It is not illegal for Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa., to hire only Christians when seeking prospective employees. That is the upshot of an out-of-court agreement reached by the college with federal and state officials. The college had claimed that government officials had violated its First Amendment rights when they said the college could not mention a religious preference for job applicants in help-wanted ads posted on a state government website. Geneva sued in December.
Because the website is part of a program that receives federal money, state officials argued, it must operate under federal nondiscrimination provisions, including no discrimination based on religion. In pre-trial negotiations, all parties finally agreed that the program's nondiscrimination policy applied only to those receiving federal money from the program. Since Geneva received no money, it was exempt from the policy, they decided. Case dismissed.
PCUSA: Flagship church says goodbye to denomination
Montreat (N.C.) Presbyterian Church, a flagship congregation of the 2.3-million-member Presbyterian Church (USA), won its freedom from the liberal-run denomination. Following hours of contentious debate, the Presbytery of Western North Carolina voted 185-69 to "dismiss" the congregation to the more conservative 75,000-member Evangelical Presbyterian Church. But delegates also voted 174-35 to take over the church's property pending up to six months' further study.
The Montreat church had voted 311-27 last January to leave the PCUSA. Complicating the property matter, the congregation meets in the large chapel of Montreat College, a conservative PCUSA school that sits on the grounds of a PCUSA national conference center. The church owns a separate three-story educational and office building on property held by its trustees. Montreat pastor Richard White contends that under state law, the church owns its property. PCUSA rules say church property is held in trust for the denomination.
The dismissal vote authorized the presbytery to organize a "continuing Montreat Presbyterian Church" from among a small number of dissidents, who would be granted use of 10 percent of the educational building.
METHODISTS: United Methodist bishop and theologian David Yemba from the fast-growing United Methodist Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo had a word for his U.S. colleagues: Be faithful to the authority of Scripture. In an address to the UMC council of U.S. bishops, he said African Methodists are disturbed when they hear of some UMC leaders promoting homosexual "marriage" and other social causes at odds with Christian teaching. If these leaders keep promoting unbiblical standards, he warned, the denomination will fall apart.
GERMANY: Eleven German denominations, including the Catholic, Evangelical (Lutheran), and Evangelical (Reformed) churches, agreed last month to recognize each other's baptisms. Those who switch membership need not be rebaptized-something most of the churches have not required for years anyway.
BRITAIN: John Stott, prominent British Anglican theologian, pastor, author, speaker, and evangelical leader, says that at age 86, it is time for him to step down from public ministry. He has one more speaking date: at Keswick Convention in England in July. He will move to a retirement community for clergy in southern England, where, a statement said, fuller provision can be made for his current and future needs.