Priscilla Deters was sentenced to eleven years and three months in federal prison on May 22 following her conviction on wire- and mail-fraud charges. Deters had been found guilty in a church-fraud scheme that took more than $6 million from victims, principally members of evangelical Friends and Nazarene churches in 21 states (CT, Apr. 27, 1998, p. 19). Judge Monti Belot pronounced the maximum sentence allowed by law. "There's nothing lower in my opinion than people who use religion to cheat other people," Belot said.
Detroit lawyer and entrepreneur Mike Timmis is the new chair of Prison Fellowship International, the world's largest volunteer criminal-justice ministry. Timmis, a 58-year-old Roman Catholic, cofounded the Talon Corporation, a holding company. He will coordinate Prison Fellowship activities in 83 countries. He replaces founder Charles Colson, 66, who remains on the Prison Fellowship International board and will still be chair of the U.S.-based Prison Fellowship Ministries. "I have never met a man with a greater passion to win people to Jesus," Colson says of Timmis.
Last month, the largest U.S. Christian retail chain, Family Christian Stores, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, completed the purchase of the 56-store Joshua's Christian Stores retail chain, based in Fort Worth. Family Christian Stores, which now has 270 stores in 35 states, recorded sales of $168 million last year.
Sue Misheff, 47, a tenured assistant professor of English at Malone College in Canton, Ohio, has agreed to resign because of her conversion to Judaism. Misheff, a former Methodist, began teaching at Malone in 1989. She had signed the school's statement of faith requiring her to "recognize Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior." The college has agreed to a severance package of one year's salary and full benefits.
Campus Crusade for Christ is proceeding with the construction of a $48 million World Center in Orlando, Florida, (CT, Oct. 6, 1997, p. 84) despite the withdrawal of a pledge of $5 million from an anonymous donor. Spokesperson Jay Berlinsky says Campus Crusade is "confident that our many friends around the world will assist us in the completion" of the new headquarters.
STOPP International, founded by Jim Sedlak in 1986 to counter the activities of Planned Parenthood, has become part of American Life League (ALL), a pro-life organization. Sedlak becomes ALL's vice president of public policy and education.
George Fox University president Edward Stevens died May 21 at age 57. He had been on medical leave after suffering a stroke caused by a cancerous brain tumor (CT, Dec. 8, 1997, p. 63). During Stevens's 14 years as president, the enrollment of the school in Newberg, Oregon, more than quadrupled to 2,225 students. It became a university in 1996 by merging with Western Evangelical Seminary.
Paul Risser, 59, is the new president of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. Risser succeeds John Holland, 64, who resigned in July 1997. The denomination, founded by Aimee Semple McPherson in 1927, has more than 2.2 million members in 91 countries.
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