Wednesday, January 30, 2008

30 January 2008


[1] Auburn Avenue Departs
[2] Secret Police Pressure Kazakhstan Presbyterians
[3] Presbyterian Foundation Obtains US$1 Million for Staff
[4] Capetz Returns to the PC(USA) Ministry
[5] Bucky Brown Joins Staff at Clover

Auburn Avenue Departs

On 27 January 2008 the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church voted without dissent to withdraw from the
Presbyterian Church in America in order to become a mission church of the Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches under the oversight of the Grace Covenant Church of Nacogdoches, Texas. Pastor Steve Wilkins has been a key figure in the dispute over what Presbyterians term the Federal Vision. Commonly churches in the CREC practice Paedocommunion.

+ Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church, 224 Auburn Avenue, Monroe, Louisiana 71201 (318) 323-3061

Secret Police Pressure Kazakhstan Presbyterians

The government says, “People are not persecuted on religious grounds in Kazakhstan.” After a 17-hour raid on Grace Presbyterian Church in Almaty ranging over the night of 25 and 26 January, local Presbyterians are not convinced.

The denomination of more than 300 congregations began to experience serious problems when the Financial Police raided the denominational headquarters in Karaganda for 15-hous August 2007.

The Almaty congregation occupies a building on one of the city’s main streets and numbers about 5,000 members.

According to published reports, Kazahk authorities suspect the denomination’s founder Yoseph Yu is a spy. An American citizen of South Korean origin, Yu now lives in Seoul and oversees the international Grace Presbyterian movement which he initiated in 1991. Yu was deported from Russia in August 2002 and banned from entering Kazakhstan in May 2005.

Other key figures in the spread of Korean Presbyterianism across formerly closed regions of Asia have also experienced interference from state authorities.

+ Forum18, Postboks 6603, Rodel√łkka, N-0502 Oslo, Norway

Presbyterian Foundation Obtains US$1 Million for Staff

The Presbyterian Foundation, an instrument of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has received a US$1 Million donation from the Mark D. Hostettler and Alexander N. Habib Foundation in Boston to support a staff position for work with the Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Association. The structure works with some 140 affiliated camps and conference centers servicing an average of 1.5 million participants each year.

+ The Presbyterian Foundation, 200 E. Twelfth Street, Jeffersonville, IN 47130 (800) 858-6127

Capetz Returns to the PC(USA) Ministry

The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area voted Jan. 26 to restore the ordination of Paul Capetz, an openly gay man, as minister of word and sacrament. Capetz had laid aside his ordination in 2000 in response to the 1997 addition of G-6.0106b to the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Book of Order. The section requires ordained church officers to practice “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and woman or chastity in singleness.”

In asking the presbytery to restore his ordination, Capetz declared a principled objection or “scruple,” noting that he could not affirm G-6.0106b, and cited the 2006 General Assembly’s authoritative interpretation of The Book of Order section G-6.0108 that allows candidates to raise principled objections and reaffirms the presbytery’s responsibility to determine fitness of candidates.

Capetz claimed the fidelity and chastity amendment makes it necessary for homosexuals to take a “vow of celibacy” if they seek or hold ordained office. Capetz said such a vow is inappropriate because one’s sexuality is “inescapable” and that the vow creates a “false kind of works righteousness.”

In two separate votes, the presbytery determined that Capetz’s declared departure from ordination standards regarding sexual practice did not constitute a failure to adhere to the essentials of Reformed faith and polity, and then restored Capetz to office.

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

Bucky Brown Joins Staff at Clover

Dr. Chuck Baynard of the Christian Observer has announced that Rev. Mr. James (Bucky) Brown will join him on the staff of the Clover Evangelical Presbyterian Church as Minster for Small Groups. Brown has an extensive background both in the pastorate and in expanded diaconal services.

+ Clover Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 101 Marion Street, Clover, South Carolina 29710 (803) 222-4876

Thursday, January 24, 2008

23 January 2008


Times Are Changing in Ulster
[2] San Francisco Proposes Lesbian Ministerial Candidate
[3] Revisiting Galileo's Revenge
[4] India Sets New Standard for Persecuting Christians
[5] Harry Alexander
[1] Times Are Changing in Ulster

The Free Presbyterian Church of Ireland has a new leader. For the first time in 56 years the Irish have a new leader. Stepping down as Moderator, Ian Paisley said on 18 January, “We can now get on with the job that the Church is engaged in, to preach the Gospel, to build more buildings and to push on with our work.”

Rev. Mr. Ron Johnstone of Armagh was elected to the moderatorship. Some reports indicate the former Deputy Moderator received unanimous support. According to the Belfast Telegraph, the new Moderator read out a unanimous tribute from the church's 200-plus ministers and elders in attendance and praised his predecessor for "his sacrificial labour of commencing and consolidating the Free Presbyterian witness".

Often ranked with King William and Lord Carson as champion of Protestant Ireland, Paisley has taken office as First Minister in Ulster’s Storemont Parliament.

