The long-forming United Church of Christ, a merger of the Congregational Christian Churches’ General Council and the Evangelical and Reformed Church, declared its constitution in force at a Fourth of July ceremony that highlighted the new church’s third General Synod in Philadelphia.
Consummation left approximately one-third of all Congregational Christian churches outside the fold.
Additional church convention reports are found in this issue, beginning on p. 28.
“The majority of Congregational Christian churches which have not yet voted are expected to join the union within a year,” said a United Church statement.
By June 1, stipulated deadline for balloting on the new church constitution, 3,889 Congregational Christian churches had voted. Of these, 3,547 were said to have voted for the merger and the constitution, while 342 voted negatively. Among Evangelical and Reformed synods, 32 out of 33 voted approval (lone dissenter: the Magyar Synod). Ratification required approval by not less than two-thirds of the Evangelical and Reformed synods and two-thirds of the Congregational churches voting.
One report said that of the 1448 churches which let the June 1 deadline pass without balloting, many were regarded as “small” or “rural” congregations. Among those who voted against the constitution was the largest of all the Congregational Christian churches, a 3,500-member congregation in California, plus a 2,200-member church in Massachusetts, another in California with 1,900 members, and one in Connecticut with 1,800.
Dissenting churches have banded together in one of two newly-created fellowships, or both: the National Association of Congregational Churches and the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference.
The Congregational Christian churches which have voted negatively or which have abstained (officially or unofficially) have a combined membership of approximately a quarter-million or more. All Evangelical and Reformed congregations became a part of the new church automatically.
A United Church spokesman said that the 3,547 Congregational Christian churches voting affirmatively had a total constituency of 1,107,966.
General Synod Elects First President
Dr. Ben Mohr Herbster, 56, pastor of the Zion Evangelical and Reformed Church of Norwood, Ohio, was elected first president of the United Church of Christ.
Delegates to the new church’s third General Synod chose Herbster for a four-year term. He had been proposed by the synod’s nominating committee and he defeated by a vote of 513 to 165 Dr. James E. Wagner, Evangelical and Reformed president since 1953, whose name was placed in nomination in an unexpected move from the floor. Wagner had served as co-president of the United Church with Dr. Fred Hoskins of the Congregational Christian General Council during the first four years of the United Church.
Herbster has served the Norwood church for the last 30 years. He was a member of the commission which drafted the United Church constitution and he has served as co-chairman of the church’s Executive Council.
Herbster is a graduate of Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio, and Central Seminary in Webster Groves, Missouri. He did graduate work at Ohio State University, McCormick Theological Seminary and Chicago Theological Seminary. He was awarded a doctor of divinity degree by Heidelberg.
That figure, added to the 814,124 members currently credited to the Evangelical and Reformed constituency gives the United Church a membership of nearly 2,000,000 and makes it the seventh largest U. S. denomination.
This month’s five-day united synod was preceded by simultaneous meetings of the 12th General Synod of the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the biennial meeting of the Congregational Christian General Council.
The meetings saw America’s oldest Christian foreign missionary society take on a new name and assume a new responsibility as the world-wide representative of the United Church. The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, founded in 1810 by New England Congregationalists but always operated as an interdenominational, interracial agency, voted to become the Board for World Ministries of the merged church. It is also assigned the task of carrying on work previously done by the Evangelical and Reformed Board of International Missions. Deletion of “missions” was viewed as significant.
Several other agencies were also merged, but certain corporate functions will continue on a separate basis. Legal technicalities entail perpetuation of the Congregational Christian General Council and the Evangelical and Reformed General Synod.
The last big legal hurdle was cleared only a few days before the constitution was scheduled to be declared in force. Federal Judge Edward J. Dimock of New York dismissed a suit aimed at barring the church merger. Litigation over the proposed merger extended over 12 years. Dimock ruled that the issues had been decided in a 1955 state court ruling.
The Philadelphia Synod, attended by some 750 delegates, elected the first officers of the United Church and adopted its first budget. Although the church was “formed” four years ago, most of its operations were never consolidated.
The United Church constitution purports to preserve the local church autonomy preferred by Congregationalists, but opponents of the merger have protested that excessive hierarchal control is inevitable. The constitution assigns to the General Synod the task of correlating its churches’ work in home and foreign missions, social action, higher education, stewardship, and public relations.
