The following news account is based partly on a report filed by correspondent Russ Pulliam and partly on Religious News Service coverage.

Some 2,000 Anglican evangelicals gathered at Nottingham University in England for five days last month to take stock and chart new directions after ten years of impressive growth within the Church of England. At the conclusion of the second National Evangelical Anglican Congress, a 20,000-word statement was issued, covering a number of topics. Among other things, the paper affirmed that:

• The “visible unity of all professing Christians should be our goal,” and that evangelicals should join others in the Church of England in working toward “full communion” with the Roman Catholic Church.

• Abortion, “though justifiable in certain circumstances, is to be viewed as analagous to homicide.”

• Anglicans should “repent of our failure to give women their rightful place as partners in ministry with men,” but while “leadership of the church should be plural and mixed, ultimate responsibility normally [should be] singular and male.”

• Government is ordained of God, and therefore Christians should involve themselves at all levels, with the Church of England devoting more of its time and resources to in-depth political education for its members.

• Local churches need to do more to encourage artistic development among their members, and they should consider creating a trust (foundation) to subsidize talented young people in developing their abilities.

In an introduction to the statement, congress chairman John Stott, a well-known evangelical scholar and rector emeritus of All Souls Church in west London, emphasized that it was not intended to be an authoritative declaration of evangelical Anglican beliefs. Each section, he explained, received the endorsement of only one of the nine sub-plenary sections. The aim, he said, was to achieve consensus where possible, but “we made it plain from the beginning that we had no intention of concealing substantial differences between us where these emerged.”

On many broad issues (the Lordship of Christ, for one), the participants managed to remain united. But, in a reflection of the growing numbers and diversity, some differences emerged much more strongly than at the first congress, attended by 1,000 ten years ago at Keele University in Staffordshire.

Some, Stott among them, felt that evangelicals have given insufficient attention to social and political concerns, and that the one day given to these topics at the congress did not permit enough time to evaluate priorities.

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A number of delegates expressed disappointment over an apparent unwillingness to tackle or take a strong stand on certain controversial issues, including the doctrine of Scripture. A discussion of this issue arose in a presentation by Tony Thiselton, a lecturer in biblical studies at the University of Sheffield. Thiselton said he hoped the doctrine of inerrancy of the Bible would not develop as an issue. It is, he asserted, “a divisive thing and a retrograde thing.” He added: “It would split our constituency right down the middle. I see the acceptance of biblical authority in broad terms as the watershed, but not the inerrancy of Scripture. Why pick that out? We see this as a more distinctly American issue.”

Stott, the acknowledged leader of the evangelical movement in the Church of England, addressed the issue in his final speech to the assembly: “We believe that Scripture is precisely the written speech of God. The supremacy of Scripture has always been our hallmark.”

Supporters of a strong view of Scripture said they were dissatisfied with the original proposed statement, which assumed the authority of the Bible without defining it clearly. The final statement, however, was amended to include such phrases as “our belief in the divine inspiration of Scripture,” “its entire trustworthiness,” and “reliable in all that it genuinely affirms.”

(Anglican evangelicals are not alone in their hesitancy to embrace publicly the inerrancy of the Bible. Many of the national evangelical alliances in Europe have adopted a similar hands-off position. The objections to inerrancy by members of these groups accounted in part for the somewhat watery statement on Scripture that came out of the 1974 Lausanne evangelization congress.)

Differences aside, the Anglican evangelicals had much to celebrate, looking back on more than ten years of renewal, growth, and increased visibility. One of every two ordinands in the Church of England is considered an evangelical now, according to leaders of the movement. Both of the archbishops who oversee the Church of England—Archbishop of Canterbury F. Donald Coggan and Archbishop of York Stuart Blanch—identify themselves as members of the evangelical camp. Both spoke.

Blanch’s message was cut short by a threat of a bombing that never occurred. His talk reflected a humble spirit that dominated the congress. He lamented the general spiritual condition of the church, suggesting that many people needing spiritual help would not turn to the church in their need “any more than they would go to a banker to have their teeth removed.” He warned that Britain faces a bleak future if the church does not act soon.

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An underlying question of the congress was whether the spiritual national emergency the church now faces might be alleviated by a vast evangelistic campaign. In his prepared text, Coggan said he doubted such an effort would be the answer. However, under pressure from delegates pushing for national outreach, he amended the text.

