From forty lands they came, more than 7,000 strong, to Brussels, home of the European Economic Community—and site of last month’s Eurofest ’75, a ten-day international evangelistic training conference for youth.
Four Swedish students on a vacation trip to southern France pulled a Eurofest brochure from a trash can in Germany and switched their destination to Brussels. A Greek trucker detoured to Brussels after some German girls he tried to pick up in Holland told him about Eurofest (where, he confided later, he became a Christian). When an airline employee at the Brussels airport asked why a planeload of Egyptians had come to Belgium, a young Arab replied: “to study the Bible.” Canadian Reg Esau spotted a Eurofest poster in a church in Montevideo, Uruguay, then scraped rust and painted his way across the Atlantic aboard a cargo ship. Some 2,000 Britons crossed the Channel, and participants from both the Irish Republic and embattled Ulster shared the same chartered plane. Delegations arrived from eastern Europe, and a hundred Gypsies set up camp in a field near the assembly hall, the Palais du Centenaire, on the grounds of the 1958 World’s Fair complex.
They seemed undeterred by an abnormal heat wave that baked Belgium, by the language difficulties, or by the spartan conditions (there were no chairs in the hall, only thin matting over a concrete floor, and most bedded down in sleeping bags on wooden pallets in dormitories; some camped in tents and trailers).
Days were spent in Bible-study assemblies, seminars, and “mini-group” sharing. At night the conferees moved next door to Heysel Stadium where a Billy Graham evangelistic campaign was being held.
The main morning speakers at Eurofest were Anglican bishop Festo Kivengere of Uganda and Mexico City-based evangelist Luis Palau of Argentina.
Both emphasized the importance of basic Christian living and involvement in the local church. In language-group seminars well-known evangelists and youth workers from a number of European countries amplified each day’s theme. These meetings were followed by discussion and prayer in the minigroups, composed of ten or fewer persons and led by a young person. These, asserted many, were the heart of Eurofest, where theory was hammered into life principles.
Musicians from all over Europe helped to spice the program. They included the well-liked Choralerna singers from Gothenburg, Sweden, and Cliff Richard of London, one of Britain’s top pop singers.
Platform proceedings were carried on in seven main languages and broadcast simultaneously over loud speakers placed throughout the hall. Language groups sat together under their respective speakers. At the edge of the crowd translators using bullhorns improvised for smaller groups speaking other languages. Up close it worked out well, but from a distance “it sounded like Babel all over again,” mused an observer. A similar procedure was employed at the Graham meetings in the stadium.
Eurofest was directed by the Graham organization in cooperation with evangelical leaders in Europe. American John Corts, a Graham official, was general director, but most other key staffers were Europeans.
Many Eurofest personalities were trained at Bible institutes founded since World War II by Greater Europe Mission (GEM), based in Wheaton, Illinois. “A new generation of young evangelical leadership has appeared in Europe,” commented a GEM executive, and Eurofest brought the young leaders together in “a uniquely European event.” The same spokesman voiced regret that despite the visibility of European leadership the principal plenary speakers did not include a European.
The heavy dosage of Bible teaching was extremely relevant, the GEM leader went on. In post-Christian Europe, he said, young believers confront a maze of complex issues. “Eurofest helped stiffen their spiritual spines to face the challenge,” he said. Indeed, many of the speakers suggested apocalyptically that the young people someday would probably face persecution and suffering for their faith.
Despite the large crowd, problems were minimal. There were differences in taste and style, and the language diversity accounted for some amusing twists. One memo had reminded participants to bring a toiletry kit. Translated into Swedish it became “Bring your own sink.”
Press coverage of both Eurofest and the Graham crusade was generous and generally sympathetic. U. S. ambassador Leonard Firestone provided a valuable assist by hosting a pre-crusade get-together between Graham and leading editors. The result was some of the best press attention Graham has ever received in Europe. Firestone also helped promote crusade attendance.
Crusade attendance ranged from about 8,000 to 14,000 (including Eurofest conferees) over nine nights, with an average of more than 11,000 per meeting—lower than most Graham crusades but the largest evangelistic turnout in the history of the country. Relatively few Belgians attended. Only 300 Eurofest participants were Belgians, and a number of delegations came by bus and train from other countries. An estimated one-third of Brussels’ residents were out of town on vacation. But, most importantly, Belgium’s 9.9 million population is predominantly Catholic, with Protestants making up less than 2 per cent.
More than 2,200 decisions for Christ were recorded, about half of them first-time professions of faith. Many of those who made public decisions were Catholics. Reporters noted that the papal nuncio (legate) was among those who walked forward at the close of the first service.