Both the Evangelical and Reformed and the Congregational Christian denominations were the results of earlier unions. The former came into being in 1934 with the uniting of the Evangelical Synod of North America and the Reformed Church in the U. S. The Congregationalists were merged with the Evangelical Protestant churches in 1925 and six years later with the Christian Church.
• Membership in The Methodist Church, largest U. S. denomination, now tops 10,000,000. Dr. Harry Denman, general secretary of the Methodist General Board of Evangelism, said last month that membership reports from 73 of the denomination’s some 100 conferences indicated that the milestone had been passed. Total Methodist membership reported in 1960 was 9,910,741.
• The Lutheran World Federation’s Executive Committee held its annual meeting in Warsaw last month, the first such gathering in Eastern Europe, and the Polish Radio promptly sought to avail itself of a propaganda opportunity. A statement was broadcast by Bishop Zoltan Kaldy, head of the Hungarian Lutheran Church’s southern district, asserting that it was “significant” that the committee’s sessions were held in a Communist country. Kaldy attended the meeting as a guest. His church is represented on the committee by Dr. Lajos Ordass, former presiding bishop and former head of its southern district. Ordass did not attend. He has retired from public life since the Communist government in 1958 withdrew recognition from him as head of his diocese and church.
• Doctrinal discussions looking toward pulpit and altar fellowship between the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the newly-merged American Lutheran Church are planned early next year.
• The World Council of Churches’ next Faith and Order Conference, fourth in a series started in 1927, will be held in a Middle Eastern city in 1963. Exact site and date have not been announced.
• The Maryland Baptist, publication of the Baptist Convention of Maryland, will appear weekly beginning January 1. It is now published twice a month. The move runs counter to the current trend toward less frequent publication among religious periodicals. The Maryland Baptist has a current circulation of about 14,500.
• Delegates to last month’s National Conference of the Association of Council Secretaries adopted a statement calling to the attention of the National Council of Churches officials “the growing urgency of and need for the earliest possible publication by the NCC of an attractively composed and simply written brochure setting forth from our Christian standpoint what Communism means, what the positions of the NCC are, on this subject, and some specific things which our state and local councils, and churches can do to meet the issue.” The association is a fellowship for employed secretaries and staff members of interdenominational organizations cooperating with the NCC.
• A ham-and-turkey dinner attended by 3,000 persons in Spokane’s Coliseum highlighted preparations for a 15-day crusade by evangelist Torrey Johnson, to begin September 17.
• U. S. Methodists will dispatch a 35-member evangelistic team to Norway next month for a week of preaching and visiting just prior to the meeting of the World Methodist Conference in Oslo, August 17–25.
• A number of large Protestant churches are reported to have withdrawn from the Louisville Area Council of Churches in protest against its retention of Dr. N. Burnett Magruder as executive director. Some churches have withdrawn financial support and a few ministers have quietly withdrawn from their positions on the council’s committees. The disaffiliations represent a disagreement with Magruder’s so-called ultra-conservative views and his membership in the controversial John Birch Society.
• Two top officials of the National Council of Churches are calling for a “massive surge of concern at the grass roots” to secure federal funds for public schools and to reject assistance to parochial schools. The appeal was made by the Rev. Dean M. Kelley, director of the NCC Department of Religious Liberty, and Dr, Gerald E. Knoff, executive secretary of the NCC’s Division of Christian Education, in a letter to 500 leaders of the 34 Protestant and Orthodox council constituents.
Amish and Mennonites
Leaders of the Old Order Amish paid visits to federal government officials in Washington last month hopeful of finding a way to win exemption from the Social Security program, which they oppose on religious grounds.
They won the sympathy of Secretary Abraham A. Ribicoff of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, which includes the Social Security Administration. But the Senate defeated a proposed amendment to the Social Security Act to exempt members of the Old Order Amish.
Ribicoff told the delegation that something should be done to provide for such exemption and he promised to investigate ways in which legislation could be drafted that would be acceptable to his department and still permit the Amish to withdraw from the compulsory government program.
The Senate had already rejected by voice vote an amendment offered by Democratic Senator Joseph S. Clark of Pennsylvania and Republican Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona. Objections had been raised that such exemption would be difficult to administer. A number of bills are pending in the House, however, and Clark said that since less than 20 members of the Senate were on the floor when the amendment lost, an attempt may be made again next year.
