Bishop John Shelby Spong, 47, former rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Richmond, has been installed as head of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark. Spong's election three years ago as the dishop coadjutor of Newark sparked widespread protests from conservatives in the church who complained that his theology was not orthodox.

Roman Catholic Bishop Walter F. Sullivan or Richmond has been elected to the board of Christian Children's Fund, the first Catholic to serve on the board of the Richmond-based international child-care orgainzation.

The Rev. Joyce Bennett of Hong Kong, one of the first women priests of the Anglican communion, has been named by Queen Elizabeth of Britain to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to education and the community.

Msgr. George C. Higgins, secretary for special concerns of the United States Catholic Conference and veteran civil rights leader, received the Hubert H. Humphrey Award from the Leadership Conference on Civeil Rights.

Rabbi Bernard Mandelbaum, president emeritus of the Jewish Theological Seminary, has been named executive vice president of the Synagogue Council of America, the national coordinating body of Conservative, Orthodox and Reform Jewry. Rabbi Daniel F. Polish was appointed associate executive vice president and head of the council's Washington office.

The Rev. Dr. William C. Howland Jr., pastor of National City Christian Church, will be the guest speaker on the NBC radio series, Art of Living, during April, May and June.

Dr. Claire Randall, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, has resigned from the National Advisory Committee for Women to protest President Carter's firing of Bella Abzug as head of the committee.

The Rev. Worth C. Grant, formerly with the Wycliffe Bible Translators Inc., is now pastor of Temple Baptist Church at 3850 Nebraska Ave. NW.

Patriarch Ilia, head of the Georgian Orthodox Church in the Soviet Union, has been elected one of the six presidents of the World Council of Churches, replacing Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Nikodim who died last fall.

The Rev. C. Dale Doren of Upper St. Clair, Pa., was elected bishop of the mid-Atlantic states diocese of the Anglican Catholic Church, the group that broke from the Episcopal Church.

Alice H. Wimer, of the international affairs staff of the National Council of Churches, has been named to the U.S. National Commission for UNEXCO by Secretary of State Cyrus Vance.