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A dissertiatlon by 
Harlan Douglas Anthony _S_tein)ach 

presented to 

Tae Faculty of the 

Graduate Theological Union 

in partial fulfillment of the 

requirenents for the degree of 

Doctor of Philosophy 

Berkeley, California 
May 15, 1977 

Committee Signatures: 
Co-Coordjnator ^ 

y^oV^K- t\M^ 



'il -7^ 


With special thanks to all those who have been 
part of the process which helped to shape me 
and this dissertation: 


Fred G. 




Suzanne J. 





Elizabeth F. 

Don H. 

Don S. 


Bob W. 

Jim W. 


Bob B. 

John C. B. 

Fred B. 

Richard R. 

Richard Y. 



Jim S. 



Linda M. 



Paul R. 

John B. 






Joe P. 

Paul S. 






Linda P. 


John M. 


Joe H. 


Bob D. 


Bob C. 

Rick E. 

Rick C. 




Elizabeth P, 



Barbara D. 










Paul W. 




Jim H. 


Suzanne S. 

Barbara T. 



John W. 


Peter W. 




Joe S. 






The Free Church: A Profile 6 

Significance of Free Church 

and Relationship to the 

Oppositional Youth Culture 18 

Questions, Method and Structure . 25 





VI. THE LEFT CHURCH? MIDDLE 1971 - 1972 272 


Issues, Concerns and 

Questions 346 

Competing Models in 

the Evolution of the 

Free Church 348 

Causal Factors, Models 

and Outcome 356 

Lessons and the 

Future Left Church 372 




The Cult of Liberation began long before I enrolled at the 
Graduate Theological Union (GTU) . This dissertation is the product 
of one continuous quest to understand my world. 

The immediate history of this quest started with my seminary 
training at Harvard University and the Graduate School of Ecumenical 
Studies, Bossey, Switzerland, 1967 - 1970. My world was filled with 
a sense that a new day was dawning. I perceived this newness in po- 
litical and cultural ferment, in my theological studies and within 
myself. The new left was closing down Harvard; the counter culture 
"controlled" the media; the god of the past was dead and people were 
spiritually alive as creators of their own destiny. I was part of 
these new developments, the death of the old, the birth of the new; 
or was I? In Bossey I began an interest in "futurology", whatever 
that is, and what I called "autobiographical research." I guess I 
thought that if humanity was really coming of age, I could at least 
see the signs within me. So, where else but Berkeley, California did 
you go to do research on your own pilgrimage? 

I arrived in Berkeley in the fall of 1970. The promise of 
a new day of the 1960 's, however, was being replaced with the dashed 
hopes of the 1970' s. But still, the search to make sense of the world 



around me grew more intense though more sober and realistic. Luckily 
I had a family background that instilled within me the importance of 
values, not a set catalog of values but the certainty that values were 
crucial. The lack of values in the world around me led me to reject 
it and look for alternatives. But which alternatives? I wanted to 
continue my religious studies, but I also wanted to learn more about 
the political economics of the world in which I lived. 

I began working with a radical research organization, the North 
American Congress on Latin America (NACLA) . NACLA provided me the op- 
portunity to find out about "the ruling class," "The Movement," and 
myself. I worked on several projects investigating the power machinery 
of the United States: a machinery that was less in the service of hu- 
manity's coming of age and more interested in harnessing humanity for 
the service of the inhumanity of late capitalism. I now realized more 
fully my separation from the society that I naively thought could be 
the source of a new world. That very society, which I now called by 
its right name, capitalism, blocked the very hope and newness that I 
had seen around me and felt Inside. 

The political left was hard hit by the experience of the 1970's. 
Personal lives were disintegrating, an indication of the Left's loss of 
effectiveness. Fortunately, the women's movement arrived to at least 
make the struggle on the personal level a constructive one; however, 
not one without pain. 1 became "us" somewhere in the midst of this pain; 
and it v/as through my wife, Madelyn, that I first met Richard York, 


who was the minister of the Berkeley Free Church. His wife, Melinda 
Harley, was a member of Madelyn's women's group. This connection would 

prove more fruitful for my autobiographical research than I first 
imagined. In fact, Madelyn and I became associated with the Free 
Church after its hope of survival was slim. 

My first conversation with Richard York concerned the research 
I had begun on religion and the new left. I was still a student at 
the GTU and became involved in a research project that I thought would 
be a fruitful way to continue my research interests. The project was a study 
on new religious consciousness in the Bay Area. The project was co- 
ordinated by Charles Clock and Robert Bellah, two sociologists as- 
sociated with my program in Religion and Society at the GTTJ. I rea- 
soned, at the time, that the new left was concerned with a level of 
social reality that was fundamentally important for, and had already 
contributed to, the new religious consciousness. York seemed to be 
a logical resource for this interest. There was a time span of two years 
between this first conversation and my eventual decision to use the Free 
Church as a case study to explore my reasoning about the new left's demise. 

During this period of time, I continued my research on the 
new left and worked at NACIA. It was also during this period that 
Madelyn and I joined with Y^ork and three others to try and resurrect 
the Free Church; it did iiot happen. Madeljm then began working at the 
Center for Women and Religion (CWR) at the GTU. And though my association with 
the Free Church was brief, it allowed me to see the need for inte- 
grating m.y political work at NACLA with my religious interests. There- 


fore, I helped to begin a religious organization that began publish- 
ing a theoretical journal called Radical Religion . Religion and pol- 
itics, once separated in my life, now returned in a more integrated 
fashion. It was in the process of working on Radical Religion that 
I realized the Free Church story needed to be told as one example of 
how religion and politics had been combined. I proposed this to York 
and he agreed to give me access to his personal archives. 

