Dayton, Tennessee, a small hill town thirty-four miles northeast of Chattanooga, was the scene of the famous Scopes trial, held July 10–21, 1925. The world’s most famous courtroom drama before Watergate was initiated by Dayton businessmen, who hoped to put their town on the map, and the American Civil Liberties Union, which wanted a test case of a new Tennessee anti-evolution law. But the original issue of academic freedom was lost (Scopes, a teacher charged with breaking the law, was never put on the stand) as evolutionist Darrow and creationist Bryan waged a bitter battle before the world. The following report was written from Dayton.
Attendance was good (forty-four present; only seven absent) at the Dayton Rotary Club meeting just before the fiftieth anniversary of the trial that made the town famous. When a visiting reporter mentioned that he had come to cover the celebration, Mayor Paul Levengood, an ordained Southern Presbyterian minister said, “We hardly ever mention the trial anymore unless someone like you comes around and asks. They made a circus out of Dayton.” Then the Rotarians heard a talk on credit unions.
City manager Clyde Roddy, 65, a deacon in the First Baptist Church (attendance about 250; largest of eight churches in Dayton, including a Catholic congregation), was an eyewitness. “It was strictly a publicity stunt,” he said. “Dayton just happened to get it before some other town did. It didn’t accomplish anything here. We’ve been embarrassed over things written then and since, outsiders calling us stupid hillbillies.”
(One of the few Scopes reporters still alive is Warner Ragsdale, Sr., retired political editor of U. S. News and World Report, who is a deacon in the First Baptist Church of Silver Spring, Maryland. “Many writers were from big cities in the North and knew nothing about Southern hill people,” he explained in an interview. “In the sense that they wrote from the perspective of their own prejudices, the people of Dayton did get a raw deal.”)
Behind his desk in Dayton’s modern municipal building, Roddy much prefers to talk about the new Dayton. “We don’t depend on monkey trials and strawberries anymore. (Dayton once thought of itself as the strawberry capital of the world; an annual parade is still held and a strawberry queen crowned.) We’ve got industry that makes everything from hairdryers to pantyhose, and more coming. Our tax rate is low. We have TV A electricity. A beautiful lake at our back door. Population growing. Why, I reckon there must be seven or eight thousand people now in greater Dayton.”
Over at the world’s most famous courthouse a judge was more history conscious. “I researched the trial when a student at Carson-Newman College (Southern Baptist) and came to regard Darrow as one of my heroes. Now I’m a Baptist deacon who believes in creation, but I think in a lot of respects Darrow acted more like a Christian than many others who professed the faith in that time. He was a champion of the little man and took the unpopular cases. And I think he acted in a more Christian way at the trial than Bryan did. He was more tolerant of other ideas, whereas Bryan, one of the greatest men who ever lived in this country, was dogmatic. Its unfortunate that Darrow has come to be a sort of villain to most Christians.”
The judge’s administrative assistant, Giles Ryan, 68, was one of John Scopes’s students. “It was all made up that he would teach that particular lesson, that particular day. The businessmen pushed John into it. John was soft-spoken and moderate. I think he was a Christian man and had no intention of harming the Bible.”
Dayton is the site now of Bryan College, an evangelical liberal arts college, a focal point for research into the Scopes trial.
TERROR IN RHODESIA
A violent climate greeted the return to Rhodesia recently of a United Methodist bishop who coordinates political strategy for the country’s vast but relatively powerless black majority.
While Bishop Abel T. Muzorewa was touring the United States, police fired on a mob gathered near the Rhodesian capital of Salisbury. Thirteen persons were reported killed and twenty-eight wounded. Muzorewa called it “coldblooded murder.”
A few days after his return, two hand grenades were thrown at his home, shattering windows. Police said the grenades were Soviet-made, but there was no immediate indication of who was responsible.
Christian Reformed Church: No Women
After eight hours of debate, the 148 male delegates to the 1975 Christian Reformed Synod voted to maintain a ban against women in ecclesiastical office. The vote was 84 to 62, with 2 abstentions. The issue is expected to surface again next year when the synod will study committee reports on the status of women at Calvin Seminary (four women were enrolled during the past academic year).
