As deep winter settled over Washington, D. C., last month, gardeners—hoping for a riot of color when flowers bloom next spring—were planting seeds.

Meanwhile, down in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was sowing seeds for a massive camp-in at the nation’s capital this April. But it’s anybody’s guess just what will sprout.

Billing the drive as “a poor people’s campaign for jobs and income,” the Nobel Peace Prize-winning civil-rights leader says he will recruit 3,000 persons from ten major Northern cities and five Southern rural areas and bring them to the capital. “Militant non-violent action” will be exerted, say King spokesmen, to focus national attention on the problems of the poor and powerless and, it is hoped, to wring major financial appropriations from Congress in order to “stem the tide of despair in the ghettos.”

Washingtonians are worried. The religious community is divided. Negro clergymen in the District don’t know which way to jump; the solid support generated for King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference during the August 28, 1963, civil-rights demonstration in Washington is lacking now.

With the “tent-ins and sit-downs” less than four months away, most ministers were taking a wait-and-see attitude, and neither the National Council of Churches’ Department of Social Justice nor the Council of Churches of Greater Washington had adopted a position for or against King.

Maybe that’s the way King wants it, because his critics say his following is dwindling and his influence—especially in the black community—ebbing.

Although King and his aides would not disclose particulars of the camp-in strategy, they declare the intended disruption may include blocking the entrances to government buildings, shutting down public transportation, and civil disobedience. Recruits are being trained “for jail if necessary,” a spokesman said.

King swears there will be nothing “damaging to property or persons.” But one activist white bishop, who upon occasion has supported a more radical rights position than King’s, fears the protest could get out of hand if King’s efforts are “perverted into an angry thing.”

Interestingly, some District Negro clergymen think King has gone too far. Dr. E. C. Smith, a director of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, who previously has supported King and marched in Selma, says the intended Washington protest is “not at all a good tactic.… I will not participate. The vote is the answer.”

King’s demands reportedly will include consideration of family allowances, guaranteed income and a negative income tax, more postal jobs, and employment of slum residents to rehabilitate their own neighborhoods.

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Another PNBC District ghetto minister, John Bussey, is against civil disobedience and says most conservative ministers in the convention “are of the same opinion.” But he—like most clergymen interviewed—is reserving final judgment until King elucidates exact plans.

New Washington City Council vice-chairman Walter Fauntroy, a PNBC pastor and former King aide, is all for the April onslaught: “The issues he [King] raises are vital to the survival of this country.” Nor does he see any conflict between his position on the council—dedicated to law and order—and civil disobedience. “No one who follows King will take part in violent disorder,” he reasons. “If the situation requires I demonstrate, I may do it.”

Fauntroy, who has connections at the White House, on Capitol Hill, and in the ghetto, thinks that if officialdom heeds King, a repeat of the last two summers of violence may be avoided in most cities.

Because Fauntroy wears so many hats, King has chosen the Rev. Bernard Lafayette, Jr., a founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, to steer the Washington campaign.

Some radical church leaders think that King’s aggressive non-violence is “almost dead” and that nothing short of revolution will rally the Negro. Yet Lincoln Temple’s Channing Phillips, who had Stokely Carmichael speak in his church last spring, still backs King.

And Episcopal Suffragan Bishop Paul Moore of the Diocese of Washington told a suburban congregation across the Potomac River that the “country may be facing a choice between non-violence which might get across, or more Rap Browns, Stokely Carmichaels, Detroits and Newarks.” The question, he said, is not “do we want Dr. King or don’t we?,” but “do we want King or Brown?”

“Riot can be a form of communication,” maintains the National Council of Churches’ Charles Spivey. He said the NCC’s general policy is “to come down solidly on issues which contribute to accelerating change positively and favorably.” But he hastily added that the Department of Social Justice had taken no position on King’s drive yet and would not endorse violence.