After six months spent in organizing the archives, my research be- 
gan in earnest in the fall of 1975. After three months of interviews 
with over forty participants in the Free Church's five year history, 
I began to write. Yet I was not writing in a vacuum. There were 
pressures and responsibilities that determined the final form of this 
dissertation. One pressure (its strength not always easy to guage) 
was trying to write this dissertation within an educational setting 
which I now understood to be a replication of the society I denounced. 
Theological education in the United States is valueless. This does not 
mean that all people within this institution are valueless. 
In fact, it was my good fortune at the GTU to have a support commun- 
ity of faculty, friends, and students that provided the encouragement 
and space to see the importance of my work. This support community 
really began at home; Madelyn was still an employee of the GTU at the 
CWR. We experienced and struggled with this institution together. It 
was only with this shared sense of the context in which my disserta- 
tion was being written that our family survived the year long ordeal 
of actually writing a dissertation. 


The organization publishing Radical Religion , The Community 
for Religious Research and Education (CRRE), also became an important 
GTU related support group. CRRE was now staffed by GTU students and 
faculty. But more importantly, CRRE developed organizational ties 
outside the GTU to an international radical religious constituency. 
It was for this constituency that I began to write my dissertation. I 
felt a responsibility to communicate my knowledge of the Free Church 
and to translate my academic work into a useful theoretical case study 
for this constituency. Radical Religion was one effort to serve this 
constituency, my dissertation should be seen as another. Fortunately, 
the radical religious community developed enough clarity to provide a 
clear direction for my study of the Free Church. In the fall of 1974, 
American Christians Toward Socialism (ACTS) was formed of which CREE was 
largely responsible for starting the Bay Area Chapter of ACTS. Facili- 
tating the socialist option for religious people became my primary con- 
cern. There were past organizations that had tried to begin this struggle 
and failed. I wanted to examine the forces inhibiting their success. 
I looked to my own interests, experience, and autobiographical research 
to pursue this concern. The Cult of Liberation is my attempt to contri- 
bute to this vital struggle. 

Harlan Stelmack 
Berkeley, California 
November, 1976 



1. Map of the Locations of the Berkeley 

Free Church, 1967-19 72 7 

2. Festival of the Virgin Mary, 1967 32 

3. The Bishop's Son and Alan Ginsberg, 1967 40 

4. Ordination to the Priesthood of Richard York, 1968 .... 87 

5. John Pairman Brown in Hanoi, 1968 90 

6. French Solidarity Strike Demonstrations and Riots, 1968 . 98 

7. People Park Dedication, 1969 150 

8. Malcolm Boyd and Richard York at Jonathan's Wake, 1969 . . 163 

9. Submarine Church Action at UPCUSA's Assembly, 1970 .... 223 

10. Free Church Poster 257 

11. Drawing of Richard York 337 


1. Lines of Ecumenical and Denominational Church 

Funding, 1970- - 1971 208 

2. Key Church Bureaucrats and Church Agencies 209 

3. Organizational Schema, 1971 277 

4. Tensions and Contradictions in the Thought 

of the Free Church 331 

5. Competing Models in the Free Church, 1967-1972 350 

6. Evolution of Ascendent Models, 1967-1972 355 


Chapter I 


Remember in the sixties when the main item of religious news was 
church "social action"? Social activists within the churches castigated 
the religious establishment for not involving itself in the problems of 
the world. Malcolm Boyd chastized comfortable suburban churchgoers for 
not looking beyond their pretty stained glass windows. Harvey Cox and 

others jolted complacent Christians with a theology of "rapid social 

change" appropriate to the "secular city." Sociologists followed this 

media coverage with studies on the "new challenge" or "liberal clergy" 

within churches. 

Something really was happening within the religious establish- 
ment. Spurred on by Vatican II, Catholics were experimenting with de- 
mands to be more involved in the world. The mainline Protestant denom- 
inations' foundations were being shaken with calls for renewal and unity 
in the ecumenical movement, a new reformation. The civil rights move- 
ment in the early and middle sixties was a logical place for these new 
church activists to live out their religious faith and ethics "in the 
world." The moral and spiritual leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr. 
within the civil rights movement, in the early sixties, was testimony to 
and living justification for the demands of the social activists. In the 
late sixties, the "peace movement" against the United States' war in 
Viet Nam, was the arena of action for many Christians. The social acti- 
vists involved in the peace movement were in part inspired by the example 

of such clergy as the Berrigan brothers, William Sloan Coffin and Robert 
McAfee Brown. The sixties were the high water mark of religious social 
action. No protest movement in the sixties escaped the crusading spirit 

of church activists, or so it seemed at least to those comfortable church 

goers they castigated. The church was seemingly being turned "inside out." 

