The Rev. Franklin Clark Fry had a busy June and July ahead of him. Early this month he was to receive his thirty-third and thirty-fourth honorary doctorates. Then on to Atlanta June 19–27 for the biennial meeting of the Lutheran Church in America, of which he was president. He would then spend most of next month as outgoing chairman of the Central Committee at the key assembly of the World Council of Churches.
On May 20, the 67-year-old churchman abruptly ended his speech to the Michigan Synod meeting, returned to New Rochelle, New York, and entered the hospital, where he was reported to be “gravely ill” of an unspecified ailment. A week and a half later, the LCA issued a statement in which Fry resigned as president of the denomination because “my own prospects are not sanguine.” He died June 6—of cancer.
Fry was America’s best-known Lutheran churchman. The church he headed is North America’s largest Lutheran body, with some 3,288,000 members.
He was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the son and grandson of prominent Lutherans. He himself left a son who is a clergyman, the Rev. Franklin Drewes Fry, pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in York, Pennsylvania. Another son, Robert C., is a business developer in Pleasantville, New York.
By coincidence, Fry’s speech at the Michigan Synod was delivered in Trinity Lutheran Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the Rev. Richard I. Preis, the husband of Fry’s daughter, Connie, is pastor.
Fry graduated from Hamilton College and the Lutheran seminary in Philadelphia. He was a pastor in Akron in 1944 when he was elected president of the United Lutheran Church. Fry continued as president when the ULC merged with three other bodies into the Lutheran Church in America in 1962. In his last major public appearance, Fry did one of the Scripture readings at the nationally televised Morehouse College service for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as the representative of the WCC.
A lifelong Democrat, Fry had been a political liberal. He was known, however, to have been deeply disturbed over the revolutionary drift of both the World Council and the National Council of Churches. He skipped meetings of the NCC General Board in protest of leftist trends and wrote letters to NCC officials questioning their granting of free office space to Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Viet Nam.
Fry specified that a successor be chosen at this month’s convention to fill out the unexpired two years of his final term as president. The number-two man at LCA headquarters is Secretary Malvin Lundeen, who was president of the Swedish-background Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church, the second largest body to become part of the LCA. But Lundeen is now 66, and the convention might prefer a younger man. Since Fry was from the ULC, the convention might favor another former Augustana figure. A possible choice from the former ULC ranks is the Rev. Robert J. Marshall, president of the Illinois Synod and former Old Testament professor at the Lutheran seminary in Maywood, Illinois.
THE CHURCH FOR GUERRILLAS?
Missionaries must be free to support guerrilla movements because they are often “the only humanizing force in developing countries,” according to a United Presbyterian official.
The Rev. Ralph Chandler, secretary of international affairs for the denomination, was quoted by Religious News Service as saying that “naturally, as Christians we prefer non-violence, but violence is already part of the established order in these countries. It is the institutionalized violence of starvation and illiteracy inflicted on most of the population.”
Chandler, 34, formerly with Naval Intelligence and a foreign-service officer with the State Department, recently spent several days with guerrilla forces in Guatemala.
“We need a new kind of missionary, one who is enough aware of the institutionalized violence in these countries to want to become active in changing existing structures—by whatever means necessary. In some countries that means guerrilla uprisings,” he said.
Church people, answering a nationwide call, added their support to the Poor People’s Solidarity Day march scheduled for this week. The National Council of Churches urged representatives of religious groups to “illustrate by their physical presence in Washington support for the goals of the Poor People’s Campaign.” The plea came in response to march coordinator Bayard Rustin’s “Call to Americans of Good Will.”
Within a few days of the NCC call, church people around the country indicated their interest in participating. Mass mailings to church councils, denominations, and individuals elicited further response. The death of Senator Robert F. Kennedy added a new dimension to the concern, but legislation pending in Congress threatened to evict Resurrection City residents.
Participants were “limited to those who support the concepts of integration, democracy, and non-violence,” said Dr. Charles S. Spivey, director of the NCC’s social-justice department. Marchers were asked to supply their own transportation, food, and bedrolls. Church groups were to be permitted to carry identifying banners, though political groups were barred from displaying slogans.
NCC officials hoped for greater response than that for Selma or the 1963 March that brought 250,000 supporters to Washington. But Mr. Rustin, who also organized that march, predicted, “If we get 100,000 on June 19, it will be a howling success.” The civil-rights worker cited a potential drawback in addition to the short planning time: “In 1963 we were asking people to march for dignity. Now we are asking them to march for jobs that will cost the nation billions of dollars.”
This march is more serious than the one in 1963, said an NCC official who came to Washington for the campaign. He felt it might be the nation’s last chance for a creative, nonviolent solution to its problems.
Throughout the campaign the NCC maintained direct contact with Resurrection City. A shelter there housed an office and its staff members, volunteers from the Church of the Brethren who had committed themselves to go to jail if necessary.
EVANGELICAL ‘EXPOSURE’ ON RACE
True or false: the black race has had to serve the white race because of the Lord’s curse on Ham. White and black evangelicals met at the University of Chicago with black militants the last week in May to confront this question (answer: false) and others more immediate.
Roosevelt University political scientist Charles Hamilton, co-author with Stokely Carmichael of Black Power, said, “A society which has been color-conscious all its life to the detriment of blacks cannot simply become colorblind and expect the blacks to compete with an equal chance for success.” One black discussion leader said whites have to forget “the myth that Jesus Christ was white.”
The white participants—professors, students, businessmen, professionals, housewives—were cautioned not to “run out and do something.” Racial attitudes are more deeply rooted than even “aware” evangelicals realize; some were more interested in “the Negro problem” than in the problems of Negroes.
White participants suggested two action steps: admit that racism in America is a moral issue, and use white churches as places for the races to get together.
The conference of 134 Chicago area participants, called “Double Exposure on Race,” used effective audio-visual and group-involvement techniques. It was produced by an informal group called “Conversations on the City,” a dozen Christians, black and white, who are seeking ways to fulfill their urban responsibilities.
Yale Chaplain William Sloane Coffin, Jr., sandwiched two baccalaureate sermons into his busy and well-publicized draft-subversion trial in Boston. One was an impromptu speech to thirty Wellesley College seniors in the courtroom corridor. Unable to travel to Wellesley, Coffin made use of a recess to speak to the girls, who traipsed in dressed in cap and gown.
For the other, Coffin travelled south to address Princeton Theological Seminary graduates on a Sunday afternoon. Coffin—accused of preaching moving sermons to induce young men to turn in or burn their draft cards—counseled the ministers-to-be non-controversially: “Be aflame with faith and free.”
Coffin, baby doctor Benjamin Spock, and three others are charged with conspiracy to counsel, aid, and abet young men to avoid military service. Coffin admitted goading the government into prosecuting him but denied any conspiracy. The landmark case is considered a test of the outer limits of anti-war protest.
A four-page publicity release on Coffin and Presiding Episcopal Bishop John E. Hines, Princeton Seminary’s commencement speaker, gave extensive background on Pilgrim descendent Coffin, once an agent for the Central Intelligence Agency, but nary a word about the trial. Seminary President James I. McCord introduced Coffin as the “voice of conscience” on race and Viet Nam, mentioned the trial, but said it would be “inappropriate” to comment while it’s in progress.
Coffin, handy with witticisms, evoked laughter when he quipped: “What do you do when the world, instead of being civilized, is being Los Angelized?Coffin delivered his speech three days before Senator Robert F. Kennedy was shot in Los Angels. One answer is to become a Presbyterian minister.” He charged the class to “act as men of God” and said that the Church today is less pressed on the intellectual than on the ethical front. “People don’t find fault with Christ, but with Christians.” In his opinion, only a “small but passionate remnant” is able to “translate personal problems into social action.”
The war critic closed with a quotation from Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno: “May God deny you peace but give you glory,” the same benediction he pronounced at the abbreviated courthouse baccalaureate.
PRIEST GETS 6 YEARS
Josephite Father Philip Berrigan was sentenced to six years in federal prison last month for pouring blood on Baltimore draft files. Fellow defendant James L. Mengel, a United Church of Christ clergyman, was given a “technical term” pending a three-month study of the case.
A week before the sentence, Berrigan was arrested after he and eight companions seized more than 600 files at a suburban Baltimore draft office and burned them in a nearby parking lot with “homemade napalm.”
Baltimore’s Lawrence Cardinal She-han, who said he had kept silence to avoid prejudicing the ruling, said, “I cannot condone and do not condone the damaging of property or the intimidation of government employees.” He favored free speech and protest by clergymen short of property damage.
