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RenewalLiberal Protestants and the American City after World War II$

Mark Wild

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226605234

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226605371.001.0001

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Renewal and the African American Mainline

Renewal and the African American Mainline

(p.160) Six Renewal and the African American Mainline

Mark Wild

University of Chicago Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the influence of black power ideology on the renewal movement. A vocal contingent of black mainliners adopted black power in the 1960s to challenge the emphasis on integration; they argued the church instead should devote more resources to African American congregations and communities. Within the denominations, a new generation of black caucuses formed to advocate for these interests, and an umbrella group of African American clergy, the National Committee of Black Churchmen, united representatives from mainline and black denominations. Meanwhile, mainline denominations set up crisis funds to allocate money to nonwhite communities, and two new coordinating bodies, the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization and the Joint Strategy and Action Committee, formed to help allocate the funds. Nonetheless, allegations that the church remained indifferent to African American concerns continued, and in 1969 a Black Manifesto demanded five hundred million dollars from churches as reparations for their historical complicity in racial oppression. But black renewalists suffered from the same kinds of internal divisions that plagued their white counterparts. When combined with resistance from within the mainline, these fractures weakened their efforts to challenge racism in the church.

Keywords:   black power, black caucuses, National Committee of Black Churchmen, crisis funds, Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, Joint Strategy and Action Committee, Black Manifesto

At the end of the 1960s, Methodist leaders in Kansas City, Missouri, merged two failing white congregations into a single church, St. James. The parish was transitioning from white to black; the new African American pastor reconfigured services to emphasize black culture and the social implications of the gospel. A portrait of Jesus with African features was hung in the sanctuary. The pastor admitted that only a few members of the original congregations stayed on and only a few black members had joined, but he remained resolute on his strategy. Nonetheless, little had changed at St. James two years later, when it merged with a white congregation and acquired a new pastor, Emanuel Cleaver. Not long before, Cleaver had riled civic leaders by establishing a “Resurrection City,” based on the Washington, DC, encampment of Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign, near a prominent shopping district. He maintained a dialogue with the local Black Panthers chapter, but insisted that St. James “operates on the basis of humanity, not color.” Yet, although he changed a line in the church’s closing hymn from “Black folks must be strong” to “The church must be strong,” he maintained that the “black liberation experience” was “a necessary prerequisite for merger with whites.… What we have learned is that we can merge without compromising our blackness.” Some skeptical whites were won over; St. James’s multiracial congregation rebounded, and Cleaver became a prominent local civic leader.1

(p.161) The evolution of St. James offered a hopeful sign for racial reconciliation within the church. But it wasn’t the norm. Over the 1950s and 1960s, racial concerns had increasingly shaped the actions of renewal ministries as African Americans challenged inequalities and questioned arrangements that limited their autonomy, and as many white renewalists reframed their understanding of renewal in racial terms. During this period, the renewal movement grappled with the principles of black power in ways that at least some people found productive. But integration was not the end product, or even the goal, for all ministries of this period, and African American renewalists remained frustrated with the church’s inability or unwillingness to address their concerns. In the long term, these interactions encouraged a more pluralistic approach to ministry at the expense of the quest for a unified church.

For some African American mainliners, the confluence of the renewal movement and black power created a new set of opportunities to counter the marginalization they experienced within the church and broader society. Black caucuses provided a mechanism for pressuring church leaders, and “crisis funds” directed denominational resources to black and other marginalized communities. Many black renewalists hoped that these institutions would inaugurate a unified alliance among black Protestants, both within and beyond the mainline. But this vision ran up against the same kinds of obstacles that undermined the quest for a holistic church. Disagreements over strategy and competition for funds undermined black mainline unity, a split worsened by the growing resistance to these allocations in other parts of the church.

Black power is a capacious term that describes various strategies for prioritizing the self-determination of black people. It is often placed in succession to the “classic” integrationist campaigns of the 1950s and early 1960s, although that framework oversimplifies the more complicated, interwoven strategies of activism identified by recent interpretations of the freedom movement. Most iterations of black power ideology rejected the idea that an integrated beloved community should be the defining objective for African Americans. During the 1960s, formerly integrationist organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Congress for Racial Equality embraced black power, and new organizations such as the Black Panthers and the US organization formed. Black power ideology didn’t necessarily preclude interracial cooperation, but it mandated that African Americans enter such arrangements from an autonomous base.2

For blacks in white denominations, black power offered both opportunities (p.162) and challenges. On one hand, it provided a new set of tools to combat racism in the church and to acquire greater influence in the church bureaucracy. On the other hand, black power called into question their religious affiliation; membership in denominations where African Americans were a small minority seemed incompatible with self-determination. Black mainliners already approached questions of church unity and renewal differently than many white mainliners. Those who granted legitimacy to black power now had to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of mainline affiliation. Black power, in short, exacerbated long-standing anxieties of these church people about their religious and political identities.3 Not all black renewalists endorsed it wholesale—and many rank-and-file African American mainliners had little interest in it at all—but in promoting black self-determination within the denomination, black power pushed the renewal movement in a new, more pluralistic direction.

It is tempting to see black power as exogenous to the relatively conservative, middle-class population of mainline African Americans. Leading proponents like Malcolm X had lambasted Christianity as an instrument of white domination. The critiques of black renewalists did not go to this extreme, but could still be substantial. The black pastor and theologian Gayraud Wilmore argued that the tradition of black Christian activism dating to the slave era had atrophied in the twentieth century metropolis. Upon arriving in the city, he claimed, black churches had retreated into private observance and ceded social justice activism to secular organizations. The “glutted” landscape of congregations needed prodding from secular movements to recover its radical heritage. But some renewalists located the roots of black power in the African American encounter with Christianity, and several mainline church members drew from liberal Protestant traditions to help shape its course. The black Mennonite scholar Vincent Harding argued that black power was birthed in the incongruity of a church that practiced discrimination while preaching unity, prompting black Christians to explore other avenues for political, social, and religious independence.4 The historian Kerry Pimblott shows how one black power organization in Cairo, Illinois, drew on black theology, black congregations, and the material resources of mainline church bodies to create, for a time at least, a vital engine of African American political empowerment in that city.5 Each of these examples testifies to the complicated relationship between churches and black power ideology.

Albert Cleage was the most visible mainline proponent of black power. A Congregationalist minister with a degree from Oberlin Theological (p.163) Seminary, Cleage early in his career had taken a temporary position in San Francisco at the Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, before Howard Thurman’s arrival. But he clashed with Alfred Fisk and other members. “The whites who came, came as sort of missionaries,” Cleage later recalled. “They wanted to do something meaningful, but this was not really their church. The blacks regarded it as experimental too, or were brainwashed to think it was something superior.” His brief tenure at Fellowship soured Cleage on interracial congregations, which he came to regard as an “impossibility.” Drawing from his neo-orthodox training, he contended that whites in such situations would inevitably subordinate the interest of black congregants to their own.6

In 1953, Cleage cofounded the Central Congregational Church in Detroit, where he served for the rest of a long career. Central joined a mainline congregational landscape that, renewalist efforts notwithstanding, remained primarily organized along racial lines. Cleage worked with other African American clergy in urging their congregants to take a more active interest in social justice campaigns on behalf of working-class blacks. He framed this exhortation in black nationalist terms; he wanted to eliminate the class distinctions fragmenting the black Christian population.7 At Central, Cleage could try to reconcile the disparate parts of this population within a denomination that emphasized congregational independence.

Cleage and his allies in this endeavor did not necessarily have a simple task. African American mainliners were capable of the same kinds of class snobbery as their white counterparts, and not always amenable to social engagement. Congregants sometimes treated social welfare programs for poorer blacks as missionary efforts distinct from their church’s other concerns. At a black Methodist church in Minneapolis, the minister managed to bring some working-class children into the youth program, a surveyor wrote sarcastically, only after “much frowning by the better members.” The Congregationalist minister James Hargett attributed these attitudes to the dynamics of black social mobility. Though middle-class, he explained, his parishioners had memories of hardscrabble upbringings that made them hesitant to do anything that might jeopardize their hard-won earnings. African American renewalists tried to bridge the distance between middle-class churchgoers and working-class parish residents. At his pastorate in Brooklyn, Archie Hargraves started a “halfway house”—essentially a social welfare center—where churchgoers could meet their proletarian neighbors “halfway.” In Detroit, Nicholas Hood imported the idea to his congregation at Plymouth Congregational Church, using it to (p.164) reach out to, among other parish residents, the prostitutes frequenting the area.8

Abandoning Integration

Campaigns like these indicated the importance black mainliners placed on their relationships with other African Americans. Although integration promised to eliminate inequalities within the church, many black mainliners did not see it as a priority; they were more interested in equality of resources for their own congregations. Black power ideology fit with this concern, and as the 1960s progressed, many African American church leaders embraced it as a preferable objective.

As it did in secular society, black power fed on the failed promises of integration. Notwithstanding many examples of successful mixed congregations, many white churchgoers remained opposed to it, and African American mainliners sometimes felt that integration campaigns emerged from less than noble motives. For one thing, the timing of outreach efforts often seemed suspicious. A black Presbyterian in Milwaukee noted that most white churches in transitioning areas postponed integration as long as they could. Then, “Bang! Suddenly they’re surrounded. They can’t understand, when they finally get around to welcoming the Negro, why he doesn’t want to come in.” Some blacks who joined white churches found the worship services cold, the clergy patronizing, and their fellow white congregants unwilling to socialize aside from Sunday morning. One African American woman told a white United Church of Christ minister of her disappointment with the service at his church: “I found that I was not spiritually fed by your sad hymns, your aging white choir and your solemn sermons.” Interracial congregations often depended on whites who had left the neighborhood to maintain their diversity, lending them an artificial quality. The Japanese American minister Garry Oniki called them a “strange flower,” unlikely to take root in most areas of the city.9

It appears that some African Americans who joined white congregations did so not out of a commitment to integration but because they anticipated racial turnover. A survey of a mixed Presbyterian church in Atlanta, for instance, noted much stronger enthusiasm for integration among white members than black ones. Likewise, many black clergy appointed to integrating congregations indicated that African American parish residents, members or not, were their priority. In some cases, this approach was encouraged by white denominational administrators (p.165) who saw black clergy as agents of racial succession rather than integration. The Methodist Church sometimes tried to facilitate congregational turnover by transferring its white churches to the black Central Jurisdiction. It ended this practice in the mid-1960s, but continued to pressure these congregations to hire black ministers.10

White renewalists weren’t blind to the shortcomings of integrated congregations. Marguerite Hofer observed that “some so-called integrated churches appeal to two types; well-to-do Negroes and cause-conscious whites. It makes for over-compensation.” Interracialism should not depend, she argued, on “an understood but unwritten list of Negroes, usually middle class and more ‘like us’ than are other Negroes, who are overworked in a brotherhood occupation which leaves our ‘normalcy’ undisturbed.” White renewalists committed to integration realized that a change in church culture was required. Richard Luecke described “blackening the liturgy for black congregations” as a “basic task” of ministry. Another renewalist agreed that white mainline churches would need to adopt black worship styles if they hoped to recruit African Americans and working-class whites, to whom traditional mainline culture seemed foreign.11

