Bits and Bobs
Sandy Jack, Eastbourne
Rare King James Bible found in Wiltshire village church
A rare original King James Bible has been discovered on a shelf in a Wiltshire church. The discovery was made by residents researching the history of St. Laurence Church in Hilmarton, near Calne. Geoff Procter, a member of the parochial church council, said they read about a ‘fine chained Bible in a glass case’ at the church. They then made the link with a Bible that had been sitting on a shelf at the church for a number of years. Mr. Procter said, ‘We started doing some research and discovered that the Bible that, as far as I’d known, had always stood on a shelf at the church was in fact 400 years old’. There are fewer than 200 original printings of the King James version known to exist. And it is believed that the rediscovered Bible is one of the few remaining editions printed in 1611. When it was taken for evaluation to the curator of a Bible museum, one of the first things he said was, ‘Whatever you do you must display this so that people can read the word’! Clearly a reminder that what it says is more important than what it is.
Membership of the Pentecostal Church and Jehovah’s Witnesses Up, Protestants Down
America is the most developed nation when it comes to religion. It has a dynamic, competitive religious marketplace — which means it has winners and losers! According to a report by the National Council of Churches, the biggest losers are the mainstream Protestant churches — the Presbyterian Church, Methodists and Lutherans are all showing a dip in membership.
While each of them is down just a few percentage points (the data was compiled in 2009 and reported to the council in 2010) the declines have reached into the double digits over the last decade. Some of them are responding with ad campaigns. Pentecostal churches, on the other hand, are seeing a surge in membership. About 150,000 more people are attending the services this year, where members believe that the Holy Spirit can give you gifts, like speaking in tongues. Sarah Palin famously used to attend. ‘It seems like one of the attractions to Pentecostalism, it’s a full body faith’, said a female member of the church. ‘It’s a faith you can feel’.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses, known for their door-to-door preaching, had the largest growth of any single denomination. They believe secular society is corrupt, and that Armageddon is imminent. Famous members include Venus and Serena Williams. Membership shot up 4.37 per cent in a year.
Membership in the Mormon Church also went up, by nearly 80,000 members. With famous members like Mitt Romney, Glenn Beck and ‘Twilight’ author Stephanie Meyer, the church is doing more outreach to the mainstream media.
The biggest competition for churches isn’t other churches, it’s other things entirely, like television, the internet and the mall. The new report says that total church membership in America continues to decline.
Fifteen per cent of Americans say they have no religion, though that doesn’t mean they’ve given up on God.