National Association of College
and University Chaplains

A multifaith professional community supporting spiritual and ethical life in higher education

The Decade of the 1960s

Themes of conferences held in the 1960's ranged from: "Styles of Salvation" to "The Future of the American College Chaplaincy." The first two conference of the ‘60’s were held at Amherst College, April 25-28, 1960, and Southern Methodist University, April 10-13, 1961, respectively. The 1960 conference followed a familiar pattern from the 1950's with programs and lectures offered under the them of "Conversations With...", such as The Academic Community and Philosophy at this conference. A special report to the association was "Chaplains and Racial Tension in the South", offered by James Nesmith, Samuel L. Gandy, and L. H. Hollingsworth. Chaplain Gandy also served as "Conference Chaplain/" The SMU Perkins School of Theology conference in 1961 was hosted by Chaplain Dr. J. Claude Evans, who also served as Conference Chaplain. Conference lecturers included Dr. Arnold S. Nash, University of North Carolina and special guest lecturer Dr. C. Eric Lincoln, Clark College in Atlanta. Dr. Lincoln's address was titled "Footnotes on the Atlanta Story." A strong emphasis on ecumenical and interfaith relations was present at this conference; special guests included Reverend George Sallaway of Holy Angels Church in Childress, Texas, and Reverend Frederick Drager of the Catholic Student Center in Dallas.

Although most annual meetings were held in the east (Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New York, and Massachusetts), there were forays into the Midwest and West (Colorado, Illinois and California). The pendulum of conference topics swung from the personal and professional themes such as, the "Chaplain's Gospel, Faith and Unfaith" and "His" Discipline, to prophetic and "secular" themes such as "The Humanization of the World in Our Day" and "The Nature of Revolution." Some attention was paid to the university or college itself with themes such as "Problems of Authority and Identity in the University," and "The Secular Campus and the Christian Presence." Leadership came from within the association (Chaplains Maitland, Reckard, and Gandy, for example) as well as from the larger religious and cultural community (Paul Lehman, Franklin Littell, Sam Proctor, Fannie Lou Hamer, Paul Goodman, Krister Stendahl, Davie Napier, Dan Berrigan, and Charles McCoy). Chaplains were very much involved in the Civil Rights movement. For example, in response to the racist burning of the Antioch Baptist Church in Ripley, Mississippi, Paul Rahmeier, chaplain at Oberlin and President of NACUC, took a group of Oberlin students to Ripley and helped rebuild the Antioch Church during Christmas vacation. Professor Shedd's desire for leisurely, personal conferences at the annual meeting became a trademark of NACUC. Themes, programs and speakers were often just the skeletal structure of the meeting. It was in the informal exchanges, the "New Chaplains" meetings, or in the "How is it with your soul?" sessions that the flesh, blood and spirit of the body was realized. To this day there is a struggle between programming and "free time" in NACUC gatherings with the "night out on the town" often the highlight of the few days members are together. There also have been "conferences of small groups"-- caucus groups, denominational groupings, "issue" groups and "resolution writing" groups taking place. For many years the perfecting of position papers to be sent to political and religious decision makers was a vital part of annual gatherings. Recently the care and feeding of the souls of chaplains has taken precedence over such prophetically inspired groups. Presidents serving during the 1960's (in addition to Rahmeier) included: Beaven, Lee, Dunlop, Havice, Kalbfleisch, Crawford, Maitland, Scott and Evans.

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