Georgetown Hires First Muslim Chaplain

Georgetown University, which created a campus stir last May when it did not renew the contracts of two full-time Protestant chaplains, announced this week that it has hired its first Muslim chaplain.

Yahya Hendi, 32, a doctoral candidate in philosophy and comparative religions at Temple University in Philadelphia, began work Aug. 10. As a school chaplain, he will offer guidance to Georgetown's Muslim students, lead Muslim prayers and services and act as a resource on Islamic issues and practices.

Founded by Jesuits in 1789, Georgetown is the nation's oldest Catholic University and has more than 12,000 students. Of the school's 6,000 undergraduates, more than 3,000 identify themselves as Roman Catholic, spokesman Dan Wackerman said. About 1,400 are Protestant, 330 are Jewish and 180 are Muslim. The university does not track the religious identities of its 6,000 graduate students.

Wackerman said the office of campus ministry has been reorganized this year "to reach out pastorally . . . to a wider number of students." The university now has 11 full-time chaplains: eight Catholic priests, two rabbis and one imam. At least three Protestant clergy of different denominations will be hired within a few weeks, he said, to fill new part-time positions, bringing the number of part-time chaplains to seven.

"It is exciting and enriching for us to have Imam Hendi as our first Muslim chaplain," university Chaplain Adam Bunnell said in announcing the appointment. "His vast experience will be a great asset to our vibrant Muslim community on campus."

Hendi holds degrees from the University of Jordan, Amman, and Hartford Seminary in Connecticut and has served as chaplain at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, the Islamic Center of Charlotte and the National Institutes of Health.

-- Bill Broadway

Pastor Settles With SEC

The Securities and Exchange Commission has negotiated settlements with 14 of 17 defendants in an alleged $20 million securities fraud scheme involving the Rev. Ray Hope, pastor of Montrose Baptist Church in Rockville, and his brother, Richard W. Hope.

Both men settled "without admitting or denying" allegations in a complaint the SEC filed in 1991, said Paul Berger, assistant director of the commission's enforcement division. Among the charges was that the Hopes knowingly sold unregistered securities in a business deal in Louisiana in the 1980s.

The SEC complaint charged that the Hopes legally purchased unpaid medical accounts at a discount so they could make a profit by selling them at the full amount.

But they promised high rates of return without telling investors that uncollected medical expenses might not be fully covered by a patient's insurance.

According to documents filed last fall in U.S. District Court in Washington, Ray Hope (also known as Otis R. Hope) was ordered to repay more than $600,000 in profits and interest from money he collected from investors.

All but $12,000 was waived because of the pastor's "financial condition," Berger said. Hope and his wife, Margaret Morgan Hope, filed for bankruptcy in April 1996, two months after he came to Montrose Baptist from Comite Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La.

In May, the court ordered Richard W. Hope to repay more than $4.3 million, plus an undetermined civil penalty, but waived the entire amount because of his inability to pay.

Richard Hope remains subject to a $2.5 million judgment against him in a separate court action last year in Louisiana.

John Wogan, a New Orleans lawyer appointed by the court to return recaptured funds, said that about $580,000 has been given back to investors, with another $200,000 expected. Much of the returned money came from accounts of two companies the Hopes founded that are now defunct, he said.

-- Bill Broadway

Local Notes

* Hillel, a Jewish campus ministry organization, will send 3,000 Jewish college students on free, 10-day trips to Israel in December and January "to enrich students' understanding of Israel and their Jewish identity," Hillel President Richard M. Joel said in announcing the program. More than 500 students from D.C., Maryland and Virginia schools will be selected to participate. Detailed trip and application information is available on the the Web at www.israel2000.org.

* Cardinal James A. Hickey, archbishop of Washington, has asked all 141 Catholic parishes in Washington and suburban Maryland to take a special collection at Masses this weekend for earthquake relief efforts in Turkey.