The Amish first came under the compulsory Social Security program when it was extended to self-employed farmers in 1954. Many have carried their opposition to the point of refusal to pay the tax. As a result, the U. S. Internal Revenue Service in several instances seized their horses when tax agents could not find bank accounts or other assets to attach.
Tax agents were criticized for taking the horses, but they contended that until Congress amends the law, they had no alternative but to collect the mandatory tax by whatever means possible.
As proposed by Clark, the amendment would have permitted the filing of a certificate of exemption by “any individual who is a member or adherent of any recognized church or religious sect the tenets or teaching of which forbid its members or adherents from accepting social insurance benefits of the type provided by the insurance system established by Title II of this Act.”
Clark said the amendment would affect only a few hundred members of the Amish sect. He declared that if religious objection to war is recognized in military service legislation, conscientious opposition to the Social Security system should also be recognized.
While in Washington, Bishop David Z. Fisher of Christiana, Pennsylvania, told newspapermen that the Old Order Amish Mennonites prefer to drop “Mennonite” from their name.
“Just call us Amish,” he said, “because the Mennonites have gone so modern nowadays that they are far away from us.”
The Amish (who pronounce it ah-mish) derive their name from Jacob Ammen, a Mennonite preacher of the 1690’s in Switzerland and the Palatinate, who preached a return to the original teachings of Menno Simons, founder of the sect, including the practice of “shunning” those who departed from strict adherence to rules of the church.
Menno Simons was a Roman Catholic priest in the Netherlands who joined the Reformation in 1630 and became a leader of the Anabaptists. The Amish first came to America about 1737. Old Order members still hold to the use of the horse and buggy, have no electricity or other modern conveniences in their homes, and adhere to plain dress, using hooks and eyes rather than buttons. The men wear broad-rimmed hats and beards, the women long, dark-hued dresses.
Although many Mennonites today can scarcely he distinguished in dress or forms of worship from other churchgoers, there are some Old Order Mennonites who still cling to old-fashioned ways, and there are a few—particularly the Stauffer Mennonites—who still hold to the horse and buggy and cannot be distinguished from the Amish.
Accordingly, Mennonites and Amish are often confused, and confusion about the Amish is further increased by the fact that some, who still call themselves Conservative Amish Mennonites, have broken with the Old Order, and have taken to the use of automobiles, although they still wear conservative garb.
There are also the “Beachy Amish,” named for the bishop who led their revolt in 1927, who are Old Order in every respect except for the use of cars.
The group in conflict with Social Security are Old Order Amish who have made no concessions to modern progress and retain seventeenth-century customs of speech and worship. Although three-fourths of the members of this sect now live outside the original area of settlement in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, they speak Pennsylvania Dutch in their homes and use a very archaic High German in their worship services.
Kirchentag in Berlin
The divided city of Berlin was expected to be a focal point of East-West tensions this week as thousands of Protestants sought to assemble there for the tenth German Evangelical Church Day Congress (Kirchentag).
The five-day assembly, which ordinarily draws church-goers from both East and West Germany, is now being branded a “cold war maneuver” by the Communists. The question of whether to hold the meeting in East or West Germany has been the source of a perennial controversy.
Early this month, it was reported that East German authorities would refuse to allow special trains to bring West Germans into Berlin for the occasion. East Germans have been warned against entering West Berlin for the sessions.
The International Catholic Film Office awarded its Berlin Festival Prize this month to an American Lutheran motion picture, “Question Seven,” which depicts present-day pressures against a Protestant minister and his son in Communist East Germany.
The movie, produced in Germany by Louis de Rochemont Associates for Lutheran Film Associates of New York, also received a prize from a special youth film festival held in conjunction with the Berlin event. In the United States it has been given an “A-1” rating and a “special accolade” by the Catholic Legion of Decency.
During a reception for participants in the Berlin festival, Julius Cardinal Doepfner, Roman Catholic Bishop of Berlin, joined Hans Gerber, film commissioner of the Evangelical Church in Germany and Lutheran Bishop Otto Dibelius of Berlin in stressing the churches’ great interest in the moral and religious potentialities of the motion picture.
At the same time, the churchmen criticized American-made “biblical” films as sensationalized, sugar-coated versions unsuited for promoting the message of the Gospel.
Per Capita Rank
The 1961–62 edition of Stewardship Facts, published by the National Council of Churches, ranks U. S. Protestant denominations of 100,000 or more members as follows, according to annual per capita giving:
The Roman Voice
Osservatore Romano, Vatican City daily newspaper, is marking its 100th anniversary of publication.