Black renewalists who remained committed to integration had to deal with resistance from their own congregations. Maintaining this stance required discipline, a capacity to endure setbacks, and a specific conception of the church’s role in modern urban society. The career of Nicholas Hood illustrated the challenges they faced. Hood’s congregation, Detroit’s Plymouth Congregational Church, was housed in a former synagogue near downtown. Its members, “suburban in character,” commuted to a parish that was becoming increasingly impoverished. After his arrival in 1958, Hood methodically steered the congregation toward neighborhood outreach. Although the parish was predominately African American, Hood organized his ministries to emphasize integration. He based his decision on the instability of urban demographics; the eventual return of whites—via redevelopment or other means—would reignite racial conflict if the church was not prepared to prevent it, he reasoned.12

Hood spearheaded Plymouth’s sponsorship of affordable housing developments to ensure that neighborhood residents weren’t displaced by redevelopment. At the same time, he maintained a rigid nondiscrimination policy and worked hard to attract white tenants as well. With an eye to that latter goal, he hired a white associate pastor, Roger Miller, who couldn’t find work at white churches because of his African American wife. Miller became the face of Plymouth’s outreach to (p.166) white Detroiters. “‘Yep, we put him right near the door,’ Hood joked of Miller’s post on Sunday mornings. ‘We learned that from our white brothers.’” His minority status within the parish enabled him to serve as a liaison between classes and cultures. At the housing complexes, he reassured potential white residents. Eventually, according to Hood, whites occupied about 20 percent of the units owned by the church.13

But Hood’s integrationist campaign hit some snags too. Some Plymouth members objected to Miller’s interracial marriage and made him an outlet for their frustrations with white racism. Hood eventually removed Miller from the housing assignment after congregants complained that a white man shouldn’t supervise a “black” project. Meanwhile, whites responded unevenly to Hood’s overtures. When he ran for Detroit’s Common Council, fellow clergy introduced him to the white voters he needed to win a citywide election. But when he forged an agreement with the pastor of a nearby white church to share educational and evangelical work, it “met with violent opposition” from the white congregants. The white clergyman resigned, despairing that his church had chosen its demise over integration. Back at Plymouth, Hood admitted that “whites have never taken advantage of the welcome we have aggressively extended to them.”14

Black ministers posted to white churches in transitioning areas faced similar difficulties if they wanted to maintain an integrated congregation. Nonetheless, a few of them, like Emanuel Cleaver, succeeded, often by instituting African American worship traditions and social justice–oriented civic engagement. San Francisco’s Glide Memorial Methodist offers another example. After the war, it developed a glaring mismatch between its generous endowment and its stagnant congregation. In seeking more productive use of its resources, the church established a team ministry to build relationships with the surrounding neighborhood. The new pastors started a coffeehouse and theater, along with ministries to black youth, college students, the mentally ill, and, unusually for the time, San Francisco’s LGBT population.15

These efforts generated more goodwill than membership gains, but Glide’s congregation began to revive after Cecil Williams joined the team ministry in 1966. Like Cleaver, Williams brought a spiritual sensibility shaped by his upbringing in poor black neighborhoods. He restructured Glide’s activist arm into renewalist-styled task forces, and took down the imposing cross that hung above the altar to make the church less forbidding to nonmembers. Traditionalists were appalled, but a much larger flock of young, racially diverse congregants was assembling. The large choir symbolized Glide’s renaissance, and its (p.167) combination of social activism and raucous services, which Williams dubbed “celebrations of humanity,” made it a favorite stopover for politicians and activists.16

Black Liberation in (of?) the Mainline

The admonitions of black renewalists and the moral force of the black freedom movement energized white renewalists, especially when they saw the possibilities of a church like Glide. In the 1940s, many first-generation white renewalists had entered urban ministries having scant experience interacting with nonwhites. Twenty years later, they had learned much more about how race circumscribed opportunities for residents in their parishes. Indeed, many white renewalists came to understand their work in racial terms. They joined their African American counterparts in holding up black Christianity as model for the church and the black freedom movement as a model for secular witness.

The arrival of black power ideology put to rest any lingering idea that race could be subsumed under broader socioeconomic categories. White renewalists reworked their vision of church unity. Many of them came to recognize the significance of black and Latino mainline congregations for renewal. Pulling at the seams of earlier visions of the beloved community, they deemphasized integration, proffering instead the objective of a church that redistributed its power and resources more equally across a diversity of congregational types. One sign of this change appeared in the movement’s more careful attention to language. White renewalists, for instance, jettisoned references to their ministries as “colonies.” The word was an innocuous referral to an independent church outpost in secular society, but in an era of national independence movements critics used it against them as an identification of racist privilege.17

Another sign appeared in the dissolution of the church’s distinction between race-based ministries and urban ministries. Through the 1950s, the former generally consisted of advocacy organizations that popped up following incidents of racial violence. For instance, in 1962, after someone firebombed a house in a white Kansas City neighborhood that had been purchased by a black man, local clergy set up a council on religion and race and worked with the local human relations commission.18 Yet these kinds of efforts, to which renewalists contributed enthusiastically, had remained distinct from what the church (p.168) designated as urban work, ministries that folded the fight against racial discrimination into the broader objective of church renewal.

This line began to blur with the formation of groups like the Episcopalians for Racial and Cultural Unity (1959), the United Church of Christ’s Commission on Racial Justice, (1963), and Methodists for Church Renewal (1964), denominational bodies pushing integration at all bureaucratic levels of the church. They helped bring African Americans and other minorities into administrative positions and promoted black perspectives on the renewal movement. The cumulative impact of these changes, along with their own experiences in the city, convinced more renewalists to understand urban problems and church renewal primarily in racial terms rather than the other way around.19

Some white renewalists, for instance, began to see black congregations as a model for renewal. They believed that these congregations were free of the self-serving concerns and prejudices they found in many white churches. Joseph Merchant, for instance, opined that the black church “holds a supraclass dimension that our middle-class white society sorely needs, mainline Protestantism perhaps most sorely of all.” The Detroit Council of Churches, after watching black congregations take the lead on challenging urban renewal, praised them for their “cosmopolitan” character and for doing “some of the best work in the inner city.” Secular voices added their compliments. One government report, in describing black churches as “paradoxical forces for both stability and change in the life of urban Negroes,” insinuated that they could encourage social mobility while preserving the communal bonds so crucial to urban communities.20 Renewalists had been searching for that balance for years.

The idealization of black congregations marked a new stage in renewalists’ prophetic critique of the church. When a white Episcopal priest told a black clergyman that “the church is too little too late, but you are going to renew us,” he spoke for those looking past “white” Christianity for inspiration in both the black church and black social movements. The spiritual conflation of black churches and freedom movement groups underscored once more the blending of sacred and secular. For renewalists like Gibson Winter and Don Benedict, the freedom movement awakened the church to the true scope of its task. “We should thank God for the demands of the Negro people,” Benedict wrote. “Otherwise we might never have faced the seriousness of the urban crisis in unemployment, housing, education and poverty.”21 William Stringfellow claimed that many renewalists had come to see the civil rights movement as a “parachurch, a secular movement which has (p.169) more similarity, reality, and integrity as Church than the more familiar, conventional, and prosperous bureaucracy called Church in the American white establishment.” He admitted an even more visceral attraction to the religion of working-class urban nonwhites; when faced with a life-threatening illness, Stringfellow turned for resilience to the spiritual traditions of the African Americans and Puerto Ricans he worked with in Harlem rather than those of his own Episcopalian faith.22

The riots that convulsed many cities during the mid-1960s convinced any remaining holdouts of race’s centrality to church renewal. One renewalist wondered whether it was even possible to “isolate racism as an issue” from the constellation of tensions racking the country. The movement had essentially reached consensus on the question. Reuben Sheares, now at the Community Renewal Society in Chicago, reported that race had become “standard fare in defining the problem” of the urban crisis. Benedict, Archie Hargraves, and other veteran renewalists agreed that racial justice should become the focus of their work.23

Black Christians were quick to confirm the persistence of racism in the church, and they didn’t spare white renewalists, charging their experimental ministries with treating African Americans like guinea pigs. Writing in Church in Metropolis, a renewalist journal, the Baptist minister and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson claimed that “the white church has chosen to deal with its own guilt and spiritual emptiness through programs of pity to the black community rather than to deal with the problems of its black counterpart.” Nathan Wright, an Episcopal priest, compared white renewalists to colonial exploiters and dismissed their ministries as worthless. Another African American renewalist contrasted a vigorous, defiant black church, “a source of community creativity,” with an enervated, bewildered white church, whose “smothering possessive mother love” tried to obliterate black spiritual traditions.24

This distinction between a virtuous black church and a sinful white church reprised earlier dichotomies—urban versus suburban, fragmentation versus unity—that had structured renewalist rhetoric. But the rhetorical elevation of race had two novel consequences for the renewal movement. First, to the extent that these opinions penetrated church bureaucracies, they enhanced the authority of African Americans, the presumed bearers of a more authentic spiritual tradition, among mainline renewalists. Second, they prompted many renewalists to reconceive the church as a pluralistic collection of religious communities, each possessed of its own autonomy, rather than a monolithic community. (p.170) Those invested in a holistic model of the church had to adjust to these new priorities.

Church leaders gradually let go of the view that urbanization broke down ethnic loyalties and cultural traditions. Those who advanced an “ethnic approach” to outreach that recalled missions of the previous century conceded the failure of a pan-Protestant culture to unify parishioners through sympathy, aid, and evangelism. Renewalists likewise came around to the idea that congregations usually benefited from pastors of their own ethnic group, and that integration should not take precedence over racial self-determination. “We have faced up to the tragic separation of the streams of white and Negro church life in American society and begun to find a solution to this hitherto unsolved problem,” read the 1966 announcement of the Urban Training Center’s new training program for African American clergy, to be run by the veteran Southern Christian Leadership Conference leader C. T. Vivian. The program marked the beginning of a broader shift in the renewal movement toward cultivating clergy of color.25

Many African American renewalists embedded black power principles into a Christian narrative of emancipation. Most who did so were not preparing to leave their denominations, but rather were looking for an expression of renewal that spoke to their circumstances. James Hargett explained that he and his colleagues were “asking if there is anything unique and peculiar within the black experience in America that is of religious character—which sustains the souls of the black people particularly—but with such unusual meaning that it can enrich and sustain the souls of others.”26 Their answer to this question became known as black liberation theology. It began by characterizing the radical/liberal dichotomy in racial terms. Jesse Jackson, deploying the kind of masculinist imagery that abided in parts of the renewal movement, explained: “The white Jesus is a pale effeminate figure who walks around gardens praying and smelling flowers. Ours is the guy who identified with the lepers and stopped people from laughing at prostitutes. He’s a cat who had a great capacity to redeem folks no matter what their past.” Jackson’s racial framing was more conceptual than literal—he surely understood the prophetic convictions of some whites—but it illustrated how black liberation theology placed itself in the theological landscape.27

The best-known black liberation theologian was James Cone, who joined the Union Theological Seminary faculty in 1970. Like Jackson, Cone deployed the black-white theological binary to identify theological differences rather than essential racial distinctions. In his “universal (p.171) understanding of blackness,” non-African Americans could become “black” if they recognized the indispensable value of the African American experience and committed themselves to the goal of full equality in church and society. “Reconciliation is possible,” he told an interviewer, when “both men [white and black] have equal power to make the other man recognize him.”28

