A Christian congregation meeting in a small stone church in Jerusalem was stoned repeatedly during the last three months.
Israeli police refused to give specific assurances of protection until the American ministers of the church moved services to a private home and the harassment drew worldwide attention.
There were no reports of injuries, but virtually every window in the church was broken. The stonings took place while services were in progress. Worshipers were showered with flying glass.
Hostilities were blamed on Orthodox Jewish fanatics. But some Israeli authorities intimated that the leaders of the church group had invited trouble by preaching the necessity of conversion from Judaism.
The congregation subjected to the attacks operates under the aegis of the Churches of Christ, most loosely knit of the major U. S. denominations. Its 1,800 completely autonomous congregations include a constituency of some 2 million. Churches of Christ have no coordinating administrative agencies or personnel, there being no organization beyond the local church. Beliefs are nonetheless quite uniformly conservative among the churches, most of which are in the South and West.
In addition to the congregation in Jerusalem, the Churches of Christ sponsor two others in Israel, one in Nazareth with about 45 Arab members and another in Eilabun, with 150 members.
They are led by the Rev. Ralph T. Henley, 40, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the Rev. Ernest O. Stewart, 38, of Detroit.
Religious films have been shown in the churches from time to time, and the ministers were accused of using these to “lure” Jewish citizens.
They denied using candy to attract children into the church. Some Israelis even resent the distribution of food and clothing to children by Christian missionaries.
The Jerusalem church is still a small mission, with a maximum attendance of about 34, including Henley’s wife and six children.
The showdown came when Henley, at a Wednesday evening service July 5, decided he had had enough flying glass.
“The services will cease,” he said, “and they will not be resumed until such time as the police department gives us definite assurances of the safety of the worshipers.”
How Fanatics Harassed Congregation
Mob scenes around the little Christian church in Jerusalem which became the focal point of a virtual international incident began April 5.
On that day, and on every Wednesday and Sunday night thereafter, a noisy crowd gathered.
The first crowd, estimated to have included between 25 and 30 persons, blocked the front and rear gates to the compound and chanted: “Eichmann! Eichmann!”
With each service the crowds grew larger and noisier until April 19, when several persons began to hurl stones at the church.
The twice-weekly stone attacks persisted and most of the windows in the church eventually were broken.
The church is located in the so-called Greek colony in the Israeli sector of southern Jerusalem. The congregation is led by the Rev. Ralph T. Henley of Chattanooga and the Rev. Ernest O. Stewart of Detroit.
Henley was sent to Jerusalem about a year ago by the Central Church of Christ of Chattanooga with the support of other Churches of Christ.
He has indicated in communications to the supporting churches that about a half dozen Jews have been converted as a result of his and Stewart’s efforts.
Retorted Police Captain Michael Buchner: “What am I supposed to do, go down there and arrest a hundred people? Does he want to start a revolution? We have a man on patrol there at all times now. We will keep the gate cleared so that persons can go in and out without being hampered. If we see someone throw stones, he will be arrested.”
A meeting was subsequently arranged between Henley, Jerusalem District Commissioner S. B. Yeshaya, U. S. Consul General Eric Wendelin, and Buchner.
Yeshaya then gave assurance of police protection.
In the meantime, two children were charged with throwing stones and were scheduled to appear in a juvenile court. But Buchner repeated a suggestion that the missionaries were revolutionaries of a sort.
At the meeting Yeshaya reportedly stressed that many Christian groups, some with “a missionary trend,” had been active in Jerusalem for many years without serious difficulties, while the missionaries of the Churches of Christ had provoked the people in a mainly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood by their aggressive evangelistic methods.
The two American missionaries were said to have denied using “aggressive” methods and to have been content with holding “open house” for all comers, and providing films on New and Old Testament themes with commentaries in English and Hebrew.
Dr. R. J. Zwi Werblowsky, lecturer in comparative religions at the Hebrew University and honorary secretary of the Israel Inter-faith Committee, echoed the charge that the Churches of Christ missionaries had engaged in “aggressive proselytizing activities.”
