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Fourth, and of greatest importance, is an increasing churchwide willingness to have, and experience in, nonsegregated activities. In many dioceses-South, North, West, and East-summer conferences are held on an integrated basis. All dioceses now include representatives of Negro parishes or missions in diocesan conventions. Woman's auxiliaries, young people's groups, and others are becoming more and more nonsegregated. The National Council employs clerical workers without regard to race and is the first American church body to appoint a Negro clergyman to a nonracial national post.
A sampling of church actions
As far as the inquiries of the department of christian social relations reveal, the actions of Episcopal Church groups on the Supreme Court ruling have been positive and supportive. They range all the way from general affirmations of principles to specific recommendations, or specific acts in a crisis community situation. These actions are characterized both by a strong sense of the church's identity as a responsible force and by productive cooperation which was interdenominational or even communitywide.
Leaders of the province of Sewanee have given effective leadership in support of the ruling. The very day after it was delivered, the department of Christian social relations of that province assembled at Atlanta, Ga., passed the following supporting resolutions, which declared the Supreme Court's decision was "just and right," and called on public authorities and church people to give it proper support:
"The Conference of Christian Life and Work of the Department of Christian Social Relations in the Province of Sewanee, Fourth Province, of the Protestant Episcopal Church, in the United States of America, in meeting assembled, May 18, 1954, agree as a group that the decision of the Supreme Sourt outlawing segregation in public schools is just and right: Be it therefore,
"Resolved, That we go on record urging our public authorities to give proper support and direction toward putting this ruling into effect as best manifests our Christian heritage; be it further
"Resolved, That we urge all church people sincerely and courageously in the light of the teachings of our lord and master, Jesus Christ, to examine their own responsibilities in seeing that this ruling is accepted in each community with calm, quiet consideration and support.
"Copy of the above to be sent to the Governor, State superintendent of public instruction, secretary of state, attorney general of each State in the fourth province, to chairmen of departments of Christian social relations, and woman's auxiliary secretaries of Christian social relations in each diocese of the province, and to all bishops in the province, for approval and information," and
"That every diocesan department of Christian social relations have a diocesan conference prior to the synod and including synod delegates on segregation," and
"That a joint session on segregation be held at the synod."
The province of Sewanee again showed its leadership by "adopting as an expression of the mind of the synod" a portion of the sermon delivered by the Right Reverend Edwin A. Penick to the synod on November 17, 1954. Excerpts of that portion adopted follow:
"We are a chosen generation because God is expecting us to find the answer to the social humanitarian question that fell on us like a mountain with the Supreme Court's decision last May. Can it be that God has brought us to grips with this issue because, in His wisdom, we are spiritually mature enough to meet it with reason, justice, good will and submission to the mind of Christ? Does God account us worthy to meet this challenge? We do not pretend, of course, to be men and women of higher intelligence, fairness, or superiority of character. But we are realistic enough to recognize the plain fact that this staggering racial problem is here, with its countless baffling and even terrifying implications, and the end is not yet *** We can't refer it to posterity. It won't be solved by extremists or radicals or impatient, aggressive pressure groups or impractical idealists. It won't be solved by compromise or evasions or ingenious political runarounds. The issue divides itself into two parts: first, the principle involved, and then the practice of it. The principle was enunciated last May when the Court spoke. The practice of it, how the decision is to be applied we do not know. The implementing decree is yet to come. And I hope when it does come, it will not be too detailed in its provisions, or too particular in its demands. The rule of thumb is almost impossible when applied to people, or it
defeats itself like the prohibition amendment. It will be, I trust, like an honor code *** The church rests this process in which we are now engaged, of helping to work out a right relationship between the races, upon such proved spiritual foundations as respect for the high worth of human personality, honor one for the other, good will and justice, not to a minority, but to all. These things are not temporary expedients. They are not human contrivances. They are derived from God. They are revealed by God in Christ. They are written deep into the constitution of the children of God. They are engraved indelibly in the record of human experience. In their direction lies the gradual progressive emergence of a complex but adjusted society *** Our prayer is that we may not be found fighting against God. With an opportunity for immeasurable service to our generation and the future, let us beware as we come to grips with this thing, my brethren, lest we southerners “make the word of God of none effect through our tradition."
