The Methodist Church has adopted what is called the fastest and longest step possible toward ending racial segregation now within the church. The quadrennial general conference of the church, meeting at Minneapolis, adopted a statement of principles against racial discrimination and segregation. It also proposed a series of amendments to the church constitution permitting the Negro conference to transfer to jurisdictions which include white conferences. The amendments must be approved by the annual conference of the church before becoming a part of the Methodist constitution.
Another important step taken was the decision to give women equal ecclesiastical standing with men. That means women may be full ministers, instead of the “lay supply pastors” they now are. The final vote was an overwhelming one, but earlier discussion and action on the removal of restrictions on women was long and sometimes tumultuous. Even some women delegates were against granting their sex full clerical rights.
But the world’s largest Protestant denomination has had to indicate it is sadly lacking in filling its pulpits. The Methodists will make major expansion in their ten theological seminaries and establish two new ones. The aim is to get closer to the 2,800 new Methodist pastors needed every year. About 900 yearly are being ordained now. In trying to meet the situation, they have given a decidedly new twist to the usual practice of sending missionaries abroad. Instead, they will bring some overseas ministers to the U.S. to help fill the need.
In still further news coming out of the conference is the announcement that church membership increased by some 10 percent in 44 foreign countries between 1951 and 1955.
A Philadelphia churchwoman says Christians must work hard to match the zeal of the communists in the battle for men’s minds. Mrs. Frank C. Wigginton, chairman of the Baptist Foreign Missionary Society says there are more Christians than any other single religious or cultural group. But, she adds, they have not been as effective as they should in converting persons to their faith.
A Dutch judge has asked municipal authorities in Rotterdam to take away the citizenship of Rotterdam’s new Roman Catholic bishop. The judge charges the bishop entered the service of a foreign state by becoming bishop. He says recent controversy has shown that bishops prefer the church’s canon law to Dutch civil law. Apparently that was in reference to a case in which a couple was married in a Catholic church without previous civil ceremony as required by law. A civil ceremony was impossible because the bridegroom already was married under civil law. A spokesman for the bishop, however, said that when the pope appoints a bishop he does not act as head of 220 acres constituting Vatican City, but as head of the Catholic Church. Thus, he added, a bishop does not function as a subject of the Vatican state but as a member of the church.
Ministers in seven Denver, Colorado, churches, in a pre-arranged program to ease racial tensions, delivered sermons last Sunday against racial prejudice. There were six Protestant denominations among the seven churches. The ministers emphasized that there is no room in the Christian faith for racial prejudice.
Washington: There is a growing tendency toward merger of churches, which reverses an historic tendency among Protestant churches to split into more numerous sects. In 1954, there were some 250 separate Protestant bodies in the United States alone. At present, according to a survey of the World Council of Churches, a total of 28 church union negotiations are in progress. Some are aimed at merging two denominations; others would bring together three or more bodies. Prospects seem to be bright for a merger of two Presbyterian groups perhaps by next year. Negotiations are also under way among three Lutheran bodies to form a New American Lutheran Church by 1960. And exploratory talks are continuing between the Methodist Church and the Protestant Episcopal Church, two of the largest denominations in the United States.
Twelve Catholic workers have presented to Pope Pius XII a gilded bronze statue of Christ the Worker. The statue was flown to the Vatican by helicopter. It was purchased by donations from workers in four countries. Eventually, the statue will be transferred to a new church dedicated to Christ the Worker, which is scheduled to be completed in about 18 months. It is located on the outskirts of Rome.
Leaders of the Christian and Jewish faiths have endorsed an observance set for New York this coming week. By proclamation of Governor Averell Harriman, it will be Religion in the Family Week. In other states and Canada the period will be observed as “Christian Family Week” under sponsorship of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.
Greek and Russian Orthodox churches mark Easter today. In these ancient rites, which base their date on the Julian calendar, the emergence from darkness to light is symbolized in part of the midnight ceremonies. The priest advances out of darkness and tells the congregation, “Come ye forth and receive the light.” Then the worshipers step forward and light their candles from those held by the priest.
More than 500 leaders of Conservative Jewish Congregations in the U.S. and Canada are expected at the 27th annual convention of the National Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs beginning today. The three days of meetings at Grossinger’s [Resort], New York, will have the theme “Thou Shalt Choose Life – Ethics for Modern Living.”
Rogation Sunday, the fifth Sunday after Easter according to the Western churches, was and will be marked by special services in many places today. It’s the day that emphasizes the intimate link between the life of the church and the cycle of seed time and harvest. Thus it has become known by a variety of names – Rural Life Sunday, 4-J Sunday, and Soil Stewardship Sunday. In some areas services are held to bless the land.
