Tuesday, February 23, 2010

24 February 2010


Presbyterians Week Headlines

[1] ARP Moderator’s Commission on Erskine College and Seminary Issues Preliminary Report Ahead of Called Synod Meeting 2-3 March 2010
[2] UK Parliament Committee Reports Government Failures in Presbyterian Mutual Society Insolvency
[3] Covenant Presbyterian Church of Huntsville, Alabama, Hosts Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Response Team to Help People Cope with University Shootings
[4] Simon Wiesenthal Center Says PCUSA Ready to Declare War against Israel
[5] Union Theological Seminary Speaker for May 2010 Sprunt Lectures Favors Replacing Christian Symbol of Cross with Virgin Mary’s Lactating Breast
[6] PCUSA John Knox Presbytery, in Closed Meeting, Approves Ordination of Active Homosexual in Defiance of PCUSA Constitution
[7] Church of Scotland Ministers React to Elton John’s Claim that Jesus Christ was Homosexual
[8] Church of Scotland to Eliminate Twenty-Four of Forty-Four Jobs in Council of Mission and Discipleship
[9] Historical Marker to be Dedicated in August 2010 at Pennsylvania Site of First Covenanter Communion Service outside Great Britain in 1752
[10] PCA Evangel Presbytery Submits Overture to 38th General Assembly to Study Biennial GA Meetings and Alternate Year Regional Meetings at Smaller and Less-Expensive Venues
[11] Dr. Philip Graham Ryken Appointed Eighth President of Wheaton College
[12] Presbyterian Church of Wales to Hold Youth and Children Workers and Leaders Training 6 March 2010 at Park End Church in Cardiff, Wales
[13] North Carolina Middle School Teacher Suspended after Accusing Students that Left Bible on Desk of a Hate Crime
[14] Food and Drug Administration Conducts Warrantless Raid on Pennsylvania Amish Farm Because Farm “Produce[s] Food for Human Consumption.”


[1] ARP Moderator’s Commission on Erskine College and Seminary Issues Preliminary Report Ahead of Called Synod Meeting 2-3 March 2010

The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP)’s Moderator’s Commission on Erskine College and Seminary, on 19 February 2010, issued a preliminary report ahead of the called synod meeting at the Bonclarken Conference Center in East Flat Rock, North Carolina, on 2-3 March 2010. The stated purpose of the preliminary report is: “In order that voting delegates may have the opportunity to prepare for the presentation of [the Moderator’s Commission final] report.”

The preliminary report briefly summarizes the purpose and work of the commission, the history and context leading to appointment of the commission, a statement of the role of the ARP General Synod, ten preliminary conclusions, and an explanation for why the entire final report will be delivered at the called synod meeting and not released in advance.

The preliminary report “particularly commends Dr. Randall T. Ruble, President of Erskine College and Seminary, for his full cooperation…;” notes that both the preliminary and final reports are the unanimous decision of the Moderator’s Committee; admits the General Synod’s past negligence in its oversight of Erskine; addresses “irreconcilable and competing visions about the direction of the college and seminary among the members of the Erskine Board of Trustees” and “irreconcilable and competing visions about Erskine’s mission as a liberal arts college on the Erskine Board and within the Administration and faculty; notes the difficulties of the current presidential search for Erskine; notes the difficulties of the current size and organization of the Board of Trustees; notes the problems as a result of the ideological differences among the Board of Trustees; cites the Board of Trustees for being “negligent in its responsibility to hold the Administration accountable for the faculty it employs;” and concludes: “The so-called “culture of intimidation,” found by Second Presbytery’s Committee on the Minister and His Work several years ago, is still present on the campus. There is an atmosphere in some quarters of Erskine College and Seminary that is inimical to faithful implementation of the mission.”

The preliminary report addenda includes the “Report of the
Special Committee on Christian Higher Education as Adopted by the General Synod Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church” dated 8 June 1977; the “Statement of the Philosophy of Christian Higher Education of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church as Adopted by the General Synod” dated 8 June 1977 and 7 June 1978; and the “Report of the Vision Committee” appointed in the wake of the 2005 Meeting of General Synod.

A prayer request for the upcoming synod meeting was posted 23 February 2010 on several Internet email groups and blogs:

“Please be in prayer for wisdom by the commissioners in taking positive action that the APR [Church] may regain control of its college & seminary and integrate a Biblically Christian, Evangelical, & Reformed worldview into the philosophy of Christian Education practiced by the [Board of Trustees], Administration, Faculty, & that such may be integrated into both the Curricula and classroom teaching at both institutions.”

The prayer request message suggested studying the following resources:

-- "Looking for a Miracle: A Transformed Denomination Seeks to Transform its College and Seminary" in the 4 July 2009 World Magazinehttp://www.worldmag.com/articles/15536

-- Background on the triumph of Inerrancy in the ARP Church and the identity crisis at its college and seminary is documented by The Christian Observer in “Five Out-of-Work Preachers” -
http://christianobserver.org/five-out-of-work-preachers/

Additionally, Presbyterians Week for 2 September 2009 article [12] ARP Synod Moderator Appoints Erskine College and Seminary Commission
provides further background on the ARP Moderator’s Commission.

