The Rev. Dr. Krister Stendahl, 57, will resign as dean of Harvard Divinity School next year in order to "have some years for teaching, research and writing before it (is) too late." The Harvard 11 years by the time he Swedish theologian will have been at leaves next year.

A leading figure in the world-wide ecumenical movement, Stendahl has made a major contribution to the theological bases for Jewish-Christian relations. He is presently head of the Consultation on the Church and Jewish People on the World Council of Churches.

A Lexington, Ky., Circuit Court judge has ruled that the Lexington Theological Seminary must award its master of divinity degree to a student who was denied the degree because he is a homosexual.

David Vance brought the court suit after the seminary, affiliated with the Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) refused to grant him the postgraduate degree for which he had completed the requirements. Judge Charles Tackett held that the seminary had breached its contract with Vance and suggested that if the school intended to deny degrees to homosexuals, it should so state in its catalogue.

Southern Baptists have found a silver lining in the Proposition 13 cloud that hangs over public services California and other areas of the country. The forced cutbacks of many tax-funded facilities, suggested John Havalik, director of the Southern Baptist department of evangelism development, provides openings for churches to step in.

"Just think about the opportunities now available for California churches," Havlik told a denominational gathering. With summer schools canceled, churches may offer remedial reading and other instructional programs, he suggested, and proposed that Daily Vacation Bible Schools could run all summer instead of just a week or two.

Said Havlik: "Even the most atheistic of mothers will send her children to church just to get them out from underfoot. What an opportunity for witnessing!"

Havlik also suggested that churches think about filling the breach left by canceled nutritional programs for the elderly. "Every midsize Southern Baptist church could afford to provide a meals-on-wheels type program without having to sacrific anything more than a few panes of glass in their $50,000 chandeliers," he said.

St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Abingdon, Va., has become the third parish in Virginia's Southwestern Episcopal Diocese to break from the Episcopal Church because of differences over women priests, liturgical reform and other changes in the church . . . Muslim inmates at the Graterford, Pa., State Prison have constructed a mosque in the basement of a prison building. Inmates bought or received outside donations of building materials; the state provided a sump pump to keep the basement dry, and Wallace Muhammed, head of the Nation of Islam in the West donated a large capret . . .

Roman Catholic Bishop Carroll T. Dozier of Memphis and two of his priests played major, but unofficial, roles in helping cool the recent dispute between city officials and firemen. The clergymen, acting as disinterested parties, conveyed messages between the disputants and facilitated unofficial meetings and exchanges of view . . . The rebel traditionalist movement of French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre has acquired the 27-acre campus, including a church and 13 buildings, of a former Jesuit college in St. Marys, Kan. It is expected that the Society of St. Plus X, the formal name of the movement, will use the long-vacant facility for a seminary to train priests in the outlawed Tridentine Latin mass and pre-Vatican II traditions and rites of the Catholic CHurch.