Having broken with the Orange Lodge over its moderation toward Papists, Paisley was an unlikely candidate to sit down with Margin Maginnis, the public face of Sinn Fein and the reputed voice for the terrorist wing of the Irish Republican Army to fashion a peace for Ulster.

+ Rev. Ron Johnstone, 1 Drummanmore Grange, Armagh BT61 8RQ Northern Ireland

[2] San Francisco Proposes Lesbian Ministerial Candidate

San Francisco Presbytery opened the door for an openly gay candidate for ministry in the Presbyterian Church (USA) to begin the ordination process under a controversial Authoritative Interpretation approved by the 2006 General Assembly.

After three hours of debate in closed session, the presbytery voted 167 to 151 on 15 January to approve as “ready for examination, with departure” Lisa Larges, a lesbian who has been blocked from ordination for more than 20 years.

Larges’ case marks the first time a presbytery has approved action to consider a candidate who declared a conscientious objection — or “scruple” — to the denomination’s ordination standards involving sexual practice.

According to denominational sources, Larges, who is blind, is a deacon at Noe Valley Ministry Presbyterian Church in San Francisco.

Larges graduated from San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1989. In 1985 she became a candidate for ministry in the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area in Minnesota, where she grew up.

+ Presbyterian Church (USA),
Office of the General Assembly, 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202-1396 (888) 728-7228

[3] Revisiting Galileo's Revenge

The rector of Rome's La Sapienza university has said he plans to re-invite Pope Benedict XVI to address his institution after the pontiff cancelled a visit he was to have made following protests from some professors and students. "I will offer a new invitation to the Pope," said the university rector, Renato Guarini, adding that such a step would be in accordance with the desire of the majority of Sapienza's academic community, the Zenit news agency reported on 17 January More than 60 professors at the university, which was founded in 1303 by Pope Boniface VIII and whose name means "wisdom", had objected to the invitation for Pope Benedict to deliver a lecture on 17 January at the start of its academic year. The protesting academics asserted that in 1990 the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict in 2005, had described as "rational and just" a 17th century church trial against Galileo Galilei for championing the view that the sun, and not the earth, is the centre of the universe.

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

India Sets New Standard for Persecuting Christians

With more than 800 attacks around Christmas time in Orissa state, the number of attacks on Christians in 2007 crossed 1,000 for the first time since India’s Independence in 1947.

At least 200 incidents of anti-Christian attacks, including four murders, had been recorded before violence erupted in Orissa’s Kandhamal district that killed at least four Christians and burned 730 houses and 95 churches, according to a report of a fact-finding team released by Christian leaders 8 January.

The report, released by the All India Christian Council (AICC) in conjunction with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) and the Christian Legal Association, says that while four Christians were confirmed dead, at least six were seriously injured and numerous others are missing who are presumed killed by Hindu extremists in the rampage that began in Kandhamal on Christmas Eve.

The report notes that the violence could have been averted if authorities had enforced the law. “In all the villages we have visited, people testify that the attacks, destruction and looting was done in the presence of the police,” the report says.

It states that Hindu extremists from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) attacked members of the minority community with guns, knives, tridents, bombs, and other weapons.

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

Harry Alexander

Long time leader of the United States branch of the Loyal Orange Institution Harold R. Alexander died in Philadelphia late on 22 January following a protracted struggle with heart disease.

Born in Ulster, Alexander presided over the transitional generation of the movement, reversing a substantial decline in membership and placing the institution on a sound financial footing. Under his direction, the fraternal home, which had become a serious burden to the body, was converted into a foundation providing extensive scholarships to young people attending college and trade schools.

Dr. John Paul Elliott, founding Master of Virginia’s Patrick Henry LOL 1105 said of Alexander, “Though very much an Ulsterman, Alexander displayed a vision for reaching beyond the immigrant communities in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. On Brother Alexander’s watch, new lodges sprang up in Alabama, New York, and Virginia. Missouri even established its own Grand Lodge. New lodges are projected in South Carolina and Maryland.”

While never forgetting the international Orange heritage, Alexander cultivated a distinctively American version of the fraternity. According to fraternal historian, Dr. Edwin Powers Elliott, Alexander had an extensive knowledge of the Anglo-Saxon heritage which he brought to the formation of a distinctively Protestant fraternity in America.

Alexander was publisher and business manager of the Journal of Scotch-Irish Studies. Dr. Joyce M. Alexander, his widow, is a noted historian and co-editor of the journal.

Among his numerous honors and distinctions, Alexander held membership in the Royal Order of Scotland.

+ Walter C. Wilson, Supreme Grand Secretary, Loyal Orange Institution in the USA, 1315 Biggs Road, Wilmington, DE 19805 (302) 998-3549

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

16 January 2008


New Presentations for Old Ideas
TEC Continues to Unravel
[3] Coordinated Blasts Rock Churches in Iraq

New Presentations for Old Ideas

Faith Presbyterian Church Reformed of Dallas has reorganized its highly popular web presence. The new systems make hundreds of books and articles easy to find and introduces an outstanding collection of audio presentations.

