A spontaneous marathon revival among students and faculty at Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, resulted in a week-long shut-down of classes and reached out to other colleges and communities from coast to coast this month.
Students, faculty, townspeople, and visitors wept, and smiled through their tears. They surrendered to the Holy Spirit, they said, and felt victorious. They confessed secret hates, frustrations, and weaknesses, and felt cleansed. They asked forgiveness, forgave, and embraced. They counseled together, quoted Scripture to one another, prayed singly and in groups, and sang.
During the first six days of the revival, delegations of students were invited to at least fifty-nine colleges and churches in sixteen states to tell the Asbury story.
A short-wave radio “college prayer net” linked Asbury daily with sixteen colleges from Wenham, Massachusetts, to Azusa, California. Asbury asked for prayer support and fulfilled hundreds of prayer requests received by mail and radio.
Although Asbury classes were resumed on the eighth day, the revival continued. It surpassed in length earlier spur-of-the-moment revivals that broke out at the college in 1950 and 1958. “It was a witnessing, not a preaching, revival,” Academic Dean Custer Reynolds said.
Even after classes resumed, the school’s Hughes Memorial Auditorium remained open around the clock with “unstructured” services for witnessing scheduled for six o’clock nightly.
Visitors from several states, including a Canadian family from Regina, Saskatchewan, were attracted to Wilmore by news of the revival. Wilmore is a hamlet nestled in the rolling Kentucky bluegrass fifteen miles south of Lexington. Asbury is an independent Wesleyan college of 1,000 students from thirty-eight states and twenty-four foreign countries. Slightly more than half of the students are Methodist. The remainder represent twenty other denominations. “This is not a fanatical school, but they are religious kids,” said Dean Reynolds.
The dean, a Methodist layman, explained the administration’s decision to resume classes by saying that the revival was “a mountain-top experience, but we cannot live at the mountain top.”
The revival began at one of three morning chapel periods held each week at the college. The program was one of singing and personal testimony. Dean Reynolds, who presided, said this type of service is held periodically at Asbury. He had no inkling it would continue past the scheduled fifty minutes.
Reynolds gave his own testimony and several students spoke. Then, Reynolds related, shortly before dismissal time, Dr. Clarence Hunter, professor of religion and philosophy, walked to the platform in front of the auditorium and said in a quiet voice: “I wonder if there are any here with hungry hearts who would like to come and accept Christ as your personal Saviour.”
The students started pouring to the altar rail. Two lines formed at either side of the auditorium,” the dean recounted. Regular classes were suspended then and there for an indefinite period. “There was no recruiting to sing or testify” at any time during the revival. Dean of Students Harold Spann said. “I feel it was a genuine movement of the Holy Spirit.”
Dean Reynolds didn’t leave the auditorium for the first two days of the revival except for food. His wife prayed and sang with the students for thirty-six hours before she succumbed to sleep. She described the revival “as a beautiful thing that you have to see to appreciate.”
Uncounted hundreds of Asbury students and unknown numbers of townspeople and visitors gave testimony or made some commitment to Christ during the week, a college official said. At times the 1,500-seat auditorium was jammed to capacity. At others, only a few persons were in the room—some seated, others kneeling in clusters.
On the fourth day, 20-year-old Gary Montgomery of Miami, Florida, walked slowly from the speakers’ platform, his eyes red from crying through a five-minute testimony before 200 schoolmates.
“I don’t know why I came to Asbury,” the long-haired, mod-dressed youth said after his testimony. “I don’t even know why I came to this revival, but I’m glad I did. I wish everyone could come.”
During his talk, Montgomery told the audience it had taken him forty hours of prayer to “get saved.” He said he now plans to spend much of his time talking to his friends about Christ.
“I had taken trips on everything before coming here,” Montgomery said later. “Drugs, sex, booze, gambling, everything. I was smoking joints [marijuana] like they were going out of style.… With drugs you get high and then come down hard. With Christ, I’m going to try to stay on an even keel and try to get all my friends to do the same.”
By the second day, the revival had spread to the Asbury Theological Seminary across the street from the college. The two schools enjoy a close relationship but are independent of each other.
The revival “gave me a new outlook,” reflected David Hill, 24, a seminary student from Los Angeles. “I was just drifting along. I feel now that God can really use me. I work in a factory in Wilmore. Now I can witness for the first time to the man who works next to me.”
By the sixth day, a Sunday, the revival had spread throughout Wilmore (population 2,800), with church groups by the busload coming to the college.
The Reverend David Seamonds, pastor of Wilmore United Methodist Church, publicly confessed his dislike for two Asbury college faculty members and asked their forgiveness and God’s. The pastor’s wife confessed her aversion—kept buried for years—to the town, its people, and her husband’s ministry there. But this feeling had been supplanted by love, she said.
