Despite growing needs for health care, missionary doctors are going out of business in some parts of the world. At most, 1,200 Protestant missionary doctors now work full time, with perhaps another 100 Roman Catholics. And not many of these dedicated healers are able to fill for suffering millions the traditional “White Father” role that existed for more than a century.
Strategy for this new era was discussed by 350 doctors, nurses, and other mission workers December 27–30 at the fifth International Convention on Missionary Medicine in Wheaton, Illinois. Sponsor was Medical Assistance Programs, which redistributes drugs and medical supplies to qualified physicians and agencies abroad.
Reasons for change in medical missions are not hard to find.
First is the advent of nationalism in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. National governments placed restrictions and demands on medical practice. The foreigner from the United States or Europe must get along with the local leaders, and he must practice good medicine.
The missionary doctor is no longer the only source of modern medical help for under-developed countries. There are non-religious medical people, perhaps sent by foreign-assistance programs, as well as native men and women with the latest medical training. While governments are building new hospitals for the national health programs, missionary doctors are often making do with dilapidated buildings and obsolete equipment, or not enough equipment.
The missionary doctor is himself subject to professional obsolescence. Pressed by the heavy demands of work in a missionary hospital that is typically understaffed, and far away from medical training centers at home, the missionary doctor can easily fall behind on new techniques and treatments.
Missionary doctors are largely responsible for the changes that are now displacing them. They trained native physicians. They taught people to expect to live without leprosy and tuberculosis and malaria, and to have hospital care when they are sick.
Because of past successes, missionary doctors now seek a new role. Dr. Clifton Nelson, who serves under the Africa Inland Mission, compared the modern missionary doctor to the kernel of wheat that must fall into the ground dying. “The native people are going to play the center of the stage,” he said. “Our role is to man the wings—after all, it’s their country, their hospital, their church.”
The convention’s theological emphasis was conservative. Dr. Donald A. McGavran, church-growth expert from Fuller Seminary, said that to qualify as a missionary “every doctor should be telling others the way to salvation.” Missionary doctors should not spend their time on diffident or hostile people, according to McGavran, but should concentrate their efforts where chances are best for a payoff in church growth.
Dr. Paul Brand, a surgeon recognized for his pioneer work in India with reconstructive hand surgery, emphasized that “actual missionary work is always person to person.” Individual care has been one of the great contributions of missionary doctors; a stranger caring for a person at cost to himself strengthens to the missionary witness.
Individual healing and the doctrine of salvation are the essence of traditional missionary medicine. But they aren’t giving the modern doctor all the help he needs to deal with his situation. Individualism even contributes to his problems. Christian efforts to bring healing around the world are fragmented. Approximately 180 agencies are responsible for sending the 1,200 doctors. The results are duplication, conflict, and lack of comprehensive planning.
The problems facing missionary medicine are related to the “go-it-alone” attitude, an attitude sanctified by “the leading of the Lord.” Such motivation has served the purpose of healing, but it also gets in the way.
Doctor-preachers are notoriously poor administrators. They may be quite happy to “do their thing” while the hospital goes bankrupt.
Poor administration aggravates the money problem, too. Rising medical standards require sophisticated technology, and medical machinery is expensive. At the same time, local workers are demanding adequate pay. Shoestring mission boards may keep people on the field under such conditions, but the amount of good they can do is questionable.
A young Christian doctor, no matter how dedicated, hesitates before entering a professional role where the odds are against practising good medicine. General practitioners are still needed abroad, but the loudest call is now likely to be for specialists. Specialty work means more years of expensive training. The potential missionary must ask himself, Is it worth it?
Another problem brought into focus by the maturing of medicine overseas is racism. The missionary doctor has long operated in a position of racial superiority. Even when he was living like the natives, he yet owned a superior technology and venerated skill. He was a god-like figure, and he often had no professional colleagues around to check the way he practiced.
The days of superiority are over, and most missionaries are glad they are. Yet a question remains. If the missionary doctor has worked himself out of his traditional job, what job is left for him to do? Dr. Arden Almquist, director of missions for the Evangelical Covenant Church and predecessor to Dr. Paul Carlson in the Congo, believes that “the nationals are not asking us to reverse roles but to assume brotherhood. In the new social situation on the mission field, each of us contributes the skill he has.”
One of the new methods for applying medical knowledge and skill on mission fields is the short-term project. The Christian Medical Society, for example, has sent groups of its members into Mexico and the Dominican Republic for a week or two. Short-termers also go abroad singly, to teach.
