Tuesday, March 4, 2008

5 March 2008

Presbyterians-Week Headlines

[1] Jordan Deports More Christians, Deplores Compass Report
[2] David Wright
[3] Global Warming May Be in Doubt But UCC Meltdown Isn't
[4] Mary Kerr Grier
[5] EPC Selects ARP as Development Director
[6] World Reformed Fellowship Adds Norris to Executive Committee
[7] Obama's Synod Speech Prompts IRS Investigation of UCC Tax Status
[8] Thursdays@First To Present Christianity Explored

[1] Jordan Deports More Christians, Deplores Compass Report

Jordan has continued deporting foreign evangelical pastors, as the government last week admitted to expelling foreigners for "illegal" missionary activities. Acting Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh told the Jordanian parliament on 20 February that authorities had expelled missionaries operating "under the cover of doing charitable work," suggesting that evangelistic activity is illegal in Jordan.

If such evangelistic work were illegal - with a missionary permit or not - Jordan could be opening itself to accusations of violating Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the country published in its official Gazette in July 2006, giving it the force
of law.

Article 18 of the covenant states that everyone has the inherent right publicly or privately to "manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching." It also states, however, that such freedom may be subject to limitations prescribed by law to protect public

On 29 January Compass Direct reported that Jordan had deported and denied residence permits to at least 27 foreign Christian individuals and families in 2007. On 20 February the acting foreign minister, Judeh, read a statement by the Council of the Church Leaders of Jordan condemning the Compass report.

Following Judeh's statements about foreign groups that "broke the law and did missionary activities," the Jordanian parliament on 21 February passed a resolution condemning the Compass article. "We categorically condemn and reject the false report which is aimed at damaging Muslim-Christian relations in Jordan," the lower house of parliament said, according to Agence France-Presse.

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

[2] David Wright

Scottish church historian David Wright has died at age 70. Noted for studies of the early Church Fathers and Reformation authors, Wright's most highly regarded work was the Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology.

Wright also generated his own distinctive entry in Scottish ecclesiastical history. In 2003, Wright became the first ruling elder to be installed as moderator of the Church of Scotland's Edinburgh Presbytery in its 400 year history. Within a year Wright gained further notoriety by losing a bid for Moderator of the General Assembly to Dr. Alison Elliot, the first woman to hold the office.

+ Church of Scotland, 121 George St., Edinburgh EH2 4YN, Scotland

[3] Global Warming May Be in Doubt But UCC Meltdown Isn't

Defections from the United Church of Christ are being numbered in the hundreds of congregations. Friedens Reformed Church in Tripp is one of four South Dakota congregations to leave recently. Denominational funding for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender seminarians plays poorly in farming communities.

Friedens Reformed Church called on the South Dakota Conference to support state laws excluding homosexual marriage. The conference did not appreciate the move and countered with a call to remove the national flag from UCC churches.

Soon after the deadlock, the Tripp congregation affiliated with the Evangelical Association of Reformed and Congregational Christian Churches. In central Pennsylvania the same pattern is emerging among former Reformed Church in the United States congregations. The Heidelberg movement church centered around York now appear in the steadily expanding EARCC roster.

Though the organization is gathering from all wings of the UCC, its leadership strongly represents congregations originating in the former Evangelical Church of North America tradition.

+ Evangelical Association of Reformed and Congregational Christian Churches,
PO Box 157, York New Salem, PA 17371-0157

[4] Mary Kerr Grier

Mrs. Mary Kerr Grier, widow of Rev. W. P. Grier, Jr., died on 19 February. Dr. Grier had served pastorates at the Troy, Cedar Springs, and Bradley, South Carolina, Churches; the Doraville, Georgia, Church; the Rock Hill First Church; and the Mooresville Church.

Mrs. Grier had lived at the Due West Retirement Center in recent years. The Grier's spent most of their retirement years at Bonclarken. Mrs. Grier retired from teaching in the public schools. Her father, the Rev. G. L. Kerr, was an ARP minister.

+ Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, One Cleveland Street, Greenville,
SC 29601

[5] EPC Selects ARP as Development Director

The Mid-Atlantic Presbytery of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church turned to the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church to find a new Church Development Director. Dr. Ken Priddy of United Front Ministries in Richmond, Virginia, began filling the position part-time on 1 February.

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

[6] World Reformed Fellowship Adds Norris to Executive Committee

Dr. Rob Norris, senior pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church (EPC) in Bethesda, Maryland, was recently named to the Executive Committee of the World Reformed Fellowship (WRF). The WRF, of which the Evangelical Presbyterian Church is a constituent, is a global fellowship of Presbyterian and Reformed denominations and related groups working together on the Great

+ Dr. Samuel Logan, Jr., Executive Secretary, World Reformed Fellowship,
430 Montier Road, Glenside, Pennsylvania 19038 (267) 243-2574

[7] Obama's Synod Speech Prompts IRS Investigation of UCC Tax Status

The Internal Revenue Service has notified the United Church of Christ's national offices in Cleveland, Ohio, that the IRS has opened an investigation into US Sen. Barack Obama's address at the UCC's 2007 General Synod as the church engaging in "political activities."

In the IRS letter dated 20 February, the IRS said it was initiating a church tax inquiry "because reasonable belief exists that the United Church of Christ has engaged in political activities that could jeopardize its tax-exempt status."

The Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president, called the investigation "disturbing" but said the investigation would reveal that the church did nothing improper or illegal.

Obama, an active member of the United Church of Christ for more than 20 years, addressed the UCC's 50th anniversary General Synod in Hartford, Conn., on June 23, 2007, as one of 60 diverse speakers representing the arts, media, academia, science, technology, business and government. Each was asked to reflect on the intersection of their faith and their respective vocations or fields of expertise.

The invitation to Obama was extended a year before he became a Democratic presidential candidate.

+ United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, OH 44115 (866)

[8] Thursdays@First To Present Christianity Explored

First Presbyerian Church (ARP) in Columbia, SC, will present a 10-week series on Christianity Explored starting this week in Jackson Hall, 1324 Marion Street, Columbia. The weekly lunch and program is held from noon to 1 p.m. Cost for lunch is US$4.00.

+ First Presbyterian Church, 1324 Marion Street, Columbia, South Carolina