America’s three major Negro Baptist groups reacted differently as the smoke and shame of riot hung over the Watts ghetto of Los Angeles last month.

The three met simultaneously in different cities three weeks after Watts. The most activist denomination on civil rights, the Progressive National Baptist Convention, convened at Los Angeles’ Zion Hill Baptist Church, on the fringe of the riot zone. But the riot seemed just as near at meetings in Jacksonville (National Baptist Convention, U. S. A., Inc.) and Houston (National Baptist Convention of America).

Two of the conventions are offshoots of the third and largest Negro body, the “Inc.” organization personified by its president of thirteen years, Chicago’s Dr. Joseph H. Jackson. He and his convention have been branded “Uncle Tom” by militant civil rights workers for their conservatism.

The “unincorporated” National Baptists stand somewhere in the middle on civil rights. Their president for eight years, Dr. C. D. Pettaway of Little Rock, Arkansas, has been cautious, but this year’s convention implied support of direct action and civil disobedience.

If the three conventions ever got together, they could represent a bloc of nearly nine million Negroes.Current membership claims: National Inc., 5.5 million; National unincorporated, 2.8 million; Progressives, 500,000. But union is unlikely, despite lack of doctrinal differences. The two National conventions are more friendly now than in the past, but their schism dates to 1916. The Progressives left National, Inc., in 1962 after great turmoil at the latter’s 1961 convention (see News, September 25, 1961).

The Progressives pressed a stronger civil rights stand and repudiated the one-man image they felt National, Inc., had developed under Jackson.

These undercurrents continued in Los Angeles as the Progressives put tenure limits on their presidency. Dr. Cardner C. Taylor, who ran against Jackson for president in 1961, said the new convention is “cause-centered, not man-centered.”

He said Progressives also recognize “great restlessness at the mild commitment of the old conventions to the civil rights struggle.” Progressive ministers include Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other rights activists. The Progressive resolution on Los Angeles abhorred the violence but considered it a symptom of widespread racial injustice.

In Jacksonville, the approach of the Nationals, Inc., was to condemn Los Angeles lawlessness. Their type of direct action was a milk fund for suffering children in Watts. A resolution asserted that civil rights laws have been passed and should now be given a chance to work.

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Jackson, who has always been doubtful about boycotts, picketing, and sit-ins, said “We must … be most critical of all efforts that may not be in harmony with American ideals and with the objectives of our struggle.”

A pre-Watts statement by Jackson, which the convention board adopted June 16, said “all unlawful demonstrations” tend to create disrespect for the law and law officers, establish demonstrations as “the only method of correcting the evils of society,” and “disregard the rights of others and seek to punish the innocent while attempting revenge on the guilty.”

Jackson also contends that “togetherness” among Negroes is not segregation but common sense: “It is no sin for nationalities and races to support each other in business; it is their privilege and their right.” This may have been an answer to those who see Negro churches practicing discrimination in reverse, with leaders striving to protect their places in a one-race hierarchy.

The Nationals “unincorporated,” by contrast, said this “new day” requires a “reexamination of the structure of the church serving the Negro community,” particularly the “issue of segregation and discrimination in its effect upon the structure.…”

On civil rights, the “unincorporated” convention endorsed a report that provided a brief history of rights demonstrations and praised participants for their devotion and sacrifice. “The committed witnesses of Christ must be at work, ‘Where the action is,’ ” it said.

Turning to Los Angeles, the statement analyzed the climate “charged with racial hostility” which neither white nor Negro churches have confronted.

Although nonviolence and love have been major tactics in the civil rights struggle, the report continued, there are many not committed to these ideals and many resentful Negroes unaffected by the nonviolent organizations who lash back at “those they believe responsible for their condition.”

The convention appealed for a new aggressiveness by churches, urging them to take the Gospel from the institutional churches into “the market places.”

The Nationals, Inc., in choosing Jacksonville, held their first meeting in the South in a decade, and an official said there were few problems getting rooms for the 20,000 visitors, many of whom stayed in public hotels and motels. An “unincorporated” spokesman said Houston presented no problems at all on public accommodations.

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Protestant Panorama

Representatives of the American Baptist Convention and the Church of the Brethren are engaged in exploratory union conversations. The first meeting took place July 8, according to American Baptist News Service. A second meeting, scheduled for December 3 and 4, will feature presentation of a “working document.”

Commissions on union from The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church adopted a proposed constitution and plan of union last month. They suggested that the new denomination be known officially as The United Methodist Church.

