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We welcome you to this meeting of the Religious Society of the Riverside Church, and we invite you to bow your heads together as we pray. O God of our fathers and of all the generations of time, thou God in whose love we live and move and have our being. We begin our meeting this night by pausing to remember that thou art God and that we are thy people. Thou hast created us for thy glory and for service in thy kingdom, and therefore do we give thee thanks. We pray, O Lord, for this church, set in the midst of the lives of men with its eyes fixed upon thee. We are grateful for what this church has meant in the lives of men and women in the past. We are grateful for the high tradition of dedicated laymen and staff who have had such a concern
for persons that they could not accept injustice or war or hunger or poverty as the final answers about life. We pause now to remember the costly heritage that has been provided for us at the expense of other men. We pray now for this church, set in a changing time in a revolutionary age. Give us a vision of the needs which we are called upon to serve. It does a vision of our city and our world as it might be. A world of justice where none shall pray on others. A world of plenty where vice and poverty shall cease to fester. A world of peace where orders shall not rest on force but on the love of all for the common good.
Lift our eyes to the crucial needs of the people of this generation. If we cannot be part of the answer for them, O Lord grant that we shall not hinder them in solving their problems. O Lord as we stand at the beginning of this new era for us, we pray that we may be used not according to our notions but according to our capacities. Give us the faith that sets us free even as it binds us closer to thy service. For we bring thee not just our weakness to be comforted but our strength to be used. Guide us into the new days which lie ahead for us in this church. Grant that we may be worthy of what has been given to us and capable to do that which must be done if we are to fulfill our heritage.
We pray in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Mr. Raymond L. Dickinson, the church clerk will serve as clerk and maintain a record of this meeting of the religious society. The notice calling this meeting referred to it as an historic occasion. We might reflect for a moment on the significance of this meeting in the life of our church. When the first service was held in the nave about 38 years ago, Dr. Harry Emerson Phosdick was the minister having been called to the Park Avenue Baptist Church.
As you know he occupied our pulpit until 1946. In that year Dr. Robert J. McCracken was called as preaching minister and he served for over 20 years. We now are in the process of calling a preaching minister for the second time since we moved to this location. As our special guests will participate in our program, I will defer introducing them until later in the evening. I know that you are anxious to hear the report of the pulpit committee. Members of the committee are here in the platform and although you know most of them, I will
ask them to stand as I introduce them. I'll call the names in alphabetical order. I might say that I had hoped that we weren't going to be so separated from each other in this manner but the use of the screen required it. So there are quite a ways over to the left. At any rate going in alphabetical order, over to the right. In alphabetical order Mr. Victor Z. Brink. Mr. Theodore R. Britten. Mr. Donald Brundage was unable to be here because he's out of the city. In fact there are three members of the committee who are not with us. We have 11 of 14 so we thought we did quite well. Mr. Dorothy Bunker.
Mrs. Donald Elliott. Mrs. Flora Ford. Mr. Robert G. Fuller who is out of the city. Mr. James F. Hogue. Dr. Donald Hoskins who is out of the city. Mr. Ernest H. Lorch. Mr. Paul Oyer. And Mr. Ruth Sally. Dr. Able A. Hanson. Chairman of the committee will now report for the committee. Mr. Chairman and fellow members of the Riverside Church. There are certain events which I feel I ought to put in chronological order before I proceed
to the substance up high report. It was a meeting of the religious society of the Riverside Church which was held on May 22nd. It was possible to make the first definitive report of the Pulpit Committee with regard to its current assignment. It was called to attention at that time that in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Riverside Church its structure and organization and by the way I have this document practically memorized was at that time that the Pulpit Committee, after agreeing upon its recommendation, must first report to and receive advice with regard to the apparent terms and conditions of employment from the joint committee of the Deacons and Trustees. Perhaps you will recall also that this step was taken on the evening preceding the strawberry
festival which would have been on the evening of May 21st. Next the Pulpit Committee under the regulations must report to and receive confirmation for the Board of Deacons and this meeting I need not elaborate because the chairman of the Board of Deacons will tell you about it in due course tonight. Thus we come to the third major step in this meeting of the religious society tonight. I'll hear again it isn't necessary for me to quote the procedures and the choice of options that are available to the congregation because I'm assured that one of my colleagues on the Pulpit Committee will offer an appropriate resolution in due course. Now so is not to keep anyone in suspense. The man we have agreed upon and recommended to the Board of Deacons is Dr. Ernest T. Campbell passed through the first Presbyterian Church in Ann Armer, Michigan.