The Frenchman Andre Maurois passes along a quotable quote to the effect that the United Nations can’t guarantee peace any more than a doctor can guarantee health. But, he asks, would that be a good reason for doing way with doctors?
And another which this reporter cannot resist, even at the risk of censorship comes from the Chapel Hill Weekly, which says, “Vice-President Nixon has a lot of people behind him, but we cannot tell whether they are following him or chasing him.” Hence, we wonder sometimes why he is running.
A. Philip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, last month declared that segregation is a sin and as such should not be gradually accepted. Speaking at a New York luncheon, at which he received an annual award from the League for Industrial Democracy, he went on to say that segregation is based upon the negation of the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God, and degrades, demeans, and demoralizes the dignity of the human personality.”
A discouraging report from a U.S. Senate committee states that “millions of children still attend schools which are unsafe or which present learning only part time or under conditions of serious overcrowding.” In addition, more than a million children are going to school in buildings not designed originally for school use. Two children out of five have been attending school in structures which do not conform to minimum fire safety standards. Elementary teachers in cities of medium size are paid less than railroad switch tenders, automobile workers, or coal miners. Over 75,000 teachers left the occupation last year. During the next five years the number of school children will rise from 30 million to 45 million, with no means in sight to provide properly for their education. This is not happening in Russia or the Congo; it is happening in the United States, where corporate profits stand at an all-time high, where $40 billion is spent annually for armaments, and where the stock exchange creates new bonanzas and new millionaires almost every day. Many school districts are bonded to the hilt, and state governments in many cases have run out of sources of revenue to tap for school purposes. This makes it look as if our only chance to avoid default on our duty to the children of America is for the federal government to step in and put an end to the school crisis.
A bill is now pending before Congress which would provide a mere pittance of what is needed, but even that is bogged down by the so-called Powell and Lehman Amendments, amendments which, if left in, will probably kill any chances of federal legislation this session of Congress, for the Dixiecrats in the Senate will filibuster it to death. These amendments would prohibit allocation of federal funds to any school system practicing segregation. Nobody is more opposed to segregation than this reporter, as a matter of principle, and he takes the position, again as a principle, that Congress should make a declaratory stand in support of the law of the land as interpreted by the Supreme Court decisions. However, this would appear to be a case where it would be better to get funds if possible, even without the amendments; otherwise we doom both whites and colored to continue in schools otherwise inadequate and unfit. Children grow older each day, and their growth will not await a change of medieval Senate rules under which debate cannot be limited by a constitutional majority.
What is a girl? Little girls are the nicest things than happen to people. They are born with a little bit of angel shine about them, and though it wears thin sometimes there is always enough left to lasso your heart – even when they are sitting in the mud or crying temperamental tears or parading up the street in mother’s best clothes. A little girl can be sweeter – and badder – oftener than anyone else in the world. She can jitter around, and stomp, and make funny noises that frazzle your nerves. Yet just when you open your mouth, she stands there demure with that special look in her eyes. A girl is innocence playing him the mud, beauty standing on its head, and motherhood dragging a doll by the foot.
God borrows from many creatures to make a little girl. He uses the song of a bird, the squeal of a pig, the stubbornness of a mule, the antics of a monkey, the spryness of a grasshopper, the curiosity of a cat, the speed of a gazelle, the slyness of a fox, the softness of a kitten, and to top it all off, he adds the mysterious mind of a woman.
A little girl likes new shoes, party dresses, small animals, first grade, the girl next door, make-believe, dancing lessons, ice cream, makeup, cans of water, tea parties, and one boy. She doesn’t care for visitors, boys in general, large dogs, straight chairs, or staying in the front yard. She is the loudest when you’re thinking, the prettiest when she has provoked you, the busiest at bedtime, the quietest when you want to show her off, the most flirtatious when she absolutely must not get the best of you again.
Who else can cause you more grief, joy, irritation, satisfaction, embarrassment, and genuine delight than this combination of Eve, Salome, and Florence Nightingale? She can muss up your home, your hair, your dignity – spend your money, your time, and temper – then just when your patience is ready to crack, her sunshine peeks through and you’ve lost again.
Yes, this is a never-wracking nuisance just a noisy bundle of mischief. But when your dreams tumble down and the world is a mess – when it seems you are pretty much a fool after all – she can make you a king when she climbs on your knees and whispers, “I love you best of all.”
Well, that is all Alan Beck says, but every word of it is true – this reporter knows. And to the little girl he has in mind, and who is reaching the ripe old age of ten on Wednesday of this week, her daddy wishes only to say, “Happy birthday, Susan,” for you’re the grandest girl in the world.”