From Reconciliation to Revolution: How the Student Interracial Ministry Took Up the Cause of Civil Rights

From Reconciliation to Revolution: How the Student Interracial Ministry Took Up the Cause of Civil Rights

From Reconciliation to Revolution: How the Student Interracial Ministry Took Up the Cause of Civil Rights

From Reconciliation to Revolution: How the Student Interracial Ministry Took Up the Cause of Civil Rights

Synopsis

Conceived at the same conference that produced the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Student Interracial Ministry (SIM) was a national organization devoted to dismantling Jim Crow while simultaneously advancing American Protestant mainline churches’ approach to race. In this book, David P. Cline details how, between the founding of SIM in 1960 and its dissolution at the end of the decade, the seminary students who created and ran the organization influenced hundreds of thousands of community members through its various racial reconciliation and economic justice projects. From inner-city ministry in Oakland to voter registration drives in southwestern Georgia, participants modeled peaceful interracialism nationwide. By telling the history of SIM--its theology, influences, and failures--Cline situates SIM within two larger frameworks: the long civil rights movement and the even longer tradition of liberal Christianity’s activism for social reform.

Pulling SIM from the shadow of its more famous twin, SNCC, Cline sheds light on an understudied facet of the movement’s history. In doing so, he provokes an appreciation of the struggle of churches to remain relevant in swiftly changing times and shows how seminarians responded to institutional conservatism by challenging the establishment to turn toward political activism.

Excerpt

It is only by living completely in this world that one learns to believe.

—Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Just after Christmas 1955 in Athens, Ohio, an organization called the Student Volunteer Movement for Christian Missions hosted a gathering of over three thousand students, representing sixty religious groups from eighty countries. Roman Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist groups attended, but the majority of students came from the mainline Protestant churches and collectively represented what was known as the Student Christian Movement (SCM). The title of the conference was “Revolution and Reconciliation.”

With its roots in the YMCA and YWCAs founded in the mid-1850s, the SCM was made up of those mainline Protestant campus ministries and organizations that were linked to one another and to their partners overseas through the World Student Christian Federation. It included within its ranks such venerable organizations as the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, founded in 1886, and the Interseminary Movement, founded in 1880 to serve theological students. Rooted in social Christianity but with an evangelical streak, the student groups thrived by offering a mixture of foreign service and domestic engagement. The SCM developed on a parallel path to the Social Gospel Movement, with which it shared many similarities, and it was not long before they met, incorporating into what had been a strictly evangelical Social Gospel Movement stated commitments, by 1905, to “social and economic justice.” Race relations gradually emerged as an issue within the SCM, with the first integrated delegation attending a conference of the World Student Christian Federation in 1913. Engagement with social issues was further entrenched following World War I, as a new commitment to exploring social problems and working for global peace was developed within the context of Christian evangelicalism. Through two world wars and into the Cold War, the Student Christian Movement “was where ecumenical awareness was cultivated and where the ecumenical vision challenged the churches in at least the first sixty years of this century. It . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.