Some brief bio-graphical information appears to be in order. Dr. Campbell was born right here in New York City on August 14th, 1923. Accordingly he is approaching his 45th birthday. He is a graduate of the high school of commerce here in the city and he spent his boyhood and much of his young manhood here on Morningside Heights. Some of the members of his family still live here. He did his undergraduate work at New York University and at Bob Jones University where he received the AB degree in 1945. He did his graduate work in Princeton Theological Seminary, being awarded the Bachelor of Divinity Degree in 1948 and the Master of Theology Degree in 1951.
He was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Divinity by Westminster College in 1958. He is married and he and Mrs. Campbell have two children, both in their early teens. In addition to his pastorate in Ann Armer, which began in 1962, Dr. Campbell was pastor of the first Presbyterian Church in York, Pennsylvania from 1954 to 1962. And before that in Stroudsburg from 1949 to 1954, he has always been active in radio and other kinds of religious broadcasting. He has been active in a variety of evangelistic programs. His social and civic concerns have included public health service, labor, mediation and open housing.
From the American Civil Liberties Union in 1960, he received the Man of the Year award primarily for his work in civil rights. He has been a preacher and a lecturer in a number of seminars, including his alma mater, Princeton. He has been a regular preacher at the Massinetta Springs Bible Conference down in Virginia. He is often identified as a preacher's preacher. He has been a guest preacher and a half dozen of the leading churches here in New York City, including, of course, Riverside. He has preached in colleges and universities in various parts of the country. He has written for a variety of publications on a variety of timely subjects. He is identified by both preachers and laymen as a careful scholar. Now so much for biographical detail, I assure you there is much more. Let me now turn to another line of thought in making this recommendation.
Some of you again will recall that there was an informal pulpit committee at work here in Riverside over two years ago, this in anticipation of Dr. Robert J. McCracken's retirement. Subsequently, the committee was formalized and expanded by the election of the congregation. That was a bit more than a year ago. In fact, when I looked back through my calendar, I discovered that it was on June 11, 1967, that the pulpit committee felt held its first open meeting with the congregation. Now in our preliminary activities, we were not directly concerned with finding a man in that sense. Rather, we were concerned with the development of criteria, which might be descriptive of this ministry in the Riverside Church in the years ahead. In this process, we were advised by some of the most notable theologians in the country,
as well as by Abel and dedicated laymen. Now while we as a committee never formally adopted any guiding criteria, it may be worthwhile to hark back to the principles we discussed in these several discussions. First, we thought of this ministry as being a crusading one, which, while mindful of Christian theological roots, emphasizes the political, social, and economic problems of the times. Second, we thought of this ministry as one, which would encourage individuals to become active in the solution of these great and perplexing problems, by working with others, both within and without our church. Third, we conceived of this ministry, which would maintain and strengthen the inter-denominational and interracial emphasis of this church.
Fourth, we thought of a ministry which would maintain and strengthen the national, international cathedral image of our church. And finally, we conceived of a ministry which would maintain and strengthen the economic support of our church. Now, as the characteristics of this ministry began to take firmer shape in our minds, we also turned to a discussion of the characteristics of the man whom we would seek. As we had no one in mind at this time at all, no single individual, we watered someone in the prime of his physical and intellectual powers, aged possibly from 35 to 50 years. Preferably, we watered a family man. We thought of the importance of a scholarly background in this community, and we wanted recent evidence of that scholarship. We wanted him to be progressive in the most complementary sense of that word.
Skill and effectiveness in human relations seemed to be mandatory requirements in a place like the Riverside Church. Courage and sensitivity would be equally important. We wanted an effective man in the pulpit, knowing full well that he would occupy that pulpit from 30 to 35 times each and every year. We wanted a man who understood and was effective in the use of electronic communication systems. And finally, we decided that we wanted a man who conceived of preaching as being the principal and the ultimate activity of his life's work. Now it would not be accurate to say that Ernest Campbell measures up 100% in all of these criteria. After all, that would be perfection. However, it would be accurate to say that he measures up very well in all of them.