This year’s synod, held on the campus of Calvin College and Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, also approved the appointment of Anthony J. Diekema to succeed the retiring president of the college, William Stoelhof. Diekema currently is associate chancellor of the University of Illinois at the Medical Center in Chicago.
Delegates voted to recognize the Presbyterian Church in America as a “church in ecclesiastical fellowship.” They refused, however, to make a judgment “as to the legitimacy of the action by which the PCA separated itself from the PCUS.”
The synod formalized the Christian Reformed Church’s membership in the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council. The CRC, with its 300,000 members, is the largest body in that conservative council.
Canadian Anglicans Go Their Own Way
Three hundred delegates met at Laval University in Quebec City last month for a heated and historic twenty-seventh General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Thirty-two years of church-union discussion with the United Church of Canada reached the crisis point when the General Synod passed a resolution describing the proposed plan of union as “not an acceptable basis of union,” for reasons of doctrine and differing views on the office of bishop. (The United Church of Canada has a presbyterian form of government.) A recent membership poll found a mixed to unfavorable attitude toward union, and last January the House of Bishops also voted against the document.
“We have been unduly obsessed with the United Church as an ecumenical love object,” observed Professor Eugene Fairweather of Toronto Trinity College. But delegates did reaffirm their commitment to seek union with the United Church and the Disciples of Christ and with “other Christian churches.” The church plans to use the union proposal as a study document.
Reacting to the Anglican rejection of the Plan of Union and its stated interest in further discussion, Ronald Ray, general secretary of the United Church of Canada, commented that his church was interested in union but not interested in playing word games about union and unity.
The General Synod approved the ordination of women to the priesthood “at the discretion of diocesan bishops … in consultation with the House of Bishops,” and became the first Anglican church in the West to do so (the Anglican Church of Hong Kong has two female priests). Two years ago the denomination approved ordination in principle only. This year the vote for action was decisive—85 per cent of the laity, 74 per cent of the clergy, and 78 per cent of the bishops. In deference to objecting bishops, delegates passed a clause that permits a bishop to refrain from ordaining women in his diocese for reasons of conscience.
The move caused a furor. Some clergy warned that schism was inevitable. Others retaliated by describing the threat as “blackmail.” Bishop David Somerville of British Columbia predicted that the first woman would be ordained to the priesthood by Easter, 1976.
Although each church in the Anglican communion is autonomous, observers say the move will affect the Episcopal Church in the United States, which has been plagued by lawsuits and trials over the ordination of women (see following story). The director of the American Church Union, Charles H. Osborn, who strongly opposes female priests, said the Anglican Church of Canada has “placed herself in schism” with other Anglican churches by this decision.
In other action, delegates came out squarely on the side of Canada’s native peoples (Indians and Eskimos) in their demands for negotiation with the government over land claims. The synod called on the government to come to negotiations without prior conditions. It further asked that no new policies and programs be initiated without full consultation with native people.
LESLIE K. TARR
Lawyers for William A. Wendt, Episcopal rector in Washington, D. C., have appealed the guilty verdict in Wendt’s recent ecclesiastical trial (see May 23 issue, page 55, and June 20 issue, page 33). The controversial rector was charged with disobeying his bishop, William F. Creighton, in allowing Alison Cheek, one of the eleven women irregularly ordained last summer, to celebrate communion as a priest.
Attorney Edward C. Bou cited “inadmissible legal errors” as the basis for appeal. For example, he said, the court allowed the question of the validity of Cheek’s ordination to be used as evidence for Wendt’s defense but in the decision said it was “a peripheral matter.”
Meanwhile, L. Peter Beebe of Christ Episcopal Church in Oberlin, Ohio, tried for disobeying his bishop, John H. Burt, was found guilty by a five to zero vote. The all-clergy court recommended that Beebe be admonished, and added that if he again allows any irregularly ordained women priests to celebrate communion he should be suspended. Only forty-eight hours after the decision was rendered Beebe permitted Mrs. Cheek and Carter Heyward again to function as priests in his church.