“Some would feel that the organization of some great campaign, perhaps on an ecumenical basis, planned centrally at a great cost of men and money, is the best way forward,” said Coggan. He suggested that “the stimulation of local effort and enterprise, of which there is a very great deal springing up in many parts of the country, would seem a more likely way,” and he pointed out that the use of press, radio, and television “for intelligent teaching about the basics of Christian believing might well be developed to that end in ways which hitherto have not been explored at any great length.”

“We must continue to wrestle with this matter, indeed to agonize over it,” Coggan acknowledged. “We are not making the impact that we should.”

Observers interpreted his speech as leaving the door open to a united British evangelistic campaign. The idea has been under intense discussion in evangelical circles for the past year. If agreement is not reached soon, say the observers, evangelical leaders may get behind a move to bring American evangelist Billy Graham to Britain for a crusade.

Those at the congress included a number of guests from other Anglican and Episcopal bodies throughout the world, along with observers from the so-called free churches in Britain (Baptist, Methodist, and others). There was an uneasiness among these non-Anglican evangelicals over the nod toward the Catholic Church by the Anglican evangelicals, and some were disturbed by the way the Scripture issue was handled. They expressed fears that a future course of “compromise” will nullify the gains and potential influence of evangelical witness within the Church of England, and that it will destroy unity with evangelicals outside the Anglican body.

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“People had to ask to get the basics in because they weren’t initially expressed,” commented Robert Horn, editor of the independent Evangelical Times. As for the position on Scripture, he added: “Twenty years ago it would have been solid. Nobody would have gulped and swallowed when inerrancy was mentioned.”

Anglican evangelicals are concerned not only about unity with non-Anglicans but also about internal unity, especially as it relates to the growing charismatic movement in their midst. In another development, an eighteen-member study group representing Anglican evangelicals and the Fountain Trust, a London-based charismatic organization, issued a statement of its findings. The main points:

• Charismatic renewal has brought new life and vigor to many churches and a deeper relationship with Christ to many individuals, but there are dangers “and sometimes disasters” that call for self-criticism.

• The Holy Spirit is “neither more wonderful than Christ nor separate from him,” and Christian experience must not be compartmentalized.

• Many charismatic gatherings could benefit from order, teaching, and robust doctrinal hymns, just as many evangelical services and prayer meetings could benefit from increased spontaneity and participation, a more relaxed atmosphere, the sense of joy and praise in some renewal songs, and learning to listen to God.

• Great care must be taken with exorcism and in dealing with people psychologically.

• The goal of renewal is not merely renewed individuals but a renewed and revived church.

The group concluded that non-charismatic evangelicals and charismatics have more that unites them than divides them.

In Search Of Basics

Ben Raymond of Orange County, Florida, is a farmer-turned-preacher who wants to study the Bible. But he can’t read, so he has enrolled in school—at the age of 110.

Raymond sees through his good eye without glasses, hears without an artificial aid, and smiles through his own teeth, according to an Associated Press story. A farmer for most of his years, he never got around to attending school. He and his 79-year-old wife Leola live in a small house that’s falling apart, and they struggle to make ends meet on their combined monthly income of $214.70. Asked about their favorite food, he said they’re happy for “just something to eat.” And, adds Raymond, his thirst is “for righteousness.”

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Coggan, Vatican: Has ‘God’s Time’ Arrived?

In 1960 the late Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury, paid a visit to Pope John XXIII, the first meeting between Rome and Canterbury since Henry VIII broke with the Vatican more than 400 years earlier. In 1966 Fisher’s successor, Archbishop Michael Ramsey, called on Pope Paul VI, and out of that meeting came official study and dialogue sessions between Anglican and Roman Catholic representatives. The central topic: unity. A joint study commission issued reports outlining areas of agreement and disagreement in beliefs about Communion, the ministry, and authority. The greatest agreement was found concerning Communion.

Last month, after an appearance at an important meeting of Anglican evangelicals (see preceding story), Archbishop of Canterbury F. Donald Coggan traveled to Rome for his first meeting with Pope Paul. After two sessions with the Pope (one of them in company with other high Anglican and Vatican officials), Coggan reflected on his visit at an ecumenical ceremony at St. Paul’s American Episcopal Church in Rome.

“Has not the time come when we have reached such a measure of agreement on so many fundamentals of the Gospel that a relationship of shared Communion can be encouraged by the leadership of both our churches?” he asked. He pointed out that in many places individual Catholics and Anglicans, sometimes with local approval, are already practicing intercommunion. Then he expressed belief that “God’s time” for “official sanction” had arrived.