Dr. Kenneth Scott, director of Ludhiana Christian Medical College in India, underlined the importance of yet another role: teaching. “As a medical teaching center, our primary purpose is to exalt Jesus Christ by training Asian doctors and nurses in the Christian context, and by motivating them to serve their own people responsibly and with devotion.”
Church Attendance Trends
Church attendance in the United States continued a slow decline during 1968, according to the Gallup Poll.
The report, based on seven national counts taken during the year, says that 50 million persons, or 43 per cent of all Americans, attended church on Sundays. This represents a drop of 2 per cent from 1967.
Gallup figures that church attendance reached a peak of 49 per cent back in 1958. It had been down around 37 per cent in 1940.
In 1968, the percentage for Catholic attendance was 65, and for Protestant 38. The decline in church attendance among Catholics over the past ten years has been 9 per cent while that of Protestants has been 5 per cent.
To no one’s surprise, Gallup attributes the decline in both Catholic and Protestant camps to non-attendance by young adults. In the 21–29 age bracket the 1968 church attendance was figured at 34 per cent; in the 30–49 group it was 46 per cent.
Gallup said the higher the education of the adult, the greater the probability he will attend church on Sundays.
Americans attend church more faithfully than adults in other countries, even those with high Catholic populations. The figure for the Netherlands is 42 per cent, for Austria 38, Switzerland 30, Greece 28, West Germany 27, France 25, Uruguay 24, Norway 14, Sweden 9, and Finland 5.
Differences among the four regions in the United States were slight except that in the West only 32 per cent church attendance was recorded.
A public-relations expert has come to the aid of American Catholic bishops amid reports that they want ecumenical talks to be more secretive.
Named to a new post of communications czar for the hierarchy was Warren W. Schwed, who founded and operated a New York public-relations firm. His job includes jurisdiction over a news service operated by the United States Catholic Conference, a publicity bureau, and offices for films, radio, and television.
Robert M. Donihi, top publicist for the bishops for the past year, subsequently announced he was resigning his post. A successor was not immediately appointed. Donihi is a lawyer who formerly worked for the government.
The publicity bureau has been something of a hot spot since a priest resigned as director just before the opening of Vatican II. He said he quit because the outflow of information from the council would be too restricted.
Now the National Catholic Reporter has published a story saying that American Catholic bishops want sharp curtailment of news from all their ecumenical discussions. NCR said the bishop’s ecumenical committee suggested in a memorandum issued in September that news releases after ecumenical talks should state only that a meeting took place, who was there, and what the general topic was—not what the participants agreed or differed on.
The memorandum was reportedly sent to seven subcommissions that have been holding theological talks between Roman Catholics and non-Catholic denominations. Three groups—those involving the Episcopalians, Lutherans, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)—were said to have rejected the secrecy bid. The Catholic-Methodist subcommission reportedly accepted it, and the reaction of the groups involving Presbyterians, Orthodox, and American Baptists was not immediately learned.
Schwed said he had not read the NCR story, was not aware of the memorandum, and therefore could not comment on it. He said, however, that he believed in being “forthright.”
“Catholic Church communications problems are not significantly different from those of other big organizations,” he said. He feels that top churchmen who think that candor breeds misunderstanding need to learn that today’s citizenry is more sophisticated and more able to comprehend news without distortion. “They need to be taught both the requirements and the opportunities of today’s media,” he added.
Schwed holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Columbia University and worked with Newsweek, McGraw-Hill, and United Press International before starting his public-relations firm.
Canada: What Is Criminal?
The Canadian Parliament is considering a bill advocating significant amendments to the present Criminal Code. The measure is similar to one introduced a year ago by Pierre Elliott Trudeau, then Justice Minister and now Prime Minister.
A clause on abortion that appeared in the original bill is unchanged. It drew protests from Catholics and others because it provides for therapeutic abortion by decision of a local hospital committee when the life or the health of the mother is endangered. Generally, abortions now are legal only when the life of the mother is imperiled.
Another clause in the bill would eliminate from the Criminal Code homosexual acts between two consenting adults in private. This is in keeping with an earlier statement by Trudeau that the state has no business “in the bedrooms of the nation.”
A Tune For Chaplains
British army chaplains now have their own marching tune, but how often they will go “on parade” to its strains is problematical.
The tune is an arrangement of the “Trumpet Voluntary,” composed as a slow march by Lieutenant Colonel Basil Brown of the Military School of Music. He composed it in honor of chaplains at the request of Anglican Archdeacon John Youens, the Chaplain-General, who said that in the past bandmasters had resorted to such melodies as “Get Me to the Church on Time,” “When the Saints Go Marching In,” and a jazzed-up version of “Fight the Good Fight.”
