The anomaly of the Roman Catholic Order of Friars Minor - the religious group founded by the peace-loving St. Francis of Assisi but split into three factions that have disputed for centuries who were his true followers - may be resolved soon.
A survey of the three groups has revealed that 70 percent of the 5,000 U.S. Franciscans, Conventuals and Capuchins believe that the time has come to combine the divisions of the worldwide order.
According to the Rev. Roy Gasnick, chairman of the survey committee, if members around the world feel the same way, the first steps toward unification of the order could be taken in 1982 during the common celebration of the 800th anniversary of the birth of St. Francis.
The Reformed Church in America, developed by Dutch immigrants during colonial times, celebrated its 350th anniversary at its annual general synod in New York last week.
Although formulation of denominational policy on women's ordination was not scheduled to be discussed at the synod, 20 Protestant and Roman Catholic groups sponsored a worship service supporting women seeking ordination in the denomination. The 90-minute service was coordinated by the Rev. Joyce Stedge of the District, who was ordained by local church authority.
For the first time in the history of the Olympic Games, an ecumenical worship service will be held on the eve of the opening of the XIII Winter Games scheduled Feb. 13-24, 1980, at Lake Placid, N.Y.
Terence Cardinal Cooke of New York is among the first religious leaders scheduled to speak at the service. Music will be provided by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, according to officials of the Games' religious affairs committee.
An endowment fund to support the Christian Science Monitor has been established by the Christian Science board of directors in Boston.
At the annual meeting of the mother church - The First Church of Christ, Scientist - Board Chairman DeWitt John said contributions to the fund will be invested and the interest used to help defray expenses of the newspaper.
According to the Associated Press, the Monitor has faced an annual deficit of $5 million to $6 million for several years.
The Most Rev. Donald Coggan, the 101st archbishop of Canterbury, will speak on the national radio series, Protestant Hour, in 15 weekly addresses sponsored by the Episcopal Radio-TV Foundation of Atlanta. The series will be broadcast abroad through the American Forces Radio Service . . . The Rev. Edward M. Bryce, director of the Pittsburgh diocesan office for justice and peace and past chairman of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, has been named staff director of the Office for Pro-Life Activities of the National Conference of Catholic Bishop . . . Dr. Charles A. Trentham, pastor of the church President Carter attends, First Baptist Church of the city of Washington, D.C., will preach at Coventry Cathedral when he attends the third annual Oxford Baptist pastors' conference at Regents Park College, Oxford.
Four women have been ordained Reform rabbis by the New York and Cincinnati branches of the Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion.
This brings to seven the number of women ordained by Hebrew Union since 1972, when Sally J. Priesand became the first woman ordained a rabbi in the United States and the second in the history of Judaism.
Karen L. Fox of Fullerton, Calif., and Rosalind A. Gold of Los Angeles were ordained this month at the New York school. Deborah R. Prinz of Los Angeles and Myra Soifer of Park Forest, Ill., were ordained recently in Cincinnati. Rabbi Prinz was ordained with her husband.
The two largest Christian bodies in the United States - the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention - both grew faster than the population during 1976, according to the 1978 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.
An increase of 0.9 percent was recorded for the Roman Catholic Church, which had 49,325,752 adherents. The Southern Baptist Convention increased by 1.5 percent to 12,917,992 members. The U.S. population grew by 0.7 percent in 1976.
The Assemblies of God was considered the fastest growing religious body for 1976, with a 5.1 percent increase to 1,302,318 members.