“Tell our critics we didn’t go under.” On this triumphant note announced to viewers on more than 430 television stations worldwide on the final weekend of December, TV evangelist Rex Humbard burned the last of the $12.3 million in unregistered securities that got him in trouble with Ohio and federal officials in 1973. He also announced a new $1 million-per-year campaign to buy additional global TV time.

“We have accomplished something in the spiritual world that has never been accomplished since the day of Pentecost,” asserted the 56-year-old evangelist who came to Akron from Arkansas in 1952. “It has been the biggest challenge any ministry and any church has ever faced.”

The telecast was videotaped December 7 at his Cathedral of Tomorrow in suburban Akron, Ohio, a 5,000-seat semi-circular church packed with cheering, sobbing well-wishers. After the taping Humbard held a press conference, the first in Akron since his financial troubles began, in which he amplified an earlier report of the financial breakthrough (see December 5, 1975, issue, page 44).

The Ohio Securities Division and the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed suit more than two years ago in a Cleveland court, charging that the $12.3 worth of million Cathedral securities and the salesmen peddling them across the nation were unregistered (see February 2, 1973, issue, page 39). Humbard agreed to set up a trust fund for repayment of the notes and submitted voluntarily to a stiff, court-mandated budget of $825,000 a year for his TV ministry.

“We had to cut fifty overseas TV stations from our schedule,” Humbard said. The move saved $1 million a year, he added, the amount he now proposes to raise from donations, not notes, “for the spreading of the gospel worldwide.” The 1973 strictures came right after Humbard had announced a global expansion of his TV evangelism, supported by the securities income.

All the donated income above $825,000 a year during the intervening period was put into the trust fund. Humbard bombarded supporters with letters urging those who couldn’t afford donations to get loans and send him the proceeds. At the same time, he sold the Cathedral’s girdle and wire factories in New York, its twenty-two-story office building and other holdings in Akron’s prestigious downtown Cascade Plaza, its two airplanes, and other property. Humbard said Mackinac College on an island in Lake Huron, Michigan, will be sold this month for $3 million. It was bought for about $7 million in 1971 from the Moral Re-Armament movement with the promise it would always be used for educational purposes. The buyers say they plan to convert it to a resort. Not relinquished was the $225,000 house purchased during this period for use as the church parsonage.

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In the divestiture process, the Cathedral holdings were pared from $45 million to $13 million, Humbard told the press. He said the church’s debt stands at $10 million, including $5.5 million in mortgages on the Cathedral owed to the Teamsters union pension fund. The annual budget, including college maintenance and local congregation expenses, was $1.2 million. That will increase with the worldwide expansion, Humbard said. He also asserted that the church will invest in no more commercial ventures. An adjoining 1,250-seat buffet restaurant, which he said makes no profit, will be kept for the convenience of travellers who visit the church, he stated. (A 1969 IRS ruling makes all profits from businesses run by non-profit organizations taxable after 1976.)

In addition, Humbard pledged to finish construction of a 750-foot tower that roughly resembles an industrial smokestack in appearance. Originally intended as a TV transmission site with a revolving restaurant on top, it will be the tallest building in Ohio. Begun in 1972 despite the outrage and legal maneuvering of neighbors in the residential area near where the Cathedral is located, the tower’s construction was halted by the budget pinch. Now, the evangelist pledged, it will become a religion museum and a site for round-the-clock prayer teams—“the prayer capital of the world.”

He added that the tower’s completion will be financed by proceeds from the college sale and donations raised solely for that purpose, not with funds donated for the television ministry. One fund-raising effort launched earlier involved an invitation to donors to send written testimonies which would be microfilmed and stored in the tower, along with viewing machines, “for the unsaved to see after the rapture, as an explanation for what has happened.”

During the televised church service, Humbard announced that his brother-in-law, Wayne Jones, the Cathedral’s associate pastor, will become “associate evangelist” in charge of advance preparation for Humbard family “rallies” worldwide (the Humbards will be in Manila this month). Replacing him as associate pastor to tend the local flock in Humbard’s absence is Charles Ronald Hembree, the editor of Humbard’s Answer magazine. Hembree ghost-writes much of the evangelist’s published material.