The Berkeley Free Church was a major actor in the drama of church 
social action in the sixties. The emergence of the Free Church coincided 
with the high water mark of social action, and its dissolution paralleled 
the receding waters of church based social action in the early seventies. 
The rise and fall of the Free Church, as this study points out, indicates 
that there were forces outside the churches that were also dictating the 
ebb and flow of the waters of church social action. As much as the church 
activists were involved in social reform movements in the sixties and 
early seventies, most of the leadership and impetus for these movements 
were not church based. The growing oppositional youth culture,* composing 
the new left and the "counterculture," was the source and inspiration for 
much of the church social activism. Therefore, the Free Church's identity 
was shaped not just by its relationship to church based social action but 
also by its role in the oppositional youth culture of the sixties and 
early seventies. The flounderings of the youth culture and social protest 
in the early seventies coincided with the flounderings of church social 
action, a fact which indicates that church social action was not an inde- 
pendent force but more a dependent product of the oppositional youth cul- 

*The concept "oppositional youth culture" is used in this study as an 
umbrella for both political and cultural youth protests. The term 
"counterculture" is used to designate just the cultural wing of youth 
protest. This is the way in which "counterculture" is most often under- 
stood now, even though it was originally understood to be the umbrella 
term by scholars. In order to avoid this confusion, "oppositional youth 

/^llT t"in-o*' Viae Ki3on iicorl -i n o *" o a #-1 

However, in spite of its apparent dependency on the radical youth 
experiments, the radical church movement was dynamic and was composed of 

its own vital and varying forces and not just con^josed of youth. Much 

like the secular oppositional youth culture, the youth radical church 
activists had their adult gurus. If A.J. Muste and Allen Ginsberg were 
early gurus or parental figures for the secular youth, seminary professors, 
pastors and priests were the parental figures for the radical church move- 
ment. People such as Harvey Cox, Malcolm Boyd, Rosemary Ruether, Daniel 
and Phillip Berrigan, Martin Luther King, Jr., Stephen Rose, Father 
Groppi and John Pairman Brown provided the "adult" leadership within the 
churches. These were individuals who had been active in longtime church 
based social action remnants (Brown, Episcopal Peace Fellowship), re- 
cently engaged in Third World struggles (the Berrigans in Latin America) , 
ecumenical social action (Cox's Secular City was written as a study 
source for the World Student Christian Federations' U.S. affiliated 
organization, the precursor to the University Christian >fovement) , civil 
rights (King and Groppi) or church renewal efforts (Boyd, Rose and Ruether). 

Youth, however, provided the critical mass for any adult led 
social action projects. And later, with "resistance" to the Viet Nam war 
church youth provided both the leadership and the critical mass. Youth 
became the vanguard for church social action in the late sixties. If 
the secular youth culture had gone beyond its early gurus in the late six- 
ties , so had the church based youth activists not without some dire con- 
sequences. The new location for radical church momentum became the oppo- 
sitional youth culture. Organizations such as the Berkeley Free Church 
had their origin in this shift in momentum. The older forces or adult 

activists were still active, however. New organizations emerged such as 
Clergy and Laity Concerned about Viet Nam (CALC) . Also church based 
protest still had vitality in the so called "peace churches," such as 
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC^ and with mainline denominational 
bureaucrats who tried to have the churches confront the world outside. 
But "underground churches," youth churches, experimental ministries and 
campus ministries, largely staffed by young seminarians or young ministers, 
became the location of church social action in the late sixties. The 
Free Church was part of and helped to create this shift. It was a shift 
to the oppositional youth culture for its momentum, to be "out on the 
brink" and "active with the Spirit" in new movements for peace and justice. 
Though still tied to established church support (largely financial) these 
experiments "on the edge" provide the context for this study of the 
Berkeley Free Church. 

We tend to forget this history, due not only to loss of memory, 
but also because today, over a decade later, the nature of religious news 
is very different. It is not social action that attracts attention, but 
"bizarre action:" the occult, the mystical, the alien and the "new re- 
ligions." Even "old time religion," seemingly making a comeback, has 
appeared in equally bizarre guise: Jesus cults, extreme fundamentalism, 
and the "Ifoonies." 

Though both periods are distinct in many ways, it is important to 
see that the line from the early sixties to the middle seventies has a 
common foundation in the nature of spiritual and political protest. Both 
religious social activism and the "spiritualization" of religion have their 
roots in the soil of modem society. They are a cry of human protest, the 
sighs of the anomic and alienated against the "seduction of the spirit" 

or, in the words of D.H. Lawrence, the "fight for the life that grows 
within us." However incongruent the successor religious movements of 
the present day may seem to the social activism of the sixties, their 
very existence and nature is dependent upon the religious social activist 
projects of the sixties. This is so because the radical church movement 
of the sixties, in its alliance with the oppositional youth culture "out 
on the brink," lost its religious vision in the early seventies and numerous 
organizations, such as the Berkeley Free Church, ceased to exist. This 
is not a study of the successor religious movements of today. But it is 

a study that provides a foundation for a better understanding of the 

early seventies and the current apolitical "new religious consciousness." 

The successor religious movements arose at a time when the early cultural 
vision of the oppositional youth culture splintered from the new left 
politics of the early seventies. The radical church participants, being 
grounded in the oppositional youth culture, mirrored this split. There- 
fore, any "new religious" movement was destined to inherit this context. 
This was a context which prejudiced the possibility for an integrated 
religious (cultural) -political consciousness. 

The Cult of Liberation is the story of a religious organization, 
the Berkeley Free Church, that had its origin in the religious and po- 
litical concerns of church social activists in the middle sixties. It is 
a story and analysis of the evolution of these social activist concerns 

within the larger dynamic of the oppositional youth culture a dynamic 

that led to the dissolution of the Free Church in the early seventies in- 
to what seemed little more than a political cult with little religion left. 
If a few "catch-words" could be used to describe this larger dynamic, they 
would be protest , vision , and experimentation . The new left experimented 

with new politics in its protest against technological society. The coun- 
terculture experimented with new life styles and values in its protest 
against valueless society. All participants in the oppositional youth 
culture experimented with a new consciousness in protest against their 

experience of the dominant one-dimensional and instrumental rationality 


in U.S. modem society. This context of protest and experimentation 

was crucial to the development of the Free Church and to the evolution of 
its "political spirituality." 

