Delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in New Orleans in June urged members to boycott Walt Disney Co. theme parks, films and other products because of the company's "promotion of homosexuality" and adult-theme movies. The resolution condemned a Disney policy that extends insurance benef its to companions of gay employees, its "hosting of homosexual and lesbian theme nights at its parks," and its distribution, through subsidiaries, of controversial movies. Delegates agreed to urge President Clinton to reverse his veto of a bill outlawing a late-term abortion procedure. The largest Protestant denomination, with 15.6 million members, also voted to streamline its organization.
Munib Younan, elected as the next bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jorda n, will be installed Jan. 8, 1998. Church rules require the bishop-elect to work alongside the outgoing bishop for at least a year. Younan, 45, pastor of a congregation in Ramallah, West Bank, is the church's representative to the Middle East C ouncil of Churches and an advisor to the Lutheran World Federation Standing Committee for International Affairs and Human Rights.
The general assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada has rejected by almost 10 to 1 a proposal to ordain Darryl MacDonald, a gay man whose local presbytery approved his plans to become a pastor. This is the first time the church's general assembly overturned a local presbytery's decision on an ordination.
ELCA Secretary Lowell Almen (right) presents a mosaic to Billy Graham June 21 in the Minneapolis Metrodome, following a crusade that drew 348,000 people. Graham was honored by the ELCA as "a giant in the 20th century." The mosaic's text says, "In gratitude for your forthright witness to the gospel; your profound ecumenical awareness; your visionary leadership in evangelical endeavors; your conscien tious attention to integrity ... and your unremitting service in calling people on every continent to faith in Christ." Of 1,075 Minneapolis area congregations participating in the crusade, 269 were Lutheran. (Click here for the Billy Graham Center.)
Action by Churches Together/Lutheran World Federation brought relief goods from Man, Ivory Coast, for more than 3,000 people who have sought refuge in Liberia's Bong and Nim ba counties. Most aid agencies pulled out of Liberia in April and May, prevented by armed men from carrying out their humanitarian work. The LWF, on behalf of the ecumenical ACT, is wo rking from the Ivory Coast. Because of heavy losses of equipment and supplies in Liberia, ACT launched an appeal for $500,000 to set up the exiled program in the Ivory Coast as well as to prepare stockpiles of medicines and other relief goods.
A call by the Russian Orthodox Church to ban missionary work of foreigners has been rejected by the Committee on Religious and Public Organizations of the Russian Parliament. Instead the committee agreed to compromise, requiring foreign religious organizations to register with the government.
Lutherans hoping for soothing words from Pope John Paul II during his June visit to Germany were disappointed. He paid tribute to Martin Luther's renewal efforts but pointed out Luther's "personal limitations." Luther emphasized the individual, the pope said, weakening the requirements of society. The pope didn't give the boost some exp ected for the broad international agreement recently reached that lifted the mutual condemnations made by the both Lutheran and Roman Catholic churches.
The Church of Sweden is producing a small book of hymns from the churches involved in the Porvoo Agreement to help celebrate the Anglican and Lutheran traditions of northern Europe. The texts will be in English and in their original language. The agreement brings into full com munion Nordic and Baltic Lutherans with British and Irish Anglicans.
The Unitarian Universalist Association voted to endorse legalization of same-sex marriages, the first U.S. de nomination to do so. At its annual convention, delegates voted to "proclaim the worth of marriage between any two committed people."
The General Synod of the Reformed Church in America reaffirmed that salvation is only through faith in Jesus Christ and that the Bible is the word of God and the final authority for all areas of life and ministry. The two doctrines have been the subject of controversy between the church and one its congregations.
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