Developing coolness between Peking and Hanoi is increasing the danger of Red Chinese intervention in areas more responsive to her designs than Viet Nam. The immediate target appears to be millions belonging to dissident tribes to the west of Viet Nam.
Naga, Kachin, Karen, and Shan tribe leaders are now being trained in modern weapons and subversion against the governments of India, Burma, Thailand, and Laos. The site is an indoctrination center for minority nationals in Szemao, southwest China.
The greatest irony is that China is holding out the political carrot of autonomy to tribes that really want a federation of Christian states from Assam to Thailand.
A. Z. Phizo, a Baptist who is the self-exiled head of the Naga tribal underground in India, makes no secret of the fact that Nagas are fighting primarily for a “Christian state.” Every military conference and battle begins and ends with prayer. General Mowu, an evangelical Christian who commands the underground Naga army, was recently reported to be training with 2,000 of his troops in southwest China.
Five years ago the Nagas approached the other three regional tribes to agree on a federation of mutual interest, including “majority Christian beliefs” against “imperialism” by Hindu India and Buddhist Burma. This deep religious conviction that fuels tribal resistance is consistently underrated by India, Burma—and the West. The Chinese do not underrate it, and promise “freedom of religious belief.”
Many of the Nagas—they are 60 per cent Christian and have the highest literacy (80 per cent) of the Indian states—were dubious at first about association with godless Communists. But the embittered Naga leaders say no one in the West wants to help them.
“The Baptists came and told us to get into the kingdom of heaven,” says Mowu sarcastically, “but they could not help us get a hearing in the United Nations.” Phizo says that “the American Baptists came to Nagaland bringing Bibles, but now Nagas are being killed by American bombs and bullets.”
The Nagas claim Red China killed only 90,000 Tibetans in a decade, while the Indian Army has killed 100,000 Nagas in eight years.
Western military and missionary leaders have spoken highly of the courage, loyalty, and friendship of the formerly headhunting Nagas. But Nagas charge that they have not even pressured India to allow an official probe of Naga conditions by the United Nations, mission bodies, or the press.
The inescapable fact is that the Naga underground no longer trusts the West and has enough sympathy among the tribes between Assam and Laos to make it impossible for governments in New Delhi, Rangoon, Bangkok, and Vientiane to do anything. They are confident that China is prepared to provide all matériel they need to succeed. “Give me 25,000 guns and I will settle ‘the Naga problem,’ ” General Kaito said confidently five years ago. He and Mowu proved the boast to British commanders in Burma during World War II.
Recently Indian troops found a wellhidden Naga camp with 60 mm. Chinese mortars, heavy and light machineguns, automatic rifles, photographs of Mao, and Nagas in Chinese uniforms with Chinese instructors.
Similarly trained and armed are about 10,000 Kachins, 15,000 Shans, and 20,000 Karens. Naga and Chinese personnel have been preparing select groups from the Mizo, Lusha, and Chin tribes on East Pakistan’s borders, and from Ahoms, Mishmis, and Appatanis in Assam. Despite high-level talks in New Delhi and Rangoon, this widespread consolidation goes on.
Last December, Peter Boog, first Burmese correspondent to leave the country since 1963, said the U. S. Air Force had just brought in highly sophisticated anti-guerrilla weapons tested in Viet Nam. The Soviet Union is also said to be responding to Rangoon’s pleas. The official organ of Ne Win’s Burmese regime said Red guerrilla campaigns had “sharply increased to the level of 1950,” when nearly everything but Rangoon was in rebel hands.
The tragedy is that the rebels are not Communists but friends of Britain and America and, in a majority of cases, devoutly Christian. They only ask an impartial hearing for their claims by a neutral body.
The Shans and other indigenous minorities in Burma were theoretically granted self-government under the constitution, and each state got the right of secession after the first ten years of union. Now Shans say they are not rebels but are just claiming their rights.
When India became independent, Gandhi said that the Nagas had a right to independence and that none of them would be forced to enter the Indian union, which India later compelled them to do. Faint hopes engendered by India’s willingness to join peace talks in 1964 soon died. Naga leaders decided they were to be treated cavalierly and dragooned into India’s unilaterally initiated “State of Nagaland” as the basis for negotiations.
The increasingly meaningless talks were to be extended to mid-1968, but they were violently terminated June 7 when the Indian Army attacked a camp and killed about 100 Nagas. Full-scale hostilities, backed by China, are now reckoned inevitable. Phizo is reportedly about to return and lead what Nagas hope will be the final phase.
