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Southern California File

January 24, 1987|JOHN DART

Because television minister Robert H. Schuller, pastor of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, tends to avoid taking overt social-political stands, it surprised some observers when he delivered the sermon this week in Atlanta at the primary church celebration of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

Schuller preached at the service Monday in Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King had been co-pastor, at the request of Coretta Scott King, the slain civil rights leader's widow.

She invited him after being interviewed Oct. 10 during the televised service at the Crystal Cathedral, said cathedral spokesman Mike Nason. "Dr. Schuller and his wife, Arvella, became fast friends with Mrs. King," Nason said.

Nason said the gesture should not have surprised people familiar with Schuller's ministry. "Schuller and Martin Luther King have preached the same message of love and nonviolence," Nason said. In the sermon, Nason said, Schuller called King "a possibility thinker"--Schuller's term for self-motivated believers.

Schuller also appeared that day at an Atlanta news conference with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, another former guest on Schuller's "Hour of Power" televised service.

Schuller barred the appearance of an African National Congress official last June at the Crystal Cathedral, even though the church was hosting the Reformed Church in America national convention to which ANC Secretary-General Alfred Nzo had been invited to speak. The South African leader gave his talk at a nearby hotel instead. "The total issue then was that we believe the African National Congress advocated violence as a means to an end," Nason said.


St. Vincent's Roman Catholic Church in downtown Los Angeles is observing its 100th birthday Sunday. It moved into its present large and ornate building in 1925 with the major funding from the Edward Doheny family. Built to resemble Mexico's cathedrals, the building now is indeed a worship and service center for a parish of 90% Latinos, according to Vincentian Father Philip van Linden, the pastor. The church on Figueroa Street has a special concern for the poor Latino community, he said.


The devil, also known as Satan or Lucifer, has been thoroughly profiled by Jeffrey Russell, a medieval historian at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His fourth and final volume of the historical series "Mephistopheles: The Devil in the Modern World," was recently published by Cornell University Press. "Radical evil--under whatever name or metaphor--is a reality, and for this reason the concept of the devil will always be relevant," Russell says.

Another Southern California author, Chapman College's Marvin W. Meyer, will autograph copies of his latest book, "The Ancient Mysteries" (Harper & Row), after a lecture Thursday night in Hollywood for the California Museum of Ancient Art. His book assembles 40 texts from the Greco-Roman mystery religions, which some scholars believe had peripheral influence in antiquity on Christianity and Judaism. His lecture, at 7:30 p.m. in Barnsdall Park's Gallery Theater, is on the Nag Hammadi Library, a 1945 discovery in Egypt of early Christian Gnostic manuscripts still important to New Testament studies.


The Religious Conference Management Assn. has organized its largest-ever annual conference. It expects more than 800 Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims who organize religious meetings to attend Wednesday through Friday at the Long Beach Convention Center. The keynote speaker Wednesday morning is J. W. Marriott Jr., the chairman of the board and president of Marriott Corp.

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