Religious Assemblages

U. S. military chaplains got an intensive briefing on the nation’s declining morals this month and promptly pointed accusing fingers at Playboy magazine and the government’s judicial branch.

Protestant ministers, Catholic priests, and Jewish rabbis looked very much alike in military attire. They also thought very much alike at the 34th annual convention of the Military Chaplains Association in Washington’s Sheraton-Park Hotel. Most of the 287 registered delegates appeared to agree that American morality was deteriorating. After hearing speeches and panel discussions centering on the convention theme, “Moral Leadership for American Youth,” many seemed to be convinced that the hour had come for bold, new approaches.

In a resolution, the chaplains cited Playboy and other publications “which appeal to the prurient interest” and “often openly advocate the overthrow of the basic morality upon which our nation and our Constitution were founded.” The resolution also took a swing at the “judicial branch of our government (which) has been, in many instances, unrealistic in its appraisal of the nature of these publications and fails to realize their incompatibility with the morality of this country.”

A challenge from the floor precipitated the hottest debate of the convention. Dr. Edward L. R. Elson, minister of National Presbyterian Church who as a Reserve colonel has been president of the MCA, wielded the gavel during the 10-minute exchange on the question: Should Playboy be singled out as proposed by a resolutions committee? One delegate asserted it would greatly strengthen the resolution to cite Playboy as a “flagrant example” of the type of periodicals to be condemned. Another argued that naming just one magazine would merely increase the demand for it. A minority cried “no” in the showdown voice vote, but Elson declared the resolution passed unanimously and no objections were raised.

A spokesman for Playboy said “the resolution seems to us to be essentially libelous.” “We have been a victim of the stereotype of Playboy which has sprung up because of our many shabby imitators,” he added. “This is a campaign of intimidation and it has no legal basis. The real issue here is whether any private group—however well-meaning—has a right to dictate what other people may read.” In Playboy’s attitudes toward sex, he said, there is “an essential rapport” with “attitudes of young moderns everywhere.”

The chaplains were pressed for time when they came to grips with Playboy. A few minutes after resolutions were passed, Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower arrived and was given a citation commending her for “maintaining an exemplary Christian home.”

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Another highlight of the convention was the report of best-selling author Vance Packard (The Hidden Persuaders and The Status Seekers). Packard, who attends a Congregational church in Connecticut, told the chaplains that advertising media and institutional education exert the greatest influences on American thinking and that both outweigh effects of clergy teachings.

Manipulation of the public by advertisers, Packard said, “raises questions of morality.” He stressed that he was not making a general indictment of advertising, but that he was limiting his criticisms to the misuse of motivation research.

He said he was apprehensive over the “deliberate encouragement of irrational behavior” in certain advertising. He cited, for example, (1) planned obsolescence of manufactured products, and (2) emphasis on impulse buying.

According to Packard, changes in the American character are resulting from current commercial techniques. He said younger people especially are responding, becoming more passive and pleasure-minded. Commercial interests, he added, are establishing a mood of “living it up.”

For the coming year, the convening chaplains elected an Episcopal priest as their new president. The office went to Dr. C. Leslie Glenn, now doing research in human relations at the University of Michigan. He is a former rector of Washington’s “Church of the Presidents,” St. John’s on Lafayette Square, and holds the rank of captain in the Navy chaplaincy reserve.

The Military Chaplains Association has a membership of some 1500. Active duty chaplains are given time off to attend the convention. Reservists who register are granted retirement points.

The convention had a grim sequel. A noon luncheon proved to be the occasion of the last public address of Deputy Secretary of Defense Donald A. Quarles. The former Secretary of the Air Force appeared to be in good health and spirits when he spoke to the convention. Three days later he was found dead.

Xenia, Western Merge

Consolidation of Pittsburgh-Xenia and Western Theological seminaries now seems assured, giving Pittsburgh an institution second in size only to Princeton among the seminaries of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

The boards of both seminaries met jointly May 8 to hear Dr. Hermann N. Morse, retiring general secretary of the Board of National Missions, give the Survey Committee recommendation of consolidation after a year-long study. Also on the committee were Dr. Wilson Compton, former president of the State College of Washington, and Dean Liston Pope of Yale Divinity School. Acceptance of the Survey Committee’s recommendation was to be reported May 19 to the Committee on Consolidations at the pre-General Assembly meeting in Indianapolis, and approval was expected.