The Vatican did not respond immediately to Coggan’s challenge (Rome seems to believe that unity must precede intercommunion), and at a prayer service with Coggan the next day in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel Paul prayed for unity between the two churches but made no mention of intercommunion. He pledged to Coggan, however, continued cooperation on the “long road” to “reconciliation and unity in Christ.”

Both sides said the exchange was a warm and joyful one. A joint declaration was issued reaffirming the common elements of the faith of both churches, urging continuation of top-level theological discussions, and calling for more intense collaboration in the field of evangelization.

Coggan acknowledged that he had no illusions about the gulf of disagreement that separates the world’s 532 million Roman Catholics and its 67 million Anglicans (including Episcopalians). “I am not asking for a blurring of the issues—and they are not inconsiderable—on which at present we cannot agree,” he told the St. Paul’s audience. “Truth is not advanced by pretending not to see the divisions and disagreements which still exist.” But, he declared: “We can no longer be separated at the sacrament of unity. We are all sinners in need of the forgiveness and strength of our Lord. We will kneel together to receive it.” At that point, he feels, the healing of the breach can begin in earnest.

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From Rome, Coggan journeyed to Istanbul, where he received a somewhat cooler reception. In his welcoming speech. Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Demetrios 1 rejected the ordination of women to the priesthood. At the conclusion of his talk the partiarch recited an admonition by the Apostle Paul that could have been interpreted as fatherly advice to Coggan: “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for it is not permitted them to speak.”

Coggan in an address acknowledged that women were already being ordained in some sectors of the worldwide Anglican Communion (in the United States, Canada, and Hong Kong). “We hold that those who see this to be right should be free to act accordingly,” he affirmed.

The two later signed a joint declaration expressing their firm desire to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of dialogue between the Orthodox and Anglican churches.

Decline in Britain

Britain’s major “Free Churches” (non-Anglican) suffered a collective loss in membership last year, according to a recently published directory. The biggest loss—more than 60,000—was mostly a matter of a change of differentiating between members and adherents by the Salvation Army (from 149,800 members in 1975 to 81,405 last year), according to a spokesman. Some other major Free Church groups that registered declines were: the Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland, 181,798, a loss of more than 6,000; the United Reformed Church, 181,445, down 6,000; and the Presbyterian Church of Wales, 94,116, down 3,000.

The Methodist Church is still Britain’s biggest Free Church, and it records its membership figures only every three years. Its 1975 total was 557,249, and observers expect the 1978 figure to show a shrinkage.

Meanwhile, the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel—one of the biggest and oldest of Anglican missionary agencies—reports a drop from 594 to 340 in missionary staff over the past six years. The agency attributes the loss both to the takeover of many responsibilities by local church leaders and to a lack of response to appeals for workers.

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In 1967, the society’s report points out, 65 per cent of bishops in the forty-three countries where the agency operates were expatriates, or foreigners, and 35 percent were indigenous. Now 73 per cent are indigenous, and the trend is continuing, says the report.

Religion in Transit

Governor Reubin Askew of Florida urged the repeal of a Dade County (Miami) ordinance guaranteeing equal job opportunities, particularly teaching jobs, to homosexuals. Askew, a Presbyterian and the father of two teen-agers, said he would not want “a known homosexual teaching my children.” He said he had no known homosexuals on his staff and would not accept any. His remarks constituted endorsement of a campaign led by singer Anita Bryant to have the ordinance repealed, though he did not mention her by name. A referendum on the ordinance will be held June 7.

A new anti-abortion organization, Americans for a Constitutional Convention, has as its chief aim the convening of a constitutional convention to propose a “human life amendment” to curb abortions. Seven of the necessary thirty-four states have passed such convention resolutions: Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, New Jersey, Arkansas, Utah, and South Dakota.

Some 400 delegates to the Convention of the American Jewish Congress’s National Women’s Division went on record endorsing the right of all women to have an abortion. Their resolution expressed respect for the religious scruples of antiabortionists but said “we oppose their efforts to adopt laws and government practices that would impose their beliefs on our society.”

By a vote of 70 to 3 the directors of the 1.2-million-member Women’s Division of the United Methodist Church will not hold any national meetings in states that have not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment. The directors also encouraged United Methodist women not to take vacations in or make trips to states that oppose the ERA.

Three psychiatrists in a recent issue of the American Journal of Psychiarty tell of six persons who suffered serious psychotic reactions, some of them life-threatening, after participating in the self-help program called Erhard Seminars Training (est). More than 83,000 Americans have participated in est since it began five years ago, according to a New York Times report. They paid $250 each to sit through sixty to seventy hours of self-awareness training by an authoritarian leader who ridiculed them and attacked their self-esteem (see January 21 issue, page 13).

