Wednesday, August 29, 2007

22 August 2007


[1] America's Presbyterian Retires
[2] Amnesty International Alliance Shattering over Abortion
[3] Synod Court Orders Rebuke for Lesbian Activist
[4] Reformed Catholics Have Their Problems Too
[5] Valedictorian Sues School District That Forced Apology
[6] Transitional Presbyteries Update
[7] Montreat Strengthens New Ties
[8] Presbyterian Publishing Corporation Gets New Leadership
[9] Presbyterian Treasurer Walks

[1] America's Presbyterian Retires

Dr. D. James Kennedy is stepping down as minister of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, a congregation he founded in 1959 and built into a mega-church with nearly 10,000 members. Kennedy, 76, had a heart attack in late December and has been in poor health since then. Jennifer Cassidy, Kennedy’s daughter, made the announcement during services on 26 August. Saturday had been the 51st anniversary of his marriage to Anne Kennedy.

For three months, Kennedy was mostly in bed or a wheelchair until receiving two months of therapy at a rehabilitation center in Grand Rapids, Michigan but he now walks unaided, Cassidy said. In January, he received a pacemaker-defibrillator at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, replacing a regular pacemaker implanted last year. Kennedy has physical therapy three times a week.

Complicating recovery are a lifelong problem with asthma and headaches from "degenerative disc disease," Cassidy said. He had at least two neck vertebrae fused in the 1980s, Cassidy continued.

In her speech to the congregation, Cassidy denied rumors that her father had a stroke or heart attack or contracted Alzheimer's disease.

National Religious Broadcasters President Frank Wright reports that Kennedy is "fully cognizant," but can no longer preach or lead his church and related Coral Ridge Ministries.

While many ministers rolled up their sleeves and wore jeans to preach, Kennedy's style remained calm and measured. Kennedy was also ahead of the times on many other trends. In the 1980s, Kennedy was one of the first in the movement to elect political candidates sympathetic to Christian views. Long before Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ and the Left Behind book series, Kennedy was advocating Christian-produced family entertainment. Since then, Coral Ridge Ministries, an arm of the church, has produced films propounding Kennedy's views, including one that denounced the popular book and movie The Da Vinci Code.

Last year, the Anti-Defamation denounced Kennedy for producing "Darwin's Deadly Legacy," a documentary that linked Charles Darwin's theory of evolution to Adolf Hitler. Westminster Academy, the private K-12 Christian school he founded in 1971, is known for teaching Intelligent Design, which treats Darwin's theory of evolution as antithetical to Scripture.

Besides the church, Kennedy founded: Knox Seminary; Westminster Academy; Coral Ridge Ministries, a broadcast organization heard in about 200 nations; a chaplaincy to federal workers on Capitol Hill; and Evangelism Explosion, a program to train lay people to spread the gospel. Kennedy launched a series of rallies, called Reclaiming America for Christ, which helped train volunteers across the nation to work for conservative objectives in their hometowns. In his spare time, Kennedy wrote some 65 books.

For a quarter of century, Kennedy served on the editorial board for the Christian Observer, much of that time as Associate Editor.

+ Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, 5555 N Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33308 (954) 771-3187

[2] Amnesty International Alliance Shattering over Abortion

The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland announced 28 August that he was resigning from human rights group Amnesty International after the organization changed its stance on abortion. Cardinal Keith O'Brien said he was withdrawing his membership because Amnesty's new position on abortion contravened the "basic right to human life."

The decision follows the recent move by Amnesty to back abortion in certain circumstances. The policy change has already led to calls from senior members of the Roman Catholic Church in Britain and the Vatican for a withdrawal of support from the organization.

+ Cardinal Keith O'Brien, 28 Manor Place, Edinburgh, EH3 7EB, Scotland

[3] Synod Court Orders Rebuke for Lesbian Activist

In a reversal of a lower church court ruling, Jane Adams Spahr has been found guilty of violating the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage by performing weddings for two lesbian couples. The Synod of the Pacific's Permanent Judicial Commission (PJC) ruled 6-2 on 18 August that while the "lesbian evangelist" and longtime Presbyterian minister "acted with conscience and conviction," her actions were still at odds with the church's constitution.

The decision of the synod tribunal overturned last year's ruling by the Presbytery of the Redwoods' PJC, which determined Spahr acted within her rights and conscience as an ordained minister when she presided over the nuptials of the two lesbian couples in 2004 and 2005.

The PC(USA)'s Book of Order defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and church courts have ruled that Presbyterian ministers may not utilize the marriage liturgy in same-sex ceremonies. "Regardless of the expression of conscience by the Rev. Dr. Spahr, she may not circumvent the standards of the church," according to the synod PJC ruling. "Although the Rev. Dr. Spahr had acted with conscience and conviction, her actions were contrary to the Constitution as it is authoritatively interpreted, [and] is therefore subject to censure."

