The Church Press: Something Lacking?

“The Holy Spirit is alive and moving in the religious press,” declared Walter Brovald, awards chairman for the Associated Church Press (ACP) annual convention. But the University of Minnesota professor chastised member periodicals for a distinct lack of specifically Christian content and called on editors not to forget their call as Christians to further God’s kingdom.

In Minneapolis last month, the ACP in conjunction with the Catholic Press Association held its fifty-seventh annual convention. The largely Protestant ACP includes 168 periodicals with a total circulation of well over 19 million. (Only about eighty editors and publishers attended the meeting.) For the first time in its history the ACP elected as its president a woman, LaVonne Althouse, editor of the Lutheran Church in America’s Lutheran Women. Among those elected to the board of directors were James M. Wall, editor of the Christian Century, and CHRISTIANITY TODAY’s managing editor, David E. Kucharsky.

Awards for outstanding achievement were given in six categories. For the second year in a row the Canadian Churchman, an Anglican newspaper, won all four awards in the national news category. CHRISTIANITY TODAY received awards for best editorial and best article in the opinion category (see May 25 issue, page 33). Judges selected the independent Lutheran Forum as a co-winner in the best-article award. Among periodicals cited for general excellence were A.D. 72, a United Church of Christ-United Presbyterian publication, and Liberty, published by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The convention’s emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit was evident in the well-attended editorial session on the charismatic movement in both Protestant and Catholic churches. Two Catholic laymen, a Catholic theologian, and a Lutheran minister discussed the impact and future of the charismatic movement. They praised its “de facto ecumenism” but sidestepped the issue of tongues-speaking. After tracing the history of the movement the panel concluded that the renewed interest in the work of the Spirit is not a “peripheral manifestation” but “is here to stay” in the life of the Church.



The Reformed Journal, a 2,100-circulation magazine published by the Eerdmans publishing company, won top honors as Periodical of the Year at the Evangelical Press Association’s twenty-fifth annual convention last month. The Journal also won first place in the news-story category with a newsy, first-person critical review of Explo ’72 and Campus Crusade for Christ.
Article continues below
CHRISTIANITY TODAY took first place for a humorous article with “Ducking the Mailed Fist” by Editor-at-Large J. D. Douglas (see September 15, 1972 issue, page 63). The magazine won second place for news (“Olympic Outreach”) and third place for a cartoon. It also placed third in the general category for Periodical of the Year.
Honored as Most Improved Publication was the Free Methodist Church’s Youth In Action, last year’s Periodical of the Year. Other award winners and categories: general article, Athletes in Action; editorial, The Wittenburg Door; best full color cover, Youth Alive; special section or supplement, Eternity.

Canadian Anglicans: Women And Children First

The twenty-sixth General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada (1.1 million members, 1,700 churches) last month broke with Anglican tradition in approving two innovations for the Canadian church. Meeting in Regina, Saskatchewan, the ACC voted overwhelmingly to accept the principle of ordaining women as priests and to embark on a two-year trial of a new “Christian initiation” rite that affects mostly children.

The much discussed action on women—approved by each of the three voting groups: laity, clergy, and bishops—aligned the Canadian church with three other jurisdictions of the world Anglican communion (Hong Kong, New Zealand, and Burma). Bishop T. David Somerville of New Westminster, one of the sponsors of the resolution, predicted that women priests will be serving in his diocese as early as next year.

While the approval of ordination for women attracted more publicity, the new rite was an equally sharp break with tradition—or, according to some apologists, a return to earlier church tradition. It will include baptism, laying on of hands, and first communion all in one service, eliminating the long delay between baptism (of infants) and first communion at confirmation (usually in mid-teens).

On another front, the ACC condemned abortion on demand and called on the federal government for strict enforcement of existing laws. Canon Eugene Fairweather of Trinity College, Toronto, described present abortion practice as a “grim solution widely pressed on people by an increasingly brutalized society.”

Having extensive missionary interests in Canada’s north, the ACC took new notice of the country’s native peoples and established a consultative council to advise the Anglican primate and to oversee the church’s northern ministry. Primate Edward Scott assured the assembly that the majority of the council’s members would be Indian and Eskimo. Further, the delegates approved a strong resolution of support for 6,000 Indians whose way of life is allegedly being threatened by a $5 billion hydroelectric development project on James Bay in northern Quebec.

