The Rev. Robert W. Edgar, who served as a congressman for 12 years, will be formally installed Tuesday as the new president of the School of Theology at Claremont. Rather than a retreat into a seminary ivory tower, however, Edgar has indicated his continuing interest in political and moral issues.
Last month, Edgar advised officials at the National Council of Churches meeting in Portland, Ore., on strategies to obtain more influence with the White House and Congress.
Despite the liberal reputation of the National Council, Edgar said in an interview that he thought it was "a pretty bold action" for the ecumenical body in Portland to adopt unanimously a resolution urging the Bush Administration to reduce substantially the troops in Saudi Arabia and to launch negotiations to embrace all Middle East problems.
"The council could have just as easily been timid, given the decline of the mainline churches in the 1980s and the resurgence of conservative churches," Edgar said. "This is a signal that mainline churches should speak up on issues of concern when they feel so moved."
Edgar began his duties at the United Methodist-run school in July, succeeding Richard W. Cain, who retired. Edgar had served Methodist pastorates before being elected to Congress from the Philadelphia area in 1974.
He chose Rep. William H. Gray III (D-Pa.), the House majority whip and a Baptist clergyman, as keynote speaker for his 10:30 a.m. inauguration service on the lawn in front of the seminary's Kresge Chapel. Edgar and Gray were among half a dozen clergy serving in the House or the Senate during the early 1980s.
The inaugural events at the Claremont campus stretch over three days, starting at 6:30 p.m. Monday with an Advent festival of carols at the Kresge Chapel.
On Tuesday following the inaugural ceremony, public lectures will be given during the lunch hour and a panel discussion on the future of theological education will be held at 4 p.m. in the Mudd Theater. The final event is a chapel service at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, featuring retired United Methodist Bishop James K. Mathews.
Episcopal Bishop Frederick H. Borsch of Los Angeles will give his state-of-the-diocese address during today's 8:30 a.m. Eucharist at the diocese's annual convention in the Riverside Convention Center. This is the first time in its 95-year history that the diocese, which embraces 148 parishes in six counties, has convened in Riverside. Delegates to the two-day convention, which is scheduled to close at 5 p.m. today, will vote on a proposed $3.3-million program budget for 1991 and consider several resolutions.
Steps taken in California to introduce more teaching about religious history in public schools will be discussed by a tri-faith panel at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles under the sponsorship of the Jewish Federation Council's Community Relations Committee. Panelists will be Shabbir Mansuri of the Islamic Center of Southern California, Pastor Peter Pettit of Hope Lutheran Church and Rabbi Joel Rembaum of Temple Beth Am.
A "trialogue" on Jewish, Christian and Islamic beliefs will be conducted at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Islamic Society of Orange County building in Garden Grove. The speakers are Rabbi David Gordis, vice president of the University of Judaism; the Rev. George Grose of Long Beach First Presbyterian Church and Imam Muzammil Siddiqi, director of the host society.