Thursday, April 24, 2008

23 April 2008

Presbyterians-Week Headlines

Krister Stendahl
[2] Pastors' Group Sics IRS on AUSCS
[3] Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed Opens
[4] UCC National Boards Discuss Merger
[5] Persecuted for the Sake of China's 'Harmony'
[6] Pittsburgh Presbytery $575,000 Settlement Approval Expected

Krister Stendahl

The Rev. Krister O. Stendahl, New Testament scholar, teacher, former dean of Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Mass., and Lutheran bishop of the Diocese of Stockholm (Sweden), died April 15. At the time of his death Stendahl, 86, was Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Divinity Emeritus, Harvard Divinity School. Stendahl was an advocate for the equality of women in the church, for promoting ecumenical and interfaith relations, and supported full equality for gays and lesbians in both the church and society.

A funeral service for Stendahl is planned for April 18 at 11 a.m. at University Lutheran Church, Cambridge, Mass. A memorial service of celebration will be held May 16 at 3 p.m. at Harvard's Memorial Church, according to a message on the Harvard Divinity School Web site.

+ Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 8765 West Higgins Road, Chicago, Illinois 60631-4195

Pastors' Group Sics IRS on Americans United

A coalition of nearly two hundred Houston-area pastors responded today to the reports that Americans United for Separation of Church and State has complained to the Internal Revenue Service about one of the pastor's endorsement of a political candidate. The pastors stated unequivocally that not only was his endorsement well within the boundaries of the 501 (c) (3) guidelines of acceptable activity by pastors but that AUSCS knows that and this action is "pure harassment and intimidation."

"Scripture, the U.S. Constitution and even IRS guidelines make it clear that a pastor does not give up his rights and duties as a citizen when he takes that position," stated Dave Welch, Executive Director of the Houston Area Pastor Council and a twenty-four year veteran in the religious conservative movement. "Barry Lynn knows that pastors may endorse candidates as individuals, that it is very obvious that the letter sent by Pastor Steve Riggle was not produced by or representing the church organization and that this complaint is a stereotypical act by Lynn of grandstanding and attempted intimidation."

Welch went on to say that "We are determined to take all legal, political, cultural and spiritual measures necessary to protect the freedoms given to us at such a dear price."

+ U.S. Pastor Council/Houston Area Pastor Council, P.O. Box 2606, Houston, TX 77252

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed Opens

Ben Stein's much-anticipated movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed debuted at No. 9 with $3.1 million in box office receipts. Released by Rocky Mountain Pictures, the film features Ben Stein as he challenges Darwinian theories that prevail in academic circles and suggests that life could have emerged through intelligent design.

Expelled uncovers that educators and scientists are being ridiculed, denied tenure and even fired in some cases for the fact that they believe there is evidence of "design" in nature, challenging the idea
that life is a result of random chance.

+ The Baltimore Examiner, 400 E. Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

+ Motive Marketing, 1303 Oakgrove Place, Suite 100, Westlake Village CA 91362

UCC National Boards Discuss Merger

Andy Lang and Ben Guess report that the boards of the UCC's Executive Council and four Covenanted Ministries moved closer to agreement on a single governing body for the church's national setting, although a dispute over the size and composition of the new board remains unresolved and the timeline and mechanisms for future deliberations remain uncertain.

During four days of meetings in Cleveland, the Executive Council and three of the four Covenanted Ministry boards voted on April 12 to approve an amended proposal for governance reform. The Office of General Ministries board withheld approval, but also signaled readiness to work further on remaining disagreement.
The board-size disagreement centers on whether the new governing body will have 85 members, as originally proposed, or as many as 169 as amended.
In reporting each body's deliberations, each signaled support for a single directorate that would be led by a General Minister and President and three Executive Ministers. The proposal strengthens the authority of the church's General Synod over the national setting, but does not affect the autonomy of the church's 5,700 local congregations or its 38 regional Conferences.

The UCC's five-person Collegium of Officers said that a unified governing body "will be more appropriate for current financial realities, more nimble in addressing and claiming ever changing mission opportunities, and more capable of altering its own internal life to deal with rapid change within and beyond the church," according to the report that accompanied the restructure proposal considered last weekend.

+ Worldwide Faith News , National Council of Churches, 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 880, New York, NY 10115

Persecuted for the Sake of China's 'Harmony'

Uighur Christians in the far-west Xinjiang Autonomous Region appear to be caught up in the central government's crackdown on anything they fear could cause unrest, dissent and embarrassment ahead of the Olympics. The government fears Tibet-style unrest in Xinjiang where the Islamic revival of the 1990s has stimulated ethnic and religious intolerance, separatism and the threat of terrorism. Three Uighur Christians, all patriotic with no separatist sympathies, have been arrested in recent months. Two have been sent to prison labour camps while another has been accused of threatening national security.

+ Australian Evangelical Alliance, PO Box 175, Box Hill VIC 3128

Pittsburgh Presbytery $575,000 Settlement Approval Expected

Pittsburgh Presbytery officials are expected to approve a $575,000 settlement with Memorial Park Presbyterian Church in McCandless at a meeting Friday, according to the Rev. Doug Portz, acting pastor to the presbytery.
The settlement allows Memorial Park to keep its more than seven acres of property, worth roughly $7 million. The settlement also enables Memorial Park to leave the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and join the more conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

Memorial Park had filed a complaint in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court on Jan. 4 seeking a declaration that the church solely owns its property and that the Pittsburgh Presbytery and its parent, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), had no claim to it.

+ Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, D.L. Clark Bldg., 503 Martindale St., 3rd floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15212