Wednesday, September 26, 2007

26 September 2007


[1] DRC Sri Lanka Changes Name
[2] Gerald W. Sovereign
[3] Presbyterians Today To Remain Under GAC
[4] New Persian Bible Translation
[5] Murphy Presbyterian Church Turns EPC
[6] Phillip Radmer Could Get 16 Years for Fraud
[7] Rex Humbard Pioneer TV Evangelist
[8] Gay Partnership No Block to Office Says Norwegian Church Body
[9] Odenor St. Cyr[
[10] American Brethren Turn 300
[11] Christians in Chiapas, Mexico Town Deprived of Water

[1] DRC Sri Lanka Changes Name

After several years of waiting, the Sri Lankan Parliament has passed a bill officially changing the name of the Dutch Reformed Church to the Christian Reformed Church. The church had decided to change its name earlier, hoping to have it completed by its 350th anniversary in 1992. However, it needed a private members motion in Parliament to make the change legal, and such motions are considered only rarely.

The CRCSL wanted its new name to present a clearer identity. During the Dutch occupation the church was the home for the colonialists and for the class known as Burghers, who mostly worked in civil service. In the last few decades, however, even as the Burgher class declined, the church has expanded into both the Sinhalese and the Tamil communities in Sri Lanka. Services now occur in all three languages each Sunday.

Because Christians are a minority, the CRCSL determines it would be a more effective witness to have the word Christian in its name instead of Dutch. Still, the leaders retain an appreciation for their heritage.

The CRCSL President, Roshan Mendis, wrote in a letter announcing the change, "We certainly thank God for our ‘Dutch’ roots and for the ‘faith of our fathers and mothers,’ and trust the Lord to lead us in this ‘life changing moment.’"

+ Christian Reformed Church in Sri Lanka, c/o 363, Galle Road, Colombo 6, Sri Lanka

[2] Gerald W. Sovereign

Ruling elder Gerald W. Sovereign, 82, died 23 August 23, 2007 in Daytona, Florida. Mr. Sovereign was the moderator of the 15th Presbyterian Church in America General Assembly (1987). A member of Spruce Creek Presbyterian Church in Port Orange, Florida, Sovereign is survived by his wife of 60 years, Kathleen.

+ Spruce Creek Presbyterian Church, 1705 Taylor Road, Port Orange, FL 32128

[3] Presbyterians Today To Remain Under GAC

The General Assembly Council (GAC) unanimously approved a report that keeps Presbyterians Today (PT) magazine under the jurisdiction of the General Assembly Council of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and not under Presbyterian Publishing Corporation (PPC). The vote came during the opening day of work of the GAC meeting in Louisville 17-21 September and takes the monthly magazine off the hotplate of uncertainty about its future.

The task force “unanimously concluded that the GAC should retain control of the magazine,” the group said in its report. The Presbyterians Today Task Force was appointed in 2006 by the GAC executive committee to study an offer by the PPC to take over publication of Presbyterian’s Today.

+ Presbyterian Church (USA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202-1396 (888) 728-7228

[4] New Persian Bible Translation

"Today's Persian Version” was officially dedicated in Istanbul, Turkey, in August. The last Persian translation of the Bible was done in the 1890s. Persian is the language of more than 100 million people worldwide, with the majority of them living in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan.

The translation was a project of United Bible Societies, a world fellowship of Bible societies. The New Testament appeared in 1975 and work then began on the Old Testament. The project was interrupted in 1980 and did not resume again until 1991.

The Presbyterian Church sent missionaries to Iran in the middle of the 19th Century.

+ Bible Society, Stonehill Green, Westlea, Swindon SN5 7DG United Kingdom

[5] Murphy Presbyterian Church Turns EPC

The Murphy Presbyterian Church has transferred into the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The congregation joins a migration which began in 1981 and has gained speed as the Presbyterian Church (USA) has declined.

Murphy obtained title to its property in exchange for US$10,000, to be paid to the Presbytery of Western North Carolina. Presbytery commissioners voted 31 July to let the congregation go in exchange for a US$2,000 payment each year for five years to the presbytery's mission initiative.

+ Murphy Presbyterian Church. 252 Valley River Ave. Murphy, NC 28906-2921

[6] Phillip Radmer Could Get 16 Years for Fraud

Disbarred lawyer Phillip Radmer was found guilty 23 September of stealing land from a South Side church. Prosecutors alleged Radmer sold land that legally belonged to the First Presbyterian Church of Chicago and reaped more than US$600,000 from the bogus transactions. After a three-day bench trial, Cook County Judge Stanley Sacks agreed.

"For Sale by Non-Owner -- that's the five-word biography of Phillip Radmer," Sacks said according to reports published by the Chicago Sun-Times First Presbyterian, at 6400 S. Kimbark, owns several vacant lots on the South Side. According to prosecutors, Radmer formed his own corporation called First Presbyterian Church of Chicago and sold four of the lots to people who did not exist. The land was then sold back to a company Radmer controlled.

When confronted by authorities, Radmer allegedly claimed to have a philosophical objection to churches not paying real estate taxes. Records show that First Presbyterian was paying taxes. The Rev. Jerry Wise, pastor of the 174-year-old church, said it discovered the sales in part because it began receiving fewer tax bills.

