What is the significance of the Peace Corps for churches in general and the Protestant missionary enterprise in particular?
To learn the answers, CHRISTIANITY TODAYwent to Bill D. Moyers, a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, who is now an associate director of the Peace Corps. Here is an exclusive interview with Mr. Moyers:
Q: Just what is the purpose of the Peace Corps?
A: The Peace Corps will provide talented Americans to do needed jobs in newly-developing countries of the world. Many of these countries have leadership at the top—people trained at Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, and other institutions in the West and in the Communist bloc—and there is usually an abundance of unskilled labor at the other end of the economic ladder. The missing link is manpower at the middle level: teachers, electricians, home economists, government clerks, nurses’ aides, farmers, water and sanitation experts, medical technicians, and so on. Peace Corps volunteers will go to do this work—and I emphasize very strongly that they will be doers, performing operational functions—and in the process will teach local people to do the work themselves.
Perhaps Senator Humphrey has best summed up the basic purposes of the Peace Corps. In a discussion in the United States Senate, he stated: “… the purpose of this bill is to develop a genuine people-to-people program in which talented and dedicated young Americans will teach basic agricultural and industrial techniques, literacy, the English language, and other school subjects, sanitation and health procedures in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.”
Q: To what extent will there be co-operation with private agencies?
A: Some of our projects will be administered by private agencies. Thirty projects, for example, have already been proposed to the Peace Corps by various agencies. These projects will be reviewed in the light of Peace Corps standards and criteria to see if the selection, training and compensation of the volunteers meet established standards and to determine if the project is in fact worthwhile and efficiently administered. We are anxious to encourage and co-operate with these private agencies.
Q: Will you co-operate with religious, sectarian, or semi-religious agencies?
A: No project which meets Peace Corps criteria and standards will be barred from receiving Peace Corps support because it is sponsored by a religious or sectarian group, provided the project does not further any religious, sectarian, commercial or propaganda cause or releases funds for such purposes.
Q: Will you encourage liaison with U.S. missionaries and missions boards?
A: We have already been in touch with many missionaries individually and with several of the boards. I recently discussed at length methods of personnel selection with the chief personnel official of one of the larger Protestant mission boards. Just the other day three members of our staff conferred for more than two hours with two missionaries returning from Africa. I cite these examples to illustrate how deeply we feel that the Peace Corps can learn from the experiences of dedicated missionaries.
Q: Will personnel be assigned only on request from a foreign government?
A: That’s correct. The Peace Corps will not send volunteers unless a host government wants them. And they will go to do the jobs which that government believes are definitely needed for economic development and social progress. The initiative must come from an interested country.
Q: Does the Peace Corps welcome applications from people currently in church-related vocations? From ministers and priests? From members of religious orders?
A: We welcome questionnaires from all Americans. Whether or not a certain person is accepted for service will depend on the need for his skill in the countries having projects and on his meeting standard Peace Corps criteria.
Q: Will the training program include a briefing on America’s religious complex?
A: One of the important emphases in the training program will be courses in American culture and history. This will include study of all phases of our national life—labor, business, government, and, of course, religion.
International Diplomacy And The Church
The philosophy behind establishment of the Peace Corps has won much enthusiastic support among some churchmen, but others have expressed deep anxieties. Some observers contend that the Peace Corps program further secularizes the orientation of the notion of “peace” by associating it one-sidely with physical aid rather than with the spiritual dynamism promulgated by the Christian religion. In other words, these observers say, for the Church’s saints-to-sinners program it tends to substitute a sinners-to-sinners helping hand.
Certain religious leaders are now concerned over the future of church activity in this area if government becomes recognized as the prime arbiter of peace. Some churchmen who view Christian missionary activity as primarily sociological are not especially troubled, except for the possibility of secular competition devoid entirely of Christian idealism. Others who recognize that the problem of peace is primarily theological hesitate to see a growing theological government monopoly of humanitarian programs on a secular basis. If religion is made irrelevant and excluded, they ask, are not the Communists thereby given an opportunity to fill in an ideological gap?
Some Protestant spokesmen state the dilemma this way: If the churches stay out of the Peace Corps, it is bound to be secular. If they jump in, it will ultimately be exploited for sectarian ends.
Q: What are the most important qualifications you are looking for in personnel?
A: Peace Corps volunteers should have a level of intelligence sufficiently high to meet the job demands of a particular project and to cope with certain basic challenges they will encounter wherever they serve. They should be able to learn rapidly in a stepped-up training program of three to six months. They should be adaptable in the face of unexpected demands. We want them to know enough about American history and our social and political institutions to be able to answer questions intelligently.