As part of the observance, Pope John XXIII granted members of the staff a special audience and hailed the paper for having “erected a fine monument or robust faithfulness to the Holy See.”
The precise nature of its link to the Roman Catholic hierarchy has been the subject of long controversy, for although it is generally regarded as the voice of the church, Osservatorre Romano resists being tagged “official.”
Shortly before his resignation as editor last year, Count Giuseppe Dalla Torre declared:
“Osservatore is a Catholic newspaper in which the Holy See publishes its official bulletins. Nothing else.”
The editor-in-chief, now Raimondo Manzini, and his two assistants are said to have “complete freedom save in certain vital issues dealing with church policy which are subject to the rules and regulations of diplomacy.”
Osservatore was started by two political refugees—Nicola Zanchini and Giuseppe Bastia, both lawyers—who came to Rome after King Victor Emmanuel II’s Italian nationalism had brought about the downfall of the papal states. They sought to publish a paper for the papal government which then ruled Rome and the surrounding Lazio province. In 1884, Pope Leo XII purchased the paper from its two founders. It has grown to become one of the world’s most widely-quoted periodicals, marked by austere format and literary quality.
Staffers still write with pens, never typewriters, but the printing equipment is among the most modern in Europe.
Osservatore Romano is one of the very few publications capable of putting out virtually any text in any language. As far back as 1870, its printers were able to publish the Pater Noster in 250 languages, using 180 different alphabets.
Offices are in a modest, two-story, white-brick building just to the right of St. Ann’s gate at the Vatican.
Osservatore Romano is the only daily paper allowed in Roman Catholic seminaries and innumerable other institutions.
At Seattle—The 102nd annual synod of the Augustana Lutheran Church ratified merger negotiations for the proposed new Lutheran Church in America.
The proposal was carried by a vote of 495 to 21. All 13 conferences of the church had previously voted in favor of the merger. A two-thirds majority of the delegates at the synod was required for final ratification.
Involved in the impending union with Augustana are the United Lutheran Church in America, the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church (Suomi Synod), and the American Evangelical Lutheran Church. The emerging denomination will be the largest Lutheran group in America with a baptized membership of approximately 3,250,000.
Present plans call for final conventions of the four uniting churches in Detroit immediately prior to the constituting convention of the new church, scheduled June 28 to July 1, 1962.
Immediately after the merger vote had been taken, the delegates unanimously approved a plan to unite Augustana Lutheran Seminary, Rock Island, Illinois, with three seminaries of the other bodies involved in the union: Lutheran Theological Seminary, Maywood, Illinois; Suomi Theological Seminary, Hancock, Michigan; and Grand View Theological Seminary, Des Moines, Iowa. The latter two already have merged their faculties with those of the Maywood seminary, but Augustana seminary will continue to function in Rock Island until a permanent site has been secured for the new institution.
Delegates were urged to bring “the greatest possible strength” into the merger.
“This will be done,” declared Dr. Malvin H. Lundeen, president of the 618,000-member Augustana denomination, “only as we seek to maintain every aspect of our work at the highest possible level of continuing and advancing effectiveness during these days of changeover.”
Delegates adopted resolutions defending the National Council of Churches against charges of Communistic infiltration but urging the NCC to re-study its policy of making pronouncements on political, social, and moral issues.
The FBI was commended for a recent statement “indicating its confidence in the policy and personnel” of the NCC. It also was pointed out that the American Heritage Foundation and the Freedoms Foundation have made special awards to the council “as evidence of appreciation of the NCC’s contribution to our national life.”
The study on pronouncements, a resolution said, should include the possibility and advisability of issuing “policy affirmations” or “principles of concern” to member bodies which might, in turn, form the basis of pronouncements by the individual denominations.
It was further recommended that “except in instances of common concern when more prompt action is imperative,” statements by the NCC should be made as “pronouncements” only after approval by the member communions or their allied units, and should then carry the names of the approving groups.
Delegates approved a proposed amendment to the membership basis of the World Council of Churches, to be acted upon at the WCC’s third assembly in New Delhi, November 18-December 6.
The Plush Curtain
A severe indictment of the indifference of the Western world to the poverty and human misery prevailing in underprivileged countries was sounded at a missionary service of the Augustana Lutheran Church during its annual synod in Seattle.