The synod also adopted a resolution placing heavy responsibility for continued education on its departments of Christian social relations:
"Be it resolved, That the department of Christian social relations of this province be directed, with the help of all of the departments of the province, to develop an extensive guide for the extensive study of the problem of racial segregation, such as might be used effectively on the parish level, with the guidance of each diocesan department of Christian social relations in order to create a positive and receptive atmosphere for the recent Supreme Court decision and its forthcoming enactments."
The synod of the province of Washington, assembled at Philadelphia, October 21, 1954, adopted this resolution, calling on church people to anticipate and prepare for community disturbances caused by prejudiced groups and to give patient and vigorous leadership in support of the law:
"Whereas the Supreme Court decison, declaring racial segregation in public education is illegal, has but made explicit, in terms of law, the Christian teaching of equality of all men before God, and
"Whereas varying difficulties of adjustment to that decision are being encountered in some areas: Therefore be it
"Resolved, That the 25th synod of the third province calls upon the church people of this province in their several communities, wisely to anticipate and prepare for crises arising from activities of prejudiced groups, and to give patient, vigorous leadership and support to all forces of tolerance, orderly change, and good will."
Delaware.-Perhaps the most concerted action was that in the diocese of Delaware, occasioned by the prosegregation agitation and school strikes in Sussex County. At the annual fall clergy conference, on October 5, the clergy gave unanimous approval of a pastoral letter, to be read in all Episocpal churches on October 10.
The letter, speaking in the name of the bishops, priests, and deacons of the diocese, appealed for "revised attitudes" which will conform to the Supreme Court decision. It deplored "hysterical fear" and urged "loyalty to the Christian principle of the brotherhood of all of us under God." The letter said in part:
"We hold that no attitude that keeps men in permanent separation is acceptable to God * * *. We support the early integration of our public school population, in keeping with the coming directive of the Supreme Court.
"We uphold communities and individuals in our State and Nation who have been able to make the first courageous beginnings, and we urge sympathetic understanding for other communities in which the problems of adjustment are more complicated.
"We adhere, as directed in Holy Scripture, to submission and loyalty to the civil law and to constituted civil authority. We hold that violators of law must be brought under the discipline of the State, and that all members of this church stand under the judgment of God and the discipline of the church.
The bishop coadjutor and other clergy preached on the subject and exhorted parents and students to obey the law and to accept the desegregation program as being in accord with the Christian principle of brotherhood. In Wilmington, the Episcopal bishops and other clergy gave moral support to the integration program of the school authorities. They helped in other ways to make possible the peaceful transition which is being made.
The interracial relations committee of the diocesan department of Christian social relations has been active for many years and accomplished many forward steps in integrated church life. It has been active in the diocesan response to the Supreme Court ruling and is now promoting State legislation to implement the goals of the ruling.
Leaders of other communions in Delaware likewise gave their support and leadership.
Mississippi. The department of Christian social relations in this diocese prepared a statement on the decision, with the support and assistance of the bishop, which was printed in the diocesan magazine and published as a pamphlet, under the title "The Church and the Supreme Court Decision." The pamphlet was circulated for the guidance of Episcopalians rather than as a political instrument. The pamphlet discusses the decision in the light of Christian faith and democratic ideals, and concludes that it was "just and right." It explores the delicate and difficult question of "What can we do?" and recommended four policies as a necessary basis for a constructive approach to the application of the principle affirmed by the decision. The pamphlet has helped Episcopalians in that diocese and elsewhere to understand the religious, moral, and political significance of the decision.
North Carolina.-The department of Christian social relations submitted to the executive council of the diocese a resolution which was adopted. The resolution "urges the members of the Episcopal Church in the diocese to accept, in the Christian spirit of the brotherhood of man, the decision *** and to work with school authorities and with parents, pupils, and the public at large in an effort to effect an orderly transition to an integrated public school system ***"
The department has an active, continuing committee to provide leadership to the people of the diocese in the coming years. The committee represents leadership from the Negro and white races, men and women, clergy, and laity, and the different geographic communities involved. It recognized as a foremost necessity, corporate and individual prayer, and has reproduced and distributed suitable prayers to the clergy and heads of organizations. They include one by Bishop Penick which has been printed and authorized for use in formal services of worship.