Presbyterians in the Caribbean islands and British Guiana created a joint assembly during a conference in Trinidad. In Jamaica, meanwhile, Presbyterians and Congregationalists agreed to establish a new United Church of Christ.


Two Swiss Protestant missionaries were murdered on August 21 at Bangante, Cameroon, according to Ecumenical Press Service. The victims were identified as Madame Gerard Markhoff, mother of five children, and M. Roland Waldvogel, a young teacher who had been in the Cameroon only a few days. Police had no immediate clues as to the motive.

The U. S. Senate, in a voice vote without opposition, approved a resolution to designate 1966 as “The Year of the Bible.” An identical resolution in the House was expected to win similar endorsement. The resolution singles out the American Bible Society’s 150th anniversary next year.

Anti-American literature disguised as Scripture is flooding South Korea, according to the Rev. James Roe of the British and Foreign Bible Society. Roe asserted in London following a trip to Korea that he had secured a book composed entirely of anti-American cartoons bound in a standard cover of the Gospel of Luke.

The Internal Revenue Service overruled a local office decision that Dallas Theological Seminary could not give ordained staff members non-taxable housing allowances because it is not church-affiliated. The national office said such an interpretation discriminates against independent seminaries.

The weekly voice of British Methodism, The Methodist Recorder, will no longer record opposition to merger with the Church of England in its advertising columns. Editorial sections will continue to discuss the issue, the editor said, but the paper’s first loyalty is to official Methodism, and it cannot accept “paid pressure advocacy” that seeks to “overturn the mind of the Church.”

Roland Gammon is syndicating a column through the North American Newspaper Alliance called “Faith Is a Star,” which will discuss the personal faith of a motley assortment of personalities including: Pablo Casals, U Thant, General Nasser, David Ben-Gurion, Harry Truman, Carl Sandburg, Mrs. John F. Kennedy, and Mickey Mantle.

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At a Washington memorial service, Gabon’s Ambassador Aristide Issembe said Albert Schweitzer’s “paternalism was the paternalism that any doctor exhibits toward his sick patients.” To people in Gabon’s primitive forests, he said, Schweitzer was the first European to treat them as people of equal worth.

Samples of a new biweekly magazine, expanse, went to 100,000 ministers last month. Lutheran Wilfred Bockelman and his staff plan to read 100 religious and secular journals and offer 60- to 100-word descriptions of major articles. Bockelman said the magazine will not be a digest but will just describe articles so ministers can decide whether they want to read them.

A concert by Duke Ellington’s jazz band at Grace Episcopal Cathedral, San Francisco, was introduced as “an offering to God,” inasmuch as the musicians wailed at base union scale instead of their usual premium fee. For the 3,000 attendants, seats cost up to $25. Duke, who is 66, called the religious compositions his “most important statement.”

The Rev. John M. Norris, Bible Presbyterian minister who runs radio station WGCB in Red Lion, Pennsylvania, filed a suit in Washington’s Federal District Court asking a temporary injunction against the Federal Communications Commission’s “fairness doctrine” on balance in political programming, and $5 million damages from the Democratic National Committee for alleged harassment.

Five young men faced trial on charges growing out of a mob attack on Christians in Haifa, Israel. The five, described as Orthodox zealots, were accused of assault, damage to property, unruly behavior, and threats. Reports from the coastal town of Ashdod, meanwhile, indicated that religious peace had been restored there following attacks from the agitated Orthodox. Police were credited with speedy action and cooperation with the national ministry of religion.

Dr. E. S. James, editor and general manager of the Baptist Standard of Texas (circ. 400,000), says he has begun plans to retire “in about a year.” James, 65, is noted for his outspoken views on issues relating to Southern Baptists.

They Say

“Five years ago a Norwegian statistician set a computer to work counting history’s wars. The machine quickly, competently and a bit contemptuously announced that in 5.560 years of recorded human history there have been 14.531 wars, or, as the computer pointed out, 2.6135 a year. Of 185 generations of man’s recorded experience, the machine noted with a touch of sarcasm, only ten have known unsullied peace. And even as he always has, man these days is fighting man.…”—Time.

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DR. WILLIAM STRANG TINDAL. 66, professor of Christian ethics and practical theology at New College, University of Edinburgh; in Edinburgh.

DR. WILLIAM HEALEY CADMAN, 73, former professor of theology at Mansfield College, Oxford University; in Devon, England.

THE REV. RICHARD PYKE, 91, former president of the British Methodist Conference; in Bristol, England.

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