Then again, Spivey suggested that violence may sometimes be the “only recourse.” Bishop Moore put it: “King has spent as much time as anyone with Congress and nothing has happened.… So what can he do?”

A few churchmen wonder out loud whether King’s capital-crippling campaign will get off the ground. “After all, Carmichael said he was going to ‘raze the city,’ but he didn’t set foot here,” reflected Washington’s NCC lobbyist James Hamilton. Then Carmichael said he’ll move to Washington. The campaign could make or break King as a civil-rights figure.

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But the major concerns seem to center on (1) Can King keep it cool? and (2) Will Congress listen?

An explosive incident in the tense confrontation could set off violence in this city of 800,000 persons, 63 per cent of whom are Negro, far beyond King’s control. “You can’t line up the tanks around the ghetto forever,” one worried churchman said nervously.

There also is gnawing anxiety among some who concur with King’s goals but not necessarily with his methods that Congress will respond to a camp-in by tightening—not loosening—its purse strings for urban renewal. Moore says it would take “six or seven billion dollars of federal money a month to really get at the problem” in the nation’s cities.

Sinking vast sums of public money into jobs and income for the disadvantaged doubtless will not be a panacea for all urban ills, comments a conservative who thinks King’s reasoning is “simplistic.” Now and again a minister, like the National Presbyterian Center’s Executive Director Lowell Russell Ditzen, speaks about the need for a “vertical relationship to Christ” and regeneration as well as social action.

An Episcopal layman responded to Moore’s talk by chiding King for “practicing cruel deception” with Negroes. King never says “control your family size” or “go to work so you can afford better housing,” he charged.

When spring flowers push through the sod next year, Congress will decide whether Martin Luther King has a capital idea or a boondoggle. In the meantime, the religious community must make up its mind whether it will risk reaping whatever crops up in Washington.


Monet’s “La Terrasse à Sainte Adresse,” one of the finest impressionist paintings ever put on auction, was sold for $1,411,200 last month in London by the Rev. Theodore Pitcairn of Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania. The retired Swedenborgian pastor, son of the founder of Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, bought the painting for $11,000 in 1926. Proceeds will go mainly to a charitable foundation he established.

Paul-Emile Cardinal Leger, former Roman Catholic archbishop of Montreal, left for Dakar, Senegal, December 11, to begin mission work among French—speaking African lepers.

The White House East Room is “the poor man’s wedding chapel,” said President Johnson on the eve of daughter Lynda Bird’s marriage last month. “You can have a wedding here in the house and no one thinks its cheap.” Actually, he jested, “we decided to have the wedding here because of one of my most recent experiences in church”—a reference to the Williamsburg sermon against his Viet Nam policies.

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Father Bernard F. Law, editor and publicist for the Mississippi diocese, will be executive director of the Catholic bishops’ ecumenical committee, succeeding Monsignor William Baum.

The Roman Catholic Liturgical Conference chose as executive director James Colaianni, former managing editor of the freewheeling monthly Ramparts. In one piece, Colaianni described church missions as “probably one of the greatest charity frauds of all time.”

Donald Bolles, former public-relations director of the National Council of Churches, took a similar post with the American Lutheran Church’s projected international university in the Bahamas.

The Rev. W. H. Hecht, Lutheran student pastor at the University of Oklahoma, was named executive director for Missouri’s Republican Party.

Christian Century Editor Kyle Haselden underwent a brain operation last month and was confined indefinitely to a Chicago area hospital.


RICHARD R. WRIGHT, JR., 89, oldest bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; editor and historian; former president of Wilberforce University; one of the first U. S. Negroes to earn an honorary doctorate (University of Pennsylvania, 1911); in Philadelphia.

THOMAS H. SPURGEON, grandson of Charles Haddon Spurgeon who was principal of Irish Baptist College for four decades; in Dublin, after a long illness.

HENRY H. SAVAGE, 80, Conservative Baptist pastor in Pontiac, Michigan, and director of Maranatha Bible Conference; of cancer.