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Outlining repayments since the court order, including the return of notes from supporters who simply gave them as donations to the Cathedral, Humbard said $4,149,000 was paid by January, 1974, another $4,246,000 by March, 1975, and $2,750,000 by last November. Notes totaling $517,000 have either not been returned or were improperly endorsed, he said. A trust fund holds money sufficient to cover them, he added.

Apparently drawing on the success of the repayment plan, Humbard told his television audience, “I want gifts, not notes, that will allow this church to be the first one ever to reach the whole world.”

The evangelist said his broadcast, with voice translation, would be welcome in Iron Curtain countries, including Russia, “because we stay out of politics.” Communist nations will get only a radio version, not television, beamed from short-wave transmitters in Monaco and Hong Kong. The services now are translated into French and Japanese for television audiences in Europe and Asia, he pointed out, but “many” other languages are to be added.


Mission Completed

Christian and Missionary Alliance churches donated $600,000 in the last six months of 1975 to complete the denomination’s Operation Heartbeat program to aid refugees from Indochina. More than 7,000 were assisted, according to project director Louis T. Dechert, a CMA layman. Of these, some 1,800 were placed with CMA sponsors in North America. Nearly all of those sponsored were affiliated with the CMA’s churches in Cambodia and South Viet Nam.

As a result of witnessing by fellow refugees and the ministry carried out by CMA workers in the refugee camps, about 2,500 professions of faith in Christ were recorded. Twenty congregations under the leadership of trained ethnic clergy have been formed around the country by the Vietnamese Christians.

Hard Pressed

The six-week strike by Canadian postal workers which ended last month played havoc with the church press. The Canadian Baptist put out the November issue early but 80 per cent of them were undelivered. The United Church Observer and The Presbyterian Record were unable to get their November issues out. Both combined their December and January numbers. The Canadian Churchman (Anglican), which is a tabloid monthly newspaper, combined the November and December issues.

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Reaching London’S Pin-Striped Set

Follow the parade of London gentlemen in pin-striped suits, and on Tuesday noons it leads to St. Helen’s Church. The dingy stone facade of the medieval, twelfth-century structure is deceptive. Inside there throbs the life which emanates from a thriving city ministry.

For half an hour, more than 600 men and women from London’s financial nerve center meet at St. Helen’s, Bishopsgate. The quick step of arriving worshippers hints at the difficulty in finding a seat. Latecomers are ushered into the chancel behind the pulpit or even the “Nun’s Choir,” a leftover from the church’s pre-Reformation history.

Promptly at 1:05 P.M. Dick Lucas, the handsome and articulate vicar of St. Helen’s, announces the hymn. In a mighty male chorus the conservative city gentlemen sing out with the unmistakable resonance of conviction. A brief Scripture reading by a lay reader follows. Then Lucas leads in prayer for the city of London and the world. His predominent evangelistic drive often seeps through. “Turn back the city to the ways of Christ,” he pleads.

The remaining twenty minutes are packed with scriptural teaching. The exposition of an evangelistic passage is amply illustrated by references to life in London. Allusions to contemporary writers, such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn, show the breadth of Lucas’s reading. The thrust of his message is clear: “For England the choice is revival or revolution.”

After the benediction, a sandwich and coffee lunch is served in the church. Throughout the pews clusters of men munch away as they chat. Christians mingle with their guests, and many make professions of faith. Among those who recently have found Christ are a merchant banker, a property consultant, and several from the famous insurance firm of Lloyds.

Attendance surged upward when Britain’s economic woes worsened in the face of the oil crunch more than a year ago, and it has continued at a high level. The implication is that when the money market is down, the men begin looking up, observes Lucas.

Lucas first came to St. Helen’s in 1961 after service with the Church Pastoral-Aid Society. His primary task with the old Victorian association was the care and encouragement of evangelical candidates for the Anglican clergy. When he came to the high-church parish of St. Helen’s he transformed the services into a platform for powerful Bible exposition.

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This commitment to teach God’s Word is the dominant theme in Lucas’s ministry. When asked about the greatest need in modern Anglicanism, he responded: “We must maintain the historical faith. If there is no historical Christ, there is no gospel.” He deplores the current decline in pulpit ministry and urges a rejuvenation of relevant expository preaching.

