Despite the counter-attraction of a parade featuring 100,000 Young Pioneers, many Prague citizens chose one Sunday last month to go to that same Bethlehem Chapel where Bohemian reformer Jan Hus preached five and a half centuries ago. There they joined visitors from more than sixty lands in a service to inaugurate the Second All-Christian Peace Assembly. Officiating were Dr. J. L. Hromadka, dean of the Comenius Theological Faculty; Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad; and the veteran German pastor Martin Niemöller. Rays of sunlight streamed through the tall Gothic windows as ancient Slavonic chants, delivered in the rich bass voices of Orthodox bishops and archpriests, alternated with Protestant hymns sung in different tongues. The gay turbans of Mohammedan mullahs and the saffron robe and shaven head of a solitary Buddhist monk from Nepal stood out even in that congregation of varied and colorful ecclesiastical attire.
Later, at its first meeting in Prague’s Municipal House, the assembly heard the keynote address from its president, Dr. Hromadka, who the previous week in Geneva had led a delegation to discuss with World Council of Churches leaders the relation between the two bodies, and matters of common concern. In four languages above the platform were blazoned words from Malachi 2:5 that formed the assembly theme: “My Covenant Is Life and Peace.” In discussing the Church’s responsibility in the world, the ex-Princeton Theological Seminary professor attributed the turmoil in Southeast Asia to “the fifteen-year-old unsettled problem of People’s China, her unity, and her participation in international bodies, notably in the United Nations.” Referring to events in the Portuguese colonies and the South African situation, the ...1
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