Thursday, February 21, 2008

20 February 2008

Presbyterians-Week Headlines

[1] Freed Christian Describes Kidnapping Ordeal in Pakistan
[2] Second Wind
[3] RTS in Sight of Goal
[4] Oliver Moves from Trinity to Charlotte
[5] Orthodox Prelate Says 'Liberal Christianity' Threatens Church Unity
[6] David Jussley to Jackson
[7] Fourth Pittsburgh Proposes Departure

[1] Freed Christian Describes Kidnapping Ordeal in Pakistan

A Christian doctor described receiving various death threats while kidnapped recently by Islamic extremists in an area of Pakistan reeling from extremist violence. Militants in parts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan have forced Christians and moderate Muslims to don Islamist garb, have bombed CD shops for perceived decadence and, in the case of Dr. Reginald Zahiruddin, have attempted forced conversion to Islam.

The extremists released Dr. Zahiruddin on 2 January, after kidnapping the Christian 25 days prior and demanding he renounce his faith at gunpoint. Five armed men cut off Dr. Zahiruddin and his driver as they were traveling south from the city of Bannu on 8 December, the doctor said in a written account of his kidnapping.

The medical superintendent of Pennell Memorial Christian Hospital in Bannu was on a weekly visit to the city of Dera Ismail Khan, 100 kilometers south (62 miles), to treat 50 poor patients.

The kidnappers told Dr. Zahiruddin that the main reason for his abduction was to force him to convert to Islam. "I was bold enough to refuse, and I even told them that God has the authority of taking my life as he has given it to me," the doctor said.

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

[2] Second Wind

Virginia Associate Reformed Presbytery is sponsoring a program called "2nd Wind" to strengthen and revitalize its congregations. This 16-month program is designed to help churches evaluate their present health and to develop a plan for a healthy future. The program is led by Dr. Ken Priddy of United Front Ministries. Churches participating are Old Providence, Edgemont, Fairlea, Lauderdale and Wildhurst.

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

[3] RTS in Sight of Goal

Reformed Theological Seminary is publicly announcing its 2005-10 financial campaign, standing only US$15 million away from their US$75 million dollar goal. Funds are being raised for: expansion and support of the RTS/Atlanta and RTS/ Washington, District of Columbia. campuses and hiring additional full time faculty and staff to offer the M.Div. program in those regions; 50 percent merit based scholarships for 300 students who meet criteria for exceptional ministry leadership potential; an endowment-type fund for new ministry opportunities and emergency needs; a technology support fund for the RTS/Virtual campus to expand and improve available courses; and a current operating fund to allow the seminary to support core training programs over the five years of the campaign. RTS is asking consideration by its friends and partners for three-year commitments to reach this final 15 million dollars.

+ Lyn Perez, Reformed Theological Seminary (Orlando), 1231 Reformation Drive, Oviedo, FL 32765 (407) 366-9493

[4] Oliver Moves from Trinity to Charlotte

Dr. John Oliver has been appointed Professor of Homiletics and Practical Theology at RTS (Charlotte). He is currently the Senior Pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, Alabama, and for many years was the Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia.

+ Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), 2101 Carmel Road, Charlotte, NC 28226-6399 (704) 366-5066

[5] Orthodox Prelate Says 'Liberal Christianity' Threatens Church Unity

A senior Russian Orthodox Church bishop has criticized suggestions by the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams that some aspects of Islamic law should be recognized in the British legal system, as representing a "politically correct" Christianity. "It is not our task to defend Sharia law, or to commend alternative lifestyles or to promote secular values. Our holy mission is to preach what Christ preached," said Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria, the representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the European institutions.

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

[6] David Jussley to Jackson

Dr. David Jussely (RTS '74) will become Dean of Students and Director of the Doctor of Ministry program at RTS (Jackson). Jussley has pastored several Mississippi churches and has recently completed his Ph.D. in speech communications.

+ Reformed Theological Seminary (Jackson), 5422 Clinton Blvd., Jackson, MS 39209-3099 (601) 923-1600

[7] Fourth Pittsburgh Proposes Departure

Pittsburgh's Fourth Presbyterian Church wants to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) for the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The 40-member congregation voted 27 to 2 to seek a more traditional approach to Presbyterianism. In the notice to presbytery, the congregation did not request its title to its property. According to reports published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, pastor David Schrader, has said he intends to stay with the Presbyterian Church (USA) rather than leave with his congregation.