“While they have hardly succeeded in converting a single Jew,” he said, “their activities have been extremely harmful in poisoning interfaith relations at this juncture when Jews, Protestants, and Catholics do their utmost to improve the atmosphere.”
Earlier, Werblowsky visited Henley and Stewart, together with Dr. Maas Boertien of the Dutch Reformed Church, who is secretary of the United Christian Council for Israel. The meeting was fruitless, he said, adding:
“Since the Church of Christ refuses any co-operation with the United Christian Council, on the ground that its attitude toward the Jews is a ‘compromising’ one, the talk was the most frustrated one I have ever had with Christians.”
In America, Rabbi Arthur Gilbert of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, condemned those responsible for the stonings. In a letter to Werblowsky, Gilbert declared:
“Granted that this church has missionary aspirations I am sure you will agree with me that the stoning of a church is reprehensible and I certainly trust that important officials within Israel will condemn this outrage.”
Dr. John A. Mackay, Presbyterian elder statesman and lifelong student of Latin America, criticizes U. S. concepts of revolution and freedom which he says have raised basic theological as well as political questions in this nation’s dealings with Cuba.
Writing in the July 15 issue of Presbyterian Life, Mackay said his article was an attempt “to provide a perspective in which Cuba, its ruler Castro, and Cuban-American relations can be understood and pondered.”
He said the revolt of 1959 in Cuba marked the second social revolution in Latin American history and was not inspired by communism any more than the first such upheaval which began in Mexico in 1910 and continued through the thirties.
However, Mackay added, “subsequent reactions to it, especially in the United States, that stemmed largely from a misunderstanding of its true nature, and its deep rootage in the soul of the masses, have made the Cuban revolution more dependent upon Communists than ever should have been allowed to happen.”
The behavior of Castro, he said, can be interpreted as “an impassioned fanatical reaction to a sense of wounded honor,” particularly as this relates to Castro’s attitude toward the United States government.
Said Mackay, who for 20 years served as president of Princeton Theological Seminary: “His passionately sincere, though often unwise efforts to solve in Cuba the major social problem of Latin American countries, namely, to give food and land, health and education to the masses of the people were not sympathetically regarded by powerful economic interests, both Cuban and American.”
Mackay recalls that “Castro, during a visit to Washington, was not received in the State Department, but was visited in a hotel room. This unpardonable slight mortally wounded his Hispanic sense of honor. We know the rest: unhappy excesses on his side; ill-advised reprisals on ours, culminating in the ill-fated ‘invasion’ and the present perilous impasse.”
America, he added, broke off diplomatic relations, imposed an economic embargo, forbade American citizens to visit the island, rebuffed Cuban leaders when they suggested that differences between the two countries be negotiated, and sponsored the abortive invasion of Cuba.
“Each action was an unqualified blunder,” he asserted.
Mackay said the Cuban problem can only be set in true perspective by Western society’s rediscovery of St. Paul’s emphasis on the inseparable connection between work and true human dignity.
• Officials of the International Convention of Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) accepted this month an invitation from the newly-constituted United Church of Christ to hold conversations looking toward a merger of the two denominations. The response was announced to delegates attending the United Church’s biennial synod in Philadelphia.
• Outcome of a referendum on an amendment to the Methodist constitution was in doubt at the close of the 1961 spring series of annual conferences. With returns in from 107 of 132 conferences, it was reported that the vote was running slightly behind the necessary two-thirds majority. The proposed amendment would make certain procedural changes in Methodist assemblies, including enlargement of the General Conference from a maximum of 900 to 1,400.
• The Oriental Missionary Society announced its withdrawal this month from the Korean National Christian Council. Indications were that it would soon be followed by Korea’s third largest denomination, the Korean Holiness Church, with which it is associated. The move stems from anxieties over the ecumenical movement.
• Publishers of The New English Bible announced on July 7 that its sales had passed 2,500,000. Printings now total 3,275,000. The Oxford and Cambridge university presses, which issued the new translation jointly, plan to put leather and other specially bound editions on the market this autumn.
