A Climax In Missions

“This is harvest time for Latin America.”

Evangelist Billy Graham, just returned from a Latin American campaign tour, says many of the decisions for Christ recorded in his team’s swing through 17 countries could be traced to the groundwork laid by missionaries.

Graham paid tribute to the missionaries in saying that they were now seeing the results of many years of hard work.

“Protestantism has some of its strongest leadership in Latin America,” he added, describing the work of the churches as “virile and dynamic.”

Graham sees a shift to Protestantism in such countries as Guatemala, Brazil, Chile and Puerto Rico. He predicts some of these nations may be predominantly Protestant within 20 years.

The evangelist and his team preached in 21 cities during the 28-day tour covering 6,000 miles. The campaign closed in Mexico City, where some 25,000 jammed Mexico Arena while another 15,000 stood outside to hear Graham’s final campaign sermon.

A total of 3,100 decisions were counted in the two-day Mexico City crusade, among them at least 200 Americans.

Graham’s Latin American sermons were directly heard by 398,950 (through Spanish interpreters in many cities). His messages were augmented by those of his associate evangelists, who spoke to another 499,630 persons with 6,494 recorded decisions for Christ. Total decisions at meetings of all team members were estimated at more than 15,000. All of Graham’s appearances drew crowds which set records for Protestant events in the respective localities.

The Graham tour through Spanish-speaking countries was co-ordinated by the Latin America Mission, under the personal leadership of General Director R. Kenneth Strachan.

Graham described some of his rallies as the most colorful he has held anywhere. Indians in full costume traveled great distances to attend. Thousands slept in yards and alleys. Many could not understand the languages, but were encouraged by the crowds and gratified to learn how many others shared their faith. Some of the Indians had never been to a city before.

While Graham was on tour rumors spread through the United States that some of his team were ill. The evangelist called the reports completely false. For this week, he scheduled talks at Vassar and Smith colleges.

People: Words And Events

Formation: For co-ordinating effort in national and international temperance issues, a new Interdenominational Committee on Alcohol Problems in Washington. The committee eventually hopes to represent 40 churches with membership both in the National Association of Evangelicals and the National Council of Churches.

Article continues below

Appointments: As president of the Protestant Council of the City of New York, Dr. Gardner C. Taylor; as moderator of the Presbytery of Newark, New Jersey, the Rev. C. Lincoln McGee. Both are the first Negroes to serve in these capacities.

Tracts: More than 20,000,000 produced during 1957 by the American Tract Society.

Appeal: For 10,000,000 pounds of clothing by the end of the year, by Church World Service, to help alleviate needs at “a level of urgency unprecedented in the last decade.”

Survey: Planned by the Methodist Board of Temperance, to learn if “dry” communities are more moral than “wet” communities.

Booklet: On “How to Observe National Family Week” (May 4–11), newly published by National Sunday School Association.

Deaths: Dr. Frederick May Eliot, 68, president of the American Unitarian Association, in New York; Dr. William Henry Jernagin, 88, Negro Baptist leader, in Miami Beach, Florida.

Protest: By representatives of 375 Gulf Coast area Baptist churches, of Governor Price Daniel’s designation of March 23 as “Knights of Columbus Day” in Texas.

No Jurisdiction

The National Lutheran Council has voted out of order a plea by its president that plans for separate Lutheran mergers be abandoned in favor of an all-out effort to unite in a single church.

In a report to the council’s fortieth annual meeting in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Dr. F. Eppling Reinartz referred to two separate merger plans as a “two-way stretch of our loyalties.”

“Let us stop our fashioning of fresh divisions,” he asked, “at least long enough for us to examine our motives and purposes under the emancipating and uniting cross of Christ.”

The delegates by voice vote ruled the plea “constitutionally outside the competence” of the council representing eight church bodies, including 5,000,000 members or two-thirds of the Lutherans in the United States and Canada.

Seven of the bodies are engaged in discussions toward two mergers. One involves the Evangelical, American and United Evangelical Lutheran churches, a union from which the Lutheran Free Church recently withdrew. The other comprises the United, Augustana and American Evangelical Lutheran churches and the Suomi Synod.

The council meeting did take action toward examining present co-operative activities in American Lutheranism with an eye to extending joint efforts. Delegates endorsed a proposal to ask member churches to approve a meeting of its executive committee with representatives of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and other Lutheran bodies in the United States. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is the second largest Lutheran body in America and is not a member of the National Lutheran Council.

Article continues below
Ethics and Economics

Dr. Harold John Ockenga advises religious leaders to study economics more closely.

The pastor of Boston’s Park Street Church says many religious leaders, “mistakenly believing they were advocating the cause of Christianity, have instead advanced the cause of Marxism.”

In an address at Johnson City, Tennessee, Pastor Ockenga criticized evangelism which has an “incomplete view of ethics.”

“Evangelism cannot be separated from ethical theory,” he said, adding that “the most important division of ethics is economics, where the great battles of practical import in our day are being fought.

“Individualism and collectivism contend in this arena of economics. Yet most evangelists, preachers, and religious teachers are lacking in their knowledge of economics.”

This unawareness, Dr. Ockenga asserts, has led to a misapplication of “the New Testament teaching of neighborly love. Under the guise of Christianity, mistaken though well-intentioned religious leaders have advanced the cause of collectivism. Coercion in the name of Christian love is condoned in numerous socialistic schemes, which soften society for Marxism.”

A Condemnation

A segment of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. (Southern) has gone on record against the use of church buildings for private schools.

The Presbytery of the Potomac, which includes 10 northern Virginia counties, voted to send an overture to the General Assembly meeting April 24 in Charlotte, North Carolina, to “record opposition to the use of any facilities owned by a congregation of the Presbyterian Church, U. S., for the establishment of schools, public or private, supported in whole or in part by state or community funds for the purpose of evading decrees of the courts of the United States relative to segregation of the races.”

Researcher’s Departure

The Tenth Anniversary Conference on Church and State was held in Atlanta, Georgia, minus the director of research of the sponsoring agency.

Article continues below

Stanley Lichtenstein said he has resigned his position with Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State because of policy disagreement.

Dr. Glenn L. Archer, executive secretary of POAU, said Lichtenstein was advised last fall to seek other employment because his services were no longer desired.

Lichtenstein, who is Jewish, said he disagreed with the POAU decision to issue a questionnaire for Catholic candidates for president. He said the questionnaire did violence to POAU’s own belief in separation of church and state.

Archer said Lichtenstein had made no mention of his policy disagreement until he sent out a mimeographed press release to newspapers attacking his former employers.

Representatives from more than 20 states were on hand for the Atlanta conference. Delegates entertained suggestions aimed at closer co-ordination between POAU headquarters and local affiliates. A committee was appointed to study the expanding structure of the organization.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.