+ Associate Reformed Presbyterian Center, 1 Cleveland Street Suite 110, Greenville, South Carolina, 29601, 864-232-8297, Fax: 864-271-3729

+ Erskine College and Theological Seminary, Post Office Box 668, Due West, South Carolina, 800-770-6936, gaston@erskine.edu

+ World Magazine, 85 Tunnel Road, Suite 12, Asheville, North Carolina 28805, 828-232-5415, Fax: 828-253-1556, mailbag@worldmag.com

+ Christian Observer, Post Office Box 1371, Lexington, Virginia 20110, christianobserver@christianobserver.org


[2] UK Parliament Committee Reports Government Failures in Presbyterian Mutual Society Insolvency

An 18 February 2010 Belfast Telegraph article titled “MPs: Why did Officials not Spot Presbyterian Mutual Dangers?” reviews a report titled “The Failure of the Presbyterian Mutual Society” from the Treasury Committee of the United Kingdom House of Commons concluding that the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) had “access to all the relevant information” about the coming collapse of the Presbyterian Mutual Society (PMS), but failed to take any action to prevent the financial catastrophe.

The report said that the DETI nor anyone else is responsible for regulating organizations like the PMS, but that it is surprising that no one had stepped in to address the regulatory gap. The report went on to warn the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI), despite not being legally responsible, not to shirk their responsibility for helping the 9,500 PMS investors who lost their life savings, because PCI congregations were encouraged to invest by “pulpit calls.”

A PCI statement said: “Legally, it appears that the Church has no liability. However, the society was linked to the Church, its role was advertised at the General Assembly, it was the subject of pulpit calls and it was enthusiastically endorsed by many of its ministers. We consider that the Church cannot evade responsibility for what happened, and should consider whether it can help in any way.”

+ Belfast Telegraph, 124-144 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1EB, Northern Ireland, 028-9026-4000, writeback@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

+ Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Church House, Belfast BT1 6DW, Northern Ireland, 028-9032-2284, Fax: 028-9041-7301, Info@PresbyterianIreland.org


[3] Covenant Presbyterian Church of Huntsville, Alabama, Hosts Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Response Team to Help People Cope with University Shootings

A 21 February 2010 article by Victoria Cumbow in The Huntsville Times titled “Church Speakers Tell Ways to Cope with Tragedy, Loss” reports on a 20 February 2010 meeting at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Huntsville, Alabama, organized by the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA)’s Presbytery of North Alabama where two members of the PCUSA’s Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Response Team (PDART), spoke to the assembled group about ways to help people recover from loss.

The meeting with PDART representatives comes in the wake of the 12 February 2010 shootings of six faculty colleagues by a University of Alabama in Huntsville professor that left three dead and three injured.

+ The Huntsville Times, 2317 South Memorial Parkway, Huntsville, Alabama 35801, 256-532-4000, Fax: 256-532-4213, bob.ludwig@htimes.com

+ Presbytery of North Alabama, 3330 L and North Drive Southwest, Huntsville, Alabama 35801, 256-883-0855, Fax: 256-883-8707, Contact Page

+ Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888-728-7228, Fax: 502-569-8005


[4] Simon Wiesenthal Center Says PCUSA Ready to Declare War against Israel

The Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) issued a 22 February 2010 news release warning that the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) committee appointed in 2008 to supposedly balance the PCUSA’s Middle East policies was in fact packed with seven activists holding anti-Israel beliefs and one pro-Israel member that quit the committee in protest once he discovered the committee’s radical agenda.

The committee’s recently leaked report:

-- calls for the US to withhold financial and military aid to Israel;

-- apologizes to Palestinians for even conceding that Israel has a right to exist;

-- declares that Israel, if defined as a Jewish State, must be inherently racist;

-- embraces the Kairos Palestine Document, produced by Palestinian Christians, calling for boycott and sanctions against Israel and endorses full Palestinian ‘right of return‘ to Israel which would lead to the demise of the Jewish democratic state;

-- and, denies any connection between biblical covenants and the Jewish people. Israel’s history, it claims, begins only with the Holocaust, a nation mistakenly created by Western powers at the expense of the Palestinian people to solve the ‘Jewish problem.’

The SWC states that all of the initiatives in the report are those encouraged by the World Council of Churches, and states: “Adoption of this poisonous document by the Presbyterian Church will be nothing short of a declaration of war on Israel and her supporters.”

The SWC asks that the report be protested to PCUSA leadership, and that concerned PCUSA members ask other members to speak out against the report.

+ Simon Wiesenthal Center, 1399 South Roxbury Drive, Los Angeles, California 90035, 310-553-9036, Fax: 310-553-4521,
information@wiesenthal.net

+ Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888-728-7228, Fax: 502-569-8005

+ World Council of Churches, 150 route de Ferney, CH-1211, Geneva 2, Switzerland, 41-22-791-6111, Fax: 41-22-791-0361


[5] Union Theological Seminary Speaker for May 2010 Sprunt Lectures Favors Replacing Christian Symbol of Cross with Virgin Mary’s Lactating Breast

Presbyterian Lay Committee Editor Emeritus the Rev. Parker Williamson reports in a 21 February article in The Layman Online titled “Breast Theology Uplifted at Union Seminary” that Union Theological Seminary’s May 2010 Sprunt Lectures will feature Margaret R. Miles, emerita professor of Historical Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkley, California, speaking on “Revisioning Historical Theology.”