Part of the Catholic response, says a journalist, may have been encouraged by one of Graham’s repeated remarks: “I’m not asking you to change your church or to join any particular church.…” On the other hand, Graham did urge the inquirers to get into a Bible study or prayer group and to “get into a church where Christ is preached.”
As a result of Eurofest, observed Graham in shirtsleeves on the final sweltering day, “thousands of young people will be spreading across Europe as witnesses for Christ.” He exhorted the churches represented at the crusade to become part of that evangelistic outpouring.
WAYNE DETZLER and BILL THOMAS
GRAHAM THE GREATEST
The fifty-one contestants in this month’s Miss National Teen-Ager Pageant in Atlanta elected evangelist Billy Graham as “the greatest living American.” President Gerald Ford came in second and Henry Kissinger third. Last year comedian Bob Hope got first choice.
Graham: Issues And Answers
At press conferences during his recent Brussels crusade, evangelist Billy Graham was quizzed on a broad range of subjects, and some of his responses got international exposure.
He said he would not be opposed to the ordination of a repentant homosexual. Homosexual behavior is a sin, because “any sex outside marriage is a sin, according to the Bible.” And, said he, homosexual marriage “is not a natural state of affairs from a biblical point of view.” But, he added, homosexuals are people whom God loves and whose sexual misdeeds God is willing to forgive if they repent.
Graham declined to take a stand on ordination of women, preferring to let denominations settle the issue as they see fit. In the past, he said, the church wrongfully tended to downgrade women, absorbing the culture in which the women lived. At the same time, Judeo-Christian beliefs have contributed to the liberation of women from inequities, he stated.
On the subject of South Viet Nam, he said he believes Americans introduced a culture there that “tended to corrupt the people. Religious leaders in Viet Nam have emphasized this to me time after time.” These corrupting influences, he suggested, may have paved the way for the recent Communist takeover.
One Hundred Years Of Spiritual Fitness
The little town of Keswick (pronounced Keh-sick) in the Cumbria Lake district of England is normally a quiet community whose population of 4,300 is swelled only by summer tourists. But last month 8,000 people from seventy-three countries swarmed into town for the week-long centennial celebration of the Keswick Convention, an annual series of inspirational meetings emphasizing “deeper life” and Christian service themes. It was launched in 1875 by Anglican clergyman Thomas Dundas Harford-Battersby of Keswick and Quaker layman Robert Wilson (see June 20 issue, page 6).
Among the visitors were many missionaries who had made their decisions to enter full-time Christian service during earlier visits to Keswick. Others included chairmen of Keswick-type ministries elsewhere in the world. High school students and college-age young people, many of them camping in the surrounding region, daily filled a 2,200-capacity tent, studying the holy life and listening to missionary challenges. One veteran Keswick visitor who had also attended the sixtieth anniversary meetings commented that the teachings on missions and holiness “have had a remarkable continuity.” Said Anglican cleric Alan S. Neech, the new Keswick chairman: “Last year I corresponded with 187 young people who signed cards for missionary service at the Keswick youth meetings.”
Speakers included evangelist Billy Graham and Anglican preacher-author John Stott. Among those giving testimonies was 97-year-old missionary Harold H. Cook of Brazil, probably the oldest serving missionary in the world.
Earlier this year California broadcast consultants Jeremy D. Lansman and Lorenzo W. Milam petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to place a freeze on granting educational radio and television licenses to religious institutions. The pair complained that religious broadcasters were acquiring a disproportionate share of the available stations, and they raised questions about the content of much religious programming.
This prompted an avalanche of mail and thousands of telephone calls to the FCC from people having the mistaken notion that the petition proposed to ban all religious broadcasting.
This month the FCC unanimously rejected the petition, saying the commission cannot violate its neutrality toward religion. The commissioners also said Lansman and Milam had not proved their case regarding program content, and they suggested that this aspect was more a matter of personal taste than of public-interest obligations.
Offerings received during church services in five cities may soon be slimmer, but if all goes as planned church leaders won’t be alarmed, not even if the weather keeps a lot of people home four Sundays in a row. They’ll relax and watch the money pour in—from banks and credit card companies.
The National Council of Churches is setting up a two-year experiment that will involve ten denominations with churches in Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Kansas City (Missouri), Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. By signing an authorization slip once, a churchgoer can authorize Master Charge or Bankamericard or his bank to transfer a monthly or quarterly fixed amount of money to the church, and the funds can even be designated.
Computers, credit cards, banks, and churches will be linked together under an umbrella agency to be known as ACTS (Authorized Contribution Transfer Service), based in suburban Los Angeles. ACTS will subtract a service charge of 65 cents from each transaction (and the credit card companies will charge an additional 3 per cent).
NCC people say the plan is aimed at making church income more consistent and dependable, and they hope it will encourage people to increase the amount they give.
The U. S. Army now has a hymn—and its composer, Sergeant Ralph Lee Bowerman, is $7,500 richer. His three-stanza hymn, “Mighty Is Our Army,” was selected by six final judges from more than 1,200 civilian and military entries in a competition that was part of the Army Chaplain Corps’ 200th birthday observances this year. Bowerman, who was drafted in 1957 soon after immigrating from Canada, has an Assemblies of God background but attends an independent church in Norfolk, Virginia. He is a librarian at the Armed Forces School of Music in Norfolk.
The first stanza: “Mighty is our Army and mighty is our Lord. We stand for peace and liberty, our histories record. Each soldier is a fortress; united we defend the rights our fathers died for, eternal without end.” The refrain: “One nation, one Army; one people strong and free; tho’ worshiping in diff’rent ways one God eternally. Amen.”
Yoga experts and pathologists are still talking about the strange death of Robert Antosczcyk, 29, an Ann Arbor, Michigan, yoga instructor. On June 1 Antosczcyk told friends he was going into his room to attempt a state of astralprojection and did not want to be disturbed. Two days later he died. His body was found on the floor of his room in a yoga position used for deep meditation: he was flat on his back, his thumbs between his index and middle fingers.
Friends and relatives say he had been in excellent health. He did not smoke, drink, or use drugs, they said. Pathologists were baffled. One theorized that Antosczcyk had gone into such a deep, trance-like meditation that his heart slowed to the point where his brain no longer received enough blood.
The yoga specialists seem agreed that astralprojection should be avoided as “not a safe spiritual path.” They define it as a type of meditation in which a person’s soul journeys through the “astral plane” of the universe. The soul (or consciousness) is attached to the material world by a symbolic link called a “silver cord.” If the cord breaks, say the experts, the body dies.
If Antosczcyk died from excessive meditation, say pathologists, it was a medical first.
The Junaluska Affirmation
Evangelicals in the United Methodist Church asserted themselves in a major way last month by adopting a 1,500-word theological statement.
The document, officially called “An Affirmation of Scriptural Christianity for United Methodists,” was presented to the sixth national convocation of the group commonly known as the Good News movement. Nearly 2,000 persons registered for the four-day event, held at the United Methodist conference grounds at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.
“Scriptural Christianity,” the statement says, “affirms as the only written Word of God the Old and New Testaments.” It goes on to say that “the authority of Scripture derives from the fact that God, through His Spirit, inspired the authors, causing them to perceive God’s truth and record it with accuracy.” Accurate preservation of the Scriptures through copyists and translators is attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit.
The statement was drafted by a committee headed by Dr. Paul Mickey of Duke Divinity School and approved by the Good News board. Mickey said the statement was being offered to the church as “theological clarity in a time of theological confusion.”
In an address to the convocation, Pastor Ed Robb of Lubbock, Texas, called United Methodism “a sick denomination” and said it is “largely because we have sick seminaries.” He called on the denomination to set aside two seminaries for evangelicals and to establish “truly inclusive theological faculties” that would include evangelicals teaching biblical and systematic theology.
Getting Out The Word
A million copies every twenty-seven days. That, says the 47,000-member Gideons International, is the rate at which its people are distributing Scriptures around the world. At the organization’s seventy-sixth convention i n Denver, leaders announced that 13.5 million Bibles and New Testaments had been distributed last year in 107 countries and forty-three languages at a cost of $9.5 million.
Since 1908 nearly 150 million copies of Scripture have been distributed by the Gideons, a Protestant Christian business and professional men’s association. A recent emphasis has been Scripture distribution among high school and college students. More than 600,000 New Testaments will be given to students in India, thanks to a single convention banquet offering. Broadcaster David L. Hofer of Dinuba, california, was reelected president.
Promoters of Detroit’s convention business are currently using the slogan, “Take a Second Look at Detroit.” One of America’s largest church meetings this summer gave those promoters reason for taking a second look at church meetings as a source of convention traffic. More than 15,000 people came to the Motor City’s Cobo Hall for the four-day North American Christian Convention. Impressed tourist officials filmed part of the program to use in their sales pitch. They were said to be especially interested in the program’s appeal to all members of the family.
The Convention is the annual gathering of the loosely knit group of Christian Churches and Churches of Christ (instrumental) who are not affiliated with either the Christian Church (Disciples) or with the Churches of Christ (non-instrumental). One of the unconventional aspects of the Convention is that many (over 22,000 this year) register for the gathering without attending. Their registration is considered a show of support for the fellowship.