African American renewalists who gravitated to black liberation theology argued for a separate base of power within the mainline. In 1967, black participants at a National Conference of Churches assembly titled “Church and Urban Tensions” demanded that attendees split into separate black and white gatherings. The former called on whites to acknowledge the church’s racism and to turn urban ministries over to African Americans. Whites needed to focus on addressing their own racism. The white group, without acceding to this demand, issued a statement of contrition and promised to proceed with “humility” and respect for black viewpoints.29

This meeting, and the broader ferment around black freedom on which it was based, sparked a revival of black caucuses, intradenominational bodies dedicated to advancing the interests of African Americans. These caucuses had a long history in the church, but after World War II many considered them to be relics of a segregated era. In 1957, the Afro-American Council of the North and West (formerly the Afro-American Presbyterian Council) disbanded to support several mixedrace bodies that were promoting integration within the denomination. A few years later, the Episcopal Church’s Conference of Church Workers among Colored People elected to shut down as well. But the push for racial autonomy prompted black mainliners to reconsider the merits of caucuses. By the end of the 1960s, a new generation of black caucuses had appeared, among them the United Black Churchmen and Ministers for Racial and Social Justice (both of the United Church of Christ), the American Baptist Black Caucus, Black Presbyterians United, Black Methodists for Church Renewal, the Association of Black Lutheran Churchmen, and the Union of Black Clergy and Laity (Episcopal). Collectively they called on African American mainliners to take control of the church’s outreach to black America.30

Black Methodists for Church Renewal, in the mainline denomination with the largest African American membership, was the most consequential of the new caucuses. Its origin lay in the particularities of Methodist history. In 1939, the Northern and Southern branches of the denomination, which had split over the issue of slavery in the nineteenth century, voted to reunite. The Southerners, however, demanded (p.172) that the merged body maintain administrative segregation. Church leaders agreed to divide white congregations into regional jurisdictions and collect all black congregations in a single “central” jurisdiction. African American Methodists initially opposed this scheme, but in subsequent years they found the silver lining of a separate administrative body. The black Methodist leader Woodie White described the Central Jurisdiction as both “beloved by” and “an embarrassment” for blacks, a symbol of their subordinate status and yet, as a “church within a church,” a source of unity and resilience.31

By the 1960s, however, a black jurisdiction seemed incompatible with the denomination’s stated commitment to integration. In their 1969 merger with the Evangelical United Brethren Church, Methodists voted to abolish it and absorb African American congregations into the regional jurisdictions. Black members had mixed feelings about the decision. Four years earlier, the United Church of Christ had merged black and white congregations into a single judicatory in North Carolina and Virginia, the heart of the old African American Christian Churches. The decision, critics complained, meant “blacks giving up the structures and institutions, and styles of life that were part of their culture, history and experience and becoming assimilated into the structures, institutions, and styles of life of whites within this society.” Black Methodists voiced similar concerns. Leading clergy gathered in Cincinnati in 1968, where the prominent civil rights organizer Stokely Carmichael addressed the group. They formed Black Methodists for Church Renewal, a play on the name of the multiracial, pro-integration body Methodists for Church Renewal.32

The new generation of black caucuses not only wanted resources for black congregations and clergy, they wanted the church to contribute to African American communities more broadly. Their members embraced black power to different degrees; some were quite critical, suggesting that the most enthusiastic adoptees of the ideology were overcompensating for past efforts at assimilation. Most carved out a middle position. Woodie White, for instance, affirmed the virtues of an independent, prophetic-oriented caucus that could collaborate directly with black denominations. He appreciated separatists’ arguments about the liberating effects of independence, but clarified that “I’m not with them at the point of understanding black power to be an end in itself.” For White, the promise of racial reconciliation as embodied in the Methodist Church remained crucial to his ecclesiology.33

Caucuses may have promoted black unity, but they could become the site of internal power struggles. The United Church of Christ’s (p.173) Commission for Racial Justice, an official denominational body under the leadership of Charles Cobb, assumed control of hiring and training programs for black clergy and disbursed some funds designated for community development.34 But another group of black pastors accused the commission of marginalizing their authority. One minister charged that it isolated African American concerns. Black clergy “were prevented for a long period of time of having a claim on the total church,” he contended. “We established for ourselves a power broker, not by common consent and mutual agreement. When we approached other instrumentalities of the denomination on almost any issue, we were sent to the Commission for Racial Justice.” A group of dissident pastors convened an independent caucus, Ministers for Racial and Social Justice, to get around the commission. And in 1970, a third group, United Black Churchmen, composed of laity and clergy, formed to build a broader base of African American membership. The resulting fragmentation frustrated many black renewalists in the United Church of Christ who had hoped to exert more unified pressure on the denomination.35

Similar problems beset the National Committee of Black Churchmen (originally the National Committee of Negro Churchmen), a short-lived but influential umbrella group that formed in 1967. Though it included representatives of black denominations, over half its original signatories came from the mainline, and it was they who largely dictated its direction. Like the black caucuses, the committee wanted control of church work in African American neighborhoods. Member Nathan Wright claimed that white renewalists had “at best facilitated an orderly consolidation and retreat” from the city. He condemned them for “tinker[ing] with the lives and fortunes of the exploited.”36 Shortly after its founding, a committee spokesman announced that “the era of welfare colonialism is over. If white Christianity feels any sort of obligation to do anything about the ghettoes, it will have to work through the people who live here.” But the committee was not letting the mainline off the hook. It demanded substantial transfers of unrestricted capital to black community organizations. Appropriating a line from secular theology, the committee adopted the slogan “Renewal of Church through the Renewal of Community” as the path forward for black and white Protestants.37

From the outset, however, the committee had to contend with the divisions that racked black Christianity, especially the split between black and mainline denominations. Members from back denominations called on their brothers to “come home” to the “true” African American Church. But the mainline members detected in their colleagues (p.174) from the black denominations the same conservative, middle-class culture and institutional self-interest for which they had excoriated their white peers. They saw little reason to sacrifice access to the resources of white denominations for a new ecclesial home that was cool to the renewal movement. Mainline members wanted the committee to push for the appointment of African Americans to leadership positions in mainline bureaucracies and the National Council of Churches, objectives of little interest to members of black denominations.38

In short, the National Committee of Black Churchmen confronted the same kinds of questions about ecumenism, institutional affiliation, and autonomy that bedeviled white renewalists. Participants at one of its meetings tried to work through these problems, focusing much of their attention on black church people’s relationship with the rest of the mainline. James Hargett argued that parochial concerns had undermined the unification of African American Christians. “Black ecumenicity looks inward instead of outward,” he complained, “which is corporate selfishness.” He wondered if black Protestants had “exhausted [their] role to radicalize the white structure.” C. T. Vivian thought that they had, and thus wanted the committee to concentrate on training black clergy for ministry and community action. The committee couldn’t resolve these debates; and so, as the months passed, its energy flagged and its members departed for posts in other organizations.39 Balancing unity and autonomy was as tricky for black renewalists as it was for white renewalists.

Many white church people rejected black power ideology as a violation of Christian reconciliation. But some white renewalists embraced it as part of their veneration of the black church. Neo-orthodoxy and post-renewalist rhetoric had habituated them to condemnations of the church; protests by African Americans only confirmed their views. Leon Watts, a black Presbyterian urban specialist, sardonically described a kind of white Protestant who “seems to languish in joy when being rapped about the head by some black man.” On occasion, white renewalists’ invective approached that of their most strident black colleagues. In 1967, a white minister who had resigned from the East Harlem Protestant Parish delivered a blistering final sermon against the “East Harlem Protestant Plantation.” Noting that no minister of color had remained in that group ministry more than a few years, he condemned it as part of the white power structure.40

Yet black power weakened white renewalists’ grip on urban ministries, regardless of how much they endorsed that ideology. Both inside and outside the church, African Americans increasingly demanded (p.175) a role in planning and running these operations. Simply employing local staff was no longer enough to grant legitimacy to urban ministries; local youth who hired on to such efforts could face the ridicule of their neighbors. Many white renewalists concluded that maintaining the legitimacy of their ministries required ceding at least some control to local residents. By 1966, Don Benedict was advising renewalists to have community leaders, not clergy, lead civic engagement efforts. Two years later, he “got the message about black power” at a meeting in Chicago’s Lawndale neighborhood after Martin Luther King’s assassination. There, black attendees voted to expel white-led projects from the neighborhood. From then on, the group declared, whites could participate only by donating money to black programs. The lesson hit Benedict hard, but he adapted. At the Community Renewal Society, he relied on nonwhite staffers like Garry Oniki and Reuben Sheares to maintain its credibility in the black community.41

Other renewalists went even further. In Oakland, California, a cooperative ministry called the West Oakland Christian Parish announced that it had become “authenticated” by placing itself under the leadership of two local black religious organizations. The ministry ceased its previous activities to focus exclusively on raising money for projects designated by its new superiors. But white renewalists lost influence whether they yielded it or not, for civic authorities were less willing to treat them as liaisons to minority communities. These districts were now demanding their own representatives.42 White renewalists and denominational leaders had to reconsider their role in the cities. As the limitations of its own clergy became apparent, the church began to support urban communities more directly.

Crisis Funds, IFCO, and JSAC

By the time the new black caucuses appeared, some denominations were already setting up “reconciliation” or “crisis” funds dedicated to secular community empowerment organizations in nonwhite districts.43 The sources of these funds varied. In some cases, denominations appropriated unrestricted money from their accounts, while in others they established donation targets to be raised by their laity. Funds ranged in amounts from several hundred thousand dollars to $20 million (the declared commitment of the Methodists’ Fund for Reconciliation, established in 1968). In one case, a mainline denomination, the American Baptist Convention, partnered with the African American Progressive (p.176) Baptist Convention to establish a crisis fund for black communities.44 These funds comprised a small percentage of church budgets, but were sizable enough to attract attention throughout the church.

The awkwardly named General Convention Special Program of the Episcopal Church illustrated the controversy that these programs could generate. It was the brainchild of Presiding Bishop John Hines, the denomination’s top official, who had embraced renewalist ideas more than most church executives. At the Episcopalians’ 1967 convention, he stated that churches were complicit in the injustices plaguing the world, and gave the delegates a challenge: “Shall we mobilize our capacity for wiping these shameful conditions off the face of this nation and this planet, or shall we choose other priorities?” In response, the convention approved a slate of expenditures, including hundreds of thousands of dollars to be distributed to minority community groups, supposedly without restrictions.45

Hines hired Leon Modeste, a black layman from Brooklyn, to lead the General Convention Special Program. The appointment angered African American clergy, who wanted a director from their own ranks. After Modeste recruited several non-Episcopalian staff members, black Episcopalians formed the Union for Black Clergy and Laity, with an eye toward recovering control of the program. At the same time, they criticized Hines’s decision to maintain oversight of the fund’s distributions as a “safeguard” against whites’ objections. Addressing both sets of critics, Modeste initially tried to assuage fears that the program was handing out money indiscriminately. As he contended, “An intensive screening process… takes place, so much so that we’ve had a couple of communities say we’d rather have that consultant come back who was helping us generate some local resources that we hadn’t thought through about rather than sending us money.” But soon he was sparring with church leaders over grant allocation authority. Conservative whites accused him of discriminating against nonblack minorities and of hiring a “black Muslim” assistant. “I’m really under the man’s hammer,” he told the Episcopalian magazine.46

Part of the controversy over the crisis funds involved their decisive break from the integrationist approach. By design, the allocations seemed to presume the impossibility, at least in the short term, of interracial mixing. Modeste argued, “Racism, which is so ingrained in the American fabric, really puts it [integration] several generations away, unless America really takes stock of itself.” In addition, the funds increased competition between those church people who wanted money (p.177) for internal programs and those who wanted it for independent, nonreligious groups.47 Such divisions didn’t break neatly along theological or racial lines. Both camps could claim nonwhite allies, and while few conservatives endorsed secular funding, many renewalists prioritized church-based ministries over external groups.

