01: The “common ground” approach to reconciling conservative liberal groups in the Catholic Church and the abortion issue is now finding a hearing among Baptists in the U.S.
Former President Jimmy Carter recently convened meetings of 20 Baptist leaders to sign a declaration expressing mutual respect for each other and common concerns on racial reconciliation and religious persecution. The signers included leaders of the conservative Baptist movement that has taken over the reigns of leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention as well as SBC “moderates.”
Mainline and black Baptist representatives also signed the document, which also called on Baptists to former partnerships with congregations of different ethnic groups and cultures. Carter stressed that the document does not attempt to broach theological issues which have divided Baptists in the U.S.
(Source: Christian Century, April 22-29)
02: The Church of England is increasingly marketing itself thanks largely to the work of Rev. Bill Beaver, the church’s new communications director.
Beaver, an American who worked in commercial advertising and marketing for 20 years, has drafted a 12-page strategy document for the C of E bishops that includes plans for the church’s first market research, using focus groups across the country, training bishops in media relations, and engaging in a parish-based poster campaign.
Beaver wants the bishops to stop clashing with each other in public on a wide range of controversial issues and present a united front, assigning them only certain topics they can discuss with competence with the media. Most controversial, though, is Beaver’s withholding of Sunday church attendance figures– another attempt to put the church in a positive light and take attention away from its steady membership declines.
(Source: Spectator, April 18)
03: The convening of a recent conference in the Japanese city of Kyoto of Asian Buddhist leaders is one sign of growing Buddhist’ fears that their faith is coming under challenge by Christian missionaries.
The conference focused on the twin challenges of Christian growth in Asian Buddhist countries and the current threat of totalitarian regimes in China and Southeast Asia in suppressing monasteries and loyalty to the religion. Internal renewal, especially in the midst of allegations of corruption and sexual misconduct among Buddhist monks, was viewed as the most important factor in a Buddhist revival by such leaders as the Dalai Lama.
(Source: National Catholic Register, April 26-May 2)