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For months apprehension over consolidation centered in Pittsburgh-Xenia, only seminary of the former United Presbyterian Church of North America. Since denominational union with the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., many observers wondered about the institution’s future in a city in which Western already existed as a Presbyterian seminary. Two schools in one city made a plausible case for merger. Western was also under pressure to move from its North Side site because of urban redevelopment in that area. Pittsburgh-Xenia’s spacious 10-acre property with new buildings at its East Liberty location has room for expansion.

Pittsburgh-Xenia’s merger anxieties were largely theological. Joint faculty meetings in recent months revealed some marked doctrinal differences. The majority of the faculty at Pittsburgh-Xenia is committed to a conservative professional position, and these faculty members did not welcome a consolidation which would equate their position with a more liberal view. It was widely known that Dr. Addison H. Leitch, president of Pittsburgh-Xenia, did not in general favor consolidation, although he was willing to cooperate in an originally proposed theological foundation consisting of several schools and preserving the identity and continuity of Pittsburgh-Xenia for bachelor of divinity training. He was prepared to concede graduate instruction to the Western faculty. So far, no public announcement of separate schools of instruction has been made.

Opposition to merger also developed among Pittsburgh-Xenia students. Of the 180 students working toward the B.D. degree, 139 are of the United Presbyterian Church denomination; 90 of these signed a petition against merger.

Pittsburgh-Xenia’s board voted 22 to 10 for merger at the end of a meeting marked by prayer, fairness and courteous restraint but heavily charged with emotion. Board members were conscious of potential reaction among former United Presbyterians, who for sentimental or theological reasons will be deeply disappointed that the only seminary from the United Presbyterian side in the church merger of a year ago will now lose its particular identity.

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On the other hand, merger news brought rejoicing at Western. Dr. Clifford E. Barbour, president, vigorously favored one theological institution in Pittsburgh. He and his faculty and students will soon move to an attractive new campus. Western’s board voted unanimously for the merger, reflecting satisfaction with the prospect of a larger and stronger institution whose theologically inclusivist character will represent the pronounced denominational trend of 25 years. This trend was firmly established by the excommunication from the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. of Dr. J. Gresham Machen and others in 1936.

Of considerable interest remained the question of the choice of a president for the merged seminary—a choice that now will demand a delicate balancing of denominational feelings and tensions.

A New High

A total of $261,686.72 was raised for missions at closing sessions May 3 of the 20th annual Missionary Conference at Boston’s Park Street (Congregational) Church. The funds will support the church’s 120 missionaries in 50 countries and will be distributed among a number of denominational mission boards, large and small, and interdenominational agencies.

The figure was $6,437 greater than the amount reached in last year’s drive. Subscriptions have increased steadily since the present series of missionary conferences began in 1940. That year the church gave $21,000 to missions. The 20-year total exceeds $2,900,000.

The 10-day conference, a highlight of the church’s 150th anniversary observance, broke all previous attendance records. On the program were some 50 missionaries. Morning, afternoon, and evening services were held daily.

Park Street Church’s missionary program is believed to be the largest of any one congregation in the United States. On the North American continent its scope is exceeded only by the Peoples Church of Toronto, whose pastor, Dr. Oswald J. Smith, led the first of the present series of missionary conferences at Park Street in 1940. Smith’s church was to wind up its own missionary conference this month (for a report, see the next issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY).

International Ethics

Liquor advertising which finds its way north of the border was the topic of a conversation between American and Canadian churchmen and brewery officials at Buffalo, New York, last month.

Representatives to the meeting agreed that a code of “international ethics” should be adopted. Their prime concern was U. S. television and radio advertising which is beamed to Canada, where liquor advertising is prohibited. Liquor advertising in American magazines which circulate in Canada is another problem.

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The Buffalo meeting recognized that legal control of across-the-border liquor advertising could probably never be achieved. Its 60 participants issued a statement in which they said that “ethical standards must be formulated and observed.” They recommended further discussion between the Canadian Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches in the U.S.A.