• A 500-member Pentecostal congregation on the outskirts of Toronto plans to build an aluminum-domed church seating 3,500 persons and costing about $500,000. The new sanctuary of what is now known as the Lakeshore Gospel Temple will be known as the Queensway Cathedral and will be the largest non-Roman Catholic church in Canada.
• Christian literature “clearing houses” for Africa will be established at Yaounde and Kitwe and a Christian news service will be inaugurated, according to an announcement made at the All Africa Christian Literature and Audio-Visual Conference in Kitwe last month.
• Portuguese authorities have closed an Assemblies of God church near Lisbon on grounds that the church held its services in a building which was not licensed for that purpose, Missionary News Service reported this month. Observers were said to have attributed the action to the accusations that Protestant missionaries in Angola were aiding native insurgents against Portuguese authorities there.
• Acting to relieve a critical shortage of Bibles in Indonesia, the United Church of Christ in Japan and the Japan Bible Society announced this month that they plan to ship 10,000 Malayan-language Bibles for Christians in that country.
Warning that the United States is approaching the day when a young Castro could plunge the country into a Communist dictatorship, Republican Representative Walter Judd called on businessmen assembled in Miami Beach this month to rededicate their lives to Christ to make America more righteous.
In an address before the annual convention of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International, a Pentecostal group, the former Congregational missionary to China reminded some 1,000 delegates that it is righteousness, not power or wealth, “which exalteth a nation.”
Americans, said Judd, have been seeking peace and prosperity and forgetting the Bible which admonishes, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”
He declared that “Communism will not take the world by Russian troops crossing borders. But Greeks will take Greece, Italians will take Italy, Frenchmen will take France, as Cubans took Cuba, and Americans will take the United States if communism succeeds!”
Former Governor Theodore R. McKeldin of Maryland called on Americans this month to follow the advice given the Jews in Solomon’s day.
McKeldin, a prominent Methodist layman, cited 2 Chronicles 7:14 in an address before the Ocean City (New Jersey) Tabernacle Association:
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
He declared that Americans “have attained a height of earthy splendor that we had never reached before.” But, he added, “the Lord is not impressed, any more than he was impressed by the temple that Solomon’s hands had raised.”
In North Carolina, meanwhile, two church leaders are launching a prayer campaign using the same text as a basis. Ruling Elder J. W. Thomson of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. and Dr. Paul L. Grier of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church seek to stimulate establishment of personal and group prayer covenants throughout the nation.
Upper Midwest Crusade
Billy Graham’s Upper Midwest Crusade was climaxed with an eight-day evangelistic series at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul which drew an aggregate of some 300,000 persons, 6,652 of whom recorded decisions for Christ.
The attendance was the largest for any single week of a Graham crusade in the United States. It included the 75,000 who turned out for the closing rally, which was the largest function of any kind ever held before the Minnesota State Fairgrounds Grandstand.
The previous week had seen Graham’s associate evangelists conduct 41 meetings in 10 cities of 4 states. These attracted an aggregate of 44,672, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association reported.
The evangelist’s engagement in Minnesota followed on the heels of a highly successful two months in the United Kingdom, where he said he found evangelicalism steadily growing stronger. The British series closed with a rally in Glasgow attended by some 38,500 and another in Belfast where about 55,000 gathered.
Graham, following a checkup at the Mayo Clinic, hoped to get a few weeks’ rest at home before the scheduled opening of a four-week crusade in Philadelphia, Sunday, August 20.
In Canada, meanwhile, British evangelist Tom Rees concluded his four-month, 26,000-mile Mission to Canada.
Rees, a close friend of Graham and a noted Anglican layman, had the official support of the large denominations—Anglican, United Church of Canada, Presbyterian Church in Canada, the Baptist Federation of Canada, and the Salvation Army.
He said was “appalled” at the almost complete absence of teen-agers and young adults from Canadian Protestant churches.
“All I seemed to see,” declared the 50-year-old Rees, “were gray bards and bald heads. At this rate the churches will be empty in 20 years.”
