An “enormous amount of mail” has reached New York Episcopal bishop Paul Moore, Jr., since he ordained an avowed lesbian earlier this year. Most of the response, he concedes, has been negative.

But the bishop says he is amazed at all the reaction because he does not think his ordination of Ellen Marie Barrett was “some sort of gesture condoning homosexuality or licentiousness.” He still believes the new priest is highly qualified by training and temperament to be an Episcopal minister.

Why, then, is he hearing from protesters around the nation as well as from Anglicans in other countries? Episcopalians, says Moore, are “upset about lots of things,” and his unprecedented act could have been a “catalyst for the release of this upsetment.”

Much of the reaction came from within his own diocese, and Moore acknowledged that he had “never had so much flak” on any subject before. Some of that flak was in the form of pledges by parish vestries to withhold annual assessments to the diocese.

With a straight face, Moore told a reporter, “The money is not spent for ordinations. Much of it goes for the mission work of the church.”

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, John M. Allin, has also been on the receiving end of many of the protests, but he too has tried to minimize the importance of the New York ordination. He went to Memphis to address the convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee and declared, “One ordination does not make and does not break a church at any place, point, or diocese. The church has not gone down the drain; it really hasn’t. Pass the word along.”

The presiding bishop then tried to cool the Tennesseans: “Think of what a great thing it would be if we didn’t speak the first time we got the urge.… And we need not to pass any asinine resolutions that won’t change anybody. Harsh reaction can condemn a lot of people who have no defense.”

The diocesan convention then went on to pass a resolution calling “active homosexuality” contrary to Scripture and Christian tradition and expressing the “hope that other professed, active homosexual persons will not be ordained.”

The Diocese of (North) Florida proposed amendments to the national Episcopal constitution and canons that would “explicitly insure that such persons shall not be admitted to Holy Orders.” Southeast Florida Episcopalians, in their diocesan convention, officially asked that Bishop Moore and Ms. Barrett be disciplined.

In the Diocese of Washington, where Moore served before he went to New York, the question of homosexual marriage has claimed some attention. Two men active in an avant-garde parish were planning to be married by its rector last year until the parish was threatened with the loss of the diocesan subsidy. One of the pair, holder of a master’s degree from Wesley Theological Seminary, went to the Episcopal General Convention in Minneapolis last September, and after that they decided to “celebrate” a “holy union” in the presence of friends in “our church community.”

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After an Episcopal church ceremony was refused, they exchanged vows in a homosexual congregation. They told a Washington Post reporter that the next bishop of the Washington diocese, John Walker, had declined his blessing by saying he “felt that if he did anything to bless the union this early in his episcopacy, he’d be ineffective for the rest of it.” They still hope to have Episcopal recognition of their marriage, however.

One Episcopal priest who went to the convention last year did not go home alive. He died in his hotel room, stabbed to death by a seventeen-year-old who was described by authorities as a “male hustler.” The youth recently pleaded guilty to the stabbing and was sentenced to one to twenty-five years in a state reformatory. He did not say and was not asked in court how he met the priest or what caused a quarrel that led to their struggle.

The Metropolitan Community Church, in which the Washington couple exchanged vows, continues to claim that it is growing nationwide. Troy Perry, founder and moderator of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, told a reporter in Minneapolis at the end of last year that there are now 103 congregations in seven countries with a total membership of 20,731.

Introduction of a “national gay civil rights bill” by ten members of Congress was announced by the MCC’s Washington office soon after the new Congress convened. In effect, the bill (H.R. 451) is an amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, adding “affectional or sexual preference” to the list of conditions for which it would be illegal to discriminate.

The MCC had a setback in Massachusetts when its Boston branch lost a bid to become a member of the Massachusetts Council of Churches. The council’s board unanimously voted to turn down the gay application without giving reasons. A similar application from the national body has been before the National Council of Churches, but an NCC official said it had been withdrawn.

The National Association of Evangelicals has meanwhile disavowed any connection with a homosexual group that describes itself as “Evangelicals Concerned,” headed by Ralph Blair of New York City. The group’s literature says it was formed at the time of the 1976 NAE convention in Washington.

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The NAE’s executive director, Billy Melvin, declared, “An organization has no right to ride on the NAE’s reputation simply because it was formed in a hotel across the street from where the NAE meetings were taking place. NAE wants to disavow any connection with Evangelicals Concerned. The basic error in the teachings of such a group has been well documented.”