Miles wrote an article for the January 2008 The Christian Century titled “God’s Love, Mother’s Milk,” where Miles posited that the use of the cross to symbolize God’s love replaced the earlier and better symbol of God’s love, which was the lactating breast of the Virgin Mary. Miles claims that this earlier symbol was replaced by the cross when patriarchal Western Europeans “secularized the breast.”

Miles considers the Christian cross to be an inappropriate symbol because “it presents a violent act as salvific.” Miles adds: “The equation of love with heroic violence and suffering is typically a male-centered perspective….[T]he value of the nursing breast as a symbol of God’s provision might need to be reconsidered in our own time….In societies in which violence is rampant on the street and in the media, the nursing virgin can perhaps communicate God’s love to people in a way that a violent image, the image of one more sacrificial victim, cannot.”

+ Presbyterian Lay Committee, Post Office Box 2210, Lenoir, North Carolina 28645, 828-758-8716, Fax: 828-758-0920, laymanletters@layman.org

+ Union Theological Seminary-Presbyterian School of Christian Education, 3401 Brook Road, Richmond, Virginia 23227, 804-355-0671, Fax: 804-355-3919

+ Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888-728-7228, Fax: 502-569-8005


[6] PCUSA John Knox Presbytery, in Closed Meeting, Approves Ordination of Active Homosexual in Defiance of PCUSA Constitution

Lillian Kwon of The Christian Post, in a 22 February 2010 article titled “Wis[consin] Presbytery Approves Ordination of Openly Gay Man,” reports that the John Knox Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), in a closed meeting on 20 February 2010, approved the ordination of Scott D. Anderson who lives in an active homosexual relationship.

Anderson was ordained by the PCUSA in 1983, and served as a minister until 1990 when his homosexuality was made public and Anderson then set aside his ordination.

The PCUSA Constitution declares that ordained ministers must maintain "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between and a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness."

+ The Christian Post, National Press Building, 529 14th Street Northwest, Suite 420, Washington DC 20045, 202-347-7734, info@christianpost.com

+ John Knox Presbytery, 1289 West Seminary Street, Richland Center, Wisconsin 53581, 608-647-8828, Fax: 608-647-3386, jkp@jknox.org

+ Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888-728-7228, Fax: 502-569-8005


[7] Church of Scotland Ministers React to Elton John’s Claim that Jesus Christ was Homosexual

A 19 February 2010 article in the Daily Record by Iain Burchell titled “Chart Star Sir Elton John Sparks Row after Claiming Jesus was Gay” reports on the reactions of two Church of Scotland (COS) ministers to the claim by musician Elton John that Jesus Christ was homosexual.

Former member of the Steering Group for Forward Together, an evangelical group within the COS, the Rev. Ian Watson, said: "There is absolutely no truth whatsoever in what Elton John has said about Jesus being gay. Jesus was a Jew and Jewish law regards homosexual practices as a sin. When Jesus challenged his enemies to prove him guilty of sin, they couldn't do it. Therefore, I have no doubt whatsoever that he was not a gay man."

Chaplain the Rev. Lindsay Biddle of Affirmation Scotland, which seeks the affirmation and dignity of homosexuals within the COS, said: "I think it's wonderful for anybody, including Elton John, to imagine Jesus as being like them. This is very common, and in the Western world we do it all the time, imagining Jesus to be white when, in fact, he was a man of colour."

+ Church of Scotland, 121 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 4YN, Scotland, 0131-225-5722

+ Forward Together, 2 Lanark Road, Kirkmuirhill, Scotland ML11 9RB, 01555-892409, office@forwardtogether.org.uk

+ Affirmation Scotland, 37 Main Street , Invergowrie, Scotland DD2 5AB, 0141-8837405, info@affirmationscotland.org.uk


[8] Church of Scotland to Eliminate Twenty-Four of Forty-Four Jobs in Council of Mission and Discipleship

A 17 February 2010 article in The Herald by Brian Donnelly titled “Struggling Kirk Sheds Jobs” reports that the Church of Scotland, facing a UK£1.2 million deficit, will eliminate twenty-four of forty-four existing positions in the Council of Mission and Discipleship (CMD). The CMD is responsible for the COS magazine Life and Work, for publishing arm St. Andrew Press, and for the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

+ The Herald, 200 Renfield Street, Glasgow, Scotland G2 3QB, 0141- 302-7000, Fax: 0141-302-7117, On-lineEditor@theherald.co.uk

+ Church of Scotland, 121 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 4YN, Scotland, 0131-225-5722


[9] Historical Marker to be Dedicated in August 2010 at Pennsylvania Site of First Covenanter Communion Service outside Great Britain in 1752

A 19 February 2010 article in The Patriot News by Mary Klaus titled “Group Works to Mark 1752 Religious Service” reports that a historical marker will be dedicated on 21 August 2010 by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission at the New Kingstown, Pennsylvania site of the first Covenanter communion service to be held outside of Great Britain, which occurred in August of 1752.

Ms. Klaus reports that 250 Reformed Presbyterian Church members gathered under a canopy of trees for the week long event that included a nine hour church service led by the Rev. John Cuthbertson, the first Covenanter minister in America and who subsequently travelled 70,000 miles over the next forty years conducting church services.

