Repeat performances


Issue: "Beyond the nightly news," Oct. 11, 2003

REV. ALVIN O. JACKSON IS FACING THE MUSIC again. He is pastor of National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C., and holds the top elected post of moderator in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He recently acknowledged that in 17 sermons he had "borrowed liberally" from other preachers without attribution, and he apologized to his congregation.

He didn't mention an 18th sermon-"How Can Everything Be All Right?"-preached the Sunday following 9/11. He contributed it to a book of sermons published by Chalice Press.

Eagle-eyed editors at Disciples World, a church affiliate, discovered that more than half the sermon had been lifted almost verbatim from Lewis Smedes's book, How Can It Be All Right When Everything Is All Wrong? They alerted Chalice, which withdrew the book from the market after selling only about 1,000 copies.

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A Washington Post writer later found that 21 of 22 sentences in the sermon's introduction, along with some other passages, were taken from a Sept. 12, 2001, Baltimore Sun article. Rev. Jackson told the Post that he couldn't remember where he found those parts in his sermon, and that the Smedes material had been in his files for some time, and he didn't realize the source.

Edward E. Plowman
Edward E. Plowman


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