Conservative Reaction

Leon Modeste

Leon Modeste speaking at the 63rd General Convention in Houston, Texas, 1970.

Moving the Church’s financial assets from institutional sustenance to social purposes was a risky challenge to orthodoxy. Between 1967 and 1969, Bishop Hines and the GCSP staff, headed by Leon Modeste, faced mounting criticism from conservative church members. Bishops who were not always informed of the recipients of the grants in their own dioceses were caught unprepared. Hines made a mistake common to white leaders which was to see past the experience, history, and know-how of his own black clergy in tapping “outsiders” to force change. African-American clergy resented being ignored while secular and sometimes politically radical organizations were funded by the GCSP.

The Episcopal Church of the new Prayer Book’s Baptismal Covenant was still more than a decade away. Bishop Hines could not have foreseen the unintended consequences of a Church unleashed to reconstruct itself without theological or historical grounding to guide a transformation to full equality and participation. [Sources]

Leon Modeste, Director of General Convention Special Program, maintains that integration is not a possibility in the near future, and discusses the GCSP's role and methods in improving the situation, 1968.