The August 1752 service became known as the Junkin Tent service because it was held on the property of Joseph and Elizabeth Junkin, whose son the Rev. George Junkin D. D., LL. D., served as president of what is now Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, from 1848 until 1861.

The younger Junkin left the then Washington College after the outbreak of the War between the States because he disapproved of secession, subsequently ministering to Union soldiers in camps and hospitals throughout the war.

+ The Patriot News, 812 Market Street, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17101, 717-255-8100, jkirkpatrick@patriot-news.com

+ Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA), 7408 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15208, 412-731-1177, Fax: 412-731-8861


[10] PCA Evangel Presbytery Submits Overture to 38th General Assembly to Study Biennial GA Meetings and Alternate Year Regional Meetings at Smaller and Less-Expensive Venues

An overture (Overture 6) has been submitted to the 38th General Assembly (GA) of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) by the Evangel Presbytery, asking that the GA Administrative Committee conduct a study of the feasibility of changing to a biennial GA meeting instead of the current annual GA meeting, and the feasibility of organizing alternate-year joint meetings of several days in length for geographically contiguous presbyteries at smaller and less expensive venues.

+ Presbyterian Church in America, 1700 North Brown Road, Suite 105, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30043, 678-825-1000, Fax: 678-825-1001, ac@pcanet.org

+ Evangel Presbytery, 560 Lake Crest Drive, Hoover, Alabama 35226, 205-982-2807, Fax: 205-982-0915


[11] Dr. Philip Graham Ryken Appointed Eighth President of Wheaton College

The Board of Trustees of Wheaton College in has announced that Dr. Philip Graham Ryken has been appointed the eighth president of Wheaton College. He will assume the presidency 1 July 2010.

Dr. Ryken is a 1988 graduate of Wheaton College and is the senior minister at the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian Church in America) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he has served since 1995. In addition to earning his Bachelor of Arts in English literature and philosophy from Wheaton College in 1988, Dr. Ryken additionally earned a Master of Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary in Glenside, Pennsylvania, and a Doctorate of Philosophy in historical theology at Oxford University in Oxford, England.

+ Presbyterian Church in America, 1700 North Brown Road, Suite 105, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30043, 678-825-1000, Fax: 678-825-1001, ac@pcanet.org

+ Wheaton College, 501 College Avenue, Wheaton, Illinois 60187, 630- 752-5000, Duane.Litfin@wheaton.edu


[12] Presbyterian Church of Wales to Hold Youth and Children Workers and Leaders Training 6 March 2010 at Park End Church in Cardiff, Wales

The Presbyterian Church of Wales (PCW) is conducting a training session for children, youth, and Sunday School leaders and workers called “Are We Doing It Right?” or “A Ydym Yn Gwneud Pethau'n Iawn?” in the mother tongue, on 6 March 2010 from 9:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. at the Park End Church in Cardiff, Wales.

Workshops and resources will be presented by Dave Fenton, Kim and Rory Bell, and Gwyn Rhydderch of the PCW. Admission is UK£3. Attendees are to bring their own lunch, with tea to be provided.

+ Presbyterian Church of Wales, Tabernacle Chapel, 81 Merthyr Road, Whitchurch, Cardiff CF14 1DD, Wales, 44-0-29-20627465, swyddfa.office@ebcpcw.org.uk


[13] North Carolina Middle School Teacher Suspended after Accusing Students that Left Bible on Desk of a Hate Crime

A 16 February 2010 article by T. Keung Hui in The News & Observer titled “Wake Teacher Suspended after Facebook Comments” reports that West Lake Middle School of Apex, North Carolina, teacher Melissa Hussain has been suspended after writing on her Facebook page that students that left a Bible on her desk had committed a “hate crime,” and how Hussain “was able to shame her kids” over the incident.

Comments left on Hussain’s Facebook page by Hussain’s friends said that the parents of Hussain’s students were “bigoted, stupid and uncaring.”

+ The News & Observer, 215 South McDowell Street, Raleigh, North Carolina 27602, 919-829-4500, Contact Page

+ Wake County Public School System, 3600 Wake Forest Road, Raleigh, North Carolina 27609, 919-850-1600, 919-850-1819, Contact Page


[14] Food and Drug Administration Conducts Warrantless Raid on Pennsylvania Amish Farm Because Farm “Produce[s] Food for Human Consumption.”

The National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association reports that agents of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at 9:40 a.m. on 4 February 2010 ignored “No Trespassing” signs and drove up to a barn on Amish farmer Dan Allgyer’s property in Kinzers, Pennsylvania, near Lancaster, telling the farmer that they were there to conduct an investigation, as the agent told Mr. Allgyer, because “you produce food for human consumption." Allgyer asked the agents why they believed that, to which they replied: "Well, you have cows. You cannot be consuming all the milk you produce….If you get a milk truck in to move all this milk you sell milk to the public, therefore we have jurisdiction."

Mr. Allgyer called his attorney, who advised that the FDA agents should call him. The agents refused, and drove to a neighbor’s property where they continued to watch Mr. Allgyer. A visitor to the Allgyer farm soon left the farm in a truck, and the FDA agents followed the visitor forty to fifty miles before the visitor called 911.

