Tuesday, November 23, 2010

24 November 2010

Presbyterians Week Headlines

[1] Backlash Begins over Free Church of Scotland Decision to Allow Hymns and Musical Instruments in Worship Services, and an Anglican Tradition Begins in Edinburgh

[2] Mackenzie Presbyterian University of São Paulo, Brazil, under Attack from Homosexual Activists and Politicians, Releases Manifesto Upholding Scripture and the Gospel of Salvation

[3] Southern Poverty Law Center in 2011 to List Thirteen Pro-Family Groups as “Hate Groups”

[4] Trustees and Creditors Question Spending Practices at Bankrupt Crystal Cathedral

[5] PCA Presbytery Voting on BCO Chapter Fourteen Amendments is Now Seventeen to Sixteen in Favor with Forty-Six Presbyteries Remaining to Vote


[1] Backlash Begins over Free Church of Scotland Decision to Allow Hymns and Musical Instruments in Worship Services, and an Anglican Tradition Begins in Edinburgh

A 22 November 2010 STV article titled “Minister Walks Out on Free Church after Hymn Wrangle” reports that the Rev. Kenneth Stewart, pastor of the Dowanvale
Free Church of Scotland (FCS) in Partick, Glasgow, Scotland, on 21 November 2010, announced to the congregation that he is taking a one month leave of absence to decide whether or not to leave Dowanvale and the FCS because of the 17 November 2010 decision by a plenary assembly of the FCS in Edinburgh, Scotland, after 105 years of legislation to the contrary, to introduce hymns and musical instruments into FCS worship services.

Pastor Stewart told the Dowanvale congregation “It seems clear to me, that in spite of a lifelong adherence to the [
FCS] and a lifelong commitment to it, I can no longer continue in it, at least not in office.” Mr. Stewart additionally said that the assembly vote to introduce hymns and musical instruments into worship services break the vows that FCS ministers make to God upon ordination, and that the 17 November vote contradicts “the law of the church and [was] against the advice of the Assembly Clerks.” Mr. Stewart added: “The church ought not to have required me to do it. Even the church has no right to alter the meaning of my vows without my consent.”

Meanwhile, the Buccleuch & Greyfriars
FCS in Edinburgh, Scotland, has scheduled a Lessons and Carols Service for 11 December 2010 at 4:00 p.m.

The first Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols service was held in King's College Chapel in Cambridge,
England, the evening of 24 December 1918 in order “…to bring a more imaginative approach to worship.”

+ STV, Pacific Quay,
Glasgow G51 1PQ, Scotland, 0141-300-3000, yourview@stv.tv

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

+ King's College, King's Parade, Cambridge CB2 1ST,
England, 44-0-1223-331100, info@kings.cam.ac.uk

Church of England, Church House, Great Smith Street, Westminster, SW1P 3AZ, England, 44-0-20-7898-1000

[2] Mackenzie Presbyterian University of São Paulo, Brazil, under Attack from Homosexual Activists and Politicians, Releases Manifesto Upholding Scripture and the Gospel of Salvation

The following press release has been issued by Mackenzie Presbyterian University in São Paulo, Brazil:

“In Brazil, a bill (PL 122/2006) has been proposed in order to pass a law with the objective of “combating homophobia.” This bill characterizes as a crime “any intimidating or vexing action, of moral, ethical, philosophical or psychological nature” that involves homosexuality. Based on this project, homosexual activists in Brazil initiated active opposition to Christian psychologists who offer treatment for those who wish to leave homosexuality (as with Rozangela Justino) and to pastors (such as Lutheran the Rev. Ademir Kreutzfeld) who have publicly counseled their flock to avoid the homosexual lifestyle. In 2007, evangelicals and Christians in general believed that if the law should be approved, they would be punished for publicly treating homosexuality as sin, which would be contrary to the freedom of religious expression granted by the Brazilian Constitution, Thus, Mackenzie Presbyterian University in São Paulo, a centenary institution of higher learning, with a body of 45,000 students and 1900 professors, whose lifelong associate is the Presbyterian Church of Brazil (IPB), published a portion of the position taken by the denomination on this matter on its site. This post was signed by its Chancellor, the Rev. Dr. Augustus Nicodemus Gomes Lopes. Recently, this text and the institution have come to be accused of being homophobic by gay organizations, with ample support of the media. Its position has been distorted and presented as if it is “intentionally promoting the right to be homophobic.” A photo of the Rev. Augustus Nicodemus is being shown on various gay sites on the Internet, accompanied by words of hate and insulting comments directed at him, evangelicals and the Bible.

“Therefore, we, as evangelical Christians in Brazil, seek the prayers and support of fellow believers in other countries. We have also decided to issue the following manifesto, for which we seek widespread circulation:

“Mackenzie University: In Defense of Freedom of Religious Expression

“Mackenzie Presbyterian University (Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie) has recently come under attack for an allegedly “homophobic” text that has been on its site since 2007. We, from several Christian denominations, wish to express our solidarity with this institution. We rise up against the indiscriminate use of the term “homophobia,” that is being applied not only to murderers, assailants and discriminators of homosexual persons, but also to Christian religious leaders who, according to the light of Holy Scripture, consider homosexuality a sin. After all, our freedom of conscience and expression may not be denied us, nor may it be confounded with violence. We believe that mentioning sins in order to call people to voluntary repentance is an integral part of announcing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No declaration of hate may be based on the preaching of the love and of the grace of God.

“As Christians, we have the biblical mandate to offer the Gospel of salvation to all people. Jesus Christ died to save and reconcile human beings with God. We believe, according to the Scriptures, that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We are sinners, every one of us. There is no division between “sinners” and “non-sinners.” The Bible presents us with long lists of sins and informs us that, without God’s forgiveness, human beings are lost and condemned. We know that the following are sins: “sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; murders, drunkenness, orgies, and the like” (Galatians 5:19). In their traditional and historical interpretation, the Judeo-Christian Scriptures deal with homosexual conduct as sin, as can be shown by texts like Leviticus 18:22, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Romans 1:18-32, as well as others. If we desire the repentance and the conversion of the lost, we must also name this sin. We do not desire legally-enforced changes in behavior but, rather, conversion of the heart. And conversion of the heart does not occur because of external pressure, but by the gracious and persuasive act of the Holy Spirit of God who, as Jesus Christ taught, convicts of “sin, righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).

“We therefore wish to certify that the eventual approval of so-called anti-homophobia laws will not hinder us from extending this invitation freely to all, an invitation that may also be refused. We are not in favor of any kind of law that forbids homosexual conduct; in the same manner, we are contrary to any law that goes against a principle that is very dear to Brazilian society: freedom of conscience. The Federal Constitution (Article 5) guarantees that “all are equal before the law,” stipulates that “liberty of conscience and of belief are inviolable,” and specifies that “no one may be denied rights by reason of religious belief or due to philosophical or political convictions.” We are also opposed to any external force – intimidation, threats, verbal or physical aggression – that is intended to change a person’s mind-set. We do not accept that the criminalization of opinions be a valid instrument for social transformation because, besides being unconstitutional, this foments an undesirable wave of authoritarianism, undermining the foundations of democracy. In the same way that we do not seek to repress homosexual conduct with coercive measures, we do not want these same means to be used to make us stop preaching what we believe. We want to maintain our freedom to announce repentance and God’s forgiveness publicly. We want to maintain our right to open confessional educational institutions that reflect our Christian worldview. We want to guarantee that our religious community may express itself about all matters that are important to society.

“We, therefore, manifest our full support for the pronouncement by the Presbyterian Church of Brazil, published in 2007:


and partially reproduced, also in 2007, on the site of the Mackenzie Presbyterian University, by its chancellor, the Rev. Dr. Augustus Nicodemus Gomes Lopes. If homosexual activists intend to criminalize the posture of the Mackenzie Presbyterian University, they should also prepare to equally face the Presbyterian Church of Brazil, all of the country’s evangelical churches, the Roman Catholic Church, the Jewish Congregation of Brazil and, in the last instance, to censure the Judeo-Christian Scriptures themselves. Our law guarantees that individuals, religious groups and institutions have the right to express their confessional position and conscience in subjection to the Word of God. We take this firm stand so that this freedom may not be taken away from us.”