According to published reports Rev. Doug Portz, acting general presbyter for Pittsburgh Presbytery, indicated that leaders of Fourth had been talking with a presbytery task group for about six months. A proposal for departure will be worked out and voted on at a future presbytery meeting.

+ Fourth Presbyterian Church, 5450 Friendship Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15232 (412) 661-7414


Thursday, February 14, 2008

13 February 2008


Parrott Chosen To Head NAICU
[2] Two Presbyterian Colleges Rate Well for Safety
[3] Troubled Janitor Killed on Ash Wednesday
[4] Obama's Spiritual Guide Retires
[5] The ARDA Introduces New Look and New Features
[6] Erskine Expands Kenya Connection

Parrott Chosen To Head NAICU

Belhaven College President Roger Parrott has been elected to the board of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU). Parrott was installed at the board’s annual meeting on 6 February in Washington, DC. The NAICU is a national association representing private higher education, serving as the unified voice of nearly 1,000 independent college and university presidents and specialized state and regional associate executives. NAICU member institutions enroll nine of every 10 students attending a private college or university in the United States.

+ 1025 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036 (202) 785-8866

Two Presbyterian Colleges Rate Well for Safety

Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania, and Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina, have both earned an “A+” rating for the safety and security of their campuses, according to 2008 College Prowler rankings. Only 12 schools across the nation received the highest rating. “A high grade in safety and security means that students generally feel safe, campus police are visible, blue-light phones and escort services are readily available and safety precautions are not overly necessary,” according to the College Prowler guide. The rating is a result of the recommendation of the guide’s student author, direct student feedback and other factors such as the presence and size of a police force and security staff, services provided, the area and campus crime reports, security of dormitories, and the prevalence of campus theft.

College Prowler is the largest publisher of college content in the United States with 250 single-school guidebooks written by students. Each year the organization awards colleges with letter-graded rankings in 20 campus life topics. Davidson College also earned an “A” rating for academics, which generally indicates that professors are knowledgeable, accessible and genuinely interested in their students’ welfare, the College Prowler Web site said. Other determining factors include class size, how well professors communicate and whether or not classes are engaging.

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

Troubled Janitor Killed on Ash Wednesday

According to reports published in the Orlando Sentinel, Goeffrey Schaub was a janitor at Oviedo Presbyterian Church and a student enrolled at Reformed Seminary when police shot him to death on 6 February. Deputies conducting an investigation into the molestation of a 7-year-old boy allegedly were defending themselves against a brandished single-shot flare gun wrapped in cloth when the incident occurred.

Local authorities stated that Schaub, 62, had an extensive arrest and conviction record for such offences in both New York and Florida.

+ Oviedo Presbyterian Church, 2405 Lockwood Blvd., Oviedo, FL 32765 (407) 366-2544

Obama's Spiritual Guide Retires

Controversial Chicago pastor Jeremiah Wright, Jr., has announced his retirement at age 66 from Trinity United Church of Christ. The dynamic Afro-centric figure often left denominational officials scrambling to explain his support for non-Christian public figures. Barack Obama joined Trinity in the late 1980s and says he based his historic keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention on one of Wright's sermons.

+ Trinity United Church of Christ, 400 West 95th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60628
(773) 962-5650

The ARDA Introduces New Look and New Features

The Association of Religion Data Archives has a new look and new features. Two of the most significant new features are GIS US Maps and the Learning Center.

Partnering with Social Explorer (, the ARDA now provides a U.S. Maps tool that allows for interactive mapping of demographic data by census tracts and religious adherence data by counties. All of the GIS maps allow for zooming, moving, and searching across locations and let you create customized demographic and religious reports.

The Learning Center contains many new Learning Modules for classroom use and now includes a Dictionary of Religious and Statistical Terms. The new Center also offers multiple interactive tools, including the Compare Yourself Survey that allows students and others to compare themselves to the US population on a variety of religious indicators.

+Association of Religion Data Archives, 211 Oswald Tower, University Park, llinois 16802

Erskine Expands Kenya Connection

David Githii, moderator of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, has been visiting the Erskine Seminary of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. The 4.3 million member African denomination recently took an interest in the small American denomination when it discovered the ministerial development program maintained by the traditionalist Presbyterians.

