Billy Graham’s return engagement in Washington deposited a clear-cut challenge upon a community which is aware, perhaps more acutely than any other, of tomorrow’s perils.
His message offered little worldly comfort about the future. He said he has talked with 47 heads of state and that virtually all are privately pessimistic.
“Christ did not come into the world to bring peace, but a sword!” he told some 7,000 military and civilian employees assembled in the park-like inner courtyard of the Pentagon.
In a 20-minute address delivered from a stairway platform framed by two towering magnolias in full bloom, Graham said sin was behind all world strife and, indeed, was the reason for the Pentagon’s (Defense Department’s) very existence. He quoted the Bible, moreover, as predicting no real peace until Christ is enthroned on earth. Tensions would persist, he said, amidst unregeneracy.
Billy Graham, in an address prepared for delivery this week at a World Council of Churches “Consultation for Evangelists” in Geneva, says his definition of evangelism is one adopted in 1918 by an archbishops’ committee of the Church of England:
“To evangelize is so to present Christ Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit that men shall come to put their trust in God through Him, to accept Him as their Savior and serve Him as their King in the fellowship of His Church.”
The Geneva consultation is bringing together evangelists from all over the world for “an exchange of views on the evangelistic task of the churches in our time.” Chairman is the Rev. Tom Allan, well-known Scottish evangelist.
Hundreds from the world’s largest office building raised their hands at the close of the noon-hour rally as a token of their commitment to Christ.
Focal point of the eight-day crusade was Griffith Stadium, Washington Senators’ ball park, which provided a seating potential much greater than that of the National Guard Armory, where the evangelist’s campaign in the winter of 1952 was centered.
The larger arena proved a good investment. Every stadium turnout surpassed what the armory could have accommodated (10,000).
The choir of more than 1,000 volunteer voices was divided into two sections: Most sopranos and altos were situated between first and second base. The rest were seated with tenors and bases between second and third.
From a pulpit 12 feet above the playing field came the message, commandingly delivered and highly comprehendible.
Graham’s sermon themes: “The Answer to the Present World Dilemma,” “What’s Wrong With the World?,” “The Handwriting on the Wall,” “Problems of the Home,” “A Challenge for Youth,” “The Wickedest Man That Ever Lived,” “The Foolishness of God,” and, at the closing Sunday service on June 26, “The End of the World.”
An unusually sobering aspect of the crusade was the disclosure by Graham one evening that he had talked with the late Congressman Douglas H. Elliott only three days before his death.
“I want tickets for every night next week,” Graham quoted Elliott as having said at a pre-crusade breakfast for members of the House.
Elliott’s body was found at his summer cabin near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, on the day the crusade opened in Washington. A coroner ruled that he died of “carbon monoxide poisoning self-administered.” Elliott has been in office less than two months.
At the outset of the crusade an air of indifference was noticeable despite wide church support. Newspapers gave a minimum of attention and radio and television stations virtually none. Committee meeting attendance was poor for such important planning phases as counseling and follow-up. Budgetary problems loomed large. Reserved seat requests were disappointing.
Once the crusade began, however, enthusiasm snowballed. At the heart of the zeal was a nucleus of dedicated lay Christians who had worked and prayed for weeks for those climactic moments at each service when inquirers streamed onto the infield by the hundreds.
The great spirit of Christian fellowship which became identified with the crusade was demonstrated remarkably one evening when it started to drizzle soon after the service began. Song leader Cliff Barrows gave choir members the option of waiting it out or seeking shelter in the stands.
“Stay here,” they chorused.
They stayed and the rain stopped until after they had sung their number.
Groundwork for the national capital crusade included a series of important, specialized-audience meetings in addition to counsellor training classes, prayer meetings, and planning sessions. Billy Graham declared that he considered his pre-crusade engagements in Washington as important, in a sense, as the public meetings themselves. For a full week before the stadium meetings began he was addressing assemblages in his honor.
A black tie dinner in the Mayflower Hotel drew several hundred key Defense Department personnel hosted by Secretary of the Army Wilber M. Brucker and Judge Boyd Leedom, chairman of the National Labor Relations Board and head of the crusade executive committee. Another in the Statler Hilton attracted administration officials as well as civic leaders. A luncheon in the Mayflower packed out the ballroom as Washington area service clubs joined hands to welcome the evangelist. His biggest reception came at the Sheraton Park late in the week when he spoke to 3,000 delegates gathered for the 67th annual convention of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.
At the Capitol, Graham addressed prayer groups of both chambers at special arranged meetings in the old Supreme Court room. More than 100 members of the House turned out for a special breakfast session and more than 50 senators attended a luncheon the same day (including Lyndon B. Johnson, Everett M. Dirksen, Theodore Green, George A. Smathers, and Frank Carlson).
Graham seized every opportunity to warn his hearers of the plight of the undedicated. His was a call to patriotism as well as to spiritual regeneration (he embarrassed several hundred luncheon guests June 14 by asking how many of them remembered it was Flag Day).
“We seem to be unaware that there is a meaning and purpose to life beyond the immediate problem of survival,” Graham told the military leaders. “I do not believe that the human race will end up ‘on the beach.’ The Bible teaches me otherwise. Yet I am equally convinced that unless we heed the warning, unless we bring Americans back to awareness of God’s moral laws, unless the spiritual fibre of character is put back into the structure of our nation, we are headed for national disaster.”
• An 11-program summer series of the “Lutheran Hour” will be devoted to Christian viewpoints on key election year topics. The program, sponsored by the Lutheran Laymen’s League, is carried by the NBC and Mutual networks and by independent stations around the world.
• Eva Anita Johansson, 18-year-old sister of former heavyweight champion Ingemar Johansson, is enrolled in the liberal arts curriculum of Concordia Collegiate Institute for the fall term. Concordia is a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod school in Bronxville, New York.
• Some 150,000 Sunday School pupils from 450 Protestant churches participated in the 131st annual parade of the Brooklyn (New York) Sunday School Union last month. Governor and Mrs. Nelson A. Rockefeller were among honored guests in the reviewing stand. The parade drew an estimated 1,500,000 spectators.
• A 31-year-old Alsatian minister was fatally injured last month when he and three other Europeans were attacked by African terrorists in Douala, Cameroun. The Rev. Bernard Kopp had recently been named director of the Theological Seminary of the Evangelical Church of Cameroun.
• The Church of Sweden plans to manufacture prefabricated church buildings, complete with bell towers, to be set up in summer resort areas.
• Michael Markogamvrakis, evangelist of the Greek Free Evangelical Church, is appealing a five months imprisonment sentence imposed on charges of proselytising among Greek Orthodox people.
• The East Asian Christian Conference plans to produce a hymn book of Asian tunes for use by international church gatherings.
• Taylor University plans to relocate its Upland, Indiana, campus on a yet-to-be-determined site. The 67-year-old school will remain somewhere in Indiana, according to an announcement from trustees, and will seek to retain traditional Methodist ties.
• More than 1,000 youth are participating in ecumenical work camps in 31 countries this summer. The camps are sponsored by the youth department of the World Council of Churches.
• The Lutheran Church of Norway plans to place women theological graduates into a number of newly-created parish responsibilities. The women, legally eligible for ordination, will be given duties in visitation, Sunday School and youth work, and in Bible study groups.
• The Rev. J. Wesley Neal, newly-appointed executive director for the Methodist Agricultural Aids Foundation, has as his first task the establishment of a technical training school in the Congo. Neal has been pastor of the First Methodist Church in Chatsworth, California.
• The first English-speaking Lutheran church in Durban, South Africa, marked its first anniversary by dedicating a new chapel. The church was established with the aid of the Lutheran World Federation.
• The World Presbyterian Alliance is sending a “fraternal delegate” to Cuba to confer with church leaders on religious liberty under the government of Premier Fidel Castro.
• The Massachusetts Council of Churches is sponsoring the distribution of Christian literature to 1,500 migrant workers in the Connecticut Valley area this summer.
• Nineteen missionaries were commissioned for overseas service last month by the United Presbyterian Commission on Ecumenical Mission and Relations at a chapel service in New York’s Interchurch Center. Most of the 19 will serve as “fraternal workers” under independent national churches.
• The South Georgia Methodist Conference dedicated a $250,000 building in honor of Bishop Arthur J. Moore last month. The two-story structure, located at Epworth-by-the-Sea, Methodist conference center at St. Simons Island, Georgia, houses offices, guest rooms, and a library.
The Vanderbilt University administration reached a compromise with dissident faculty members in its Divinity School last month.
Eleven professors who had resigned in protest of a Negro student’s dismissal were given the chance to reconsider in the light of an offer made to the student, the Rev. James M. Lawson.
Lawson, expelled for his “commitment to an active program of civil disobedience” in connection with sit-in demonstrations, may apply for a Vanderbilt bachelor of divinity degree either by taking written examinations or by transferring credits he is expected to earn at Boston University School of Theology this summer.
Ten faculty resignations were subsequently withdrawn (the eleventh professor had already accepted a position elsewhere). Dean J. Robert Nelson’s resignation will become officially effective August 31, although he has already been relieved of duties.
Freedom and Tenure
A norm for academic freedom and tenure in seminaries was established at the 22nd biennial meeting of the American Association of Theological Schools, held last month in Richmond, Virginia.
During the meeting, it was announced that Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, had again been granted full accreditation. Asbury was an associate member of the AATS for the past five years.
While not intended as a criterion for accreditation, the newly-established norm is expected to influence seminary administrations in resolving faculty disputes. It came in the form of a report from the AATS Commission on Research and Counsel, which delegates approved virtually intact.
In spelling out principles of academic freedom, the report declares that “the theological teacher and his students have the inquiry for truth central to their vocation and they are free to pursue this inquiry.”
But the report also states that “an institution which has a confessional or doctrinal standard may expect that its faculty subscribe to that standard and the requirement for such subscription should be mutually understood at the time of their affiliation with the institution.”
“The question of a faculty member’s adherence to the standard may be opened according to specified procedures.”
A professor may be dismissed, the report says, if he fails to live up to his contract with the school. Doctrinal variance is understood to be a legitimate ground for dismissal if subscription to a doctrinal standard is required at appointment.
More than 250 delegates were on hand for the AATS meeting and associated related assemblies (a member seminary of the AATS may send as many delegates as it wishes, but only one can vote), held on the campus of Union Theological Seminary.
The report on academic freedom and tenure gained special interest through recent faculty-administration differences at Vanderbilt University Divinity School. It has been in preparation for many months, long before the Vanderbilt controversy began.
The report asserts that “after the expiration of a probationary period of appointment, teachers should have appointments on indefinite tenure” and that “such appointments should be terminated only for adequate cause and only after fulfillment of clearly stated procedures for hearing and judgment.”
The Vanderbilt situation did not come up for discussion, and AATS officials have not yet indicated whether they will investigate. Such an inquiry could assume the nature of an earlier investigation conducted at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, after 13 professors were fired in an administrative dispute during the spring of 1958. Southern’s accreditation was in jeopardy for a time following the dismissals.
Dr. J. Robert Nelson, outgoing dean of the Vanderbilt seminary, was among the delegates to the Richmond meeting. Delegate opinion leaned in his favor.
In other action, membership fees were raised by 60 per cent and Dr. James A. Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, was elected president.
Also approved was a report from the Commission on Research and Counsel which explored “institutional procedures with respect to faculty resignations, leaves and retirements.”
“A sabbatical leave should be provided for each member of the faculty who is on indefinite tenure at least after each six years of service in a school,” the report said.
“The minimum length of such leave with full salary should be one quarter or semester plus a summer; but where a longer leave seems desirable salary adjustments should be arrived at through conference.”
The Security Treaty
Japanese Christians have been among the most outspoken critics of their country’s Security Treaty with the United States.
The National Council of Churches in Japan took a neutral stand, but many influential individuals in the Kyodan (United Church of Christ in Japan) firmly opposed ratification of the treaty. They were supported by public declarations from such organizations as the YMCA, the WCTU, and the Christian Society for Peace. Several other organizations were formed especially to rally Christians against ratification. Fifteen professors of the International Christian University published a letter protesting the Diet’s handling of the treaty.
State Aiding Church?
A second round of fellowships in religion were announced last month by the U. S. Office of Education. Because of protests against last year’s grants, made under provisions of the National Defense Education Act of 1958, the government did not include new awards to seminaries. Instead, annual stipends of nearly $5,000 per student will be channelled into 20 doctorate programs in religion at such schools as Claremont (California) College, originally Congregational Christian but now independent; Brown University, founded by Baptists but also independent now; Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning, Jewish institution in Philadelphia; the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester (New York); and New York University.
The shallowness of American spiritual life was cited in a discussion by 50 students from 40 countries attending an international assembly in Williamsburg, Virginia, last month.
Dr. Harvie Branscomb, chancellor of Vanderbilt University and speaker for the occasion, agreed with most of the students’ conclusions.
A Korean student asked whether “the excessive sexual exposition and display” in the United States has not hampered American spiritual life.
The sexual reputation of Americans is such, she said, that “when a Korean girl goes back home after living in the United States she finds it difficult to get married.”
“People no longer trust her,” she added.
In addition, four priests, two brothers, and four nuns won grants for doctorate studies at various Catholic and non-Catholic schools around the country.
Last year, Union Theological Seminary of New York and Emory University of Atlanta received similar three-year grants, made under Title Four of the defense act and designed to assist students in securing doctorates for college teaching careers. The federal aid program has been widely criticized on grounds that it provides direct government subsidy for sectarian purposes and that it thereby violates the constitutional principle of Church-State separation. Under the law, students selected by the schools to receive the fellowships can draw up to $2,500 annually while the schools themselves are awarded as much as $2,500 per student provided they can establish that their faculty is being strengthened and their curriculum expanded by virtue of the subsidy.
All priests and nuns selected under this year’s program will pursue secular studies. The others seek degrees in such areas as theology, sacred music, history of religion, and biblical archeology.
The Title Four program, unlike other sections of the act, does not concentrate on science, mathematics, and languages, but includes fellowships in the humanities, ranging from folklore at the University of Indiana to medieval literature at St. Louis University. Some opponents of the federal aid program are seeking a way to test its constitutionality in court.
A Catholic Bloc
If the Democratic National Convention fails to nominate Senator John F. Kennedy for president, Catholics may take revenge by voting against the party as a bloc, according to the retiring Democratic National Chairman, Paul Butler.
Butler, who feels that Kennedy’s nomination is a “cinch,” told the National Press Club last month that many Catholics would either vote Republican or not vote at all if they felt that Kennedy was denied the nomination because of his religion.
“Other Catholics, like myself, would vote anyway for the Democratic nominee, whoever he might be,” Butler added.
Protestants and Other Americans United promptly asked Kennedy to repudiate Butler’s “threat” of bloc voting and appealed to the Fair Campaign Practices Committee to condemn his statement.
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