For what will 1964 be most remembered? Some North American churchmen would say it is too early to assess the long-range impact of such events as Khrushchev’s ouster, the Congo massacre, the passage of the U. S. civil rights bill, and the emergence of Communist China as a nuclear power. But other church leaders in the United States and Canada declare that the historic proportions of at least some of the big developments are quite clear. They note that many of the events seem to have profound moral implications.

Dr. Lester Harnish, president of the American Baptist Convention, says that from the standpoint of the conscience of the Christian Church “the blowup in the Congo will stand out in the perspective of history.” He regards it particularly noteworthy after so many years of missionary endeavor in the Congo. Harnish notes that the “savagery differs from its counterpart in Mississippi in quantity but not in naked bestiality. The Bible belt of America and the heart of Africa are still basically unchanged by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which still produces a new man through the miracle of the new birth. We have a long road ahead as the Church of the living God.”

Bishop Lloyd C. Wicke, president of the Methodist Council of Bishops, asserts that the events surrounding the U. S. elections of 1964 “may warp our national and international behavior for a generation.” “Internationally,” he adds, “one may take his choice between the explosion of a nuclear device in China, the coup which remanded a Soviet prime minister to the rear ranks, and the monumental struggles in Africa for its soul. On strict humanitarian grounds, the breakthrough in the new knowledge of certain viruses may be longest remembered. Or, would we choose the passage of the civil rights bill?”

Evangelist Billy Graham asserts that “1964 will be remembered as a year of riots, revolt, and revolution throughout the world. It will also be remembered for the accelerated pace within the Church away from orthodox Christianity. I have been appalled at some of the statements from Christian leaders having to do with faith and morality. Some of them seem sub-Christian and even pagan.”

In the opinion of Presiding Bishop John E. Hines of the Episcopal Church, “the events of 1964 which will leave a determinative mark historically include the passage of civil rights legislation by the U. S. Congress and the continuing search of the Second Vatican Council for aggiornamento. Both activities or achievements bear the mark of compromise. This is the ‘pound of flesh’ extracted by practical politics in power deliberations. But it is clear that the concerned majority of citizens of this country are determined that social justice shall transcend partisan politics, and that due process for the guarantee of individual rights shall be available to ‘even the least of these—brethren.’ It is also clear that when a vast communion such as the Roman Catholic Church can—in open debate—move towards an internationalizing of outlook, plus the extending of an invitation to non-Romans to ‘talk it over’ on local levels, the ecumenical picture begins to possess substance undreamed of a decade ago.”

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Dr. Ernest M. Howse, moderator of the United Church of Canada, suggests that “discoveries in the fields of automation and cybernation made in 1964 but as yet unpublicized may be as momentous for the future as printing was five centuries ago. Of recorded events, perhaps the explosion of China’s nuclear bomb may have the most vivid, immediate, and momentous consequences. Perhaps this may be the final factor in turning all the nations of the world to seek through the only world organization available the means to an enduring peace for all mankind.”

Archbishop Iakovos, primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in North and South America, states that the year “will be best memorialized for two momentous religious events: the encounter between the churches of the East and West, personified by Patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul, and the meeting of the American West and the European West when our American cardinals met with the Pope to vote on the passage of the historic schema on religious liberty. From the first meeting, a meeting of two pilgrims in the Holy Land, the world felt both relief from the discord of the divided past and hope for a unified Christian future. The second meeting in which the American West may be said to have lost to the European West at least for the moment the progressivism and liberalism which our American brethren revealed, provided the world with a most encouraging excitement and gives the promise of that religious liberty which may at long last become a reality to the glory of God.”

Dr. Stephen J. England, president of the International Convention of Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ), agrees. He says that the most significant development of 1964 lies in the “complex of events included in the openness of Roman Christianity to change and dialogue.” This complex, he adds, includes the Pope’s trip to the Holy Land and his meeting there with Patriarch Athenagoras and the invitations extended to non-Catholic observers by the Second Vatican Council. “These things will be profoundly influential in the ongoing life of the total Church.”

