Londoners are still talking about all those “nice young people” whose singing on subway trains and platforms injected a note of joy into otherwise rather gloomy times. Newspapers were filled with stories of bomb threats and explosions, the shortage of beef, gang assaults in the West End, labor troubles, inflation, high-priced housing, and skyrocketing mortgage rates—reason enough for some of the joylessness that seemed to pervade the masses. But such a mood did not prevail at Earls Court exhibition hall west of downtown, the place where all those “nice young people” converged daily the last week of August. The occasion: SPREE ’73, a sort of international youth evangelism conference organized by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and patterned after Campus Crusade for Christ’s Explo ’72 in Dallas last year (see July 7, 1972, issue, page 31).
In all, there were more than 12,000 registered delegates (attendance at evening sessions ranged from 15,000 to more than 20,000) from twenty-six nations. Presbyterian minister Brian Kingsmore and lay leader Wes Pentland of the Coleraine Presbytery in Northern Ireland brought 1,000 Ulster youths by chartered boat and trains. There were groups of 500 from West Germany, 250 from France, 200 from Holland, a jet-load of 107 from Spain, and sizable numbers from Scandinavia. Simultaneous translations and headsets enabled everyone to keep in touch.
Mornings were spent in classes on the Christian life and how to witness, led chiefly by Campus Crusade staffers. Afternoons were devoted to street and park evangelism (scores of conversions were reported) or special-interest seminars (the occult, apologetics, love and marriage). Nightly rallies and a Saturday afternoon finale at Wembley stadium attended by more than 30,000 (see photo this page) featured musical headliners and evangelist Billy Graham, who spent much of his time teaching scriptural concepts of the Christian life. The evangelist seemed unusually fresh, and it was obvious he thoroughly enjoyed sharing his biblical discoveries with his young friends.
SPREE was Graham’s idea in the first place, inspired by his participation in Explo, and carried out by his man in the BGEA’s London office, Maurice Rowlandson. Crash planning (major decisions had to be made almost immediately by Rowlandson and BGEA aides) and some inept initial moves (advance-publicity miscues, for example) led to problems of coordination and cooperation—and a shower of criticism from the Christian press (see May 25 issue, page 52). At one point Graham almost canceled the event, according to an insider writing in Britain’s Crusade magazine. But the fuss subsided, and the bulk of the evangelical community got behind SPREE in time to ensure its success.
SPREE (short for Spiritual Reemphasis) came at the right time. It carried forward the momentum generated over the past couple of years by the Festival of Light and the Festival of Jesus, which involved tens of thousands of young people, many of them newly turned on to Christ. Also, it reinforced the foundation of a quiet spiritual awakening going on among youth inside and outside of churches all over Britain—and on the Continent as well. Large groups that did not exist one or two years ago are meeting for prayer, Bible study, and outreach. Many of these were represented at SPREE. Members spoke of going home spiritually stronger, renewed and emboldened for witness—and determined to fire up their churches. “We have so much to share now,” said Jean Hendry, 19, of Middlesbrough, Yorkshire. “If SPREE fails to have an impact on the churches, it’s our fault.”
Because European Christian young people are more conservative and restrained than their American counterparts, SPREE lacked much of the emotional display of Explo, despite the presence of many charismatics (in the interest of unity, program participants—some of them charismatics—were instructed to avoid emphasizing doctrinal differences on church order, baptism, the second coming, and the Holy Spirit). But a murmur of approval rippled through the audience when Graham declared that it is impossible to live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit, and there were even cheers and standing ovations for the music group Choralerna of Gothenburg, Sweden, probably one of the top contemporary-styled Christian ensembles in the world. (Oddly enough, the forty-member group, which began as a prayer fellowship in 1968, specializes in black American church music. Two members, while students in America, had attended Chicago’s Church of Deliverance. They brought back samples of the church’s music, and the Swedes now sing it better than most black choirs.)
Other program highlights included the singing of Cliff Richard, reputedly Britain’s most popular TV entertainer, and Johnny Cash, who performed and testified at Wembley. In one memorable moment, Richard led everyone in singing “Amazing Grace” with hands uplifted.
Social action was emphasized. Color slides portrayed the work of The Evangelical Relief Fund of Britain in India and Pakistan. Applause greeted Graham’s reminder that American evangelist Dwight L. Moody sparked social reform on his visit to England a hundred years ago. (The British Labor Party was founded by an evangelist converted under Moody.)
The real story of SPREE, however, was not what was happening on the platform but what was happening in the lives of many in the audience, and what will happen in the future as a result of SPREE. The latter may never be fully known or told. Consider, for example, only one account associated with Graham’s month-long visit to Earls Court in June, 1966 (total attendance: one million). Contractor Brian Williams and his wife, converted in that crusade, months later back home in the village of Sellack, Herefordshire, organized a house fellowship to reach young people. The group today has about eighty in it (they attend various churches), half of them converted in the last three years. In 1971 a new convert in the nearby village of Symonds Yat began bringing her friends to the Sellack fellowship. The upshot: there are now more Christian young people (about fifty) in her village than non-Christians. They have started their own fellowship meeting and are reaching out to others. A number from both groups were at SPREE.
