John Mosher, a Lexington, Kentucky, architect, agreed to help counsel inmates during a three-day evangelistic crusade at the Kentucky State Prison at Eddyville last month but added a proviso: under no circumstances would he witness to one of the inmates, a convicted murderer who had killed a minister and his two children and mutilated several other victims.

Nevertheless, Mosher joined other crusade counselors in the solitary-confinement cell block—and found himself next to that inmate’s cell. That afternoon, the murderer became one of the nearly 250 inmates who made decisions for Christ during a weekend crusade led by evangelist Bill Glass. And to Glass, a former pro football star, that one acceptance of Christ underscored the validity of his unusual ministry, a ministry that is indicative of an increased interest in prisons by churches and lay people.

Eddyville, a fortress-like maximum-security prison in the rolling countryside of western Kentucky, was the sixth prison Glass has entered since he started in July, 1972 (see following story), and his visit followed the typical Glass pattern: sports clinics and demonstrations by Christian athletes (at Eddyville that meant basketball with former Milwaukee Buck McCoy McLemore and baseball with former New York Yankee relief pitcher Steve Hamilton, among others), a message by Glass, and “one-to-one” counseling by some forty laymen who paid their own expenses to attend the crusade.

In the weeks following the crusade the effect was still being felt, said Eddyville’s Protestant chaplain Don Tabor, a Cumberland Presbyterian clergyman. There was “somewhat of a letdown feeling” after the crusade, he said, and inmates told him they wished the team had stayed more than three days. Tension—which had been high prior to the crusade—dropped among inmates. (A breakout days before the crusade started, a cell-by-cell shakedown for weapons, and the fact that there hadn’t been a killing “in more than a month” contributed to the tension, one inmate told counselors privately.) Inmates and staff agreed the crusade had been one of the best things that ever happened to the institution, a feeling shared by even those staff members who “weren’t too excited” about the crusade before it came, said Tabor.

Follow-up Bible studies are planned, said Bob Kurtz, a Dallas, Texas, television sportscaster who doubles as prison crusade director. Typically, the formal studies last seven weeks using local counselors as resource people, and often they continue long afterwards. Today, one year after a similar crusade at the maximum-security prison at Waupun, Wisconsin, Bible studies are still held weekly. More than sixty prisoners are attending, and forty other transferred prisoners have sparked similar studies in Wisconsin’s medium and minimum-security institutions. (Waupun’s warden, Ray Gray, himself converted to Christ during the Glass crusade, said that while some of the initial fervor has died down he still gets letters from former inmates telling of changed lives resulting from Glass’s crusade.)

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Glass’s lay counselors come from many backgrounds, and most were drawn into the prison crusades after working with the evangelist’s city-wide crusades. Among those showing up at Eddyville were a press photographer, a car salesman, an FBI agent, and a dentist. Once bitten by the bug they return time and again for prison crusades, at their own expense. They plug the ministry in home churches and often participate in jail or prison Bible studies in their home towns. But they sometimes encounter resistance to the idea of prison ministries. One told of a church hesitant to give either financial or prayer support to the prison ministry because of a belief that inmates are in jail to be punished, not coddled.

A greater problem is apathy in the community, said counselor Frank Kaczmark, a former inmate converted in solitary confinement at a Fairbanks, Alaska, prison. Kaczmark now ministers full-time in Wisconsin prisons and jails and works on the apathy problem by letting lay people lead Bible studies “and see that prisoners are human too.”

While Glass conducts his crusades, others are setting up long-range spiritual ministries in prisons and jails. One of the best of these ongoing prison and jail ministries is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia (others are in Los Angeles, California, and Grand Rapids, Michigan). The Good News Mission (GNM), founded in 1961, now sponsors chaplaincy programs in thirty city and county jails in Virginia, Maryland, and Florida. Founder-director William L. Simmer currently oversees a staff of twelve full-time chaplains, one part-time chaplain, and more than 600 volunteers. (In some areas, local pastors act as GNM jail chaplains but are not counted as salaried staffers.) Even with this number of workers, however, the need is not being filled, says Simmer. He currently has requests for full-time chaplains from at least four area jails that he does not have staff and money to fill.

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For Simmer, a Southern Baptist minister, jails provide greater opportunities for counseling and “straightening out” prisoners, and he points out that while in Virginia there were more than 150,000 in jails last year, there were only 6,000 in state prisons. Instability in the jail (prisoners are continually transferring in and out) and uncertainty as to the future (prisoners are often in county jails awaiting sentencing to other prisons) tends to foster instability in the prisoner himself, Simmer points out.

