Two religious groups have launched separate efforts in behalf of a probe of the role of James Earl Ray in the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The priests' senate of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Memphis, where King was slain 10 years ago, has asked for such a probe "to relieve the doubts in the minds of many people" about the assassination of the civil rights leader.

At the same time a black United Methodist pastor the Rev. James Lawson, now of Los Angeles but formerly of Memphis, has convened an interfaith group dedicated to securing a full court hearing on the matter.

The interfaith committee suggested that a court hearing might produce testimony "from persons who have additional information abour Dr. King's death but who have never been required to place it on the record."

As its next General Synod in July, the Church of England will consider permitting a divorced person, under certain circumstances, to remarry in the church. Approval of such a provision by the Episcopal Church in the United States eight years ago, has been cited by dissidents here as evidence of "moral decay". . . The 874,000-member Presbyterian Church in the United States suffered a membership loss of less than 1 percent last year but total contributions increased by almost 18 percent . . .a second national conference on ordination of Roman catholic women is scheduled in Baltimore Nov. 10-12.

Retired Episcopal Bishop Albert A. Chambers, in trouble for consecrating four bishops for the break-away Anglican Church of North America last winter in Denver, has refused to resign his Episcopal office.

Bishop Chambers made his decision known in a defiant and angry letter to the Episcopal Church presiding bishop, John M. Allin. Bishop Allin had suggested in March that Bishop Chambers resign, since by his participation in the irregular consecrations he had defied church law and the counsel of fellow bishops and "separated yourself" from the Episcopal Church, Allin said.

Bishop Chambers wrote of his services to the rebel church group that repudiates woman priests and other recent changes in the church.

"The fact that only one member of the House of Bishops came forward to support the faith once delivered to the saints, to preserve the form as well as the substance of our worship and liturgy, is ample proof that the house as a body is composed of confused men . . . (who) . . .appear to be wolves, dressed in sheep's clothing, who waste the widow's mite in law suits to prevent faithful priests from ministering to the flocks . . ."

The campaign of some church social activists to boycott J.P. Stevens & Co. because of a labor dispute hit two snags last week.

The General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church, meeting in San Diego, turned down a proposal to boycott the textile firm.

In North Caroilina, United Methodist Bishop L. Scott Allen repudiated the boycott call issued by the Women's division of the denomination's board of global ministries. Bishop Scott and his cabinet said only the denomination's quadriennal GEneral Conference can seek for the church.

Seattle's office of policy planning has asked whether churches should be allowed in single-family residential neighborhoods.

"The location of new churches or expansion of existing ones," said an agency background paper, creates such problems as "preemption of land in single-family homes (to make room for churches) or conversions of houses for church uses and increases in traffic, parking, noise and esthetic problems."

The paper observed that churches traditionally have offered recreational and community services and spiritual guidance in their neighborhoods. Many chyrches no longer serve their immediate neighborhood but have members who drive from considerable distances, creating traffic and parking problems, the agency said.

One proposed solution is restriction of churches to designated areas or a limit of the number permitted in residential neighborhoods.