We are looking for men and women who have the physical condition that will enable them to sustain the stresses of their work. Emotional stability will be important, too; a volunteer should be able to handle periods of heightened stress that might be involved in cultural shock, isolation, danger, and physical discomfort.
A volunteer will also need personality qualities that will enable him to establish effective relationships with people in other countries. Is he friendly? Patient? Sensitive? Dedicated to the service of others? Willing to look at problems from others’ viewpoints? Does he have a sense of mission coupled with good judgment? Does he respect other people regardless of their race, religion, or origin? These are essential questions.
And of course, the volunteer will have to demonstrate a level of competence in giving a service or performing a task.
Q: Will an anti-Communist or loyalty oath be required?
A: During the pilot phases of the Peace Corps, volunteers will sign contracts for their service with the Peace Corps. The law does not make any provision for anti-Communist or loyalty oaths by contractors, and none will be required. However, a careful examination of the references, qualifications and background of all volunteers will be conducted to assure that any volunteers eventually going abroad for service in the Peace Corps will be the finest examples of American men and women.
The Peace Corps plans to submit legislation to Congress permanently establishing the Peace Corps. That legislation will propose that volunteers be employees of the United States in a Peace Corps volunteer service. As such, volunteers would take the oath required of all Government officers and employees, pledging loyalty to the United States. If such legislation is enacted, the Peace Corps would still propose to conduct careful background examinations of all persons accepted for training in the volunteer service.
Q: Who will supervise Peace Corps representatives in the field?
A: Peace Corps volunteer leaders—older and more experienced people—will be on hand to provide counsel in time of need, to handle logistic support for the projects, and to be on the lookout for difficulties in job relations or personal adjustment.
Q: How will you insure against exploitation of Peace Corps activity by private and religious agencies?
A: By carefully selecting each agency with whom the Peace Corps signs a contract. One of the criteria will be that agency’s past experience in the administration of overseas projects. Even though each contract carries an option of termination, we believe these agencies will demonstrate good faith.
Q: Can you give specific examples of what the Peace Corps volunteers will do?
A: Let’s look at the first announced project. The government of Tanganyika has requested Peace Corps volunteers to survey feeder roads that will enable the small farmers of Tanganyika to bring their produce to the main market centers. Construction cannot go forward until critical surveys and alignments have been made. The Minister of Finance for Tanganyika told the Peace Corps that his country can produce only two Tanganyikans trained in land survey work in the next five years. He said this is hopelessly inadequate for the basic planning in many of the development schemes.
Peace Corps volunteers will survey these roads and will also conduct some geological surveys in selected areas of Tanganyika. In addition, they will train young Tanganyikans in the methods of surveying and engineering.
Incidentally, the Government of Tanganyika has indicated that without Peace Corps assistance it would have to cut back seriously the presently-planned feeder road program.
Q: What is your own biggest apprehension?
A: I am anxious to see if the response to the Peace Corps in this country will match the requests for service from abroad—in other words, can we find enough competent and dedicated young adults to meet the demand? I guess the big question is, are we willing to demonstrate in peace the measure of sacrifice and self-discipline we have exercised twice this century in war?
People: Words And Events
Deaths: Dr. Harold Paul Sloan, 80, retired editor of the Methodist Christian Advocate; in Camden, New Jersey.… Miss Elisabeth E. Turner, 61, executive secretary of administrative services of the United Presbyterian Commission on Ecumenical Mission and Relations; in New York.… Mrs. Emma Bailey Speer, 88, honorary president of the national board of the Young Women’s Christian Association; in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.… Dr. Herman H. Hohenstein, 67, pioneer Lutheran radio preacher; in St. Louis.
Appointments: As president of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Dr. Clifford E. Barbour. He will retire in June of 1962 … as Anglican Bishop of Johannesburg, Dr. Leslie Edward Stradling … as president of Oklahoma Baptist University, Dr. James Ralph Scales … as professor in preaching and worship at the Saint Paul School of Theology (formerly known as the National Methodist Theological Seminary), Dr. Lee C. Moorehead … as professor of Protestant theology in the School of Religion of the State University of Iowa, Dr. George W. Forell … as Lutheran tutor at Oxford University, the Rev. Franklin E. Sherman … as editor-in-chief of American Baptist publications, Dr. Glenn H. Asquith … as secretary of publicity for the General Council of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S., William P. Lamkin … as director of the Methodist World-Wide Prayer Life Movement, the Rev. G. Byron Deshler … as executive director of the Missouri Council of Churches, Dr. Stanley I. Stuber … as editor of The Sunday School Times, the Rev. James W. Reapsome … as director of the Interchurch Center in New York, Dr. M. Forest Ashbrook … as minister of National City Christian Church, Washington, D. C., Dr. George R. Davis.