The synod PJC directed the presbytery PJC to "enter a finding of guilt" against Spahr and to impose the censure of rebuke, the mildest form of punishment that could be brought. The most serious penalty could have been removal from the ministry. The rebuke, which amounts to an official admonishment by the presbytery, does not affect the ministerial credentials of Spahr, but it could lead to further discipline if she continues to perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples

Spahr, a 65-year-old grandmother who is set to retire from ministry at the end of this month, expressed disappointment in the latest ruling. Despite the court's ruling, Spahr said that she would continue doing marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.

The Synod of the Pacific is based in Petaluma, CA, and is composed of congregations in northern California, Nevada, southern Idaho, and Oregon.

Spahr was called in 1991 as co-pastor of Downtown United Presbyterian Church in Rochester, but the call was invalidated by the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission in November 1992. Even without a call, the Rochester church invited her as a "lesbian evangelist" and established That All May Freely Serve (TAMFS) in 1993 to support her ministry, in partnership with Westminster Presbyterian Church in Tiburon, California.

For 15 years now, Spahr has been traveling the country mustering support for the ordination of gay and lesbian Presbyterians, along the way building a network of regional groups to help in the effort.

+ Presbyterian Church (USA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202 (888) 728-7228

[4] Reformed Catholics Have Their Problems Too

Sussex County, New Jersey, man who was a pastor and a hospital social worker has been indicted on a charge of failing to register in New Jersey as a sex offender after moving from California to Mexico to Vernon, authorities said today.

Sean-Michael Lyons, 45, also known as Michael S. Lyons, had moved from California to Mexico in October 2000, and then sometime in 2000 moved to Vernon, but never registered there as a sex offender, according to published. Lyons was charged 9 February with one count of fourth-degree failing to register as a sex offender.

Lyons, a pastor in the Reformed Catholic Church, led the Damien of Molokai Chapel that he operated at his home in the Lake Wallkill section of Vernon.

According to Bishop Shane Price of the Ohio-based Reformed Catholic Church, Lyons has been suspended from his clerical duties pending the outcome of the investigation. The Reformed Catholic Church, an independent church founded in 2000, is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.

+ St. Sebastian Catholic Church, PO Box 2, Worthington, Ohio 43085

[5] Valedictorian Sues School District That Forced Apology

Liberty Counsel filed suit against Lewis Palmer School District on behalf of Erica Corder, a high school valedictorian who was forced to publicly apologize for sharing her Christian faith at graduation. Erica was one of 15 valedictorians from the Lewis-Palmer High School class of 2006. For the past year, she has been the subject of criticism because the school continues to portray her as a student who engaged in improper conduct because she mentioned Jesus Christ during her speech.
Before graduation in May 2006, Principal Mark Brewer informed the valedictorians that they could choose one student to speak, or that all of them could deliver a 30-second graduation message. The students chose to have all 15 valedictorians participate and chose a general topic for each speaker. Erica and one other student were chosen to give concluding messages. Each valedictorian orally presented a proposed speech to the principal before graduation.

During her 30-second message Erica spoke about her faith in Jesus Christ. Afterwards, she was escorted to see the assistant principal, who said she would not receive her diploma because of the speech she had given. Principal Brewer later indicated that her comments were "immature." He said that she could only receive her diploma if she apologized to the school community. Erica prepared a statement saying the message was her own and was not endorsed by the principal. Brewer insisted that she include the words: "I realize that, had I asked ahead of time, I would not have been allowed to say what I did." Erica complied because she feared the school would withhold her diploma. She was also afraid that the school would put disciplinary notes in her file and would generate negative publicity, which could prevent her from becoming a school teacher. Principal Brewer sent out Erica's message in an e-mail to the entire high sc hool community. Soon after, Erica received her diploma.

Liberty Counsel sent a letter on behalf of Erica to the Lewis Palmer School District Board of Education, explaining that her First Amendment rights had been violated, and requested that the district apologize for the e-mail that Erica was forced to write and institute a written policy to ensure that no future constitutional violations occur. The school board has thus far taken no remedial steps. Meanwhile, Erica continues to be the subject of public criticism from school officials.

Mathew Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: "Valedictorians have the right to express their religious viewpoints while at the graduation podium. School officials have no right to threaten young graduates that their diplomas will be withheld. The school district's action in forcing Erica Corder to write an e-mail apologizing to the community for exercising her right to free speech is shocking."