Church Court Complex
Chief concern at the July session of the National Assembly of the Church of England was the proposed revision of its ecclesiastical court system.
The assembly, first to convene under the newly-installed Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. A. M. Ramsey, considered proposals presented by an archbishops’ commission.
One of the main aims was drastic simplification. The present system, which provides for innumerable courts to a diocese, dates back to William the Conqueror in 1072. Until 1832 there were virtually no changes.
Most of the controversy on the floor of the assembly centered on matters of ritual and doctrine. As it now stands, the final appeal in cases of this type is the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which is the reigning monarch’s supreme legal committee.
The new proposals would abolish the Privy Council as the final court of appeal in doctrinal cases, to be replaced by a court of three judges and two bishops.
Evangelicals have been worried by the way more and more power has been placed in the hands of bishops in recent years. During the assembly debate Major W. F. Batt, veteran justice of the peace, and Mr. P. H. Walker, a solicitor, both expressed concern at the new prominence of bishops. Batt asserted that bishops were too often interested parties, that they should therefore be kept out of the court cases, and that the cases should be decided by legal experts.
Another bone of contention was the episcopal veto. At the present time bishops have an absolute right of veto in ecclesiastical cases, and many believe that this is, as the British would say, “a scandal,” because a bishop would hardly allow prosecution in a ritual case.
It was noted that lay opinion as expressed in the floor debate was unanimously opposed to the veto’s retention.
Serious crimes increased by 14 per cent in 1960 as compared with the previous year, according to tabulations released by the FBI last week.
The report revealed that lawlessness in the United States was up some 98 per cent over 1950, while the population increase during the decade was only 18 per cent.
Arrests of juveniles have more than doubled since 1950, while the population of youths aged 10 to 17 increased by less than one-half.
During 1960 a serious crime was committed every 15 seconds. There was a murder every 58 minutes, a forcible rape every 34 minutes, and an aggravated assault every 4 minutes.
For the past five years, said the FBI, the crime rate has been rising more than four times faster than the population.
The social encyclical issued by Pope John XXIII this month will probably become the most widely-publicized document ever created by the Roman Catholic church.
“Never before in history has a papal pronouncement been so widely and promptly publicized,” said Religious News Service.
The monumental, 22,000-word encyclical was also described as the longest in papal history.
Known as Mater et Magistra (Mother and Teacher), the document was immediately made available in major modern languages, in addition to the official Latin.
It was ranked as one of the three great social documents of the Roman Catholic church along with the Rerum Novarum of Pope Leo XIII and the Quadragesimo Anno of Pope Piux XI.
The Mater et Magistra was issued in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Rerum Novarum, the encyclical which dealt with the condition of the working classes.
Pope John warned that a “fruitful and lasting peace” cannot be reached if there is too great a difference between the social and economic conditions of people.
At Grand Rapids, Michigan—The Synod of the Christian Reformed Church, meeting in annual session at Calvin College, declined to rejoin the National Association of Evangelicals. The action, by a decisive majority, marked the end of the latest in a series of attempts to have the denomination rejoin the NAE, from which it had withdrawn 10 years ago after 8 years of affiliation. The main reason expressed was that the NAE is “not an exclusively ecclesiastical organization.” The NAE had held its 1961 convention in Grand Rapids just two months before and had drawn a large share of its visitor attendance, as well as considerable participation, from the Christian Reformed community.
While declining a measure of ecumenical affiliation in this direction, the synod, however, pushed ahead with moves for eventual union with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and a sector of the Protestant Reformed denomination. Committees were authorized to plan for a working basis to effect organic merger, and communications were sent to the two groups for consideration.
Dr. John Kromminga was reappointed president of Calvin Seminary after the synod had cleared him of charges that he held erroneous views on the infallibility of Scripture. The charge had been brought by a senior faculty member two years ago when much of the synod’s time was devoted to discussion of scriptural inspiration and infallibility. Dr. Kromminga has been president since 1956.
