When President Eisenhower strode from the gold-trimmed grand ballroom of Washington’s Mayflower Hotel one morning last month, it marked a significant exit.
Eisenhower had just witnessed his third and last “Presidential Prayer Breakfast” as chief executive. As he left, more than 500 government officials and other dignitaries stood, their eyes fixed upon the man under whom the prayer breakfast had come to represent a red-letter day on the evangelical calendar.
The event was significant, too, because it highlighted a four-day, 25th anniversary conference of International Christian Leadership, which has attained interdenominational, world-wide prestige with a “soft-sell” witness. ICL’s evangelical hue reflected clearly, as it usually does despite its lack of an itemized “doctrinal statement” common to biblically-oriented organizations.ICL prefers to be known as “an informal association of concerned laymen united to foster faith, freedom and Christian leadership through regenerated men who in daily life will affirm their faith and assert their position as Christians, believing that ‘God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself … and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation.’ ”
The hour-long breakfast program included:
—An invocation by Dr. Harold J. Ockenga, pastor of Park Street (Congregational) Church in Boston.
—A moving rendition of “How Great Thou Art” by Jerome Hines, Metropolitan Opera basso who prefaced his solo with remarks affirming a personal faith in Christ (“I never sing unless they let me testify, too”).
—A stirring testimony by Los Angeles typographer William C. Jones, who has been host for the last four such breakfasts.
—Scripture reading by Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Whittaker (Old Testament) and Interior Secretary Frederick A. Seaton (New Testament).
—A prayer led by Judge Boyd Leedom, chairman of the National Labor Relations Board and ICL president.
—Greetings from the leaders of Congressional prayer groups, Senator John Stennis of Mississippi and Representative Paul C. Jones of Missouri, both Democrats.
—A tribute to Billy Graham as “the greatest spiritual ambassador America has ever sent our land” by the Honorable John H. Cordle of the British Parliament.
Republican Senator Frank Carlson of Kansas, president of ICL’s world-wide counterpart, the International Council for Christian Leadership, presided. Eisenhower did not speak, but was later quoted by Carlson has having been especially pleased with the testimonies of Jones and Cordle.
The benediction was pronounced by Dr. Abraham Vereide, Norwegian-born Methodist and one-time circuit-riding evangelist whose appearance before a businessmen’s breakfast in Seattle gave initial stimulus to the formation of ICL a quarter of a century ago.
Vereide’s talk that spring morning in 1935 concerned itself with corruption and subversion which had gotten out of hand in the state of Washington. A concerned department store owner called together 19 business associates to hear a report from Vereide, who had recently given up a post with Goodwill Industries. Moved to action, the group dedicated themselves to weekly prayer meetings and Bible study. Interest snowballed, and Vereide was called upon to devote himself to the movement full-time.
The movement initially took the form of an organization called “City Chapel,” which included the 19 men who attended the first breakfast meeting. At the outset, none of the 19 had any church affiliation except one, and he admitted “hypocrisy.” As they worked and prayed together, public indignation was aroused. Effects of the group’s influence, Vereide says, were eventually felt at the polls and a new era of responsible government leadership was ushered in. (An early participant in “City Chapel” was Arthur Langlie, who later became mayor, then governor, and was keynote speaker at the 1956 Republican National Convention. Langlie is now president of the McCall Corporation.)
Christian breakfast fellowships eventually sprang up in other cities. In 1942, at Vereide’s invitation, 87 members of Congress met in a Washington hotel and began weekly breakfast prayer fellowships in both the House and Senate. In the same year, Vereide’s movement took on a formal national standing by taking out a charter in Illinois as International Christian Leadership, Inc. Five years later the global arm was inaugurated in Washington as the International Council for Christian Leadership.
Today, Christian Leadership groups meet regularly in more than 100 U. S. cities and in some 31 foreign countries. A headquarters office and a “Christian Embassy” Fellowship House are maintained in Washington. The annual international budget amounts to about $65,000, all of which comes from donations. There is no membership.
