United Church of Christ. Arriving in Cincinnati in the wake of a four-day riot, 2,000 delegates and alternates attending the Sixth General Synod of the United Church of Christ found the race issue dominating nearly every action, whether it was electing a top church official or criticizing the hotel in which the convention was held.

The mood was set on the first day (June 22) of the eight-day session by the Rev. Harold L. Hunt, a civil-rights spokesman and pastor of Carmel Presbyterian Church in the predominantly Negro community of Avondale in Cincinnati.

“You will not have law and order until there is justice,” the fiery young minister told the enraptured delegates. Hunt said the week’s violence should be called a rebellion rather than a riot because “a riot is a disorganized situation in which activity goes astray and people fight each other. These people were rebelling against a system that is insensitive to their needs.” (The Ohio National Guard had been called in to quell the racial disturbance, during which $1 million in property was destroyed and more than 250 persons were arrested.)

Believing that justice, like charity, begins at home, the newly formed Ministers for Racial and Social Justice—an inter-racial organization of ministers serving predominantly Negro congregations in the UCC—launched an effective campaign to elect the Rev. Joseph H. Evans, a Negro minister from Chicago’s South Side, as national secretary. The secretary is the second-ranking elected, salaried officer of the two-million-member denomination. The Rev. Robert F. R. Peters, assistant to church President Ben Mohr Herbster since 1962, was the nominating committee candidate.

“We’re in a hell of a bind,” one minister told a reporter before the balloting. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.