Three Southern California congregations of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod rank among the 10 fastest-growing in that denomination, according to church figures at the end of 1988.
St. John's Lutheran Church in Orange, already in the top 10 nationally in size, gained 320 new members in the last five years to rank fourth in growth for the 2.8-million-member denomination.
Pastored by the Rev. Norbert Oesch, St. John's is 10th largest with 3,497 baptized members and ninth in average attendance with 1,221 worshipers a week.
Bethany Lutheran Church in Long Beach placed sixth among the fastest-growing with 275 new adult members and Our Savior Lutheran Church in Palm Springs was 10th with 239 new adult members.
The denomination's Southern California District, with offices in Irvine, embraces 260 congregations in Southern California, Arizona and southern Nevada.
The Missouri Synod Statistical Yearbook also reported that 25% of churches nationally did not gain a single adult by baptism or confirmation and another 12% gained only one new member.
"Religious Ethics in a Pluralistic Society" will be explored Thursday by Robert M. Adams, UCLA professor of philosophy and past president of the Society of Christian Philosophers, in an 11 a.m. lecture at Chapman College in Orange. Responding in a panel at 2 p.m. will be ethicists Richard Mouw of Fuller Theological Seminary, Virginia Warren of UCLA and Chapman, and Jesuit Father John Langan of Georgetown University. Langan will also lecture at 7:30 p.m. on the moral debate over nuclear arms deterrence.
In a forum aimed at clarifying theological distinctions made by two evangelical camps, Biola University in La Mirada has asked Jack Deere, associate pastor of Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Anaheim, and Robert Saucy of Biola's Talbot School of Theology to discuss, respectively, the charismatic and non-charismatic views of the kingdom of God. The forum, open to the public, will start at 7 p.m. on Friday.
A one-day seminar on Passover--to prepare seder leaders and participants for a better understanding of the major Jewish holiday--will be led from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the University of Judaism by faculty member Ron Wolfson, author of a modern guide to Passover. There is a $65 fee for the seminar at the Bel-Air campus. Passover begins this year on April 20.