Pennsylvania State Police pulled over the FDA agents and the farm visitor stopped to talk to the policemen, who told the farm visitor that the FDA agents thought he had human food products in the truck. The farm visitor showed the FDA agents that the truck was empty.

An FDA spokesman associated with the agents refused comment, citing an ongoing investigation.

+ National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association, Post Office Box 239, Bowie, Maryland 20719, info@nicfa.org

+ U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Avenue,
Silver Spring, Maryland 20993, 888-463-6332, Contact Page

+ Ministry of Silly Walks


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

17 February 2010

Presbyterians Week Headlines


[1] Christian Observer Highlights for Mid-February 2010

[2] Retired ARP World Witness Executive John Mariner Dies 12 February 2010 in Greenville, South Carolina

[3] Biblical Presbyterian Network of Evangelical and Reformed PCUSA Churches Forms Regional Network for Western Pennsylvania and Ohio

[4] First Presbyterian Church of Batavia, New York, to Hold Ash Wednesday Service with Ash Application to Attendees’ Foreheads

[5] Presbyterian Coalition Warns about Proposed New Form of Government to be Considered at 2010 PCUSA General Assembly

[6] Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) Announces the Rev. David Fraser as Moderator Designate

[7] Two Richmond, California Teens Shot and Injured during Sabbath Services 14 February 2010

[8] Christians Targeted and Killed in Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday 16 February 2010

[9] Atheist Activist Website Teaches Bullying and Destruction as Tactics against Christians and Christian Symbols

[10] American Philosophical Association Stigmatizes Calvin College for Prohibition of Practicing Homosexuals

[11] British Tory MP Vows to Close Schools that Teach Biblical Creationism

[12] 150 Iowa Clergy Sign Letter to Iowa Lawmakers in Favor of Homosexual Marriage

[13] A Better Online Version of “The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Scotland : its Origin and History, 1680-1876”


-------------------------


[1] Christian Observer Highlights for Mid-February 2010


Two new articles were published on 15 February 2010 in the Christian Observer:

Hungarian Reformed Church of Johnstown-Windber [Pennsylvania] Elects the Rev. Albert W. Kovacs New Minister – by Ms. Tunde Garai, Editorial Assistant, Calvin Synod Herald – Amerikai Magyar Reform├ítusok Lapja – reports on the 31 January 2010 election of the Rev. Albert W. Kovacs as the new minister of the historic, 110 year-old Johnstown, Pennsylvania church that has served almost five generations of Reformed Hungarian-Americans; and,

2) Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why It Matters – a book review by Richard Eggum of the new Multnomah book by Joshua Harris, author of Why I Kissed Dating Goodbye, in which the author examines the major doctrines of Christian orthodoxy and how belief in these tenets of Christianity affect one’s life and one’s devotion to God.

+ Christian Observer, Post Office Box 1371, Lexington, Virginia 20110, christianobserver@christianobserver.org


[2] Retired ARP World Witness Executive John Mariner Dies 12 February 2010 in Greenville, South Carolina

John E. Mariner of Greer, South Carolina, b. 1941, retired executive director of World Witness, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP)’s board of foreign missions, died 12 February 2010 at Greenville Memorial Hospital in Greenville, South Carolina, from complications resulting from endocarditis.

Mr. Mariner and his wife Sally served as missionaries in Pakistan from 1968-1976, John serving as Administrator of the Nancy Fulwood Hospital in Sahiwal, Pakistan, and along with Sally, bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Pakistani villages. Mr. Mariner was made the first full-time executive director of World Witness in 1975, and served in that capacity until retiring in 2005. During retirement Mr. Mariner was active in Good News Club (child evangelism), delivering Meals on Wheels, and as a ruling elder at Mitchell Road Presbyterian Church (ARP) in Greenville, South Carolina.

John Mariner is survived by his wife Sally, by three daughters and their husbands, eight grandchildren, a brother, and a sister. A funeral service was held 15 February 2010 at Mitchell Road Presbyterian Church (ARP).

+ Tributes, Inc., 280 Summer Street, Fourth Floor, Boston, Massachusetts 02210, support@tributes.com

+ Associate Reformed Presbyterian Center, 1 Cleveland Street Suite 110, Greenville, South Carolina, 29601, 864-232-8297, Fax: 864-271-3729


[3] Biblical Presbyterian Network of Evangelical and Reformed PCUSA Churches Forms Regional Network for Western Pennsylvania and Ohio

The Biblical Presbyterian Network (BPN) is a new evangelical network of Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) churches, pastors, and elders whose purpose, as stated on the masthead, is “Connecting Presbyterians for the sake of the Gospel.” The BPN distinguishes itself from other evangelical renewal groups of PCUSA churches by urging churches, pastors, and elders to participate; by representative leadership elected by BPN members who will speak for BPN members, in contrast to organizations with “self-appointed boards;” by engaging the PCUSA with a faithful, Biblical witness, standing for orthodox, Biblical values, through common commitment to Christ and his Word and through the power of the Holy Spirit; by working through “grass-roots” efforts as opposed to hosting “big conferences with expensive speakers;” and by expecting BPN members to identify with the BPN, and then invest in the hard work of engaging each other in fellowship and being activists in the PCUSA.

The BPN’s first regional network, the Regional Network for Western Pennsylvania and Ohio (RNWPO), was formed 27 January 2010 at a meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A future regional meeting for the RNWPO is currently being planned, with details to be announced later.

