August 19, 2010

Jimmy Carter says he doubts that he would have been elected president in 1976 without the encouragement of pastor Jimmy Allen of San Antonio, Texas. Though Carter said he had won early Democratic primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire and Florida, the Georgia governor came to the Texas primary as "a forlorn, woeful, forgotten, hopeless candidate for president" until he met the pastor of the large San Antonio church. (In the late 1970s, Allen would become the last moderate president of the Southern Baptist Convention—prior to the conservative resurgence.) Carter, in remarks July 23 in Jasper, Georgia, introducing a biography of Allen, Loving Beyond Your Theology, said the pastor "took me under his arm" because Allen had "remembered that I said I was a born-again Christian" and wanted to support his right to say that in public. Carter, 85, wrote the foreword to the book by Larry McSwain of the McAfee School of Theology.

 After 17 years as head of the Reformed Church in America, Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, 65, will retire next year as general secretary of the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based denomination. Granberg-Michaelson has been a key leader in ecumenical circles, helping to found the group Christian Churches Together in the USA, the nascent Global Christian Forum and, most recently, the new World Communion of Reformed Churches. In his announcement July 20, he said his time with the RCA "has been rooted in a strong experience of God's calling" but added that "it seems timely to seek a new general secretary." It is expected that a replacement would be approved next June and that Granberg-Michaelson would serve until the fall of 2011 to ensure a smooth transition. Paul Boice, RCA director of communication, said he expected that Granberg-Michaelson will continue to be involved in church and ecumenical affairs.