+ Liberty Counsel, PO Box 540774 - Orlando, Florida 32854

[6] Transitional Presbyteries Update

The New Wineskins – Evangelical Presbyterian Church Transitional Presbytery Commission, chaired by Bill Meyers, meets every Monday via telephone conference call to transact the business that is presented to the group. As of 21 August 21, the following churches and pastors have been received into the NW/EPC Transitional Presbytery: Central Presbyterian Church, Huntsville, Alabama (Randy Jenkins, pastor), First Presbyterian Church, Quincy, Illinois (Rod Bakker and Kevin McGinnis, pastors), The Forks of the Brandywine Presbyterian Church, Glenmoore, Pennsylvania (Andy Curtis, pastor), Great Valley Presbyterian Church, Malvern, Pennsylvania (Dan Stewart, pastor), and Upper Octorara Presbyterian Church, Parkesburg, Pennsylvania (Bill Kelly, pastor). Hope Presbyterian Church of Rogue River, Oregon (Brian Boisen, pastor), has been received pending their dismissal from the Presbyterian Church (USA). Also, Sean Martin has been received as a minister member of the presbytery. Martin will be laboring outside the bounds at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Simsbury, Connecticut.

The EPC Transitional Presbytery Commission, chaired by John Adamson, has received Grace Chapel, Madison, Mississippi (Steve Bryant, pastor) into membership since the EPC General Assembly in June.

+ Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 17197 N. Laurel Park Drive, Suite 567, Livonia, Michigan 48152-7912

[7] Montreat Strengthens New Ties

Stephen Woodworth, Chaplain of Montreat College, will be ordained for ministry in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church on 20 September. Woodworth summed his feelings about joining the Evangelical Presbyterian Church by saying, "I am excited about a future within the EPC. I love its mission to take the gospel to the world and a culture that is increasingly confused about exactly who Jesus Christ is. The EPC feels like home for a number of reasons – most importantly because of their decision to making Jesus Christ and his Kingdom known the primary task of the church. It is a privilege to be counted among its ministers."

Montreat College is a Christ-centered liberal arts institution with its main campus for four-year traditional students in Montreat, North Carolina. The accelerated School of Professional and Adult Studies program has campuses in Asheville, Charlotte, and Black Mountain, with courses being taught in Cherokee, Murphy, and other North Carolina locations.

+ Montreat College, 310 Gaither Circle, Montreat, North Carolina 28757

[8] Presbyterian Publishing Corporation Gets New Leadership

In the wake of C. Davis Perkins' departure as president and publisher for the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, acting president and publisher Marc Lewis has announced some staff changes.

David Dobson, who has been with PPC since 1999, has been named acting director of publishing. Formerly PPC's director of product management, Dobson will oversee the editorial and marketing programs for Westminster John Knox Press, Geneva Press, and the Web site The Thoughtful Christian.

Lewis announced two other promotions: Rev. Jon Berquist, who has been senior editor for Biblical studies since 2003, has been named executive editor for Biblical studies; and Rev. Donald K. McKim, who has been academic and reference editor since 2000, has been named executive editor for theology and reference.

+ Presbyterian Church (USA) 100 Witherspoon Street Louisville, KY 40202 (888) 728-7228

[9] Presbyterian Treasurer Walks

A former Presbyterian Church (USA) treasurer who was convicted of stealing more than US$100,000 in church funds avoided prison time and instead was sentenced today to five years’ probation. Judith A. Golliher, who pleaded guilty in June to eight felony counts of theft by unlawful taking, has repaid the Louisville office more than US$130,000 and must complete 1,000 hours of community service, and 90 days of home incarceration as part of her sentence.If Golliher violates the law while on probation, she faces a 10-year prison sentence and a US$30,000 fine.

+ Presbyterian Church (USA) 100 Witherspoon Street Louisville, KY 40202 (888) 728-7228

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

22 August 2007


Highlanders Meet Low-Lifes in Africa
[2] Presbyterian Church of Rwanda Turns 100
[3] Ghana's Presbyterians Called To Do at Home What They Do in the Diaspora
[4] Rule It or Ruin It Isn't Just an American Urban Problem
[5] From 30 to 900 to 30 in 100 Years
[6] ARP Plan Book Deadline
[7] Muslim Sues Egypt for the Right To Convert To Christianity

Highlanders Meet Low-Lifes in Africa

A short-term mission group from Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas learned the hard way that missions can be as dangerous today as it was in St. Paul’s time. The intent had been to work on an irrigation project and distribute Bibles, schools supplies, and medicines.

Published reports indicated that members of the team encountered four robbers armed with rifles and a machete. Three members of the team who were born in Kenya received the roughest treatment.

+ Highland Park Presbyterian Church, 3821 University Blvd., Dallas, Texas 75205

Presbyterian Church of Rwanda Turns 100

Speaking to thousands gathered on 19 August, Setri Nyomi, general secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), congratulated the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda on coming through many challenges during the past 100 years, including the horrific genocide of 1994 that killed almost a million people, divided churches, and left many scars.

“As a result, this church could have simply recoiled into a spiritual ghetto of self-preservation or protection of its own tribes. But no, with confidence in God, you have pulled through each challenge and committed yourself to prophetic witness as partners with Christ in transforming Rwandan society.”

+ Eglise Presbytérienne au Rwanda, BP 56, Kigali, Rwanda, Africa

Ghana's Presbyterians Called To Do at Home What They Do in the Diaspora

The Seventh General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana took place in August.

The Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama who was the guest of honour called on church and state to partner and overcome challenges such as poverty, malnutrition, the digital divide and unemployment. "To succeed, we must be mature to rise above things like gender, tribe, religion or social status that appear to divide us and rather pull forward as Ghanaians," he said. The VP urged Ghanaians to use the country's golden jubilee celebrations to nurture the right attitudes that would facilitate development.

"At 50 years, we ought to claim that we have finished wondering in the desert of bad governance, corruption, indiscipline, greed, pull-him-down syndrome, intolerance and other such attitudes.” Vice President Mahama observed that Ghanaians excel in the Diaspora but at home, fail to exert the same influence on issues impeding the development of the country. Then Mahama called on Christians to encourage the attitudinal changes necessary to bring forth a born-again Ghanaian, full of confidence, trust, initiative, respect and discipline.

Ghanaian Diaspora congregations are thriving in Washington, Philadelphia, and New York. Some observers place the number of self-sustaining Ghanaian Presbyterian churches in America at more than 50.

+ Presbyteria Nyanyui Hame le Ghana [Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana] PO Box 18, Ho, Ghana, Africa

Rule It or Ruin It Isn't Just an American Urban Problem

Kenyan Moslems decided to settle a land dispute with local Presbyterians the old-fashioned way; they set fire to the disputed property. When Presbyterians expanded a fence around their buildings they crossed into territory commonly used by Nubians for daily prayer. Observers indicate some 100 young people took the opportunity take out their anger on firefighters who attempted to preserve the compound.

The overcrowded Nairobi slum where the conflict occurred is occupied primarily by descendents of Egyptian and Sudanese soldiers who retired to the area at the end of World War I after service in the British army.

+ Presbyterian Church of East Africa, PO Box 27573-00506 Myayo Stadium, Nairobi G.P.O. Kenya, Africa

+ Reformed Church of East Africa, Kisumu Road, PO Box 99, Eldoret, Kenya, Africa

From 30 to 900 to 30 in 100 Years

St. Paul’s Evangelical German Reformed Church of Buffalo, New York, opened its doors in 1895 above a grocery at Seneca and Duerstein. It was an era when both the German Reformed Church and the Evangelical Church were expanding in Western New York. By the 11950s, the church had 900 members, and the sanctuary was filled to capacity for Sunday services.

Today, most of the 30 remaining members are older than 75. The transition reflects in part the changing character of the city but it also occurred as the United Church of Christ began to evaporate over the last 50 years. If the state of New York agrees, St. Paul’s will sell its beautiful facility to Berea Church of God in Christ for US$135,000.

+ St Paul's United Church of Christ, 49 Indian Church Road, Buffalo, NY 14210

ARP Plan Book Deadline

Information to be included in the 2008 ARP Plan Book is due to the ARP Center by 31 August. The plan book includes a calendar and monthly listings of various meetings on Synod and presbytery levels, including Women's Ministries meetings. Conferences, camps and retreats are included, as are reminders of deadlines throughout the year. Many ARPs find the plan book invaluable in keeping up with scheduled events. Information may be E-mailed to Betsy Johnsman

Each ARP church receives four copies at no charge; some purchase additional copies. To obtain plan books, send your order to the ARP Center, One Cleveland St., Ste.110, Greenville, SC 29601-3696. Cost is US$3 each, plus shipping. Cost is $4 for one plan book. For larger amounts, please request the number desired and a bill will be sent. Plan books for 2008 will be mailed out near the end of the year. Ordering now will help Central Services set a more accurate number for printing. 2007 plan books - free; US$1 for postage.

+ Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, One Cleveland St., Greenville, SC 29601

Muslim Sues Egypt for the Right To Convert To Christianity

A Muslim convert to Christianity filed suit against Egypt last week for refusing to legally recognize his change of religion, sparking a reactionary lawsuit by Muslim clerics and death threats against his lawyer. Mohammed Ahmed Hegazy, 24, brought a case against Egypt’s interior ministry on Thursday (August 2) for rejecting his application to replace Islam with Christianity on his personal identification papers.

“I think it is my natural right, to embrace the religion I believe and not to have to have a double personality for me as well as for my wife and my expected baby,” said Hegazy, who converted to Christianity when he was 16.

Though Egyptian law does not forbid conversion from Islam to Christianity, it provides no legal means to make the change. Converts to Christianity usually hide their identity to avoid torture and forced recantation at the hands of family members and security police.

Hegazy, whose wife Zeinab is four months pregnant, said that he wants his child to be born with Christian papers. The couple, who were forced to hold an Islamic wedding ceremony because of their legal status as Muslims, know that a Christian ID card will allow their child to take Christian religion classes in school, marry in a church and even openly attend services without fear of harassment.

+ Compass Direct News, PO Box 27250, Santa Ana CA 92799-7250

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

15 August 2007

[1] Second Oldest Pennsylvania Presbyterian Church Joins EPC
[2] David C. Hancock
[3] Groundbreaking at Atonement
[4] Bill Roberts, ARP Synod Historian
[5] Methodists Will Revisit Transgender Clergy Status
[6] Conversion Code of Conduct Emerging
[7] Kidnapped Christian Forced to Marry Muslim

Second Oldest Pennsylvania Presbyterian Church Joins EPC

Great Valley Presbyterian in Malvern, Pennsylvania. joined the New Wineskins/EPC Transitional Presbytery in July 2007. With the single exception of the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia (1698), it is the oldest Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania. The founders were Welshmen who left their country for conscience’s sake. The church was gathered prior to 1710 and formally organized in 1714. Since the first pastor, Rev. David Evans, was called in 1720, 22 pastors have served the congregation including the current pastor, Rev. Daniel Stewart.

The original log church, erected in 1720, was located north of where the old vault building now stands in the cemetery. It is marked by the grave of Thomas Hutchinson, whose monument now stands where the pulpit once stood. The cornerstone for the second church was laid in 1793, on the same day George Washington laid the cornerstone of the capital building in Washington. In the 1880’s the second church was razed and a third church was built on the same site. A Christian Education Building was added in 1960, and the third church was renovated and expanded in 1968 and 1980 to become the structure we worship in today.

+ Great Valley Presbyterian Church, 2025 Swedesford Rd. Malvern, PA 19355 (610) 644-1995

+ Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 17197 N. Laurel Park Drive, Suite 567, Livonia, Michigan 48152

David C. Hancock

Rev. David C. Hancock, a longtime leader in Presbyterian Church (USA) efforts to minister with people suffering alcohol and drug addictions, died 1 Aug. in a Minneapolis nursing home aat age 93.

A graduate of Hanover College and McCormick Theological Seminary, Hancock was ordained to the ministry in 1951. Believing he had "failed miserably" to help parishioners overcome alcohol and drug problems, Hancock left parish ministry in 1964 to devote himself to alcohol and drug abuse prevention, becoming a co-founder and leader of the national non-profit Prevention of Alcohol Problems.

Hancock also served on numerous Presbyterian oards and commissions and was instrumental in the creation of the Presbyterian Network on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (PNAODA), a network of the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association. A million copies of his pamphlet "I Can't Be an Alcoholic Because ..." have sold.

"He was really ahead of his time," said the Rev. Gordon Grimm, a retired Lutheran pastor and former staffer at Hazelden, a treatment center near Center City, Minnesota. "Rather than seeing everything about alcohol as negative, he would [teach] that it is a part of life, that people need to set boundaries, and if they can't, they need help," said Grimm.

+ Presbyterian Church (USA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, KY 40202

Groundbreaking at Atonement

Presbyterian Church of the Atonement, Silver Spring, Maryland, broke ground 29 July to ceremonially begin the long-planned renovation of the church grounds and facilities. On Sunday morning the congregation gathered on the lawn in the southwest corner of the church property. The congregation is the Associate Reformed Presbyterian anchor church on the Maryland side of the nation’s capital.

+ Church of the Atonement, 10613 Georgia Avenue Silver Spring, Maryland 20902

Bill Roberts, ARP Synod Historian

Rev. Bill Roberts, pastor of Effingham Presbyterian Church and Historian of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Synod, died 11 Aug. A second service will also be held later in the week at the Ebenezer Church, Blue Mountain, Mississippi, which is Bill's home Church. Roberts had been undergoing treatment for cancer since April.

+ Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, 1 Cleveland St., Suite 110 Greenville, SC 29601-3646 (864) 232-8297

Methodists Will Revisit Transgender Clergy Status

The United Methodist Church's top judicial authority will again be considering questions about sexuality - including the case of a pastor who switched gender from female to male - when it tackles a full docket at its fall meeting.

The Judicial Council, the top court for The United Methodist Church, is scheduled to meet 24-27 Oct. in San Francisco. At this year's Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference in late May, Bishop John R. Schol reappointed Drew Phoenix as pastor of St. John's United Methodist Church in Baltimore. Phoenix, 48, had been minister at St. John's for five years as the Rev. Ann Gordon. After surgery and hormone therapy in the past year, the pastor changed gender to male and adopted a new name.

Though the United Methodist Church bars self-avowed practicing gay clergy from appointment and does not support gay unions, the Book of Discipline says nothing about transgender clergy. In his ruling, Bishop Schol wrote that "There are no paragraphs in the 2004 Book of Discipline that prevent transgender clergy from serving in an appointment."

+ United Methodist Church, 810 12th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203

Conversion Code of Conduct Emerging

A World Evangelical Alliance theologian says his grouping of Christians that stresses its proclamation of the gospel is ready to support a code of conduct on seeking conversions to Christianity commonly agreed by traditional Protestant, Anglican, and Orthodox churches as well as by Roman Catholics. "'Evangelical and ecumenical Christians have never been as close in this regard as they are today. Thus, something that would not have been possible 30 years ago has become achievable," said Thomas Schirrmacher, a German theologian who chairs the WEA's International Institute for Religious Freedom.