The vestry of Wendt’s church, fulfilling a pledge to have a continuing relationship with one or more of the female “priests,” has invited Mrs. Cheek to join the church “as a member and as a priest.” She has accepted the offer, though duties and salary have not yet been set. The move is unusual, since such a matter usually involves a priest’s or deacon’s own bishop. Mrs. Cheek, who is currently a member of the Virginia diocese, did not consult her bishop, Robert C. Hall, before accepting the new post. Creighton denied her request that she be transferred from Virginia to Washington as a priest or licensed to serve in his diocese as a priest while she was canonically affiliated with Virginia.
The two sentences of admonition have disturbed affiliates of the conservative American Church Union, which issued a statement claiming that admonition is canonically inadmissible. According to the organization’s legal committee, the church canons authorize only three sentences: suspension, removal, or deposition.
Reconciling The Races
Even though the “powerbrokers of evangelicalism,” according to black evangelist Tom Skinner, failed to show up at the first National Workshop on Race and Reconciliation, the group decided to act. On the final morning of the three-day conference, with only half of the 100 participants still there, the group pledged more than $2000 to establish a permanent center on race and reconciliation.
In the next twelve months, according to chairperson Ronald J. Sider, white dean of Messiah College’s Philadelphia campus, a planning committee (not immediately appointed) will solidify plans. Howard Jones, black associate evangelist with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, served as co-chairperson of the workshop.
The group, nearly half black, met at Atlanta’s Morris Brown College to discuss such matters as integration and cultural pluralism, which some people think is a new term for segregation. The idea of integration, at least for some blacks (Ozzie Edwards of the University of Michigan and Bill Bentley of the National Black Evangelical Association, for example), is no longer a primary goal. According to them, integration has meant a loss of cultural identity as blacks became part of white middle-class society.
Clarence Hilliard, a black clergyman from Circle Church, Chicago, believes the model of mutual cooperation and respect for both white and black modes of worship provides the key. That model was evident during the workshop; for example, hymns were sung in both white and black styles.
Resolving the conflicts between the various ways of viewing the race issue, and deciding the basic question of whether blacks and whites can in fact relate to each other, will be the business of the new center on race relations.
German ‘Church Day’: Something For Everyone
Some 50,000 people attended the closing open-air service of the sixteenth German Protestant “Kirchentag,” held last month in Frankfurt. Fifteen thousand were active throughout the six-day event, about two-thirds of them young people. That’s almost twice as many as at the Düsseldorf Kirchentag two years ago. Some felt the motto, “In fears (anxieties)—and behold we live,” derived from Second Corinthians 6, may have attracted many because it corresponded to their personal situation.
Observers generally agreed that this Kirchentag was “more religious” than any other since 1962. There was definitely more evangelical and evangelistic preaching, especially that by youth pastor Ulrich Parzany.
Evangelicals remained a minority, however. German United Methodist bishop Dr. C. Ernst Sommer and Warsaw Baptist pastor Zdzislaw Pawlik were also among the preachers of the opening services, held in fourteen Frankfurt churches. The “Confessing Communities,” representing the conservative wing of the established churches, had refused to participate. About two weeks before the Kirchentag they had staged their own “Gemeindetag unter dem Wort” (Church Day Under the Word) in Stuttgart. Some 40,000 attended and gave more than 400,000 Marks (about $173,000) for evangelical theological training at home and abroad. The Kirchentag has never been very popular among the free churches, probably because they do not consider it “their business.”
The theological highlight of this year’s gathering was an “ecumenical dialogue” on “What makes Christianity Christian?” between Dr. Heinz Zahrnt and Roman Catholic professor Hans Küng, both of whom have a rather liberal slant. Devotional sessions and Bible studies also were well attended.
Exhibition booths accommodated some 120 groups, from the evangelical anti-alcohol “Blue Cross” to radical left-wing groups like the “Peace Conference,” which presented some representatives of the new South Vietnamese government, hailing them as true liberators of their people. There were both “Christians for Socialism” and the more rightest Protestant Association of the Christian Democratic Party. Many groups were concerned with Third World problems. And one requested support of the United Farm Workers in the United States and denounced exploitation of Mexican farm hands by big firms in California like Del Monte (against which they asked a boycott). A large booth operated by the evangelical “Offensive junger Christen” (Young Christian Offensive) was one of the finest and was visited by many.