More than 70 per cent of the prisoners can be expected to return to jail within five years of their release, Simmer says. “The prisoner’s biggest problem is that he leaves jail only to return to his old way of life, his old friends, and his old neighborhood. There’s no concentrated effort to change his way of life. He’s got to feel people are concerned about him and are anxious to help him, and that’s where Christians have the edge. We are concerned and do want to help.”

While GNM concentrates on providing spiritual aid through such means as films, Bibles studies, a Bible correspondence course, and regular worship services, it also offers family and job counseling for inmates to help them make the transition from cell to street. The mission’s chaplains are given professional training (GNM offers a college-credit course in correctional chaplaincies, and a staffer has written one of the few texts on the subject) but not as much as perfectionist Simmer would like. He’s already laying plans to upgrade the quality of his volunteers—many of whom visit jails and hold Bible studies there, or grade the correspondence courses—by drawing up job descriptions, listing necessary qualifications, and offering training. “We’ve got the experience now. We know what’s needed,” he said.Important to the mission’s rehabilitation program is half-way houses for released prisoners. The two now operating—one in Arlington, and one in Florida—handle more than 200 former inmates annually and have a backlog of applicants. GNM also plans to open houses in Richmond, Virginia, and in Maryland. Room and board are supplied free until the resident gets a job and can pay the nominal $20 per week. While at the house, he is offered weekly spiritual counseling and help with exploring job opportunities.

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The mission’s programs, both spiritual and social, have won the approval of inmates. Bible classes often draw so many prisoners that to fulfill security regulations they must be divided into several different classes meeting at various times. Each class lasts two to three hours per week. In some jails, services are held in cell blocks. (Simmer prefers cell-block services because they “get where the men are.” To him, prison chapels are a waste of money.) The mission has also won the approval of jail and judicial authorities. Many of GNM’s converts are respected members of their communities; some are leaders in their churches.

Both Glass and Simmer find that while group services and Bible studies draw crowds, the trend is toward more personal counseling. Both emphasize “one-to-one” sessions, finding that prisoners often need strong personal relationships with counselors before they will accept help.

Personal counseling is also a key part in the program of Man-to-Man, Incorporated, a privately-funded project at Lorton Reformatory in the Virginia countryside just outside Washington, D. C. Although Man-to-Man is not specifically a Christian ministry, most of the counselors are Christians and are concerned about the spiritual as well as the social needs of inmates. Man-to-Man’s forte is a personal commitment by each of its volunteers to befriend a Lorton inmate (90 per cent of whom have six characteristics: they are black; have not finished high school; have few job skills; come from ghetto areas; have drug problems; and are products of broken homes). The volunteer visits the inmate at least once a month, helps him get a job after release, and provides personal contact as long as the prisoner wants it. Man-to-man officials stress, however, that their program is not designed to supplant the parole system. Chairman of the group until he left the Washington Redskins recently was football star Charley Harraway. To date, 100 volunteers have sponsored inmates.

Most denominations operate their own prison chaplaincies, and many are reexamining their prison ministries. American Catholic bishops have approved a broad-based statement calling for penal reform and urging the U. S. Catholic Conference and local dioceses to show concern for the rights of prisoners. The bishops want a national body to oversee development of a civil-rights code for prisoners. To back up the statement, Nashville’s Bishop Joseph A. Durick—a leading advocate of prison reform—spent last Christmas morning with Tennessee state prison inmates. Nothing he could do would be more in keeping with the spirit of Christmas, he said.

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United Methodists too are urging prison reform. At a May conference on prison reform and ministry, speakers blasted the American judicial system for being intent only on “clobbering offenders.” Harold DeWolf, dean of Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D. C., told the sixty conferees that the current criminal justice system “has no interest in restitution or protection of victims.” Other Methodists have urged increased church participation in rehabilitation of prisoners. Churches have a responsibility to correct inequities and injustices, says one Methodist, Alfred Harper, a former New York City policeman, who is coordinator of a rehabilitation project in New York State.

The National Council of Churches is getting involved in prison reform through its task force on criminal justice.