I. The Free Church; A Profile 

In the beginning, which was June 1967, the Berkeley Free Church 
was called the South Campus Commimity Ministry (SCCM) . SCCM was the 
creation of local churches and merchants in Berkeley, California con- 
cerned about the youth ghetto emerging in the "South Campus" area near the 
University of California. The South Campus had been noted for youth pro- 
test ever since the Free Speech movement in 1964. In 1967 this small 
radius of territory was a full-fledged youth ghetto, flourishing with the 
latest manifestation of youth protest, counterciiltural hippies. The so 
called hippies were the culmination of youth disenchantment with the 
"success oriented" values of dominant "adult culture." It was a time of 
all out generational revolt, with "free love," not "uptight" or dupli- 

citous love or so it was thought, in the effevescence of the moment. 

The hippies frequenting SCCM were largely responsible for its new name, 
the "Berkeley Free Church," only a month after its founding. 

The Free Churcli, the name it carried until its closing, was head- 
quartered in five main locations (see map page 7 ) , in the heart of the 
South Campus youth ghetto. The religious social action of the Free Church 

Graphic 1 




Property yet to be 
purchued by U.C. 

1. (1967) "Haste House" 4.(1970-71) Oregon Street 

2. (1968) Lutheran O.urah 5. (1971) Saenia Avenue 

3. (1969) Tuo locations : (Interaction Center) 
Parker Street and ' 6. (1972) UNITAS 

"Human Interaction Center" 7. SUBMARINE CHURCH 


Ramparts , August 1969 

Special issue on "People's Park" 


was greatly colored by its location, in this youth ghetto from its hippie 

counts rcultural origin to its new left politics. This evolution from 
"hippie church" to political cult is the main story of the Free Church, 
and can be partially told here by describing the Free Church's changing 
purpose, structure, leadership and constituency. 

The Purpose of the Free Church 

The "South Campus" in Berkeley is not only the home of a large 
student-youth population, it is also the location of a high concentration 
of churches and small shops. SCCM, in the beginning, being a creation of 
concerned merchants and church leaders, reflected their concerns in its 
purpose. The summer of 1967 had been forecast as a time of conflict 
and of irreconcilable differences. A large influx of hippies was ex- 
pected to make its way to Berkeley and to the Haight Ashbury district of 
San Francisco. The previous summer, nerchants, clergy and city authori- 
ties experienced a situation of over-extended housing and basic social 
services along with over-extended toleration for this new breed of "pamp- 
ered youth," loitering on sidewalks and "displaying odd habits." There- 
fore, conflict resolution and providing for basic services were on the 
minds of a small group of merchants and clergy who conceived the idea of 
a ministry to these South Campus youths. The purpose of the ministry would 
be to convince city authorities of the legiti-nate needs and aspirations of 
the hippies while at the same time interpreting to the hippies the interests 
and concerns of city leaders and residents. 

No clear concept of what this attempt at human reconciliation and 
"basic communication" might entail was articulated at the beginning. Its 
exact nature and structure were to be worked out through a process of 


assessment and reassessment as the experimental ministry unfolded. In 

late May of 1967 Incorporation papers and by-laws were drawn up in which 

the purpose of SCCM Inc. was expressed: 

To minister to the needs of persons in the South 
Campus area, especially those temporarily resident 
in ways which are feasible for an association not 
directly based in local religious, humanitarian, 
municipal and welfare Institutions. 

This mandate to minister to the "needs of persons" who were "temporarily 
resident" led the SCCM in two directions slmviltaneously. The first was 
to establish a social service referral organization: a telephone switch- 
board that would help youth find housing, food, health care, and counsellng- 
an alternative social service agency quickly emerged. The second direction 
was more or less unintended, though still falling within the stated pur- 
pose: a "congregational" or "church" aspect to the ministry. The "Free 
Church" (for many meaning the "Hippie Church") was as much a fact of life 
for the early SCCM as was the switchboard. The hippies had religious needs 
that could not be directly met by "local religious institutions." The 
hippies were alienated from established churches. Therefore, a ministry 
such as SCCM took little prodding from hippies to become a free church . 
An up-off-the streets church emerged. 

For most of the participants (leadership and youth) , the "service" 
and congregational aspects of the ministry were inseparable in its first 
few months. Even for many of the sponsors, these two developments had to 
be seen as very positive and potentially very productive for the recon- 
ciliation and conflict resolution concerns of the clergy and merchants. 
By gaining the confidence of the hippies, SCCM, by all accounts, was a 
success from the start — '-at least relative to the minimal concerns and 


La'csr on, t±ough, when the ernerging congregation by its "protesting 
hippie" nature and origin becanje a base for an independent voice within 
SCCM, a new dynamic began. The Free Church increasingly became the 
champion of "street people's" needs and rights, tiiat is, the advocate of 
the needs and rights of its "hippie congregation." Ihis dynamic grew to 
the point vhere reconciliation, in its old conflict management form, be- 
came untenable. Tne only possible basis for reconciliation, from the 
emerging congregations' point of viev, became the recognition of the Ic- 

gitiziate needs and goals of the street culture by various authorities 

whether they be police or the original sponsoring merchants and clergy. 
This new purpose within the ministry led the Free Church increasingly to 
see themselves, not without some adbivalence, as an organization rooted 
less in the "establishment" and aore within the youth ghetto of the South 
Carpus itself. 

Anwng the numerous reasons for this, two are worth mentioning in 
this introductory profile. The first was the composition of the youth 
ghetto which had not only its counterculture hippies but its political 
radicals as well. The second factor was the nature c:f the staff leader- 
ship of the Free C;iurch, and its predisposition to the youth ghetto, in 
both its cultural and political forms, and the development of a new 
counter religious organization. 