Clearly, SPREE can be seen as fuel for a fire ignited by God, a fire that shows no sign of dying out soon.
STANDING UP FOR SATAN
Just what do members of Anton Szandor LaVey’s San Francisco-headquartered Church of Satan believe?
The answer was expounded in part by LaVey’s daughter Karla, 22, a self-proclaimed witch, in an appearance earlier this year at United Methodist-related Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. She suggested that people should be kind only to those who deserve it, instead of wasting it in the name of Christianity, and that they should seek vengeance when necessary rather than turning the other cheek. Each person should put himself first and worry about others later, she said. The so-called seven deadly sins (greed, envy, gluttony, pride, sloth, lust, and anger) are actually life’s motivating forces; they are natural to man and not wrong, she contended.
Miss LaVey was frequently interrupted by members of the rather stunned audience, reported the Greenville News. One man burst into the meeting with an uplifted Bible and cried, “In the name of Jesus Christ I cannot permit you to continue this!”
A woman wanted to know if the witch believed that Jesus Christ is the son of God. No one knows for sure if Jesus even lived, replied Miss LaVey.
For Better Government
Democratic Senator Harold E. Hughes, 51, former governor of Iowa and a United Methodist, says he will not seek reelection to the Senate in 1974 but will instead trade his $42,500-a-year job for a position with Fellowship Foundation and its International Christian Leadership organization of Washington, D. C., perhaps best known for sponsorship of prayer breakfasts across the world. “I have long believed that government will change for the better only when people change for the better in their hearts,” he commented to newsmen this month.
Hughes, a reformed alcoholic who considered leaving the trucking business in the fifties to study for the ministry, says he plans to work at achieving Christian solutions to problems of alcoholism and drug addiction, peace, social justice, and brotherhood.
Jews For Jesus: Under New Management
A victim of stylistically conservative pressure, San Francisco area Jews for Jesus leader Martin “Moishe” Rosen is no longer on the staff of the New York-based American Board of Missions to the Jews. Rosen, a veteran of seventeen years with the ABMJ, including stints as head of the AMBJ’s Los Angeles and New York City districts, and nine other former AMBJ employees have formed a new organization, Hineni Ministries, to carry on the colorful and aggressive evangelistic activities that have received wide national attention.
Rosen has been the target of friend and foe alike, from rabbis who reject the validity of his Jewishness to fellow ABMJers who want a lower profile and less emphasis on Jewishness. Without naming Rosen, Los Angeles ABMJ missionary Richard Cohen recently complained about young Jewish converts who demonstrate in synagogues in the name of evangelism. “The young Jews for Jesus kids who force themselves on other Hebrews are ruining our organization’s good name,” he declared.
Radio preacher Carl McIntire, 67, is struggling desperately to keep his head above water. He has been denied further air time by many radio-station operators because of non-payment. WFAX in the Washington, D. C., area, a key station in the McIntire network, said he had run up a bill of “several thousand” dollars. Last year WTOW in suburban Baltimore canceled McIntire’s broadcasts when his past-due account reached nearly $10,000. McIntire recently told a reporter he is still being heard on 500 stations, but others close to the situation insist the total is much smaller. WXUR, his suburban Philadelphia anchor sation, was silenced a couple of months ago in a tussle with the Federal Communications Commission and the courts.
To purchase and operate WXUR and defend it in the courts, McIntire placed mortgages of $450,000 on nearby Faith Seminary, which he heads. Payments are $4,500 a month, and these reportedly are in arrears, with foreclosure an almost certainty. This month it was learned that tax liens had been placed on six city blocks owned by McIntire in Cape May, New Jersey. On the property is a structure that once housed Shelton College; McIntire estimates its value at $1 million. If he fails to pay $46,000 in back taxes plus interest within two years, he will lose it.
McIntire is also embroiled in a controversy with a court and officials in Delaware over control of the estate of James Scott, 79, of suburban Wilmington. Scott a few months ago gave about $100,000 in cash and bonds to McIntire and signed over most of the remainder of his estate in return for retirement care. McIntire now insists it was all an outright gift, but Scott and court-appointed guardians say it was an investment and they apparently want it back with interest.
Meanwhile, McIntire has purchased an old World War II mine sweeper for $40,000 and has anchored it past the three-mile limit off Cape May to run a pirate radio station known as “Radio Free America.” At mid-month it had not yet begun broadcasting (McIntire cited technical problems), and FCC agents were seen lurking in Cape May. Precisely what they had in mind about a ship in international waters was uncertain, but their intent was clear: they aimed to torpedo McIntire’s operation.
All things considered, the radio preacher may soon go under.