Wheaton College President Hudson Armerding was named by Governor Kerner to lead the committee on acquiring a 6,800-acre site in Weston, Illinois, for the world’s largest atom-smasher.

C. Dorr Demaray, 66, will resign as president of Seattle Pacific College (Free Methodist) on June 30.

New president of Miami Bible College is Larry Poland, former assistant to the president of Indiana’s Grace College.


“The nation’s oldest foreign missionary board is being forced to curtail its program because of a lack of funds,” reports Everett C. Parker of the United Church of Christ, in the Christian Century. The 1968 budget is down $177,000, and the UCC agency will have to draw more than $1 million this year from endowment funds.

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Drake University’s Divinity School, a Disciples of Christ seminary that has become ecumenical in recent years, will disband this summer. The seventeen students who will not have graduated by then must transfer.

A federal appeals court in New Orleans upheld a ruling from Mobile, Alabama, against constitutionality of a state law permitting congregations to hold church property when a majority of 65 per cent votes to pull out of the parent denomination. The suit involved Trinity Methodist Church in Mobile.


The first recorded case of a deformed baby of a woman who took LSD during pregnancy is reported in a British medical journal published in Boston. Dr. Hans Zellweger and his associates say the baby, born in Iowa last summer, had a severely deformed right leg. The 19-year-old mother had taken the “mind-expanding” drug four times during her pregnancy.

Lester Breslow, head of California’s public-health department, says that though people don’t die of divorce, it raises the death rate through such side effects as suicide, emotional illness, and alcoholism. Divorced men and women in every age group die at a faster rate than married persons, he told the Los Angeles Times.

A promise of a probe of the Presbyterian-aided anti-poverty agency, Child Development Group of Mississippi, removed a roadblock to adjournment of Congress last month. Also on the shelf at the deadline was the Senate bid for judicial review of aid to religious groups.

The Little Rock, Arkansas, Conference on Religion and Race called in a policy statement for “a new orthodoxy of human equality,” with “the same involvement of Negro Americans and of white Americans in every human endeavor.”

After a meeting at Greenville College, evangelicals who have met informally at American Historical Association conventions decided to form a new group, the Conference on Faith and History, to help integrate their faith and scholarship.

When the National Council of Churches closed its Hollywood film-broadcasting office, Methodist Bishop Gerald Kennedy proposed a new agency to advise producers on Protestant reaction to films.

Four of the fifty Southern Baptist Brotherhood Commission staffers meeting in a Memphis motel subdued and disarmed a gunman who tried to shoot his former wife and himself.

Cuban President Fidel Castro attended a reception for the Vatican representative in Havana, perhaps indicating a softer government line toward churches.

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The number-two man on the Vatican’s Christian unity secretariat traveled to Moscow to meet Russian Orthodox leaders. His team included Monsignor George Higgins of the U. S. Catholic Conference.

An Arab underground group threatened foreigners that their safety could not be guaranteed during visits to Christmas shrines now under Israeli control.

The Baptist hospital in Gaza, its staff depleted after the Arab-Israeli war, issued an emergency appeal for nurses.

Nigeria’s interchurch “New Life for All” evangelism program is being considered by Christians in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Rhodesia, Mali, Upper Volta, Ivory Coast, and Ghana.

At the first major evangelistic crusade since 1928 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, attendance reached 30,000, and about 500 persons made public Christian commitments. Obstacles the crusade faced included heavy downpours, tension over demonstrations in nearby cities and currency devaluation, and bad acoustics at the stadium. The Asian Evangelists Commission team represented six Asian nations.

The latest compilation in Germany shows 2,812 priests and ministers were imprisoned at Dachau during World War II, 1,856 of them from Poland. Among the prisoners, 1,106 Roman Catholic priests died in the camp.

The Church of God, edited by “World King” Bishop Homer A. Tomlinson, has set October, 1975, as the time for Christians “to be ready for the Second Coming.”

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