Prayer for human relations
"O, God, our Heavenly Father, who hast created all men after Thy likeness, we beseech Thee to incline Thine ear to us as we ask Thy help in doing our duty as Christian citizens and as members of Thy holy church. We acknowledge our many transgressions of Thy righteous law and especially our failure to see Thine image in all Thy children for whose sake Thy Son was content to die. Grant that we may follow in the steps of Him with whom there was no respect of persons. "Make us ready to acknowledge the truth as it stands written in Thy holy word. Give us courage in our thinking and honesty in our decisions. Lift us above self-interest and prejudice and whatsoever else may hinder us from a just and righteous dealing with our neighbor. Guide with Thy wisdom those to whom Thou hast committed the responsibility of government, that all things pertaining to the relationship of man with man may be settled upon the sure foundation of Thy holy will as made known to us in Thy Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen."-THE RT. REV. EDWIN A. PENICK, D.D.
The committee is also distributing four presentations, given in a panel on the subject at a woman's auxiliary conference last summer, and is organizing similar panels on a regional basis. Available literature is being assembled for the use of parish discussion groups.
The committee is sending written messages to official governmental bodies dealing with methods and plans for desegregation.
Alabama. The department of Christian social relations held a diocesan conference on the segregation ruling, September 24 and 25. No resolutions were passed or votes taken, since the purpose was to find out the attitude of church members toward the decision and how these might be improved. Twenty-five parishes, including three Negro parishes, were represented. Persons were selected for their future effectiveness in educating the parishes from which they
Kentucky. The department of Christian social relations of the diocese of Kentucky has asked parishes to sponsor study groups on the ruling and to report back problems that arise in their communities, as well as a summary of their findings. The department has also conducted an opinion survey on desegregation of Kentucky's public schools. A questionnaire was sent to 26 par
ishes in the diocese, with the request that it be given to persons known to be "proponents of all the different points of view." A preliminary report based on replies from 17 of the 26 parishes has been prepared, and is being used to guide the department's program in the future.
The department in the diocese of Lexington has sent the May resolution of province IV's Christian social relations commission to State officials, and reported fully to the fall clergy conference on their replies. Full discussion was given the matter by the conference and later by the woman's auxiliary of the diocese.
Washington. This diocese has given leadership in two ways. Bishop Dun has announced integration plans for the three cathedral schools, to take place gradually from 1955 to 1958. Secondly, following public demonstrations in Washington schools, several clergymen worked with the American Friends' Service Committee and the Washington Council of Churches in restoring peace and order. They included the executive of the department, and two parish rectors. With ministers from other churches, they worked quietly and patiently with the "strikers" and with their own young people until these students realized what their actions involved and were ready to return to school without further damage to themselves or their fellow students.
Other dioceses.-Action in several dioceses has been largely interdenominational, or through the woman's auxiliary, or through personal efforts of the bishops. In the dioceses of Florida and Maryland educational work in support of the decision has been spearheaded by the United Church Women of these States; Episcopal women are active leaders of this movement. Six of the fifteen State representatives of the United Church Women who issued the Atlanta statement in June were also Episcopalians.
In Maryland, the bishop issued a statement to the newspapers disapproving public demonstrations against school desegregation and calling on citizens to be serious and sober in their thinking and acting.
In Louisiana, the diocesan woman's auxiliary chairman for Christian social relations wrote to each branch of the auxiliary urging study of the decision and its application "unselfishly, impersonally, constructively, and uncolored by emotionalism, in the light of our obligations as Christian women."
The preceding examples of diocesan reaction to the decision are offered as examples of what is happening in the Episcopal Church and are not exhaustive. They represent a summary of the information supplied by diocesan departments of Christian social relations. Departments which did not report specific action did report genuine concern and a desire for help as they faced the issue of school desegregation in their communities. Almost all showed an awareness of the need for special pastoral and community leadership with respect to this issue for some time to come. It would appear that an important part of this work will be in cooperation with the Southern Regional Council. This organization, with the help of a foundation grant, will place fieldworkers in each of the critical States to work with local groups for public education and understanding.
