The market closed mixed in fairly active trading. Investors saw 1970 as a time of consolidation, regrouping, evaluating, catching up with the dizzy speculation of the 1960s. Some issues, particularly blue-chip ecumenical councils, showed aimless drifting with little direction. Some mainline denominational portfolios were curtailed, polarized, and paid stockholders only small dividends. Several splits appear almost certain later this decade. Evangelicals closed up a few points.…
If a financial analyst were to render a terse commentary on the religious scene in 1970, he might say something like the above. Religion, like the economy, never stands still. Shares are traded over the counter (and under it) for what the market will bear. And the 1970 religion market was a bear—no bull. Religious news last year indicated some notable shifts in emphases; some ramifications won’t be clear until at least this year, and maybe not for two or three.
Money—or the lack of it—was one of the big stories of 1970. Practically all the major denominations reported declining income and memberships (it was the fifth straight year for a membership loss for the United Methodists, the second-largest U.S. Protestant denomination).
National church budgets felt the biggest crunch, some of it from a pocketbook revolt of laymen disgruntled by an overemphasis on social activism, and some reflecting the general slump in the U. S. economy. Still, overall church giving was up somewhat. And organizations like the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Wycliffe Bible Translators, and Campus Crusade for Christ attracted some of the deflected denominational dollars. Sadly, in several denominations overseas missions staff suffered the biggest cutbacks.
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