Episcopal Woes: ‘Double Trouble… Cauldron Bubble’
From the four points of the compass, controversy—some bitter—was abrewing for the Episcopal Church as the ghost of the Special General Convention at South Bend last September continued to haunt national leaders of the church just before Halloween.
At South Bend itself, bubbling dissent over black economic development funding boiled up into a full-scale federal grand jury investigation. In St. Louis, a conservative group of Episcopalians accused the national leadership of deceit, hypocrisy, and the diversion of church funds from “the true mission and vocation of the church.”
Elsewhere, efforts of the church’s bishops to soothe disgruntled givers (see October 10 issue, page 50) appeared to have been only temporary: dissatisfaction with the church’s indirect allocation of $200,000 to the Black Economic Development Conference mounted. In Philadelphia, moderates and conservatives seemed to wrest a compromise from strongly activist Bishop Robert L. DeWitt and his followers when the diocesan convention watered down a move to raise $5 million for self-determination projects for the black community. Opponents of the measure feared the money would go to the BEDC, the James Forman manifesto-inspired agency that has asked billions in reparations from white churches.
Meanwhile, the national church approved grants for a separatist black University in North Carolina (see story following).
Presiding Bishop John E. Hines was among top denominational leaders subpoenaed to appear at the hearings in South Bend. Newsmen who covered the August 30-September 5 convention were also called to testify before a grand jury panel. All witnesses refused to comment on the investigation, but Religious News Service said the probe reportedly was launched by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
At a two-day meeting in St. Louis attended by thirty-five Episcopal churchmen from fifteen states, the Foundation for Christian Theology released a document called “Christian Affirmation: A Response to the Crisis in the Episcopal Church.”
CHRISTIANITY TODAY’S St. Louis correspondent, Charles Bunce, interviewed Hines shortly after the FCT meeting.Hines was in St. Louis to give the keynote speech at the 130th annual convention of the Diocese of Mossouri on the fifth anniversary of his election as presiding bishop, also in St. Louis. The bishop told Bunce that black militants have influenced the church but that it has “not sold out to anyone theologically, sociologically, or politically.”
The FCT statement asked Episcopalians to cooperate in a “massive but orderly diversion of funds in accordance with responsible guidelines.… Should the Episcopal Church continue its present trend in offering support to seditious and revolutionary groups whose purposes are unrelated to the Gospel, we would feel conscience-bound to call upon all Episcopalians to make their opposition known.…”
The foundation publishes the Christian Challenge, a magazine whose circulation has zoomed from 26,000 to 45,000 in the past two months.
Replying to the FCT charges (the group asked Hines to resign at the Special General Convention), the Presiding Bishop asserted: “Rightists in the life of the church get unusual coverage because they take the ‘anti’ position.… The Foundation for Christian Theology is a tiny group … fundamentalistic, pro-segregation, extremely conservative, and not willing to face the twentieth century and its demands on the church.”
While the Pennsylvania Diocese approved a special, extra-diocesan campaign to raise a “substantial amount” for black community causes, the BEDC was not named as recipient, and no group advocating violence can qualify. Eleven of thirteen black Episcopal clergy in the diocese immediately lashed out at the decision, saying they wouldn’t participate in any program with strings attached to funding.
The Episcopal Church seems to have a penchant for approving money for controversial black causes this year. Already reeling from a backlash caused by a drive to raise $200,000 for indirect funding of the Black Manifesto-spawned Black Economic Development Conference (see September 26 issue, page 42), denominational leaders surely will get angry letters reacting to this latest sally:
Bishop Thomas A. Fraser of the Diocese of North Carolina announced last month that grants of $45,000 had been approved by the national church for the black separatist Malcolm X Liberation University in Durham.
He said the money will come from the $9 million Urban Crisis Program Fund adopted at the 1967 General Convention in Seattle.
Malcolm X University—named for the assassinated Black Muslim leader—was started on a part-time basis last spring after Negro students at Duke University seized the administration building to dramatize their demands for a black-studies program. A clash between police and students followed.