Adopting Babies: An Evangelical Medium
The two-year-old son of a New York family sang his favorite chorus for a visitor and quoted a verse he had learned in Sunday school. The scene would not be unusual except that this child was the first placed for adoption by Evangelical Family Service, Inc.
His story recurs throughout the files of the agency, itself little more than two years old. Evangelical Family Service was the dream of a group of Christian lay people who saw the need for a professional social-service agency with statewide operation and an evangelical commitment. Last year, New York State approved the agency for permanent status. Similar evangelical agencies operate in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and California as arms of city rescue missions and other local evangelistic works.
EFS places children only in homes where both husband and wife indicate their personal Christian commitment. So far, the agency has been able to place all the children available to it and to find children for all the couples who qualify.
One couple, a little older than most adoptive parents, received a four-year-old girl who had never been to church. Before adoption proceedings were completed, the child was saying grace at family meals and had become an enthusiastic member of a Sunday-school class.
“The most satisfying experience of this pioneer venture,” says Miss Rachel Braker, who heads the agency’s social work, “has been to go into homes where little children freely sing and talk about their love for Jesus. We know they probably would never have learned about him if they had not been placed into Christian homes.”
Most of the babies placed by EFS are born to unwed mothers, many of whom came to EFS for aid. Often the girls are from evangelical environments and while they live in foster homes renew their Christian commitment. Others have made first-time decisions. Those who release their babies for adoption often are pleased to know that the child will have a Christian family.
In addition to serving unwed mothers and adoptive parents, EFS counsels couples, families, and individuals who wish professional help. Miss Braker does much of the counseling herself, though at times the volume of requests or type of need requires reinforcements.
She and the agency’s director, the Rev. L. J. Isch, Jr., look forward to establishing branches of the Syracuse office in New York City, Albany, and Buffalo and to setting up similar state-approved agencies across the country.
THE DURABLE MR. MANNING
Ernest C. Manning last month celebrated his twenty-fifth anniversary as Premier of Alberta, Canada. On week days, the 59-year-old politician governs his province and leads the Social Credit Party. On Sundays he dons the hat of evangelist for Canada’s “Back to the Bible Hour” radio broadcast.
Manning’s government career began when at age 26 he became the youngest cabinet minister in British parliamentary history. In 1935, with William (“Bible Bill”) Aberhart, his mentor from Calgary Prophetic Bible Institute and “Back to the Bible Hour” director, he founded the Social Credit Party. In its thirty-three-year history the party has never lost an election, though its national significance is limited.
CHANGE AT ‘CHRISTIAN CENTURY’
When the Rev. Dr. Alan Geyer’s first book came out five years ago, the Christian Century didn’t even review it. Now the 37-year-old social scientist has been named editor of the magazine.
Geyer’s book criticized such major Century crusades as its support of the Kellogg-Briand pact of 1929, which “outlawed” warfare, and its hands-off attitude toward the European war in the late 1930s. Geyer rejects the ecumenical weekly’s historic pacifism, favoring the “political realism” of Reinhold Niebuhr, who started his own magazine in 1941 to counteract the Century.
Geyer, currently the international-relations director for the United Church of Christ’s Council for Christian Social Action, takes his new post September 1. The title will be shared with the Rev. Kyle Haselden, Century editor since 1964, who spent four months in the hospital after a December brain operation and faces a long recuperation.
When he was in high school, Geyer worked part-time for the Newton, New Jersey, weekly Herald. He was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate in sociology at Ohio Wesleyan, then earned an S.T.B. and a Ph.D. in Christian ethics at Boston University. He has been pastor of inner-city Methodist parishes in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Newark, New Jersey, and spent five years as political-science chairman at Virginia’s Mary Baldwin College, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. He is married and has four children.
Geyer will serve as an international-relations advisor at next month’s assembly of the World Council of Churches. He read the manuscript of Paul Ramsey’s Who Speaks for the Church? before publication and shares Ramsey’s criticism that WCC social pronouncements are often “rather heedless of considerations of competence and technical issues.” But he thinks that things are improving and that Ramsey’s plea for more general ethical statements would make them “too irrelevant and abstract.”
In fact, Geyer’s book Piety and Politics urges establishment of a cadre of church experts in Washington to advise the government on foreign policy, and advocates more attention to the field in church and seminary curricula.