Still at the ICL helm is Vereide, now 73, his responsibilities as ICL executive director and ICCL secretary general representing a far cry from the struggles of a Viking immigrant trying to make the grade as an itinerant Methodist preacher. “He covered his first parish in Montana on horseback with a Bible in one hand, a six-shooter in the other,” says an ICL release.
Vereide immigrated to America in 1905 and was subsequently graduated from Northwestern University and Garrett Biblical Institute.
He has no plans to retire. “I’m under divine orders,” he says, “and there is as yet no provision for retirement.”
A Crude Hassle
Controversy over Air Force security manuals deteriorated this month into a crude and unfinished hassle characterized chiefly by ecclesiastical and political maneuvering.
The dispute bogged down under 1. indetermination whether Communists have penetrated U. S. religious ranks, and 2. the aversion of the executive branch of the Federal government to engage in religious controversy.
These were developments following the National Council of Churches protest last month of an Air Force security manual which warned reservists that Communist sympathizers were to be found even in organized Protestantism:
—Defense Secretary Thomas Gates and Air Force Secretary Dudley Sharp conceded that the manual had been poorly prepared (it had already been withdrawn from official usage days before the NCC protest was publicized).
—The writer of the manual, a devout churchgoer and a civilian employee of the Air Force in San Antonio, said he had relied on information from Oklahoma evangelist Billy James Hargis of the Christian Crusade and M. G. Lowman of the Circuit Riders. Both organizations are militantly anti-Communist. They are consistently critical of the NCC. Hargis and Lowman keep running accounts of left-wing activities, especially as they involve churchmen and educators. Homer H. Hyde, 54, who authored the manual, said he had been referred to the two groups by his pastor.
—The American Council of Christian Churches asserted that Communist infiltration is even more serious than the manual charged.
—Democratic Representative Francis Walter of Pennsylvania, chairman of the House Un-American Activities Committee, stated that the manual’s identification of some churchmen as Communist sympathizers is factual.
—Top officials of five major Protestant denominations demanded that Walter retract this “untrue statement.”
—Critics of the manual found other Air Force security publications which they labeled “objectionable.”
—The 250-member, policy-making NCC General Board, meeting in regular session in Oklahoma City, unanimously adopted a bristling, 400-word resolution which “insists” that “a full explanation of all matters incidental to the appearance of such material in these manuals be made public at the earliest possible moment.”
—The National Association of Evangelicals public affairs office asked Democratic Representative Carl Vinson of Georgia, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, to launch a full-scale investigation which would include “theological perspective.”
—NCC President Edwin T. Dahlberg, “determined to follow through on all the issues that have been raised,” said he might even call on President Eisenhower “if necessary.”
Aside from a statement by Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, former NCC president (“I’ll be glad to cooperate with any agency of the government that is sincerely trying to get at the truth of the allegations”), little sentiment emerged for a decisive determination as to the accuracy of the Communist infiltration charges. As far as the NCC is concerned, according to its spokesman, the issue is “the constitutionality of the action of the Air Force in indoctrinating reservists on religious questions.”
The Air Force itself shied away from a committal as to the truth or untruth of the withdrawn manual’s charges. “It was not withdrawn because we interpreted them to be not true,” Sharp told the Un-American Activities Committee. An Air Force spokesman subsequently explained that the manual was withdrawn “because of the general impropriety of treating so important a subject … without thorough review and approval at the highest levels.”
Some observers felt that the Air Force hedged because of an awareness that it was dealing with powerful institutional machinery and that specific allegations would appear anti-religious.
Contributing to the confusion was the NCC tendency to turn aside criticism by caricaturing it as fundamentalist-inspired and radical and (therefore) untrue.
The Air Force promised, nonetheless, that a revision of the withdrawn manual would retain warnings that Communists seek to infiltrate U. S. churches.
James W. Wine, an associate general secretary of the NCC, while issuing blanket denials of the manuals’ allegations of Communist infiltration, came up with a counter-charge while talking to Oklahoma City newsmen. He said he believed the offensive material to be “subversive.” He did not say why he thought the material itself might be Communist-inspired.
