Upwards of 5,000 delegates and visitors to the American Baptist Convention gathered June 12–17 appropriately enough at a bend in the river—this time the beautiful Ohio, where Cincinnati’s famed Garden provided a mammoth roof for the 51st chapter in the life of what formerly was known as the Northern Baptist Convention. Uppermost in the messengers’ minds was the search of a permanent home for administrative offices. They were committed to a move, but as Abraham they knew not whither they went, for none could be certain where the convention dialectic would take them.
A “Commission on Headquarters” had for seven months conducted an “intensive study” resulting in the recommendation that American Baptist headquarters be located in New York City’s Interchurch Center, to be completed in 1960. The commission’s vote was divided, New York gaining eight votes, with three going to a Chicago Midway site offered through lease by the University of Chicago, and a single ballot being drawn by a Valley Forge property of the convention’s Board of Education and Publication.
Hope was held out that this matter would be entirely cleared away on Friday the 13th. An isolated superstitious soul may have sought vindication in the fact that the issue remained the almost constant preoccupation of the delegates until the following Monday, second to last night of the convention. Proponents of the various sites served up a variety of pitches which put to shame the Cincinnati Redleg mound staff.
Able commission chairman Ellis J. Holt confessed he had prayed he would not lose his temper in the heat of debate. Delegates observed that his prayers were barely answered as subsequent applause indicated impending defeat of the commission’s recommendation of the 20-million-dollar ...1
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