A source of encouragement for Lucas is the emergence of evangelicals into prominence in the Church of England: Donald Coggan as the 101st Archbishop of Canterbury; his successor at York, Stuart Blanch; and others. His optimism, however, is tempered by concern about this new success. “Let’s not become respectable and feeble,” he warns. It is a blunting of the cutting edge of evangelism which he fears.

Evangelistic training is offered at St. Helen’s, and follow-up fellowship groups are being established throughout the city. Also emphasized are ministries to students and professional people who reside in the city. Whatever changes occur in the expression of evangelistic concern, the central theme will remain the same, vows Lucas: the introduction of modern London to the historic Christ.


Religion In Transit

The Executive Committee of the National Council of Churches urged the NCC’s thirty-one member denominations to issue statements repudiating any intentional contact between their personnel abroad and U.S. intelligence agencies. It also directed all NCC staffers to refrain from such contacts.

The biblical oath to tell the truth in the nation’s courts should be abolished, the Law Reform Commission of Canada recommended to the Canadian Parliament. A simple promise to tell the truth should suffice, it stated, and it would remove the danger of discrimination against witnesses who object to religious oaths.

The American Lutheran Church has received more than $15 million of the $36.8 million pledged so far in its special three-year capital funds appeal for missionary work.

Some fifty Christians from a variety of backgrounds left San Diego January 3 in an assortment of covered wagons. They aim to arrive in Philadelphia by July 4. Their 3,000-mile trek through the southern states is part of Youth With a Mission’s Bicentennial witness project known as “The Spirit in ‘76.”

Ellen Marie Barrett, 29, an acknowledged lesbian, was ordained into the Episcopal diaconate at St. Peter’s Church in New York City. It was described as a “first” for the U. S. Episcopal Church. Bishop Paul Moore, Jr., participated. Ms. Barrett is a co-president of Integrity, an organization of Episcopal gay people formed a year ago.

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The four-year-old Post American, founded as a “radical evangelical” tabloid, has changed its name to Sojourners and will broaden its content. Earlier it switched to a magazine format and moved from Chicago to Washington.

The National Courier, the four-month-old biweekly Christian tabloid published by Logos in Plainfield, New Jersey, now has a man (complete with desk and phone) at the White House. Howard Norton, for years the White House reporter for U.S. News and World Report, switched recently to the Courier. He attends Fourth Presbyterian Church in Washington.

The U. S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare announced it will resume performing abortions in the sixty hospitals it runs across the country, even in states with anti-abortion laws—if those laws are deemed “inconsistent with principles enunciated by the courts.”

The Mormons plan to commence construction of a temple in Seattle this year. It will be the group’s seventh U. S. temple and its nineteenth worldwide.


Bishop Terril D. Littrell of the Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee, was reelected to a third term as president of the Bible Sabbath Association International.

Bishop J. Floyd Williams, general superintendent of the Pentecostal Holiness Church, was elected chairman of the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America, an organization of twenty-five denominations.

Jerrold F. Hames, 35, a staffer of Canadian Churchman since 1969, was appointed editor of that prize-winning newspaper of 280,000-circulation published for the Anglican Church of Canada constituency.

Thomas P. Bailey was promoted to the presidency of Nyack College, a Christian and Missionary Alliance school in New York. Previously he was a professor and chief executive officer of the college.

World Scene

The Association of Independent Baptist Churches in the African nation of Chad has invited Baptist Mid-Missions to return to its work there. The group’s missionaries were ousted by the previous government during a wave of religious persecution. The present government says the welcome mat is out again.

Thousands of Chinese immigrants are pouring into Tanzania and adjacent African lands. Mozambique’s Chinese population is believed to be nearing 250,000. Some missionaries are attempting to reach the newcomers through literature distribution, and the Light and Life Hour (Free Methodist Church) plans to place its Mandarin Chinese broadcast on Trans World Radio’s Swaziland station this year.

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Pope Paul named Cardinal Jan Willebrands, the Vatican’s top expert on ecumenism, to succeed the retired Cardinal Bernard Alfrink as Archbishop of Utrecht, Holland, and primate of the Dutch Catholic Church. The main task of Willebrands will be to unite the feuding conservative and liberal factions in the Dutch church. Under Alfrink, a number of liberal trends had developed in church life, provoking much controversy. Willebrands, however, is also identified with the so-called progressive wing of the church.