Article continues below

Delegates formally “received” but did not act on the Plan of Union that proposes merger with the United Church and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Although the ACC has contributed more than a quarter of a million dollars to the General Commission on Church Union since negotiations got under way in the sixties, there is apparently widespread Anglican apathy toward merger. One cynical observer described the vote to receive the union plan as “a quiet way of killing it.”

In a social-action move, the 300 delegates created an agency to press for corporate policy changes through stockholder resolutions. (The ACC has about $28 million in investments, mostly in clergy pension-fund contributions. Dioceses and parishes also have sizable investments.)

Statistical reports showed increased income and expenditures but a decline in total membership for 1971 (the last year for which complete statistics were available) of 17,000. Sunday-school membership dropped from 133,150 to 123,527, and the total number of parishes also declined.

Commenting on the declines, Canon Philip Jefferson, director of parish and diocesan services, assured fellow Anglicans that members were more committed than fifteen years ago and that although there were now fewer clergy, morale was higher.


In Black And White

More than 300 ministers, most of them black campus chaplains to the half-million blacks now enrolled in higher education, gathered at Xavier University in New Orleans for the fourth annual convocation of Ministries to Blacks in Higher Education.

The audience, including dashiki-clad clergymen, heard gospel choirs, viewed black-art productions, and listened with apparent agreement to author-historian Lerone Bennett, senior editor of Ebony. Bennett asserted that the first black colleges were built by white missionaries and then later deserted by them. Although America’s Catholic and Protestant churches have total assets of $160 billion and an annual cash flow of $22 billion, “second only to the federal government,” they spend almost nothing for black education or any other black need, Bennett alleged. He implied that blacks will have to push ahead themselves in providing spiritual ministries to black students and not count on getting much white help.

Article continues below

New members of the Roll of Honor of outstanding black campus chaplains are: Howard Cornish of Morgan State College, Clee McCoy of A and T State University, Rogers Fair of Bethune-Cookman College, and William Eichelberger of Louisville Seminary.


Continuing Presbyterians

Conservative Southern Presbyterian churchmen met in Atlanta last month to lay the groundwork for a rival denomination. The call for a two-day meeting May 18 and 19 was issued by thirty churches with a combined membership of nearly 20,000.

Several hundred persons turned out for the special “Convocation of Sessions.” Ruling and teaching elders among them voted 349–16 in favor of the schism. They also approved the calling of an advisory convention, tentatively set for August 7–9 in Asheville, North Carolina. The purpose of the convention would be to prepare for a constituting general assembly, to be held possibly in December.

The call for the Atlanta meeting had taken note of a February action by The Steering Committee for a Continuing Presbyterian Church “calling for a formal ecclesiastical entity to be formed in 1973.”

Dozens of congregations of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. (PCUS) have taken steps to dissolve ties with the denomination and have been forming new presbyteries. It is the first major schism in the church since its formation in Augusta, Georgia, December, 1861, after a split with northern Presbyterians.

A number of theological conservatives, however, have vowed to stay in the denomination, at least for the time being. Dr. Robert Strong, a noted evangelical churchman who is pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, Alabama, said there is no clear-cut theological issue current before the church to warrant division.


The interfaith Religious Heritage of America society handed out its annual awards this month. Among those honored: Lutheran radio preacher Oswald C. J. Hoffmann, named Clergyman of the Year; hotel mogul Conrad N. Hilton, a southern California Catholic, Churchman of the Year; and Vonette Bright, wife of Campus Crusade for Christ founder-president Bill Bright, Churchwoman of the Year. Bright was given a special award for Explo ’72 and his work with youth, and Taylor University’s Robert Davenport was similarly awarded for his “Wandering Wheels” bicycling program. Dorothy James Newell, religion editor of the Quincy, Massachusetts, Patriot Ledger, and wife of a Nazarene minister, won the Faith and Freedom Award in Journalism. Southern Baptist communications executive Claude C. Cox won it in Radio. Other recipients of awards include President Emeritus Benjamin E. Mays of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Chicago Unitarian minister Preston Bradley, and Southern California Council of Churches communications executive Clifton E. Moore.
Article continues below

“My vows of ordination, as I understand them, require me to continue to work in the denomination to which I have professed loyalty,” he said in a prepared statement. Strong is a member of the board of directors of the Presbyterian Journal, one of four organizations calling for a division.