Quote: “Never before have we had as many causes to blow the trumpets as today. It would not be possible to enumerate all of the victories, for they are too many, but Christianity is neither dead nor dying. If you believe it be dead or dying, then I would examine myself and not Christianity”—Bishop W. Angie Smith, in an address before the Methodist Board of Evangelism.
• A Baptist church in Montgomery, Alabama, drew world-wide attention last month when it became the scene of one of a series of race riots. National Guardsmen evacuated 1,500 Negroes from the church where they had remained overnight after a howling white mob of 1,200 to 1,500 persons attempted to invade the building. The mob descended on the church in protest of an anti-segregation campaign rally being held there.
• Long-standing plans for joint operation of Austin (Texas) Presbyterian Theological Seminary by the nation’s two largest Presbyterian denominations were cancelled last month. The cancellation was attributed to lack of sufficient financial resources on the part of the Council on Theological Education of the United Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. Seminary control will revert to the Presbyterian Church in the U. S.
• Methodism’s new “Cathedral of the West,” the First Methodist Church of Glendale, California, was opened last month. The contemporary, $1,300,000 structure has been under construction for 18 months. Dr. Kenneth A. Carlson is minister.
• A new monthly magazine sponsored by Protestants and Other Americans United made its debut last month. Titled Church and State, it will succeed an eight-page monthly news bulletin, Church and State Review, which the organization has published for 13 years.
• HCJB, world’s first missionary radio station, announced last month the establishment of the world’s first missionary television station. A pact with the Ecuadorian government provides for television transmission from Quito. Programs already are being aired three nights a week, and the schedule will be stepped up to a six-night week within six months.
• Dr. Geoffrey Francis Fisher declared shortly before his retirement as Archbishop of Canterbury, May 31, that differences between Roman Catholics and other churches are “dissolving rapidly.” He made the remark in a television address.
• More than 4,000 persons registered decisions for Christ in evangelistic campaigns conducted by Hyman Appelman during the first four months of 1961.
• Statesmen and churchmen joined in a memorial service at the Interchurch Center in New York City that eulogized the late John Foster Dulles. The service of remembrance was held last month in the center’s chapel in connection with the dedication of the John Foster Dulles Library and Research Center.
• Donald Ethington, 28, winner of a Carnegie medal for heroism, says he will turn over the accompanying $500 check to an Assemblies of God church for missionary work. Ethington, of Brownfield, Texas, helped to rescue a youth who had slumped in a window and was about to fall from a grain elevator 163 feet above the ground. The rescued youth subsequently died.
• The Congo Protestant Relief Agency announced last month that at least seven medical doctors would be leaving this summer for service in Congo.
• Headquarters of the American Scientific Affiliation, a national organization of evangelicals engaged in scientific work, are being moved to Mankato, Minnesota, from West Lafayette, Indiana.
• Officials of the Far East Broadcasting Company dedicated the facilities of a new radio station on Okinawa last month. A four-tower directional antenna system will beam Christian programs into mainland China.
• The Mennonite Church of God in Christ is establishing missionary work in Nigeria. Four couples are expected to be assigned by next fall.
• A ceremony marked the setting of a date stone last month at the American Baptist national office and graphic arts building now under construction at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. The $8,500,000 structure is said to be half-completed. Complete occupancy is scheduled for next spring.
Cohen and Christianity
Details of an apparently unsuccessful attempt to see the conversion of ex-gangster Mickey Cohen were disclosed in a Los Angeles courtroom last month.
William C. Jones, publisher and noted Christian layman, testified that he had spent more than $4,500 on Cohen in the course of trying to convince him of his need of Christian regeneration.
The testimony was given during a trial in which the government sought to prove that Cohen has evaded payment of $400,000 in taxes.
Mrs. Eleanor Churchin, a press agent, testified that the change-of-religion idea was hers. She said she sought to make it a publicity stunt—against Cohen’s wishes—for a book on Cohen’s life that she wanted to write.
Jim Vaus, former underworld colleague of Cohen but now a noted Christian youth worker, said he also had loaned considerable money to the ex-gangster.
Jones told the court that in 1957 he met with Cohen in a restaurant for nearly five hours.
Jones said he asked him:
“Mickey, would you like to make this decision now?”
“He said yes.”
The two then drove to Cohen’s apartment where, Jones said, they prayed together for 20 minutes and “he turned his life over to Christ in my presence.”
“I said, ‘Mickey, if what you’ve done is not from your heart you are in for trouble.’ ”
Twice Cohen’s attorney approached the bench seeking to halt the testimony. Cohen’s teen-age girl friend fled the courtroom, crying.