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According to the Rev. Gordon Van Oostenburg, president of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America, “1964 will be remembered as the year in which our government passed the civil rights legislation. This event seen in the context of the rising social strife in Africa and the worldwide prominence given to Martin Luther King in receiving the Nobel Peace Prize causes our government’s action to emerge as the most significant event of the year.”

Dr. Samuel Young, chairman of the general superintendents’ board of the Church of the Nazarene, observes that “the changes of 1964 confront the Church with the fact that political and social revolution must have an adequate religious base to avoid self-destruction.” The classic example, he declares, is Africa, “where freedom has been granted only to move toward dictatorship in cases where there has not been adequate ground in democracy and freedom.”

Says Dr. Nathan Bailey, president of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, “Nationally, 1964 has seen the United States make a bold and decisive commitment to a philosophy of socialism in government which will lead ultimately to totalitarianism and the appearance of anti-Christ. Of greater eternal significance, however, is the widespread and open acceptance of the doctrine of universalism on the part of many Protestant churches. As the Church abandons the uniqueness and exclusiveness of the gospel message, it is destroying the validity of its own existence and is thereby literally committing suicide.”

Dr. Theodore Carcich, vice-president of the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference for its North American division, sounds a note of thanks: “Besides bringing us another year closer to the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ, 1964 is remembered most for the providence of God which spared our world from a nuclear holocaust, thus permitting the Church to press toward a triumphant completion of the gospel commission.”

Protestant Panorama

Southern Baptist missionaries in Indonesia voted to work toward establishment of a “Christian Evangelistic Study Center.”

Episcopal Church Executive Council restated the denomination’s opposition to legalized gambling and commissioned preparation of a new position paper to reflect its opposition “in modern day terms.”

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Portuguese Presbyterians, faced with a shortage of ministers, are placing new emphasis on training laymen to serve churches and Sunday schools. A new course for lay workers in night classes is planned.


A rally in Monrovia, Liberia, marked the tenth anniversary of gospel broadcasting to Africa by the Rev. Howard O. Jones, associate evangelist on the Billy Graham team. Jones plans soon to expand his ministry to include a half-hour weekly gospel broadcast to Negroes in the United States.

The Free Gospel Church of Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania, is protesting proposed condemnation of its property and subsequent transfer to a Roman Catholic parish by the Allegheny County Redevelopment Authority.

Leaders of the Prague Christian Peace Conference denounced plans for the NATO multilateral nuclear force.

A New York state court ordered a temporary injunction against the showing of a comedy film, “John Goldfarb, Please Go Home.” The suit was brought by Notre Dame University, which claims that the film and the book in which it is based downgrade the school’s image. The film was to have opened in New York on Christmas day.

A manufacturer in Clifton, New Jersey, reported in December that he had sold some 7,000 banners reading “One Nation Under God.” The flying of the banners over public buildings has been spearheaded by the Knights of Columbus. One of the pennants was placed under the American flag which flies over the City Hall in Newark, New Jersey’s largest city.

A 25-year-old photographer in Gennazzano, Italy, was accused of stealing $160,000 worth of church art from a Roman Catholic monastery where he had been raised as an orphan.

The Parent Royal Commission on Quebec Education issued a report urging elimination of religious examinations from Quebec public schools. It also asked an end to the “regular and obligatory participation of students in numerous religious exercises.”

Three men were arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, following the explosion of a gas-filled balloon outside the Negro First Baptist Church. The noise caused near panic among Sunday morning worshippers.


Dr. Herbert Gezork will retire next August 31 after serving fifteen years as president of Andover Newton Theological School.

The Rt. Rev. Roland Koh was appointed Anglican Bishop of Jesselton, Sabah (formerly North Borneo). He is Chinese and a convert from Buddhism.

Dr. Nils A. Dahl, Norwegian New Testament scholar, was appointed a professor at Yale Divinity School.

They Say

“Sooner or later, all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood.”—Dr. Martin Luther King, in accepting the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize.

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