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Chicago clergyman Jesse Jackson and his PUSH (People United to Save Humanity) organization are campaigning to get records with indecent lyrics off radio stations listened to by black youngsters. The results so far are mixed. Station owners say they must play what’s on the hit charts in order to remain competitive. Legally, PUSH has little to stand on. A federal appeals court in New York ruled recently that the Federal Communications Commission exceeded its authority in banning a record that allegedly contained obscene language.

A Federal Communications Commission judge has recommended that the FCC refuse to renew the license of WXPNFM, the twenty-year-old University of Pennsylvania student station. He cited the airing of explicit descriptions of sex acts, urging of a child listener to engage in unnatural sex acts, use of narcotics at the station, engineering violations, financial abuse, and other misdealings. Investigators found the station was apparently under nobody’s control. If the FCC agrees not to renew the license, it will be the first time a university station has lost its license for what amounts to improper and obscene programming, as well as other violations. Officials of a number of universities are following the case with more than just passing interest.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states may not require citizens to display slogans on their automobile license plates when they conflict with religious beliefs. The case involved a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses who had been arrested for placing tape over the slogan “Live Free or Die” on his New Hampshire license plate.


President Douglas B. MacCorkle of Philadelphia College of Bible has announced his resignation, citing his wish to spend more time writing and teaching.

Donald V. Seibert, chairman and chief executive officer of J. C. Penney Company, has been named National Chairman for the thirty-seventh interfaith National Bible Week, November 20–27, sponsored by the Laymen’s National Bible Committee. Seibert, an active layman in the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination, succeeds Commissioner of Baseball Bowie K. Kuhn, the 1976 chairman.

Eldridge Cleaver, the converted former Black Panther leader, was giving a Christian testimony last month in a theater in Vancouver, British Columbia, as part of Campus Crusade’s “I Found It” campaign when a man came on stage and threw a pie in his face. Police rescued the attacker from outraged members of the audience, but Cleaver declined to press charges. An anarchist group took credit for the attack, saying it was punishment for Cleaver’s “betrayal of the cause.”

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World Scene

The Hiding Place, the movie about Dutch evangelical Corrie ten Boom who hid Jews from the Nazis during World War II, has been playing to capacity audiences in British theaters, according to news sources. The film is being handled by commercial distributors, who have been plugging it on British TV (the law forbids religious and political organizations from buying time to advertise or to sponsor a program). A breakthrough, say the people at Worldwide Films, the film arm of the Billy Graham organization that produced the movie.

Translation of the entire Bible into the Somali language, in the making for twenty years, was completed in mid-April. Missionary Dorothy Modricker of the Sudan Interior Mission did most of the translating. Figures released by UNESCO state that literacy in Somalia has risen from 5 to 70 per cent since the government launched its compulsory literacy campaign in 1972.

The lives of United Bible Societies workers in Turkey are being threatened by extremists who are trying to force them to end Bible distribution in the country, according to UBS officials. They said the home of Ameniel Bagdas, Turkish Bible Society secretary, was bombed and acid was thrown in his wife’s face. Other members have been threatened, and two policemen were shot when they attempted to question a gang of youths who had gathered outside the Bagdas home. (Of Turkey’s 40 million people, it is estimated that fewer than three dozen are evangelical believers. There are no organized evangelical churches.)

Dissidents in Czechoslovakia have drawn up a new charter accusing the country’s Communist rulers of discriminating against churchgoers. The document, labeled “Charter 77, No. 9,” claimed the government was violating United Nations declarations on human and civil rights by demanding that officeholders renounce their religious faith. Like its predecessors in the Charter 77 series, the document was signed by former foreign minister Jiri Hajek.

Communist Albania, which has outlawed religion, has unleashed a series of attacks against the Soviet Union for “supporting” religion. The Soviet “revisionists,” said Albanian radio, allow thousands of churches, mosques, and Buddhist temples to remain open, monasteries to exist, seminaries to operate, and theological works to be published”—all because “it serves the oppression and exploitation of the toiling masses.”

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Southern Baptist medical missionary Samuel R. J. Cannata, Jr., was detained for sixteen days by Ethiopian authorities on what turned out to be a “misunderstanding” by a local official over the possession of weapons. Cannata has a license to possess firearms to help rid some farming areas of destructive animals. Government troops have been making house-to-house searches aimed at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and certain Ethiopian groups they blame for turmoil in the country, according to sources. Several other missionaries have been detained briefly in the roundup.

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