Moreover, he appears to have a potential for growth. He burgeons with ideas and energy, our belief that he is moving ahead to deeper levels of service as a minister of the Christian religion. What the recent meeting of the Board of Deacons to which previous reference has been made, one of our respected members asked, why does Dr. Campbell want to come to the Riverside Church? Now, I confess that this question troubled me a bit at the moment because it seemed to imply that Dr. Campbell came to us, applying for a job as it were, and that we therefore found it necessary to ask him why he wanted to come. Now so that there will be no doubt on this point. In the minds of anyone, I want to assure you that exactly the reverse was true. We sought him out.
We are in the position of persuading him that Riverside was a good place to come to. In order to keep peace with you English teachers, I should amend that sentence. Persuading him that Riverside was a good place to which to come, Dorothy. I can also assure you that there was a time when it was by no means clear that Dr. Campbell would be receptive to a call from the Riverside Church. However, as conversations continued, as he became aware of the problems and the challenges of Riverside, and as he had an opportunity to become acquainted with key staff members of our church, most notably Eugene Lawback and Carol Fitch. He became interested indeed fascinated. In our last conversation, he said that he saw in Riverside the greatest opportunity which could come to a minister of the Christian Church.
Mr. Chairman, there's only one more thought which I feel impelled to express in making this report and recommendation. Every committee members are well aware that the work of our committee has been in the daily prayers of the members of this congregation, but the pray did not stop there. In concentric circles reaching out beyond our church to the far reaches of our country and the world, messages came to us from devout people who were remembering us to God. People who have never been in or near the Riverside Church thought of this place as a citadel, a beacon, a shining torch of the Christian religion in a troubled world. This has indeed been an impressive and reassuring experience. I wish I could tell you that along the way that I personally had felt the assuring hand
of God pointing the way. However, if I were to say that, it would not be quite the truth. Indeed, there were times when I and you, like the other members of the committee, felt that I had to pitch in harder to help God along with his job. And believe me, there's no irreverence in that statement whatsoever. But there came a time in the last formal meeting of our committee, when after a long discussion, still another one, and a poll of the members present, a young man spoke up and said, Mr. Chairman, I move that we make this action unanimous. The motion was seconded, and without discussion it passed unanimously. I suggest that the Lord was with us at that moment, pointing the way for the greater good of the Riverside Church. As we adjourned a few minutes later, someone suggested that we have a prayer.
No appropriate word seemed come. We bowed our heads in silence. I don't know what the others were thinking, but my thoughts were of Ernest Campbell, whom we would now recommend, of the kinds of responsibilities we would ask into shoulder, and the personal obligation which would be mine in supporting him in the fulfillment of his ministry among us. It is in this context, humbly, that we recommend Ernest Campbell to this congregation and ask for appropriate action. We have the slide on many of you, of course, saw and heard Dr. Campbell when he was here,
but we thought that it would be a good idea to show this on the screen. You have heard the report of the Pulpit Committee, and at the meeting on May 27, 1968, the Board of Deacons heard the recommendations of the Pulpit Committee, and voted its approval of the recommendation made. The chair now recognizes theodore R. Britton who wishes to make a motion. Mr. Chairman, fellow members of the congregation, Dr. McCracken. As I prepare to read this rather lengthy resolution, I am reminded of something Dr. McCracken said
to me some 22 years ago as I was applying for membership. He said, Ted, in this church, I will be able to open many doors for you, but once they are open, you will have to do the work. I thought of that tonight in the event you were unhappy with our selection that the door might still be open. This is a rather lengthy resolution, and it ends somewhat three years of work capsule into one year. Actually, we have only been working one year, but as Abel pointed out to you before, we had to learn to evaluate preachers, such as no committee has ever had to do before. We are probably at this point the most experienced and most knowledgeable Pulpit Committee in the history. If this means we are looking for more work, though, please, no favors.