The Nagas are allied with the neighboring Kachins, the only minority in Burma with a history of close ties with Red guerrillas.
The Shans are now emerging as one of Southeast Asia’s most significant groups: three million in Burma, with more in Thailand, Laos, Viet Nam, and the Yunan Province of Red China. China is wooing them with promises of an autonomous Shan state. To their own army, the Shans may be able to add another 10–15,000 troops from private armies and former Kuomintang remnant forces operating the opium distribution network from northern Burma and Thailand. The Shans intend to control the only supply road from China to Thailand through Burma. They can then extend east to other Shans, west to the Kachins, and south to the Karens.
The Karens—who like the Shans are permitted to secede under the constitution—are uniting fragmented groups into the “Liberation Council,” first formed in 1965. With this unity, a coalition of Shans and Karens has become a possibility for the first time.
Finally, the Chins of Burma—as recently as 1958 the backbone of Ne Win’s support—have become increasingly disillusioned with his policies. A strongly Christian people, they were shocked by the 1961 State Religion Act that insured pre-eminence for Buddhism, and they were easily persuaded to join a Christian federation, or at least a federation that would guarantee freedom of Christian worship.
Phizo says “the regional solution I have preached for twenty-five years must extend from the Brahmaputra to the Mekong, and even beyond the Brahmaputra into Tibet, and beyond the Mekong to the China Sea.”
A few years ago that was visionary nonsense. It is now well within the realm of possibility, but more as a Chinese-encouraged possibility with revolutionary repercussions for Asia than as a nationalist, non-Communist possibility with potential for peace.
Not only are millions of tribesmen in a state of political ferment and primitively armed rebellion; they are organizing themselves into a nucleus of increasingly sophisticated political and military organization. They have asked—and are still asking—for a fair hearing and just decisions. But the time for these is rapidly ending. And the time for the tribes to be an embittered pro-Communist threat to Southeast Asia is very near.
Nigeria: What After War?
War is the highest form of struggle for resolving contradictions …
This is the first pearl of wisdom in Mao Tse-tung’s famous Red Book of sayings, which can be picked up cheap at any bookstall in Nigeria. But not many Nigerians today subscribe to this view of war. They have tried it for over a year and it hasn’t resolved anything.
The tragedy of the civil war is not only the lives lost but also the fact that most of the Ibos in breakaway Biafra were trained in mission schools, while 80 per cent of the federal soldiers are at least nominal Christians. There has been talk that it is a religious war with Muslims trying to wipe out Christians, but a visit to Nigeria soon shows there is no evidence for this.
The truth is even harder to take: a packed Sunday-morning congregation in Enugu of soldiers with rifles in one hand and Bibles in the other. These were men with a simple faith in Christ, attending worship in the Hausa language and ready to aim those guns at men of like faith. Occasionally a soldier has refused to pull the trigger when faced with an Ibo he went to school with.
The task facing Nigeria when the war ends is frightening, and the need for help from governments and the Church will increase greatly. First there is resettlement of Ibos, whose homes all over Nigeria are occupied by others. A reporter can’t escape a sense of guilt when he spends the night in a home that an Ibo family fled recently.
There is firm belief that Ibos will be welcomed back, but the warmth of welcome will vary in different parts of the country. Governor A. P. Diete-Spiff, 26, of Rivers State, whose family has suffered at the hands of the Ibos, estimates 100,000 of the region’s people were forcibly taken into Biafra by the Ibos. “If the Ibos try guerrilla tactics, we will learn to become cannibals. The Ibos will be welcomed back. But we know their tricks now, and they will not return to be masters,” he vows.
Ibos fear that when they return home they will be second-class citizens. They have always been keen and successful businessmen, leading the nation’s trade and controlling its markets—now taken over by other Nigerians.
Resettlement of Ibos will be a long process during which Nigerians must win their confidence. Homes must be refurnished, crops planted, businesses set up. Other nations must be prepared to do more than just supervise the ending of the war.
One issue has been whether it is better to prolong peace talks while masses die from starvation, or to encourage General Yakubu Gowon’s federal forces to stop holding back and achieve a quick military victory so needed aid can be brought to Biafrans. Trapped in last month’s cruel political-military stalemate, an estimated 6,000 Biafrans were starving to death each day.