Structure and Leadership 
The early sponsors of the Free Church, merchants and clergy, 
realized triat for their reconciliation goal of the proposed ministry to 
be successful they needed a "director" who could gain the trust of "the 
kids." It was realized that none of the adult sponsors could fill this 


role. They were "over thirty" and too tied to the establishment to be 

"trusted." A young person with sympathies toward hippies was needed 

that is, someone who could mediate between the hippies' interests and 
concerns and those of the SCCM sponsors and city authorities. The sponsors 
hired Richard York, a recent graduate of the local Episcopal seminary in 
Berkeley, the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) . He was young 
at 28 years (but not too young, for this job required "maturity," too). 
He had counter cultural credentials and was eager. York become the di- 
rector and was the only paid staff person at the time. York, as the 
sponsors' hired staff person, working with a growing clientele of hippies, 
was the key to the sponsors' reconciliation goal. The reconciliation 
goal helped to foster a three-tiered organizational structure, a structure 
which remained, though in modified form, until the Free Church closed. 

1. At the "top" was the board of trustees of the Free Church. 

The board was composed of the early sponsors and of additional sympathetic 
church and community people. Their main functions were to "legitimize" 
the Free Church and to provide the means, money, buildings and equipment 
to sustain the organization. Ultimate decision-making officially rested 
with the board, though day-to-day decisions were the prerogative of the 
director and his growing staff. 

2. In the middle were the intra-organizational reconcilers 

director York and (eventually) other staff members. The Free Church main- 
tained three full-time staff positions throughout most of its history 

a director, a "theologian-in- residence" and a social service organizer, 
often seen as co-directorships. These three positions did not fully ma- 
terialize until 1968. However, this "middle tier" component was a reality 
in 1967 with: the volunteer help of "responsible hippies" to oversee the 


switchboard workers, the subsistence wage work of Glee Bishop, a friend 
of York's from seminary, and the everpresent help of York's first wife, 
Joy Nesraith. 

The relationship between "paid staff" and the "volunteer staff" 
actually created two levels within this middle tier, levels that remained 
until the Free Church dissolved. The upper level was composed of the three 
full-time, large salaried staff positions. The lower level was composed 
of part-time volunteer (or later "subsistence wage") staff. The latter 
were primarily drawn from the Free Church's street clientele. The full- 
time staff were more directly accountable to the board, while the part- 
time workers were officially accountable to the full-time staff. The 
loyalty and identification of both the full-time and part-time staff, 
however, was (though to a lesser degree for full-time staff) with the 

"bottom tier" of the organization the volunteer workers, the "clientele," 

or the street constituency. At most points in the Free Church's history 
it maintained a large "volunteer army" to operate the service ministry. 
These volunteers plus the part-time staff were often either considered to 
be the lower level of the middle tier or the real bottom tier of the or- 
ganization. These distinctions remained vague. 

3. The bottom tier was most often, however, seen as just the 
clientele that frequented the Free Church. Youth who came by to use the 
Free Church's switchboard, hoiising or referral services, though amorphous, 
were considered to be "part of the Free Church." They were the "hangers- 
on," the mobilizable street people who could be counted on for Free Church 
work or street projects such as: staffing the switchboard, building parks, 
putting up posters, or demonstrating. Membership in the Free Church's 
growing congregation was never well-defined. Therefore, if one went to a 


worship service or even utilized the social services of the Free Church, 
one was often considered a Free Church "member." This lack of member- 
ship definition was very much in keeping with the "participatory" nature 
of the politics and culture of the 1960's. 

However, when this bottom tier of the organization sought a real 
part in the decision making process at the board level, or even at the 
staff level, it was usually accomplished by the subsistence wage staff, 
overseeing the volunteers. The term "clientele," which was often used by 
upper level staff and board members to describe this bottom tier, betrayed 
a definite notion of inequality. In a very real sense this bottom tier 
was often just the youth ghetto constituency of the South Campiis ; it was 
the pool of "coercibles" or possible converts to the Free Church's social 
service or other programs. At different stages in its history, the Free 
Church, in good "catholic" fashion, spoke of the South Campus as its 
"parish." The bottom tier then, in the finail analysis, was the whole pop- 
ulation of the youth ghetto. 

The important fact about this three-tiered structure was that in 
practice it functioned to put most of the power in the hands of the three 
full-time paid staff members. They made decisions on a day-to-day basis 
and could effectively isolate either the bottom or top tiers by playing 
one against the other. They were the facilitators, the mediators, and 
in the end the major determining force within the organization. Who held 
these three full-time staff positions? 

The position of director was held by Richard York from the beginning 
of the Free Church in 1967 until its end in 1972. The official title of 
"director" was often dropped in favor of a more collective sounding title 
such as co-staff, co-director or co-pastor. York, however, was the main 


force and guiding spirit behind the Free Church. 

Glee Bishop and York's first wife Joy shared many of the respon- 
sibilities of the ministry in the early days of the Free Qiurch. They 
helped in most of the crisis situations with the hippies. Bishop, a 
trained social worker, eventually became the head of the social service 

switchboard side of the ministry. She also received assistance from her 

spouse, Darrol, a CDSP graduate with York. She held that position un- 

til the summer of 1968. Bishop and York worked as a team the first year. 

