At 3:13 A.M. (EDT) today the summer of 1968 begins. Longstanding predictions say it will be “long, hot”—euphemisms for riotous, bloody.
Racial discussion in the American and Southern Baptist Conventions took the spotlight the first week of June (see page 39), but the same topic was prominent in the councils of most Protestant groups. Black caucuses formed within many.
The National Council of Churches had already urged its churches to replace regular Sunday-school classes with study of the urban crisis. Some 200 black militants and community organizers joined churchmen at a closed meeting in Washington, D. C., to set up a “communications network” for the summer.
In New York, church and community agencies quietly formed an Urban Crisis Task Force to help Mayor Lindsay in case of riots. In riot-scarred Detroit, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese began a $1.5 million fund-raising drive, with most of it to go to urban ills. The church council in Portland, Oregon, decided to find at least 1,000 jobs for Negroes.
Here is a sampling of what the denominations are doing:
United Methodist Church—Last month the national division of the mission board allocated $680,000 for ecumenical, UMC, and community groups dealing with racial and poverty problems. $400,000 of the total wiped out a fund that had been put aside for such an “emergency.” The mission board has also set aside a $3 million fund for loans to ghetto enterprises, with the first $100,000 loan going to a Pittsburgh housing project.
Information packets keyed to the NCC’s urban-crisis program went out last month, but the Methodists have developed a more distinct educational effort. They are producing a nightly telephone talk show on racial issues over a network of two dozen radio stations. ...1
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