“Its implications are pretty clear,” he observed.
• Representatives of four merging Lutheran bodies agreed last month to name the projected denomination the “Lutheran Church in America.” The Joint Commission on Lutheran Unity originally had suggested “Lutheran Evangelical Church in America.”
• East Berlin’s public prosecutor announced last month that he would initiate preliminary proceedings for a trial of Bishop Otto Dibelius on charges of advocating disobedience to the Communist Soviet Zone regime.
• Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Baptist pastor, author and noted integration leader, faces a May trial on perjury charges. An indictment by a Montgomery County, Alabama, grand jury accuses King of failing to report $31,000 of personal income in state tax returns for 1956 and 1958. He is free under bond.
• Wheaton College President V. Raymond Edman is recuperating in a Chicago hospital following surgical removal of cataracts.
• Six Protestant groups plan cooperative sponsorship of a new seminary to be erected in Elisabethville, Belgian Congo. Classes are scheduled to begin this fall in temporary quarters while a $300,000 campus is being built. The sponsoring groups are The Methodist Church, the Disciples of Christ, the American Baptist Convention, the British Baptist Church, the Presbyterian Church in the U. S., and the Belgian Mission Society (Reformed).
• Westmont College plans to erect a prayer chapel in memory of Nancy K. Voskuyl, 18-year-old freshman who was killed in an auto accident in December. Miss Voskuyl was the daughter of Westmont President Roger J. Voskuyl.
• The Evangelical Free Church organized a new congregation in Arlington, Virginia, last month, its first in the national capital area.
• The Far East Broadcasting Company dedicated a new, 50,000-watt transmitter in Manila last month. Philippines President Carlos P. Garcia gave the dedicatory address.
• The Israel Baptist Convention last month dedicated a church at the site where, according to tradition, Christ performed his first miracle by transforming water into wine. Kafr Kana (or Cana, as it is known in English), is now an Arab village of 3,000 inhabitants; half are Christians and half Moslem.
• The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is purchasing the Milwaukee Bible College at a cost of $400,000. The school’s two-acre campus and four buildings adjoin the synod’s Concordia College.
• The Rev. Rika Nagase is the first Japanese woman ever to be ordained by the Church of the Nazarene. She now pastors a church in Hiroshima. Her husband died in 1946 after suffering shock and radiation in the first atomic bombing.
• The Christian Medical Society says it will soon move into a newly-purchased headquarters building in Oak Park, Illinois.
• Quaker-operated Earlham College plans to open a School of Religion in the fall of 1962. The seminary will be the first in history for the Society of Friends.
• The Christian Research Foundation is offering prizes totalling $2,950 for essays and dissertations on early church history by seminary students. Deadline is June 15.
• Lester F. Heins, ordained Lutheran minister who is religion editor of the Toledo Blade, is embarking on a 25,000-mile air trip through Africa, Asia, and the Middle East to report on the progress of American foreign missions.
• The Ministers Life and Casualty Union is distributing free to seminaries a new periodical devoted to current problems in practical church economics. Editor of the publication, titled Seminary Quarterly, is William P. Sahlsteen.
• The Lutheran Literature Society dedicated a new publishing center in Tokyo last month.
Last year marked the centenary of organized missions in Southern Rhodesia. Pioneers led by David Livingstone’s father-in-law, Robert Moffat, worked 25 years before cracking the solidarity of tribal life with a single convert. Last month the Graham team reaped where the pioneers had sowed. More than 6,000 inquirers were counted in the evangelist’s Rhodesia meetings which attracted an aggregate attendance of some 100,000.
The multi-racial character of the rallies gave rise to the hope that the racial partnership vision of Cecil Rhodes, after whom the Rhodesias were named, might yet be made to work in an area where material progress is astounding.
Two camps of extremists challenged Billy Graham’s campaign in Northern and Southern Rhodesia. Some Europeans objected to the use of translators. A handful of African nationalists attempted an organized boycott of the copper belt meeting in Kitwe, tossing a few stones in the process. Neither episode materially affected the meetings, although nationalists may have trimmed somewhat the size of the Kitwe crowd.
