Controversial Bishop Speaks at Local Church
Author and retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong has two events scheduled in the Sandhills area in March.
Spong maintains a full schedule, giving over 200 lectures each year, frequently to standing-room only crowds, while continuing to write and engage his readers.
He will present a talk in the Ruth Pauley Lecture series at Sandhills Community College Thursday, March 22, at 7:30 p.m. That lecture is open to the public at no charge.
On Saturday, March 24, at the Congregational Church of Pinehurst, UCC, Spong will offer two lectures, interact with those attending by answering questions and engaging in dialogue, and will conclude with a book signing. The event will be from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and reservations are required.
Spong is a native of Charlotte and a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He served churches in Durham and Tarboro. His first book, "This Hebrew Lord," written over 20 years ago, has been revised and is still in print.
Recently he has completed a new book, "Jesus for the Non-Religious," which is targeted at Spong's main audience -- Christians who have left the church over questions of science, biblical literalism, and historical prejudice.
Controversy has swirled around Spong since his days in Tarboro where he was active in the 1960s civil rights protests.
As bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, N.J., Spong expanded his activism to promoting the ordination of women, revising the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, and bringing gay and lesbian Christians into the full life of the Christian community.
"Each level of activism has inspired some members of the faith community in a very prophetic way, while causing a backlash among others who see their faith concepts challenged," says a spokesman.
With the rise of fundamentalism in the Christian community of the 1980s, Spong entered the discussion with his book, "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism."
He encouraged his readers to delve into the Jewish underpinnings of Christian scripture and points out misunderstandings that have evolved in the Christian community over two thousand years -- resulting in anti-Semitism, racism, and subjugation of women in the life of the church.
Later works -- "A New Christianity for a New World" and "The Sins of Scripture" begin the process of looking forward, challenging the church to begin a new reformation.
Spong's autobiography, "Here I Stand," details his early interaction with a Jewish congregation in Richmond, Va., before he was called as bishop, and progresses through his life in the Diocese of Newark, N.J. Readers interested in the historical progression of the Episcopal Church from the times of Presiding Bishop Hines through the end of the 20th century will likely find interest in his autobiography and will gain a better understanding of the historical events leading to the current conflicts within the Anglican communion.
For more information about the event at the church, call 295-2243 or visit www.uccpinehurst.org.
David Vess is the council chairman at the Congregational Church of Pinehurst UCC.
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