A prominent Lutheran scholar and theologian in California will become the first openly gay bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a denomination that opened its ministry to gay and partnered pastors only four years ago.
The United Methodist Reporter, a national weekly newspaper that once produced nearly 300 separate editions, each with regional church news, said that the financial losses of recent months were part of an irreversible trend. Its final 45 editions, dated June 7, were scheduled to be mailed out May 31.
A survey that asked churches how they fared during the economic recession found that there was a collective sigh of relief from most pastors and congregational leaders—nearly 75 percent said “well” or “very well.” And the majority of congregations (65 percent) reported that their finances either remained the same or improved in giving from 2010 to 2011, after the worst of the recession.
The National Council of Churches, long strapped for cash, is leaving its costly digs in Manhattan and consolidating with a slimmer staff in a Washington, D.C., office within walking distance of two branches of the federal government.
One week after Justin Welby was confirmed as the next archbishop of Canterbury, a frail Pope Benedict XVI surprised the Christian world February 11 by announcing that he would step down by the end of the month.
Bangor Theological Seminary plans to give degrees to about 45 students this spring—a large graduating class for a school that had only 13 graduates the year before. But it will be the last commencement in the seminary’s long history of serving rural churches in northern New England and beyond.
Late last year Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota—the largest of eight seminaries in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America—announced that its president and chief financial officer had resigned amid a $4 million budget shortfall and a hefty drop in the value of the seminary’s endowment.
Bishop K. H. Ting, the longtime leader of China’s official Protestant Church, died in Nanjing on November 22 at age 97. Ting drew high praise from the World Council of Churches and the evangelical Fuller Theological Seminary, among others.
To most American voters in 1972, Democratic presidential nominee Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota was way too liberal on many issues—and he was beaten badly by incumbent Richard Nixon. But to many fellow Methodists he was also a churchgoing humanitarian who in the 1960s directed the new Food for Peace Program and a forward-looking politician informed by the Social Gospel.
With yearly budget problems bedeviling the National Council of Churches, the ecumenical body recently finished taking a six-month look at what structural changes would enable the organization to concentrate on theological dialogue and interreligious relations as well as on issues of social justice.
During his long ministry at Judson Memorial Church in New York’s Greenwich Village, ex-marine Howard Moody led religious assaults on tough social issues of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s—openly aiding women seeking abortions, blacks calling for civil rights and people entangled by drug addiction, AIDS or prostitution.
In an announcement from Rome that seemed scripted by The Da Vinci Code novelist Dan Brown, a Harvard professor stated that an ancient scrap of papyrus mentions Jesus’ wife. The fourth-century fragment written in Coptic contains part of a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples, said Karen King, a historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School.
Promising an “uncompromising scientifically rigorous” approach, a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, says he has received a three-year $5 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to research beliefs and traditions about an afterlife and how those ideas affect humans.
The nation’s largest Presbyterian denomination has decided not to redefine marriage as a contract between “two persons” instead of between a woman and a man. And the nearly 700 delegates, or “commissioners,” at its General Assembly in Pittsburgh which ended July 7 also did not favor allowing clergy to perform same-gender marriages in states where those marriages are legal.
A national official for the United Church of Christ says she applauds the courage of the large group of U.S. Catholic nuns under heavy criticism from the Vatican. “I pray for their wisdom, eloquence and continued confidence in working toward change which must come,” wrote Susan A. Blain, a UCC minister who was a sister for 11 years before deciding not to take final vows.
New Testament theologian Walter Wink, noted for relating the biblical phrase “principalities and powers” to the dominating sociopolitical structures of the modern era, died May 10, leaving a legacy of books, teachings and nonviolent resistance to apartheid in South Africa. Diagnosed with dementia, he died at home in Sandisfield, Massachusetts, at age 76.
John H. Hick, a prolific author renowned on British and U.S. campuses for his forthright approach to major questions in Christology and interfaith relations, died at age 90 on February 9 in Birmingham in his native Great Britain.
A task force that studied whether the nationwide Southern Baptist Convention should drop its regional name tag may have encouraged advocates for change after its own polling agency showed high negative responses to "Southern Baptist." Proponents for a change have reacted with reserve.
More than half of the graduates at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary this year borrowed an average of $20,600 to earn their master's degree—not an uncommon handicap for seminarians today as they await a call to ministry or seek other employment.