Except for electing officers, the annual meeting is in no sense a legislative session. Named to the presidency this year was E. Ray Jones, minister of First Christian Church, Clearwater, Florida. Most of the program is devoted to inspirational addresses, Bible studies, and workshops.
The group has more than 5,400 congregations with a total membership of 1.03 million, according to yearbook figures.
Religion In Transit
The Orthodox Theological Society of America (OTSA), a seventy-five-member organization of American Eastern Orthodox theologians, criticized advance documents of the upcoming general assembly of the World Council of Churches in Nairobi in November. The papers, objected the OTSA, condemn evils of Western societies but ignore Marxist repression and political excesses in the Third World. The OTSA said it rejects such conscious selective policy of WCC leaders as “prejudiced, dangerous, divisive, and supportive of human slavery.”
A New York Times story on church-state legal conflicts reported that the Jackson, Mississippi, city council donated $1,000 in city funds to help sponsor this year’s Billy Graham crusade there. Also, National Guard general E. A. Beby Turnage wrote a letter on official stationery to all Guard troops inviting them to attend the crusade. The crusade committee returned the city’s money after the American Civil Liberties Union threatened to sue, but the general’s letter went unchallenged.
Guideposts magazine announced its annual Church Award will go to South Main Baptist Church in Houston for its ministry to single adults. Especially noted was its work with divorced persons (some 1,500 so far). Kenneth Chafin is pastor of the church.
“Deprogrammer” Ted Patrick’s legal troubles are mounting. He and nine others are being sued for $350,000 by John Gervasoni, a Connecticut follower of a cult leader known as Brother Julius. Gervasoni claims that Patrick and some relatives kidnapped him and tried to talk him out of his beliefs, then had him committed to a mental hospital after he tried to escape. Jail sentences and other lawsuits in several states are pending against Patrick, who reportedly charges between $1,000 and $1,500 plus travel expenses for his services.
United Methodists in Iowa and a national United Methodist agency posted $10,000 bail so that Dennis Banks, the controversial American Indian Movement leader, could be free pending appeal of his conviction for rioting and assault with a dangerous weapon in a Custer, South Dakota, incident. Banks failed to appear for sentencing and the bail was forfeited.
The Kansas Board of Education earlier this year declined to give permission to The Way College to confer degrees.
The school is run by The Way, an Ohio-based sect headed by Victor Weirwille.
The financially ailing WHCT-TV Channel 18 religious television station in Hartford, Connecticut, purchased in 1972 by Faith Center of Glendale, California, was sold last month to Christian Broadcasting Network of Norfolk, Virginia. Both are charismatic Protestant groups. Hartford’s population is largely Catholic.
At its recent convention held in Beth Eden Baptist Church in suburban Denver, the 106-year-old Prohibition Party nominated a presidential candidate:
Baptist clergyman Ben C. Bubar, Jr., 58, who heads the Christian Civic League of Maine. About 100 delegates from nineteen states attended the convention. Alcohol, integrity in government, erosion of individual rights, and the growing menace of Communism are all issues, says Bubar.
Pastor Timothy J. Kribs of suburban Portland, Oregon, was elected president of International Christian Endeavor at its recent convention in Portland. Some 1,600 youth and adult leaders attended. Kribs is a Disciples of Christ pastor.
Alaska Methodist University, about to close because of budget problems, will open this fall after all, thanks to action by the state legislature. The state will give each student $1,850 per year toward tuition and fees of $2,150. It will also give the school $2.3 million in a lease-option arrangement. If the school gets on its financial feet within two years the money will be considered a gift. If not, it will be deducted from a sale price.
Pastor Kenneth M. Meyer of the 1,400-member First Evangelical Free Church of Rockford, Illinois, was elected president of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in suburban Chicago at the recent annual meeting of the Evangelical Free Church of America.
The new Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), Forrest David Mathews, 39, is a Southern Baptist. He’s been a member of Calvary Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for twenty years (and president of the University of Alabama for six years).
Among those recently honored by Religious Heritage of America: Pastor Bryant M. Kirkland of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City (Clergyman of the Year). Chancellor Daniel G. Aldrich, Jr., of the University of California at Irvine, a United Church of Christ member (Churchman of the Year), Executive Director Margaret J. Mealey of the National Council of Catholic Laity (Churchwoman of the Year), Religion Editor Adon C. Taft of the Miami Herald (journalism award), Congressman John B. Conlan of Arizona, a Campus Crusade for Christ backer (leadership award in government), and lecturer-author Carl F. H. Henry (leadership award in education).