The meeting was sponsored jointly by the Canadian Council of Churches and New York State Council of Churches. Among church leaders attending were the Rev. George Dorey, president of the Canadian Council; the Rev. Kenneth A. Roadarmel, general secretary of the New York Council, and the Rev. Cameron P. Hall, secretary of the NCC’s Department of the Church and Economic Life.

Worth Quoting

Anent recent talk of Protestant-Roman Catholic rapprochement, the 1959 Southern Presbyterian General Assembly reissued a 1946 pastoral letter on the close Protestant-Roman Catholic relationship involved in marriage. Excerpts: “Increasingly evident is the unwisdom of the marriage between Presbyterians and Roman Catholics.

… If a priest of the Roman Catholic church performs the ceremony, the Presbyterian party to the marriage is required to promise to do nothing to change the faith of the Roman Catholic party; although the Roman Catholic is expected by his church to win the Presbyterian. Also the Presbyterian is required to sign away the unborn children to an ecclesiastical organization that will forever forbid them to worship with their parent in the Presbyterian Church.

“We call upon our members to stand uncompromisingly in this matter, to resist resolutely this unfair demand and refuse to make such a promise.… In view of these facts, the General Assembly counsels Presbyterians to refrain from marriage with Roman Catholics as long as the demands and rulings of that church remain unchanged.… The Roman Catholic attitude with reference to mixed marriages makes it impossible for a wholesome family religious life to exist.”

Federal Parochial Aid?

A resolution that virtually calls for federal funds for Roman Catholic parochial schools was adopted by leaders of the National Catholic Educational Association meeting last month in Atlantic City. They urged “that any federal aid be distributed equitably within the limitations of the Federal Constitution so that it may serve the needs of all the youth of our country.”

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A Call For Quakers

The 279th Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends last month called for a national conference of Quakers to discuss criminology—particularly capital punishment and juvenile delinquency.

The “Yearly Meeting,” which represents some 100 “Monthly Meetings” in two states, is historically opposed to capital punishment. The Quakers’ concern revolves on such matters as developing job opportunities for released offenders and promoting legislation for rehabilitation programs.

Mormon Converts

The largest of the Mormon bodies claims to have picked up 33,330 converts last year. Membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints passed the million-and-a-half mark during 1958, according to statistics released at the church’s 129th General Conference.

Among delegates at last month’s three-day meeting in the Mormon Tabernacle, Salt Lake City: Ezra Taft Benson, secretary of agriculture and a member of the church’s Council of the Twelve Apostles.

Protestant Panorama

• JB, a verse play which puts the story of Job into a modern setting, is the 1959 winner of the Pulitzer prize for drama. The play by Archibald MacLeish has been running on Broadway since December 11.

• The U. S. Supreme Court ruled this month that a municipality, by enforcement of a zoning ordinance, can prohibit erection of a church building.

• The first U. S. transatlantic flagship to pass eastward through the St. Lawrence Seaway included a cargo of more than 4 million pounds of supplies from Lutheran World Relief … Seamen aboard the Prins Johan Willem Friso, first ocean ship to dock in Chicago by way of the new seaway, were given copies of the Scriptures on behalf of the Chicago Bible Society.

• St. Paul, Minnesota, now has six accredited church-related colleges. Latest to be officially recognized by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools were Bethel College, a four-year liberal arts college operated by the Baptist General Conference, and Concordia Junior College, operated by the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

• Salvador Dali, Spanish surrealist painter, says he would like to design a church dedicated to the success of the Ecumenical Council to be called by Pope John XXIII.

• The world’s largest statue to Christ was unveiled May 17 on the banks of the Tagus River near Lisbon, Portugal. The 92-foot white stone statue stands on a four-pillared pedestal that rises more than 250 feet. Roman Catholics sponsored construction at a cost of some $500,000.

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• The United Church of Canada is planning French translations for portions of its Book on Common Order.

• Members of the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Evangelical Congregational Church formed a pilgrimage to the grave of Jacob Albright, founder of the U. S. Evangelical movement, on the 200th anniversary of his birth. Albright was buried near Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

• Westminster Abbey begins participation this summer in an annual clergy exchange program between councils of churches in the United States and Britain. The Rev. Charles R. Stires, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Syracuse, New York, will be first visiting preacher at Westminster.

