* The Federal Communications Commission renewed the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod's licenses for KFUO (AM and FM), Clayton, Mo., after fining the stations $25,000 for failure to comply with equal employment opportunity requirements. The FCC concluded the church made misleading statements about its EEO practices, including requiring Lutheran training for certain positions, which would have an adverse impact on recruiting African Americans.
* The World Council of Churches reduced its deficit from about $13.6 million to $680,000. But the WCC may face other financial problems. Contributions from German churches, which constitute 40 percent of the WCC's income, would drop significantly if the German parliament passes proposed income tax reform legislation that would cut the amount of taxes given to churches.
* Southern Baptist and Jewish officials have been trading harsh letters over a 1996 Southern Baptist Convention meeting calling for a renewed emphasis on evangelizing Jews. "These letters only confirmed for us the absence of any common ground," said David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee. "Southern Baptists have shown a combination of ignorance and arrogance." Jim Sibley, the director of the Baptist missionary activities directed at Jews said, "The more irresponsible voices in the Jewish community have engaged in fear mongering. They want to undercut the very tenets of Christian faith."
* St. Paul Cathedral, a well-known London landmark, has been criticized for taking a $24,000 sponsorship from Lockheed Martin, one of the world's largest arms suppliers. The money will sponsor a concert at St. Paul in exchange for use of the cathedral for corporate hospitality functions involving other defense firms.
* Membership in mainline Protestant denominations decreased by 2 percent between 1994 and 1995 while Mormon, Roman Catholic and Southern Baptist membership increased by about 250,000, according to the National Council of Churches' 1997 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. The mainline denominations have been decreasing for the last three decades but membership appears to be stabilizing, the Yearbook reported.
* An ongoing anti-homosexual campaign by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and a condemnation of homosexuality by Zimbabwe's Council of Churches has prompted The Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Netherlands to withdraw from the 1998 World Council of Churches assembly to be held in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare. Rene van den Berg, former Netherlands church secretary, compared the assembly in Zimbabwe to holding a meeting in South Africa under apartheid.
* Four bishops have been nominated to succeed Edmond Browning as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. The nominees are Frank Griswold III of Chicago, Robert Rowley Jr. of Northwestern Pennsylvania, Richard Shimpfky of El Camino Real [Calif.] and Don Wimberly of Lexington [Ky.]. The election is scheduled for July 21 during the church's convention in Philadelphia.
* The Joint Relief Program of the Ethiopian Evangelical [Lutheran] Church Mekane Yesus and the Lutheran World Federation has deployed in excess of 160 tons of grain, 450 tons of supplementary food, 403 tons of oil and 1.4 tons of biscuits to Ethiopia, where more than 1 million Ethiopians are starving.
* Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, has called on the Roman Catholic Church to join the World Council of Churches in time for the international ecumenical body's 50th anniversary next year. The Roman Catholic Church, the world's largest Christian body with between 850 million and 900 million members, cooperates with the WCC on a number of fronts but has always rejected membership.
* Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who helped thousands of Hungarian Jews escape the Nazis during World War II, was honored with a new postage stamp at a ceremony at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., one of the Jews Wallenberg helped save, said, "The ultimate message of Raoul Wallenberg to all of us is that as individuals, we not only can, but we must act."
* Because of a typographical error, leaders of the Reformed Church in America are recommending the denomination's regional bodies vote again on a proposed amendment to the church's Book of Order requiring all ministers and congregations to annually reaffirm that, " ... divine redemption from sin is only by grace through faith in the perfect work of the Lord Jesus Christ alone, the only mediator between God and humankind." While the view is standard doctrine for the denomination, a yearly affirmation by pastors and congregations hasn't been required. After last year's vote, it was discovered that the words "by grace" had been inadvertently omitted from last year's version.
* David Windibiziri, the head of the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria, was installed as the first Lutheran archbishop in Africa. Previously he served as the presiding bishop of the church. In 1995 the church's one diocese was replaced with five, and the installation of five bishops followed.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers