Evangelist Billy Graham, who has been an honorary Indian chief for twenty-three years, won new recognition from the original Americans last month as thousands of them turned out for his eight-day crusade in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Graham preached to delegations from a wide assortment of Indian tribes who came from a four-state area. He also spoke to a historic conference of Indian evangelicals and to a private meeting of Indian chiefs from throughout the United States.

“It seems to me,” Graham told the Indian evangelicals, “it is time once again to emphasize evangelism among all ethnic groups in America, and especially do we have a debt to the American Indian.”

Indians and others filled the 15,300-seat indoor University of New Mexico Arena for each crusade service. The meetings, held during the week in which spring arrived on the calendar, reflected an evangelistic enthusiasm among Christians in Albuquerque that promised a season of spiritual growth. Graham team members said the percentage of inquirers was unusually high for an indoor meeting.

Crusade Chairman David Cauwels, a local developer who is a Houghton College graduate, said he believes that a great wave of intercession (more than 4,000 homes opened for prayer) was answered in a miraculous way.

“The desert is blossoming,” said Cauwels. “God has wrought a mighty work across denominational lines like we have never seen.” Roman Catholics numerically dominate the Albuquerque population of 335,000 and their response to the crusade was particularly heartwarming to sponsors. Cauwels, who says he carries as much a burden for follow-up as for the crusade itself, reported that seventy “nurture” groups are meeting for Roman Catholics alone.

During the week, an Albuquerque newspaper editor who had visited with Graham disclosed that the evangelist had had a two-and-a-half-hour meeting with former president Richard Nixon on March 9 at San Clemente. Graham was quoted as saying that he believes Nixon has been “deepened religiously” by the Watergate ordeal. Graham made no public comments about the Nixon meeting during the crusade.

In a sermon about physical as well as spiritual hunger, Graham announced that his association was setting up an ongoing emergency relief fund. “We have been reading about some religious agencies that are only able to get about 40 or 50 per cent of their income to the needs of the people,” he said. “However, we already have the personnel and the set-up to be a channel through which this aid can be administered. If people want to give to human suffering in various parts of the world, they can channel it through us and be guaranteed that 90 per cent of it will get to where it was intended.”

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Graham made a special promise of aid while addressing a three-day Conference on Indian Evangelism and Christian Leadership. “I will pray harder for you,” he said. “I will keep in closer touch with your Christian leaders. As possible, we will help you financially.”

The conference, which drew together some sixty influential Indian evangelicals from throughout North America, was climaxed with a unanimous agreement to form a new organization. A nine-member organizing committee is charged with formulating the new group, tentatively being called Christian Hope: Indian and Eskimo Fellowship (CHIEF).

Graham also was a guest at a board meeting of the National Tribal Chairmen’s Association, which represents the elected leadership of tribal groups on some 200 of the 270 reservations in the United States. It was reported later that among the 8,657 persons who stepped forward in profession of faith at the crusade were two chiefs who serve on the board.

The evangelist said that “for many years I have carried both a burden and a guilt concerning the Indian population in the United States.” He was made an honorary chief while conducting a previous crusade in Albuquerque in 1952.

Indians attended the crusade as well as the concurrent School of Evangelism conducted by Dr. Kenneth Chafin. In the Navajo delegation one evening was Yonabah Pino of Ramah, New Mexico, who reportedly celebrated her 106th birthday last November.

At the other end of the age spectrum was William Franklin Graham IV, a grandson of the evangelist, who lives with his parents in Estes Park, Colorado. Franklin III, 22, is attending a Bible school there. In Albuquerque he participated in a crusade program for the first time, giving an opening prayer.

Another first-timer on the Graham crusade program was musician Andrae Crouch. His appearance was among those videotaped for later TV presentation.

Young people in the Albuquerque area spurred interest in the crusade when about 800 of them participated in a “Walk for Love” to the arena.

The Albuquerque Tribune summed up the impact in an editorial which noted that “this is a week of considerable significance in New Mexico.” The editorial said that Graham “has a simple, logical message that is basic Christianity according to the Bible.”


That rumor floating around some evangelical circles to the effect that pianist Arthur Rubinstein, a Jew, has professed faith in Christ is false. The rumor arose from comments he’d made to Golda Meir. “My deep admiration and love for Christ are for a human being [like it is] for people like Ghandi, Dr. Schweitzer, and Tolstoi,” says Rubinstein in a letter. “Any idea that I have a ‘new-found faith in Christ’ is sheer nonsense.”

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The Christian Embassy

A group of twenty Christian businessmen last month purchased for $550,000 an elegant Washington, D. C., mansion to serve as a “Christian embassy” for Campus Crusade for Christ. It was bought in the name of businessman Rolfe H. McCollister, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who said the center would be available for use by all evangelical groups.