Jones said he told Cohen: “You are my Christian brother and I want to share your needs.”
The money included $400 for plane fare to New York, where Cohen was to make a formal confession in the presence of evangelist Billy Graham.
But in New York Cohen backed down and Jones “berated Mickey for misusing the intent of the trip.”
Jones said he also paid a $507 hotel bill for Cohen’s suite in the Waldorf-Astoria, and a $1,299 attorney fee. In addition, Jones declared that he had given Cohen more than $1,000 spending money.
“It was all an outright gift,” Jones said, “not a loan.”
“I considered it a privilege to try to turn this deficit on society [Cohen] into an asset.”
The Korean Coup
All Protestant and Roman Catholic missionaries in South Korea were reported to have safely weathered the spectacularly efficient and virtually bloodless coup d’etat which overthrew the democratic government of Prime Minister John Chang.
Chang, a Roman Catholic, ruled for less than a year after the fall of the Rhee regime and failed to win wide popular support.
Dr. Lan Robb, a medical missionary of the United Church of Canada, was said to have been injured in the revolt and treated at a hospital.
Leader of Korea’s new military government is Lieutenant General Do Yong Chang, widely respected as “one of the most honest officers in the ROK armies.” He is a Presbyterian and his wife a Methodist.
Popular opinion, which had been increasingly critical of government corruption and growingly apprehensive of the rise of Communist influence in South Korea, quickly swung to the support of the new regime in spite of strong efforts by American military and government officials to save the old government. American concern was to preserve democratic freedoms and to keep the military out of politics. Koreans are more interested in stability and security.
For a time following the revolt, some threat of civil war hung over the Far Eastern peninsula. Some observers had feared that continued American support of the fallen government might arouse the First ROK Army, which is led by a Catholic general, to oppose the Second Army coup and to seek to restore the Catholic prime minister.
Crusade in Tokyo
SMOKE OF BATTLE STILL HANGS OVER TOKYO, BUT LIGHT OF GOD SHINES THROUGH.
So cabled a World Vision spokesman at the mid-point of the Tokyo Christian Crusade.
The month-long evangelistic campaign led by World Vision President Bob Pierce, scheduled to draw to a close June 4, had been launched amidst controversy exploited by leftists.
Even Moscow Radio attacked the Tokyo evangelistic effort:
“The true objectives of World Vision, a false religious organization of American business circles, are the strengthening of Japan’s dependence on the United States and expansion of the anti-Communist campaign.”
A small group of Japanese pastors have been protesting the Tokyo government’s decision to lease Meiji Auditorium for the crusade, and leftist elements subsequently took up the cause. The ensuing dispute adversely affected crusade attendance during opening days.
However, at the half-way mark, the crusade had drawn an aggregate total of more than 81,000. Crusade leaders estimate that a reserved seat plan enabled them to establish that the total included at least 60,900 different individuals.
Evangelicals were jubilant that a crusade in a non-Christian culture had also produced in the first two weeks 3,579 persons who stepped forward at the invitation. By May 24, total aggregate attendance topped 120,000 and the total number of those responding to the Gospel invitation rose to more than 4,700.
For the second time in little more than two years, a disabling illness struck evangelist Billy Graham on the eve of a major crusade.
A throat infection delayed Graham’s departure for England last month. Once in London, the evangelist again became bedfast with a recurrence, and he was forced to forego meetings which had been scheduled as a prelude to the gigantic “North of England Crusade” centered in Manchester. In his place, associate evangelist Leighton Ford addressed a rally of 36,000 in Swansea, Wales.
Early in 1959, Graham’s crusade in Australia was delayed for a week after the evangelist’s left eye fell victim to a rare malady which seriously impaired vision.
At that time, Graham’s doctors forbade him to proceed with the crusade unless he agreed to speak no more than once a day.
The government of Jordan says it will not permit foreign exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
A law announced last month prohibits all transactions designed to transport any of the scrolls out of the country.
The law indicated that the scrolls are government property and a Jordanian historical inheritance, and therefore must be kept inside Jordan.
All rental money and down payments previously deposited by archeological institutions for ownership of the scrolls will be paid back, the government said.
Under Hong Kong’s paper lanterns Chinese men and women read Dengta. In the West Indies swarthy plantation workers peruse Caribbean Challenge. In Calcutta and Bombay, Indian readers leaf through Kiran.
All are popular-appeal Christian missionary publications available at newsstands in these cities and in dozens of others throughout the world. They represent a relatively new type of missionary endeavor designed to serve the swelling ranks of new literates. The publication which initiated this missionary literature offensive, African Challenge, marks its tenth anniversary, July 1.