These tunes proved embarrassing when military bands played in honor of the Royal Army Chaplains Department, which has representatives of several religions.
Of the new arrangement Archdeacon Youens said, “It is a splendid slow march, though, mind you, I should hate to see us chaplains marching to it.”
An army spokesman added, “The presence of the chaplains’ own march will solve problems for bandmasters who have to play some tunes in their honor at such functions as regimental dinners. It is very rare that the padres have to march, but I suppose the tune could come in useful at church processions and similar functions.”
The Nixon-Eisenhower Vows
Julie Nixon and David Eisenhower used a revised marriage ceremony of the Reformed Church in America for their wedding service at New York’s Marble Collegiate Church December 22. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, minister of the church, officiated.
Peale used a new edition of the service book put out in 1968 by the Reformed Church in America. He made some changes to suit the couple.
The most obvious changes were omission of any suggestion that the bride should obey her husband, and the changing of the word “you” in the service to “thee” and “thou.” Julie explained she wanted the latter changed in keeping with her Quaker beliefs.
The new Reformed Church liturgy differs from an earlier edition in that it excludes the bride’s promise to “obey” her husband. But the new edition does include a section asking the couple to “hear what the Apostle Paul says: ‘Wives, be subject to your husband as to the Lord, as the Church is subject to Christ.…” That section was deleted from the Nixon-Eisenhower ceremony.
Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking, said he has never used the word “obey” in weddings he has performed. He tells couples that they should be “a team,” he says, and that “neither one is a boss. They are equals and should work together, supporting each other’s weaknesses and strengths.”
Peale began the service with a reading of Psalm 100 from King James Version of the Bible. He substituted Psalm 121 for two New Testament readings suggested by the liturgy (1 Cor. 13:4–7 and 1 John 4:7–9).
Pike’S Honeymoon Blues
Minutes after an unorthodox wedding ceremony, resigned Episcopal Bishop James A. Pike told reporters that his controversial marriage to writer-collaborator Diane Kennedy (see January 3 issue, page 35) had indeed been officially approved by his successor, C. Kilmer Myers.
Not so, retorted an obviously angry Myers in a mimeographed letter to his California diocesan clergymen. In it Myers requested that the clerics bar Pike from “any sacerdotal function” (including preaching) in their churches “until further notice from me.”
Myers revealed that he had earlier rejected Pike’s application for permission to remarry, and that he had told him the reasons for the denial. Pike then asked for clarification of his marital status. Myers answered that Pike’s marriage of twenty-five years to Esther—who divorced him last year—was “spiritually dead.”
That response, argued Pike, constituted “a favorable judgment on my marital status in the eyes of the church … which completely cleared the past and, under canon law, left me free to be married by any minister of our church.…”
But, declared Myers in the letter, this was a false interpretation; the divorce comment “had no relation to his proposed marriage and was not intended to be an approval or blessing of that marriage in any way.”
Pike, from his honeymoon hotel near San Francisco, expressed “sorrow” at Myers’s action, then complained to newsmen: “Bishop Myers put an unnecessary and unfair burden on the clergy of this diocese … to choose between the opinions of the fifth and sixth bishops of California … as to whether the marriage of Jim and Diane is a good thing.”
As for the pulpit ban, Pike—considered an expert on canon law—claimed that Myers “has absolutely no canonical authority to suspend me from functioning in our diocese.” As if to prove his point, he interrupted his honeymoon to preach and to serve communion at a Christmas Eve service at St. Aiden’s church in San Francisco. St. Aiden’s rector, Robert W. Cromey, is an avid Pike admirer and is himself a storm center of controversial views on prostitution, homosexuality, and marijuana.
Because Cromey had invited Pike a week before the pulpit ban, Myers said he would “not engage in any recriminations.”
Myers, who conceivably has a case for Pike’s excommunication, declined to speculate on future enforcement of the boycott against his predecessor.
Pike was somewhat optimistic. He offered: “From the response of clergy thus far, both personally and by telegram, we have no reason to doubt that I will continue to be as busy in this diocese as my schedule allows.”
EDWARD E. PLOWMAN
Zurich Recalls Zwingli
The 450th anniversary of the beginning of Ulrich Zwingli’s ministry in Zürich will be celebrated there January 20–22. The commemoration will include addresses on the Swiss reformer’s importance as a theologian and politician, visits to his birthplace at Wilhous, and special gatherings for guests and official representatives.
Although Zwingli’s career was relatively short, it was historic. He stands as one of the founding fathers of the Reformed wing of Protestantism.