+ Biblical Presbyterian Network

+ Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888-728-7228, Fax: 502-569-8005


[4] First Presbyterian Church of Batavia, New York, to Hold Ash Wednesday Service with Ash Application to Attendees’ Foreheads

A 15 February 2010 notice by Daniel Crofts titled “Ash Wednesday Service to be Held at Batavia's First Presbyterian Church” in The Batavian announces that the First Presbyterian Church of Batavia, New York, is holding an Ash Wednesday service on 17 February 2010 at 7:00 p.m., where ashes will be applied to attendees’ foreheads.

Crofts says that the Ash Wednesday service marks the first day of the forty-day season of Lent, “which is a time when many Christians dedicate themselves to fasting and prayer in preparation for Easter.” Crofts describes the forehead application of ashes as “a symbol of penitence and as a sign of Christians' healing mission in the world.”

John Calvin considered Lent to be a “corruption” and an “absurdity” instituted by the Roman Catholic Church (Institutes I, p.138).

Chapter XXI.i. of the Westminster Confession of Faith states: “But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture.” (Dt 12:32; Mt 15:9,10; Dt 15:1-20; Ex 20:4,5,6; Col 2:23)

+ The Batavian, Batavia, New York, 585-260-6970, howard@thebatavian.com

+ Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888-728-7228, Fax: 502-569-8005


[5] Presbyterian Coalition Warns about Proposed New Form of Government to be Considered at 2010 PCUSA General Assembly

An article in the February 2010 issue of Presbyterian Coalition News and Action by Terry Schlossberg titled “Seeing Through the New FOG” describes the new Form of Government (nFOG) to be considered at the
Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) 2010 General Assembly as being “little changed” from the nFOG considered and rejected at the 2008 General Assembly meeting.

Schlossberg summarizes the problems with 2010 nFOG as being: “[T]he degrading of Scripture, a radical, undefined inclusiveness without boundaries, loss of due-process protections for pastors and congregations, the disappearance of voluntary per capita, and a governance-by-manual that leaves vital details unspecified and eliminates rights now protected by the Constitution. It is a plan for a more hierarchical governance that moves the locus of power away from congregations and toward the higher governing bodies.”

The newsletter additionally includes summaries of the nFOG problems and longer articles that spell out the implications of the proposed changes, with citations from the document itself. A sample overture that PCUSA churches can use to send to the 2010 General Assembly is also included.

+ The Presbyterian Coalition,
4604 Grove Avenue, Richmond, Virginia 23226, 804-615-3243, office@presbycoalition.org

+ Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888-728-7228, Fax: 502-569-8005

[6] Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) Announces the Rev. David Fraser as Moderator Designate

The Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) (FCSC) announced 16 February 2010 that the Rev. David Fraser is the FCSC’s new Moderator-designate.

Pastor Fraser was ordained and inducted into the Mull Free Church (Free Church of Scotland (FCS)) in 1970, and served there seven years before going to South Africa as a missionary, serving Butterworth , Umtata, and Cape Town for about twenty-three years. While serving the Mull Free Church, Pastor Fraser married Marion, a nurse from Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland.

When the Free Church of Scotland divided in 2000, Pastor Fraser identified with the minority that then formed the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) (FCSC), and went to work in Zambia with Frontline Fellowship, and was soon inducted by the FCSC as Missionary at Large to Zambia where he established Covenant College, a theological college for the training of ministers.

Upon the graduation of the first cohort of
Covenant College students in October 2003, Mr. and Mrs. Fraser returned to Scotland, where he became the pastor of Shettleston FCSC, in the east end of Glasgow, where a thriving multinational and multi-ethnic congregation has developed under Pastor Fraser’s shepherding.

Pastor Fraser is an enthusiast for the singing of metrical Psalms in worship services, and is described by the
FCSC as “a man of principle, conviction and enthusiasm.”

Mr. And Mrs. Fraser have six adult children and one grandchild.

+
Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), Rev. John MacLeod, Free Church Manse, Portmahomack, Ross-shire, Scotland, principalclerk@fccontinuing.org

+
Free Church of Scotland, 15 North Bank Street, The Mound, Edinburgh, Scotland EH1 2LS, 0131-226-5286, Fax: 0131-220-0597, catherine@freechurchofscotland.org.uk

+ Frontline Fellowship, Post Office Box 74, Newlands, 7725,
South Africa, admin@frontline.org.za


[7] Two Richmond, California Teens Shot and Injured during Sabbath Services 14 February 2010

Three hooded gunmen entered the New Gethsemane Church of God in Christ in Richmond, California, at about 12:30 p.m. during Sabbath services on 14 February 2010, then shot and injured two teens among the 100 people attending the service. The teens are expected to fully recover.

Police believe they have identified two of the three hooded suspects, and expect to make arrests in the near future.

In response to the Richmond, California shootings and to increasing instances of violence in places of worship, Sheepdog Ministries is offering a Church Safety and Security Seminar on "Keeping Your Congregation Safe in an Unsafe World" on Saturday 24 April 2010 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the Emmanuel Faith Community Church, in Escondido, California.