Black activist Howard Fuller, a board member of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Development accused of stirring up campus riots and bombings in North Carolina last spring (see August 1 issue, page 33), is head of the liberation school.
The Associated Press reported that Fuller said the curriculum of Malcolm X University will be based on the idea of nation-building, with a goal of training Negro Americans to set up an independent nation in Africa.
The grants drew immediate fire from North Carolina NAACP president Kelly Alexander, who denounced them “as expressing to the world that the church approves segregation in education.”
Historians Debate God-And-Country Theme
“There is no political ideology for Christians,” University of Wisconsin professor Robert E. Frykenberg warned a gathering of evangelical historians last month. “God has given us no other guide than his Spirit. The Bible is silent. We must depend upon historical example and precedent. There is no overarching theory that determines the Christian’s relationship with society and the state.”
Frykenberg, born in India of Baptist missionary parents, is the author of three books on Indian history and an active Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship leader. Speaking on “The Christian and the State,” he pointed out that the Christian is a citizen of two worlds and thus is in constant tension with the political system. The believer has often undermined his position in society by a lack of rationality, ethical consistency, and humility, he declared.
“Political behavior demands more than pure doctrine,” he said, adding that there has been little political thinking among evangelicals in the last hundred years. “We enjoy the system we have inherited, but we have not adopted any approaches to make it continue to work.”
The meeting, sponsored by the Conference on Faith and History and held at Concordia Teachers College in River Forest, Illinois, centered on the topic: “Themes of God and Country in Western History.”
At a session on Protestant responses to the Hitler regime, Lutheran historian Donald Wall and North American Baptist sociologist David Priestley demonstrated the impotence of their respective German denominational counterparts in the face of totalitarian dictatorship. Responding to a comment that the capitulation of German Lutheranism was due to the corrosive effect of liberal theology, Priestley pointed out that the doctrinally orthodox Baptists also had put up little resistance to Hitler and that many actually welcomed the regime.
In a spirited discussion of “How Christian Were the Founding Fathers?” panel participants concluded that the principal figures of the American Revolution and the Constitutional Convention were not Christian in the evangelical sense of the term. Methodist W. Richard Stephens contended, however, that though they may not have professed personal faith in Christ, their ethical motivation and life style was Christian.
Bob Jones University professor Edward Panosian argued that it was necessary to look at the basic ideals of the early colonists. In his opinion, many Christian principles were operative even if the founding fathers weren’t orthodox Christians.
John Warwick Montgomery of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School pointed out that America was not a purely Christian nation in the sense of Israel of the Old Testament: “There never has and there never will be a Christian state.”
The Conference on Faith and History has more than two hundred members in colleges, universities, and seminaries in the United States and Canada. Its goals are to encourage evangelical historians to explore the relation of their faith to historical studies, to provide a forum for discussion, and to foster research.
President of the group is John W. Snyder, a noted scholar in ancient history, who is president of Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California.
RICHARD V. PIERARD
Moscow officials firmly refused to grant visiting privileges to a delegation of the Lutheran World Federation that wanted to contact the one million Lutherans in Siberia. Nor would they allow the LWF party to visit the 30,000 Lutherans in Lithuania, the 300,000 in Estonia, or those in Kazakhstan.
Assistant general secretary Carl Mau and research assistant Bela Harmati of the LWF attended the ordination of Jan Matulis, the new archbishop of Letland. But they got no farther. Moscow officials, denying visas for the other countries, said they wouldn’t be able to meet Estonia archbishop Alfred Tooming anyway, since he is reported to be dangerously ill.
In recent months informed sources have said Lutherans in almost all the former Baltic states are being severely persecuted by the Communists.
Through recent correspondence to the Russia Institute of Munich, it was learned for the first time that about one million Lutherans live in the hinterland Siberian regions of Omsk, Nowosibirsk, and Alma Ata. Services there are held in private homes, without pastors. In some places, prayer meetings are held every night.