The hours are much too long and the pay is much too short. The second thing is we had to go for something upwards of 200 names, and that is no easy task. You found people coming from all sides of the country to show off their abilities in the Pulpit, and we had to evaluate them for you. And finally, the year that we had to accomplish in one was one that probably no other church in this country would experience. I go to many churches where they are all black, all white, all yellow, and I have even gone to churches where they are all red, even broken down by tribes. But we happen to have a congregation of many racial groups, many national groups, sometimes language groups, and in our Pulpit Committee we differ right along these lines economically, politically, and our states of militancy, our real militant forum was conservative, mind
you. And by that same token, we had to learn to work with each other, despite all of our various differences. And the one thing that pulled us together was the commitment that we were doing something with which you had entrusted us, and that we were doing something for this church. This became our notice up or ending, and we learned to have our debates, sometimes spirited. I assure you we have two lawyers on the committee. Nevertheless, we learned to work well, and tonight ends this work. At least I hope it will end after you hear this resolution and vote upon it. The resolution reads, whereas chapter 6 of the document identified as the Riverside Church, its structure and organization, states the procedure for calling a minister to the church, and provides specifically for the calling of a minister described in said chapter as
the preaching minister, and, whereas pursuant to the provisions of said chapter 6, the religious society elected a committee to recommend a candidate to be called as preaching minister to succeed the Reverend Robert J. McCracken, D.D. retired, which committee has been designated and known as the pulpit committee, and, whereas the pulpit committee after consultation with the joint committee, as provided in said chapter 6, presented to the Board of Deacons at its meeting on Monday, May 27, 1968, its recommendation that the Reverend Ernest T. Campbell, D.D., now of Ann Arbor, Michigan, be called as the preaching minister of the Riverside Church, and the Board of Deacons at that time approve the recommendation of the pulpit committee, and, whereas this meeting of the religious society of the Riverside Church in the city of New
York held at the church on Wednesday, June 12, 1968, at 7.30 o'clock in the evening, pursuant to notice dated May 28, 1968, and addressed to the members of the Riverside Church, which noted stated the purpose of the meeting to hear the report of the pulpit committee and that of the Board of Deacons with respect to it, has now heard the report of the pulpit committee, and has been advised of the favorable action by a majority vote of the entire membership of the Board of Deacons respecting it. Now, therefore, the religious society hereby expresses and pledges its support of the Reverend Ernest T. Campbell, D.D., as preaching minister of the Riverside Church in the city of New York, and discharges the pulpit committee with appreciation and approval. You have heard the motion. Is there a second? The motion has been made and seconded. Is there
any discussion? Hearing none, I will ask for the question. Those in favor indicate by the usual sign. I didn't get a chance to say, are there any opposed? But I guess that is not necessary. Dr. Hanson will now advise Dr. Ernest Campbell of the action taken here tonight. Well, Dr. Hanson is at the telephone. We are going to participate in the
singing of a hymn, and I think Mr. Fred Swan will officiate at this one. Fred, would you? Yes, is he? It's, they have the, it's God of grace and what is the number? Well, the hymn books weren't given up. Well, Arnold has hymn books in the back. It's God of grace. It's number 363. 366, I'm sorry. They'll pass them out in a moment. Yeah.
Don't, don't, don't, don't, don't, they should have done. Let's witness the King of the Lord.
Who's ever been a lovely place which heard the words that they gave, barred in the rest of the race, in a far-too-sanked way, by the strings that ran us through the race, by the fangirl that we made, by the fangirl that we made. Who's ever strong in worship, in action to lay me, while it's made more, at the search for that salvation, the arc of the animal, that thus ways the wrath,
thus perfect, certainly they will go. Certainly we will be alone, oh, oh, oh. I have been advised that there was a hand raised when I asked for discussion and I apologize, I did not see the hand. I think Gene Johnson had a word to say. Would you, yes? Would you like to come up here? We have all gathered here this evening to hear the call to a new minister for Riverside Church and to be the witness of the opening of a new era.