+ Instituto Presbiteriana Mackenzie, Rua da Consolação, 930, Cep 01302-907, Consolação, São Paulo, SP/Brasil, Brasil, 11-2114-8000, centralatendimento@mackenzie.br

+ Igreja Presbiteriana do Brasil, São Paulo, SP/Brasil, Brasil, portalipb@ipb.org

[3] Southern Poverty Law Center in 2011 to List Thirteen Pro-Family Groups as “Hate Groups”

In addition to the
Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)’s list of Neo-Nazi, White Nationalist, Ku Klux Klan, Christian Identity, Anti-Immigrant, Black Separatist, and other organizations the SPLC designates as “Hate Groups,” the following organizations that uphold biblical principles of human sexuality will be in the SPLC’s 2011 list of “Hate Groups”:

-- Abiding Truth Ministries

-- American Family Association

-- Americans for Truth About Homosexuality

-- American Vision

-- Chalcedon Foundation

-- Dove World Outreach Center

-- Faithful Word Baptist Church of Tempe,

-- Family Research Council

-- Family Research Institute

-- Heterosexuals Organized for a Moral Environment

-- Illinois Family Institute

-- MassResistance

-- Traditional Values Coalition

In addition to the SPLC “Hate Groups” listed above, the SPLC includes on its list of “[Eighteen] Anti-Gay Groups and Their Propaganda” the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, Concerned Women for America, Coral Ridge Ministries, Liberty Counsel, and National Organization for Marriage.

The American Family Association was a key advocate leading up to the November 2010
Iowa elections where three Iowa Supreme Court justices who had ruled for legalizing homosexual marriage were given a vote of no confidence by Iowa voters and removed from the Iowa Supreme Court.

The SPLC commended Focus on the Family and its new president Jim Daly, who took over FOF when founder Dr. James Dobson retired, for markedly moderating FOF’s position on homosexuality, illustrated by an April 2010 interview where Daly said: “I will continue to defend traditional marriage, but I’m not going to demean human beings in the process. It’s not about being highly confrontational.”

+ Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Avenue, Montgomery, Alabama 36104, 334-956-8200, Contact Page

[4] Trustees and Creditors Question Spending Practices at Bankrupt Crystal Cathedral

An 18 November 2010 article by Abby Sewell and Nicole Santa Cruz in the
Los Angeles Times titled “Bankruptcy Official Questions Crystal Cathedral Compensation” reports that the U.S. trustee and bankruptcy creditors for the Crystal Cathedral (CC) (Reformed Church in America (RCA)) bankruptcy proceedings are questioning some of the spending practices at the church that included CC Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Fred Southard in 2009 receiving US$132,019 of a total compensation package of US$144,261 in the form of a federal-tax-free housing allowance and having only US$15 withheld for federal taxes.

Additional questions are being asked about what appear to be positions within the church with duplicate responsibilities, including a full time accountant whose duties overlap those of Mr. Southard, and the position of director of programming with an annual salary of US$69,525 held by Gretchen Penner, the daughter of CC founder the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, and the position of programming manager with an annual salary of US$55,100 held by Grechen Penner’s mother-in-law Neva Penner Klaassen.

Mr. Southard is under additional scrutiny because federal-tax-exempt housing allowances are legal only for ordained, commissioned, or licensed ministers who perform certain duties for the church. The RCA had no record of Mr. Southard being commissioned or ordained a pastor, and Mr. Southard subsequently explained that he was ordained as a minister by the CC independently of the RCA in approximately 2000, which is when Mr. Southard began receiving most of his compensation as a federal-tax-exempt housing allowance. Mr. Southard said that in addition to his duties as CFO, that he occasionally preached and led a weekly Bible study.

Los Angeles Times, 202 West 1st Street, Los Angeles, California 90012, 213-237-5000, Fax: 213-237-7679, Contact Page

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

[5] PCA Presbytery Voting on BCO Chapter Fourteen Amendments is Now Seventeen to Sixteen in Favor with Forty-Six Presbyteries Remaining to Vote

As of 20 November 2010,
Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) presbytery voting upon the proposed changes to Book of Church Order (BCO) Chapter Fourteen regarding funding of the PCA Administrative Committee is Seventeen to Sixteen in favor of the amendments, with Forty-Six PCA presbyteries remaining to vote. With the assumed completion of all PCA presbytery fall stated meetings for 2010, voting by the forty-six remaining presbyteries will begin sometime in January 2011.

A total PCA presbytery vote of fifty-three in favor will be necessary to pass the amendments, while alternatively a negative vote by twenty-seven PCA presbyteries will defeat the proposed amendments.

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