To reduce tensions and competition over crisis funds, church leaders added another organizational layer to the process. In noting that more denominations were establishing these programs, Hines thought that a clearinghouse might help prevent redundant allocations, and approached the National Council of Churches about taking on the project. But in another sign of the bureaucratic obstacles to ecumenicity, the council rebuffed him; it had its own plans for such a body. Hines then convened various denominational bureaucrats charged with urban mission; the group formed the Joint Urban Executives Committee, soon renamed the Joint Strategy and Action Committee (JSAC). Meanwhile, another interdenominational gathering of staffers conceived a similar plan. Concerned that the War on Poverty was overwhelming indigenous community groups in minority neighborhoods—“No honest grass-roots organization can function with Government funds,” participant Joseph Merchant told a reporter—it wanted to channel church resources to these organizations. This group became the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO).48

Despite similar origins, the two coordinating bodies developed divergent structures and personalities. IFCO had the higher profile, in part because it placed nonwhite activists in leadership positions. Its first director was Lucius Walker, an African American Baptist minister who built his reputation at the Northcott Neighborhood House in Milwaukee. Starting as that organization’s sole employee, he had increased its staff to fifty-five, with a corresponding increase in programming. These were impressive accomplishments even by the standards of the sixties-era renewal movement, and IFCO’s founders anticipated that he would achieve similar results for them. The organization positioned itself as a liaison between the church and minority community organizations that “the predominately white churches will never be able to reach.” Its leadership drew from a cross-section of secular and religious activists; the Chicano leader Corky Gonzalez and the National Welfare Rights Organization founder George Wiley both served on its board. In essence, IFCO was set up to outsource church support for community organization. It solicited donations from denominations, fielded applications from community organizations, allocated grants, and monitored (p.178) the use of funds. It supported projects only in minority communities, and required applicants to demonstrate strong indigenous support and minimal overlap with other organizations.49

JSAC, in contrast, employed an economical staff of four, including its director, Ned Dewire, the white minister from Detroit’s Central Methodist. Rather than make funding decisions itself, it provided a forum where member denominations could devise their own collaborations. Participating church bodies administered these projects using representatives located near the site. JSAC published a newsletter tabulating these collaborations and funding opportunities, and took over publication of Church in Metropolis from the Episcopal Church. But otherwise, it did little to draw attention to itself. The strategy proved popular enough that church leaders working in other areas convinced JSAC to expand its sphere of activity. They preferred it to IFCO and the National Council of Churches, both of which insisted on control of funds. Soon, JSAC was involved in everything from rural social justice campaigns to traditional comity programs. Denominations replaced the urban specialists that had been serving as liaisons to JSAC with mission board executives. Some authorized these liaisons to make their own funding decisions, thereby streamlining the process. Various “local” and “regional” JSACs cropped up around the country, bypassing church councils as coordinators of ecumenical activity.50

IFCO’s autonomy, while bolstering its credibility among black freedom activists, didn’t help its relationship with mainline denominations. Objections were raised to its first funding grant, to HOPE (Human, Organizational, Political, and Economic) Inc. in Houston. HOPE had been founded in 1967 by the Methodist minister Earl Allen, a freedom movement activist fresh off an aborted stint as a community director at the city’s poverty program. Seeking an independent vehicle for African American empowerment, he set up HOPE in a district known as “Pearl Harbor” for its bombed-out, desolate appearance. White supporters, many of them liberal Protestants, formed a Friends of HOPE group to aid the fledgling organization. But HOPE ran into immediate trouble with local authorities; they pointed to Allen’s participation in a protest at Texas Southern University that had turned violent as evidence of subversive intentions. For the first few months of HOPE’s existence, judicial investigations into its operations effectively closed off conventional revenue sources. Allen improvised. In one campaign, HOPE distributed flyers soliciting money with the headline “Don’t Burn, Baby, Let’s Build.” The phrase was a common slogan for black community development, but some white business owners detected a threat. Allen (p.179) denied the charge, but subsequently supported black employees who quit their jobs at a grocery store after its white owner gave what was deemed to be an insufficient donation.51

These actions did not endear HOPE to Houston’s civic establishment, and Allen’s group limped along until IFCO’s ninety-thousand-dollar grant. That infusion allowed HOPE to switch from soliciting money to distributing it, mostly to community development and training projects, while maintaining an activist wing. HOPE continued to rile conservatives and liberals alike. Allen berated his former employer, Houston’s poverty board, for its paucity of minority representation, slammed many of the city’s African American pastors as “spineless,” and professed embarrassment that white clergy outnumbered black clergy at many demonstrations.52

Grants from IFCO and the crisis funds nourished community organizations of local and national significance. IFCO donated more than $400,000 to the National Welfare Rights Organization, which according to the historian Lewis Unger received the lion’s share of its funding from Protestant churches. The Brotherhood Crusade, a key organization in Los Angeles, received $105,000 from the Fund for Reconciliation shortly after launching. Black caucuses wanted more. According to the Christian Century, the Black Churchmen of the American Baptist Convention demanded that money donated after Martin Luther King’s assassination go to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and that the denomination pledge 10 percent of its investment portfolio to black enterprises.53

But IFCO had to fight to keep the funds flowing. Scarcely a year into its existence, Walker was complaining that denominations hadn’t delivered on their IFCO pledges. At the General Convention Special Program, he charged, certain staff members were deploying “financial harassment” techniques to thwart IFCO-endorsed projects. Some critics argued that these various efforts had done little to alter the racial hierarchy of the church. The black nationalist Maulana Ron Karenga advised the National Committee of Black Churchmen to avoid “white-dominated and funded superagencies” with a black “stooge” up front.54 But IFCO didn’t want to lose whatever access it had to mainline resources.

IFCO soon ran up against the Industrial Areas Foundation, which had predictably identified the new group as a competitor. Things got off to a rocky start when the IAF filed an application to IFCO for $225,000, almost half its first granting budget. Saul Alinsky later explained that denominational leaders had told him to “work with” IFCO, but Walker (p.180) and his staff perceived it as an attempt to co-opt their organization. Alinsky then disparaged certain IFCO grantees as insufficiently radical. After IFCO rejected the application—Walker claimed that the IAF allowed no input from African Americans concerning its project designs—any lingering civility evaporated.55 IFCO won that standoff, but continued to spar with other granting agencies and community groups.

The Black Manifesto

In April 1969, the pressures generated by these competing interests boiled over with the release of the Black Manifesto. A demand for reparations directed at white religious institutions, it doubled down on black renewalists’ critique of the relationship between Christian ideals and churchly practice. Its author, James Forman, was a former chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and a lapsed Methodist. He introduced the manifesto at a meeting of the National Black Economic Development Conference (NBEDC), a body conceived by IFCO and run by black staff members from the National Council of Churches. Five of the six clergymen on the NBEDC board came from mainline denominations.56

The manifesto condemned the church’s complicity in the centuries-long oppression of African Americans. “The white Christian churches are another form of government in the country,” it declared, before demanding $500 million in reparations that would fund a collection of black-run empowerment programs, including a “resource center” on black “problems”; a strike fund for black workers; new black printing businesses; and the National Welfare Rights Organization.57 After the conference, Forman and his supporters staged a series of sit-ins at church services and meetings, including Union Theological Seminary and the Interchurch Center in New York City. For their part, many renewalists recognized the continuity between the manifesto and earlier demands that had been made to “polite applause,” in Gayraud Wilmore’s terms. A few even made the disingenuous claim that it was “too conservative… an old question in a new package.” But the manifesto’s presentation gave it a rhetorical momentum that previous demands had lacked. Among other things, it placed heightened attention on the nature and direction of the renewal movement.58

For the most part, white mainliners took a dim view of the Black Manifesto. Here and there, some renewalists called on the church to (p.181) honor its demands in full, thereby connecting reparations to church renewal. One Methodist congregation in Manhattan donated fifteen thousand dollars on its own. Stephen Rose, the managing editor of Renewal magazine, hoped that the payments would mark the first step in rebuilding the church bureaucracy from the ground up. But these were minority opinions; most congregations opposed the payments, and many congregations withheld denominational contributions to protest any acquiescence to the manifesto’s demands.59

Black mainliners’ response to the manifesto was complicated by Forman’s insistence that the NBEDC control the distribution of contributed funds. After all, it was an independent body, despite the clerical presence on its board. Some black renewalists endorsed the manifesto wholeheartedly. When, for instance, the Presbytery of Philadelphia, from whom Forman demanded fifty thousand dollars, tried to give sixty thousand to black Presbyterian groups instead, those groups replied that the money should go to the NBEDC. Some in this camp aligned Forman’s incendiary language with the objective of white renewalists. The National Committee of Black Churchmen called reparations “part of the gospel message.” Crisis funds, one renewalist explained, either meted out grants in paltry amounts or attached strings in the form of denominational oversight. Only unrestricted donations on the manifesto’s scale could fulfill the church’s mission. Others, however, worried that Forman was introducing more competition into the already crowded field of black empowerment organizations. Some might have echoed the NAACP, no doubt concerned about the manifesto’s potential impact on its own status, in calling the NBEDC a “paper organization.” Or they might have argued that the federal government, not the church, should pay reparations.60 Behind these various opinions, at least some black renewalists couldn’t help seeing the manifesto as an indictment of their own failures. Forman’s group, a member of Black Presbyterians United told white Protestants, “came not in usurpation of our place, but they came finding our places vacant. We should have confronted you, not NBEDC.” A few even wanted black denominations included as targets of reparations because of their “defection from the cause of black liberation.”61

On balance, black and white mainliners chose to circumvent Forman and the NBEDC, albeit for different reasons. Most denominational leaders tried to formulate a response that addressed what they considered to be the legitimate concerns of African Americans as defined by their own black members. John Hines, for instance, labeled the Black Manifesto a “calculatedly revolutionary, Marxist, inflammatory, (p.182) anti-Semitic and anti-Christian-Establishment,” but appointed a committee to answer it in a way that avoided “the twin pitfalls of blind fury and frightened submission.” The Episcopal Church subsequently gave two hundred thousand dollars to the National Committee of Black Churchmen, knowing that some of it was bound for the NBEDC, and resolved to work through its black caucus thereafter.62 African American renewalists, in turn, tried to use the manifesto to leverage more resources. In the United Church of Christ, Charles Cobb circulated a statement affirming the principle of reparations, but cautioned that black mainliners needed to participate fully in the “negotiations.” Denominational leaders then authorized $1.1 million to Cobb’s Commission for Racial Justice, recommending that the money go to many of the programs specified in the manifesto. Other denominations stepped up contributions to their own caucuses while bypassing the NBEDC.63

For James Forman and the National Committee of Black Churchmen, the caucuses proved to be a double-edged sword. While they applied pressure to denominational bureaucracies, their staff sucked up resources and dissipated energies. According to Gayraud Wilmore, For man became increasingly frustrated when caucuses negotiated deals with church executives for less than the manifesto’s demands. The committee wanted to serve as the coordinating body for negotiations with denominations but had no authority to enforce agreements. Complaining that the caucuses didn’t always reflect the will of black mainliners, it called on denominations to turn over monies they were wasting on black church support. Such statements did not play well to many African American Protestants. Unless caucuses “surrender their autonomy and decline to develop their own infrastructures further,” Wilmore warned, “Black ecumenism will fail to exploit the historical continuity and integrity of the Black religious experience in the United States.”64 Once more, the choice between unity and autonomy haunted renewalists.

