1968 may go down as the year in which the world tried to cope with a rising tide of violence while ecumenical assemblies sought to encourage it.

In Uppsala, Sweden, this week, the Fourth Assembly of the World Council of Churches will weigh the pros and cons of violent protest. The National Council of Churches has already adopted a policy statement giving dignity to the use of physical force to achieve social change (see page 43).

Meanwhile, countless Christian clergy and lay leaders pledged themselves anew to principles of law and order, to a more urgent ministry of reconciliation, and to the task of sensitizing consciences toward recognizing social problems and finding solutions within democratic processes.

It seemed to be left to politicians to devise ways of subduing civil unrest and the violent climate that has seen the assassination of a number of American political leaders.

Among the components and causes of today’s climate of violence are the breakdown of American home life, the popularity of murder mysteries and spy stories, the prevalence of TV and movie violence, the traffic in toy guns, and the use of alcohol and drugs. But after the murder of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, attention centered upon the ease with which irresponsible persons can still get guns and ammunition. There was an immediate public outcry for more stringent laws on firearms control. As usual, churchmen differed on the issue.

President Johnson has told Congress that guns are used in more than 6,500 murders in the United States each year. The most frequent victims are policemen, bus and taxi drivers, and small shopkeepers. But it can happen to anyone. In January, two Roman Catholic nuns were wounded and another narrowly missed by a woman with a gun in Columbus, Ohio.

Proponents of stricter gun control point out that the United States has less regulation of firearms and more misuse of them than any other country. Moreover, riots in U.S. cities have spurred gun sales. The gun used to shoot Senator Kennedy was originally purchased during the Watts riot in 1965, presumably for defense.

The feeling seems to grow that the American society is a sick society. Both liberals and conservatives hold this view, though for somewhat different reasons.

Methodist Bishop Eugene M. Frank contends that “our nation rages with anger” and notes the teaching of Jesus that anyone who is angry with his brother is already guilty of murder in his heart.

The Rev. Raymond Ortlund of Lake Avenue Congregational Church in Pasadena, California, asserts that even Christians are often guilty of intense bitterness. “Some Christians talk of our leaders in such vulgar ways that it makes me sick,” he says. Ortlund urges evangelicals to start anew to contribute to solutions instead of to the problems.

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For one Los Angeles area minister, the Kennedy killing brought memories of another assassination, that of American Nazi leader George Lincoln Rockwell. The Rev. Andre Bustanoby, now of Fullerton, California, was then pastor of a church in Arlington, Virginia. Rockwell was shot across the street from the Arlington church while Bustanoby was readying a message for the funeral of his mother.

Bustanoby thinks Americans have lost their capacity to be outraged by violence. “We are so jaded that it takes the murder of a national figure to shock us,” he declares. “Perhaps in time we can get used to the murder of national figures, too.”

After the immediate shock of Kennedy’s murder wears off, will it be back to violence as usual?


The head of the Armenian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem says that the “psychological background” of the assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy is found in the years of Arab-Israeli hatred. Bishop Shahe Ajam Ajamian, in the United States on a fund-raising drive, said he had known the family of Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, the 24-year-old assassination suspect, before the family left Jordan in 1957.

Bishop Ajamian suggested that the Sirhan family left Jerusalem when Arab hatred for the State of Israel, created in 1948 in the face of strong Arab opposition, was at a high point. Religious News Service said the prelate noted that the Sirhans were not members of his Armenian congregation. They were Christians of Greek Orthodox background, though the suspect attended a school maintained by the Lutheran Church of the Savior in the former Jordanian sector of Jerusalem.

The Sirhans have had connections with a wide range of religious viewpoints. The suspect, his mother and father, and three of their other children came to Pasadena eleven years ago under the sponsorship of Dr. and Mrs. Haldor Lillenas, members of the First Nazarene Church there. The late Dr. Lillenas was a noted composer of gospel music. The Sirhans attended the church briefly and later went to First Baptist Church in Pasadena, which brought the two oldest sons to this country. Mrs. Sirhan has been employed by Westminster Presbyterian Church and also has expressed interest in a Seventh-day Adventist church. Her husband, who went back to Palestine some years ago, has reportedly had dealings there with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Young Sirhan, the accused slayer, is listed as a member of the Rosicrucian Order and is said to have asked that some of his confiscated money be sent to the group’s headquarters.