A big “liturgical night” attended by at least 7,000 young people turned out to be anything but liturgical—just a big, somewhat noisy party at which the young people sang, danced, talked, and ate bread and drank wine together. Another service was conducted by the two highest-ranking American chaplains stationed in Europe.
At the closing service, the highest ranking German Protestant clergyman, Bishop Helmut Class, chairman of the Council of the EKD (evangelische Kirche in Deutschland—an association of the established Lutheran, United, and Reformed Churches) preached on Romans 8:18–25, and WCC general secretary Phillip Potter sang the Lord’s Prayer. Many political and church leaders were present.
The Kirchenstag, meant to be a platform for discussion rather than an evangelistic enterprise, seems to mirror present-day pluralism within the German established Protestant churches.
President E. Bolaji Idowu of the Methodist Church of Nigeria denounced as “denominational fornication” the growing practice among Nigerian Christians of enrolling as “full members” of two or more different churches. The practice, he said, is “inevitably disruptive of that single-mindedness which is vital to the health of the soul.”
Such divided loyalties have given rise to recent disputes over funeral services of persons enrolled as members of both the Methodist and Anglican churches.
A Catholic priest in eastern Nigeria meanwhile lashed out at Catholics who, he said, were deserting the church and joining up with the “mushroom-eating, hand-clapping, vision-seeing ‘churches’ that are springing up like fungus in all the nooks and corners of the country.”
Faith Healers: Will Government Pay?
The U. S. government is being called upon to give a measure of recognition to faith healing. Decisions on touchy church-state issues will have to be made in connection with national health insurance, some form of which seems likely to be legislated by Congress.
The church-state committee of the American Civil Liberties Union met recently to discuss the constitutional implications of reimbursing faith healers under a government health-care plan. Of special concern to the committee was the effort being made by Christian Science representatives to get recognition in proposed legislation. A lengthy legal study of the problem was presented to the group.
A comprehensive health-care system sponsored by the government is viewed by many observers as a fairly certain eventuality. The move toward enabling legislation has been temporarily delayed, probably because of the adverse state of the economy.
Christian Scientists spoke up in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee last summer. “We neither support nor oppose any of the national health-insurance bills,” said H. Dickinson Rathbun, “but we do have some views we would like to contribute.” Rathbun argued that if a national health-insurance plan is enacted, it should include payment for Christian Science visiting-nurse services. Christian Scientists reject medical treatment, relying instead on the aid of Christian Science practitioners, nurses, and sanatoriums. Certain care services performed by Christian Scientists are already reimbursable under Medicare because the enabling legislation specifically provides for it.
“The feasibility of covering the charges of Christian Science practitioners may depend on the final shape of the program,” said Rathbun, manager of the Christian Science office in Washington. “If a national health-insurance program is administered by the government, with an insurance carrier playing only a minor role in its operation, we think that direct payments to Christian Science practitioners would not be desirable. However, if the plan merely allows employers to purchase insurance through private carriers for their employees, then inclusion of Christian Science practitioners’ services would seem to be right.”
Congress may also be asked to decide to what extent other types of faith-healing activities should be subsidized.
Religion In Transit
Of 403,000 patients in state and county mental hospitals, 26 per cent were there because of alcoholism or mental problems associated with alcohol abuse, according to a recent federal study.
In its ten-year history Christ Church of Oak Brook, Illinois, has grown from a few families to a membership of more than 2,400, with nearly that many attending Sunday-morning worship services each week. Arthur DeKruyter has been pastor of the independent evangelical congregation from its beginning.
While U. S. “super churches” studied by church-growth researchers have memberships of more than 5,000, Canada’s super churches have memberships of 500 to 1,000, says missiology professor Dennis Oliver of Canadian Theological College. He is also director of the Canadian Church Growth Centre, organized by CTC last fall to help Canadian churches grow.
Mildred Jefferson, a Protestant and the first black woman graduate of Harvard Medical School, was elected president of the National Right to Life Committee.
United Methodist bishop Kenneth Goodson of Richmond, Virginia, has been elected president-designate of the denomination’s Council of Bishops. He will take office next April.
Peter Deyneka, Jr., was named to succeed his father as general director of the Slavic Gospel Association in Chicago. The elder Deyneka, a Russian-born evangelist who founded the SGA forty-one years ago, will assume emeritus status. The SGA will relocate soon in nearby Wheaton, where a Slavic missionary training institute will be established.