Churches aren’t the only ones that are scrutinizing the prison chaplaincy. In New York City, twenty-eight part-time chaplains in city institutions were fired and replaced by a full-time “ecumenical” chaplain at each institution. The chaplains are assisted by volunteer local clergy. Massachusetts officials meanwhile are busily denying reports that they plan to phase out state prison chaplains. Newspaper reports stating the chaplains would be supplanted by social workers were branded as false by correction officials. Nevertheless, the threat is real, not only in Massachusetts but in other states as well, declare some ministers.

Max P. Metcalf, a Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod minister who is senior chaplain at New York’s Nassau County Jail, urged churches to act to “prevent the pastoral care ministry from being swept under foot by the politics of prison reform.”

Chaplains and denominational officials point out that often inmates distrust state-hired chaplains. One of the strong points of Glass’s ministry, he believes, is that inmates understand that no one pays the crusade team to be there (crusade costs run $6–10,000 and are subsidized by Glass’s evangelistic association) and that team staff and counselors visit the prison out of sheer compassion for the prisoners.

For Glass, the rewards are the murderer-turned-Christian, the rapist whose life was changed by ongoing Bible studies, and the prisoner who, after praying quietly in the prison yard with a counselor, looked up at the manned machine-gun posts of Eddyville’s fortress-like walls and said, “At last I know what real freedom is. I’m freer now than those guards who go home at night.”

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Sunday-school attendance has dropped “catastrophically” in the past ten years, according to a report by Toronto Star religion editor Tom Harpur. The overall decline stands close to 50 per cent, with the United Church of Canada and the Anglican Church registering even greater losses. The United Church dipped from 648,000 in 1962 to 294,000 in 1972. Presbyterians declined from 110,000 in 1963 to 63,000 in 1973. Lutherans and Baptists fared better but still reported losses.

The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, however, climbed 78 per cent: from 73,000 in 1963 to 130,000 in 1973. Leaders credited busing, teacher-training programs, and emphasis on evangelism. Several individual non-Pentecostal churches with aggressive Sunday-school programs and bus ministries also showed increases.

United Church moderator N. Bruce McLeod told Harpur the church had gotten along without Sunday schools its first 1,780 years anyway, and he suggested there be more emphasis on teaching at home and less emphasis by conservatives on “the numbers game.” Quality is the goal, he implied.

Glass On God’s Turf

For Bill Glass, his current occupation of leading sinners to Christ is a far cry from his previous task of hurling his 6’6”, 250-pound frame around the National Football League.

Now, in addition to his three-day prison crusades (see preceding story), the former all-pro Cleveland Brown conducts eight-day citywide crusades, a practice he began even before quitting the game in 1969. And instead of helmets and shoulder pads, he’s equipped now with a divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Glass, who is not ordained, studied for his degree part-time while still clobbering NFL opposition. With his new team, the Bill Glass Evangelistic Association, Glass already has held fifty-seven city and six prison crusades.

The city crusades—particularly one at Marion, Ohio, in 1972—led Glass into the prisons. A board member “challenged me to do a prison crusade just like the city crusades,” Glass said. In short order, a crusade was held at the Marion Correctional Institute. Besides Marion and Eddyville (see preceding story), Glass also held crusades at the California Correctional Institute at Tehachapi, the Ohio State Reformatory at Mansfield, the Wisconsin State Prison at Waupun, and the Men’s State Reformatory at La Grange, Kentucky. Upcoming is a September gathering at the state prison in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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Support from correction officials, especially the wardens of those prisons already visited, is a key to continuing entry, Glass believes. Waupun’s warden sent endorsements to fellow wardens around the country, and invitations are now numerous enough that the Glass team cannot fill them all. Glass and his co-workers mingle freely with inmates, spending all day with them.

Some of Glass’s former NFL teammates and opponents support his ministry. Association treasurer is Jimmie Ray Smith, a former all-pro guard for Cleveland and the Dallas Cowboys, and a leading board member is Raymond Berry, former Baltimore Colt star receiver.


Catholic Pentecostals: Something New

Next year, Rome.

The announcement that the 1975 international Catholic charismatic conference will be held in Rome during Pentecost week in May elicited applause and cheers from the 30,000 gathered in the Notre Dame stadium at South Bend, Indiana, for this year’s conference. Significantly, the conference will be held at the nerve center of Catholicism in the midst of the Vatican-decreed year of evangelism. (Meetings will be held next summer at Notre Dame as they have been since the Catholic charismatic movement—or “renewal,” as its leaders prefer—got started seven years ago; the event will be billed simply as a conference for U. S. Catholics.)

