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THE BOSTON CHURCH OF CHRIST HAS CONTENTIOUS HISTORY AT HARVARD

By Victor Chen and Justin D. Lerer

Since a young evangelist named Kip McKean founded the Boston Church of Christ (BCC) in 1979, the church's membership has increased rapidly internationally and throughout all 50 states, according to church members and an article appearing in Time magazine in May 1992.

The church counts some 50,000 disciples world-wide, including about 3,700 in Boston, according to the magazine article.

At Harvard, the Boston Church of Christ has had a contentious history. Administrators have opposed what they call the BCC's questionable methods of gaining student membership.

Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III has spoken out openly against the BCC's attempts at outreach on campus.

"[I object to] the means they have adopted to recruit members on campus," Epps told The Crimson last winter, citing two complaints brought against the BCC for recruiting on campus that year.

"What those complaints show is conduct that steps over the line and is harassment," he said.

First-year proctors have also expressed concern over the BCC's impact on impressionable new students.

"I feel that the BCC is a destructive cult," said Matthew J. DeGreeff '89, a proctor in Grays. "They have a very negative impact on campus. I feel that it is my job as a proctor to educate my students as best I can--I warn them about the BCC."

But Michael J. Hrnicek '96, an active member of the BCC on campus, denied last week that he had ever aggressively recruited students.

"Epps is lumping everyone who goes to my church into the category of criminal or ruffian or harasser," he told The Crimson last winter.

Hrnicek was active in seeking the formation of a campus bible study group, Harvard Christians in Action.

Hrnicek told The Crimson last winter that he envisioned this group as a "bible study on campus, run by students for students."

Epps opposed the creation of the new group, saying Hrnicek's group was too closely connected with the BCC to warrant on-campus recognition because it would violate the requirement that student organizations had to be autonomous from external organizations.

Approving the group, Epps said, would be a "great disservice."

However, then-Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 approved the group's petition for official recognition.

Jewett later retracted his decision because one of the 10 members necessary for official status withdrew her support, Hrnicek says.

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