Congratulations. The American Academy of Clergymen, a “Mount Everest for those who seek the highest pinnacle of excellence in their pastorial [sic] work,” has elected you a Fellow. “Many are nominated but few are chosen and given the horror of using the Academy Seal,” says the four-page brochure.
Oh, yes. Life dues are $90 for the first year.
One of the startled Fellows, former American Baptist Convention President Clarerice W. Cranford of Washington, D. C., said “it sounded just a little bit like a racket. I didn’t think it was sufficiently established—on the up and up.”
Academy Founder-President William A. Dyson, Sr., turns out to be a 33-year-old, lively, articulate former pastor of several small churches. He now works as a waterfront superintendent in Norfolk, Virginia, tb provide a better life for his family. In his dark but clean living room, Dyson, with one or another of his six children on his knee, talked eagerly of his hopes for the academy. But his face fell in “dismay” that only two dozen of the 100 prominent clergymen tapped as fellows by his “board” has accepted.
Despite the brochure’s apparent status appeal, Dyson revealed resentment against the church establishment: “The more degrees some pastors get, the less they seem to want fellowship. Statusseekers do not want to join our organization.” The academy doesn’t necessarily want Ph.D.s or Th.D.s, but pastors “who are truly concerned about their laymen.”
Until this summer Dyson’s academy had about 125 members, “mainly acquaintances I and others have made through the years.” Most, like Dyson, are Negroes, and he says the idea is to promote inter-racial fellowship and raise standards.
Laughing ruefully, Dyson said “if the brochure was misleading it was all my fault. ...1
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