“She’s shy, inarticulate, but you would have thought it was St. Peter on the day of Pentecost,” Seamonds said of his wife’s testimony. “The adults were hitting the altar like flies the minute she got through.”
Dr. Frank Stanger, president of the seminary, was away at the start of the revival (as was the college president, Dr. Dennis F. Kinlaw). “As soon as I got back on campus,” Stanger said, “I noticed a new sense of kinship, a new sense of unity, a new demonstration of love, a new consciousness that God is able to meet every personal need.”
“It was a baptism of love and power,” Seamonds said. “We were skeptical when it started, but by the first night, the Spirit of God was upon us … I have never seen such an awesome demonstration of the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit … My faith is just leaping out! Why not let God start it all over the country?” Seamonds asked.
Seminary president Stanger was a bit more guarded in his initial evaluation. “Don’t ask me about the revival now. Ask me thirty days from now. If it’s genuine, this will show in what happens in the weeks ahead.”
Torn Over Racism
A rending demonstration cut into alumni-day celebrations at Moody Bible Institute’s Founder’s Week this month when two graduates tore up their Moody diplomas in a Chicago street-side protest over alleged racial discrimination.
Moody graduate Melvin Warren, a Reformed Church in America minister and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School student, charged that Moody’s emeritus dean of education, Dr. S. Maxwell Coder, in a statement made in May 1969, said “the Bible teaches that interracial marriage is inherently wrong.” Warren challenged Coder to defend that statement publicly on a radio program.
When Moody authorities didn’t respond, according to Warren, he and Leona Jenkins tore up their diplomas and one belonging to Miss Jenkins’s sister, Leola.
Said Warren, as his shredded sheepskin floated into a trash barrel: “We do this to inform the black Christian community and all Christendom of the institutional white racism at Moody.”
Russian Orthodox Union
Two of the three branches of Russian Orthodoxy in America are to be united on the basis of a recent agreement with Alexei, the patriarch of Moscow. The largest branch, the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church, headed by Metropolitan Ireney, has been reluctantly independent of Moscow since the Russian Revolution. There are about 340 U. S. parishes in the denomination, half of them divided between Alaska and Pennsylvania, and the rest spread around twenty-eight other states.
Far fewer Russian Orthodox parishes in America have acknowledged the jurisdiction of the patriarchal exarchate, Archbishop Jonathan, who will be recalled to Russia. His followers will be encouraged to join the larger body. Unaffected by the merger is the small Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, which has a strongly anti-Moscow stance.
While the largest group has long professed its desire to have its independence canonically acknowledged by Moscow, prospects had not appeared good. In 1962, after lengthy court battles, Moscow was able legally to establish its rival exarchate. In 1969, the Ireney group’s yearbook decried the “Moscow Patriarchate’s current policies which cannot be called anything but imperialistic and dictatorial.”
Along with his official recognition of Archbishop Ireney, Patriarch Alexei is granting the church autocephalous (independent) status, making it equal with the older Eastern Orthodox bodies in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Moreover, the new name will be simply the Orthodox Church of America; it will appeal to all other Orthodox Christians to affiliate with it so as to establish a truly American branch of the worldwide Orthodox communion.
Since Russian Orthodoxy was the first branch to be established in the hemisphere, it does have canonical precedent to unite the Orthodox into an American branch of the movement. (Indeed, until the Russian Revolution, this was well on the way toward accomplishment.) However, the Greeks are much more numerous and are likely to be reluctant to respond to the Russian initiative.
Other Eastern Orthodox—Serbs, Arabs, Ukrainians, Albanians, Bulgarians—should be somewhat more receptive, especially the younger generations.
Uniting with the new Orthodox Church of America may be a way of healing divisions within almost all ethnic groups. There are, for example, a half-dozen different denominations of Ukrainian Orthodox.
In an unrelated Orthodox development, a movement is afoot to alter the existing relation between nine Orthodox bodies and the National Council of Churches because of discontent with the council’s social pronouncements. Anti-NCC sentiment appeared to center in a working document circulated within the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church last year.
An actual pull-out of the nine bodies from the council appears unlikely, especially in light of a proposal made by NCC general secretary Dr. R. H. Edwin Espy at its December triennium (see December 19, 1969, issue, page 30) that calls for a restructure of the NCC into a “General Ecumenical Council.” Such an umbrella structure would undoubtedly be more suitable to the Orthodox tastes for limited involvement in political and social affairs.
Alcoholism: A New Theory Distilled
For nearly 200 religious and temperance leaders gathered for the first National School on Alcohol and Narcotics Studies at the Lake Yale (Florida) Baptist Assembly, there was exciting new encouragement for a cause that many have feared was being lost in the flood of social drinking engulfing America. Science, they were told, after years of painstaking research, now appears to be on the threshold of proving exactly how much damage alcohol does to the human body—and the mechanism by which it occurs.