The Methodist Church, with its large black membership, epitomized this conundrum. Its leadership rejected both the Black Manifesto and the Black Methodists for Church Renewal’s request for a $750,000 do nation to the NBEDC. Behind the scenes, however, the caucus presented itself as a more reasonable steward of black development funds than Forman. Its Ohio chapter, for instance, petitioned Methodist leadership to consider reparations in a denominational context. Rather than invest in an “outside group,” the denomination should focus on strengthening black Methodism. Its support for the “inner city,” having concentrated on transitioning churches, should more properly focus on established (p.183) African American congregations.65 The president of the caucus, the Methodist minister and civil rights leader James Lawson, agreed. “We see no need of an emergency proliferation of program agencies emerging in order to address the critical needs of our time,” he observed. Rather, caucuses should be “freed” to expand existing programs with denominational funds. All the new agencies, he complained, had blunted the impact of urban ministries on black congregations.66 At the next Methodist convention, black delegates tried to wring more funds for black causes while insisting on their independence from Forman. One told the audience not to take the manifesto’s rhetoric literally. “It is a shock technique,” he explained. “What the black people are pleading for is a new church that will give them space to breathe.” The caucus then requested $2 million for its own use, and that 70 percent of the Fund for Reconciliation budget go to black organizations and congregations. The convention, however, granted the caucus just $60,000, a sum several white delegates nonetheless characterized as excessive for an “unofficial independent group” and a capitulation to Forman. The caucus subsequently acquired community development money from the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, but only after the manifesto controversy had faded did the denomination strengthen its funding commitment.67

The contest for money left IFCO in a precarious position. For many renewalists, the organization served primarily to launder denominational contributions to community organizations, thereby shielding church leaders from charges of funding extremist groups. But the Black Manifesto had pulled back the curtain on this arrangement. IFCO’s president, Rabbi Marc Tannenbaum of the American Jewish Congress, dismissed the manifesto as a “Marxist-Leninist” document, even as he called for religious groups to address its charges. IFCO director Lucius Walker endorsed the manifesto, but tried to place IFCO in a mediating role, agitating for funds but balancing church and community concerns. To do so, he explained that it, not the denominations, had funded the NBEDC and other controversial groups. And he promised that IFCO would not transfer any money to the NBEDC without the donor’s authorization.68

Manifesto supporters held little hope that this strategy would bear out. Forman groused that the churches would “bypass” IFCO and “handpick the few little n———s” from their own ranks to distribute money. Aspersions aside, his prediction came to pass, as many denominations blacklisted the NBEDC and insisted on final approval of grant allocations. The New York Times quoted one unnamed black church (p.184) official trying to reassure his leadership: “When this money comes, it’s not going to Forman. It’s going to the black community.”69

Gradually, IFCO realized that it could no longer straddle these interests, and began to move, rhetorically and otherwise, toward the black power camp. Tannenbaum, upset at the staff’s refusal to take a “clear stand” on the manifesto, resigned, taking the American Jewish Congress with him. His replacement, Earl Allen, signaled the organization’s new trajectory. After a Presbyterian group pulled out of IFCO—participation was causing too much “misunderstanding and unrest” among its members, it claimed—Walker labelled the rebuke a “subtle if unintended honor.… So long as churchmen are party to the perpetuation of racism, IFCO will be an embarrassment to them.”70 Mainliners, he alleged, preferred to work with the more malleable Joint Strategy and Action Committee. “Every institution the church creates can be a decoy,” Walker observed. “The church is a vicious, racist animal—that is its nature.” He resolved not to moderate his demands. “Churches have gotten a hell of a lot of mileage out of IFCO, pretending they are doing something. A $1.5 million response to the urban crisis is like a drop in the bucket.”71 Needling his counterpart, Walker suggested that JSAC ask itself “whether or not its style and structure will develop in an ingrown, self-serving direction, or whether it can become a viable agency in which black urban leadership can play an increasingly important role.” But as his statement insinuated, IFCO was struggling in the scrum for church resources. Eighteen months after the manifesto, depleted reserves forced a temporary suspension in its awarding grants. Walker blamed competition from the caucuses and denominations’ preference to oversee grants themselves for this trouble. When it resumed its grant-making, IFCO directed a significant portion of the awards to programs serving Latinos and Native Americans, which tended to generate less controversy within the church than programs for African Americans.72

The Black Manifesto’s ultimate impact on church contributions to African American community organizations fell miles short of Forman’s goal. Writing two years after its release, Gayraud Wilmore estimated that it had yielded about $4 million in denominational contributions. No black renewalist deemed this figure adequate, and they continued to exhort the church for more funds in tones that sometimes caught their white colleagues off guard. One United Church of Christ board acceded to James Hargett’s insistence on an increased allocation for black church development but, according to the meeting minutes, was “concerned about the way the requests were made.”73 It remained (p.185) unclear how much the church would bend to these demands, and for how long.

Black Power in the Renewal Ministries

While controversy swirled around the Black Manifesto, renewalists were engaging with black power in equally contentious ways at the local level. Those black (and a few white) clergy deploying that ideology encountered opposition in an increasingly recalcitrant church bureaucracy and a contentious urban political environment. Take, for instance, the Methodist Inner City Parish in Kansas City, Missouri, a cooperative parish formed in the mid-1960s from three fading congregations housed in “white elephant” buildings. Its team ministry opened storefronts targeting a “less formal congregation than the norm—the homeless, prostitutes, African American youth and those struggling with alcoholism.” Initially, the parish relied on white suburban volunteers and emphasized practical aid to residents. When a black minister named Phil Lawson took over, however, its political activities expanded. At least one staff member received training from the Industrial Areas Foundation, and the parish partnered with the local Black Panther chapter to operate a breakfast program. Lawson clashed with the local Methodist leadership; in 1970, it fired him after he delivered a radio address urging black soldiers in Vietnam to disobey “racist white officers.” Shortly thereafter, the regional Methodist conference cut off funding to the parish. A defiant Lawson described the move as a blessing, because now it was no longer beholden to whites.74

Black power and other ethnic nationalisms often figured in the clergy’s work with youth, where renewalists were accustomed to working with independent-minded people. Outside the mainline, James Groppi, a Roman Catholic priest, sponsored a strong black youth group in Milwaukee. Various mainline renewal ministries targeting young people had sometimes worked directly with gangs. In the early postwar years, gangs had yet to engage in the extreme violence that engulfed later generations, but moral reformers still associated them with an “epidemic” of juvenile delinquency.75 Kilmer Myers, the first director of the Urban Training Center, built his renewalist reputation working with gangs at a church on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. He opened the facilities for their use and, having established trust, tried to bring them into the congregation. Myers viewed the church-gang relationship as symbiotic: young residents gained a spiritual home and material benefits, (p.186) and the church gained a point of interface with young people. The East Harlem Protestant Parish started a youth group after a local gang requested use of its facilities. Myers and other renewalists believed that sharing resources with urban youth could offer a basis for alliance even among those suspicious of church groups. George Younger, pastor of Mariner’s Temple Baptist Church on the Lower East Side, suggested that “if we can offer something tangible—a room to meet in, an adult who is interested in them, a little help, a little love—we may find that these speak more eloquently than all our words.”76

This approach underscored the common renewalist belief that gangs resembled other community organizations, prone to degeneracy but representing a valid social impulse. Some likened the social rebellion in gang membership to early Christian communities; one renewalist concluded that “ganging is normal and necessary and right in its essential features.” Ministries to gangs tried to direct their energies toward productive enterprises, so they were quite ready to endorse the escalating activism of 1960s-era youth groups. Student protests against school policies could be understood to parallel renewalists’ conflict with the church. When boycotts occurred, churches often possessed the only suitable neighborhood facilities for meetings. Many congregations, from Riverside Church to the Methodist Inner City Parish, opened their doors for “freedom schools” and other gatherings of African American youth.77

But these outreach programs could buckle under the same social divisions that undermined other kinds of ministry. The growing propensity of some street gangs toward violence made strategies like Myers’s more difficult. In San Francisco, for instance, a street minister at a century-old Chinatown settlement persuaded a local gang to join a church program, prompting an exodus of other participants who no longer felt safe on the grounds. At the same time, newly created youth groups in the 1960s blended elements of street gangs and community organizations. In several cases, these groups occupied churches that had rebuffed demands to open their facilities for community activities. The most publicized of these incidents took place in East Harlem, where the Young Lords, a Puerto Rican youth group, seized the First Spanish Methodist Church. The ensuing standoff lasted more than a year.78

Various renewalists sympathized with ethnic nationalist–oriented youth organizations. A National Council of Churches committee, for instance, considered including the Black Panthers and the Mexican American Youth Organization in a proposed program on urban crime as “representative of the people with whom our society is most likely (p.187) to become impatient and against whom our society is most likely to become repressive.” On occasion, renewalists supported these groups in ways that pushed the envelope of ministerial activity. The Presbyterian minister John Fry developed a controversial relationship with a politically active Chicago gang, the Blackstone Rangers. Fry had interned at the East Harlem Protestant Parish, but the Rangers were more sophisticated than the gangs he had encountered there. Rangers had collaborated with the local IAF and government poverty programs while still warring with nearby gangs. Fry offered his church for the gang’s use, hoping that moral suasion might alter its activities. In 1966, police arrested him for storing guns at the church, disputing Fry’s claim that the cache was the result of a police-organized gang truce.79

Not all renewalists supported these groups. Don Benedict distrusted the Blackstone Rangers, whom he believed tried to take over the community organizations they partnered with. To protect the Community Renewal Society, he relied on Reuben Sheares, one of the few clergy to maintain the Rangers’ respect. Sheares kept the Rangers from stacking too many members on an organization’s payroll and expelled those who failed to honor their work agreements. He demonstrated how some black renewalists tried to reconcile their ecclesiological principles and middle-class backgrounds with black power. Recognizing the complex consequences of activism, he took to repeating what he called a “Black power saying,” that “every time poor people demonstrate, some college educated Negro gets a job.” The adage invoked not only the oftremarked preference of liberal whites for African Americans most like them but also the anxiety of African American renewalists who wanted to bridge the class divide in the black community without leaving the mainline. For Sheares, Christian theology precluded a final break between the races, and he refused to privilege groups like the Blackstone Rangers over the church. Like James Cone, he framed black liberation theology in inclusive terms, concluding that the church’s agenda should be “not the ghetto’s, but the Gospel’s.”80

For this reason, most African American renewalists, despite their manifold disappointment in the church, stayed in the mainline. One notable exception was Albert Cleage. In 1967, he had renamed Detroit’s Central Congregational Church the Shrine of the Black Madonna, but he continued to participate in mainline-oriented church organizations, joining the board of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, and, in 1969, allowing himself to be nominated for the presidency of the National Council of Churches. Finally, in 1972, he left the United Church of Christ to form a new denomination, eventually (p.188) named the Pan African Orthodox Christian Church, and changed his name to Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman.81 But no mass exodus of black renewalists followed his defection.

