People

October 20, 2009

Moni Basu, a former writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has won the top two prizes, for reporting and writing, from the Religion Newswriters Association. Basu chronicled firsthand the gritty experiences of a military chaplain in Baghdad and at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Basu left the paper last May and now works for CNN. Gayle White, retired religion reporter at the Atlanta newspaper, was honored with the RNA’s 2009 lifetime achievement award. The journalists’ organization, meeting in Minneapolis September 10-13, also elected as president reporter Steve Maynard of the Tacoma, Washington–based News Tribune. He succeeds editor Kevin Eckstrom of Religion News Service.

Tullian Tchividjian, a grandson of evangelist Billy Graham, will remain as pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after dissidents failed in their attempt to oust him. On September 20, members of the congregation rejected, 69 percent to 31 percent, a motion to fire Tchividjian. He succeeded the founding pastor, D. James Kennedy, a prominent conservative religious broadcaster, who died in 2007. When Tchividjian was accepted as pastor in March by 91 percent of the voting members, Coral Ridge merged with the southern Florida congregation he had founded, New City Church. Officials of the Presbyterian Church in America oversaw the dispute. Dissidents, including Kennedy’s daughter Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy, were upset that, unlike Kennedy, Tchividjian has shunned a clerical robe and has chosen not to focus on political issues from the pulpit.

Lewis S. Mudge, 79, a scholar and theologian whose breadth of interests and expertise enriched virtually every corner of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the global ecumenical movement, died September 11 at his home in Berkeley, California. A Philadelphia native, Mudge earned an M.Div. degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and a doctorate from Princeton University. He was secretary of the theology department for the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in Geneva, where he worked from 1957 to 1962. He later taught 13 years at Amherst College in Massachusetts, and from 1976 to 1987 he served as dean of the faculty and professor of theology at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. He later taught at San Francisco Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union until he retired in 2000. Mudge, author or editor of a dozen books, was a leader and writer for the World Council of Churches, the National Council of Churches and other ecumenical groups. Mudge “was probably the greatest ecumenist in the PCUSA in our time,” Clifton Kirkpatrick, former stated clerk of the denomination and current president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, told Presbyterian News Service.