+ Ecumenical News International, PO Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2,

Kidnapped Christian Forced to Marry Muslim

A Christian university professor in Gaza was kidnapped, forced to marry a Muslim professor at the same university and now her family is being told she wants no contact with them unless they convert to Islam.

Sana al-Sayegh, head of the Science and Technology Department at Gaza City's Palestine International University, disappeared 24 June, according to Palestinian Authority officials and the woman's family. Five days later, she contacted her family to say she was being held against her will so she could be married to a Muslim man.

Officials of Gaza's Hamas government denied the charge, but her family says she would never willingly convert to Islam, according to Mission Network News. A few days after the phone call, they received a copy of conversion documents signed by two witnesses, one of which is the president of the university. Requests from Sayegh's family and Christian leaders for a meeting with Hamas leaders were denied.

Returning to Christianity is a crime worthy of death in many Muslim societies. The kidnapping, rape, "marriage" and "conversion" of Christian girls and women is a common occurrence in some predominantly Muslim countries.

+ Southern Baptist Convention, 901 Commerce St., Nashville, TN 37203 (615) 244-2355

Thursday, August 9, 2007

8 August 2007

Headlines – Wednesday, 8 August 2007

[1] Delegation Prays for Iraqi Prime Minister
[2] PROK Appeals for Christian Unity in Face of Taliban
[3] Nichols Will Administer Tusculum
[4] Patriarch Teoctist Departs
[5] Omaha Enters REC
[6] EPC Dismissed From Lawsuit
[7] Escape from Muslim Kidnappers
[8] 1300 Years and Counting

[1] Delegation Prays for Iraqi Prime Minister

Dr. Gary Cass, former Executive Director of Reclaiming America for Christ, now Chairman and CEO of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, went as part of a six member prayer delegation to Baghdad and prayed for Prime Minister Maliki and the Iraqi people.

"Isn't it interesting that the very same weekend we pray for the Prime Minister and for peace and freedom for all Iraqis the mood concerning Iraq has significantly changed," said Cass. "The Iraqi soccer team unites the nation and the New York Times runs a positive op-ed that states the war might be winnable. Rush Limbaugh asked on his Monday program what happened over the weekend in Iraq. Some people believe in coincidences, we believe God is honored when we pray in Jesus' name."

According to reports of Christian leaders who met the delegation, over 50% of Iraqi Christians have left the country. Iraqi Christians constitute three per cent of the population or approximately one million people. The Christian leaders expressed fear of a US troop pullout. The government at this time cannot protect religious minorities, and if the US pulls out, the Christians fear they will be slaughtered.

Reformed Presbyterian minister Rev. Pat Mahoney and the Christian Defense Coalition organized the delegation.

+ Christian Defense Coalition, 4019 Duke of Glouchester, Fredericksburg, VA 22407

[2] PROK Appeals for Christian Unity in Face of Taliban

The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK) has issued an urgent prayer appeal to the global Christian community for the remaining 21 Korean hostages held by Taliban militants in Afghanistan after the deaths of two male hostages. “The threat of further executions of the hostages is driving not only the affected families but the whole Korean society into the most painful situation,” stated a letter by PROK general secretary Yoon Kil-soo.

+ Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, Academy House, San 76 Suyu 6-dong, Kangbuk-ku, Seoul, KOREA 142-070

[3] Nichols Will Administer Tusculum

Recently retired Hanover College president Russell L. Nichols has been named interim president of Tusculum College in Greeneville, Tennessee. The hiring of Nichols, who was to start his new job August 1, was announced last month by Tusculum College Board of Trustees Chairman Kenneth Bowman. Nichols, who is a Presbyterian elder, just completed his 20th year as president of Hanover College in Hanover, IN, which like Tusculum is a Presbyterian-related institution. At the time of his retirement in June, Nichols was the 14th president in Hanover's 179-year history and only its fifth since 1879. Tusculum College had been led during the spring and summer on an alternating and cooperative basis by two board members with administrative experience in higher education. The duo temporarily replaced Dolphus E. Henry, III, who officially resigned as Tusculum's president last month after being placed on a paid leave of absence for undisclosed reasons by the college trustees in May. That came after the Tusculum faculty voted no confidence in Henry in February.

+ Tusculum College, 60 Shiloh Road, Greeneville, TN 37743

[4] Patriarch Teoctist Departs

More than 5000 people attended the funeral of the spiritual head of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Teoctist, who died at the age of 92. He was laid to rest after a funeral on 3 August at which tribute was paid to the ecumenical leader, though with suspicions also lingering about his past contacts with Communist authorities. The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomeos I of Constantinople, who is viewed by many as the spiritual leader of the world's 200 million Orthodox Christians, conducted the funeral of Teoctist. The Romanian Patriarch died on 30 July after a heart attack following prostate surgery.