The Due West, South Carolina, seminary has five students enrolled from Kenya. Moderator Githii has been negotiating a program under which East Africans could begin their studies in South Carolina and finish them back in Africa. Once a quiet refuge for psalm-singing traditional Presbyterians on the edge of what Carolinians called the Old English section, the school now has major programs in Columbia, Augusta, Charleston, and Greenville as well.

Githii’s denomination is one of the fastest growing denominations in the world. A second body, The Reformed Church of East Africa, has also shown massive growth in the face of Islamic assaults in the same region.

+ Erskine Theological Seminary PO Box 668 Due West, South Carolina 29639

+ Presbyterian Church of East Africa, PO Box 27573-00506 Myayo Stadium, Nairobi GPO, Kenya

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


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

6 February 2008


Fort Myers Church Requests Affiliation Switch
[2] Death of Archbishop Christodoulos
[3] Elderly Convert From Islam Dies From Burns
Borgdorff Appointed President of Reformed Ecumenical Council
[5] World Outreach Director Search
[6] AMIA Conference Hears Call to Grow Church

Fort Myers Church Requests Affiliation Switch

By a 76 percent majority, members of the Covenant Presbyterian Church in Fort Myers, Florida, have agreed to ask for dismissal from the Presbyterian Church (USA) in order that they may petition to join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC).

The Covenant Presbyterian Church on McGregor Boulevard has 1,300 members and church officials held the vote on Super Bowl Sunday because it's the "highest attended single Sunday other than the traditional Christmas or Easter," said church clerk Jake Faasse.

Faasse expects the decision on dismissal from presbytery to be made sometime in May.

+ The News-Press, 2442 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 33901, (239) 335-0200

Death of Archbishop Christodoulos

Archbishop Christodoulos, who during his almost 10 years as head of the (Orthodox) Church of Greece received Pope John Paul II for an historic visit and sparked controversy with several of his remarks, died 28 January at the age of 69.

In 2001, Christodoulos met Pope John Paul II when the pontiff became the first head of the Roman Catholic Church to visit Greece in 1300 years. The archbishop later paid a reciprocal visit to Rome, meeting John Paul’s successor, Pope Benedict XVI.

The archbishop was involved in a number of controversies. In 2000, he opposed Greek government compliance with a European Commission directive to remove the stating of religion on official identity documents. In 2001, he said of the 9/11 attacks on the United States that the attackers had acted “out of despair caused by the injustices of the Great Powers,” sparking ire among those who saw the remarks as offering a justification for the terrorists. Christodoulos was reported to have retracted the remarks five years later. In 2003, he said that Turkey should not be admitted to the European Union because Turks were “barbarians.”

+ Jerry Van Marter, Presbyterian News Service, 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, KY 40202, (888) 728-7228 x5493

Elderly Convert From Islam Dies From Burns

A 70-year-old woman convert from Islam died on 1 February from burns she suffered when unknown assailants in a Muslim-majority area of Bangladesh about 150 miles northwest of the capital set her home on fire last month.

Rahima Beoa of Cinatuly village suffered burns over 70 to 80 percent of her body after the bamboo and wood home she shared with her daughter and son-in-law, also converts, was set ablaze on 7 January, said Khaled Mintu, Rangpur regional supervisor of the Isha-e-Jamat (Jesus’ Church) Bangladesh denomination.

Family members did not file charges with police over Beoa’s death because they could not trace anyone to the arson, Mintu said, addig that filing charges would also hamper evangelistic efforts.

Area Isha-e-Jamat pastor Abdul Mabud Chowdhury said villagers were not only upset over Beoa’s planned 13 February baptism but angry with her daughter and son-in-law, 40-year-old Ashraful Islam, for converting to Christianity and for his evangelistic efforts.

Beoa received burns on her hands, legs, waist, and other areas, Mintu told Compass Direct. Mintu added that she was given a Christian burial attended by about 100 people, including some Muslims.

In 2006, Mintu said, more than 7,000 Muslims vandalized houses of area Christians. There are 50 Christian families of mostly Muslim upbringing within two miles, he said, including 18 families in the immediate area of Beoa’s home.

+ Compass Direct News, PO Box 27250, Santa Ana, CA 92799, (949) 862-0304,

[4] Borgdorff Appointed President of Reformed Ecumenical Council

Rev. Peter Borgdorff, former executive director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, has been named president of the Reformed Ecumenical Council, a group that represents some 39 denominations and about 12 million Christians worldwide.