African Challenge was born in Lagos, federal capital of Nigeria located along West Africa’s steaming coast, and was sponsored by the Sudan Interior Mission. It had an unheralded beginning, the first copies having been carted to the post office in a wash tub, but in the past decade it has left an indelible mark on the pages of evangelical Christian history.
Profusely illustrated and designed to reach the African “man-on-the-street” rather than church readership, the Challenge used news and educational features along with true-to-life stories to communicate the Gospel message. Inasmuch as the number of English-speaking literates in Africa seems ever to be on the increase, boys were able to sell the paper on the streets along with daily newspapers. Teachers, recognizing educational and spiritual values, ordered quantities for their schools. Missions and churches of many denominations welcomed its clear, nonsectarian Bible teaching. Sales are now up to 130,000 a month in English, with a local language edition of 40,000. Publication is subsidized by overseas donations to keep the price within reach of the masses.
Readers’ letters pour into editorial offices at the rate of 2,000–3,000 per month, asking advice on everything from fetish worship to sex problems. A follow-up system has been developed, one aspect of which encourages readers who make profession of salvation to enroll in Bible study correspondence courses. A Presbyterian mission pastor formed a “Challenge Reading Unit” to study the Bible and help in the service of the Church, and the idea spread so quickly that there are now more than 300 such reading units across Africa.
A number of other missions around the world have had their eye on the rapidly-rising level of literacy, and the outlook is for more such magazines.
SOUTHERN BAPTISTS PONDER ECUMENICITY
It looked like a massive assault on the St. Louis Blues.
Virtually filling the Missouri metropolis’ mammoth, 13,000-seat Kiel Auditorium, messengers and visitors to last month’s 104th session of the Southern Baptist Convention sang the Gospel hymns they know so well—amplified many times over—and heard the Gospel preaching to which they are accustomed, by eminent preachers of the nation’s second largest Protestant body (9,700,000 members).
Welcoming them were spiritual descendants of the first non-Roman Catholic whites to settle west of the Mississippi, whose Baptist preaching was done (1798–1799) in defiance of Spanish law in St. Louis County (“No preacher of the Gospel, save Catholic, was permitted by law to come into the province”). U.S. acquisition of the Louisiana Territory ultimately made possible the emergence of Missouri Baptists as the state’s “largest non-Catholic organization,” with 450,000 members. Early gateway to the West for Baptists, Missouri can well symbolize current Southern Baptist expansion west and north as the state’s Baptists have moved away from double alignment with northern and southern conventions to an exclusive association with southern which is virtually unanimous.
Southern Baptist leadership is divided on whether there is now something of a spiritual recession within their denomination, slackening its remarkable growth rate. Figures are cited to show such to be the case, but retiring president Ramsey Pollard, pastor of Memphis’ huge Bellevue Baptist Church, will not buy it. In his presidential address, he called for “courageous optimism,” noting the futility of building on “foundations of fear.” He raised aloft the ideal of a “militant church on fire, holding fast to its convictions.” Southern Baptist polity decrees the autonomy of the local church—the convention may not speak for it, nor indeed may the president speak for the convention. But Dr. Pollard mirrored certain grass-roots views, one of which was a disquiet over views of the Bible taught in some of their seminary classrooms. “Southern Baptists are a people of The Book and if we depart from the Word of God we are asking for trouble.… If any school, anywhere, by any name, fosters modernism, infidelity, unbelief … let that school and the guilty parties repent of sin!” An immeasurable aid to school campaigns for funds, he said, “is a continued confidence that our schools will stay by The Book. Otherwise … the Lord’s money is wasted.” Also evangelism, “our Saviour’s marching order,” was tied to the indispensable “thrust of conviction.”
Southern Baptists are noted, and at times derided, for their sensitivity to the Vatican threat to American freedom. Dr. Pollard had a warning for any who thought the religious issue dead, as he pointed to clerical demands for parochial school aid from the federal government: “Our President has shown evidence of courage and conviction in the midst of unrelenting pressure on the part of his church. It will never give up its efforts to dip its hands into the treasuries of all nations.” He warned Protestants against like efforts. “If we will not provide the funds to operate our hospitals, schools, and churches, we ought not to have them.… We have no right to use the tax dollars of the Jew to ‘preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified.’ ”
Praise for President Kennedy’s stand against federal aid to parochial schools came from the newly-elected convention president, Dr. Herschel H. Hobbs, minister of Oklahoma City’s First Baptist Church, and preacher on the “Baptist Hour” of television and radio. (He defeated W. O. Vaught, Jr., minister in Little Rock, Arkansas.)