But even as we share in this call, might it not also be fitting to us for us to issue a call to ourselves, a call for each of us to be informed and to be involved? Our new minister will turn to you and to me for information about his church and his community. He will need us to tell him about Riverside who comes, who joins, who contributes, who leads. He will need us to tell him where the black voice is. On the staff, on WRBR, and the engineering of the plant, he will need explanation about the Spanish speaking community. He will need to understand about the councils, about how decisions are made and who makes them. He will want to know the history of our community,
the ethnic and economic composition of it. You will need to help him learn about Columbia's leadership and the seeds and fruits of the student revolt. And he surely will want to know what unique role our church was able to play in the crisis of spirit and of flesh that ran around its doors. He'll need to be told in what symbolic and actual ways our doors were open to the needs of our neighbors and our neighborhood. You and I must inform him about the issues on the hill. Renewal, expansion, safety, 119th Street, the gym, 125th, the police, you add to the list. You and I must inform him about the institutions on the hill. Morningside Heights Incorporated, Urban Renewal Council, Manhattanville Neighborhood Center, Morning Siders United, Strike Central, Block Associations, 26 Precinct, Liberation Press,
Remedco, all these and more. For they represent human beings striving to be relevant and responsible until need to be informed. I have some homework to do on these issues. Perhaps all of us have. Might we not use this summer for that purpose? Our church has already acknowledged the importance of this summer. In summers before this, the church was pretty much closed except for Sunday morning. This year it will be open almost every night for activity and for study. And the Adult Education Committee is even trying to plan a program that will be study and involvement. There will be many things going on on our neighborhood this summer. Some I'm sure you are already involved in. Maybe we all should be open to them for what we could give as well as for what we could learn. But I'm going away, you say.
Well, perhaps from a distance the neighborhood will be even clearer to you. For the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain. Surely we could take with us reading that might help us understand better what's happening in our world, in our nation, and on the hill. Choose accounts that differ and compare them. Write people for answers to the questions that these discrepancies pose. A couple of us have posed a partial reading list which was in the back which you may pick up as you go but there are any of you have reading lists and you may add to them. But let's utilize this summer and become informed and involved. Then when our new minister comes, we'll be ready for him. In these anxious crucial days, there have been moments when the foundation of our very nation, no less our community, have seemed threatened to their bedrock.
Yet many of us have continued to walk unmindful of the tremors around us. If we are not informed, if you and I are not involved, these tremors may indeed shake apart, that's which we love, and that in which we have placed our faith. May God be with us all. Thank you very much. Did I miss another hand? We will proceed. A few days ago, I talked to Dr. Faustick by telephone regarding this meeting. After our conversation, he wrote to me as follows and I quote,
I am glad to send my greetings to all who gather in the Riverside Church this important Wednesday evening. As I am sure you know, I have given my hearty support to the enlarging areas of educational and social activity, in which the modern church has endeavored to apply the moral principles of Christianity. But I deplore the decline of emphasis on the primacy of prophetic preaching. From all our seminaries comes the report of fewer students who face the challenge of the pulpit and prepare themselves for powerful preaching. Riverside Church has taken pride in practicing what it preaches. I pray that because of what you do tonight,
it may take pride in its pulpit, prophetic, and powerful preaching of what it practices. Most cordially, Harry Emerson fires it. I am sure that letter has the same deep meaning for you that it does for me. It was certainly written by a man who was 90 years young. I see Dr. Hanson has returned and I will ask him to tell us regarding his conversation with Dr. Campbell. Thank you. Dr. Campbell is at this moment meeting with his session in Ann Arbor and his release from that position is being formalized. He haven't been informally assured of it in advance.
He asked me to say to you that he and Mrs. Campbell are delighted that they are looking forward to come into Riverside Church in New York City. They would plan to be here early in September in time to enroll their youngsters in school and to get settled, and he will be ready to occupy our pulpit with the opening of the church year in late September. The chair now recognizes Mr. Ambrose Kram who has a resolution. Mr. Kram. Ladies and gentlemen, a little while ago we just fired our pulpit committee in accordance with our procedures. We said to them, no further use for you, go home.