Teoctist is the fifth patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, which has been "autocephalous" (nationally independent) since 1885. The church does not recognize a head outside Romania. Its dogma includes automatic loyalty to the secular head of state, no matter of what political orientation.

+ Ecumenical News International, PO Box 2100, CH - 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland

+ Romanian Archdiocese in the Americas, 5410 N. Newland Ave., Chicago, IL 60656-2026

[5] Omaha Enters REC

On 29 July Bishop Royal Grote received Holy Cross Anglican Church in Omaha, Nebraska, and its rector, Rev. Victor Ephraim Novak, into the Reformed Episcopal Church during an episcopal visit. Bishop Grote celebrated Holy Communion and preached. A luncheon and reception for the bishop was held after services. There were 34 in attendance.

+ Bishop Royal U. Grote Jr., Reformed Episcopal Church, 4142 Dayflower Dr., Katy, TX 77449

[6] EPC Dismissed From Lawsuit

The Evangelical Presbyterian Church has been dismissed from the lawsuit filed by the Presbytery of Ohio Valley (PCUSA) against Olivet Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Olivet was dismissed by the Ohio Valley Presbytery to the EPC Midwest Presbytery in late 2006.

As a denomination, the EPC does not have a constitutional or legal claim to local church property. The constitution declares that among “the rights and privileges that are irrevocably reserved” to a viable local church is “ownership of its own property” (Book of Government, chapter seven, sections 1 and 4).

+ Dr. Jeffrey Jeremiah, Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 17197 N. Laurel Park Drive, Suite 567, Livonia, Michigan 48152

[7] Escape from Muslim Kidnappers

A Christian boy kidnapped in November by Muslims who intended to convert him to Islam escaped last month and has returned to his family home. After four months in captivity, 13-year-old Victor Udo Usen fled from his Muslim captors on March 6 and ran to a shop run by his mother in the Mabera area of Sokoto, capital of the northern state of Sokoto. Esther Udo Usen, Victor’s mother, told Compass that she was in her shop when Victor came in. “He told me he escaped, and I had to contact his father immediately,” she said. “We arranged through a family friend to take him out of the city.”

+ Compass Direct News, PO Box 27250, Santa Ana CA 92799-7250

[8] 1300 Years and Counting

St. Columba’s Church, opposite the famous Nardini caf√© in Largs, Scotland, enters a new stage in its life this weekend this summer when the Columba Experience is launched.

For over 1300 years the Church of St. Columba has had a presence in Largs, though it has only borne his name for the last 700 or so. Tradition has it that St. Columba himself founded the church. As far back as 711 AD, only 114 years after St. Columba’s death in 597 AD, mention is made of a church here in Largs.

In partnership with the Largs Historical Society, visitors to the church will be able to follow and audio trail round the town of Largs, featuring the connections with Brisbane, Australia, the historic Skelmorlie Aisle, and the story of the part played by Largs during the 1939/45 war. There will also be an audio trail around the church itself.

+ St. Columba’s Church, Gallowgate Street/Nelson Street, Largs, Scotland


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

1 August 2007

Headlines - Wednesday, August 01, 2007

[ 1 ]
Lawsuit Causes County Heartburn
[ 2 ] PCA Study Report on Federal Vision
[ 3 ] Robin Roberts Reports Cancer
[ 4 ] Robert T. Newbold, Jr.
[ 5 ] MTW Hsts Global Missions Conference
[ 6 ] Jay West Resigns
[ 7 ] 2007 General Assembly Report

[ 1 ]
Lawsuit Causes County Heartburn

Yesterday, in response to a federal lawsuit filed by Liberty Counsel, Orange County officials agreed to not prohibit Shirley Snyder from distributing religious literature in the public parks. Liberty Counsel filed the lawsuit on 20 July, after Snyder was stopped in Cypress Grove Park from passing out tracts about Jesus and a flyer announcing a church service.

A park official filed an affidavit in federal court yesterday stating, "If Shirley Snyder would like to distribute leaflets or other printed matter within Orange County Parks, she may do so within normal park hours of operation without prior approval from Orange County." The affidavit also showed that the Orange County Board of County Commissioners amended the Orange County Parks and Recreation Division's Rules and Regulations yesterday by removing the restrictions against literature distribution in the public parks. The former rules were unconstitutional because they required prior approval of the literature by the county.

The first hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for 17 August before Judge John Antoon II at the federal courthouse in Orlando. Although the County has agreed to allow Snyder to distribute literature in the parks in the future, the new policy does not undo the damage caused by the County's original literature ban. An opportunity lost is an opportunity that can never be regained.