The gay activists have another group to contend with in the independent Presbyterians United for Biblical Concerns. The group’s denomination, the United Presbyterian Church, is currently studying the ordination question, and the PUBC board last month issued a statement calling the ordination of avowed homosexuals “a clear violation of biblical teaching and a grievous offense against God, who requires a holy and blameless life of those who seek ordination to the offices of pastor, ruling elder and deacon.”

In Canada, Anglicans have been choosing up sides in a debate over whether their church newspaper, The Churchman, went too far in an issue dealing with homosexuality. In the paper’s features on the subject were details of homosexual relationships between two men and two women and the account of a priest who admitted hanging around bus stations to pick up sex partners. After the issue was published, one priest wrote that he is “no longer ashamed of myself” and that he knows “that homosexuality is the normal and natural part of my personality.”

Christian leaders in England have expressed concern over the new emphasis on homosexuality in society. The Nationwide Festival of Light organization urged Prime Minister James Callaghan to halt the “growing exploitation” of children by militant homosexuals in schools and elsewhere. The church is a part of that “elsewhere,” according to one recently published commentary. The authoritative Crockford’s Clerical Directory in its latest edition warns homosexual clergymen not to give physical expression to their tendencies. The list of Anglican clergymen and parishes is always preceded by a long, outspoken preface written by a leading churchman who is never identified. The anonymous British writer says in the new preface, “Christians should never be so charitable to deviants as to cease to oppose the flaunting of homosexual behaviour.”

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More For Missions

The number of Protestant North Americans serving as missionaries outside their own countries is continuing to rise despite a decrease in the number sent by the mainline denominations. The eleventh edition of the Mission Handbook, published last month by the MARC division of World Vision, shows a record total of 36,950 from the United States and Canada.

Worldwide, the number of Protestant overseas workers is estimated at 55,000. The North American contribution to the total rose by about 2,000 during the three-year period ending December 31, 1975. The totals in the previous edition were dated January 1, 1973.

Mission giving in the United States and Canada is reported to have outstripped inflation by 29 per cent in the three-year period, from $383 million in 1972 to $656 million in 1975. The funds went to 620 agencies with workers in 182 lands.

Brazil was listed again as having the largest number of North American missionaries: 2,068. Japan was in second place with 1,545. The agency with the most overseas workers was Wycliffe Bible Translators (2,693), with the Southern Baptists close behind (2,667).

Also recently released, but with a much bleaker outlook, was the Handbook of British Missions. Since the last edition was published four years ago, the number of British overseas personnel has dropped from 5,507 to 4,592. The totals omit some societies, but the reported decrease is thought to be representative of the overall situation. Giving in Britain for missions was up over the four-year period, however. The pound sterling total increased from 17 million in 1972 to 26 million in 1976.

Among the North American sending agencies that experienced declines during the MARC handbook’s latest reporting period was the United Church of Christ Board of World Ministries. It has just announced plans to “stabilize” its overseas force at 165, down from the 244 reported in the tenth MARC handbook (1973) and 70 per cent below its 1960 strength.

The High Cost Of Caring

Many church-related retirement and convalescent facilities across the country are in trouble. Part of the reason is that life-care contracts written in the 1960s and early 1970s often were not flexible enough to keep income ahead of costs during a period of soaring inflation. Some institutions have been forced into bankruptcy as a result. There have been closures, revisions of contracts, dispossessions, and much distress for those affected. Some elderly people have lost everything.

Last month Pacific Homes Corporation (PHC), a United Methodist-related retirement and convalescent complex, filed bankruptcy proceedings after California’s department of health refused to allow it to renegotiate contracts with its 2,100 residents.

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PHC’s deficit toward the end of last year was $27.6 million, and it was reportedly losing $500,000 a month. Included in the deficit are loans totaling about $12 million from insurance companies and a lien by the state to safeguard the interests of residents. The loans have been guaranteed over the past eight years by the 435-congregation Pacific and Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church, which may have to make good on the promises to repay if reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy fails. The conference has already cut its own annual budget by $540,000 (this included the release of a number of staffers) in order to subsidize residents who cannot pay higher rates.

Some 85 per cent of PHC’s 1,200 residents were said to have agreed to go along with the plan to renegotiate. Five of the corporation’s seven retirement units are in California. The other two are in Hawaii and Arizona. Additionally, six of seven convalescent facilities are operated in conjunction with the retirement centers.