The convention subsequently wired Kennedy assuring him of support for his “constitutional stand” and of prayers for him personally.
In his first press conference as president, the highly articulate Dr. Hobbs, author of some thirteen books, expressed these views:
• Communism is the greatest enemy confronting Christianity and cannot be defeated by material weapons; an idea “can be defeated only with a better idea, namely, the Gospel.”
• The activities of sit-in demonstrators and “Freedom Riders” are “extremely unfortunate” and abortive. The Gospel is the answer to the race crisis, not troops, but as leaven it needs time to work and the solutions must be local rather than national, the problems of each state varying greatly.
• On church unity, Southern Baptists cooperate with other churches where denominational principles are not compromised. They are perhaps the most broad-minded of all churchmen as they have historically fought for the right of all church groups to believe as they wish. “I personally do not believe in ecumenicalism. I do not believe that is the solution. Southern Baptists are not thinking of uniting with other groups.”
Even as United Presbyterians, meeting in Buffalo, were pushing ahead on the ecumenical trail, and Southern Baptist leaders were reaffirming their denomination’s historic doctrines, one outspoken Southern Baptist minister made news at the Pastors Conference by a plea to his brethren for more ecumenicity. Carlyle Marney, of Charlotte, North Carolina, in vivid prose lashed out at Southern Baptist aloofness from the ecumenical movement and drew a picture of “9,000,000 people running the road of emotional authoritarianism” into “a new Catholicism,” egotistically believing the salvation of the whole world to depend on them, refusing to converse with their brothers, foolishly rejecting Rauschenbusch’s emphasis on redemption of social structures as well as along individual lines, fearing criticism more than heresy, being caught in a “tragic self-centeredness that cannot endure to be examined.” Commented Dr. Pollard: “He has been making strong statements on this subject for several years, but he has not been on a Southern Baptist program before. Southern Baptists enjoy fine relationships with other bodies. Only a small, insignificant group favor organic union with other churches.”
Professor Dale Moody of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary spoke of Southern Baptist Billy Graham’s contribution to an ecumenical spirit, while Mr. Marney had reportedly drawn attention as a Southern Baptist minister in Charlotte who, of all things, refused to support the evangelist’s crusade there back in 1958.
Prime convention interest was in expansion not by merger but through evangelism and missions. The home mission board reported that next year’s drive aims toward starting 6,000 churches and missions. The foreign mission board reported a 15-year gain in number of missionaries on the field from 519 to 1,500. Of these, 535 are in Latin America and reported 17,219 converts baptized in 1960. In Baptist elementary schools. Graduates included the premier of the western region and four cabinet members.
And announcement came of several Southern Baptist leaders pledging support of a huge Tokyo evangelistic crusade in 1963, the preacher to be, tentatively, Billy Graham. It is planned as a prelude to a series of rallies in other metropolitan areas in Japan and is designed to be the final barrage in a “spiritual offensive” to thwart communism and win the world to Christ.
UNITED PRESBYTERIANS IMPLEMENT PLAN
The following report was prepared forCHRISTIANITY TODAYby Dr. John M. Bald, associate professor of Christian ethics at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary:
The 201 presbyteries of the 33 synods of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. sent some 975 commissioners to Buffalo, New York, last month to their 173rd General Assembly, the denomination’s highest court and deliberative body. In eight days of meetings held in spacious Kleinhans Music Hall the work of their church over the past year was carefully reviewed, and a program for the coming year proposed, seriously and prayerfully considered, and adopted.
Among first items of business was election of a moderator to preside over the meeting and to serve the denomination in the coming year as its highest officer. Four names were placed in nomination, and on the second ballot Mr. Paul D. McKelvey, a ruling elder of the Presbytery of Los Angeles who has long served the church with distinction in many capacities of leadership, was elected. Dr. Walter Dudley Cavert, among those nominated for the moderatorship, was named vice moderator. Mr. McKelvey, assisted by Dr. Cavert, conducted the meeting with fairness, grace, and skill.
Most of the business to come before the assembly was first referred to standing committees elected by the assembly. The membership of the 14 standing committees was representative of the whole denomination. They labored long and diligently in reviewing the work of the boards and agencies whose reports had been referred to them, and in considering various proposals concerned with the direction of the work of the church in the future. The committees in turn formulate their reports on the items submitted to them and present them on the floor of the assembly for discussion, debate, and action by the whole body whose members have also had opportunity to study these matters before coming to the assembly. It would be fair to observe that the strength and effectiveness of any such assembly depends upon the character of its standing committees.