“The billion people living in the West behind the plush curtain of the world’s highest standard of living,” said the Rev. Rudolph C. Burke, “peer out occasionally to gather statistics, organize committees, and send good will ambassadors abroad, but stop short of any action which might endanger our own accent on luxury.”
Burke’s remarks came following his installation as executive director of the denomination’s Board of World Missions.
“We cannot communicate Christ,” he said, “unmindful of the squalor, sickness, and suffering in which men who were created in the image of God live.”
Burke also startled delegates with a graphic illustration of the population explosion:
“By 1980 the Chinese will replace us as the world’s most numerous race. Marching four abreast past a given point at double time, there would never be an end to the march, for the Chinese population growth is more rapid than the procession could ever be.”
Lundeen characterized the amendment as a strengthening of the conservative element in the membership basis.
Another resolution asserted that “there is no theological principle that can be used, in any legalistic manner, to determine whether or not Red China should, at this time, be recognized or admitted to the United Nations Organization.
Still another resolution noted that the Augustana church had supplied only about half of its quota of active duty chaplains to the armed forces and encouraged pastors who qualify to consider volunteering for such service.
At Buck Hill Falls, Pennsylvania—Merger-oriented conversations with the nation’s two largest Presbyterian bodies were authorized by the Reformed Church in America at its 155th annual General Synod.
The church went on record as not being ready “at this time to commit herself” to church union, but instructed its stated clerk and executive committee to carry on conversations with the United Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. and the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. (Southern).
Delegates voted to continue support of the National Council of Churches, but expressed criticism of the council for having “consistently persisted in making statements of principle regarding purely political matters in which they infer that they are speaking for all Protestants.”
The General Synod’s committee on overtures took “favorable cognizance” of criticisms of the NCC that it speaks for all Protestants, and asserted that the NCC often “fails to represent authoritatively the views of large and overwhelming numbers of members within the constituent denominations.”
The delegates expressed “unalterable opposition” to “communism and all Communist-inspired activities tending to riotous conduct, class antagonism, racial hatred, discrimination, and disloyal and treasonable action.” Full support was declared for “responsible and firm methods for exposing and opposing Communist subversive activities in our government, our free institutions, and our civic life.”
In other action, the General Synod voted to request the Voice of America, now said to be broadcasting the Koran in the Middle East in the Arabic language, also to broadcast the Christian Scriptures in the Arabic language in that part of the world.
A “Covenant for Open Occupancy” was adopted, stressing that housing discrimination is “inconsistent with Christian integrity.” Local churches were called upon to promote the covenant by getting signatures. Those who sign the pledge promise “to support with all means possible” efforts to eliminate race as a determining factor in a person’s right to make a home in any community. Signers also agree “to declare to our neighbors our convictions” and that they “would welcome new residents, provided they are of good character, without regard to race, religion or national origin.”
The General Synod also accepted a report of its Christian action committee by recognizing that “sit-ins in our country for the purpose of social justice are exceptional expressions of suffering love wherein the nonviolence of method and righteousness of purpose demand our support through intercessory prayer, and, when possible, through participation.”
The amended basis of membership proposed for the World Council of Churches was endorsed by the General Synod.
Outgoing church president Henry Bast reported that baptized membership totalled 324,413 last year—a gain of 3,404 over 1959. He said the total included 225,927 communicant members and 98,486 baptized noncommunicant members. The denomination, he added, now has a total of 897 local congregations.
In his report, Bast declared that the church, which up to about 10 years ago administered only to Dutch people or their descendants, “has finally broken out of its shell and is preaching to all people.” The church was founded in 1628 by early Dutch settlers in New York as the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church.
At Long Beach, California—The pacifist Church of the Brethren, at its 175th annual world assembly, adopted a resolution committing itself to a more active peace program in a world “armed to the teeth.”
With this phrase, outgoing conference moderator Charles E. Zunkel had presented a proposal from one of the church’s districts that a study be made of pacifism as a political force.
The 900 delegates did not concur that pacifism could, or should, become such a force, but they did agree that the church should study ways to step up its peace action.
Announcement was made of a three-year survey to discover what the church’s more than 200,000 members feel and think about the purpose of the church. Results of the study will form the basis of the church’s 1965–70 program, said Dr. Calvert N. Ellis, chairman of a goals and program committee. He declared that 10 pilot projects will be launched later this year to determine what the average member visualizes as the denomination’s mission.
Delegates did not favor placement of an official church representative in Washington, but they did express the opinion that the church should be more outspoken on legislative matters.