Graham offered no detailed solution to the tangled web of race, culture, and economics that combine to make Central Africa a prime testing ground in the century of the common man. He did press the conviction that individual conversion is primary to any social advance, pointing out that Wilberforce’s discovery of the love of God provided the moral impetus for the abolition of slavery.
The tiring evangelist, who now moves on to the Holy Land for Lenten meetings in key Israeli cities, also stressed that the real hope of the Church does not lie merely in the human sphere nor in conversion of the world. He said it lies rather in the Second Advent, when God again will intervene in history to make the world’s kingdoms his own.
The influence and enthusiasm of the Rhodesian meetings extended far beyond centers where record crowds amazed crusade sponsors, many of whom doubted that mass evangelism would click in sparsely-settled Africa. At Livingstone, where Graham had hoped to rest for three days, he was importuned into addressing on two days’ notice a gathering which overflowed Victoria Hall. The result was 40 inquirers in a city where evangelical church attendance averages about 100 a week out of 4,000 Europeans.
In the Northern Rhodesia capital of Lusaka, a hastily-arranged airport meeting drew 700. Dozens of hands were lifted as a token of surrender to Christ.
The gathering storm of African nationalism was sensed everywhere if one probed even slightly below the placid surface. Most Europeans, however, still relaxed in a luxurious standard of living which appeared to exceed even that of the average American. Africans, underpaid, chafe at Southern Rhodesian restrictions on land ownership and housing. Many Europeans consider the mission field a distant project and thus overlook the Negro houseboy whose fumbling service often proves exasperating.
Church attendance in the cities is poor. Graham’s challenge attacked the citadels of Satan in a way which may stimulate a more aggressive program in lands where evangelism heretofore was regarded as mass hysteria.
The big problem of the African church is a dearth of trained leadership, causing many intellectuals to scorn the pulpit. There are no major obstacles, however, to evangelizing the sprawling African urban centers. Segregated housing presents a favorable contrast to West African and American slums, but overcrowded conditions contribute to the deplorable moral conditions. There is no organized paganism.
Ten per cent of the Africans in Southern Rhodesia belong to evangelical churches, compared to 20 per cent of the Europeans. Roman Catholicism claims five per cent of the Africans. The strongest European communions are the Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Dutch Reformed. Among Africans, the evangelical thrust is led by these plus Brethren in Christ, Salvation Army, Southern Baptists, Churches of Christ, Plymouth Brethren, South African General Mission, and Assemblies of God.
Northern Rhodesia has a united church of 15,000 strong composed of Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Methodists.
One observer said African nationalism probably will throw out the baby with the bath water if churchmen oppose any crucial point. He added that European missionaries and pastors must be careful lest the government detain or deport them for challenging prevailing racial or economic policies.
Rounding out the picture is a laissez faire economy in which, some say, big business exploits Africans mercilessly. Others point out that new businesses are training more Africans, thereby upgrading wages.
Graham said repeatedly that the total commitment to Christ of even a small minority would inject a new spirit of dedication and would help to create a new atmosphere of love in which problems could be solved.
Top governmental and business leaders saw a real hope in the results of the meetings. Graham was careful to point out that his own role was minor compared to that of the mobilized church which gave him almost total support.
Billy Graham’s trip into Tanganyika provided the most spectacular meeting of his African tour.
At Moshi, near the base of 19,565-foot Mt. Kilimanjaro, more than 5,000 inquirers stepped forward from a crowd of 35,000. Perfect weather provided a full view of the famous snow-capped peak.
Tanganyika is the most relaxed East African country in view of the progress toward self-government and the lack of a white settler issue. Nearly 10 per cent of Tanganyikans are Protestants. Another 10 per cent are Catholic. Lutherans account for nearly half the Protestants.
Many climbed trees to hear Graham. The meeting was held across the road from a mosque. It was the biggest religious gathering ever seen in Tanganyika and left a marked impression in favor of the Christian community which is rapidly becoming indigenous.