Religious News Service and Associated Press reported that the voting delegates at the Atlanta convocation represented 260 or more PCUS congregations, with a total membership of some 70,700 in fourteen of the denomination’s fifteen states. But the elders voted as individuals, without power to bind their churches. Sources close to the scene said the split was not as extensive as had been feared earlier.

The convocation called for the establishments of the new denomination “loyal to Scripture, the Reformed faith and committed to the spiritual mission of the Church as Christ commanded in the Great Commission.”

Cold Shoulder

The courtship of the Catholic Church and the National Council of Churches may be nearing an end. Catholics are backing away because of the NCC’s sociologically bad breath. The issues are abortion and parochaid.

In its long efforts to woo the Catholics to join, the NCC has resisted internal pressures to speak out as a body for liberalized abortion laws. But it is no secret that a number of NCC leaders and denominations look kindly on abortion; some have been exceedingly vocal about it—even opposing Catholics in hearings and lobbying sessions.

But nothing so far has been as official—and embarrassing—as last month’s disclosure that the NCC filed with a congressional committee a statement opposing tax credits for parents of non-public school students. Its final text prepared by NCC director for civil and religious liberty Dean Kelley, the statement asserted that certain Catholic parochaid arguments are “fallacious” and that Catholics are “unwilling” rather than “unable” to support their schools.

Article continues below

Bishop James Rausch, general secretary of the U. S. Catholic Conference (USCC), and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, was “dismayed” that he was not informed of it until he read it in the newspapers. (The document was filed in April but did not surface until mid-May when Americans United called attention to it.) Rausch then withdrew—at least “temporarily”—from the Interreligious Committee of General Secretaries, which is composed of the executive heads of the USCC, NCC, and the Synagogue Council of America.

NCC general secretary Edwin Espy and NCC president W. Sterling Cary responded with a telegram of apology to Rausch, disavowing it as an NCC document and repudiating the “unwilling” section. Espy blamed the mixup on “honest mistakes” within the NCC staff and promised to revise the statement but nevertheless stressed that the NCC wasn’t changing its long-standing opposition to express hopes for a restoration of “full relations and understanding.”

Rausch thanked the NCC for the explanation but declined to rejoin the interreligious committee until “vital” questions were resolved. Clearly, the NCC mouthwash was not strong enough.

Religion In Transit

The pastor of that forty-member Holiness Church of God in Jesus’ Name in Newport, Tennessee, where two men died after drinking strychnine during a service was cleared of manslaughter charges by a grand jury.

The People’s Church in Toronto, with a constituency of about 3,000, pledged a record $547,000 in “faith promises” for overseas missionary work. The church supports partially or in full more than 400 missionaries and a number of national workers and projects. Park Street Church in Boston pledged $360,000 in a similar campaign.

United Methodist clergyman William Alberts of Boston’s Old West Church performed a “marriage” of two homosexual males in April over the protest of Bishop Edward G. Carroll. Now Carroll wants Alberts to take a leave of absence and confer with psychiatrists, but Alberts is balking.

Students at the University of California at Los Angeles can now major in “The Study of Religion.” The new program involves thirty-five faculty members in seven departments, including languages, and requires a minimum of sixteen courses for a B. A. degree.

Article continues below

United Church of Christ communications executive Everett C. Parker is leading the battle against a series of spot announcements in which the National Association of Broadcasters opposes regulations of broadcast advertising. Everett contends the spots themselves present only one side of a controversial issue and are thus subject to the Federal Communication Commission’s Fairness Doctrine—and to equal-time response.

Six young transients described as hardcore Satan worshipers were charged with the torture murder of a teen-age youth in Daytona Beach, Florida. The victim, apparently suspected of being a police informer in the drug scene, was allegedly tied to a black table and tortured in the Satan cult’s “altar room” as a sacrifice.