Among significant actions taken was a decision that the denomination launch a program of long-range capital development. It was reported that approximately 106 million dollars would be needed by boards and agencies of the assembly to provide for long needed renovation of aging facilities and for new buildings and equipment. Mission hospitals and schools, plus seminary and college buildings, were among facilities for which such capital funds are to be sought.
Most publicized of questions to come before the assembly was the so-called “Blake Proposal” for church union. The proposal had provoked lively discussion in both the religious and secular press, and had moved nearly 50 presbyteries to petition the assembly for action. Overtures from presbyteries were first considered by the assembly’s bills and overtures committee, which then brought a comprehensive report to the floor. An attempt to amend the report by requiring that churches entering into such preliminary discussions recognize one another as true churches of Jesus Christ and as having valid ministries was defeated. Following discussion and debate on the floor, the moderator called the assembly to prayer. The assembly with but a few scattered negative votes then adopted the report which called upon the 173rd General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. to invite “the Protestant Episcopal Church meeting in general convention in Detroit, Michigan, in this same year, to join with us in an invitation to The Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ to explore the establishment of a united church truly Catholic, truly Reformed, and truly Evangelical.”
The committee on bills and overtures called attention of the assembly to the careful wording of the proposed act in which the “explore” was deliberately chosen instead of “negotiate.” One would feel justified in observing that the wording expressed the fact that the United Presbyterian Church was opening the door to fuller possibilities in the ecumenical mood of the time, but that any final judgment must await the results of the conversations called for in the report. The action was a step in the direction of church union. Only the unfolding of the providence of God will indicate how long or short a step it was.
The report of a committee on social education and action elicited spirited and lengthy debate. The committee report was in the hands of the commissioners on the day preceding its presentation to the assembly so that some opportunity for study prior to the discussion was made possible. It is difficult to assess the significance of the pronouncements of the assembly which were called for by the adoption of the report. In some instances the assembly speaks only to the United Presbyterian Church; in others, it addresses itself to the nation and to the world. Unfortunately, it is not always clear as to which is which, so that the intention of the church in its pronouncements is sometimes misunderstood both by the church and by the world. The commissioners were reminded in the preamble of this controversial report that “the action of the General Assembly on the report of this committee is a guide to our churches and their members in their encounter with the world and the persons that Jesus Christ has come to redeem. It is also a witness to the world of our church’s involvement with its Lord and with his world. In speaking to the problem of communism and freedom, of metropolitan society, of race, of Latin America, of alcohol, of crime and juvenile delinquency, and of medical care for the aged, the General Assembly neither binds the conscience of United Presbyterians nor speaks for them as individuals. But it does lay before them and before the world its prayerful judgment about the love of the sovereign God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—with respect to these problems.”
It is from this context that the United Presbyterian Church spoke at Buffalo in its General Assembly. Among its pronouncements were strong statements in opposition both to communism and neo-fascism, a call to resist the temptation to use the freedom-denying methods of these political conspiracies in the struggle against them, a commendation of the U.S. Department of Justice for its action with regard to the riots in Alabama, and the encouragement of voluntary abstinence as an individual practice with regard to the problem of alcohol, at the same time calling for church members who use alcoholic beverages moderately and those who abstain to respect each other and to work together in meeting the problem of alcohol.
At Boston, Massachusetts—Culminating more than a century of merger efforts, the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America voted formal union at a joint meeting. The combined organization is to be known as the Unitarian Universalist Association.
About 200,000 persons and 845 churches are involved in the merger. There are 118,000 Unitarians, representing 405 churches and 336 fellowships, and 71,000 Universalists representing 440 churches.
Some 2,000 delegates to the new association’s organizational meeting completed the merger by adopting through a voice vote a set of by-laws and a constitution. These had first been endorsed at a joint conference of the two denominations in 1959. Later the consolidation itself was approved by 91 per cent of the Unitarian churches and fellowships and 79 per cent of the Universalist societies. (Fellowships are groups that have not reached church status.)
Delegates elected Dr. Dana McLean Greeley of Boston as first president. Greeley, president of the American Unitarian Association since 1958, was elected by a 1,087 to 935 vote over the Rev. William B. Rice, minister of the Unitarian church in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts.
The merger does not call for local church union but a consolidation of the two denominations’ headquarters organizations. Unitarian and Universalist congregations will retain their identities unless they decide otherwise.
While bound by no creed, Unitarians and Universalists generally do not believe in the divinity of Christ, but they accept his ethical teachings.
The Unitarian movement started in America in 1794 with the preaching of Dr. Joseph Priestley of Philadelphia. In 1825 the American Unitarian Association was organized.
Universalism was first carried to America in 1741 by Dr. George DeBenneville, a French Huguenot.