Well, I'd like to say something nice about this pulpit committee. I think they deserve it and I've put it in the form of a resolution. I hope you will agree that this resolution adequately expresses our appreciation. I'm reminded that some of us here were at a installation service in the New Canaan Baptist Church in Harlem two weeks before the death of Dr. Martin Luther King. He addressed that installation congregation. He was introduced by a minister from Mount Vernon in very glowing terms. Of course, how could a person introduce Dr. King without praising him? I wondered how he would respond with what I knew was his modesty.
He got up and he expressed his appreciation for this wonderful introduction and said he was reminded of the old maid. A friend came up to her and said, Annie, I hear you're getting married. And the Annie replied and said, well, it's not true, but thank God for the rumor. Now, my resolution is going to end with a request. And I make it now that we give a rising vote of thanks and applause. And if you want to stomp and cheer and whistle, that's all right, too. So I move the follow.
Resolved that the members present at a meeting of the religious society of the Riverside Church held June 12, 1968. Speaking on behalf of the entire congregation, hereby express their appreciation and thanks to each and every member of the Pulpit Committee. The arduous efforts of which have culminated in the inspiring call to Dr. Ernest Campbell to serve as preaching minister of the Riverside Church. We are aware that these efforts started with the appointment by the Joint Committee in the spring of 1966 of an informal Pulpit Committee, followed with the election by the congregation in the spring of 1967 of a larger Pulpit Committee, on which 14 persons served, representing a wide spectrum within the congregation and having diverse backgrounds, experience, and points of view. We are aware that the committee through consultation with the officers of the major denominations, with seminary officials, and through communication with members of this church and with many other individuals,
developed a long list of names of persons in this country and abroad, considered qualified to serve the church well as preaching minister. We are aware that the committee held more than 23 formal meetings, including a congregation meeting at which criteria, to be used by the committee, were developed and discussed, that members of the committee visited many churches and other religious gatherings around the country, listened to and read numerous sermons, prepared many summaries and reports, studied biographical material relating to each person whose name had been presented to the committee, had countless telephone conversations and conscientiously gave responsive and objective consideration to all suggestions and points of view. We are aware that Abelae Hansen, chairman of the committee, has carried a particularly heavy burden, discharged with thoroughness, fairness, objectivity, patience, and sympathetic understanding.
Finally, we are aware that the committee was heartened and strengthened by the number of outstanding individuals considered qualified for serving as pulpit minister of this church, that this wealth of material in a sense added to the difficulty of the committee's assignment, and that its recommendation should not be considered as reflecting on the qualifications of the other individuals under consideration. We request that a copy of this resolution be given to the following individuals who have served on the pulpit committee. Abelae Hansen, chairman, Ms. Ruthie Sally Secretary, Victor Z. Brink, theodore R. Britten Jr., Donald Brundage, Ms. Dorothy C. Bunker, Mrs. Donald H. Elliott, Mrs. Flora Ford, Robert C. Fuller, James F. Hogue, Donald W. Hoskins, Ernest H. Lorsch, Paul Eyer, C. Harvey Williamson, and let the records of this meeting show that in unanimously adopting the forgorn resolution, the members gave a rising vote of appreciation and thanks accompanied by voluminous applause.
I now want to recognize Mr. Ernest Lorsch, who also has a resolution. Aren't you glad you have so many lawyers in your membership? Seriously though, this has been in a very exciting year for all of us, and it's also been a very exciting year for Riverside. It's been a year when all of our patients have been tested, all of our efforts have been taxed, both in the pews and in the activities of this church on the various committees, and in all the ways in which people serve each other and the membership of this church.
Through all this hectic period, we have been fortunate to have been led by a staff of able and dedicated people, and I think before we go too much further, we have to recognize and look back at all the things they did for all of us through this period, and also look forward in joining hands with them in the continued service of this church, and in the continued help which we will give this new preaching minister. I apologize for all the warehouses that you've heard tonight, but here are just a couple more. Whereas the membership of the Riverside church desires to express its deep appreciation to the staff of the church, for its dedication and devotion to the church's principles and ministry during the period of the absence of a preaching minister,
and whereas this membership wishes to express its special appreciation for the leadership of Ford, it said staff and membership by Eugene E. Laubach and Carol B. Fitch, executive minister and coordinator and business manager respectively of the Riverside church, and whereas this membership desires to express its deep affection, loyalty and regard for this staff ministerial and lay, now therefore be it resolved that the membership of the religious society of the Riverside church assembled in special meeting on this 12th day of June 1968. Hereby expresses its sincere appreciation to the staff of the Riverside church under the guidance and leadership of Eugene E. Laubach, executive minister and Carol B. Fitch, coordinator and business manager for its dedicated leadership of this congregation,
for its devotion to this church, the Riverside church, and for its witness to the Christian ministry in this community, in this city and in the world at large. I would ask you to rise indicating your approval of this resolution. You know the generosity of Mr. John D. Rockefeller Jr. made this magnificent church possible. Furthermore, his dedicated service as a lay leader established an example of Christian service that we still strive to match. At this juncture in the life of our church, it is indeed an honor to introduce his son, Mr. John D. Rockefeller III, who will say a word.