JAN VAN CAPELLEVEEN
Standing For Something
The National Association of Evangelicals is calling upon American Christians to sign a “Christian Declaration” as a pledge to put their faith into more demonstrative action. General director Clyde W. Taylor, who was honored last month for twenty-five years of service to the NAE, said the effort is an attempt to roll back the current tide of evil. Here is the full text of the statement:
Because Christian principles have played a major role in the founding of this nation and in the life and progress of our society, and
Because there has been such a neglect of moral and spiritual values in our nation that we now have largely a secular society, and
Because we have too often failed both God and man in our Christian commitment, and
Because we face a new decade with pressing national and international problems which cannot be solved apart from moral and spiritual considerations, and
Because God has promised to bless the nation that honors Him: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12),
I hereby declare my commitment to the nationwide effort to call men to God and to the moral and spiritual values in the Bible. To this end, I will …
… support the ministry and outreach of my local church,
… share my faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior on a person-to-person basis,
… demonstrate love, concern and neighborliness toward all races of men without partiality and without prejudice, especially to the poor, the oppressed and the disadvantaged,
… participate in public affairs by voting my convictions and seizing every opportunity to uphold the cause of righteousness, and
… pray for the nation and spiritual renewal in the land.
Are Red Rites Wrong?
Young people of Roman Catholic churches in East Germany won’t be excluded from communion from now on if they participate in the formerly prohibited counterfeit confirmation called Jugendweihe. Catholic bishops there decided to follow the example of Protestant pastors who discovered a decade ago that the Red rite is an “inescapable evil.”
Most young people don’t forsake the Jugendweihe because doing so bars them from being accepted by high schools and universities.
The rites were instituted in 1955 to break the power of the churches; the Communists turned the churches’ confirmation into a Red feast. Both Protestant and Catholic churches confirmed young people at age 14.
After months of indoctrination, the youngsters must vow to “preserve the revolutionary heritage of our people” and “deepen the firm friendship with brother countries.” They also pledge to “fight for the great cause of Socialism.”
At first, all East Germany churches refused to accept into membership young people who attended the Red classes. In 1955 only 20 per cent of the youth were lured into the Jugendweihe. But after Communists announced that only those who had given their pledge could follow higher education, the number rose dramatically. By 1958, Protestant churches had modified their position so that young people in the Jugendweihe could be confirmed after “a year of contrition.”
At present some 90 per cent of the young people take part in the Jugendweihe, this year at least 230,000. Most Protestant pastors now admit youth into church membership at age 17 after extended training.
The Catholic bishops say they will tolerate the Jugendweihe because “the young people don’t experience it as a conscious act against the Christian faith.” The real pressure, however, seems to be that the churches’ hard line drove away the young people.
JAN VAN CAPELLEVEEN
Whose Church Of God?
Reports from Jerusalem repeatedly have referred to Denis Michael Rohan, the Australian who has admitted that he set fire to the Al Aqsa Mosque, as a member of the Church of God. This is ambiguous at best.
Many congregations with wide variations in doctrine and practice call themselves simply Church of God. Most of them, however, are in some general association. For example, in Britain, most Churches of God are a part of a small offshoot of the Plymouth Brethren. In America, three Pentecostal bodies with a common origin use the name. Their general headquarters are in Chattanooga and Cleveland, Tennessee, and Huntsville, Alabama (the last group recently moved from Queens, New York).
Two essentially Wesleyan Churches of God, once related, have headquarters in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Anderson, Indiana. A non-Trinitarian Church of God has its headquarters in Oregon, Illinois. Two groups that are more orthodox observe Saturday instead of Sunday and are centered in Salem, West Virginia, and Denver.
Rohan’s associations were with still another Church of God, a group with headquarters in Pasadena, California. It was founded by Herbert W. Armstrong and expanded worldwide by a radio program, “The World Tomorrow.” Spokesmen for Armstrong’s group indicated that Rohan’s connections with the group were quite tenuous. Armstrongism itself is considered to be a Christian heresy.
Union Dues And Don’ts
The closed shop may soon become a major religious issue in Canada. In Burlington, Ontario, three steelworkers lost their jobs after their plant was unionized and they refused on Christian grounds to pay dues. Twenty similar cases reportedly are pending.