Dr. W. R. Matthews, dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, says the Church of England’s historic Thirty-nine Articles should be revised because they are now “worthless as an ordination test.”
All Anglican clergymen are required to subscribe to the Articles. Until the nineteenth century, members of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge also were required to subscribe.
In a sermon at Cambridge last month, Matthews characterized the sixteenth-century document as a summary of Anglican dogmatic tenets in relation to theological controversies of that time which does not represent the present mind of the church.
The American Association of Theological Schools announced last month 31 fellowship grants for the academic year 1960–1961. The grants, made possible by the Sealantic Fund, are issued annually to faculty members of AATS member schools.
Chief aim of the fellowship program is improvement of theological education through advanced faculty study. It also serves to strengthen sabbatical leave policies in member schools. Fellows must be nominated by their schools and are chosen by a Commission on Faculty Fellowships of the AATS.
This year’s grants range up to $4,000. They enable fellows to be on leave from eight to fifteen months in various study centers in the United States, England, Germany, France, the Near East, and the Orient. The 1960–61 fellows:
Waldo Beach, Duke Divinity School; David R. Belgum, Northwestern Lutheran Theological Seminary; John B. Cobb, Southern California School of Theology; Walter B. Davis, Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Pope A. Duncan, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; George W. Frey, United Theological Seminary; Daniel P. Fuller, Fuller Theological Seminary; Lee J. Gable, Lancaster Theological Seminary; Langdon B. Gilkey and J. Philip Hyatt, Vanderbilt Divinity School; Norman K. Gottwalt and Roy Pearson, Andover Newton Theological School; Holt H. Graham, Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary of Virginia; Van Austin Harvey, Perkins School of Theology, Franz Hildebrandt and Carl Michalson, Drew Theological School; Harland Hogue and Robert C. Leslie, Pacific School of Religion; Walter Holcomb, Boston University School of Theology; Franz Hildebrandt and Carl D. Williams, Union Theological Seminary of New York; Winthrop S. Hudson, Colgate Rochester Divinity School; Robert F. Johnson, Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest; Johannes Knudsen, Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary; Neely D. McCarter, Columbia Theological Seminary; E. Clifford Nelson, Luther Theological Seminary; Wayne E. Oates, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Benjamin L. Rose, Union Theological Seminary of Richmond; C. W. Scudder, Southwestern Baptist School of Theology; Dwight E. Stevenson, College of the Bible; Henry J. Stob, Calvin Theological Seminary; H. G. Van Sickle, Iliff School of Theology; and Gibson Winter, Federated Theological Faculty of the University of Chicago.
People: Words And Events
Deaths: Dr. Henry Wade Dubose, 75, noted minister of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. and former president of the General Assembly’s training school in Richmond, in Sweet Briar, Virginia … Dr. C. K. Irwin, former Bishop of Connor (Ireland) … Mrs. Ira Landrith, 93, retired Presbyterian missionary to Japan, in Duarte, California … Dr. Joseph W. Schmidt, 38, president of Grace Bible Institute … the Rev. G. F. Hedstrand, 74, retired editor-in-chief of publications for the Evangelical Covenant Church, in Chicago … Mrs. E. H. Cressy, 79, retired American Baptist missionary, in Manila.
Election: As Bishop Coadjutor of Sydney, Australia, the Rev. A. W. Goodwin Hudson.
Appointments: As dean of Colgate Rochester Divinity School, Dr. Milton C. Froyd, who will also serve as senior professor of pastoral theology … as dean of the University of Southern California’s new School of Religion, Dr. Geddes MacGregor … as executive secretary of the Board of Women’s Work of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S., Miss Evelyn L. Green.
Retirement: As president of the American Evangelical Lutheran Church, Dr. Alfred Jensen, effective at the end of the year.
Citation: As 1960 “Chaplain of the Year,” Roman Catholic Chaplain Colonel John K. Connolly, by the Reserve Officers Association.
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