A conference spokesman described PHC’s centers as “the best in California.” He said that “everything is being done” to ensure that residents continue to receive “the finest in care” and to prevent their being turned out.

There are about 175 United Methodist-related homes for the aging in the United States, and they have about 31,000 residents. About 20 per cent of the homes may be having problems of “crisis proportions,” according to Lynn Bergman of the denomination’s health and welfare ministries.

The typical life-care contract written ten years ago, he says, promised that for an entrance fee of $3,000 and $180 per month, the agency guaranteed full care, even during physical and mental breakdowns. Some contracts had no clause protecting the home against inflation, he points out, and even those with 5 per cent increase clauses are in trouble because inflation has run as high as 20 per cent in recent years. It might cost a home $20,000 or more a year to service a contract that calls for the resident to pay much less, he explains. The improved medical and social care results in a mixed blessing: people in the homes live longer, adding to ledger woes.

Expansion has halted in most cases because of the crunch. The number of persons who can be given free or part-paid care is lower, in part because of reduced denominational subsidies. Where possible, homes are renegotiating contracts.

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Profit organizations have an out that churches avoid, says Bergman: “Private corporations can simply sell the home to someone else, which immediately cancels all contracts. Then they can go back the next week and rewrite monthly cost-of-care contracts for persons who can afford them.”

The for-profit sector of the $8-billion-a-year nursing-home industry has been ridden with scandal in recent years, and there have been a variety of crackdowns.

Church-related homes generally get higher marks than their secular counterparts in matters of care and ethics. Increasingly, however, their survival may be in jeopardy.

Last Will And Testament

The late evangelist Kathryn Kuhlman left a personal estate of $732,543, including her $130,000 suburban Pittsburgh home and jewelry valued at $94,000, according to a final court inventory of her wealth. The largest amount, $187,350, consisted of savings certificates and interest on them at Pittsburgh banks. More than $70,000 was found in checking and savings accounts. Household goods were valued at $88,000, including furnishings in an apartment in California.

The inventory also listed vacation property in Alberta, Canada, two fur coats, a $4,500 interest in Texas gas wells, $60,000 worth of shares in a corporation Miss Kuhlman formed to market her books and records, and $200 in coins—all 50-cent pieces she had culled from offerings at her services.

An attorney said state and federal estate taxes consumed $167,500, debts and expenses (mostly medical) of the evangelist amounted to $150,000, and legal and other fees for closing the estate totaled about $100,000. This leaves approximately $314,500 to be shared by two of Miss Kuhlman’s sisters, a sister-in-law, twenty employees, and D. B. “Tink” Wilkerson, 44, a Tulsa auto dealer who befriended Miss Kuhlman in the last years of her life. The amount was to be distributed according to a formula prescribed by the evangelist, who died February 20, 1976.

Uproar Over ‘Folklore’

A row has flared up in England over the firing of a religious education teacher who believes in Adam and Eve. David Watson, 56, told his pupils so, was subsequently dismissed, and had his appeal rejected by Hertfordshire County Council. Watson, said the verdict, “had refused the reasonable request of the headmaster and governors to conform to the requirements of the agreed syllabus.”

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The syllabus, which dates back to 1954, says: “The Genesis stories of creation, read as their writers intended them to be and not as literalist interpreters have read them, do not conflict with evolutionary theories. They are, of course, only part of the collection of the myths and legends—Hebrew religious folklore—which make up the first 11 chapters of Genesis and they should be seen in that setting.”

A former missionary in India, Watson rejected this as the only view permissible, and he refused to give written assurances of conformity with it because of what he regarded as its dogmatic assertions. He had been head of religious education at Rickmansworth Comprehensive School since September, 1975, and is the author of two anti-evolutionary books, Myths and Miracles and The Great Brain Robbery.

He plans to appeal to an industrial tribunal on the grounds of unfair dismissal. A thirty-year-old British Education Act says: “No teacher may be deprived of any advantage by reason of his religious opinions.”


Peril in Uganda

President Idi Amin of Uganda has survived approximately ten coup attempts since January, 1971, when he seized power in a bloodless takeover. Another apparent coup attempt came to light last month, and news sources indicate that many Ugandans were killed and hundreds arrested in connection with it. Among those arrested were Anglican archbishop Janani Luwum, spiritual leader of the 1.5-million-member Church of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Boga-Zaire. Luwum, a British-trained theological educator in his forties, was elevated to the archbishopric in May, 1974. Another Anglican, Bishop Yona Okot, was also accused of complicity in the alleged plot. Certain Catholic and Protestant leaders were reportedly targeted for arrest, too.