In Vancouver, British Columbia, a diesel mechanic was fired when he balked at membership in the International Association of Machinists because of its official posture on the “class struggle.” He filed suit contending that the requirement violated his religious freedom. The case is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Keeping close tabs on these showdowns and encouraging Christians to fight the closed-shop principle are the Committee for Justice and Liberty and the Christian Labor Association, headed by Gerald Vandezande. These groups draw most of their support from the Christian Reformed Church.
The men fired in Burlington said that as Christians they could not contribute money to what they consider a humanistic and socialistic organization. Their employer, the Butler Manufacturing Company, had initially negotiated a contract with the United Steelworkers of America that gave the men the right to remain out of the union by agreeing to pay the equivalent of union dues to the Salvation Army. A subsequent contract did away with this arrangement, and union officials refused even to consider a proposal from the men wherein they would pay the equivalent of double their union dues to the Salvation Army.
Religion In Transit
Roy Wilkins, head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, has urged the nation’s religious leaders not to agree to black demands for reparations but to support instead massive public funding of “competent” Negro organizations like the NAACP.
The 26-year-old son of the Rev. Frank H. Woyke, associate secretary of the World Baptist Alliance in Washington, D.C., was arrested on charges of murdering his mother and 80-year-old grandmother in an Oak Park, Illinois, hotel room. The elder Woyke was asleep in another room at the time. Police said the two women had been beaten to death and that young Woyke, found nude and incoherent, appeared to be in a “religious frenzy.”
A statement issued by Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod president Jacob A. O. Preus, five vice-presidents, and thirty-seven synodical district presidents condemned the weekly independent publication Christian News. “We … unanimously repudiate this publication and caution against lending credence and support to it,” the letter said of the very conservative paper.
Two-thirds of the 1,200 non-commercial coffeehouses in the United States serving teen-agers and college students are operated by religious groups, and half of these are ecumenically sponsored, said the Coffee Information Service.
American Baptists Churches of Iowa and Minnesota plan to merge their state associations January 1.
“Night Call,” the nation’s best-known call-in radio program, went off the air October 10, a victim of exhausted funds, despite last-minute appeals for more money for the United Methodistproduced series. The program had won five national awards and consistent critical acclaim from the press.
The Christian Church (Disciples) and the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) have joined in a $9.5 million low-rent housing project in three Southern states.
The late Francis Cardinal Spellman’s $500,000 coin collection was sold to a New York dealer; proceeds will be used by the Catholic Church to educate deprived young people.
The New York Bible Society is sponsoring an ecumenical effort to produce a monumental new version, The Holy Bible—A Contemporary Translation.
The First Christian Church of Louisville has withdrawn permission for anti-war, anti-draft spokesman Dr. Benjamin Spock to speak there next month.
Dimensions in Courage, a film that commemorates the 125th anniversary of the Southern Baptist Convention, will be premiered at rallies in 100 cities this month and next.… An infant organization called the Institute of Contemporary Thought, Morton Grove, Illinois, has completed a color film-lecture by church historian Dr. John Warwick Montgomery entitled Christianity—Fact or Fiction?
Campus Crusade for Christ International has broken into the book-publishing field with a paperback written by founder-president William Bright: Revolution Now. Next title will be How to Love by Faith.
All Shook Up
When northern California police arrested Chesta Arthur Mills, Jr., on charges of malicious mischief, he warned them: “I am to be addressed as Lord Chesta, for I am the second son of God and Lord over all churches.”
The prisoner also said he would destroy the Santa Rosa jail, where he was incarcerated, in an earthquake at 10:01 P.M. At 9:58 P.M. an earthquake, centered five miles north of the jail, rumbled through the area..
“Lord Chesta, I’m on your side, brother,” one inmate shouted as howls swept the jail. Although the jail (and the inmates) shook, the building wasn’t destroyed.
TV proselytizer Fulton J. Sheen, Roman Catholic Bishop of Rochester, New York, resigned last month on a note of frustration and disappointment for himself and his flock. The silver-haired Sheen, 74, said that he would return to New York City for TV work and that “I am not retiring, I am regenerating.” The Vatican announced his successor immediately: Monsignor Joseph L. Hogan, a Rochester pastor. Sheen was appointed titular archbishop of Newport, England, an obscure archdiocese on the Isle of Wight.