Zwingli was a Roman Catholic priest before he was named people’s priest in Zürich in late 1518. He had served parishes in two towns of German-speaking Switzerland after graduating from the University of Basel.
The 450th anniversary is significant because the young pastor began a series of sermons on New Testament books at the start of 1519 and out of this preaching and study he emerged in the early 1520s to challenge practices and doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.
By 1525, Zürich could be considered a Protestant city. Zwingli was familiar with the activities of Martin Luther in Germany, where the Reformation is dated from 1517. However, the Swiss leader always insisted that Luther did not directly influence his development.
Zwingli and Luther met in a theological colloquy in 1529 and disagreed stoutly over interpretations of the sacrament of Holy Communion. Zwingli insisted on a more symbolic view of the communion elements than did Luther.
The Zürich reformer died in 1531 on the battlefield at Cappel in a military clash between the Protestant and Catholic cantons of Switzerland.
A Climax In Colombia
Thirty thousand Colombian Protestants paraded through downtown Bogotá on December 15 as the climax of a year-long, nationwide Evangelism-in-Depth program.
The parade was preceded by a two-week campaign in the capital with evangelist Paul Finkenbinder, better known as Hermano Pablo (Brother Paul), Assembly of God missionary.
In the Plaza Bolívar, where four months before Pope Paul VI had blessed the crowds, evangelical leaders laid a wreath at the statue of the South American liberator, pledged their allegiance to their country and government, and gave testimony of their faith. Presbyterian Aristabulo Porras, president of the Evangelism-in-Depth executive committee, called for the abolition of Colombia’s Concordat and Mission Territories Agreement with the Vatican, saying, “They make us second-class citizens in our own country.”
The parade, held with government permission and full cooperation from police, dramatized the increasing religious freedom and the growing strength of the evangelical church in Colombia. Except for a two-month hold-up of visas for Latin America Mission advisory personnel at the beginning of the year and some scattered local incidents, 1968 was marked by freedom and receptiveness undreamed of a few years ago.
Incomplete reports showed nearly 20,000 decisions for Christ during the year-long effort in house-to-house visitation, local and regional evangelistic campaigns, and other forms of witness. More than 6,000 prayer cells were organized. On the first official day of visitation alone, June 2, an estimated 17,500 members of the 600 participating churches visited 100,000 homes, found interest in 25 per cent of them, and recorded 5,000 conversions.
Leaders of the campaign, the ninth such effort in Latin America since Evangelism-in-Depth began in Nicaragua in 1960, credited the purifying effect of past persecution and an unusual spirit of unity among local leaders with contributing to the success of the program.
Brother John’S ‘Love’ Thing
Can a Lutheran minister from a small city in the West find peace and commercial gain in the competitive halls of the ABC Radio Network? The Rev. John Rydgren is working long hours to insure an affirmative answer to that question. Rydgren, former director of radio and TV for the American Lutheran Church, has taken a year’s leave of absence to work for the ABC FM stations as the voice and writer for a new format in FM stereo called “Love Programming.”
The golden-tonsiled pastor, while at ALC headquarters in Minneapolis, initiated the “Silhouette” radio series, which combines “top-forty” rock music with commentary on God’s involvement in the teen-age world. The success of this program prompted ABC to hire “Brother John” (as he will be known on the air) to do a similar show for their financially lagging owned-and-operated FM stations. Instead of centering around God, ABC says, the content of “Love” will “suggest brotherhood and care for others.” Love Programming will originate in New York, broadcasting the “socially oriented” progressive rock music that sells well in the college and young-adult market.
“Brother John” sees “Love” as a natural extension of his work in “Silhouette.” The ALC program was his “electronic pulpit,” and he will continue to write and perform on it. With the completion of the ALC’s new children’s cartoon series “Great Bible Stories” last summer, future production work at ALC was light, and Rydgren took the opportunity to join ABC because the Love Programming “purposes and techniques share much common ground with Silhouette.”
Rydgren says his ABC co-workers already speak of him as their resident chaplain. But his main function at ABC is “Love.” “It may sound quite altruistic, but I think the project has real potential for social and national good,” says Rydgren. “It’s really like a love affair with humanity, you know, totally involved with them, their music, and their concerns.”
The new program begins this month, and ABC will watch it and its financial fortunes closely.
Kenneth Scott Latourette
Dr. Kenneth Scott Latourette, the dean of church historians, was fatally injured last month when struck by a car in Oregon City, Oregon. The accident occurred on the evening of December 26 in front of a home he owned. Latourette, 84, died in a hospital shortly afterward.