Television minister Rex Humbard and his financially beleaguered Cathedral of Tomorrow in suburban Akron, Ohio, want to sell Mackinac College in northern Michigan. The asking price is $6.5 million. Humbard bought the campus in 1971 from Moral Re-Armament for $1.7 million plus a $249,000 real-estate commission. Humbard’s organization also bought a mansion for his occasional use along with 184 acres of woodland near the campus, mortgaging it for $376,000. (More recently the Cathedral paid $225,000 in cash to purchase an Akron-area parsonage for Humbard.) The college opened last September but was one of the casualties in the financial woes that plagued the Cathedral early this year (see February 2 issue, page 39, and March 30 issue, page 47). It closed in June with an operating deficit of $1.3 million.
Humbard recently “confessed” to his congregation at an emotion-charged mid-week service that he had made some mistakes in overseeing the Cathedral’s complex business dealings. He pledged that from now on he will stick primarily to preaching the Gospel.
Structuring The Opposition
About 800 members of a moderate-liberal faction in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod at a two-day meeting in Chicago organized a new “confessional movement” within the denomination. They called on the LCMS to reverse its “errant actions,” referring to strongly worded, theologically conservative resolutions adopted at the LCMS convention in New Orleans (see August 10 issue, page 40). They also asked that the church rescind actions against Concordia Seminary (St. Louis) president John Tietjen and Concordia College (Milwaukee) teacher Bruce Malchow. (Tietjen was suspended by the seminary’s now conservative-dominated board of control, though implementation of the action was put off until later, and Malchow is appealing a conviction on a charge of heresy for allegedly questioning the validity of some Old Testament accounts.) Ovations were given several who voiced criticism of LCMS president Jacob A. O. Preus.
On record as eschewing schism, the organization, as yet nameless, will be guided by a fifteen-member board, who will hire staffers and establish a publication to further the goals of what so far amounts to a protest lobby. Its ultimate aim is apparently to win control of the LCMS away from the conservatives.
Meanwhile, the Concordia Seminary faculty’s conservative “minority five” (including denominational executive Ralph Bohlmann, who is on leave of absence) repudiated the majority’s recently passed “Declaration of Protest and Confession,” labeling it “an act of rebellion” against the LCMS. The majority’s document was chiefly a criticism of Preus and the main New Orleans actions.
Charismatic Clinics: ‘Instilling Maturity’
Back in 1960, when the wave of the neo-Pentecostal movement was just beginning to hit the beachheads of the major denominations, Pastor Ralph Wilkerson of Melodyland Christian Center near Disneyland, California, held two successful Christian Life Advance meetings. At a standing-room-only meeting in Berkeley, eighty ministers reportedly received the “baptism of the Holy Spirit,” and most went on to speak in tongues.
Many associated with the charismatic outpouring in the early 1960s recall regional Christian Advance seminars—an outgrowth of Wilkerson’s meetings—spurred by Episcopal laywoman Jean Stone and her slick charismatic quarterly, Trinity magazine. The magazine folded and Mrs. Stone withdrew from charismatic lecture circuits, but Christian Advance, under a new name and format, was revived in 1967.
In August, more than 5,000 persons from throughout the country converged on Melodyland’s converted theater-in-the-round for the sixth annual “Charismatic Clinic” sponsored by Wilkerson, who is not related to David Wilkerson of The Cross and the Switchblade fame. More than twenty charismatic leaders from Roman Catholic to old-line Pentecostal hue addressed the week-long clinics. Headliner Kathryn Kuhlman, a favorite at the first clinic, was back and as popular as ever. Spinoff clinics, patterned after Melodyland, have sprung up in Mexico City, Toronto, London, and some fifty U. S. cities, including Pittsburgh, where a winter clinic is said to be the largest in the East.
The basic purpose of the clinics is to instill maturity in those having “received the baptism,” and to provide healing to churches disrupted by eruptions of charismata. Whereas past emphasis has centered on miracles, healing, and tongues, this year the Melodyland clinic added new thrust on the “mind” gifts: knowledge, wisdom, and discernment. “God gives us the ‘mind’ gifts to combat the Satanic cults, which involve a struggle for the mind,” explained Wilkerson, an ebullient preacher whose quiet friendliness draws out shy charismatics who have difficulty relating to the more rollicking spokesmen of the movement. (Melodyland has launched a new School of Theology, calculated to raise the charismatic intellectual barometer and respectability quotient in trans-denominational circles; see July 20 issue, page 42.)
Black Pastor Fred Price of the West Washington Community Church, Los Angeles, and Hector Tamez of Hermano Pablo radio and television evangelism, added a cross-cultural dimension to this year’s clinic, and an institute for pastors only, offered for the first time, drew 350 clergy for a three-day preclinic session. The institute, on relating the charismatic to parish particulars, appears to complement—not compete with—mushrooming ministerial charismatic fellowships within at least half a dozen mainline denominations.
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