In the summer of 1968 the Free Church began its triumvirate staff 
arrangement. Anthony Nugent, another friend of York's from seminary and 
a fellow community organizer in Oakland, became co-director or co-pastor. 
He was in charge of a new component of the ministry, a coffee house- 
community center. Nugent held this position until February, 1970. 
Joining Nugent in 1968 was John Pairman Brown, York's and Nugent' s former 
professor in seminary. Brown's position on the staff was as the "resi- 
dent theologian." His primary role was to interpret the fast-moving 
events on the street to avoid losing perspective on their real meaning in 
theological terms. Brown held this position almost until the end of the 
Free Church, he resigned before its closing. Both Nugent and Brown were 
more political than the hippies of the first year; and both were firmly 
grounded in the radical church movement of the time. Their presence was 
crucial to the development and evolution of the Free Church in more polit- 
ical and alternative church directions. 

After Nugent left the Free Church, Richard Boylan took his place, 
not as co-director but as York's administrative assistant. Boylan, a 
former Catholic priest, was a student in the School of Social Welfare at 
the University. His work as administrator was largely to stabilize and 


consolidate the social service component of the ministry. This he 
attempted while trying to cope with the deteriorating environment of the 
late 1960s and the internal contradictions of the three tiered organization 
and the re-emergence of the reconciliation purpose of the organization. 

There were many other people, too numerous to mention here in the 
Introduction, who contributed significantly to the life of the Free Church. 
Their names will appear as the story of the Free Church unfolds in the 
following chapters. I have particularly mentioned the names of the key 
staff people because of the crucial role they played in giving direction 
to the Free Church. In fact, the Free Church story can largely be told 
by documenting how the key staff people functioned in an evolving organ- 
ization. The story cannot, however, be told in isolation from other 
factors. For what the staff did, and could do, was relative to the 
evolving structure and purpose of the organization amidst the total en- 
vironment of the sixties and the various constituencies that developed in 
the youth ghetto of the South Campus. 

It must be admitted, however, that the data available to the author 
was largely from the perspective of the staff leadership. Most of 
the bottom tier of the Free Church, due to its transient nature, could not 
be located and substantively tapped. Therefore, the data still remains 
only partial on the Free Church. However, it is my contention, which is 
supported by ample evidence in the following chapters, that it was the 
leadership of the Free Church, if anyone, who was responsible for the 
successes and failures of the Free Church. This study is largely about them. 

Constituency and Base 
It seems clear that from the start there existed two models for 


the ministry that came to be called the "Berkeley Free Church." First, 
there was the social ser-vice and reconciliation model. The second was 
the rapidly emerging alternative church and advocacy model. These two 
models, though not inherently or theoretically irreconcilable, were con- 
stantly in tension with each other. Also, though they were different, it 
is important to note that the origin of both was rooted in the church 
social activism of the 1960s. The "world out there" had to be taken 
seriously. If you were liberal clergy, as were most of the early Free 
Church sponsors, the plight of hippies must be dealt with to be true to 
your Christian faith. The faithful must be active in God's reconciling 
process in the world. Also, if you were a young activist seminarian like 
York, Nugent, Bishop or Boylan, or an activist seminary professor like 
Brown, "messy" tasks such as an experimental ministry to hippies and rad- 
icals was a logical means for involvement in the world. Staid suburban 
parishes, seen as isolated from the real world, were not options for these 
activists. Therefore, perhaps it was no surprise that with such a pre- 
disposed leadership the Free Church would move in the direction of an al- 
ternative church a church that advocated the perceived rights, needs 

and values of its constituency over against an established society and 
church that were increasingly coming under attack from this constituency. 
Therefore, the Free Church always had two constituencies for whom, or two 
bases from which it operated: the church and the world or religion and po- 
litical action. At different moments within its history the emphasis was 
greater in one direction or the other. And the Free Church's organizational 
self-understanding, at given moments, depended upon which constituency and 
base it emphasized the most. 

Its church based constituency rapidly developed beyond the vision 


of the local liberal clergy sponsors. In fact, by 1970 the Free Church 
was seen by many church activists as one of the "vanguard" organizations 
within the national radical church movement. This position was established 
by alliances with radical and renewal segments of the church and with the 
oppositional youth culture (in the world). First, the Free Church allied 
itself with other church radicals across the country. These were mainly 
radicals who were protesting the war in Viet Nam. The leadership of the 
Free Church played an active role in the Resistance Movement, which re- 
fused the military draft. Nugent, York and Brown were all members of 
the Resistance. These contacts later allowed the Free Church to help co- 
ordinate national confrontations against the established church structure. 
These church radicals criticized the churches for falling to put the re- 
sources of the church on the side of peace and the oppressed. But the 
radical church movement was not just church activists outside the church 
structures. It also consisted of key church leaders in the bureaucracies 
of all the large denominations. The Free Church generally subsisted on 
large grants from church agencies controlled by sympathetic bureaucrats. 
The Free Church's alliances with these bureaucrats gained it an indispens- 
able, but ambiguous, legitimacy as well as money to keep the organization 
alive and solvent. These bureaucrats were also motivated by a vision of 
"church renewal" through active involvement in the reformation of the world. 

Church renewal, to be achieved through societal renewal, became the 

cornerstone of radical church strategy in the 1960's. And it determined 

the location of the second constitioency and base of operation and support 

for the Free Church's similar twin goals: the oppositional youth culture. 