A message to Nigerian Christian leaders from the World Council of Churches urged them to press peace negotiators in Addis Ababa to put relief supplies first on the agenda—before the possibility of a ceasefire. Many questioned the wisdom of this, since only after a ceasefire would there be hope of getting in enough supplies to meet needs.
In an interview, the 33-year-old Gowon, head of state as well as military chief, described his decision for an all-out drive to win the war and said he had ordered food stockpiles taken into each area as the troops advance. In the discussion Gowon outlined his faith in Christ and his sense of dependence upon Christ in every decision he makes. He prays for guidance daily.
J. ERIC MAYER
More Czech Reaction
As the situation in Czechoslovakia following Soviet occupation remained fluid, reports of Iron Curtain church reaction continued to filter to the West.
After the Warsaw Pact troops invaded, forty pastors of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren called it “brute force” and vowed “passive resistance against falsehood and injustice.… We must not be governed by the idea of our own safety or conformist resignation.… Christ was always on the side of the oppressed, the betrayed, the deceived, and the defenseless.”
The same week the Ecumenical Council of the nation and its Roman Catholics issued a softer “message” urging prayers and moderation in the tense situation. Loyalty to the continuing regime of Alexander Dubcek was vowed, since “in a democratic socialist society, much of the Christian program of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being realized.”
Early last month the Ecumenical Council summoned two dozen Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox leaders to issue a statement of gratitude to Czech government leaders for their handling of the situation. It praised them for saving Czech honor and lives by “gradually consolidating the situation.”
One of the most poignant documents came from the pen of Lenin Peace Prize winner Josef Hromádka, theologian and Christian Peace Conference leader. He noted his long efforts for friendship with the Soviet Union and development of international socialism and expressed “disappointment, regret, and shame” at the Soviet “occupation.” He said he feared the Czechs’ “love will be changed into hatred and that our closest friends will appear to us as enemies,” and said only a quick troop withdrawal could salvage the situation.
Patriarch Alexei of the Russian Orthodox Church dismissed Hromádka’s protest and that of officials of the World Council of Churches. He said the sending of troops was not an occupation but a result of the Soviet treaties of “cooperation and friendship” with Czechoslovakia. In fact, the patriarch argued that the Soviet troop action “saved the world from a serious conflict and prevented bloodshed.”
In neighboring Hungary, the Lutheran weekly said that Western visitors had “provoked the current situation” in Czechoslovakia and that the troublemakers were in no position to “raise questions.” A more sympathetic statement was printed in the journal of the Reformed Church of Hungary.
In Rumania, where the Communist government criticized the invasion, a statement from leaders of all Christian groups was read from all pulpits last month urging Rumanian unity and demanding for Czechoslovakia “the sacred right to free development and independence.” The Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg in East Germany sent the Czech churches a message of mourning over the use of military force, despite reported Red regime pressure to keep silent.
Olympics: Over Sacred Site
If the student rebellion hasn’t closed everything down by then, the nineteenth Olympic Games will open October 12 near Mexico City. The Olympic Village has been built over the site of Cuicuilco, a sacred pagan ceremonial center that was buried by a volcano 2,000 years ago. But in 1968 a variety of Christian activities are planned.
Campus Crusade for Christ has teamed up with the ecumenical Centro Audio Visual Educativo to produce a series of daily five-minute radio programs featuring well-known Christian athletes. The programs are scheduled on 100 Latin American stations, forty Spanish-language stations in the United States, the Armed Forces Radio Network, and evangelical stations. Crusade’s Latin evangelism center at Chula Vista—forty minutes from the Olympic site—will house many Olympic officials and dignitaries.
Evangelical churches in Mexico City have planned a city-wide Evangelism-in-Depth campaign during the Olympics. Among those helping it will be two dozen U. S. Free Methodists, whose men’s fellowship arranged a $450-per-person Olympics caravan from Arizona to Mexico City.
Formal religious festivities were to include a big “Service for Peace” in the Stadium, sponsored by the city’s Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox. Local clergy will also offer multilingual services in a non-denominational chapel at Olympic Village with a seating capacity of 450. The modernistic church is the first major inter-Christian structure ever built in Mexico. Pope Paul planned to send a number of works for an Olympic culture exhibit, plus a message to the participating athletes.
Contraception And Damnation
Like a feisty fire-and-brimstone preacher, Patrick Cardinal O’Boyle is telling Roman Catholics they might be damned if they use artificial means of birth control.
The Washington, D. C., prelate’s warning in a pastoral letter spurred more than 200 worshipers to walk out of Sunday Masses. They were also protesting his disciplinary action against thirteen of forty-four parish priests who publicly disagree with his strict enforcement of the Pope’s contraception ban.
The adamant cardinal took a clear slap at Catholic liberals who uphold married couples’ right to freedom of conscience on the issue. His proof text was Deuteronomy 29:19, 20:
“… If after hearing these sanctions a man should bless himself in his heart and say, ‘I will follow the dictates of my own heart …,’ the Lord will not pardon him. The wrath and the jealousy of the Lord will blaze against such a man, every curse written in this book will fall on him and the Lord will blot out his name from under Heaven.”
“My dear friends in Christ,” the cardinal continued, “can you understand that I am impelled to act because I cannot stand by and let you be misled by an idea of freedom of conscience that could bring down on you so horrible a curse?”
Like a torch, the warning exposed with glaring light the growing gap between conservatives and liberals in the Roman church. It also seemed to lessen the possibility that compromise could smooth over this issue, which some see as the greatest challenge to Catholic authority since the Reformation.
Lest anyone be confused, O’Boyle added that no one can be a “faithful Catholic” and keep on using contraceptives, nor should a user take communion.
This stand is in direct contrast to positions taken about the same time by English and Austrian bishops. The English defended the right of individual conscience, while the Austrians went a step further and declared that Catholics did not have to confess their use of contraceptives or stop taking communion because of it.
In his pastoral letter O’Boyle took such bishops to task. He accused dissident priests and “even a few of my brother bishops in other lands” of seeming to adhere to the “new morality.” “According to this moral theory,” he said, “objective standards always may be subordinated to the individual’s decisions about his own unique situation.”
Opposing priests reacted strongly to that label. They said the cardinal badly “misstated” their position and added that no responsible theologian supports this theory.
O’Boyle then added insult to injury by rejecting—without even seeing—a new demand that he submit to arbitration his dispute with the forty-four dissident clerics in his diocese.
The National Federation of Priests’ Councils, which made the request, accused the cardinal of dealing with it “in bad faith.” The federation met in a two-day emergency session over the birth-control crisis, at the request of the Association of Washington Priests. The association, headed by the Rev. John E. Corrigan, Catholic University moral theologian, has led national opposition to strict interpretation of the Pope’s ban.
O’Boyle repeated his position that “because this is a doctrinal matter, it is not subject to arbitration or mediation.” But federation officials said they mainly wanted “due process” for the two priests whom O’Boyle suspended and the eleven others who received lesser penalties.
They hoped the dispute would go to the Committee on Abitration and Mediation of the National Conference of Catholics, chaired by the liberal Lawrence Cardinal Shehan of Baltimore. Shehan served on the Pope’s birth-control commission, which in its majority report advocated relaxation of the church’s ban on contraception.
A new tidbit about the commission: The fourteen bishops who were members voted nine to three, with two abstentions, that contraception is not necessarily sinful, according to the National Catholic Reporter. Until now, only the votes of the participating theologians were known. They reached the same conclusion by a fifteen-to-four vote. Names of the nine bishops were not known.
The Kansas City-based Reporter, which last year scored the coup of publishing the full theological report to the Pope in favor of a new doctrine of contraception, printed last month the text of the bishops’ statement. Its tone is pastoral, and its rhetoric not as commanding as that of the theologians. But the bishops’ refusal to go along with previous teachings on birth control indicates that there may be some ferment among the hierarchy as well as among the clergy and laity.
The bishops’ document to the Pope said:
“So the means chosen should be suitable for exercising a healthy and responsible parenthood, in the light of certain guiding principles: besides being effective, they should have regard for the health of the parents and their eventual offspring; they should not violate respect for the personal dignity of either husband or wife, who must never be treated as objects—this applies to women, who are still kept in a state unworthy of them in many countries, as much as to men; they should pay attention to any possible psychic consequences they might entail, depending on the person and circumstances; and finally they should not hinder the power of expression of an increasingly close union between two persons.…”
The national association won its first major strategic advance September 25 when 148 members of the Boston association urged O’Boyle to withdraw sanctions against the offending priests. The Bostonians also urged the bishops of the United States “and other brethren in Christ to express their concern to the Archbishop of Washington.”
Birth control got little mention at a meeting of diocesan priests called by O’Boyle the day of the Boston statement, but a full-dress meeting of the Washington priests’ Senate this week is expected to produce more commentary. In addition, the semi-annual meeting of the nation’s bishops is scheduled for Washington later this fall.
Along with the continuing birth control ferment, there are rumblings of further Catholic doctrinal discipline. Reports from the Vatican say an investigation is in process of the work of landmark Dutch liberal theologian Edward Schillebeeckx. Schillebeeckx was one of the major framers of the controversial “Dutch Catechism,” and a 1961 Dutch bishops’ manifesto which was banned in Italian bookstores. He was prominent at Vatican II.
Vatican sources denied to United Press International a liberal charge that a heresy trial was in preparation. Other reports held that eminent German theologian Father Karl Rahner had been selected to defend Schillebeeckx and would visit Rome on the matter sometime this month.
Flamboyant Twins Indicted
The flamboyant twin-brother pastors of the First Baptist Church of Fort Worth, Texas, the Rev. Homer and the Rev. Omer Ritchie, were among thirteen men indicted by a federal grand jury last month on charges of swindling twenty-one churches from Texas to New York of about $5 million. Arraignment is expected next month, with a Dallas trial in January.
Among those accused of fraud were prominent Churches of Christ contractor Glenn Paden, Sr., a former state securities executive, and a former state representative.
The Ritchie twins, who gained unanimous consent from their 5,000-member downtown church to remain in the pulpit, are charged with making a secret agreement to receive a percentage of room rental from a corporation that planned to build a motel on land that belongs to the First Baptist Church.
Assistant U. S. Attorney Robert Travis of Fort Worth said the churchmen also made an agreement with two other defendants to induce Mid-City Baptist Church in New Orleans to turn over about $4 million in bonds and cash in return for a new church building, which was never built. For their part, the Ritchies were said to have received $48,000.
Fourteen of the swindled churches were Churches of Christ, three Baptist, three Christian Science, and one Assemblies of God.
The Ritchies denied the charges and said they were “ridiculous, without basis.” “Omer and I are completely innocent; the facts have been twisted out of context,” Homer Ritchie told his congregation. The church responded with a resolution of love and devotion, full support and assistance, and earnest prayer. At Homer’s request, the church prayed for Travis and the federal grand jury that indicted the preachers.
This was not the first time First Baptist has been involved in a scandal. The Ritchies were preceded by the renowned J. Frank Norris, who was acquitted on a charge of murdering a wealthy Fort Worth lumberman and later on a charge of starting a fire in his church and perjuring an anonymous letter of threat against himself. Norris withdrew his church from the Southern Baptist Convention in 1952 and organized the Baptist World Fellowship Church in a dispute over teaching of evolution at Southern Baptist-related Baylor University.
Homer Ritchie caused a small uproar himself when he divorced his wife, remarried, and filed a legal petition against his ex-wife for not letting him visit his daughter. There was a commotion in 1963 and in 1964 over handling of church finances. Each time the scandal blew over.
Under Norris the church membership reached 8,000. Under the Ritchies, membership has declined to about 5,000, but the church property is worth about $3.5 million.
‘Sacred Cows’ On Alcohol
The first U. S.- and Canada-wide poll done by Alcoholics Anonymous shows 41 per cent of those who join stop drinking at once and another 23 per cent stop within a year. The remarkable results from a survey of 11,355 members this summer were reported at an international alcoholism conference in Washington, D. C.
At the conference, Methodist Bishop James K. Mathews of Boston attacked “sacred cow” concepts on drinking that churches usually support, such as minimum-age laws. The role of the Church, he said, “is not so much to provide missing services in a community” such as pastoral counseling, but to encourage the society to undertake healing programs.
Iowa Governor Harold Hughes, now a Senate candidate, spoke to the meeting as an ex-alcoholic. The Methodist layman said that if the country can’t meet the alcohol problem, “we aren’t likely to meet the great problems of war and peace, mass poverty, racism, and the estrangement of youth …”
The Kid On His Knees
Nobody ever knocked out Kid Gavilan in 144 professional fights during a ring career that included three years (1951–54) as world welterweight champion. The boxer was knocked down only twice before he hung up his gloves ten years ago and retired to a small farm in his native Cuba.
Today, the once happy-go-lucky Kid is on his knees. He was dropped there by nine cruel blows from Fidel Castro’s Communist government. That position, however, is not a symbol of defeat for the 42-year-old Negro, who is partially blinded by cataracts. It represents a kind of victory to the Kid, who, as Gerardo Gonzales, arrived in Miami last month aboard one of the regular refugee flights from Cuba.
“I owe Him [God] everything,” declared the soft-spoken Kid, whose religious practices led the embarrassed Red regime to jail him nine times in nine years since he became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “I am on my knees to say thanks because I am in the United States and because my family is going to be together.” He plans to settle in New York where his third wife and three children are awaiting him.
“It is a crime to be religious in Cuba,” declared the still trim fighter, who was jailed for preaching on the streets. “They don’t want anybody talking to the people about religion or anything else except Communism, or you go to jail.”
“I have to work for Jehovah,” he went on. “I have to go any place where human beings are to tell them about Jehovah’s purpose. I have to tell them not to hate, but that people are to live together in love. I have to tell them that Jehovah is for everyone—not just the rich, and no matter what color they are.” “But you can’t say that in Cuba,” Gavilan added. “They call it political. The police started chasing me. They called me a Yankee CIA spy who was hiding behind religion.”
Gavilan, a former Catholic, said harassment and persecution of religious groups is not limited to Jehovah’s Witnesses. It applies to anyone who undertakes any public religious activity outside the routine indoor Sunday services. Pentecostals, two groups known as Gideons (not the famous Bible-placing organization), and the Trinitarians in particular have run into trouble for attempting street preaching, he said.
Even regular services at Catholic, Methodist and Baptist churches suffer, Gavilan noted. “They make the people be on jobs when it’s time for church services,” he reported.
The people of Cuba are suffering economically and also in health, said the champ, whose farm was nationalized. They have been living on Communist promises, “but nobody can give promises that equal God’s,” he said. Now that he does not have even his little farm left from the two million dollars he earned as a fighter, Kid Gavilan is not worried about getting along. “I just want to learn to live for the future Jehovah promises. Preaching, for me, now is the first thing in my life.”
It Didn’T Suit
It would have been a neat trick—but it didn’t work. A pastor hoped to “work for the reconciliation of men” by filing a suit to stop the bussing of Negro school children from Washington, D.C., to his Maryland suburb.
“But people didn’t understand,” said the Rev. Kenneth H. Okkerse, pastor of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, explaining why he withdrew as coplaintiff. “They thought I was doing just the opposite. They saw it as a divisive effort.”
Okkerse said he wanted to test the constitutionality of bussing and, through “dialogue” with citizens involved in the issue, to show that “the answer to unrest in our hearts is not social reform, but Christ. He is the only one who can unite men, as each comes to know him.”
“But I found that people couldn’t understand what I meant,” said the frustrated minister. “I’ve never been involved in anything political before, and I don’t understand the jargon.”
An evangelical who is prominent in the local charismatic movement, he said he felt he’d be “more effective in the discipline of the church than the courts.” But he emphasized that he had “no pressure” from anyone to get out of the suit.
Okkerse said he had “no objection” to inter-racial classrooms. But along with the constitutional question, he wondered whether bussing was the best way to solve educational problems.
A Man Called Peter Jr.
A man called Peter has done it again. Like a late-night movie rerun, the Rev. Peter Marshall Jr. has followed in his famous father’s footsteps by nearly getting fired from a church because of a booming ministry.
But by a vote of sixty-nine to sixty-two, members of the East Dennis Community Church on Cape Cod overrode efforts to oust the dynamic 28-year-old. The pastor’s opponents, mainly older New Englanders, complained, “We have a small country church here—and we want to keep it that way.” Since Marshall took the pulpit last December, average Sunday attendance has more than doubled. Many newcomers, especially in the summer, are youths.
All this sounds like the elder Marshall, who risked dismissal by jarring stand-patters in New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, Washington, D. C., and won fame as a preacher, author, and U. S. Senate chaplain. Ironically, a Washington area presbytery committee recently advised a congregation not to call Peter Jr., who was student president at Princeton Seminary, because he is too controversial.
The young Marshall says his parishioners’ gripes about crowds are symptomatic of a desire “to keep this church a nice little country club. This is obviously not what I want, or what I think the Lord wants.”
“I would run into this resistance wherever I am,” he added. “It happens wherever you preach the Gospel. But the basic unwillingness to change was made more difficult by the older age of many of our members. I can understand it—in comes a young guy preaching all this stuff about sin and love.”
Before the vote, he said attempts by some members to “control the ministry … make it impossible for me, or any other minister, to do any effective work.” But now he thinks things are “resolved pretty well.… No one is trying to derail the train.”
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