• Lutherans in the world now total 71,135,068, about one-third of Protestantism, according to the Lutheran World Federation.

• A service in Amsterdam marked the founding there of the world’s first Baptist church 350 years ago. Baptist leaders from many lands attended.

• Some 8,000,000 U. S. youngsters and nearly 100,000 Canadian children will attend vacation church schools, day camps, and work-and-play assemblies this summer, according to an agency of the National Council of Churches.

• The National Council of the Protestant Episcopal Church, rejecting a bid to establish its headquarters in the Interchurch Center in New York, will look elsewhere to locate its offices. “We do not feel that ecumenicity is necessarily or even wisely based on cohabitation,” said Bishop Frederick J. Warnecke.

• The Convocations of Canterbury and York will consider at fall sessions a proposal to embody in Church of England canons a clause ensuring the secrecy of confessions made to priests.

• March and April evangelism campaigns resulted in 143,327 baptisms within the Southern Baptist Convention, according to the department of evangelism of the denomination’s Home Mission Board. A spokesman said Southern Baptists have never had so many baptisms in such a limited period. The campaigns were part of the five-year Baptist Jubilee Advance.

• Dr. Oswald J. Smith, founder of the Peoples Church in Toronto, will conduct an evangelistic series in Europe next month. He plans an 18-day meeting in Helsinki and five-day campaigns in Stockholm and London.

Continent Of Australia
Evangelistic Epoch

Billy Graham, whose crowds have no parallel in religious history, saw his own record broken May 10 when some 150,000 braved chilly winds and rain to attend the evangelist’s closing rally in Sydney, Australia. Graham spoke before 80,000 in the Sydney Showground while another 70,000 listened in an adjoining cricket ground. His previous attendance record, 143,750, was set at Melbourne.

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The Sunday afternoon finale saw 5,683 step forward to bring to 56,840 the number of persons who made decisions for Christ in 26 Sydney meetings.

Graham said at the close of the Sydney crusade that his ailing left eye felt “better than it has for months.” He said that his vision was “almost normal.”

Meetings in Adelaide, Perth, and Brisbane were being held with the aid of Graham’s associate evangelists. Graham himself was to speak at closing rallies at each of the cities. His last scheduled public meeting in Australia was set for May 31, in Brisbane.

Hoping for a summer’s rest, Graham has kept his engagements for the coming weeks to a minimum. His next extended crusade is scheduled for Indianapolis, beginning October 6.

Following is an appraisal of Graham’s Australasia crusade by Dr. Sherwood E. Wirt, California Presbyterian minister who witnessed the meetings:

As their epoch-making Australasia crusade neared its climax this month with meetings in Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane, members of the Billy Graham team devoted Saturday morning sessions to pondering and praying over concerns fraught with spiritual significance for the lands “down under.”

To be specific, evangelicals in 1954, at the close of the Harringay crusade, thought Great Britain was on the verge of the major “break-through” of the Holy Spirit. That hour has passed, and doors which seemed open, appear to have closed. Now God is presenting a fresh opportunity. Australia and New Zealand, after meetings which have seen nearly every Graham crusade record broken, share a spiritual mood unparalleled in the history of the antipodes.

There is scarcely a church in either commonwealth that has not felt the direct or indirect impact of the crusade. There is hardly a village that has not sensed the throb of new life in the midst. If the history of the Christian Church in the Southern Hemisphere is ever written, it will certainly characterize A.D. 1959 as the year of revival.

Melbourne was amazing; Tasmania was heartwarming; New Zealand’s “feast of a week” was a miracle of grace; and yet somehow what happened in and out of the Showground at Sydney surpassed them all! During the final two weeks land relay lines, carrying the direct telephonic message from the rostrum, penetrated far into the “bush country,” bringing the message into 300 communities of New South Wales and beyond. In halls where platforms were empty save for a sound box, Australians gathered by hundreds of thousands to hear the Gospel flanked by pastors and counselors. Showground crowds were tremendous. In two weeks Sydney had more decisions and inquiries than San Francisco had in seven. A crowded chartered train arrived from Melbourne and Billy appealed to the throng for housing. It was estimated that the number of persons attending actual crusade meetings in Australia alone would surpass two million.

