The Women's Division of the United Methodist Church's worldwide mission agency last week reversed a decision it had made four days earlier and abruptly fired a staff member who, in the context of a staff report, acknowledged that she was a homosexual.
On April 23, the women's unit of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries had refused to accept the resignation of Joan Clark. Clark, who was based in Dallas, had been asked to resign by the personnel committee of the Women's Division after she had acknowleged her own homosexuality in a report on civil rights problems.
The action engendered widespread criticism in the church, the second largest Protestant denomination in the nation. Nevertheless, the parent Board of Global Ministries meeting two days later, upheld the action of the women's unit in retaining Clark.
But on April 26, in its final session of the week-long series of meetings in Cincinnati, the Women's Division reversed its previous action and fired Clark as of May 1.
A denominational spokeswoman said there was "incredible pressure brought to bear" on the women's unit from around the church.
In a press conference following the executive session at which the action was taken, division president Mai Gray said that "with the vicious attacks and publicity the division and board have received, we did not feel we could withstand this action with the constituency."
Denominational written policy on employment of homosexuals by the church is "ambiguous," one church leader said. The church "Book of Discipline" states that "we insist that all persons are entitled to have their human and civil rights ensured, though we do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider this practice incompatible with Christ-like teachings."
The Ugandan exiled Anglican Bishop Festo Kivengere has reported that two Anglican bishops, a Roman Catholic missionary priest and at least 200 Ugandan Christians were killed by forces loyal to former president Idi Amin in the last days of his regime.
According to Kivengere, Bishop G. Ilukor of Soroti and Bishop John Wasikye were slain, along with 200 Christian civilians in the eastern Uganda town of Jinja.
The Vatican said that the Italian priest, the Rev. Lorenzo Bono, was killed while defending a group of young children whom Amin troops were threatening to kill.
In a related development, the World Council of Churches has approved an initial appeal for $600,000 for assistance to Ugandan victims of the Fighting both inside and outside the country.
People in the News: The Rev. Joshua Hutchins, Jr., pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church in Annapolis, will become the new superintendent of the church's Washington Central District next month. He succeeds the Rev. Levi Miller . . . The Rev. Matthew H. Clark, who has been spiritual director of the North American College in Rome, has been named bishop of Rochester, N.Y. . . Kathryn Stephens Grant, director for the Department of Baptist Women of the D.C. Baptist Convention, has been named mother of the year for the District of Columbia . . . Stephen G. Cary, vice president for development of Haverford College, has been named chairman of the board of directors of the American Friends Service Committee . . . The Rev. O. Eugene Pickett of Newton, Mass., has been named president of the Unitarian Universalist Association to fill the remainder of the term of the late Rev. Paul N. Carnes . . .
The Rev. Dr. James M. Windham has retired as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Silver Spring . . . The Rev. Dr. Harold C. Hunter has been installed as pastor of King emmanual Baptist Church here . . .
Rabbi Harry M. Spector is the new spiritual leader of Congregation Olam Tikvah in Fairfax . . . The Rev. Dr. Raymond P. Jennings, formerly of Syracuse, N.Y. is the new minister of National Baptist Memorial Church here . . . The Rev. Richard Leavitt has become minister of St. Paul United Church of Christ in Lanham . . . The Rev. Dr. William L. Weiler of the National Conference of Christians and Jews will become staff officer for Washington affairs of the Episcopal Church on June 1 . . . Andrew G. Lang has been named national coordinator and director of the Washington office of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship.