tribe in Brazil to be converted to Christianity, died in August. Chief of his tribe at the time of his conversion in the 1950s, Elka is credited with converting many members of his tribe and establishing contact with several other unreached groups. "These were tribes that no foreign missionaries could reach," John Miesel, associate director of UFM International, told CT. Elka's story is chronicled in Zondervan's Christ's Witchdoctor, first published in 1963.
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