A statement was adopted warning against the use of public funds for schools operated by religious groups. “We believe,” the statement said, “that all religious persuasions flourish best when their support comes from sources which do not impair their freedom.”
At Anderson, Indiana—In a resolution strongly supporting the public school system, the Church of God with headquarters in Anderson, Indiana, went on record as opposing federal or state aid for the operation of parochial and other private elementary and secondary schools. The resolution was adopted by the church’s policy-making General Ministerial Assembly at the denomination’s annual meeting.
Use of communication satellites to bring religious telecasts to every part of the world is forecast by the dean of Protestant missionary radio broadcasting.
Dr. Clarence W. Jones, director of the third annual World Conference of Christian Communications, said it was “only realistic” for missionary broadcasts to prepare for this revolutionary development within the next 10 years.
The world’s first missionary television station has already been licensed in Quito, Ecuador, to be operated by station HCJB, pioneer missionary radio station. The station has seven transmitters. Jones’ prediction foresees use of rocket-launched, orbiting satellites in place of transmitting towers, thus enabling broadcasters and telecasters to reach more remote areas.
The World Conference on Christian Communications attracted some 250 missionary radio executives, technicians, artists, and lecturers to the campus of Concordia College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Citing public schools as an “indispensable means of providing an educational opportunity for all children,” the resolution declared: “We recognize the great problems now being faced by the public schools and urge provision for increased resources for the operation and improvement of these schools within a framework of proper safeguards.”
“We are further concerned,” it continued, “that the historic principle of church-state separation be maintained and we urge all branches of the government to avoid an infringement of the ideal of religious liberty which would inevitably arise when taxes paid under compulsion by all people are used to aid non-public schools.”
Delegates voted to hold a world convention of the Church of God in 1963 at a European site to be chosen later.
At Minneapolis, Minnesota—Delegates to the 65th annual conference of the Lutheran Free Church voted to hold a congregational referendum which will decide whether to pursue union negotiations with the new American Lutheran Church. The question of the LFC’s union with the three other bodies that joined to form the ALC has been the subject of long debate. Twice before the church has rejected continuance of negotiations.
Dr. John M. Stensvaag, church president, said he would favor the merger. He declared that the “spiritual emphases in the new church, the good experience in working together, the rising threat of hostile world forces, have strengthened my conviction that we … can safeguard our heritage and serve our Lord best by entering the larger fellowship.”
Stensvaag took note of “two elements of opposition” to union—one which “traffics in villification and misrepresentation” and another composed of faithful members “who have honest doubts.” He called on LFC members to “not become involved” with the first group but to “respect … and weigh carefully” the opinions of the second element.
At St. Paul, Minnesota—The Baptist General Conference of America voted relocation and expansion of Bethel College and Seminary on a new suburban St. Paul campus.
The expansion program may cost up to $12,000,000. In adopting the conference board of education recommendation, delegates also accepted the enrollment goal of 1,200 college and 200–300 seminary students by 1971. During the past school year, the college had 695 students and the seminary, 126.
At Toronto—The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada registered opposition to the income tax exemption granted by the Canadian government to members of religious orders who have taken vows of poverty.
Following a recommendation from the denomination’s board of evangelism and social action, the assembly urged the government to erase the section of the law which grants such exemptions. The board’s report called the exemptions “inequalities, abuses, and discrimination.”
“There are 2,904 (religious) teachers in Alberta schools alone who benefit by this,” the Rev. William Lawson told the assembly. “This means a subsidy to religious orders by the government of Canada amounting to millions of dollars.”
The assembly voted to accept an American Presbyterian merger-discussion proposal to the extent of naming observers. Three persons are to be appointed by the assembly moderator to join in talks about church union with the United Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A.
Delegates were warned that the church’s accumulated debt had reached $422,756 and that nothing was being done to liquidate it. The warning came from Dr. J. L. King, chairman of the administrative council, who opposed an increase for the board of home missions.
Meanwhile, the assembly voted to raise ministers’ stipends from the present minimum of $3,100 a year plus home and travel allowance to $3,900. Churches were asked to give this goal priority in financial considerations.
Any possible action on whether to ordain women was deferred for another two years. A committee was asked to make a detailed study. Last year’s assembly sent the question to the denomination’s 48 presbyteries for an opinion. A tally showed 26 presbyteries were against the ordination of women, 14 were in favor, and 8 made no reply.