Self-styled evangelist John Thomas, convicted of first-degree burglary with intent to kidnap a Knoxville, Tennessee, woman, was sentenced to five years imprisonment. Thomas, in his thirties, bound and gagged the woman, in her fifties, and carried her to a rural cabin where he was going to fast, read the Bible, and get the woman “ready to marry me” under state law. Considering her already his wife in the eyes of God, Thomas explained: “God told me to do it.”

Fifty-five persons, describing themselves as the vanguard of thousands from California and Oregon in a “Christ is the Answer Crusade,” were arrested in Las Vegas after preaching and marching with a cross through the city’s casino district. Police say they lacked a permit and tied up traffic.

City Sanitation Workers treasurer Samuel Fulton, pastor of Philadelphia’s Faith Temple Church of God in Christ, was suspended by the union for alleged theft of $12,000 in union funds to help pay for the remodeling of his church and other repairs. No legal charges are planned, but the union wants the money back—with $4,000 interest.

The North Carolina legislature passed a law authorizing use of “I do so affirm” in place of “so help me God” for persons objecting to use of the latter phrase in oaths.

Eastern Mennonites plan to erect a full-sized replica of the Tabernacle of Moses as a tourist attraction in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, area.

Tuition-aid grants and aid to “needy and disadvantaged” students attending non-public schools and colleges were ruled unconstitutional by the Washington state supreme court.

Article continues below

Officials of the Unitarian Universalist Association in Boston do not now, since the dismissal of charges against Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo, expect the federal government to reopen an investigation of the UUA’s Beacon Press in the Pentagon Papers case. The UUA says it has heard nothing about the investigation since last summer.

Scores of collegians from Christian campuses leave this month for Managua, Nicaragua, to help rebuild churches destroyed by the recent earthquake. A Scripture distribution campaign is part of the summer project, sponsored by World Gospel Crusades of Florida.

Construction has started on a $1.2 million sanctuary to replace the 2,500-member Pasadena Presbyterian Church building that was severely damaged by the February, 1971, earthquake in Southern California.

County health official Helen H. Foster cited the Clinton, Maryland, Christian School for allegedly violating state daycare regulations by its Bible reading and memorization programs. Her superiors apologized to the school—and demoted her. Now there’s a big fuss.

Now it’s official. A new law requiring biology books in Tennessee schools to give creationism equal billing with evolution went into effect—without the signature of Governor Winfield Dunn.

Suicide is the Number Two cause of deaths among young people (first: accidents). Of the estimated 75,000 persons between 15 and 24 who will attempt suicide this year, about 4,000 are likely to succeed, according to a published study. Researchers cite inability to communicate, loneliness, and pressures at home as chief factors. Fewer than 30 per cent leave notes.

Family Radio Network station WKDN in Camden, New Jersey, was the top winner in the radio category of the annual Freedom Foundation awards for its July 4 “Tribute to America” special.

The number of priests, nuns, and others in Catholic religious orders in Canada dipped to 56,349 last year, down about 4,000 from 1971, in line with declining trends world-wide.

Little Mt. Angel College in Salem, Oregon, an independent Catholic school, is behind in payments to the Benedictine Sisters of Mt. Angel, who founded and ran the college until 1965. There are other financial problems, so the sisters have instituted bankruptcy proceedings.

More than $1.3 million was raised in cash and pledges during a stewardship week at First Baptist Church, Augusta, Georgia, in connection with a building campaign.

When a group of lay witnesses from a Baptist church were asked to leave a mobile home park in Crowley, Texas, because they lacked solicitation permits, they balked, and their leader, collegian Willie G. Rutledge, was arrested on a disorderly-conduct charge. The jury’s verdict later: “Not guilty.”

Article continues below


Evangelist Lane Adams of the Billy Graham organization has switched jobs. He’s now minister of evangelism at the Hollywood, California, First Presbyterian Church.

Conservative Ralph H. Didier, 45, former pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Anaheim, California, and now pastor of the new Covenant Presbyterian Church, was defrocked by his fellow United Presbyterians in Southern California. He had attacked the “hierarchy and denomination” for “selling its soul” to leftist enemies of Christ. Didier’s former associate pastor, Lowell W. Linden, was also “divested” of ministerial status. He has applied for reordination with another group.