Radmer, 53, faces up to 16 years in prison after being convicted of forgery and theft by deception.

+ First Presbyterian Church of Chicago, 6400 S. Kimbark Ave, Chicago (773) 363-0505

[7] Rex Humbard Pioneer TV Evangelist

Alpha Rex Emmanuel Humbard, who has been called the world's first televangelist, and who conducted the funeral of Elvis Presley, has died at the age of 88. A former itinerant preacher who settled in Akron, Ohio, in the early 1950s, Humbard was the first US evangelist to build a ministry through television programming. He made his first on-screen broadcast in 1949, the BBC reported after Humbard's death on 21 September. "The vast majority of people do not go to church and the only way we can reach them is through TV," Humbard explained in his autobiography, "Miracles in My Life".

By 1952, Rex Humbard was broadcasting weekly to millions of viewers from his 5,400 seat church the Cathedral of Tomorrow in Akron, Ohio. His weekly program was carried for nearly three decades by 360 stations across the US and Canada and over 2,000 stations worldwide in 91 languages.

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

+ Cathedral of Tomorrow, 2700 State Road, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

[8] Gay Partnership No Block to Office Says Norwegian Church Body

The national council of the (Lutheran) Church of Norway is recommending to the denomination's general synod that it allow homosexuals in registered partnerships to serve as bishops, priests, deacons, or catechists. However, a bishop should still be able to refuse to ordain people in same-sex registered partnerships if the bishop believes it would be a violation of church teaching to do so, the council stated.

Current Church of Norway policy is that people in same-sex partnerships should not hold consecrated offices. Still, several dioceses already have priests and deacons living in same-sex partnerships, as some bishops have chosen not to follow existing church policy.

The latest statistics indicate that 86 percent of the population belongs to the national church and three percent attend services regularly.

+ Council of Norwegian Bishoprics, POB 1937 Gronland, 0135, Oslo, Norway

[9] Odenor St. Cyr

Odenor St. Cyr, the long-time director of the Haitian Program for Training Diaconal Organizations (PWOFOD), was shot to death in Port au Prince 18 September. Leanne Geisterfer, Latin America team leader for the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, reports that the attackers shot St. Cyr several times while he and his wife were driving away from church on Tuesday evening.

Geisterfer said she believes the shooting was a random act of violence and likely started as a kidnapping attempt. "This is a hard blow for the Christian community in Port au Prince. We have lost a cherished leader," Geisterfer said.

St. Cyr was employed by PWOFOD for 15 years, most recently as its director. PWOFOD is a Christian community development organization working with churches in the poorest urban neighborhoods of Port au Prince, empowering church leaders to reach out into the community with capacity-building training in small business ownership and adult literacy, among other programs....

+ Henry Hess, Christian Reformed Church, 2850 Kalamazoo Avenue, SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49560 (616) 241-1691

[10] American Brethren Turn 300

On Sept. 15-16 Germantown Church of the Brethren in Philadelphia hosted the opening event of a year-long celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Brethren movement, which began in 1708 in Schwarzenau, Germany.
Events took place at the "mother church," the first congregation of Brethren in the Americas, and featured worship, workshops, tours, exhibits, and music. Participants came from across the country and from across the Atlantic Northeast District of the Church of the Brethren, as well as from several of the different Brethren denominations and faith groups. Close to 220 people attended worship on Sunday, filling the Germantown sanctuary to capacity.

Throughout the weekend, the historic setting remained at the center-- alongside recognition of the current ministry of the Germantown church. "For 285 years...the gospel of Jesus Christ has been preached" at Germantown, said pastor Richard Kyerematen as he led worship Sunday morning.

The congregation was founded on Christmas Day 1723 by German immigrants to the Americas, and its meetinghouse built in 1770 was the first Brethren meetinghouse in the United States. Today the predominantly African-American congregation includes several members from African countries, with pastor Kyerematen himself coming originally from Ghana.

+ Church of the Brethren General Board, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120, (800) 323-8039 ext. 260

[11] Christians in Chiapas, Mexico Town Deprived of Water

More than five weeks after town bosses in Chiapas state, Mexico, signed an agreement to restore water lines cut off from Christians since January, the Protestants still rely on dirty, distant, wells and puddles for washing and drinking.

The 23 April agreement calls for the autocratic rulers or caciques of Los Pozos, near San Cristobal de las Casas, to withdraw a threat to expel 65 Christians, cease forcing them to pay for “traditionalist Catholic” festivals and restore electricity and water services of several Protestant families.

The caciques and other traditionalist Catholics showed up for the April signing with a proposal of their own negating nearly all the terms of a verbal agreement reached 28 February. Their proposal would have obligated the Protestants to pay for past festivals and fines accumulated for refusing to contribute to previous traditionalist Catholic events, but state officials nixed it.

Evangelical pastor and attorney Esdras Alonso Gonzalez told Compass that water lines cut since 30 January had not been restored. “Everyone in the municipality is respecting the agreement, except in the matter of water – it’s horrible,” Alonso said. “We don’t know when they’re going to restore the water; the brethren have not been able to get good information.”

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