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Famed interdenominational Riverside Church in New York City called as pastor the Rev. Ernest T. Campbell of First Presbyterian Church, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Campbell, 44, a graduate of Bob Jones University and Princeton Theological Seminary, is successor to Robert J. McCracken and Harry Emerson Fosdick, both Baptists. Campbell believes “it is not enough to say that if you know God personally you will automatically do the right thing in personal and public life. But there will be no substantial change in society unless individuals are changed.”

Dr. Paul A. Crow, Jr., 36, church historian at Lexington Theological Seminary (Christian Churches), was named the first full-time general secretary of the Consultation on Church Union. Crow has been a part-time executive of COCU, which seeks merger of nine Protestant bodies.

Dean John B. Coburn, 53, of Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, is resigning to join a New York Urban League program to help high-school dropouts qualify for college admission.

William Pannell, Negro evangelist with Youth for Christ, has resigned to join Tom Skinner Crusades.


ARCHBISHOP CHRYSOSTOMOS, 92, once the youngest Greek Orthodox bishop; nearly executed for alleged involvement with rebels while a prelate in Turkey; primate of Greece 1962–67 but ousted by the new military government as too old under a series of church reforms; foe of ecumenism; in Athens, of gastritis.

JOSEPH D. BLINCO, 56, British Methodist pastor who became an associate evangelist with Billy Graham in 1955; for the past two years director of Forest Home Christian Conference; in Loma Linda, California, ten months after brain-tumor surgery.

Burton W. Marvin, for two years a communication staffer for the National Council of Churches and a former journalism dean of the University of Kansas, was named a journalism professor at Syracuse University.

The Henry W. Luce ecumenics chair at Princeton Theological Seminary has been given to Professor M. Richard Shaull, noted for his espousal of revolutionary social change.

The Rev. David Randolph, preaching teacher at Drew University, was appointed director of the United Methodist department of evangelists.

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The Rev. Paul C. Empie, general secretary of the U. S. committee of the Lutheran World Federation, was named president of Lutheran World Relief in place of the late Franklin Clark Fry.


After an Athens meeting with Archbishop Hieronymos, General Secretary Eugene Carson Blake of the World Council of Churches announced June 13 that the Greek Orthodox Church would be represented at this month’s WCC assembly by a group of lay theologians. The Greeks had boycotted the assembly three months ago after the WCC complained about treatment of Greek political prisoners.

Contributions to Methodist World Service in the fiscal year ending May 31 totaled $17,469,840, a 1 per cent drop.

When the 181-member Second Congregational Church of Warren, Maine, withdrew from the United Church of Christ because of political resolutions at the state conference, the pastor received more than 100 calls and letters in support from all over the state.

The Presbyterian Church in the U.S. voted to abolish listing of honorary degrees after names in official publications, but decided not to require ministers to delete them from local church publications after one D.D. asked, “Does this mean I must remove the stripes from my robe, too?”


New York City’s Lindsay administration is thinking of charging churches and other tax-exempt institutions for water, garbage removal, sewerage, and other direct city services.

The U. S. Patent Office granted Latin America Mission exclusive right to use of its term “Evangelism-in-Depth” for organization and promotion of evangelistic campaigns.

As a result of territorial gains in last year’s Arab-Israeli war, the Christian population of Israel has risen from 56,000 to 105,000, the government said.

Soviet Baptists, who cannot hold Sunday schools, have won permission to teach Bible correspondence courses to 100 persons—the first time it has been possible since 1929.

This September a graduate-level theology school tentatively called the Discipleship Training Center will open in Singapore, headed by David Adeney, Far East director of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students. The three-year course is sponsored by Overseas Missionary Fellowship and Singapore Bible College.

A week-long crusade in Duluth, Minnesota, by Canadian evangelist Barry Moore drew attendance of 27,900 and resulted in 643 spiritual inquirers.

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