Dr. Eugene L. Smith resigned as head of World Council of Churches operations in the United States (a post he’s held since 1964) to become pastor of the United Methodist Church in Denville, New Jersey.

Cardinal Josef Slipyi, 82, the spiritual leader of about seven million Ukrainian Catholics around the world, last month celebrated mass before 10,000 in Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. The occasion: the tenth anniversary of his release from eighteen years of imprisonment in a Siberian labor camp.

President Larry Poland, 34, of Miami Christian University will leave his Florida post to head Campus Crusade’s Agape Movement, which proposes to send 100,000 short-term Christian workers to more than two million villages and university centers around the world.

Dutch Reformed theologian G. C. Berkouwer, 79, plans to retire from his chair of dogmatics at the Free University of Amsterdam next year. His successor: Jan Veenhof, 39, a pastor in Basel and former teacher at the evangelical Saint Crischona seminary there.

Attorney Robert G. Mayfield of Lexington, Kentucky, a leader of United Methodist lay work, is the first layman to become chairman of Good News, the seven-year-old unofficial organization of evangelical United Methodists.

United Methodist editor Curtis A. Chambers, 48, will head the denomination’s newly restructured communications operations.

Trinidad-born Albert B. Crichlow, an architect and former British pilot, has become the first black lecturer for the Christian Science Board of Lectureship. He joins thirty other lecturers, who give more than 4,000 talks annually.

Article continues below

World Scene

A dozen Church of Scotland ministers have teamed up with Irish Presbyterian pastors for short-term service in troubled areas of Belfast and Londonderry. Civil disorders and evacuation have decimated a number of Presbyterian, Methodist, and Church of Ireland congregations. Some have closed. Other Scottish Presbyterians have also volunteered for the short-term work.

The 184-congregation Church of God in Europe will open a Bible college near Stuttgart, Germany, this fall.

Australia’s House of Representatives overwhelmingly defeated a hotly contested federal bill to legalize abortion on demand. Catholics and Anglicans led the opposition.

More bad news from Zaire (formerly Congo): religious broadcasts and non-government periodicals have been banned and church youth meetings prohibited, according to a report in the Mennonite.

London Baptist lay preacher Ron Allison, 41, former newscaster and religious broadcast producer, is the new press secretary for Queen Elizabeth, whose functions include the titular leadership of the Church of England.

To cover its rear flank, the South Korean Army Chaplains Council will shift its emphasis from conversion to deepening the quality of spirituality among soldiers. As a result of the chaplains’ evangelistic efforts many mass baptism services have been held, and half the troops are said to be Christians now.

The Church of Scotland’s communicant membership declined by 23,300 last year, bringing membership to 1.11 million, down nearly 200,000 since 1959.

Much attention was given a “pastoral crisis” at the sixty-sixth Synod of the French Reformed Church. In the last five years at least forty pastors have renounced the traditional ministry, and last year the church had only a dozen theological students, delegates were told.

An explosion, apparently from a bomb, destroyed the $900,000 printing plant of the 215,000-member predominantly black Ovambokavango Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia, South-West Africa. The facility printed school texts, church publications, and a widely read newspaper.

Relations between the Reformed Church in South Africa (GKSA) and the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (GKN), once cordial, are now strained. The GKSA people cite the liberal theology of certain GKN teachers, the differing views of church order adopted by the GKN in 1970, and the GKN’s joining the World Council of Churches against the advice of the Reformed Ecumenical Synod, a world body of Reformed groups. Some South Africans want to end the free transfer of pastors and members between the two groups.

Article continues below

Irish and British Baptists are baptizing more than ever. The 3,234-church Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland reported 5,804 baptisms last year.

Brazil has over half of Latin America’s population but no monthly Protestant magazine, according to a study by the Congress of Evangelical Literature in Brazil. It has one bimonthly and three limited-edition quarterly publications.

The Central American Mission is phasing out its Bible institute in Guatemala City after forty years to concentrate on its eight-year-old seminary (about fifty students from nine countries) at the same location.

The long-delayed and sometimes in doubt union of the Methodist Church in Southern Asia (600,000 members) and the Church of North India (700,000 Methodists) will be formalized in November, say officials.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.