The world’s longest-surviving heart transplant patient, the Rev. Charles Damien Boulogne, 57, died suddenly in Paris October 17. The Roman Catholic Dominican priest lived seventeen months and five days with the heart of a former French customs officer and had led an almost normal life.
Commissioner Arnold Brown, 55, a Salvation Army officer for thirty-four years, has been named chief of staff, the organization’s second-highest international office.
Dr. Joseph Szczepkowski, 79, the “patriarch” of Polish Methodism (superintendent of the church and principal of the 5,000-student Methodist-sponsored English-language college in Warsaw), retired at the annual meeting of the Poland Conference.
Congressman Richard L. Roudebush (R.-Ind.) says he will put a child’s prayer in the Congressional Record every day so schools can circumvent the U.S. Supreme Court prohibitions.
The United Methodist Board of Christian Social Concerns has asked the U. S. Senate not to confirm the nomination of Judge Clement F. Haynsworth to the Supreme Court.
Erwin D. Canham, editor-in-chief of the Christian Science Monitor, said in his paper that he was “not in politics and I have no expectation of getting in.” Canham had been mentioned as a possible Republican candidate to oppose Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts next year.
Succeeding Louie D. Newton of Atlanta as president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State is Jimmy R. Allen, pastor of First Baptist Church in San Antonio.
Harry Bollback, a veteran missionary to Brazil, has been named co-director of Word of Life, the organization whose founder-director is Jack Wyrtzen. Bollback will help start 100 overseas youth camps.
Pope Paul VI last month accepted the resignation of Archbishop Thomas J. Toolen, 83, as bishop of Mobile-Birmingham, Alabama, divided the diocese in two, and named bishops to each.
HENRY GLENN DAVIS, 61, founder and academic dean of Louisville Bible College, minister, and former Army chaplain; in Louisville, Kentucky.
BARNABAS NAGY, 60, leading Hungarian theologian, professor, and research specialist of the General Synod of the Reformed Church; in Budapest.
HAROLD HENRY ROWLEY, 79, British Baptist Hebrew and Old Testament scholar, one-time professor, officer of the Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland, and of the Baptist Missionary Society; in Cheltenham, England.
A recent nationwide survey among university students in Brazil revealed that 69 per cent believe “humanity is turning more and more away from the ideas of Christ.” Three out of five students questioned said they were less religious than their parents.
Roger Boe of Elbow Lake, Minnesota, a U.S. First Infantry Division trooper, was on patrol in South Viet Nam when enemy soldiers ambushed his unit. Boe noticed smoke curling from his pocket, where a Cong bullet had gone through his wallet and lodged in his Bible, just short of a loaded ammunition clip. A good thick Bible is good for the flesh as well as the soul, Boe decided.
A new school for Lao children has opened in Vientiane, Laos, under the sponsorship of the Evangelical Church of Laos. It is the first such venture for the group.
A crowd of 5,500 attended the final rally in the London Gardens during a two-week Leighton Ford crusade in London, Ontario, last month.
The unresolved issue of whether a Protestant church should register with the government caused a furor during the centennial assembly of the Spanish Baptist Union in Madrid. Although a 1967 law extended legal recognition to non-Catholic churches in Spain for the first time, it required them to register.
A Presbyterian minister was killed and two other clergymen attacked in Kenya for opposing the tribal oath of the Kikuyu people, according to the World Council of Churches. The outbreak is the first since the Mau Mau uprisings of the 1950s.
Using four powerful Christian radio stations, the American Bible Society is now broadcasting daily Scripture readings, at dictation speed, in the two main Chinese languages (Mandarin and Cantonese) to Red China.
A plan, five years in the making, for a united church in New Zealand involves Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Congregational Churches, and the Churches of Christ.
In a precedent-setting move, the United Church of Canada, Anglican, and Presbyterian churches of Toronto have jointly erected a building to be used by all three for worship services.
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