- The Washington Times - Friday, May 25, 2007

NCC head to leave, head Common Cause

NEW YORK — The outgoing leader of the National Council of Churches, the Rev. Bob Edgar, has been named head of Common Cause, a national advocacy group based in Washington.

Mr. Edgar, 63, had said in October that he would not seek a third term as general secretary of the ecumenical and humanitarian group, which represents mainline Protestants, Orthodox and Anglican churches with millions of members.

The national governing board of Common Cause announced Tuesday it had elected Mr. Edgar president and chief executive officer to succeed Chellie Pingree, who stepped down in February.

Mr. Edgar is a former Democratic congressman who represented the 7th Congressional District of Pennsylvania from 1975 to 1987.

He served for 10 years as president of the Claremont School of Theology in Southern California before taking the top post at the National Council of Churches in 2000, where he led a successful effort to resolve a financial crisis at the organization.

Mr. Edgar has served on Common Cause’s national governing board since 2005. As chief executive officer of the group, he will oversee advocacy for campaign finance and election reform, among other activities.

Catholics know little of child protection plan

Most U.S. Roman Catholics are not aware of the child protection policies enacted in their dioceses in response to the clergy sex-abuse crisis, a new survey has found.

About 45 percent of respondents knew that dioceses were expected to report abuse claims to civil authorities and knew that dioceses were supposed to bar credibly accused priests from any church work, according to the poll conducted for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.

But only one-third of respondents knew that their dioceses were required to provide counseling and other support to victims, and only 15 percent knew that dioceses were reporting annually to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on their adherence to the policies.

American bishops adopted the reforms five years ago in Dallas under enormous public pressure. The abuse crisis erupted in 2002 over the case of one predatory priest in the Archdiocese of Boston and spread to every U.S. diocese and beyond.

Southern Baptist board softens tongues policy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Southern Baptist International Mission Board has taken a small step back from its controversial ban on appointing missionaries who use a “private prayer language” or pray in tongues.

Mission board trustees, meeting May 7-9 in Kansas City, voted overwhelmingly to turn the policies into guidelines instead.

The board is still discouraging the use of private prayer language, but an attorney for the agency, Matt Bristol, said adopting the term “guideline” means that the provisions “will be applied with a degree of flexibility” considering the circumstances of each candidate.

The trustees had adopted the policy in November 2005 out of concern about the growing popularity of Pentecostal practices, including glossolalia, by Christians overseas and at home.

Baptists and other Christians disagree over whether “baptism in the Holy Spirit” accompanied by speaking in tongues, ended with the apostolic period or continues today.

Still, some Southern Baptist leaders had protested the mission board’s policy, saying the use of private prayer language should not be a test for potential missionaries. Previously, missionaries had been barred from speaking in tongues publicly, but their private prayer was not monitored.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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