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In New Zealand, with the addition of land-line listeners (as in Dunedin, where the town hall was packed for all six nights), it was believed that one-fourth of the entire dominion population heard the preaching of the Gospel of Christ through Mr. Graham and his associate evangelists, Grady Wilson, Leighton Ford and Joseph Blinco. (Cultural note: there is no television yet in New Zealand.) In one small city, Matamata, after a relay line meeting, the ministerial association was specially convened and the pastors unanimously agreed to issue a public Gospel invitation from their pulpits on the following Lord’s Day.

Graham To Moscow?

Billy Graham may hold a three-day evangelistic series in the First Baptist Church of Moscow, according to reports from the Russian capital.

Graham’s Moscow visit presumably would come in June, when he is returning from his Australasia crusade via Europe. However, as of the close of his Sydney crusade, the evangelist had not commented on the Moscow report.

Graham also is reported to have an invitation from the Archbishop of Canterbury to visit Lambeth Palace while en route back to the United States.

Yet to the subjects of the Queen in Australasia the most remarkable feature of the crusade was not the strong preaching of the evangelist, or the thrilling stories of conversions and altered lives that filtered up through the counseling and follow-up departments; or the masses that swarmed over the great rugby and cricket parks and choked the aisles at the invitation. Australians were aware that these phenomena had attended other Graham meetings elsewhere in the world. What really amazed the folk “down under” was the way they began treating each other.

Call the fourteen visiting Americans what you will (Mr. Blinco is a Britisher, but is moving this summer to Oklahoma City), they had the church people of Australia and New Zealand working and talking together and recognizing each other as they had never done before. After Billy Graham had addressed the pastors of Sydney, Alan Walker, noted leader of world Methodism, rose deeply moved to say, “I see now that the unity we have sought so long in committees, and seen so little of, comes only when we are actively seeking to fulfil our common task in the carrying out of the Great Commission.” So it was that Anglicans, Presbyterians, Plymouth Brethren, Disciples of Christ, Congregationalists, Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals and the Salvation Army suddenly “discovered” each other in a new and significant way.

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To be sure, there was foot-dragging in all these groups, but they made an impressive Christian front as they labored on bus assignments, handed out memos, counseled inquirers, prayed, took notes, sang, set up chairs and drank endless cups of “tay” together for the glory of God and the triumph of his grace. One noted author and ecclesiastic, a bishop of the Church of England, politely refused to sit on the platform and chose instead the anonymity of the follow-up room, where he helped 50 to 75 volunteer typists crank out decision card referrals to be posted to ministers before dawn.

One Presbyterian minister in Sydney found himself with 300 such cards after only two weeks of meetings, threw up his hands and invited them all to tea in his church. Another pastor, who told the press, “I don’t agree with Billy Graham,” nevertheless found himself reading the Scripture at the Showground and opening his pulpit to a member of the team—who responded by giving an invitation to Jesus Christ. Dr. Stuart Barton Babbage, dean of Melbourne Cathedral of St. Paul, on the first Sunday evening after the crusade invited those who would like to make a commitment to Jesus Christ to remain after the service. Three hundred stayed!

Australia’s moral problems were reflected in odd ways. One lady who used to stable her horses under the stands in Sydney Showground now found herself in the same stable—taking instruction in the Christian life from Mr. Blinco. Another lady who had gone forward to receive Christ announced, “I feel as if I had just won the lottery!”

As usual, back of the great surge of love and light and tears and joy was the careful preparation and organization of dedicated men. The chief architect of the Australasia crusade, humanly speaking, was the Rev. Jerry Beavan, who spent 18 months on the site. Visitation evangelism follow-up was directed by the Rev. Leslie Green, an American Disciples minister who took a leave of absence from his church in Chatswood, a suburb of Sydney. Graham himself went to Australia against the advice of doctors, but has promised to listen to them this summer as he takes a three-month rest without major responsibilities.

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Meanwhile Australia and New Zealand churchmen were urging other members of the Graham team to remain behind or to return soon, to help them deal with the tremendous question, “What next in Australasia?”