Anita Staver, President of Liberty Counsel, commented: "The First Amendment guarantees that public parks and sidewalks in America will remain free and open to expression. Orange County should have known better than to ban religious literature from our public parks. Government officials have a responsibility to educate themselves about constitutional rights, so they don't have to learn their civics lessons in court."

+ Liberty Counsel, Post Office Box 540774, Orlando, FL 32854

[ 2 ]
PCA Study Report on Federal Vision

The 34th PCA General Assembly appointed an ad interim committee "to study the soteriology of the Federal Vision, New Perspective, and Auburn Avenue Theologies which are causing confusion among our churches. Further, to determine whether these viewpoints and formulations are in conformity with the system of doctrine taught in the Westminster Standards, whether they are hostile to or strike at the vitals of religion, and to present a declaration or statement regarding the issues raised by these viewpoints in light of our Confessional Standards (MGA 34:229-30)."

The finished report is now available from the denominational headquarters.

+ Presbyterian Church in America, 1700 North Brown Road, Suite 102, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30043-8143

[ 3 ]
Robin Roberts Reports Cancer

Noted Presbyterian and “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts has announced that she has breast cancer. Writing on the ABC Television Web site 31 July 31, Roberts said she detected a lump during a self-exam and doctors confirmed the cancer diagnosis “a few weeks ago.” Roberts, the daughter of Lucimarian and the late Lawrence Roberts — longtime Presbyterian activists — was featured speaker at the 2002 General Assembly Breakfast in Columbus.

Roberts said she will undergo surgery and then follow-up treatment soon. “Please know that your thoughts and prayers very much sustain me as they always have each and every morning when I sit in the chair next to Diane (Sawyer) and say ‘Good Morning America.’ You have always been there for me … and I love you back.”

Lucimarian and Lawrence Roberts served the Presbyterian Church (USA) at all levels. Lawrence Roberts served six years on the General Assembly Council, including a year as vice-chair. Lucimarian Roberts served on the National Committee on the Self-Development of People and until recently was co-chair of the National Steering Committee for the Mission Initiative: Joining Hearts and Hands.

+ Presbyterian Church (USA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, KY 40202 (888) 728-7228

[ 4 ]
Robert T. Newbold, Jr.

Rev. Robert T. Newbold, Jr, whose long career as a Presbyterian Church (USA) minister included 16 years as associate stated clerk of the General Assembly, died 26 July in Irving, Texas. He was 87. A native of Miami, Newbold graduated from Florida A&M College, Lincoln Theological Seminary in Oxford, Pennsylvania and McCormick Theological Seminary. He was ordained in 1944.

When he was nominated to be associate stated clerk in 1975, Newbold said that his ministry in the PC(USA) “has been influenced by observations of the dehumanizing effect of the deprivation of opportunity to experience fulfillment and economic freedom by Black People.”

Newbold’s life and career in the church was testimony to his skill and courage in overcoming those deprivations. For 24 years he served Black Presbyterian churches in Brunswick and Atlanta, Georgia, and Baltimore. During that time he also taught homiletics as a visiting lecturer at Gammon Theological Seminary, a United Methodist school that is part of Atlanta’s Interdenominational Theological Center. He also taught homiletics at Princeton Theological Seminary and New York Theological Seminary.

+ Presbyterian Church (USA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, KY 40202 (888) 728-7228

[ 5 ]
MTW Hsts Global Missions Conference

For anyone familiar with Mission to the World’s many callings, there may be no better primer than the upcoming Presbyterian Church in America Global Missions Conference, 16-18 November 2007, in Atlanta, Georgia. Held every several years, the conference is “a great way for our churches to see what is going on in our world, so to speak,” said Carla Cobb, Two-Week project administrator and a co-coordinator of the conference for MTW, the sponsor of the event. “There are countless opportunities for pastors and church leaders to learn how they can be directly involved in missions. It’s also a great place for more in-depth learning.”

As one MTW staffer put it, the conference “covers everything from basic, 101-level subjects to master’s level classes. It’s nice to have a wonderful time, but the conference needs to be relevant for everyone, not just those new to missions.”

In 2004, approximately 2,000 people attended the PCA Global Missions Conference, and nearly 300 missionaries and nationals provided first-person accounts of the challenges they face on the mission field, as well as addressing their areas of need.

+ Presbyterian Church in America, 1700 North Brown Road, Suite 102, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30043-8143

[ 6 ]
Jay West Resigns

Rev. Jay West has resigned as vice president for institutional relations at
Erskine College, effective 31July. West will officially begin work as CEO of New Partnership Alliance in Greenwood on 7 August.

+ Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, One Cleveland Street, Greenville, South Carolina 29601

[ 7 ]
2007 General Assembly Report

The 74th General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Chuch meet at Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa, from Wednesday 13 June to 20 June 2007. A running daily report is written by David K. Thompson and edited by Stephen Pribble and Linda Foh is available from the denomination.

+ The Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 607 N. Easton Rd., Bldg. E, Box P, Willow Grove, PA 19090-0920