—Ingram Book Group of LaVergne, Tennessee, and Spring Arbor Distribution Company of Belleville, Michigan, announced on May 22 that they are joining forces to become the nation's largest wholesaler of Christian books and related products. The new entity, Spring Arbor Distributors Inc., a subsidiary of Ingram Industries Inc., will be based in Belleville. Spring Arbor chief executive officer Richard L. Pigott is the new president and chief executive officer. Spring Arbor, founded in 1978, has annual sales of $220 million and employs 700.
—Roseville, Minnesota, pastor Thomas Basich and his Advent Lutheran Church have left the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, following an eight-year legal battle over pension fund investments (CT, May 15, 1995, p. 52). The congregation, which Basich started in 1953, voted 114 to 41 to leave the elca and to join the recently incorporated Augustana Orthodox and Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Basich and 45 other pastors and lay workers from 21 states unsuccessfully sued the elca pension board for investing money in socially screened funds.
—A compensation dispute between Augsburg Fortress, publishing house of the elca, and former president Gary Aamodt has been settled out of court. In litigation beginning in 1995, Aamodt accused Augsburg of breach of contract, fraud, and defamation over terms of his employment agreement. In a counterclaim, Augsburg accused Aamodt of enriching himself with more than $500,000 in Augsburg funds for an annuity, life insurance policy, car rental, and to cover tax obligations.
—Religious liberty expert Dean M. Kelley, a National Council of Churches executive from 1960 to 1990, died at age 70 on May 11 after a 15-month battle with cancer. Kelley, a United Methodist minister, wrote Why Conservative Churches Are Growing in 1972, which signaled the decline of mainstream denominations. He also wrote Why Churches Should Not Pay Taxes in 1977.
—Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based Sight and Sound Ministries, which lost the world's largest Christian theater in a $15 million fire in January, will rebuild. A new 2,000-seat theater is expected to be finished by next summer, when a show about Noah will debut.
—Michael Teague, chief operations officer of Union Rescue Mission (URM) in Los Angeles since 1994, has been given the additional title and responsibilities of urm president. In his new post, Teague, 38, assumes full operational responsibility for urm, the nation's oldest and largest mission. Teague, one of 50 Up & Comers cited by CT (Nov. 11, 1996, p. 26), succeeds Warren Currie, who remains chief executive officer.
—Robert A. Fryling took over as executive director of the Westmont, Illinois-based InterVarsity Press on July 1. Since 1969, Fryling, 51, has held several posts with parent organization InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, most recently as executive vice president. Fryling replaces 58-year-old Ken DeRuiter, who retired due to Alzheimer's disease.
—Daniel R. Lockwood, dean of Multnomah Biblical Seminary since 1990, became its president on June 30. Lockwood, who has been a faculty member of the Portland, Oregon, school since 1979, succeeds Joe Aldrich, who left because of Parkinson's disease.
—The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) board on May 5 elected James Kenneth Echols as its new president, making him the first African-American president of any elca seminary or college in North America. Echols, 46, has been on the faculty of Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.
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