Located in Mesquite, Texas, Faith is the anchor congregation of the Reformed Presbyterian Church (Hanover) in the South West. Dr. Richard Bacon, pastor, is the author of the standard reference on historical Presbyterian polity. Copies of significant texts on the topic can be downloaded easily from this new site.

+ Faith Presbyterian Church Reformed, 6702 Dalrock Rd., Suite 126, PMB #214, Rowlett, TX 75089-2662

TEC Continues to Unravel

The Diocese of Pittsburgh has broken with Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding officer of the House of Bishops for The Episcopal Church (formerly the Protestant Episcopal Church). The Episcopal Church's Title IV Review Committee has certified that Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan has abandoned the communion of the church.

Katharine Jefferts Schori informed Duncan on 15 January of the certification and sent him a copy. The letter told Duncan that Schori sought the canonically required permission from the House's three senior bishops with jurisdiction to inhibit him, based on the certification, from the performance of any episcopal, ministerial or canonical acts. "On 11 January 2008 they informed me that such consents would not be given at this time by all three bishops," Jefferts Schori wrote.

"Pursuant to the time limits stated in Canon IV.9, the matter will not come before the House of Bishops at its next scheduled meeting in March 2008, but will come before the House at the next meeting thereafter," the Presiding Bishop wrote in her letter.

Pittsburgh's diocesan convention 2 November gave the first of
two approvals needed to enact a constitutional change to remove language in the diocesan constitution stating that the diocese accedes to the Episcopal Church's Constitution and Canons as the denomination’s constitution requires.

Bishop Duncan offered a brief response to the news, saying, “Few bishops have been more loyal to the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church. I have not abandoned the Communion of this Church. I will continue to serve and minister as the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh."

In contrast, San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield was certified by the review panel as having abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church, and the three senior bishops, Peter Lee of Virginia, Don Wimberly of Texas and Leo Frade of Southeast Florida agreed to inhibit him--prohibiting him from exercising his ministry as bishop--pending a trial at the March meeting. The failure to inhibit Bishop Duncan leaves him in office for the 16 July—3 Aug Lambeth Conference and will likely serve as a rallying point for conservatives against the heterodox American body at Lambeth.

+ Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, 900 Oliver Building, 535 Smithfield Street, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15222-2467

Coordinated Blasts Rock Churches in Iraq

Four Iraqi churches and three convents were damaged in coordinated bomb blasts the day many Iraqi Christians celebrate either Epiphany or Christmas Eve according to some Eastern liturgical calendars.

Three churches in Baghdad and three in Mosul were hit without fatalities, Chaldean Baghdad Auxiliary Bishop Andreas Abouna told Compass Direct from Baghdad. Abouna said the blasts occurred within five minutes of each other at approximately 11 a.m. Father Bashar Warda of St. Peter’s Seminary said that the coordinated bombings sent a clear warning to Christians on the Feast of the Epiphany, also Christmas Eve day for several of Iraq’s indigenous churches. “There has been much violence against the Sunni and Shiites, while the Christians have been left alone, at least for [the past few months],” Warda told Compass.

Warda then said that the blasts let Christians know that, “whatever [violence] is happening around the country, you [Christians] will be part of it also.”

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

Thursday, January 3, 2008

2 January 2008


Pennsylvania Presbytery Will Litigate
[2] Ten Killed, Three Churches Set Ablaze in Nigeria

Pennsylvania Presbytery Will Litigate

According to published reports, Washington Presbytery officials are expected to contest a claim to church property by a western Pennsylvania congregation that voted to leave the Presbyterian Church USA). Peters Creek Presbyterian Church voted in November to transfer to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

Early reports had suggested a private settlement would keep western Pennsylvania congregational property ownership out of the civil courts.

+ Washington Presbytery, PO Box 146 - 89 Lively Road, Eighty-Four, PA 15330-0146 (724) 222-1500

Ten Killed, Three Churches Set Ablaze in Nigeria

Ten persons have been killed and three churches set on fire after Muslim students in the city of Bauchi began a rampage on 11 December because unidentified people pulled out two foundation blocks of a high school mosque under construction. Area Muslims joined the attacking students, resulting in the deaths and damages in the city, including dozens of homes belonging to Christians.

The identity of nine of the 10 people killed has been kept secret as the Bauchi state government has ordered security agents to bury the bodies in a common grave, eyewitnesses to the burial reported. The body of the 10th person has been identified by eyewitnesses only by his surname, Bogoro, a Christian security agent.

A teacher at the Government Day Secondary School-Yelwa (also known as Baba Tanko Secondary School), who pleaded that his identity remain undisclosed out of fear of Muslim attack and government penalty, said he witnessed the sparking of the rampage when Muslim students claimed that the foundation of the school mosque had been pulled down. Muslim students began attacking Christians in their classes, he said. “They broke chairs and desks,” he said. “They also attacked their Christian colleagues with knives and daggers. I had to run for my dear life because the situation became uncontrollable.”

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