In a bizarre demonstration that Luwum and other church leaders were forced to attend, several alleged ringleaders of the attempted coup “confessed” their role, and 3,000 army troops chanted, “Kill them! Kill them!” Amin released Luwum with the admonition to “preach the Word of God … not bloodshed,” and announced that a military court would conduct a trial.

On February 17, Uganda Radio reported that Luwum and two cabinet ministers arrested with him had been killed in an automobile accident.

Religion in Transit

A sixteenth negative presbytery vote has now been cast against the proposed Book of Confessions in the Presbyterian Church U.S. (Southern), thus killing a doctrinal proposal that would have given the denomination a theological stance similar to that of the United Presbyterian Church (see issue of February 18, page 52, and related editorial this issue, page 31).

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The Church of Scientology purchased the Cedars of Lebanon hospital complex in Hollywood, California, recently. Church officials, noting they had paid more than $5 million in cash to avoid interest payments, said the complex will become a major training facility for Scientology.

General secretary Philip Potter of the World Council of Churches apologized to the Church of Scientology for anti-Scientology remarks attributed to him last fall at an “informal meeting and luncheon.” He said he hadn’t known the press was there.

Rebecca Nash, 37, daughter of evangelist Oral Roberts, and her husband Marshall, 39, a Tulsa banker and real estate developer, were among the six persons killed in the crash of a private plane during bad weather at Anthony, Kansas. They were returning to Tulsa from a skiing holiday in Aspen, Colorado. The Nashes are survived by three children ages, 5, 8, and 13.

A federal judge ordered the Federal Bureau of Investigation to file with the National Archives all of its tapes and documents related to buggings and wiretaps of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. The materials cannot be made public for at least fifty years, except by court order. FBI officials in the sixties reportedly played tape excerpts for some church leaders in an attempt to discredit King and keep him off important platforms.

A pastoral letter issued by the majority of the eighty-two Catholic bishops in the Philippines was read from pulpits throughout the country last month. It attacked the government for allegedly interfering with the church’s work of evangelization (the bishops say this includes the teaching of salvation, liberation, and social development). The letter complained that priests and other religious workers had been arrested and foreign missionaries deported. A military list, was released in December charging 155 clergy and laypersons with “rebellion and inciting to sedition.”

Some 5,000 Roman Catholic and Protestant charismatics came together for prayer, sermons, and singing in Hordern Pavilion in Sydney recently. It was described as the largest indoor religious gathering ever held in Australia. “Your one desire,” noted Cardinal James Freeman of Sydney, “is to open your hearts to the power of the Holy Spirit, to awaken and bring to greater power his gifts within you, and by so doing come to a closer, more intimate union with our Savior.”

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About 800 of Italy’s 4,000 Seventh-day Adventists rallied in Rome last month and urged Parliament to approve a proposed law recognizing Saturday as a day of rest.

Controversial Anglican theologian John A. T. Robinson (Honest to God) shook up his fellow liberals last month with the release of Redating the New Testament in which he says all of the New Testament books were written before A.D. 70 rather than between A.D. 50 and 150, as most liberal scholars contend.

Alan Geyer, former editor of Christian Century, was named executive director of a new interdenominational Center for Theology and Public Policy, to be located at Wesley Seminary in Washington, D.C. Research, not lobbying, will be the emphasis, he says.


JAMES OLIVER BUSWELL, JR., 82, Presbyterian theologian, former president of Wheaton and Shelton colleges, and professor at Covenant Seminary; in Quarryville, Pennsylvania.

GILBERT L. (GIL) DODDS, 58, former world indoor record-holder in the one-mile run (1948), track coach at Wheaton College, and evangelist of the Brethren Church (Ashland, Ohio); in St. Charles, Illinois, of a brain tumor.

HERMAN DOOYEWEERD, 82, renowned Calvinist philosopher and professor at the Free University of Amsterdam in Holland; in Amsterdam.

JAMES G. KELLER, 76, Roman Catholic priest who founded the Christophers, an ecumenical movement dedicated to the spread of the Judeo-Christian ethic; in New York City, from complications arising from Parkinson’s Disease.

ALFRED A. KUNZ, 84, former executive secretary and international director of the Pocket Testament League; in Fort Myers, Florida.

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