National Episcopal reactions
The church press has given thorough coverage of news on church reactions to the ruling. In addition, there have been editorials of forthright support. The Anglican Congress, meeting in Minneapolis in August, gave worldwide significance to Episcopal Church action by reaffirming the Lambeth Conference statement, and "expressing our shame and grief over the tensions in race relations caused by discrimination *
In January, prior to the ruling, the national department of Christian social relations, through the division of Christian citizenship, began exploration of appropriate national action in relation to this profound crisis in our culture and way of life. In addition to its work with the Southern Regional Council and the National Council of Churches, it sought to serve the Episcopal Church as a focal point for thought and action. This concern continued after the ruling and exploration of possible actions began in the summer. The recommendation, after consideration by the division and the department at their October meetings, took form in the resolution of the national council calling for this report on church reaction and for an appropriate statement of a pastoral nature to be presented to the December 1954 meeting. The council's resolution follows:
"Resolved: The national council requests the Department of Christian social relations and the Division of Christian citizenship to prepare a report on church reaction to the Supreme Court decision on segregation in public schools and an
appropriate statement of a pastoral nature to be issued for the guidance of Episcopalians in all sections of the country, and to make a report at the December 1954 meeting of the national council."
The department of Christian social relations requested the division of Christian citizenship to prepare a draft report and statement and to appoint a committee of advice and consultation in this matter. Subsequently, the director of the department, the Reverend Almon R. Pepper, D.D., in consultation with the chairmen of the division and of the department, invited a representative group of churchmen to serve on this committee of advice and consultation.
The division's staff prepared a draft report and statement for consideration by the department, the division, and the committee of advice. This document was considered at an all-day meeting of the division and the committee of advice on December 7, 1954, under the chairmanship of Bishop Scaife. Members of the committee who could not attend sent written comments for consideration at the meeting or afterward gave their approval in writing of the report and statement adopted by the division.
At the conclusion of the discussion, the amended document, together with a draft resolution for consideration by the council, was unanimously adopted by the division, with the unanimous concurrence of the committee of advice. It was then forwarded to the department for action.
The following day, the department, under the chairmanship of the Very Reverend John C. Leffler, considered and amended the document and resolution, adopted them unanimously, and referred them to the council for action.
On December 8, 1954, the national council, with the Right Reverend Henry Knox Sherrill presiding and with 28 of the 31 members of the council present, unanimously accepted the report and statement." The council also unanimously adopted, with one amendment, the resolution presented by the division and department.
3. WORKABLE AND INEVITABLE
The Court's decision touches the life of the whole Nation, even though it affects most directly those States and communities which now require or permit racial segregation in the public schools. In one way or another segregation is an issue for almost every community in the Nation.
The Court speaks only of the public schools, ruling that segregation is unconstitutional, because segregated schools are inherently unequal and are likely to permanently harm those who attend the inferior schools. This very judgment, however, seriously questions the validity of racial segregation in all schools and in all areas of the life of the Nation which are common to all citizens.
Desegregation of all public schools, colleges, and universities is now the order of the day. In other areas of life, desegregation is, also, on the agenda of the American people.
This larger process of desegregation of various aspects of American life represents a longstanding and accelerating trend. In this framework, the Court's decision is neither novel nor entirely unexpected. Its unanimity, however, enhances its significance and makes it an extraordinary force for justice and freedom and democracy around the world.
Voluntary desegregation of public schools in southern-type communities has worked in the past and is now working in some segregation States themselves. More than this, it has worked in public universities and in private schools and colleges in the Deep South.
Where desegregation of public schools has been undertaken it has been successful, in all but a few instances, if there has been no outside interference. Where it has been successful, the universal verdict has been: it was easier than anticipated.
Most Americans appear ready to accept the Court's decision as the law of the land, even though they may be puzzled about how it is to be obeyed.
"Answers for Action," published recently by the Southern Regional Council was written in the belief that the vast majority of southerners accept what is now the law of the land, want to have done with bitterness and obstruction, and are willing to sit down with their fellow citizens of the other race and find the best ways to move ahead.
The report consists of pp. 5-36 of this document.