The damage arises, scientists said, because in the presence of alcohol red blood cells become sticky and slow down circulation in the tiny, microscopic ends of arteries until the brain is anesthetized by lack of oxygen, and the individual becomes “high.” Brain cells die if deprived of oxygen more than a few minutes and can never be regenerated. Every drinking bout costs the imbiber thousands of brain cells, according to this theory. Through the same mechanism, alcohol also causes severe damage to vital cells in the liver, kidneys, and heart muscle, leaving irreparable scars.
The support science now offers for the temperance cause would make the crusaders who seventy-five years ago founded the Anti-Saloon League leap with joy. The modern-minded American Council on Alcohol Problems (ACAP), sponsor of the school, is a direct descendant of the league whose voice once thundered in American politics.
The word that alcoholic beverages are dangerous came from Dr. Melvin H. Knisely, bald, cherubic, widely respected chairman of the department of anatomy at the Medical College of South Carolina. After thirty years of careful research into the phenomenon of “agglutinated blood,” the condition in which red blood cells stick together and block blood vessels, Dr. Knisely is publishing his findings in such organs as Microvascular Research and Journal of Angiology. He is also lecturing to lay groups and cooperating in a documentary motion picture in the hope of cutting ten to fifteen years off the time it would normally take for his findings to become common knowledge in the medical profession and accepted by the public.
If alcohol can be proved to cause agglutinated blood, then Demon Rum is in serious trouble with medical men, for the condition of sticky blood and the devastating—often fatal—damage it can do in the human body are well established. Malaria and severe burns can produce agglutination, too. As Dr. Knisely vividly demonstrated, agglutination can be photographed in color motion pictures along with the tissue death it causes.
There is a precise relation between the number of ethanol (ethyl alcohol) molecules in the blood and the stickiness of the cells, he has discovered.Research now in progress has identified the sticky substance on the blood cells as a large protein molecule. Analysis of proteins is extremely difficult, and several years of painstaking work may be required before the relation is fully understood on a molecular level.
Meanwhile, other experts at the school emphasized the increasing toll alcohol is taking in our society every day. Dr. Andrew C. Ivy, retired vice-president of the University of Illinois, told the temperance leaders that 78 million Americans (two thirds of the adults over 21) now drink. Of these, 19 million are problem drinkers, and more than seven million have crossed the line into alcoholism. The average age at which people become alcoholics, Dr. Ivy warned, is getting much lower—it now is 35. The average age of alcoholics at death is now only 51. More than 500,000 Americans are becoming alcoholics each year, he added.
The executive board of the ACAP, meeting during the conference, expressed concern over the retreat of the United Methodist Church from its traditional teaching of abstinence, a policy underlined by the recent Methodist cut-off of all financial support of ACAP because of disagreement with its program. The ACAP expressed the opinion that many rank-and-file Methodists and former Evangelical United Brethren members will find it difficult to accept their denomination’s change at the very time science appears ready to support the historic Methodist position.
Summarizing the new position in the temperance movement, the Reverend Billy McCormack, executive director of ACAP, said: “We have seen soft drinks banned because cyclamates may possibly endanger human health. We are seeing strict controls placed over cigarette advertising. If the toll in health and lives being taken by alcoholic beverages can be proved beyond dispute, how long can the liquor industry escape strict measures of control?”
GLENN D. EVERETT
The Drumbeat Down Under
Wherever young people gather, it seems, demonstrations accompany their dissent. Even delegates to last month’s thirty-third Australian Christian Endeavour Convention marched—though to a different drummer. What made the Melbourne marchers unusual was their hair (short and shaven), their clothes (clean and conventional), and their posters (“Ban Oh! Calcutta,” “Ban Pot,” “We Support Law and Order,” “C. E. Seizes Jesus”).
Next day nearly half the 800 young people staged an “Evangelistic Invasion.” Two by two on street corners, passing out Scripture portions and witnessing Campus Crusade style, they asked 2,000 Australians about their religious convictions. Sixty-six per cent of those interviewed said they consider Jesus divine; 47 per cent felt no need for a more personal religious faith; 36 per cent said they never attend church.
Representatives from the United States and India spoke on “Christ and the Youth Revolution.” That revolution, said Indian Bishop Solomon Doraisawmy, “is a clear expression of lack of faith.” He challenged the young people to proclaim the Gospel: “No religion of the world knows of such a revolution.”
The interdenominational youth organization has societies in seventy-five countries, including East Germany and five countries where no foreign missionaries are permitted.
FRED J. NILE
Celibacy: Tightening The Ratchet
Speaking to the faithful in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Paul VI asked them to pray for the intention of priestly celibacy. “It is a very important law in our Latin Church,” he said. “It can neither be abandoned nor discussed.”
