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”


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[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