+ Christian News Wire, 2020 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington DC 20006, 202-546-0054, newsdesk@christiannewswire.com


+ CNN, One CNN Center, Atlanta, Georgia 30303, 404-878-2276, Fax: 404-827-1995

+ Sheepdog Ministries, Escondido, California, 760-215-2618, info@sheepdogministries.com


[8] Christians Targeted and Killed in Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday 16 February 2010

Open Doors reported 16 February 2010 that several Christians in Mosul, Iraq, were targeted and killed the same day as the report.

An Open Doors staffer in the area reported: "Christians are being targeted inside their own homes and killed. Several have been killed in front of the last check point before leaving Mosul while the Kurdish and Arab security forces were watching."

The Open Doors staffer additionally reports that Christian students at the university in Mosul, Iraq, are being pointed out by Muslim students, then taken away and killed, and that two more Christian students had been kidnapped on 16 February. The Open Doors staffer asks for prayer for the persecuted Christians in Mosul, Iraq.

+ Christian News Wire, 2020 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington DC 20006, 202-546-0054, newsdesk@christiannewswire.com

+ Open Doors USA, Post Office Box 27001, Santa Ana, California 92799, 949-752-6600, Fax: 949-752-6442, usa@opendoors.org


[9] Atheist Activist Website Teaches Bullying and Destruction as Tactics against Christians and Christian Symbols

The Atheist Activist website stated purpose in the masthead is “Driving a Wedge Between Church & State,” and the home page reads: “AtheistActivist.org is designed as a tool for the atheist who wants to bring about change through activism to benefit the secular community.”
Among the directions for using the legal system to disrupt Christians in the public and private square, are a list of seventy-six suggested actions and accompanying instructions including:

-- Scribble “GOD” off of Currency

-- Gideon Bibles in Hotel Rooms – includes instructions on how to deface and hide Bibles, and to report the hotel to Remove That Bible!

-- Remove Roadside Memorials – instructions on sawing down wooden memorials, and what kind of cordless angle grinder to use in felling metal memorials.

-- Protest Voting in Churches – protest churches used for polling places.

-- Advertise Your Favorite Bible Verses – ridicule Scripture via out-of-context word-play connotations.

-- Oppose Directional Signs to Churches

-- Inform Churches of the Dangers of ‘Voter Guides’

-- Spy on Fundamentalists – spy and report on churches that teach biblical sexuality and God’s escape route from sexual sin, or enroll in a Christian college and blog or write a book about your experiences as an atheist.

--
Change State Songs

-- Secularize State Mottoes

-- Defect From The Church – obtain a “de-baptism” certificate.

-- Call God Toll-Free – waste Christian ministry resources by repeatedly calling toll-free lines and by ordering free material such as World Vision child sponsorship kits.

--
Change the (State) Constitution

-- Keep Creationism out of Schools

-- Silence Church Bells

If one contacts Atheist Activist, and the organization deems the contact “hate mail,” “…it will be forwarded to the Anti-Discrimination Support Network to bolster our case against those who discriminate against us.”

The Anti-Discrimination Support Network is a committee of the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia [Pennsylvania].

+ Atheist Activist, Contact Page

+ Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia, Post Office Box 242,
Pocopson, Pennsylvania 19366, 610-793-2737, fsgp@freethought.org


[10] American Philosophical Association Stigmatizes Calvin College for Prohibition of Practicing Homosexuals

A 10 February 2010 Inside Higher Ed article titled “Philosophers Push Campaign Against Limits on Hiring Gay Professors” describes the new rule of the American Philosophical Association (APA) that job announcements from any college that violates any part of the APA anti-bias policy will be flagged as a means of pressuring the offending school to change its policies.

Since Calvin College states that “sexual activity under church teachings is allowed only in heterosexual marriage,” the college is considered to run afoul of the APA anti-bias policy, and job announcements from Calvin College are being flagged as such.

Several philosophers have begun a petition aimed at compelling Calvin College to change its policies to be congruent with those of the APA.

+ Inside Higher Ed, 1320 18th Street Northwest, 5th Floor, Washington DC 20036, 202-659-9208, Fax: 202-659-9381, editor@insidehighered.com

+ Calvin College 3201 Burton Southeast, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49546, 616-526-6000

+ American Philosophical Association, 104 South Fifth Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106, 215-440-3400, pmcpherson@amphilsoc.org

+ Reformed Church in America, 4500 60th Street Southeast, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49512, 800-968-6065, questions@rca.org


[11] British Tory MP Vows to Close Schools that Teach Biblical Creationism

A 14 February 2010 Ekklesia article titled “Tories Say they would Close Down Creationist Schools” reported on a 14 February 2010 BBC1 television interview with Tory Michael Gove, Member of Parliament for Surrey Heath and “shadow” schools secretary, where Gove said that a Conservative government in Great Britain would not tolerate schools that teach biblical creationism as science.

Gove said: "To my mind you cannot have a school which teaches creationism. And one thing that we will make absolutely clear is that you can not have schools that are set up which teach people things which are clearly at variance with what we know to be scientific fact."

Gove continued: “"We do have some schools at the moment - independent schools - that have been set up by religious groups. You mentioned Islamic groups. Let's be clear, there are other fundamentalist groups as well which have schools in the private sector. If those schools are properly regulated and inspected then we can ensure that anyone who teaches in a way that undermines our democratic values can be brought to public light, challenged, and if necessary, closed down."

