By 8 a.m. on February 9 nearly all of the 950 guests had crowded about damask-covered tables in the ornate Grand Ballroom of Washington’s Mayflower Hotel. A side door opened, and guests stood to their feet as a line of distinguished men filed up to the head table. Army choristers sang softly, “Sweet Hour of Prayer,” and Chairman Boyd Leedom of the National Labor Relations Board stepped forward to lead the invocation. The bowed heads represented perhaps the highest concentration of U. S. governmental leadership ever to assemble for a hearing of the Gospel, in this case the ninth annual Presidential Prayer Breakfast of International Christian Leadership.
Sitting to the breakfast (eggs, ham, bacon, fried apples, grits, et al) were New Frontiersmen in such abundance that in sheer numbers they had outdone eight years of Eisenhower administration representation. The delegation to the first Democratically-dominated Presidential Prayer Breakfast was led by President John F. Kennedy, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, U. N. Ambassador Adlai E. Stevenson, and six other Cabinet members.
The breakfast program included testimonies which would equally have fit a revival service. Jerome Hines, Metropolitan Opera soloist, and William C. Jones, Los Angeles publisher who has picked up the tab for the last four breakfasts, both told of their conversions. Evangelist Billy Graham arrested attention by quoting from the famous message on labor of Pope Leo XIII: “When a society is perishing, the true advice to give those who would restore it is to recall it to the principles from which it sprang.”
Graham stressed that the nation’s problems are primarily personal and spiritual, that they amount to “heart trouble,” and that the problems will never be ...1
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