February 24, 2004

Parker Williamson, a conservative gadfly as CEO of the Presbyterian Lay Committee and editor in chief of its publication, the Layman, says he will appeal the invalidation of his ministry by the Presbytery of Western North Carolina. At a contentious meeting January 31 in Asheville, the presbyters voted 150-106 to allow Williamson to remain an active at-large clergy member, but they withdrew approval of his ministry, which has been called a divisive force within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). On another liberal-conservative front in the denomination, Clifton Kirkpatrick, stated clerk of the PCUSA’s General Assembly since 1996, has been renominated for a third four-year term. Kirkpatrick, a frequent target of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, will be opposed at the next General Assembly that begins June 26 in Richmond, Virginia, by at least one other candidate. Bob Davis of Escondido, California, executive director of the Presbyterian Forum, a conservative renewal group, announced his candidacy weeks earlier.

Laton Holmgren, 88, former general secretary of the American Bible Society who conceived of its “Good News” modern translation, died January 18 in Rancho Mirage, California, near Palm Springs. In addition to his work with the U.S. society, which he joined in 1952, Holmgren, a Methodist minister, served as chairman of the executive committee of the worldwide United Bible Societies. After envisioning a Bible version in contemporary English, Holmgren and colleague Eugene Nida worked at convincing the ABS board to approve the project, and Nida headed the translation team. Holmgren was the American Bible Society’s general secretary from 1955 to 1978 but served for years afterward as a consultant. Prior to Bible Society work, he was a visiting professor in the international departments of universities in Japan. While in Tokyo he played a key role in the rebuilding of the Union Church, the oldest English-language Protestant church in the Far East. That church had been severely damaged by bombing during World War II.

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