Thank you very much. My wife and I are very pleased to be with you here this evening to join in this most important vote. I know you have many meetings in Riverside in the course of the year. But I can think of no meeting more important than this one where you take decisive and final action on the question of your leader for the years ahead. When I became a member of Riverside, Dr. Wolfkin was then the minister. Many of you have probably not even heard his name. So I have been a member through three key periods such as these three milestone occasions.
Dr. Faustick was elected to lead the church, was voted to lead it, and then Dr. McCracken. And I can only join in what Mr. Kram said and what others have said as to the outstanding job done by the Prop. Committee under Dr. Hansen's leadership. When you are told to find the best man in the world, you take on a pretty large assignment. And I think we are all of us deeply indebted to them for the time and thought they have given to the job and for the wonderful outstanding results. When the regret is that my father could not be here tonight to join with you, with all of us in this sense of satisfaction and happiness in the appointment of Dr. Campbell.
I know he was close, as has been said, to the selection of the other leaders. And I know that he would be equally happy and equally satisfied in the action taken here tonight as he was in the two previous decisions. Dr. Campbell, as he comes to the ministry here, takes on a very heavy responsibility. One, of course, one aspect of it is to succeed Dr. McCracken, a very large order in itself. The other aspect is to be a Christian leader in these days. To me, it is a heavy responsibility, but it is also a very exciting opportunity.
And I know with our backing, with our support, with this church as his foundation, that he will carry on the tradition of Dr. Faustick and Dr. McCracken and lead this church to greater heights and to greater usefulness. I know that you are all delighted to have Dr. McCracken here with us tonight. It is my privilege now to call on him for any comments he would like to make, and afterwards to ask him to pronounce the benediction. Mr. Chairman and fellow members, all of us sense that this is indeed a historic.
We have arrived at a well-considered and prayerfully considered decision. We have made a supremely important and momentous choice. We have done so with considering the size and diversity of this congregation with extraordinary unanimity and with every outward evidence of enthusiasm. At the call of the church and may we not say at the call of God, Dr. Campbell is to be the new preaching minister of the Riverside Church.
Everybody here knows that he faces a herculean task. Think of the state of the community, the city, the country, the world. Try to imagine what it means to step Sunday after Sunday after Sunday into a strategically centered pulpit such as the pulpit upstairs is and declare the whole council of God. The Apostle Paul, a spiritual titan, said that he went to Corinth in much fear and trembling. We can all be very sure that Dr. Campbell will come to New York with high hopes, with staunch convictions, with firm resolves, yet no less with trepidation and self-questioning and self-distrust. But he comes at the call of God and at our call, and this will steady and strengthen him.
Besides, he is a gifted man. The evidence is written all over his record. Also, he is a dedicated man. The pulpit committee made it their business to be sure on that score. And I waited to hear someone make something of the fact that he is a Campbell. Do you happen to be familiar with the old Scottish song, The Campbells are coming? Oh, oh, oh. I love the oh, oh, oh, oh. Sometimes cheapened into hara, hara. And you know there's a word associated over and over again with the Campbells. It's the word dooty. That is to say, able, valiant, stouthearted, and when the need arises, formidable.