Reports of rapid growth globally and an emphasis on healing, “community,” and social involvement highlighted last month’s meetings at Notre Dame.

Leaders estimate 600,000 are now involved in the renewal, double last year’s figure. About 3,000 Catholic Pentecostal prayer groups in sixty countries are registered with South Bend headquarters, and there are scores, perhaps hundreds, not yet recorded. The movement in France, for example, is growing so fast leaders can’t keep records current; some 10,000 French Catholics are involved, and leaders there say they expect that figure to quadruple within the year.

Registration for the Notre Dame conference was cut off in May at 18,500, when housing resources were depleted. Thousands more came anyway, bedding down on floors or in tents, even in their cars. Chartered and group flights came from as far away as California and Puerto Rico.

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Bad weather marred two of the stadium events: rain at the Friday night healing service and unseasonably cold winds and drizzle at the Sunday afternoon evangelistic rally. Yet the people sat—and sang—through it all, the atmosphere seemingly charged with joy.

The mass healing service was perhaps a first for modern Catholicism. Scores of persons testified they were healed as they laid hands on each other in the bleachers and prayed, and as leaders on the platform called out specific ailments and declared cures were taking place. The word “miracle” was scrupulously avoided in favor of “healing”; the Catholic church has strict procedures that must be followed and documentation that must be obtained before anything can be called a miracle. Nevertheless, people said they had been cured of arthritis, poor vision, deafness, short legs, even cancer.

Leading the healing team were Father Michael Scanlan of Loretto, Pennsylvania, Father Francis MacNutt of St. Louis, and Barbara Shlemon, a Tampa nurse. Under intense questioning by incredulous reporters from the Catholic press, team members acknowledged that many of the ailments may have been psychosomatic and that verification was lacking, but they insisted the healings were valid. “It’s what I call evangelical healing,” said Scanlan. “The ultimate purpose was to build faith.” MacNutt, author of a major Catholic book on healing and a veteran on the healing-meeting circuit, said he has documentation of many remarkable healings.

Some clergymen, including Bishop Joseph McKinney of Grand Rapids, Michigan, initially expressed reservation at the style of the meeting. After a night’s sleep, McKinney said he was satisfied after all; healings come in a context of praise, he concluded.

Everyone, including the reporters, agreed that the meeting was something new for Catholicism. More attention can be expected to be given to healing in the local weekly prayer groups.

Another highlight was the Saturday night mass. To the strains of “For You Are My God” 700 robed priests, a dozen bishops, and Cardinal Leo-Josef Suenens of Belgium marched onto the field; the music gave way to sustained applause, and candles later were lit throughout the stadium. (Leaders say 80 per cent of the 700 priests have been involved in the renewal for a year or more.)

Suenens in a press conference ticked off the blessings the charismatic movement has brought to the church: a revival of Bible study, hope for visible unity, healing, renewal of parish life, social involvement. An iconoclast in some ways, a traditionalist in others, Suenens drew light applause when in a brief talk at the Sunday rally he urged the movement to keep intact Catholic allegiance to Mary and Peter (the pope).

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A series of seminars and talks filled out the weekend. Members of several prayer communities reported their experiences in neighborhood evangelism. Persons in the Alleluia Community of Augusta, Georgia, told how they sold their homes to “enter into a community of goods as landlords and residents of a city block of duplex apartments” and how they have been attempting to win their neighbors to Christ.

Members of prayer groups in El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico, described their work among the poor living on the Juarez dump (literacy classes, medical services, building of a school, church, and cooperative grocery store).

Lay leader Tom Flynn outlined the growth of the movement in Ireland, where groups of Protestant and Catholic charismatics are praying together—and providing inspiration and guidance for a dozen similar groups in Northern Ireland.

The movement’s well-edited magazine, New Covenant, added 15,000 subscribers in the past year; circulation now is about 40,000. Its December issue featured last fall’s meeting of movement leaders with Pope Paul VI, who prefaced his remarks with: “We have heard so much about what is happening among you. And we rejoice.”

That attitude is contrary to a vision evangelist David Wilkerson says he saw: the Vatican booting the charismatics out of the church. Indeed, if the movement maintains its rate of growth, it may instead represent the future wave of the church—reason enough for all the applause when someone announced, “Next year, Rome.”