Crusade has work in sixty-five countries, said McCollister. He hinted that the center could be used for coordinating such work and negotiating with officials of those countries through diplomatic channels in Washington.


HENRY H. JANZEN, 73, Canadian Mennonite Brethren leader, former president of the Toronto Russian Bible Institute and the Mennonite Brethren College in Winnipeg; in Kitchener, Ontario.

The mansion was purchased from the Catholic archdiocese, which made $25, 000 on the transaction. It had been bought from a college last year with private funds as a proposed residence for Archbishop William W. Baum. Widely publicized protests over lifestyle implications persuaded Baum to dispose of it.

Iran: Ire And Image

This year’s Lent Project for children, announced the Church of England’s Church Missionary Society in January, would be the raising of $72,000 to help a Christian hospital in Isfahan, Iran.

When one woman’s children brought home their collection boxes, she hit the ceiling. Hadn’t Britain just borrowed a hefty amount from Iran to keep afloat, and weren’t Britons paying $1.80 per gallon for gasoline, thanks to the Arab cartel? She wrote a letter of indignation to the London Sunday Express that brought immediate and sympathetic reaction.

Somewhat embarrassed, Iranian embassy officials contacted the mission agency and offered to make up the $360,000 balance of the hospital project that would still be outstanding after the $72,000 was raised. In return they wanted fifteen free beds and treatment for ten years.

Everyone seemed happy, and the offering project caught on. Suddenly, the mission agency announced the money would be used for projects in Africa and Asia instead. The switch occurred after the 2,000-member Anglican Church in Iran sent a letter asking cancellation of the project. It explained that the Iranian government, disturbed by the image of children collecting money for Iran, would provide all the money needed.

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Mission press officer Wallace Bolton said he does not know if this decision means Iran will close or take over the hospital—or if it will indeed fund it as indicated. The hospital is the means of contacting 500 new people each week he said, “a great opportunity to show Christian caring in a predominantly Muslim country.”


Religion In Transit

A California appeals judge ruled as unconstitutional the closing of state offices for three hours on Good Friday afternoon. The traditional closing enabled employees to attend worship services.

Religion in American Life, an interreligious agency that uses donated advertising of space and time to promote the value of religious faith, presented its top award at this year’s annual meeting to J. Peter Grace, a millionaire Catholic lay leader. The award is given annually to an individual who exemplifies “a religious dedication, a distinguished career, and a concern for humanity.”

The ministry board of the Southwest Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church denied the request of F. Eugene Leggett for reinstatement as a clergyman. He was suspended in 1971 after publicly announcing he was a homosexual. Meanwhile, faced with mounting grass-roots concern, several Methodist bishops have taken a stand against the ordination of homosexuals, an issue expected to be debated at the denomination’s 1976 quadrennial conference.

West Virginia’s abortion law, which forbids abortion at any stage of pregnancy, was declared unconstitutional by a state circuit judge.

McCormick Seminary in Chicago, a United Presbyterian school, will sell its twenty-acre Lincoln Park campus and move to the Hyde Park area next summer, where it will join the eight-member Chicago Cluster of Theological Schools. It has purchased an office building and will use library and classroom facilities at the adjoining Lutheran School of Theology.

Some 200 delegates to the annual convention of the National Federation of Priests’ Councils (representing 60 per cent of the nation’s 56,000 Catholic priests) called for a “recertification process” by which “resigned priests” (most of them married) could be restored fully to active ministry.

Toronto’s Catholic population has doubled since 1960 (from 500,000 to one million), but the total number of priests has remained static, warned Archbishop Philip Pocock in calling for recruits. Only three will graduate from the diocesan seminary this year. Emigrant priests, deacons, and trained laity are helping to fill the gap.

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Trinity Episcopal Church in Boston has sued the John Hancock Insurance Company for $4 million as a result of damages allegedly caused by construction of the company’s sixty-story building nearby. Church officials say they’ve had to spend more than $1 million for repairs, forcing cutbacks in church programs.

The fifty-year old Cincinnati Bible Seminary, affiliated with the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ (instrumental), has had to borrow to meet payrolls and pay bills this year. To help get past the crisis, faculty members, administrators, trustees, and many of the 800 students in the school’s graduate and undergraduate divisions pledged $90,000 at a special rally.

First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, which boasts the world’s largest Sunday school, dedicated a new $2 million, 5,000-seat auditorium. Renowned Southern Baptist pulpiteer Robert G. Lee was the featured preacher, appearing with Pastor Jack Hyles.