The challenges facing black renewalists thus mirrored those of their white counterparts, a condition exacerbated by the overgrowth of ministries, agencies, and organizations during the high point of the renewal movement in the late 1960s. Even as influences like black power pushed the church to recognize its diversity, renewalists tried to restore a cohesive role for the church in modern urban society. The tensions threatened to unravel the renewal movement just as it was reaching its peak.


(1.) “Churches Unite to Serve Blacks,” KCS, October 3, 1970; “Integration Works at City Church,” KCS, August 24, 1974; “Tent City for the Urban Poor,” KCT, June 28, 1972; Emanuel Cleaver, interview by Carol Mickett, June 20, 2002, Kansas City, Western Historical Manuscripts Collection, University of Missouri–Kansas City.

(2.) Peniel Joseph, Waiting’til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America (New York: Holt, 2007); Peniel Joseph, ed., The Black Power Movement: Rethinking the Civil Rights–Black Power Era (New York: Routledge, 2006).

(3.) Gilbert Caldwell, “Black Folk in White Churches,” CC, February 12, 1969, 209–11.

(4.) Gayraud S. Wilmore, Black Religion and Black Radicalism (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1972), 222–26; Vincent Harding, “Black Power and the American Christ,” CC, January 4, 1967, 10–11.

(5.) Kerry Pimblott, Faith in Black Power: Religion, Race, and Resistance in Cairo, Illinois (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2017).

(6.) Hiley H. Ward, Prophet of the Black Nation (Philadelphia: Pilgrim Press, 1969), 53; Angela Dillard, Faith in the City: Preaching Radical Social Change in Detroit (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007), 243–45.

(7.) “Al Cleage on Black Power,” UCH, February 1968, 27.

(8.) Judy Cowger, Karl Ostrom, and Bruce Christie, “St. James Methodist Church Survey,” 1963, box 42, folder 1, SKP; Grace Ann Goodman, “Grace Presbyterian Church, Chicago,” Fall 1965, box 12, folder 68, OSSR; James H. Hargett, “Those in the Process of Becoming,” Fellowship News (p.320) 3, no. 7 (n.d.), box 3, JHP; Archie Hargraves, Stop Pussyfooting through a Revolution (New York: United Church of Christ, 1963), 4–6; Everett Parker, “Congregational Inner City Project,” CC, May 20, 1959, 628–29; “Brooklyn Selected for Social Work Pilot Project,” UCH, June 4, 1959, 14.

(9.) Janette Harrington, “New Days, New Ways,” PL, March 15, 1963, “Bang” quotation is from p. 12; Grace Ann Goodman, Rocking the Ark: Nine Case Studies of Traditional Churches in the Process of Change (New York: United Presbyterian Church, 1968), 81; David Burgess, “My Life Journey,” 1994, “I found” quotation is from p. 403, box 1, folder 10, DBP; Henry Mitchell, “Negro Worship and Universal Need,” CC, March 30, 1966, 396–97; Henry Mitchell, “Toward the ‘New’ Integration,” CC, June 12, 1968, 780–82; S. Garry Oniki, “Interracial Churches in American Protestantism,” SA, January 15, 1950, 21; John Halko, “Methodism’s Mission to Growing Communities,” 1951, 7, #1114, HPDC.

(10.) Grace Ann Goodman, “Presbyterian Church of the Master, Atlanta, Georgia: An Interracial Church Development, 1964–67,” April 1967, box 12, folder 60, OSSR; “A Year’s Close-up of the City,” PL, June 1, 1963, 26–27; Bernard Ikeler, “The Bowens of the Inner City,” PL, September 1, 1963, 10–13; John Ferguson, “South Shore United Methodist: Study in Rapid Racial Change,” in Developing a Theology for Metropolitan Ministry, ICUIS Occasional Paper #7, November 1976, 25–27.

(11.) Richard Gilbert, “Church with Many Rooms,” PL, January 1, 1960, 5–7, 36; Marguerite Hofer, “Beyond the Power of Law,” CiCh, November–December 1964, 15–16; Richard Henry Luecke, Perchings: Reflections on Society and Ministry (Chicago: Urban Training Center; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1972), 23; Mitchell, “Toward the ‘New’ Integration,” 780–82.

(12.) Minutes, Joint Committee on Urban Church, September 28, 1959, box 32, folder 7, HMEP; Report “To the Advisory Committee on Urban Church Work,” October 21, 1958, box 32, folder 7, HMEP; “Plymouth Congregational Church: Self-Study Subcommittee on the Parish of the Church” [1970?], box 26, folder 47, NHP.

(13.) Hood quoted in “Team Ministry Succeeds,” Detroit News, n.d., reprinted in Margaret McCall, “The History of Plymouth Congregational Church, 1919–1969,” box 26, folder 19, NHP; Nicholas Hood, “Building the Proper Foundation,” May 8, 1966, box 26, folder 33, NHP; Nicholas Hood, “What Is the Church?,” [n.d.], box 26, folder 33, NHP; Joseph Mills, “The Role of Plymouth UCC in Constructing Housing in Urban Renewal,” December 2, 1973, box 27, folder 19, NHP.

(14.) McCall, “History of Plymouth Congregational Church”; Hood, “What Is the Church?”; Nicholas Hood, “The Sponsor and Its Goals,” SA, October 1967, 8–11; Hood quoted in “Minister Says He Will Quit,” Detroit Free Press, n.d., clipping in box 30, folder 7, NHP.

(15.) “San Francisco Methodism Proposals,” October 1, 1959, 5, #1169, HPDC; Carol Muller, “Engaging the City—with Love,” Together, May 1965, 14–18; (p.321) Lewis Durham, “Glide Foundation for 1962 through 1967” (San Francisco: Glide Urban Center, 1967); Martin Meeker, “The Queerly Disadvantaged and the Making of San Francisco’s War on Poverty, 1964–1967,” Pacific Historical Review 81 (February 2012): 21–59; Josh Sides, Erotic City: Sexual Revolutions and the Making of Modern San Francisco (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 99.

(16.) “A Bridge to the Non-Church,” Time, October 20, 1967, 100; Rudiger Reitz, The Church in Experiment (Nashville: Abingdon, 1969), 67–71, 104; James Wolfe, “Three Congregations,” in The New Religious Consciousness, ed. Charles Y. Glock and Robert N. Bellah (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976), 227–44; Tim Reiterman, Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People (New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2008), “celebrations” quotation is from p. 265; Cecil Williams with Rebecca Laird, No Hiding Place: Empowerment and Recovery for Our Troubled Communities (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1992), 1–2.

(17.) George W. Webber, God’s Colony in Man’s World (New York: Abingdon, 1960); Donald Benedict, interview by Arthur Bradley, July 8, 1989, 88–92, NLBL, http://www.idaillinois.org/cdm/ref/collection/uis/id/1000 (accessed May 3, 2018); “The Reverend Norman Eddy, a Minister in East Harlem, Dies at 93,” NYT, June 30, 2013; Benjamin Alicea, “Christian Urban Colonizers: A History of the East Harlem Protestant Parish in New York City, 1948–1968” (PhD diss., Union Theological Seminary, 1989); Raymond Rivera, Liberty to the Captives: Our Call to Minister in a Captive World (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2012), 85–86.

(18.) Robert G, Hoyt, “Arson in Kansas City,” Focus/Midwest, June 1962, 11, in box 175, folder “Commission on Human Relations, 1962,” IDP; “Racial Housing Strife Viewed,” KCT, April 5, 1962; Kevin Fox Gotham, Race, Real Estate, and Uneven Development: The Kansas City Experience, 1900–2000 (Albany: State University Press of New York, 2002), 66–67.

(19.) John Fry, “Add Hope to Challenge,” PL, October 1, 1961, 8–15; P. Boyd Mather, “Methodists and Renewal,” CC, June 17, 1964, 791–92; James Laird, “Why We Must Have Church Renewal,” Together, September 1965, 14–16; Peter C. Murray, Methodists and the Crucible of Race, 1930–1975 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2004); Gardiner H. Shattuck Jr., Episcopalians and Race: From Civil War to Civil Rights (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2003).

(20.) Joseph Merchant, “The Coming New Church,” UCH, January 15, 1964, 9; minutes, Detroit Council of Churches, Department of Church Extension, May 7, 1964, box 10, folder 10, MDCC; Wilson Record, “Minority Groups and Intergroup Relations in the San Francisco Bay Area” (Berkeley, Calif: Institute of Government Studies, 1963), “paradoxical” quotation is from p. 37.

(21.) Michael B. Friedland, Lift Up Your Voice like a Trumpet: White Clergy and the Civil Rights and Antiwar Movements, 1954–1973 (Chapel Hill: University of (p.322) North Carolina Press, 1998), 5; Gibson Winter, “A Theology of Demonstration,” CC, October 13, 1965, 1249–52; Donald Benedict, “The Roof Will Fall In,” UCH, January 1, 1965, 16–17; Robert Spike, The Freedom Revolution and the Churches (New York: Association Press, 1965), 69–83; Reinhold Niebuhr, “The Crisis in American Protestantism,” CC, December 4, 1963, 1498; Joseph C. Hough Jr., Black Power and White Protestants (New York: Oxford, 1968), 130–36, 170–96.

(22.) William Stringfellow, Dissenter in the Great Society: A Christian View of America in Crisis (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966), 141; William Stringfellow, “Harlem, Rebellion, and Resurrection,” CC, November 11, 1970, 1345–48.

(23.) “Isolate” quotation is from Roger Shinn to Edwin Espy, December 2, 1968, RG 5, box 16, folder 15, NCC; Reuben A. Sheares II, “A Look at the Community Renewal Society from a Perspective of the Issue of Race,” June 13, 1973, 33, box 2, folder 5, RSP.

(24.) Jesse Jackson, “Black Power and White Churches,” CIM, Spring 1968, 7–9; Nathan Wright Jr., “The Colonial Mind and the Urban Condition,” CIM, Spring 1967, 19–23; Sherman Roddy, “The Black Manifesto—A Reappraisal,” C&S, May/June 1970, “source” and “smothering” quotations are from p. 50; Michael Stone, “Chicago’s Black Churchmen,” CC, May 6, 1970, 578; Jefferson Rogers, “The Church in Crisis,” C&S, May/June 1970, 24–28; Hannibal Williams [interview by Austin Scott], n.d., Austin Scott file, box 13, series 57 (San Francisco), NCCPV; Benjamin E. Mays, “The Churches Will Follow,” CC, April 22, 1964, 513–14.