Gove’s comments were made during a debate in honor of Darwin Day, marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, author of “Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.”

+ Ekklesia, 2nd Floor, 145-157 St. John Street, London EC1V 4PY, England, 0845 056 5445, press@ekklesia.co.uk

+ BBC, 201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TS, England, Fax: 020-8008-2398

+ The Conservative Party (Tories), 30 Millbank, London SW1P 4DP, England, Contact Page


[12] 150 Iowa Clergy Sign Letter to Iowa Lawmakers in Favor of Homosexual Marriage

The
Des Moines Register’s Iowa Politics Insider Blog published a 16 February 2010 letter supporting homosexual marriage addressed to Iowa’s state senators and representatives.

Presbyterian and Reformed clergy signing the letter included:

-- Rev. Dr. Rich Pleva; Iowa Conference Minister; United Church of Christ

-- The Rev. Dr. James Altenbaumer; United Church of Christ; Cedar Falls

-- Rev. Nancy L. Anderson; Zion United Church of Christ; Hubbard

-- Rev. Stephen L. Bowie; Member, Presbytery of Des Moines; Bloomfield

-- Pastor Brad Braley; First Presbyterian Church; Cedar Falls

-- Barbara Bullock; United Church of Christ (retired); Ankeny

-- Rev. Christopher C. Burtnett; Schleswig United Church of Christ; Schleswig

-- The Rev. Dr. Robert A. Butterfield; Urbandale United Church of Christ; Urbandale

-- Pastor John Chaplin; Licensed Pastor; Central Association of the Iowa Conference of the United Church of Christ; Des Moines

-- Rev. Elizabeth Colton; United Church of Christ; Oskaloosa

-- Dr. Rev. Robert Cook; Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. (retired); Des Moines

-- Pastor Michael Dack; United Church of Christ; Newton

-- Rev. D. Mark Davis; Pastor, Heartland Presbyterian Church; Clive

-- Rev. Jeffrey E. Filkins; Trinity United Church of Christ; Hartley

-- Rev. Dr. Barbara Gaddis; Collegiate Presbyterian Church; Ames

-- Rev. Bob Hamilton; United Church of Christ (retired); Davenport

-- Rev. Richard W. Harbart; United Church of Christ; Clive

-- Rev. Nicole Havelka; Iowa Conference United Church of Christ; Des Moines

-- Rev. Eric Johnson; Reformed Church in America; Des Moines

-- The Rev. Robert Keefer, PhD; Presbyterian; Clarinda

-- Rev. Bruce Kittle; Faith United Church of Christ; Iowa City

-- Rev. Whit Malone; Collegiate Presbyterian Church; Ames

-- Pastor Sam Massey; First Presbyterian Church; Iowa City

-- Rev. Fritz Mellberg; United Church of Christ; Hiawatha

-- Rev. Allen Mothershed; United Church of Christ; Davenport

-- Rev. Amy E. E. Murray, BCC; Urbandale United Church of Christ; Urbandale

-- Rev. Gus Nelson; Presbyterian (retired); Des Moines

-- Rev. Barbara Nish; Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.; Des Moines

-- The Rev. Julia Rendon; Crossroads United Church of Christ; Indianola

-- Rev. Janette Scott; Presbyterian; Des Moines

-- Rev. Gayle V. Strickler, Jr.; Adjunct Minister for Community Concerns, Urbandale United Church of Christ; Urbandale

-- Rev. Dr. James L. Wallace; Central Presbyterian Church; Des Moines

-- Pastor Barbara Weier; Zion United Church of Christ; Hartley

-- Rev. Dr. Susan K. Weier; United Church of Christ; Grinnell

-- Rev. Jane A. Willan; Zion United Church of Christ; Burlington

-- Rev. Angie Witmer; Minister to Young Adults & Youth, Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ; Des Moines

-- Rev. Bob Wollenberg; United Presbyterian Church; Washington

+
Des Moines Register, 715 Locust Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50309, 515-284-8000, publisher@dmreg.com

+ United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115, 216-736-2100, ogm@ucc.org

+ Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888-728-7228, Fax: 502-569-8005

+ The Presbytery of Des Moines, 2400 86th Street, Suite 20, Urbandale,
Iowa 50322, 515-276-4991, Fax: 515-276-7596, pbydesmoines@presbyteryofdesmoines.org

+ Reformed Church in America, 4500 60th Street Southeast, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49512, 800-968-6065, questions@rca.org


[13] A Better Online Version of “The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Scotland : its Origin and History, 1680-1876”

Christian Observer Assistant Editor, the Rev. Dr. Robert LaMay, pointed out that the Google Books version of “The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Scotland : its Origin and History, 1680-1876” linked to in the 10 February 2010 Presbyterians Week was of poor readability and was not well-indexed for text searches. Dr. LaMay instead recommended the Internet Archive version available at:

http://www.archive.org/details/reformpresbyter00hutcuoft

+ Christian Observer, Post Office Box 1371, Lexington, Virginia 20110, christianobserver@christianobserver.org

+ Internet Archive, 116 Sheridan Avenue, The Presidio of San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94129, 415-561-6767
Fax: 415-840-0391, info@archive.org

+ Google Inc., 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, California 94043, 650-253-0000, Fax: 650-253-0001, press@google.com