Well, with for their feuding enemies, the McDonalds, who were no less able, valiant, stouthearted and formidable, that had to be the background. But in more serious vein, I think agreeing with Mr. Hanson is accurate to say that as of now, the new minister is not in church circles a nationally known figure. But tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, his name will be in the newspapers, and he will be the subject of conversation by ministers from coast to coast. And come the fall sort of pitiless spotlight will be on him. And letter upon letter will reach his desk inviting him to preach and to lecture, and they'll come these invitations from every quarter.
Yes, he faces a haculean task, but gifted, dedicated, a Campbell. He will grow under the burden. He will grow under the burden we are placing on him. The burden of responsibility to which Mr. Rockefeller referred. It will stretch him. It will further mature him. He will add a cubic to his stature, maybe not physical, but mental and spiritual, and you and I and all of us will watch him rise to the height of his new calling. You must have noticed that when God puts an additional demand on his servants, he never fails to furnish them with correspondingly increased resources. Now I've been talking to you about Dr. Campbell's awesome responsibility. What about our responsibility? It was so right and proper that from the floor, someone speaking for the floor should speak also of the responsibility of the membership to Dr. Campbell.
What about our responsibility? We have addressed this call to him. He has accepted it. He and his family are coming to throw in their lot with us. Let us stand by this man. Let us rally round this man. Let us be friend and commend this man. Will you pardon a personal doubt? It's suggested by the mention of Dr. Farzdi. When he and I met for the first time for a whole day together, the entire morning was spent in talking about the Riverside Church in his apartment at Union Theological Seminary. And then we crossed the street. First we walked all over the nave, then up into the first balcony, and then up into the second balcony. And from the rear seat in the second balcony, we looked down on the nave and churned.
And I tell you, my heart was in my boots. It was empty. And there was the dread that someday, because of my arrival, it might become empty. I said to him, you filled it. How to keep it filled? Do you know what his answer was? No, I don't know that he'd stand by this as the final definitive answer. The spontaneous thing that he said was, word of mouth publicity. Now will you please think about that? One person speaking to another person about the minister at the Riverside Church. This is what I mean not only by befriending but by commending. Our call to Dr. Campbell is the evidence of our faith in him. But it is for us at this end tonight to remember the cautioning word of the epistle of James' faith without works is dead.
When faith is true, it issues immediately in action, decisive, dynamic, concentrated action. So let us one and all work with this man, work for this man. A great and effectual door is opening to him. And outside in the world there are many adversaries. But the Lord God Almighty is on his side. And if he can rely on our loyalty, our constant support, our prayerful remembrance of him every night and every morning, then his ministry and Riversides will go on from strength to strength and the future be bright as the promises of God. Let us pray. Oh God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And in him our Father also. Look with thy favor upon thy servant, Ernest Campbell, his wife and children.
And upon this church, all its members, its office bearers, its staff. Set thy seal of benediction upon the decision we have made this night. And equip and empower us now for the years that lie ahead. Revive thy work, O Lord, in the midst of the years. Make this a time of new beginnings, new commitments, new visions, new ventures, new devotion to thy service and to the service of our fellows. Here the silent prayer of each of us as we make the old surrender and pledge to thee and to the fervorance of thy kingdom, our gifts of head and heart and hand.
Now unto him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages world without end. And the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all now and forevermore. Amen. Thank you.
Meeting of the Religious Society of the Riverside Church
Producing Organization
WRVR (Radio station: New York, N.Y.)
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The Riverside Church (New York, New York)
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Program Description
Live coverage of a meeting of the Religious Society at the Riverside Church.
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Event Coverage
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Producing Organization: WRVR (Radio station: New York, N.Y.)
Publisher: WRVR (Radio station : New York, N.Y.)
Speaker: McCracken, Robert J. (Robert James), 1904-1973
Speaker: Johnson, Gene
Speaker: Rockefeller, John D., III (John Davison), 1906-1978
AAPB Contributor Holdings
The Riverside Church
Identifier: cpb-aacip-3ef3bf90b84 (Filename)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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Chicago: “Meeting of the Religious Society of the Riverside Church,” The Riverside Church , American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 13, 2024,
MLA: “Meeting of the Religious Society of the Riverside Church.” The Riverside Church , American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 13, 2024. <>.
APA: Meeting of the Religious Society of the Riverside Church. Boston, MA: The Riverside Church , American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from