His many books are classical standards in the Christian history field. Best known is the seven-volume History of the Expansion of Christianity.
Latourette was born in Oregon City and in his later years came back to visit about twice a year. The major part of his life was spent at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, where he taught missions and Oriental history for many years. He also headed Yale’s department of religion and was named professor emeritus after retirement.
Latourette was an ordained minister and was elected president of the American Baptist Convention in 1951. His autobiography, Beyond the Ranges, was published in 1967 (see also editorial on page 27).
Two men lost their lives when a small plane owned and operated by Missionary Aviation Fellowship crashed last month on the island of Palawan in the Philippines. It was only the second fatal accident in the twenty-four-year history of MAF, based in Fullerton, California.
Those killed were the pilot, George Raney, and a passenger, Merle Buckingham, who worked under the Association of Baptists for World Evangelization, Philadelphia. Each is survived by his wife and three children.
The accident occurred while the plane was making an air drop of mail and supplies near the isolated mission outpost of Tabon. Witnesses said that the engine of the Cessna 185 failed and that Raney was attempting a crash landing when the craft snagged a cocoanut palm, which flipped it over.
A Missionary Set Free
The Cuban government gave Southern Baptist missionary James David Fite an unconditional pardon last month after he had served forty-two months of a six-year prison sentence. He had been convicted in 1965 of illegal currency exchange.
The 36-year-old Fite was reported to be making arrangements to return to the United States with his family, who had stayed in Havana during his imprisonment.
Word of the release came in a telephone call from Fite in Havana to his father, a pastor in Waynesboro, Georgia.
Fite’s father-in-law, the Rev. Herbert Caudill, 65, had also been imprisoned. He was released more than a year ago because of failing eyesight and placed under house arrest.
At the time of their arrests, Fite was a teacher and pastor in Havana and Caudill was superintendent of Baptist work in Cuba under sponsorship of the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board in Atlanta. Forty Cuban pastors and thirteen laymen, including four women, also were arrested. A number of these have been released or paroled, but U. S. officials have no definite word on how many remain in prison.
As debate continued about effect of the U. S. Catholic bishops’ letter on birth control (December 6 issue, page 39), there were these further developments on contraception:
• The Vatican remained silent on statements by various national hierarchies, some of which allow civil disobedience to the papal stand. But Religious News Service said a note in the Vatican daily “suggests that, as far as the Holy See is concerned, the [liberal French] bishops have accepted the encyclical, regardless of qualifications and applications of a pastoral nature.”
• Metropolitan Nikodim, external-affairs director of the Russian Orthodox Church, said all forms of birth control are “undesirable because they are linked with sin and dull the conscience.” He added that “the population explosion cannot be regarded as a bad thing,” and could be balanced by more help to underdeveloped countries. The Soviet Union has repeatedly opposed familyplanning efforts in the United Nations.
• The U. N. social committee voted to accept an article on social development that states, “Parents have the exclusive right to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of their children.” Next year the body will discuss objectives and methods of development.
• Worldwide Planned Parenthood—for the first time in its fifty-two years—recognized voluntary sterilization and abortion as “proper” back-up techniques when contraception doesn’t work, but not for routine birth control.
A Call For Prayer
A public call for prayer was issued last month for the United States Congress on Evangelism, scheduled for Minneapolis September 8–13. The call was initiated by evangelist Billy Graham, honorary chairman of the congress, and Dr. Oswald C. J. Hoffmann, chairman of its fifty-two-man national committee. The congress will bring together some American churchmen in the interests of spiritual renewal. Here is the text of the call to prayer:
“Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).
The urgency and need for a mighty moving of the Spirit of God in our nation and across the world is impressed upon us in every newscast. Our daily papers compel us to realize that we are at a crossroad, and that our choice is either Christ or chaos.
To meet this emergency and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, a U. S. Congress on Evangelism is called for September 8–13, 1969, to meet in Minneapolis. It is anticipated that 8,000 participants from more than 100 denominations will gather to pray and study. One-third will be lay men and women, one-third parish pastors, and one-third evangelists, educators, theological students, executives, etc.
What assistance can be given to the American home? How can the local church be mobilized to reach the community for Christ? What is the scriptural answer to the cultural, social, and moral upheaval of our day? How can the needy individual be convinced that Jesus Christ is the answer? We must have answers in our generation.
In the early church it is recorded that “When they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled” (Acts 4:31). Second Chronicles 7:14 states, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Church leaders from all across America are urgently requesting that you pray during these months ahead with an overwhelming faith that there shall be a spiritual awakening in our time.
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