Giver$ Revolt

A “givers’ revolt” appears to have been all but cut off at the pass by bishops of the Episcopal Church, who quickly issued pastoral letters of “clarification.” Fear that a $200,000 grant would go to the Black Economic Development Conference, sponsor of the Black Manifesto, touched off the backlash last month (see September 26 issue, pages 37 and 42).

On September 25, the Episcopal Executive Council approved the National Committee of Black Churchmen, which many consider a pipeline to the BEDC, to receive the grant “with no strings attached.”

One collection-plate rebellion (St. Dunstan’s in Seattle) was squelched by Bishop Ivol Ira Curtis, who told dissidents their concern that the money would be used irresponsibly was unfounded. The vestry (along with others in Virginia) had vowed to withhold funds from the diocesan budget. St. Dunstan’s reconsidered. Presiding Bishop John E. Hines and House of Deputies president John B. Coburn sought to smooth ruffled feathers over the issue. They, and other bishops, made these points:

(1) The money will be from extradiocesan sources and voluntarily raised. (2) No group advocating violence can qualify. (3) The church is responding “in trust” to blacks, not to reparation demands.

Meanwhile, a five-man committee was set up to raise the $200,000 plus another $100,000 for Indians and Eskimos. By midmonth, $83,000 had been pledged. But grass-roots rumblings persisted, and white critics contended the Episcopal Church, by appearing to give in to threats, had undermined the position of responsible Negro organizations and created the impression that violent, disruptive tactics are the best way to obtain racial justice.

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