A record budget of more than four million dollars was approved. Mexico was added to the denomination’s mission fields, and 10 new areas in the United States were added to the home missions program. A worldwide relief and service committee will be organized to coordinate fund raising and relief efforts of the denomination. P.D.V.
At Chicago—Christian Endeavorers, assembled in their 46th convention, honored Billy Graham as “a worthy example for youths, the greatest evangelist of modern times and the outstanding exponent of Christian service for Christ and his Church.”
Graham was presented with the ninth International Youth’s Distinguished Service Citation by the International Society of Christian Endeavor before some 4,000 delegates.
“Venture with Christ” has been chosen as the society’s theme for the next two years. Delegates resolved to “choose Christ whatever the cost” in every area of life.
At Fairport Harbor, Ohio—Delegates to the 72nd annual convention of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (Suomi Synod) voted to apply for membership in the World Council of Churches. The action was approved by a vote of 138 to 47.
The synod will merge next year with the American Evangelical, Augustana, and United Lutheran churches in a new denomination to be called the Lutheran Church in America, and it was noted that all three of the other bodies hold membership in the World Council.
At Ely, Minnesota—Delegates to the 63rd annual convention of the 11,000-member National Evangelical Lutheran Church voted to merge with the 2,469,000-member Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. The vote was 112 to 49, barely the required two-thirds majority.
The merger will go into effect in two years if the Missouri Synod agrees to the NELC conditions and if there is no protest within six months from more than one-third of the NELC’s 66 congregations.
At Estes Park, Colorado—Protestant missionaries to Indian Americans showed themselves sharply divided on attitudes toward the peyote-using Native American Church in a workshop session of the six-day triennial conference of the National Fellowship of Indian Workers.
The controversial religious group, which now claims some 200,000 adherents among the nation’s estimated 600,000 Indians, evoked heated discussion among conference delegates.
“Not by any stretch of the imagination can you say a member of the Native American Church is a Christian,” declared the Rev. William Vogel, United Presbyterian missionary at the Navajo Reservation in Ganado, Arizona, and director of the conference workshop on the peyote issue.
“Until a person accepts Jesus Christ as Divine Lord and Savior, he simply cannot be recognized as a Christian,” he said. “On the other hand, I would not oppose the Native American Church or attempt for one minute to suppress it. I consider that its members belong to another religion, even though that religion embraces some Christian ideas, and they have every right to do so.”
Vogel subsequently declared that a number of Protestant missionaries advocate strong opposition to the group which claims a mounting number of adherents every year. They fear alleged deleterious effects from the drug peyote a mescaline-bearing cactus which is consumed by worshipers during night-lone ceremonies, he said. No scientific evidence has been offered, the minister continued, to show that peyote is harmful or habit-forming, and its interstate shipments by mail as a sacrament is legal Arizona, alone among the states, bars its use and confiscates incoming shipments of peyote.
The Rev. Peter John Powell, Indian work director of the Protestant Episcopal diocese of Chicago, disagreed with attempts to destroy the Native American Church, saying that Episcopalians and Roman Catholics have long held the philosophy of building on another culture rather than destroying it.
The conference was held under auspices of the National Council of Churches’ Division of Home Missions in whose department of Indian work the fellowship has offices.
People: Words And Events
Deaths: The Rt. Rev. Albert Wilson, 84, Anglican Bishop of Chelmsford from 1929 until his retirement in 1950; in Southwold, England … the Rev. Yunus S. Sinha, 72, influential Methodist leader in India; in Bareilly, India.
Appointments: As principal of the Presbyterian College in Belfast, Ireland, Dr. R. J. Wilson … as minister of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, the Rev. Mariano DiGangi. DiGangi will succeed the late Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse … as interim president of King’s College, Dr. C. Hans Evans, minister of Coatesville (Pennsylvania) Presbyterian Church, which he will continue to serve.
Elections: As moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Dr. W. A. A. Park … as president of the Council of Evangelism of The Methodist Church, Dr. Kermit L. Long … as president of the Unit of the Brethren, the Rev. John Baletka.
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