More than 90 women have been ordained as priests of the Episcopal Church in 1977 - the first year in which that step has been permitted. A national survey done by the church indicates that two thirds of the women priests have been employed "in some sort of stipendiary position."
The survey disclosed that only 12 women priests have charge of congregations as either interim minister, vicar or rector. Sixty are functioning as chaplains in colleges, hospitals, prisons or other institutions, both church-related and secular. Most of them also work with congregations in some capacity.
The study, which is based on responses from 73 of the church's 93 dioceses in this country, disclosed that an additional 62 women are studying for the priestly orders.
The Diocese of New York has ordained the most women - 12. Virginia follows with eight and Washington D.C. and California each has six.
The same survey also sought to probe statistically the degree of dissension in the Episcopal Church triggered by the decision to ordain women, changes in the Prayer Book and other factors. Acknowledging that the results are "incomplete", the report of the survey noted that 32 priests or deacons were "under some form of inhibition or restraint" as the result of some sort of protest or disobedience: that 18 congregations have voted to withhold funds from the national church; 10 parishes have told their bishops not to visit them and 13 congregations have formally voted to withdraw from the church.
"Totals on people lost to the Episcopal Church over these issues are extremely difficult to arrive at," said the report on the study, "but the survey total showed that about 3,400 people - of an estimated 2.9 million (members) - had elected to leave in 1977 for one or more of the reasons cited."
While some church leaders have denounced the movie for exploiting religious faith, a coalition of Protestant and Catholic groups is exploiting the pubicity of the George Burns film, "Oh, God," for religious purposes.
EVCOM, a New York-owned ecumenical communications group, has prepared an advertisement featuring a photograph of octagenarian Burns in his movie role, along with the legend: "Not every senior citizen is lucky enough to play God. The ad, which will appear full page in the February issue of A.D., the magazine of the United Church of Christ and United Presbyterian Churches, is designed to help churches promote their programs for the elderly.
Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed Church theologians have been involved in a dialogue for several years about, among other things, a theology of marriage. A newly released report on the discussions cites "significant theological consensus" but there are still some sticking points Protestants generally have been more willing to accept divorce than Catholics, the report says, and mixed marriages continue to present difficulties.
The California Supreme Court has ruled that the religious freedom of five young members of the Unification Church was violated last March when they were turned over to their parents under a state conservatorship law. But for four of the five the ruling was moot; the involvement of the cult members in the week-long court trial effectively deprogrammed them and they have forsaken the cult to rejoin their families.
Contrary to reports in a popular woman's magazine, evangelist Billy Graham does believe that "non-Christians are lost" and face eternal damnation unless they accept Christ . . . The Soviet Embassy here has released an appeal from leaders of 28 churches and religious institutions in the Soviet Union urging religious leaders in this country to protest the neutron bomb . . . Baptist Press, which takes a dim view of such a post, reports that President Carter's personal representative to the Vatican will cost taxpayers $39,500 next year.
The Very Rev. Francis B. Sayre, Jr., will become associate director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on March 1, following his retirement Jan. 17 after 27 years as dean of the Washington Cathedral.