(25.) Quotation is from Report of President, UTC Annual Meeting, May 26, 1966, box 147, folder UTC 1965–6 Board of Dir. Correspondence, CFGC; [Two Bridges Cooperative Parish], “Priority 2: Ministry to Extreme Poverty,” [1965], box 29, folder 13, CCNY; Erik S. Gellman, “Black Freedom Struggles and Ecumenical Activism in 1960s Chicago, in The Pew and the Picket Line: Christianity and the American Working Class, ed. Christopher D. Cantwell, Heath W. Carter, and Janine Giordano Drake (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2016), 222–25.

(26.) “Development of Black Theology Aim of Group,” LAT, October 26, 1968.

(27.) “Black Power Drive Brings Change to Churches,” NYT, April 3, 1969. Albert Cleage reinterpreted Jesus as a black nationalist in The Black Messiah (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1968).

(28.) “Dr. James Cone, Professor of Theology (No Date),” The Church Awakens: African Americans and the Struggle for Justice, https://episcopalarchives.org/church-awakens/items/show/315 (accessed May 7, 2018); James Cone, “Dialogue on Black Theology,” CC, September 15, 1971, 1080; James Cone, Black Theology and Black Power (New York: Seabury Press, 1969).

(29.) Quotation is from John McDowell, “Implications for Strategy of a Declaration of Black Churchmen and a Declaration of White Churchmen on the Church and the Urban Crisis,” October 4, 1967, RG 6, box 8, folder 5, (p.323) NCC; “A Declaration of Black Churchmen,” September 27–30, 1967, box 37, folder 586, ICUIS; Vic Jameson, “Urban Meeting Reflects Present Day Tensions,” PL, November 1, 1967, 27; “ A Fresh Look at Black America,” CC, October 25, 1967, 1340–41.

(30.) Wilmore, Black Religion, 270–2; Gayraud Wilmore, “Identity and Integration: Black Presbyterians and Their Allies in the Twentieth Century,” in The Presbyterian Predicament, ed. Milton J. Coalter, John M. Mulder, and Louis B. Weeks (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1990), 109–33; “What Is UBCL?,” Episcopalian, October 1969, 20; J. Martin Bailey, “Black Clergy Challenge the United Church,” UCH, February 1968, 23; Charles Earl Cobb, “Now More Than Ever: The Church Is Challenged,” SA, December 1966, 12–27.

(31.) Woodie White, ed., Our Time under God Is Now: Reflections on Black Methodists for Church Renewal (Nashville: Abingdon, 1993), 9; Grant S. Shockley, “A Division That Unites: Pride and Perseverance, 1940–1968,” in Heritage and Hope: The African American Experience in United Methodism, ed. Grant S. Shockley (Nashville: Abingdon, 1991), 117–172.

(32.) Quotation is from “From 1965 to the Present: A Statement from a Special Meeting of Black Delegates and Ministers to 6th Annual Meeting of the Southern Conference,” [1971], box 4, folder 3, JHP; James Lawson Jr., “The Early Years,” in White, Our Time Our Time under God Is Now, 16–21; Margaret Frakes, “Methodism in Pittsburgh,” CC, May 20, 1964, 662–64; Murray, Methodists, 201–2.

(33.) Leon Watts, “A Modern Black Looks at His Outdated Church,” Renewal, December 1967, 3–6; Cain Felder, “The Significance of the Black Caucus within the Church,” September 29, 1970, 5, 1439–2-3:05, HREA; “The Commission on Religion and Race: An Engage Interview,” engage, February 15, 1969, White quoted on p. 15.

(34.) “Objectives, Program Priorities, Accomplishments and Procedures for Reporting,” Commission for Racial Justice, [ca. 1970], box 25, folder 1, HMEP.

(35.) “Program,” United Black Churchmen, November 5–8, 1970, box 25, folder 1, HMEP; minutes, Special Committee of Ministers for Racial and Social Justice, March 7–8, 1971, box 25, folder 3, HMEP; Tony Stanley, “Detroit Consultation on the Black Church in the City,” October 30, 1978, quotation is from p. 2, box 25, folder 10, NHP; Nicholas Hood to Bob Burt, April 11, 1979, and July 18, 1979, box 25, folder 10, NHP; Al Cleage, “Memo to UCC Ministers for Racial and Social Justice,” March 8, 1971, box 25, folder 4, HMEP.

(36.) Mary Sawyer, “Black Ecumenism: Cooperative Social Change Movements in the Black Church” (PhD diss., Duke University, 1986), 152; Wilmore, Black Religion, 274; “Registration List, 3rd Annual Convocation, Oakland California” [1969], 1439–2-2:21, HREA; Wright, “Colonial Mind,” 19.

(37.) Quotation is from “Negro Clergymen form National Unit to Work in Ghettoes,” NYT, November 4, 1967; press release, National Committee of (p.324) Negro Churchmen, October 27, 1967, box 37, folder 586, ICUIS; “Statement of the National Committee of Negro Churchmen on the Urban Mission in a Time of Crisis,” [April 1968], 1439–2-2:21, HREA; Leon Watts II, “The National Committee of Black Churchmen,” C&C, November 2 and 16, 1970, slogan quoted on p. 239.

(38.) Sawyer, “Black Ecumenism,” quotation is from p.165; “Black Power Drive Brings Change to Churches”; Grant Shockley, “Ultimatum and Hope,” CC, February 12, 1969, 218; “Black Churchmen Seek Council Offices,” NYT, November 15, 1969.

(39.) Hargett quoted in minutes, National Committee of Black Churchmen, April 9, 1970, box 6, folder 20, JHP; C. T. Vivian, “Report to the Board,” [1968], box 4, folder “General Correspondence—1968,” MPPD; Sawyer, “Black Ecumenism,” 170–71; Vincent Harding, “No Turning Back,” Renewal, October–November 1970, quoted in Wilmore, Black Religion, 273.

(40.) Watts, “A Modern Black,” 4; Michael Murray, “White Churches and Black Power,” CIM, Spring 1968, 1–3; “East Harlem” quotation is from Robert Nichol, “A Farewell Sermon,” 1967, clipping in box 5, “GM Personnel” folder, EHPP.

(41.) Rev. Burgos and Reuben Cruz to James Morton, September 9, 1968, box 50, folder 754, ICUIS; William Ellis, White Ethics and Black Power: The Emergence of the West Side Organization (Chicago: Aldine, 1969), 86; minutes, WSCP, February 21, 1966, box 1, folder 1, WSCP; Donald Benedict, interview by Arthur Bradley, July 8, 1989, 120–28, NLBL, http://www.idaillinois.org/cdm/ref/collection/uis/id/1000 (accessed May 3, 2018).

(42.) W. Evan Golder, “Oakland Parish Two Years Later,” CC, December 11, 1968, quotation is from p. 84; “Report of the Activities of the Council of Churches’ Emergency Communications Center,” n.d., box 1, folder 2, series 56 (Cleveland), NCCPV.

(43.) For a summary of these programs and their funding levels, see “Protestant Churches Divided on Their Urban Crisis Programs,” NYT, May 18, 1969; Gary Chamberlain, “Has ‘Benign Neglect’ Invaded the Churches?,” CC, April 24, 1971, 448–51.

(44.) J. Claude Evans, “United Methodist Action,” CC, May 22, 1968, 673–74; Thomas Kilgore, interview by Robin D. G. Kelley, various dates, 1986–87, 105–6, http://content.cdlib.org/view?docId=hb9h4nb9dd&brand=calisphere&doc.view=entiretext (accessed May 7, 2018); “Protestant Churches Divided,” 80; “Churches Move Ahead on Urban Crisis Plans,” PL, December 1, 1967, 27; Chamberlain, “‘Benign Neglect.’”

(45.) John Hines, “Poverty Power and Passing Grace,” Episcopalian, October 1967, 8; Jeannie Willis, “We Move into the Urban Crisis,” Episcopalian, November 1967, 11–15.

(46.) “Leon Modeste, Director of General Convention Special Program (July 19, 1968),” The Church Awakens: African Americans and the Struggle for Justice, https://episcopalarchives.org/church-awakens/items/show/325 (accessed (p.325) May 7, 2018); Judy Mathe Foley, “Modeste in Action,” Episcopalian, November 1969, 24; Cornish Rogers, “Episcopalian Convention: Thou Shalt Not Polarize,” CC, October 24, 1973, 1046. For an excellent study of the controversy, see Gardiner H. Shattuck Jr., “Contending from the Walls of Sion: The General Convention Special Program and the Crisis in American Society,” Anglican and Episcopal History 67 (December 1999): 507–38.

(47.) Modeste, interview; “Protestant Churches Divided,” 80.

(48.) “Three Churches to Pool Work in Urban Areas,” PL, November 15, 1966, 26–27. Norman E. Dewire, “JSAC: A Pioneer in Functional Unity,” JG, November 1986; “Religious Groups Join to Help Poor,” NYT, May 11, 1967.

(49.) Grace Ann Goodman, “Organization of Organizations (Triple O), Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1965–1967,” April 1967, box 12, folder 94, OSSR; quotation is from “IFCO Can Do Job White Groups Can’t,” IFCO News, May–June 1970; “IFCO Annual Corporation Meeting,” June 11, 1969, box 1, folder 1, IFCO; Board of Directors minutes, March 10, 1970, box 1, folder 2, IFCO; IFCO, “Criteria for Funding Community Organizations,” June 13, 1967, box 1, folder 32, OCR. IFCO reported that it funded 106 projects in its first three years. “$2.5 Million Given to 106 Projects in Three Years,” IFCO News, September–October 1970.

(50.) Ned Dewire, interview by the author, January 27, 2012; “JSAC Report,” 1973–74, box 36, folder 565, ICUIS; Stanley Hallett, “Church Union and Urban Mission,” CC, February 25, 1970, 238–39; “What in the World… JSAC?,” JG, July 1970; “Once Again: What Is the JSAC Style?,” JG, January 1971; John C. DeBoer, “JSAC Emerges during the Urban Crisis,” JG, November 1986; Norman E. Dewire, “Whither the Ecumenical Movement?,” JG, June 1975.

(51.) Kay Longcope, “Don’t Burn, Baby, Let’s Build!,” UCH, February 1969, 18–21; Kay Longcope, “Hope in Houston,” Episcopalian, February 1969, 27–30; “Summary of Activities of HOPE Development, Inc., from August to December of 1967,” box 26, folder 41, GCSP; “HOPE’s Fund Raising Campaign,” November 13, 1967, VF-H.

(52.) Longcope, “Hope in Houston,” 29. Kay Longcope, “Don’t Burn, Baby, Let’s Build!,” UCH, February 1969, 18–21; untitled clippings, HC, August 16, 1967, August 18, 1967, and October 22, 1967, VF-H, quotation is from August 18 clipping.

(53.) “Now It’s Welfare Lib,” NYT, September 27, 1970; Irwin Unger, The Best of Intentions: The Triumphs and Failures of the Great Society under Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon (New York: Doubleday, 1996), 258; “Brotherhood Crusade Gets $105,000 Grant,” LAT, July 19, 1969; Culbert Rutenber, “American Baptists Respond to Black Power Challenge,” CC, July 3, 1968, 878.