Dominion Of Canada
A Coordinated Brief

Representatives of more than 40 organizations, including major Protestant denominations in Canada, presented a brief to Prime Minister John Diefenbaker last month urging a constitutional amendment to guarantee freedom of religion. The brief recommends a freedom of religion clause in Diefenbaker’s proposed bill of rights.

The brief suggested that this clause be included in the bill of rights: “Every one has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to maintain or to change his religion or belief and freedom either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance, all without coercion in any way.”

The prime minister, however, said that certain rights of provinces preclude a constitutional amendment on freedom of religion at this time. He indicated that a statute could be enacted to the same effect.

Continent Of Europe
A Leading Issue

German churchmen are sharply divided on the question of whether their country should utilize atomic armament in the event of war. Dr. Martin Niemoeller, president of the Evangelical Church of Hesse and Nassau, upholds an even more pacifistic question: Shall the state employ force of any kind to defend itself?

The showdown came last month in the synod of Niemoeller’s church. After heated debate in which the president raised unsuccessful objections, the synod upheld the right of a state to employ force in the protection of justice and peace in a “Clarifying Message to Soldiers.”

The church’s primary mission, the message stated, is “to preach the Gospel of the free grace of God.”

Some weeks ago, Defense Minister Franz-Josef Strauss instituted legal action against Niemoeller for allegedly insulting the West German army. The churchman was charged with making derogatory remarks at a pacifist rally.

The message said that while helpful understanding on the part of the church includes protection of those refusing armed service on conscientious grounds, “the church, at the same time, has a responsibility to render pastoral care to politicians and soldiers who are forced by their conscience to take upon themselves, according to human insights and ability, the gravest decisions for the sake of preserving peace.”

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People: Words And Events

Deaths: Dr. Yngve T. Brilioth, 67, former Archbishop of Uppsala and Primate of the Lutheran Church of Sweden, in Uppsala, Sweden … Archdeacon Donald Rieginald Weston of the Anglican Church in Northern Rhodesia, in an automobile accident near Lusaka, Northern Rhodesia … Dr. George B. Connell, 54, president of the Southern Baptists’ Mercer University, in Macon, Georgia … Albert Crews, 51, director of program promotion and station relations for the Broadcasting and Film Commission of the National Council of Churches, at Port Washington, New York … Dr. Henry R. Boyes, 69, medical missionary of the United Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A., in Detroit … Dr. John Bunyan Smith, 85, for 25 years pastor of the Baptist White Temple of San Diego, California.

Elections: As Bishop of the Evangelical Augsburg (Lutheran) Church in Poland, Dr. A. Wantula … as president of the Hungarian Ecumenical council, Dr. Tibor Bartha … as president of the General Convent, highest governing body of the Hungarian Reformed Church, Bishop Elemer Gyory … as executive secretary-treasurer of the Historical Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Davis Collier Woolley.

Appointments: As cadet chaplain at the U. S. Military Academy, West Point, New York, Dr. Theodore C. Speers, minister of the Central Presbyterian Church, New York City … as president of Seattle Pacific College, Dr. C. Dorr Demaray … as president of Texas Lutheran College, Dr. Marcus C. Rieke … as academic dean and professor of psychology of religion at Scarritt College, Dr. John W. Johannaber … as associate professor of Old Testament at Gordon Divinity School, Dr. Charles F. Pfeiffer … as associate professor of Christian education at Wesley Theological Seminary, Dr. Mary Alice Douty … as associate director of the National Council of Churches’ Office of Finance, Herbert T. Miller … as general secretary of the Congregational Christian Churches’ Board of Home Missions, Dr. William Kincaid Newman … as chief executive assistant to the presiding bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church, Warren H. Turner, Jr.

Retirement: As editor of the weekly Biblical Recorder, Dr. L. L. Carpenter, effective December 31.

Coronation: As Patriarch of the Coptic Church under his chosen name of Kryollos VI, the former Archpriest Mina Albaramoussi Elmetwahad.

Nero’S Gardens

Archeologists in Rome claim to have found the site of Emperor Nero’s gardens where Christians were massacred in the first century. Ancient walls, stairways, and mosaics found in excavations between the River Tiber and the Vatican are said to constitute the remains of Nero’s infamous pleasure grounds where Christians were burned to death.

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