Canaan Banana, a Rhodesian pastor who recently returned to his native land after two years of study at Wesley Seminary in Washington, D. C., was sentenced to three months in jail for having left the country without a passport.
Ole Bertelsen, 50, became primate of the Church of Denmark (Lutheran). He has been a parish pastor and served as general secretary of the Danish Missionary Society and secretary general of the Danish YMCA.
New presidents: Superintendent John B. Davis, Jr., 53, of the Minneapolis public schools, called to 1,550-student Macalester College, a United Presbyterian-related school in Minneapolis; District Superintendent Don Irwin of the Church of the Nazarene to 875-student Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts; Pastor W. E. Thorn, 52, of the 2,300-member Metropolitan Baptist Church of Wichita, Kansas, called to the financially troubled 1,200-student Dallas Baptist College in Dallas, and Pastor Harold L. Fickett, Jr., 57, of the 11,205-member First Baptist Church of Van Nuys, California, to Barrington (Rhode Island) College.
Harold J. Ockenga will step down as president of Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, next spring. He will continue as chancellor of the college and president of Gordon-Conwell Seminary in nearby Hamilton.
A team of evangelists from the Philippines, Singapore, and Indonesia led by missionary evangelist Greg Tingson found Muslims in southern Sumatra receptive to the Gospel (more than 150 of the 535 professing faith in Christ in one crusade were Muslims). A crusade among Bataks netted some 1,200 firsttime decisions, according to a mission report.
The Scottish Episcopal Church (Anglican), plagued by inflation and lagging giving, plans to reduce its 250 full-time stipendiary clergy by one-third within five years.
The United Methodist Church reported that an organized group of evangelicals has decided “to serve in a brokerage capacity” in the placement and support of missionaries. A leader of the group was said to have acknowledged that the action might be seen as the establishment of a rival mission agency.
Representatives from forty-two nations served by the Christian and Missionary Alliance met in Nyack, New York, to form a non-legislative organization. The new Alliance World Fellowship consists of national churches established through CMA missionary work. Quadrennial assemblies are planned.
Since 1973 the World Council of Churches has channeled some $20.4 million in aid to the drought-stricken Sahel countries of Africa, and it has now embarked on a $3.6 million rehabilitation program, according to WCC sources. Additionally, $1.5 million will be divided between four former Portuguese colonies in Africa and to liberation movements in Zimbabwe and Zambia. More than $1 million in aid has gone to Indochina since the fall of Cambodia and South Viet Nam to Communists.
Any interpretation that sees the state of Israel as the successor to the Old Testament people of God is a “misuse of the biblical message in order to justify Israel’s aggressive policies,” says the Prague-based Christian Peace Conference, a strong voice of the political left.
South Africa’s largest black Dutch Reformed denomination, the 500,000-member Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk, elected its first black moderator: B. T. S. Buti, 63, of Transvaal. Buti says his church will join the South African Council of Churches in defiance of its white NGK “mother church.” He intends for the black NGK to “remain evangelistic” and tell the government when it fails to “act in accordance with the Bible.”
A recent research project estimates that the Catholic Church is losing 250,000 members yearly in England, Wales, and Scotland. Some 2.7 million Catholics, 37 per cent, don’t turn to their church for baptism, marriage, and funerals.
Advance copies of the New Testament in the Dompago language of Dahomey are out, the first time Scripture has been available in the tongue. Sudan Interior Mission worker Roland Pickering completed the translation shortly before he died in a car accident last fall.
The executive committee of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan expressed “deep concern” over confiscation of Taiwanese-language Bibles and hymnals by the government. The committee asked for their early return. “Without the Bible and the hymnal in Taiwanese, it is impossible for our congregations to join in worship, to strengthen the faith of believers, and to deepen spiritual life,” said a committee statement.
IVESON B. NOLAND, 59, Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana; in a plane crash in New York.
LINDSAY GLEGG, 92, noted British evangelist; in Surrey, England.
JOHANNES CHRISTIAN HOEKENDIJK, 63, onetime secretary for evangelism of the World Council of Churches; professor of mission at Union Seminary since 1965; in New York, of a heart attack while swimming.
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