At Green Lake, Wisconsin—In a presidential address at the 77th annual conference of the Evangelical Free Church of America, Dr. Arnold T. Olson cautioned against merger movements based more on administrative efficiency than on the unifying power of a return to the Bible.
“The tragedy of the ecumenical movement,” he declared, “is that it comes at a time when the church senses its inadequacy. It is a movement caused by panic rather than by power. It is being done in the name of administrative efficiency rather than the unifying power of a return to the Bible.”
Conference delegates endorsed transfer of all missions property in Congo to native Christians and relocation of the denominational seminary from Chicago to Deerfield, Illinois.
At Florence, Alabama—Delegates to the 131st annual General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church approved a report asserting the denomination’s belief that “a present involvement to consider organic union (with other churches) would be inadvisable.”
The report was in response to an invitation from the United Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. for Cumberland Presbyterians to enter into merger negotiations.
At Winona Lake, Indiana—The General Association of Regular Baptist Churches accepted 73 new congregations into membership at its 30th annual conference. The association now has 992 churches with about 150,000 constituents.
Nearly 2,000 registered delegates were on hand for the conference, which lauded the House Un-American Activities Committee for its “continuing vigilance over our American freedoms.”
In a resolution, the delegates commended the committee for its work “in the exposure of subversive organizations and their efforts and movements in this country,” and for its “loyalty in the performance of duty.”
The conference program included a showing of the controversial film, “Operation Abolition,” produced with the cooperation of the House committee.
At Glenside, Pennsylvania—The Orthodox Presbyterian Church marked its 25th anniversary with special observances at its annual General Assembly. The Rev. John Murray, professor of systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, was elected moderator. Membership was reported to have increased from 10,670 to 11,175 during the past year. The church was formed in 1936 by a group of ministers and elders who withdrew from the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. under the leadership of the late Dr. J. Gresham Machen.
At Bonclarken, North Carolina—Delegates to the 157th annual General Synod of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church authorized creation of a department of church extension to co-ordinate and accelerate establishment of new congregations. Delegates also authorized study of a proposal to construct an old people’s home and endorsed a ministers’ retirement plan. Charles R. Younts, a layman, was elected moderator. Attending the synod were about 400 ministers and elders from 11 southern states where the church has most of its members.
At Esko, Minnesota—Some 1,000 persons converged on the town of Esko to attend the national convention of the Finnish Apostolic Lutheran Church of America. Esko has a population of 500 and no hotel. Makeshift sleeping quarters were set up in feed barns, tents, basements, and even saunas (Finnish steam baths). Most of the convention sessions were devoted to evangelistic services, Religious News Service reported. The church has about 8,000 members.
At Washington, D. C.—A move to reorganize the Swedenborgian church by establishing a full-time permanent headquarters office was adopted at the 138th annual meeting of the General Convention of the New Jerusalem in the U. S. A., official name of the denomination. The church, which has existed in the United States since 1792, has until now moved its offices from city to city along with its officers as they were elected. The new central office will be located, for the time being, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A study will be made to determine a permanent located to serve the small (about 5,000 members) but far-flung denomination whose 58 churches are located in 35 states and three provinces of Canada. The church follows the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772), Swedish philosopher, writer, and scientist.
At New York City—Nathan H. Knorr, president of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, told nearly 93,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses gathered inside and outside Yankee Stadium for the closing rally of a six-day assembly that the United Nations is “united in name only” and must close ranks “under the kingdom of Jehovah God” for survival. A highlight of the closing events of the Witnesses’ United Worshipers District Assembly was the baptism, by total immersion, of 1,732 men and women in Orchard Beach, the Bronx, which automatically makes the converts “ministers” of the sect.
An estimated 125,000 persons gathered on the lower slopes of North Carolina’s Grandfather Mountain for the 37th annual “Singing on the Mountain” program of Gospel music and message.
The state highway patrol estimated that there were 70,000 persons congregated at one time and that in all some 125,000 persons visited the mountain during the day-long program on Sunday, June 25.
The turnout was an all-time record which probably establishes “Singing on the Mountain” as the world’s largest regularly-scheduled hymn sing. It was begun as a Bible class outing by Joe Lee Hartley, 90-year-old owner of Grandfather Mountain.
Communism and Religion
A study of communism aimed at combatting its spread and influence will be part of the curriculum at all Roman Catholic schools in the Cleveland area, beginning in the fall.