That was February 1. Earlier, in a sharply worded Christmas Eve letter to the Dutch hierarchy, the pontiff had acted to prevent the Fifth Dutch Pastoral Council from calling for abolition of mandatory celibacy. The directive fell on deaf ears, however, as the Netherlands bishops endorsed the council’s stand.
Next, Paul ordered the Dutch bishops to retract. Then, in a letter to the Vatican secretary of state, Jean Cardinal Vilot, the Pope refuted in detail the Dutch position, saying that only a few priests want to be relieved of their celibacy vows, and that provision for this (laicization) is already well established.
Tightening the ratchet on the celibacy issue still further a week later, the Pope took the unprecedented step of appealing to all priests under Vatican authority to renew annually—on Holy Thursday—their promises to remain unmarried and to obey their bishops. His letter to the heads of the National Conferences of bishops was presented to the press February 9.
The Reverend Patrick O’Malley, president of the National Federation of Priests’ Councils in the United States and the first priest ever to address the National Conference of Catholic Bishops on priestly matters (see December 5 issue, page 44), rapped the papal announcement as “an apparent challenge to the integrity of priests.” He said he was sure it would create problems among priests “because it sounds very much like the loyalty oaths that were forced on people in the McCarthy scare days.”
The Vatican appeal also warned against appointing seminary teachers “who are accustomed to attacking tradition, institutions, and the authority of the Church.”
Whether the issue would produce the first schismatic split within Roman Catholicism in this century remained to be seen. A Vatican official who has been a troubleshooter for the Netherlands predicted that as long as Bernard Cardinal Alfrink of Utrecht (the man in the middle) is head of the Dutch church, there will be no split.
And Then There Were Nun
Even though their long-time opponent, James Francis Cardinal McIntyre, had just retired, the reform-minded Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Los Angeles thought too much water had gone over the dam. More than 300 of the 400-member order decided early this month to go secular and form a lay community open to married as well as single persons, including women who have never been nuns.
Such a move by so many is said to be unprecedented in Roman Catholic history. IHM president Sister Anita Caspary said the new group will continue the order’s customary tasks: teaching, health services, social concerns, and the fine arts. But it will have no official ties with the church and will take on new styles of life and work.
A running dispute between the sisters and McIntyre came to a head over two years ago when the cardinal took exception to their experimental program.This included abandoning their habits for secular dress, and dropping communal prayers and mandatory schedules. Some sisters sought jobs outside the parochial school system. A Vatican committee was appointed to investigate; last spring it ordered the experimentation stopped.
Timothy Manning, the new archbishop of Los Angeles, met earlier with Sister Anita in what was called a “cordial” session. He said he had Vatican permission to grant the nuns dispensations from canonical vows. About 350 requests are expected.
A Prototype Of Heaven?
They skipped the sermon at the eighteenth annual Presidential Prayer Breakfast in Washington this month. A succession of brief homilies by top government officials made up for it, and most of the audience of nearly 3,000 in the spacious International Ballroom of the Washington Hilton Hotel seemed inspired enough.
President Nixon came the closest to being the preacher. At the end of the program he gave an eight-minute plea for higher values. “We have a destiny to give to the world,” he said, “in an example of spiritual leadership and idealism.”
The crowd at the interfaith affair included many distinguished persons from North America and abroad, ranging from political leaders to denominational heads.
Congressman Burt Talcott, representing the House of Representatives’ prayer group, said: “We are ecumenical, and we were long before ecumenicity became popular.”
The prayer-breakfast idea, now observed around the world, began with Dr. Abraham Vereide, a Norwegian-born preacher who died last May. The Presidential Prayer Breakfasts are officially sponsored by the House and Senate prayer groups but are actually arranged by the organization Vereide founded, International Christian Leadership. Anonymous donors always pick up the tab.
The movement has been primarily implemented by laymen. The emcee of this year’s event, Congressman Albert H. Quie, noted that the head tables did not include a single clergyman. Congressman Morris Udall, a Mormon who two days before had announced he would attempt to unseat House Majority Leader John McCormack, read the invocation. Others on the program were Senators Herman Talmadge and James B. Allen, Commissioner of Education James E. Allen, Jr., Navy Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, and Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird. A typically loud folk-rock group from John Brown University provided foreground music.
Among the dignitaries at the head tables were Mrs. Nixon, Mrs. Spiro Agnew, a half-dozen cabinet members, and Governors Linwood Holton, Lester Maddox, Russell Peterson, and Claude Kirk.
Guests in the audience who went unannounced included Ilia Orlov, a Baptist pastor from Moscow. Orlov said afterward that the event, which brought together people from many varying religious and political persuasions, was “a prototype of heaven.”
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