New presidents: Educator and lay pastor Edward Albert Lindell, 46, to Gustavus Adolphus College, a Lutheran Church in America school in St. Peter, Minnesota; Wesleyan clergyman Leon Hynson to Evangelical Congregational School of Theology in Myerstown, Pennsylvania, the seminary of the Evangelical Congregational Church; and Donald W. Shriver, Jr., a Southern Presbyterian minister and educator, to Union Seminary in New York.
Honduras is in the grips of a severe food shortage, with more than 200,000 in danger of starvation, according to reports circulated by World Relief, a National Association of Evangelicals agency. The country has been the scene of recent “hunger marches” that ended in violence. In the aftermath two Catholic priests, one of them an American missionary, were murdered, as were several peasant leaders, apparently by landowners.
Despite the sporadic street fighting between Muslims and non-Muslims in Beirut, most missionaries there decided to stay.
The new ruler of Nigeria, Muritala Rufai Mohammed, 38, is a Muslim. A tribesman, he replaced Yakubu Gowon in a bloodless coup while Gowon was at a meeting in Uganda. Although he was considered personally above reproach, Gowon—son of a Methodist evangelist—was unable to deal decisively with widespread government corruption.
At the recent Islamic conference of foreign ministers from forty nations of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, King Khalid of Saudi Arabia declared that the foremost goal of all Muslims must be to see Jerusalem “once again Arab, free, pure, and dedicated to Allah and the faith.”
Latin American evangelist Luis Palau is working on plans to use a three-week crusade in Managua, Nicaragua, in November to reach much of Central and South America for Christ. The plans call for hooking up simultaneously a radio and television network in twenty-two countries with a potential audience of 75 million.
Communist guerrillas are increasingly active in Thailand, say missionary sources. Several Christians were among those killed by Communists in recent ambushes. Meanwhile, Thais are building many temples throughout the land in an effort to bolster Buddhism as the national religion. But a number of new Christian churches are going up too. And, reports missionary James Rhoda, 2,000 Thais have recently professed Christ in the northeastern area. Many young people have been touched by a renewal movement, he says, and a number are training in Bible colleges for full-time Christian service.
Israel’s chief rabbinical council excommunicated an Orthodox member of the parliament, Rabbi Shlome Lorincz, for likening Chief Rabbi Shlome Goren to President Idi Amin of Uganda. Under the ban, other Jews are supposed to shun him.
Action by the General Assembly of the Irish Presbyterian Church, which met recently in Belfast, opened the way for a vote next year on whether to withdraw from the World Council of Churches. The church has 136,000 communicant members in 560 congregations in both Ulster and Erin. Criticism of the WCC is increasing, especially by younger ministers; the vote will be close.
Irish Methodists agreed recently to ordain women to the ministry.
Black and white South African participants at Lausanne last year failed to resolve their serious racial and theological tensions, but they agreed in a recent reunion meeting to maintain close, informal contact and fellowship. The issues were faced again during the reunion, and this time there was “marked progress,” reports evangelist Michael Cassidy, who was assigned to promote ongoing communication between the factions.
There are now 14,000 baptized believers among the Gypsy population in France, according to estimates, part of a total of 50,000 Gypsy Christians throughout Europe. Open-air Pentecostal conventions draw as many as 1,500 Gypsy caravans, say observers.
In four years of service Operation Mobilization’s oceangoing vesselLogos has called at ninety-six ports and hosted more than 1.5 million visitors at shipboard book and Bible displays and conferences. Much literature has been distributed, and ship-based evangelistic teams have fanned out through the port cities, presenting the Gospel to millions of people.
The first school for the blind in the Himalayan country of Bhutan is being built and financed by a German based evangelical agency, the Christoffel Mission to the Blind, and the Norwegian Santalmission group is providing the director. Christians aren’t allowed to evangelize in Bhutan, but the government encourages missions to undertake social projects.
Despite the political climate, Portuguese evangelicals “are enjoying complete freedom,” says leader Jaime Vieire of the Portuguese Evangelical Alliance. “We are having open air meetings, daily radio programs, and even street marches,” he says. An evangelism congress is scheduled this fall.
President Samora Machel has banned infant baptism in Mozambique. Machel, leader of FRELIMO, the liberation movement that took over the government in June, has been a critic of the Catholic Church for its alleged ties to the former Portuguese regime.
HUGH C. BENNER, 76, former general superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene and founding president of Nazarene Seminary; in Leawood, Kansas, of a heart attack.
NEVILLE RICHARD CLARK, 65, Canadian Anglican bishop noted for his association with Canada’s native people and fluency in the Cree language; in Noranda, Quebec.
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