Salvation Isn’T Everything

Social reform, strides toward freedom, and securing of peace are actions that Christians must take, but they do not define salvation, a Finnish Lutheran-Russian Orthodox dialogue group concluded in meetings at Jarvenpaa, Finland.

The group was critical of papers produced at the 1973 World Council of Churches Conference on Salvation Today in Bangkok. Christians have a duty to abolish poverty and oppression, said the group in agreeing with a conference statement, but “we cannot approve of the fact that both in the Bangkok conference’s discussions and in its final communique the salvation of man through the Gospel of Christ as well as his moral fulfillment were … inadequately dealt with.”

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The Russian Orthodox participants were led by Archbishop Vladimir of Dmitrov, dean of the Moscow Spiritual Academy. (Last summer the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow voiced similar objections to the WCC, indicating his belief that a false view of salvation came out of Bangkok.)

The dialogue group also discussed peace, urging churches to repulse attempts to use the Bible to justify racism, colonialism, economic oppression, and selfish political aims.

Palau In Spain

City-wide evangelistic campaigns are new to modern Spain. Even with the Law of Religious Liberty passed in 1967 there have been few attempts to hold mass meetings. Permission for evangelicals to use theaters and meeting halls comes only after much patient work if at all. But as a prelude to the Iberian Congress on Evangelism last month, five evangelical churches in Seville with some 300 members joined hands to sponsor a five-day crusade featuring Argentine evangelist Luis Palau. The meetings were held in the city-owned theater “Lope de Vega,” a stone’s throw from where evangelical Christians were burned alive in the sixteenth century. In all, there were about 120 professions of faith.

It was the first such public campaign in the Andalucian capital since May, 1932, when two popular evangelists, Carlos Arujo and Miguel Aguilara, issued their “Manifesto to the Spanish People.” One of the sponsoring churches of the present campaign traces its roots directly to those meetings.

Spot announcements on two radio stations, thousands of posters along major streets, and a house-to-house distribution program helped create awareness of an evangelical presence. Special music was provided by a united choir and musical groups from as far away as Madrid, where the Iberian Congress was to be held. Among the hundreds of Sevillanos who turned out to hear Palau were a member of the Spanish Cortes (parliament) and the owner of one of the largest chains of radio stations in Spain. On the last night a high official of the secret police, present to check up on the meetings, indicated he was deeply moved by Palau’s prayer for the leadership of Spain. Seeking out the evangelist after the meeting, he assured him of more cooperation in the granting of permission for such meetings in the future. Also the mayor received Palau and representatives of the church for a brief visit.

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A young radio announcer became especially interested and aired five interviews on the local station. One interview dealt with a day in the life of an evangelical pastor in Spain, and the questions opened the way naturally for a strong statement of evangelical witness.


World Scene

After a late check on advance reservations and firm commitments, Campus Crusade for Christ’s Explo ’74 staff estimated a minimum attendance of nearly 500,000 for the event next month in Seoul. Some 30,000 are expected to march to Explo from villages throughout South Korea.

Father Dmitri Dudko, a Russian Orthodox priest whose Saturday-night question-answer sessions in church were attended by many intellectuals and young people (see June 7 issue, page 47), apologized to church officials for “disobedience.” He had resigned as pastor of Moscow’s St. Nicholas Church after being ordered to halt the sessions (in which he sometimes criticized the Soviet system). The men who led him to his car the night he resigned apparently were friends, not secret police, as reporters had first surmised.

Israel’s Orthodox-oriented National Religious party has refused to be a part of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s coalition government. NRP leaders say they will join only if the government will sponsor legislation to amend the Law of Return to recognize as valid only those conversions to Judaism performed by Orthodox rabbis.

Leading churchmen in South Africa have criticized the no-strings-attached gift of $5,000 by the All African Conference of Churches (AACC) to liberation movements. Also, Moderator J. D. Vorster of South Africa’s largest Dutch Reformed Church (NGK) took issue with AACC general secretary Canon Burgess Carr, who told the recent AACC assembly that God had sanctified violence. “I know of no source in the Bible for this viewpoint,” said Vorster.

The Assemblies of God denomination approved 68 candidates for foreign missions work last year. There are now 1,102 AOG missionaries in 93 countries and 109 overseas Bible training schools with more than 6,000 students enrolled. The AOG’s overseas constituency has doubled in the last six years.

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