Churches and church-related groups across America celebrated the nation’s two-hundredth birthday in many ways. There were worship services in 1776 style, preachers and parishioners dressed in colonial costumes, birthday cakes, bell-ringing, interfaith services, community dinners and picnics, patriotic concerts, special prayers for the nation and a variety of other observances (see July 2 issue, page 36). In some smaller communities the church was at the center of the Bicentennial celebration.
Thousands of young Christians took advantage of the Bicentennial spirit and crowds to proclaim the Gospel through literature distribution, street witnessing, special rallies, and other projects—including a coast-to-coast Christian Bicentennial wagon train.
There were special masses and church services in New York, Boston, and Newport, Rhode Island in connection with the Bicentennial visits of the Tall Ships. A Declaration of Dependence on God was proclaimed at Seattle’s First Presbyterian Church on July 4. Interfaith services highlighted observances in a number of cities, although in Miami and perhaps elsewhere there were ruffled feelings because the Sunday morning meetings overlapped with normal Sunday-school and church hours.
Most attention was focused on the two main Bicentennial cities, Philadelphia and Washington.
July 4 dawned bright and warm in Philadelphia, where official observances began with an interfaith service conducted under a canopy on Independence Mall. Taking part were Greek Orthodox archbishop Iakovos, Cardinal John Kroll, and other church leaders. An audience of some 2,000 heard main speakers Cynthia Wedel, an Episcopalian who is a president of the World Council of Churches, and Jesse L. Jackson of Operation PUSH, a ...1
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