This base may not have been on the agenda or the minds of many of the 

original Free Church sponsors, but it became an indispensible part of what 


the Free Church was becoming: a radical church. In the beginning the 
Free Church found this base outside the church in the cause of the counter 
cultural hippies. But with the Free Church leadership's involvement in the 
antiwar movement, this base was expanded to include a strong political 
component. However, perhaps the most significant factor in determining 
the base and constituency within the world for the free Church was its 
location in the youth ghetto of South Campus Berkeley. The Free Church's 
location "on the street" brougjit it into daily contact and identification 
with the program and destiny of new left radicals. The Free Church could 
not avoid involvement in the massive demonstrations and riots, from the 
French Solidarity Strike to People's Park. Whether it was involved as an 
agent of reconciliation or as an advocate, it was involved. It had to be. 
The dual program of church and societal renewal demanded it. Its legit- 
imacy as a vanguard radical church was justified to the extent it was in- 
volved. And just being on the street left no alternative. 

The tensions of this strategy which defined the Free Church's con- 
stituencies and base in the oppositional youth culture's politics and 
life styles, for the sake of church renewal, is the basis for understanding 
the evolution of the Free Church from a hippie church to a political cult. 
By 1972, it shared the destiny of most of the movements spawned in the 

II. Significance of Free Church and Relationship 
to the Oppositional Youth Culture 

The radical church movement, of which the Free Church was part, 

shared many features of the secular youth politics and culture of the 

sixties. Much has been written about the nature of youth protest in the 

sixties. The one common feature that most commentators agree upon was the 


existence of a "new consciousness." But this was not a new conscious- 

ness in fully developed form; it was in the making. And just as signif- 
icant, it was based on a negative critique and assessment of modem so- 
ciety and the dominant notion of reality. Madem society was criticized 
for reducing the human being to a mere tool and in the process killing 
the "inner spirit." Therefore, this new consciousness was based on protest 
against this fact of dehumanization. The very essence of humanity, its 
transcendant quality, which distinguished it from lower animal forms and 
machines, had been denied. The sigh of the inner life, the need for 
meaning in a meaningless world, were the starting points of this new 
consciousness. The torch of protest was picked up by youth to illuminate 
the darkness of this "reduction" of humanity to mere machines. They be- 
came the agent for a new politics and ctilture. 

Much like the location of youth protest in general, the radical 
church movement took place largely within the insulated confines of edu- 
cational institutions. The seminaries were ablaze with seminarians at- 
tacking the evils of society. Many major seminaries in the United States 
were temporarily "closed down" in the 1960s due to protests about civil 
rights, the war or the process of education itself. Also important as a 
location of the radical church movement were the campus ministries within 
many universities. 

The nature of protest at the seminaries was similar to the secular 
youth protest. They were essentially protests about the quality of life 
in modem society. This protest was translated into attacks on institutions 
that allegedly helped to foster a reduction of life and failed to come to 
grips with basic human problems and needs. The educational institutions 
were an early target. Education was too oriented to developing noninvolved 


"cheerful robots" oriented to an "overdeveloped society." Cheerful 

robots were not inclined to the involvement necessary to "right the wrongs" 
of racism and militarism. A major target for the radical seminarians 
was the institution of religion. Religion was seen to be misused as an 
agent for fostering technocratic values which helped to legitimate cheer- 
ful robots. The very religious symbols and values important to the in- 
tegrity of the transcendent dimension of life were now drained of real 
content in order to support the machine-like processes of modem society. 
Along with secular activists, the radical seminarians uncovered repressive 
forces at every turn of the Great Machine Society's wheels. The family, 

the church, the university, the state all institutions and every area 

of life were being reduced to the logic of techniques for the lubrication 
of bureaucratic "machinery." 

Therefore, the starting point for the new consciousness that the 
church radicals shared with secular radicals was a negative critique of 
modem life. The bases of success in modem society were under attack 
and rejected. Success or achievement for personal careers or rewards were 
affronts to activists' vision of humanity. Their vision saw humanity as 
capable of transcending the egoism of the self. They also viewed society 
as "uptight," no longer capable of feeling. This denial of feeling was 
a degradation of what it meant to be a total person. But there was an 
affirmation (even if only implicit) in the midst of this negative critique: 
humanity is one, people are ends in themselves and create their own history. 
Therefore, on the basis of this affirmation and negative critique, an al- 
ternative strategy was developed. There were, however, few available 
models for developing real alternatives. In fact, as youth there was even 
little personal experience to draw upon, many activists felt that the 


imagination would show the way. The way would be a process of experimen- 
tation based on a politics of protest, vision and imagination. It was a 
fragile foundation to build an alternative history, but it was all that 
existed or so it seemed. 

A key component of this strategy was disaffiliation, the "Great 
Refusal" that was so often talked about in the sixties. All of society 
was debased. The only way out was to forge a con^letely new alternative. 
Crucial to this negative assessment was the delegitimation of the justif- 
ications that were used to maintain modem society, such as private 
property, competition and the pursuit of wealth. The new mentality was 
a debunking mentality and at times a "value relativism," partially culti- 
vated by the educational process which focused on science. In many ways 
this debunking or scientific mentality was a cornerstone for the very 
society the radicals challenged. The methods and principles of science 
would be utilized to analyze "sacred" values and show their arbitrariness 
and relationship to false values. For the dominant society such a men- 
tality also fostered a passivity of values and the worship of experts and 

This value-relative posture was only partially shared by the 
radical church movement. Certainly organizations like the Free Church were 
motivated by a negative critique of society and established religion but it 
had a valxoe-rich tradition from which to draw. The Christian faith was a 
functioning source of inspiration and commitment. The radical church move- 
ment did see the need to go outside the church structure and set up "ex- 
perimental ministries." This was a certain kind of disaffiliation, but 
mainly oriented to structures rather than values. They did not, at least 
initially, disaffiliate with their biblical faith. They just wanted the 
content put back into it. 