Three-fourths of Americans favor legislation to regulate abortion, but only 7.1 per cent would outlaw it altogether, according to a survey conducted by a Duke University-based firm. The 4,000-plus respondents ranked abortion as tenth in a list of national problems.

Eight bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church have established a revolving loan fund for A.M.E. students who attend Union Seminary in New York.

Rabbi Meir Kahane, leader of the militant Jewish Defense League, was sentenced to one year in prison for violating his 1971 probation, which prohibited him from direct and indirect contact with weapons.

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America voted to resume participation with Reform and Conservative branches of Judaism in the Synagogue Council of America. The Orthodox split occurred last year in a controversy centered in Israel over who is a Jew. Israeli Orthodox leaders do not recognize Conservative-or Reform-administered conversions to Judaism as valid.

The National Women’s Division of the American Jewish Congress has come out for abortion on demand for all women, and it vows to oppose all anti-abortion legislative measures.

Homosexual acts are “intrinsically evil and gravely sinful,” and “no understanding of … civil rights can include … homosexual conduct [as] one of those rights.” So decreed the priests’ senate of the Catholic diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota, in voting to oppose legislation giving legal protection to homosexual conduct.

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Some 200 Catholic men who have left the priesthood, the majority of them married, have offered their services as “reservists” in the ministry—if and when the bishops are willing to have them. They are part of a movement called CORPUS (Corps of Reserved Priests United for Service). CORPUS estimates there are 7,000 married priests in the United States.

In North Carolina, “faith healing, spiritual advising, and fortune telling” are illegal in sixty-three of the state’s 100 counties. Last year two couples described as “gypsies” were arrested under the statute, but a court dismissed the charges, declaring them unconstitutional. Lawyers now are asking for a formal constitutional test of the law.

World Scene

The former president of India, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, 87, was awarded the $100,000 Templeton Foundation Prize for Progress in Religion. He was cited for his contribution to Hinduism and his philosophical studies that have led to “a rediscovery of God.” The two previous recipients were Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Brother Roger of the Taize Community in France.

Far East Broadcasting Company opened a new mission radio station (DWRF) in the Philippines. Spokesmen say the FEBC network can now reach the entire Chinese-speaking world. The FEBC broadcasts 220 program hours daily in seventy-three languages from twenty-five transmitters.

Bangkok Radio said that two decomposed bodies found last month were believed to be the remains of two Overseas Missionary Fellowship women missionaries kidnapped a year ago in southern Thailand and held for ransom. They are Minka Hanskamp of New Zealand and Margaret Morgan of Britain.

A joint Protestant-Catholic translation of the New Testament in modern Italian is scheduled for publication in Italy next year. It is the product of cooperation between the Italian and Swiss Bible societies and a Catholic publishing house in Turin.

Portuguese courts may now grant divorce to couples married in the Catholic Church, thanks to a Vaticanamendment of its 1940 concordat with Portugal.

Of the 3,500 Catholic priests in Czechoslovakia, 500 have been banned by the government from engaging in any priestly functions, leaving about 1,600 parishes without priests. There is also harassment of religious teachers.

The Church Missionary Society, the Church of England’s oldest mission (it dates from 1799), has more than 700 workers in some thirty countries, with an annual budget of $3.3 million.

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The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church of Pakistan reports a new presbytery of ten churches in Karachi; this brings the denomination’s total number of congregations to fifty, with more than 60,000 members. The church has ties to the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America.

In all, 638 new priests were ordained in Poland last year, the largest number in six years. More than 19,500 priests serve Poland’s estimated Catholic population of about 30 million.

Mission radio station HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, was granted a new twenty-five-year license by the government. HCJB is forty-three years old.

With a record pay rise of 25 per cent for its ministers, the Church of Scotland will hike its minimum stipend this year to more than $5,500, a 250 per cent increase over 1965.

The Church of England forecasts a 23 per cent increase this year in the number of its ordination candidates (at least 340) over last year’s figure (277).

A plan of union between the Church of Scotland and the Methodist Church in Scotland is expected to be put before both bodies next year. A Kirk spokesman sees “no insurmountable difficulties to union.”

Nova Myal, a publication of the Czechoslovakian Communist party, says it studied reform movements among churches and has concluded that Christian social teachings cannot solve man’s social problems. “The religious and communist worldview have nothing in common and their systems are entirely different; an ideological reconciliation is impossible,” declares the paper.

The Australian Council of Churches asked member denominations to reduce any investments they have in business concerns operating in South Africa.

Mexico’s City’s huge 400-year-old Metropolitan Catholic Cathedral is slowly sinking on its foundations, and government architects warn that if urgent measures are not taken it will topple over someday. The entire city is sinking as the result of the draining of underground water, but the cathedral is sinking faster. It is several feet below the surrounding streets.

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