The race problem in the United States, which promises little let-up in the months and years to come, may ultimately cause some major ecclesiastical realignments. It is already registering a serious impact, with a seemingly growing number of local church disputes attributable in some measure to differences over the Negro’s role in society. This spring saw several such disputes erupt into open dissention.

In the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights, a United Church of Christ pastor said he was forced to resign his pulpit because he had “dared to welcome into the membership of the church a Negro family.” The Rev. Milton D. Jones, pastor of the 275-member Immanuel Church since 1954, announced that he will resign, effective July 15, and will go to an integrated church in Cincinnati.

Some officials of the United Church of Christ, however, apparently sought to dispute the pastor’s argument. Dr. S. Garry Oniki, executive coordinator of the United Church’s Committee for Racial Justice Now, said in a statement: “We have found that the Shaker Heights church has an open membership policy for all persons regardless of race or nationality. We do not find that any member of this church has raised the issue of race with regard to church membership or church attendance.”

In Savannah, Georgia, the congregation of St. John’s Episcopal Church voted, 700 to 45, to withdraw from the Protestant Episcopal Church rather than admit Negroes to its regular worship services. Balloting was held at a meeting during which the Rev. Ernest Risley, rector, said he was renouncing the ministry.

The church vote was taken as a rejection of the Episcopal Church canon forbidding racial discrimination, but Mr. Risley, a clergyman for thirty-seven years, went a step further. In a letter to Bishop Albert Rhett Stuart of South Georgia, the rector said he could not remain loyal to the church when it “permits to go unchallenged doctrinal teaching denying the Virgin Birth and the Trinity.” His letter also said the church was “embarking upon new canonical requirements which I sincerely believe cannot lead to anything but heartbreak and sorrow.” Risley had said previously that he would resign the Episcopal ministry rather than admit Negroes to regular worship services.

In Texas, Dr. K. Owen White resigned as pastor of the 3,600-member First Baptist Church of Houston to take an executive post with the Southern Baptist General Convention of California. Just prior to the announcement of his resignation, the congregation voted 206 to 182 not to accept Negro members. White, past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said he was disappointed in the outcome of the vote but insisted that it was not a factor in his leaving.

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The Methodist Judicial Council, meanwhile, postponed a hearing on the question whether the General Conference or jurisdictional conferences have ultimate authority in regional desegregation procedure. The Judicial Council, which is the supreme court of Methodism, ruled for the postponement on a request by jurisdictional representatives, who acted in turn on a request from the Council of Bishops.

Voting is now under way on a resolution which if adopted will pave the way for transfer of Methodist annual conferences in five southwestern states from the racially constituted Central Jurisdiction to the geographical South Central Jurisdiction. Ballots are being cast by ministers and lay members of all annual conferences in the two jurisdictions. A two-thirds majority of total votes cast in each jurisdiction will be required for passage.

In Philadelphia, meanwhile, St. Thomas Protestant Episcopal Church changed its charter to allow Caucasians to hold voting membership in the congregation and to serve on its vestry. The vote at the church’s annual meeting was unanimous. The church, oldest Negro Episcopal Congregation in the nation, has since 1796 had the restriction excluding Caucasians from voting membership or vestry service.

Protestant Panorama

The American Lutheran Church will launch a program of general advertising in Sunday newspapers this fall. The ad messages, said a spokesman, “will focus on basic Christian truths, expressed in clear and colorful language without a distinctively denominational emphasis.”

The Assemblies of God are conducting a nationwide Christian literature drive to explain their doctrinal position on the work of the Holy Spirit. A special World’s Fair issue of the Assemblies’ weekly Pentecostal Evangel will be made available in quantity for community distribution.


The new government of Zambia invited the Africa Evangelical Fellowship to staff and to assume control of a high school for girls in the North-West Province. It is expected to open in 1966. By 1970 an enrollment of 400 is anticipated. Some eighteen missionary teachers will be needed.

Groundbreaking ceremonies were held May 16 for a $4,000,000 retirement center in Kansas City to be known as Temple Towers. The ten-story structure will adjoin the Temple Baptist Church and will be sponsored by the Temple Foundation of Kansas City. Dr. Rutherford L. Decker, pastor of the church, is president of the foundation.

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Riverside Church of New York City won the George Foster Peabody Award for its four-year-old FM broadcasting station. The award is administered by the University of Georgia’s School of Journalism.

The school board in North Haledon, N. J., voted last month to drop a proposal that would have provided for ten minutes of “voluntary” daily prayers in the borough’s schools. Dr. Frederick M. Raubinger, State Commissioner of Education, said the plan was unconstitutional.

Moody Bible Institute filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission requesting an increase to 100,000 watts in the power of its station WMBI-FM in Chicago. The power increase would make the station, which presently operates on 20,000 watts, one of the most powerful FM stations in the Midwest.

Christian Education

Azusa College and Los Angeles Pacific College, both of which have an Arminian-Wesleyan orientation, will be merged. The new school will open on the present Azusa College campus (in the eastern part of the Los Angeles metropolitan area) in September. It will be known as Azusa Pacific College. Six Arminian-Wesleyan denominations will cooperate in supporting the school.

A $19,000,000 program involving the virtual rebuilding of Union Theological Seminary in Richmond was unveiled last month. First construction is scheduled to get under way next summer.

More than 500 students assembled in Frankfurt, Germany, for a missionary convention organized by groups related to the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students. The convention opened in a historic building which housed a Dominican monastery in pre-Reformation days.


William P. Thompson, lawyer from Wichita, Kansas, was elected moderator of the United Presbyterian General Assembly.

Dr. Roy Pearson was elevated from dean to president of Andover-New ton Theological Seminary. He will succeed Dr. Herbert Gezork, who is retiring, on September 1. Andover-Newton is related to the United Church of Christ and the American Baptist Convention. Pearson is a UCC minister.

Dr. Raymond L. Strong, a United Presbyterian, was named president of the ecumenically oriented Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico. Strong served for seven years as a professor of New Testament at a Protestant seminary in Cuba.

Dr. William S. Litterick, president of Keuka College, is resigning to become president of the Educational Records Bureau. Keuka, a four-year liberal arts college for women, is affiliated with American Baptists.

Dr. Jesse Jai McNeil will leave the faculty of California Baptist Theological Seminary to become head of the Department of Christian Education at Bishop College in Dallas.

Dr. V. Raymond Edman, chancellor of Wheaton College, was elected editor of the Alliance Witness, official journal of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

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