(54.) “IFCO Sagging—Church Quick to Pledge, Slow to Give Money,” Approach (newsletter-journal), July 1, 1968, in box 29, folder 24, IFCO; Alfred T.K. Zady to Charles Boynton, March 13, 1969, box 3, folder 2, IFCO; Lucius Walker, “Notes: GCSP Warfare against IFCO,” n.d., box 3, folder 7, IFCO; (p.326) Ernest Boynton, “Christianity’s Black Power,” CIM, Winter 1968, Karenga quoted on p.22.

(55.) Untitled clipping, Approach, June 24, 1968, box 1, folder 32, OCR; Saul Alinsky to Lucius Walker, July 7, 1968, box 1, folder 32, OCR; John Egan to Saul Alinsky, June 8, 1968, box 47, folder 658, IAF; Lucius Walker to Trevor Austin Hay, July 16, 1968, and Lucius Walker to Edwin Smith, July 15, 1968, box 3, folder 2, IFCO; Lucius Walker to Alex Poinsett, July 24, 1968, box 29, folder 24, IFCO; David Finks, The Radical Vision of Saul Alinsky (New York: Paulist Press, 1984), 235–36.

(56.) Charles Cornell, “Black Reparations and the Churches,” Together, September 1969, 40–43; Henry J. Pratt, The Liberalization of American Protestantism (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1972), 193–202. In addition to these and citations below, my account of the manifesto draws from James F. Findlay, Church People in the Struggle: The National Council of Churches and the Black Freedom Movement, 1950–1970 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 199–236.

(57.) “Manifesto to the White Christian Churches and the Jewish Synagogues in the United State of America and All Other Racist Institutions,” April 26, 1969, RG 5, box 13, folder 17, NCC.

(58.) “Demands Disrupt Easter Service,” KCS, March 30, 1970; Wilmore, Black Religion, 281; William Maness, “An Old Question in a New Package,” engage, June 1, 1969, “too conservative” quotation is from p.7; “Did We Endorse the Black Manifesto?,” CC, July 2, 1969, 894.

(59.) “Church in ‘Village’ to Present $1500 to Forman Project,” NYT, July 5, 1969; James Hargett, “The Mustard Seed of Manumission,” 1969, box 6, folder 1, JHP; “Churches Respond to NBEDC,” CIM, Summer 1969, 38–39; Stephen C. Rose, “Reparation Now!,” Renewal, June 1969, 14–15; “Mariners’ Church Protests Manifesto, Withholds Funds,” Detroit News, October 3, 1969, clipping in box 17, folder “Mariners’ Church,” EDM.

(60.) Sherman Roddy, “The Black Manifesto—A Reappraisal,” C&S, May/June 1970, 49; National Committee of Black Churchmen, “Black Theology,” June 13, 1969, 1439–2-2:21, HREA; Bennie Whiten Jr., “Reparations and the Contribution of the Church,” SA, February 1970, 18–26; Charles Willie, “The Black Manifesto: Prophetic or Preposterous? Episcopalian, September 1969, 22–23, 44; NAACP quoted in “NAACP’s Chairman Assails Black Demand for Reparations,” NYT, July 1, 1969; “$2.5 Million Given.”

(61.) “Usurpation” quotation is from James Quick, address, June 18, 1969, box 10, folder “Black Economic Development Conference,” PD; “defection” quotation is from Charles Cobb, “Proposed Statement,” [1969], box 25, folder 3, HMEP; Wilmore, Black Religion, 235.

(62.) Hines quoted in David Owen, “A Tale of Two Conferences: Part 2,” Renewal, June 1969, 20–21; Michael Stone, “Round-Up: The Year of the Black Manifesto,” CC, February 11, 1970, 185–88; Episcopal Clergy, Diocese of Michigan, “A Response to the Manifesto,” June 13, 1969, 1440–4-3:01, (p.327) GWBCS; John Booty, Episcopal Church in Crisis (Cambridge, MA: Cowley, 1988), 61; “Episcopalians Hold Special Convention,” CC, October 1, 1969, 1262–64; “Forman Stirs Church Power Struggle,” NYT, July 27, 1969.

(63.) Cobb, “Proposed Statement”; “Black Churchmen Achieve Recognition” UCH, August 1969, 12–13; Donald L. Benedict, “A Tale of Two Conferences: Part 1,” Renewal, June 1969, 19; “Catholics Reject Forman Demands,” NYT, May 22, 1969; Stone, “Round-Up”; JG, September 1969; Robert Moreland to pastors and clerks of Session, June 26, 1969, box 10, folder “Black Economic Development Conference,” PD.

(64.) J. Metz Rollins, memo, April 16, 1970, 1439–2-2:21, HREA; National Committee of Black Clergymen, “Renewal of Church and Community,” 1439–2-2:21, HREA; Wilmore, Black Religion, 285.

(65.) BMCR of Ohio West Area, “Manifesto to Our White Brethren and Sisters of the Ohio West Area of the United Methodist Church,” June 10, 1969, 1440–4-5:05, GWBCS.

(66.) Press release, United Methodist Church, May 27, 1969, 1440–4-2:01, GWBCS; “Methodists to Give $1.8 Million in Aid,” NYT, October 29, 1969; quotation is from James Lawson to Lew Stokes, June 18, 1969, 1439–2-2:01, HREA.

(67.) Minutes, Quadrennial Emphasis Committee, July 2–3, 1969, quotations are from p. 6, 1477–3-5:08, GWBCS; Cain Felder, “Report of Executive Director,” BCMR, November 9–11, 1969, box 45, folder 3, IFCO; JG, August 1969; DePriest Whye, “Report to the Executive Committee on Coordination of Quadrennial Emphasis,” [1972], 1477–3-5:11, GWBCS; Lucius Walker to Cain Felder et al. [1969], box 45, folder 3, IFCO; “Mishmash and Renewal: The Methodists in St. Louis,” CC, May 6, 1970, 556.

(68.) Marc Tannenbaum, “Proposed Statement to Be Issued by Member Groups of IFCO,” May 5, 1969, NCC; Religious News Service, May 12, 1969, RG 5, box 13, folder 17, NCC; William Thompson, memo, February 20, 1970, box 62, folder 1026, ICUIS; “Methodist Grant Can’t Go to BEDC,” IFCO News, November–December 1969; Lee Ranck, “We Too Are Somebody!,” engage, May 1, 1970, 7.

(69.) “Forman Expresses Confidence about Drive on Churches,” LAT, May 20, 1969; “Presbyterians Seek Millions for Poor,” NYT, May 21, 1969.

(70.) Quotations are from “One Presbyterian Board ‘Didn’t Cop Out,’ IFCO Director Says,” IFCO News, May–June 1970.

(71.) Walker quoted in “Controversial Group Would Handle Church ‘Reparation,’” LAT, May 19, 1969; “World Parish,” LAT, July 20, 1969; “Interreligious Unit Elects Negro Head,” NYT, June 13, 1969.

(72.) Lucius Walker, “Mass-Based Organization: A Style for Christian Mission,” CIM, Summer 1968, 21; “Church Agency for Minority Aid Suspends Grants as Gifts Lag,” NYT, December 12, 1970; Ranck, “We Too Are Somebody!,” 7.

(73.) Gayraud Wilmore, “The Black Manifesto Revisited,” CC, April 14, 1971, (p.328) 874; “Religious Agencies and the Urban Crisis,” CC, February 12, 1969, 223–35; quotation is from minutes, Executive Committee, Council for Church and Ministry, April 20, 1970, box 4, folder 2, JHP.

(74.) “Less formal” quotation is from “Services Today for Civil Rights Figure,” KCS, October 25, 2002; Carol Doig, “Forging Alternatives to Slum Despair,” Together, May 1966, 50–56; “Bishop Views Panther Fuss,” KCS, March 1, 1970; “East Talks Move Ahead,” KCS, October 16, 1970; “Inner City Parish Still Has Support,” KCS, February 27, 1971; “The Gospel according to Rev. Lawson,” Kansas City Town Squire, January 1971, 66–74; Elliott Corbett, “The Minister and the Black Panthers,” engage, April 1, 1970, 18–20; Allan Brockway, “A New Church Struggle,” engage, December 1–15, 1970, Lawson quoted on p. 8.

(75.) Eric C. Schneider, Vampires, Dragons, and Egyptian Kings: Youth Gangs in Postwar New York (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999); James Gilbert, A Cycle of Outrage: America’s Reaction to the Juvenile Delinquent in the 1950s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988).

(76.) C. Kilmer Myers, Light the Dark Streets (Garden City, NY: Dolphin, 1961 [first published 1957]), 130; Schneider, Vampires, 165; George D. Younger, “Comments on the Church and Its Mission to Youth in the Inner City,” CiCh, November–December 1960, 14.

(77.) Arthur Swift Jr., “Gangs and the Churches,” USQR 11, no. 4 (1956): 45; Schneider, Vampires, 165; Preston Wilcox, “Reflections of a Temporary Black Male Principal,” Renewal, April–May 1967, 16–18; Alvin L. Brooks, “Social Organizations, Social Tensions, Social Change: The Role of Intermediary Groups” (master’s thesis, University of Missouri–Kansas City, 1973), 40–42; “Deny Panther Role at East,” KCS, April 10, 1970.

(78.) Rebecca Larsen, “Chinatown: Churches and Young Dissenters,” CC, December 23, 1970, 1542–45; Dean Kelley, “The Young Lords and the Spanish Congregation,” CC, February 18, 1970, 208; Daniel Wanzer-Serrano, The New York Young Lords and the Struggle for Liberation (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2015), 144–64; Arnoldo de Léon, Ethnicity in the Sunbelt: Mexican Americans in Houston (College Station: Texas A&M Universty Press, 2001), 178–79.

(79.) Robert Chapman to David Hunter, July 22, 1970, RG 6, box 8, folder 4, NCC; John Fry, “We Shall Hang In,” CIM, Fall 1968, 6; John Fry, “A Statement regarding the Relationship of the First Presbyterian Church and the Blackstone Rangers,” Fall 1966, box 2, folder “Programs—Inner City Organizing Committee,” PR; John Hall Fish, Black Power/White Control: The Struggle for the Woodlawn Organization in Chicago (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1973), 130–33; “Minister Replies to Ex-gang Chief,” NYT, June 25, 1968; “Chicago Police Role in Attack on Cleric Reported at Hearing,” NYT, June 29, 1968; “ Blackstone Rangers, Street Gang Investigated by Senate Panel, Demanding Share of Power in Chicago,” NYT, August 3, 1968.

(p.329) (80.) Donald Benedict, interview by Arthur Bradley, July 8, 1989, 108–11, NLBL, http://www.idaillinois.org/cdm/ref/collection/uis/id/1000 (accessed May 25, 2018); quotations are from Reuben A. Sheares, “Staff Report,” October 1966, box 2, folder 4, RSP; Reuben Sheares, “Beyond White Theology,” C&C, November 2 and 16, 1970, 229–35.

(81.) Dillard, Faith, 303–4. Albert Cleage explained his rationale for the move in Black Christian Nationalism (New York: William Morrow, 1972).