At Jerusalem, Israel—Israeli Minister of Education Abba Eban told the Pentecostal World Conference (see also CHRISTIANITY TODAY, May 22, 1961) that the aim of the new state of Israel was not merely an addition of another nation to the international family but “a holy experience in rule by conscience.”
Eban told the 3,000 delegates that “your presence here reflects the conviction that the unfolding of Israel’s career as a modern nation is a matter of deep moment and concern to the Christian world as well as to the Jewish people.”
The Rev. Thomas F. Zimmerman, general superintendent of the U. S. Assemblies of God and president of the National Association of Evangelicals, warned the conference in a climactic rally on Pentecost Sunday that “these are not days to compromise.”
He declared: “Within the past few weeks news releases indicate that three Pentecostal denominations have applied to the World Council of Churches for membership—two from Chile and one from Yugoslavia. We are not personally acquainted with these groups, nor do we know their reason for joining hands with the World Council of Churches … Regardless of efforts of the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches to essay to call us ‘brethren,’ we are miles apart. Nor can we afford to compromise with them on our most basic, sacred, God-given, heaven-blessed position, including the infallibility of God’s Word, the virgin birth, the atoning death of our Lord and Saviour, and his resurrection and bodily return.”
At Milwaukee, Wisconsin—The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod apparently are putting off indefinitely a threat to continuation of the Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America.
Delegates from the two bodies and representatives of the Synodical Conference’s other two members adopted a resolution calling for a restudy and formulation of doctrine.
Besides the Missouri and Wisconsin bodies, the conference includes the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (Norwegian) and the Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (Slovak). The combined membership of the four groups is about 2,804,000.
The Rev. Oscar J. Naumann, president of the Wisconsin Synod, told an adjourned convention that his group has not retreated from charges that the Missouri Synod had engaged in “unionism” by working with other Lutheran bodies not in doctrinal agreement.
Dr. John W. Behnken, president of the Missouri Synod, countered that his denomination’s position was consistent with biblical instruction and the Lutheran Confessions.
Behnken also said that the Missouri Synod “in all probability” would not become a member of the National Lutheran Council.
Noting that the Missouri Synod was scheduled to open doctrinal discussions with the new American Lutheran Church in January, 1962, he added: “We will not compromise God’s truth.”
Behnken declared that the Missouri Synod would not condone ALC membership in the National Lutheran Council, the Lutheran World Federation, and the World Council of Churches.
At Milwaukee, Wisconsin—A “State of the Church Conference” sponsored by a group of Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod pastors and laymen, heard charges that the traditionally orthodox body has in recent years experienced some chinks in its spiritual structure.
More than 500 persons attended the conference. Some 54 per cent were said to be clergymen, 37 per cent laymen, and 9 per cent teachers.
Protests were voiced alleging that the synod has gradually been infiltrated by some liberal professors at its synodical institutions and at its associated Valparaiso University and that certain publications circulated within the synod have wittingly or unwittingly propagated the social gospel and have taken a “decided anti-anticommunist stand.” Also criticized was the alignment of the synod’s Board for North and South American Missions with the National Council of Churches.
A volume of some 200 pages was distributed to delegates as documentation for the charges.
Twelve resolutions designed to strengthen the hands of synodical officers to deal with the problems were adopted.
At Columbus, Ohio—Continued negotiations toward merger with the 7,500-member Missionary Church Association were endorsed by delegates to the 64th General Council of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.
It was disclosed that the 68,000-member Alliance, which now sponsors 830 missionaries in 27 countries, plans to open for the first time permanent stations in Brazil. The society’s overseas constituency currently includes some 130,000 baptized members in 2,733 churches.
A record number of 1,268 delegates were registered for this year’s council. They adopted a budget of nearly $4 million (approximately $60 per capita) for the ensuing year and voted (1) to organize regional offices around the world to co-ordinate missionary literature work; (2) to establish a graduate program in theology by 1965 “if possible”; and (3) to shift publications responsibility from an elected official to an appointed clergy-lay committee.
At Rockford, Illinois—The annual conference of The Evangelical Alliance Mission, which sponsors 820 missionaries on 16 foreign fields, heard a plea for 300 new workers.
“TEAM needs 300 new missionaries right now,” said General Director David H. Johnson, “including evangelists, Bible teachers, doctors, nurses, teachers, builders, radio technicians, and many others.”
He said that 39 new missionaries were dispatched last year, but that the additional number was needed to fill vacancies and to enter new fields and to care for expanding ministries.
A new field was opened in Arabia last year at the invitation of the ruling sheikh of the Buraimi Oasis in the Trucial Oman States.
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