Borgdorff takes over from Rev. Douwe Visser, who resigned the presidency of REC to take a position with the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), based in Geneva, Switzerland. Both Borgdorff and Visser were in Grand Rapids for a special chapel service at which the transition was announced.

The new ecumenical body, to be called the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC), will formally come into existence at an assembly set for June 2010 at Calvin College in Grand Rapids. It will represent more than 80 million Christians worldwide.

Borgdorff has agreed to serve as president of REC during the next two years as the work is done to formalize the merger and he has also agreed to help write a constitution for the new organization.

The decision to merge REC, which is based in Grand Rapids, and WARC came after several years of discussions. At a meeting last year in Trinidad, WARC agreed to recommend to REC that the new global entity be called the World Communion of Reformed Churches. REC had already agreed to the merger at a meeting in South Africa. The new organization will represent nearly 230 Calvinist denominations in more than 100 countries.

Besides the traditional Reformed churches, the WCRC will be open to Presbyterian, Congregational, and other denominations with a Reformed heritage, Borgdorff added. "I have found over the years that the commonalities among us to be much greater than those things that we think divide us," said Borgdorff.

+ Christian Reformed Church in North America, 2850 Kalamazoo Ave., SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49560 (616) 241-1691

[5] World Outreach Director Search

The World Outreach Director Search and Selection Team of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) has begun its work in seeking the individual God has called to succeed Rev. Jeff Chadwick. The team includes a current member of the World Outreach Committee (Bruce Anderson), a current member of the World Outreach mission’s family (Tim Mitchell), an individual heavily engaged in mission (Ron Sadlow), a member of the Committee on Administration (Art Hunt), and Executive Pastor/Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah.

+ Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Office of the General Assembly, 17197 N. Laurel Park Drive, Suite 567, Livonia, MI 48152-7912, (734) 742-2020

AMIA Conference Hears Call to Grow Church

Announcing that this was the largest turnout ever in the history of the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMIA), a jubilant Bishop Chuck Murphy stood before nearly 1,700 evangelical Anglicans at their winter conference, to announce a broad plan to reach 130 million unchurched Americans.

The AMiA leader said the conference has drawn three Anglican archbishops, three retired archbishops, 19 Anglican bishops from Canada, the US, England, Africa, and the entire House of Bishops of the Province of Rwanda. A representative from the Province of Uganda was also present, with 80 international guests and 16 representatives from major Anglican missions and seminaries and Common Cause bishops from nine jurisdictions that included bishops from the Reformed Episcopal Church.

Also present was the leader of orthodoxy in the Episcopal Church, the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh. Representative from orthodox seminaries TESM, Nashotah House, and St. Augustine seminary in Peru were also on hand. A number of retired Episcopal bishops were present including the Rt. Rev. C. FitzSimons Allison and Bishop Alex Dickson.

Three new bishops will be consecrated for service in the AMiA as part of the conference agenda. They include the Rev. Terrell Glenn, rector of All Saints Church, Pawleys Island, South Carolina; the Rev. Philip Jones, rector of St. Andrew's Anglican Church, Little Rock, Arkansas; and the Rev. John Miller, rector of Prince of Peace Anglican Church, Melbourne, Florida.

"I believe they will bring additional strength to the Anglican Mission's Council of Bishops as we seek to break into new territory and reach out to the 130 million unchurched in North America," said Murphy. The AMIA will now have seven missionary bishops serving more than 133 parishes with 62 in the pipeline.

Among the featured conference speakers are theologian Dr. J.I. Packer, newly consecrated London Bishop Sandy Millar, Reformed theologian Rev. Dr. John H. Armstrong, and Mrs. Judith MacNutt. Murphy said AMIA has produced the 1662 Book of Common Prayer in contemporary English with a first printing in the works. This was the work of two theologians the Rev. Dr. John H. Rodgers Interim Dean at TESM in Ambridge and US Prayer Book Society President the Rev. Dr. Peter Toon.

According to Anglican journalist David Virtue, Murphy continued "We are not creating a new wineskin; we are not creating a new church or new province. Our call is specific. We are called by God to move out and bring those who don't know Jesus Christ and to bring them into a relationship with him."

+ AMiA National Mission, Resource Center, PO Box 3427, Pawleys Island, SC 29585 (843) 237-0318