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. Host of “Night Call” is Del Shields, head of the Negro announcers’ association. The guest on the first program June 3 was Poor People’s campaigner Ralph Abernathy.
Episcopal Church—Twenty-seven grants to community organizations May 21 raised the total of gifts this year above $500,000. Projects must be efforts to develop power for the poor, rather than just services, and the money is given with no strings attached. In addition, the denomination has given $200,000 to a national community-organization group, with $500,000 more on its way. Earlier this year, $50,000 was set aside for emergency grants to local Episcopal efforts.
United Presbyterian—A new Council on Church and Race led by the Rev. Edler Hawkins will preside over race and poverty efforts, which got major attention at last month’s national assembly (see previous issue, page 39).
Presbyterian Church, U. S.—The Southern denomination’s education board, following the NCC suggestion, is urging all churches to replace regular Sunday-school curricula with an eight-week course whose materials include the Kerner Commission report.
American Lutheran Church—The educational drive led by new urban-crisis executive H. ManfordKnudsvig to “rout out racism” among church members was to climax with congregational meetings and sermons this month.
Christian Churches (Disciples)—The denomination is seeking to raise $2 million in the next two years to meet urban problems; the project will be directed by a new five-member steering committee. At its August convention, the Negro convention within the Disciples is expected to plead that most of this money be channeled through black congregations.
Seventh-day Adventists—A spring council meeting voted a $100,000 emergency fund for the denomination’s educational, welfare, and evangelistic efforts in the inner city this summer. Funds will go on a matching basis to local conferences.
The government of Israel has agreed to pay for damage to all Greek Orthodox, Armenian, and Roman Catholic church property in the 1948 and 1967 wars—whether Israel or Jordan did the damage. The amount of compensation will be fixed later by a panel of experts, Religious News Service reported. The representative of Vatican property rights in the Holy Land, the Franciscan Custody, will give the government two acres of land along the old city wall as part of a parks and beautification program.
Five American missionaries taken by the Viet Cong are reliably reported to be alive and in reasonably good health. Three of them have been in Viet Cong hands for six years. The other two were seized early this year.
The Church of God with headquarters in Cleveland, Tennessee, dedicated a new office building last month. The lobby of the four-story structure features a mural of Venetian mosaic tile portraying the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
A new association of evangelical nationals and missionaries was formed in Japan at a meeting April 29 in Tokyo. Known as the Japan Evangelical Association, the group is said to embrace about 1,000 churches and pastors and more than 800 missionaries. Leaders hope for stepped-up cooperation aimed at church growth.
The largest “faith promise offering” in the history of Toronto’s Peoples Church, $341,504.84, climaxed the church’s fortieth annual world-missions conference. Park Street Church, Boston, which conducts a similar conference, reported $293,531.04 this year.
Seven hundred persons professed faith in Christ in three stadium rallies that concluded American evangelist John Haggai’s campaign in Djakarta, Indonesia. Final night attendance was 8,000.
A Franciscan custodian complained that an improvised service held by some 300 Pentecostal pilgrims in the Cenacle or Upper Room on Mount Zion “did not seem to be quite kosher.” The service, held on Pentecost Sunday, included songs and prayers in a number of languages. A protest was expected to be lodged with the government.
Two groups that have been seeking to influence the American ecclesiastical scene announced their dissolution last month. One was the Fellowship of Concern, an organization of liberal Southern Presbyterians begun in 1963. The other was the six-year-old National Committee of Christian Laymen, a conservative, interdenominational group with offices in Phoenix, Arizona.
The National Council of Churches is temporarily suspending several of its publications and replacing them with a weekly newspaper called Approach, which is to be devoted exclusively to information about the urban crisis. The consolidated publication will be put out jointly with the United Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A.
New York Mayor John Lindsay came under fire for recommending elimination of 47 of the 129 chaplains employed by the city. New York is the only major American city with paid fire, police, and sanitation chaplains. Their average salary is $5,000 a year.
The Upland School of Social Change at Crozer Theological Seminary is being renamed after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. King is a graduate of the seminary, an American Baptist institution in Chester, Pennsylvania.
A campaign is under way to raise $800,000 to endow a program in black-church studies at Colgate Rochester Divinity School.
Funeral services were held at Washington Cathedral for Helen Keller on June Miss Keller, 87, one of the world’s most admired women because of the way she overcame both blindness and deafness, was a Swedenborgian. Her ashes were interred in the columbarium of the Cathedral beside her friend and teacher, Mrs. Anne Sullivan Macy.
William H. Crook, 44, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, was named U. S. ambassador to Australia. He is a graduate of Baylor University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and also took graduate work in Edinburgh. He has been working in antipoverty and VISTA programs.
DANIEL L. MARSH, 88, Methodist churchman who was a former president and chancelor of Boston University; in St. Petersburg, Florida.
WARNER SALLMAN, 76, artist whose Head of Christ painting was reproduced more than 100 million times; in Chicago.
VICTOR E. CORY, 74, who founded Scripture Press, independent evangelical publisher of church educational materials; in Wheaton, Illinois.
Dr. John C. Bennett says he will retire in 1970 from the presidency of Union Theological Seminary, New York. Bennett, who has headed the school since 1964, will be 68 in July of 1970.
Dr. Thomas J. J. Altizer, around whose death-of-God theology a storm raged, is leaving Emory University (Methodist) to become a professor of English literature at the University of New York at Stony Brook.
Actor-clergyman R. Gary Heikkila was elected president of the Finnish Congregational Mission Conference of America.
G. M. Kuitert is succeeding the noted European evangelical theologian G. C. Berkouwer at the Free University of Amsterdam. Berkouwer is going into semi-retirement.
Dr. Bernhard W. Anderson, former dean of the School of Theology at Drew University, will become professor of Old Testament theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. He is a Methodist clergyman. Princeton is also adding a Lutheran to its faculty: Dr. Karlfried Froehlich, a layman who has also taught at Drew.
Dr. Wendell G. Johnston has been named president of Detroit Bible College.
The Rev. Frederik Herman Kaan was appointed chief executive officer of the International Congregational Council.
Government officials in the nation’s capital called upon a member of the Roman Catholic hierarchy to mediate a labor dispute. He is the Very Rev. Msgr. George G. Higgins. The dispute centers on the refusal of Washington bus drivers to carry change money at night because of numerous holdups. One driver was recently shot to death.
Evangelist Jack Wyrtzen attracted a total attendance of more than 30,000 for six rallies in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Crusade sponsors reported 794 recorded decisions for Christ.
HenrykCiszek, 51, a Pennsylvania-born evangelist of the Churches of Christ, was indicted in a Warsaw court last month on charges of illegally organizing churches and spreading slander against the government. The slander accusations grew out of a tape recording about alleged discrimination against Christians. Ciszek was said to be planning to take the tape to North America.
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