Msgr. Clarence E. Elwell, superintendent of the Catholic Diocesan School Board, ordered that communism be taught in Grade 8 and Grade 12 as part of the regularly-prescribed religion courses.
A textbook which will be used, according to Elwell, recalls the testimony of Dr. Frederick Charles Schwarz, executive director of the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade, before the House Un-American Activities Committee in May, 1957.
Schwarz said he believed communism should be taught in American schools “with a moral directive in the same way that a medical student is taught that cancer is evil, that tuberculosis is evil, and education about them is directed to their elimination and defeat.”
Dr. C. Oscar Johnson, past president of the Baptist World Alliance, was honored as “Clergy Churchman of the Year” by the Religious Heritage of America organization during its annual Washington pilgrimage last month.
Perle Mesta, Washington hostess, former ambassador to Luxembourg, and a Christian Scientist for the last 15 years, was given the “Churchwoman of the Year” award.
The “Lay Churchman of the Year” honor went to Robert G. Storey, former law school dean at Southern Methodist University.
Special communications citations were presented reporter John Wicklein of The New York Times, Miss Florence Reif, religious program director for the NBC radio network, and Archer Speers, religion editor of Newsweek magazine.
Religious News Service reported last month that Professor Helmut Gollwitzer, a member of West Berlin’s Free University, may receive a call from the theological faculty of Basel University to succeed Professor Karl Barth, noted Swiss theologian.
Gollwitzer was said to have confirmed that he had been proposed by the university as a successor to the 75-year-old Barth, who is about to retire. Gollwitzer added, however, that he had not yet received an official offer from Swiss state authorities.
A prominent leader of the anti-atomic-armament wing of the Evangelical Church in Germany, the 52-year-old Gollwitzer is one of the chief opponents of Bishop Otto Dibelius and is a strong critic of West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.
A paperback edition of the Gospel of John taken from The New English Bible is being issued by Eyre and Spottswoode, Ltd., of London, the Queen’s official publishers. The issuance promises a showdown over publishing rights to the NEB, the copyright for which is held by the presses of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
Eyre and Spottswoode claims that a royal patent granted in 1577 gave it the right to publish the book.
Ex-gangster Mickey Cohen, whose brief brush with Christianity became a part of court testimony, was convicted of income tax evasion last month in Los Angeles.
A witness had testified that Cohen was offered $10,000 by evangelist Billy Graham “to turn Christian.” The witness, Mrs. Eleanor Churchin, later acknowledged she had invented the story as a publicity gimmick for a book she was promoting.
People: Words And Events
Deaths: Dr. Clarence S. Gillett, 66, Congregational Christian missionary educator in Japan for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions; in Sendai, Japan … the Rev. William Thomas Walsh, 83, retired Protestant Episcopal rector; in Middleton, New York. Walsh, a convert from the Roman Catholic priesthood, was known for his healing meetings.
Appointments: As president of Eden Theological Seminary, Dr. Robert T. Fauth … as president of the International Christian University in Japan, Dr. Nobushige Ukai … as president of Canadian Nazarene College, the Rev. Arnold E. Airhart … as dean of the Southern California School of Theology, Dr. F. Thomas Trotter … as dean of students at Western Theological Seminary, Dr. Henry Ten Clay … as Titus Street Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Yale Divinity School, Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan … as associate professor of history at Calvin College, Dr. Dirk Jellema … as executive vice president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, Raymond C. Hopkins … as executive secretary of the Department of the Laity of the World Council of Churches, Ralph C. Young … as educational director of the National Association of Christian Schools, John F. Blanchard, Jr.… as minister of the Menlo Park (California) Presbyterian Church, Dr. Cary Weisiger III … as minister of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York, Dr. Bryant M. Kirkland … as editor of motive [sic], national magazine of the Methodist Student Movement, the Rev. B. J. Stiles.
Elections: As executive secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, Dr. Kurt Schmidt-Clausen … as moderator of the Church of the Brethren, Dr. Nevin H. Zuck … as president of the Reformed Church in America, the Rev. Norman E. Thomas … as moderator of the Baptist General Conference, the Rev. John A. Wilcox … as moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, Dr. Robert Leishmann Taylor … as president of the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec, Dr. Emlyn Davies … as president of the Associated Gospel Churches of Canada, the Rev. John F. Dempster … as president of the National Conference of the Methodist Student Movement, Wayne Proudfoot.
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