As an international expert in an era of domestic turmoil, Geyer is “disturbed” at the “neo-isolationism” of activists who forget that poverty exists outside the boundaries of the United States. He favors a “reordering of priorities to satisfy the minimum demands of black justice” through politics and economics. He had “no comment” on whether the Century would endorse a presidential candidate this year. Previous involvement in politics threatened the journal’s tax exemption in 1964.
Unlike Wayne Morse and others, Geyer was not against U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia at first, but he has come to oppose the war policy during the last three years. If the Paris talks break down, he said, “further initiative rests with the United States,” such as more cuts or an end to bombing.
In theology, Geyer said he has been influenced both by the liberalism of his Ph.D. mentor, Dr. Walter Muelder, and by the “Christian realism” of Niebuhr and John C. Bennett. He offered no opinion on the new morality, saying he has been immersed in foreign-policy discussion in recent years and is not up on ethical literature and discussion.
In a January Century article, Geyer spoke of “a dying Christianity.” What he meant, he explained last month, was the decline of churchianity, in which Protestantism was a majority religion. Thus he hopes for “a kind of death that precedes the resurrection of a new Church.”
Geyer thinks CHRISTIANITY TODAY “has helped to relieve the parochialism” of conservative Protestants and is “a welcome participant in the dialogue.” But he doesn’t like the “cult of personality” around Billy Graham and thinks he draws energies away from “the issues which matter the most to me—domestic justice and international order.” In a sociological word, he calls Graham’s evangelism “disfunctional.”
Things are cooking again at Pillsbury College. When President B. Myron Ce-darholm recently demanded more power, trustees of the fundamentalist Minnesota school not only refused but also reversed his decisions in some student discipline cases referred to them by irate parents. Cedarholm quit, pleaded his case in a chapel and a faculty meeting, and fired off a letter to the constituency. Eight of the twenty-seven teachers resigned. Others asked the board for reconciliation, but it refused to listen. More resignations are expected.
“This is a board-controlled school,” insists board Chairman Richard Clear-waters, pastor of, Minneapolis Fourth Baptist Church and key figure in the 100-church independent Minnesota Baptist Convention, which operates Pillsbury.
During the school’s eleven-year history, the board has ridden out such storms as resignation of the entire faculty when President Monroe Parker was forced out three years ago. Some observers fear a split in ranks will affect payment of the school’s $1,500,000 debt. Cedarholm is trying to raise money to start a new college on the campus of a former Roman Catholic academy in Watertown, Wisconsin.
One thing is clear: The 700 troubled students do not run Pillsbury. Student government is banned, as is dissent. “If a student expresses himself contrary to administration opinion,” says Cedarholm, “we expel him. This way we have no demonstrations or riots.” Students inclined to question policy are told “to go off somewhere and pray.” Despite such strict rules, enrollment has doubled under Cedarholm.
“Maybe,” reflected one student, “the administration and board ought to go off somewhere and pray.”
EDWARD E. PLOWMAN
SANCTIFIED OR SALACIOUS?
Two prominent Protestant clergymen testified on opposite sides in a legal case involving the Swedish film I Am Curious—Yellow. A federal jury ruled it obscene after it was seized by U. S. customs.
The Rev. Howard Moody of the avant-garde Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village appeared as a witness for Grove Press, which had acquired the film for distribution in the United States. Dr. Dan Potter, executive director of the Protestant Council of the City of New York, appeared as a rebuttal witness for the prosecution.
Potter was asked if he found the movie “sanctified” in a religious perspective. “The most ridiculous thing I ever heard,” he replied.
Lawrence W. Schilling, an assistant U. S. attorney who was prosecutor, said the film was “a series of bizarre sexual episodes, designed to shock, and linked together by what can charitably be described as a soap opera.”
A GESTURE FOR UNITY
The Rev. Dr. William Fitch of Toronto, under “great pressure,” reversed his earlier decision not to accept the presidency of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.
Fitch had been elected to the post after delegates rejected a nominating-committee choice at the recent national meeting, which Fitch did not attend (see April 26 issue, page 44). In the ensuing ill will, Fitch, pastor of Knox Presbyterian Church, declined the office.
But he has changed his mind, he told the Toronto Star, because Canadian evangelicals need a strong, united voice which he hopes the EFC can provide. Fitch has one of the keenest minds among Canadian evangelicals and doesn’t hesitate to speak his mind on controversial issues.
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