Physician-philosopher Albert Schweitzer died a little over ten years ago. This month the hospital the Nobel prizewinner founded in 1913 in Lambarene, Gabon, will close. Insufficient funds.

Death: Heinrich Grueber, 84, the leader of German Lutheranism who organized an agency of the anti-Nazi Confessional Church that helped thousands of Jews and church members in World War II.

Georgi Vins, the Ukrainian Baptist leader imprisoned in Siberia for his faith, is suffering from severe physical disorders, according to informed sources. Nearly all of his family’s furniture was confiscated and sold, in keeping with his court sentence. His earlier prison writings were published last month by the David C. Cook publishing firm.

Some 300 Christians from twelve mission organizations are scheduled to participate in evangelistic activities at the 1976 Winter Olympics to be held February 4–15 at Innsbruck, Austria. The outreach is being coordinated by the International Christian Olympics Ministry.

There are an estimated 300 Christians among the 40 million Muslims of the North African countries of Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, according to the North Africa Mission. More than 400 persons are taking Bible correspondence courses offered on the mission’s broadcasts from Marseille, France.

Black pastor Kornelius Ndjoba, the new prime minister of Ovambo, South West Africa, criticized leading churchmen for distorting the Gospel to attack the “perfectly legal” government of Ovambo. His complaint was directed mainly against liberation movements in southern Africa where Christian freedom or liberation is seen primarily as a political matter.

Overseas Missionary Fellowship, the former China Inland Mission, has more missionaries joining now than at any time since it was forced to leave China twenty-five years ago, say officials. In 1975 more than seventy new missionaries were accepted for work in Southeast Asia. The total OMF missionary force numbers 901, of whom 190 are Americans.

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The French Evangelical Alliance and the Evangelical Federation of France have called for a nationwide evangelistic campaign this spring. The project, an outgrowth of the 1974 Lausanne congress on world evangelization, will involve both individual action by local groups and cooperative efforts in publicity and mass meetings. Presently, Operation Mobilization is engaged in a campaign to reach all French cities of more than 50,000 population through literature and phonograph-record distribution, and through public gatherings.

Despite increasing acts of terrorism in Great Britain, the House of Commons again defeated a proposal to restore the death penalty. The vote, 361–232, showed a decrease of twenty-three in the majority’s strength over a year ago. The debate centered on capital punishment as a deterrent. Support for the death penalty for acts of terrorism causing loss of life came from, among others, the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland and more than 3,000 publicans in northwestern England.

Yugoslav church sources say harassment of the Christian community is at its worst in twenty years. The government journal Borba recently urged the Yugoslav Communist Party and its youth organization “to carry out even more persistent, systematic, and deep ideological activity among young people,” and to strongly oppose all church and religious influences among the nation’s youth.

Bishop Kurt Scharf, 74, of West Berlin resigned as head of the western half of the Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg. He was one of the much-jailed leaders of the Confessional Church, the body of Christians who opposed the Nazi regime in Germany. In 1961 he was elected to succeed Bishop Otto Dibelius as chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany.

Twenty church people were injured in the explosion of two gas-and-acid bombs at an assembly marking the merger of four black Lutheran bodies in South Africa. General Secretary Carl H. Mau, Jr., of the Lutheran World Federation had just concluded a talk to 100 delegates when the blasts occurred. Three clergymen were hospitalized.

Arab poet Tawfig Zayad, a life-long Communist, was formally installed last month as mayor of Nazareth, Israel, a city of 40,000 Arabs—and the boyhood home of Jesus.

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The first Bible-portion edition of the new Afrikaans translation of the Bible, containing the first five New Testament books and fifty of the Psalms, is a runaway best seller. All 50,000 copies were sold in the first ten days of publication, more than half in advance orders that are still being published.

Printing and distribution of 50,000 copies of a new Polish translation of the Bible is under way in Poland. It will provide a modern alternative to the widely used Gdanska Bible, issued in 1632. Nine Polish denominations and the Bible Society in Poland are also sponsoring a modern-language translation of the New Testament to be published next year.


BYANG KATO, 39, Nigerian-born general secretary of the Association of Evangelicals of Africa and Madagascar, prominent African theologian, author of Theological Pitfalls in Africa; of accidental drowning, in Kenya.

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