Many issues have to be sorted out to understand the reason for 
this evolution and apparent failure. Or perhaps one could argue, and 
should at least pose the possibility, that the cult direction was the 
only option for the Free Church given the alternatives at the time. Also, 
one should raise the possibility that this direction was in fact chosen for 
the sake of its religious dimension. How can this be so? Only careful 
retelling of the story of the Free Church in relationship to its church 
resources and its oppositional youth culture resource can we begin to 
answer this question or look for other more viable interpretations. 

The major point to be stressed in the telling of the Free Church's 
story (and the basis for my interpretation in the concluding chapter) is 
that the outcome was negatively prejudiced by the fragile (though hopeful) 
beginning of the radical protest of the sixties. This was a fragility 
that was due to a "flight of consciousness" and an experimentation oriented 
strategy for devising and rooting an alternative reality in the face of 
great odds. The risks were great in this strategy but so was the option 
not to try. Indeed the radical movement's trail was marked with many false 
solutions and growing opposition. But in the end there did emerge at least 
a deepening analysis of modem society within this struggle of which we 
are the beneficiaries. 

There were built-in contradictions in the radical church move- 
ment which at times were the source of creiivity, but which in the face 
of opposition were also the source of the movement's inability to move 
beyond a politics and culture of protest, vision and experimentation. 
These contradictions were largely the result of the radical church move- 
ment's dependency on the very church structures it criticized. For ex- 
ample, its financial survival was contingent upon denominational funding. 


But this dependency was also related to the limitations of a strategy based 
too much on vision, too much on the exposure of the evils of society and 
not enough on an adequate understanding of the roots of these evils and 
how to root the vision. Caught in the dilemma of these contradictions, 
the radical church movement, much like its youth culture allies, mirrored 
the dominant culture, sought inappropriate alliances, and was coopted or 
defeated in its program for change and revolution. 

Admittedly, these comments are broad strokes from the pen of 
hindsight; they are not meant as a total denial of the worth or the sig- 
nificance of the radical church movement in the struggles of the sixties. 
The heritage that these struggles have given us is rich and in the end 
hopeful. We mxist, however, sort out the successes from the failures and 
ask penetrating questions to arrive at a better understanding of the 
apparent demise of a hopeful experiment. Perhaps the movement was only 
premature or its demise only a momentary disruption of its history. 

The following case study of the Berkeley Free Church is an attempt 
to describe one example of a group that was part of the project of the 
sixties. The study is a contribution to the continuation of the fight for 
the life forces that emerged in the sixties. Therefore, it is hoped that 
usable elements for societal reconstruction might be isolated in this 

study elements that would take us beyond the wasteland of technocratic 

society. I propose to attempt this goal by tracing the evolution of the 
Free Church from its social activist religious roots through its identifi- 
cation with the cultural and political struggles of the oppositional youth 
culture of Berkeley, California. Particularly important in this study is 
the focus on an explicitly "religious" organization in the midst of these 
struggles. This focus allows us some observations about a strategy that 


would be appropriate for religious activists, who must take seriously the 
struggle for and recovery of the transcendent in modem life without being 
reduced to bizarre religiosity. 

III. Questions, Method and 

Why did the Berkeley Free Church cease to exist? In attempting 
to answer this question, this study of the Free Church will also attempt 
to provide answers to other related questions. One question, why the 
current religious situation is dominated by bizarre religiosity, is only 
posed, but its answer is indirectly given. This study can be seen as an 
attempt to provide the basis for a better understanding of our current 
religious setting inside and outside the established churches. 

The location of the Free Church within both the established churches 
and the oppositional youth culture allow us to pose specific questions 
relative to each, and seek some answers. What was the nature of the 
youth culture's protest and strategy that contributed to the Free Church's 
own self conception and eventual demise? What was the nature of the es- 
tablished church's religious foundation on which the Free Church also 
based its self conception (even if only a negative critique) and contri- 
buted to its demise? Why did the Free Church fail to develop a -"Tiable 
alternative in its relationship to established religion and the youth 
culture? Why did the Free Church loose its religious integrity? And did 
this loss of integrity contribute to its final disruption and failure to 
create an alternative? 

Also within a careful retelling of the story of the Free Church 
and a thoughtful analysis we might get a glimpse of why the oppositional 


youth culture ceased to exist at least in its original form. The study 

of the Berkeley Free Church, however, is an attempt to answer a more 
specific question too: what is the appropriate form of a new radical re- 
ligious alternative? One that would be able to leam from the mistakes 
of the radical church experiments of the sixties. 

In order to best answer these questions I have approached the 
study of the Free Church chronologically, to show how the Free Church 
evolved, relative to the specific environment of the sixties. I have 
presented this historical material in five chapters, basically oriented 
to retelling the story. I have attempted to present the data on its own 
terms (not from an unbiased perspective for this is impossible given the 
questions in which I am interested) , to let the events themselves tell 
the story. With the specific questions mentioned above guiding my choice 
of events, the analysis emerged. The final chapter is my attempt to come 
to grips with the meaning of the analysis that unfolded in the telling of 
the story of the Free Church for present day political spirituality. 

I was fortunate to have had access to the personal files of 
Richard York, and other principal participants in the Free Church, as well 
as the general archives of the Free Church. These documents provided the 
foundation on which I could begin a process of interviewing over forty 
individuals associated with the Free Church. The historical docviments and 
the interviews, however, were skewed in the direction of the leadership 
of the Free Church. However, I sought to offset this limitation by putting 
the story of the Free Church, and its analysis in the context of dyanmics 
larger than leadership differences or mistaken .judgements. In the final 
analysis, the demise of the Free Church must not lie in any one individual's 
hands, but in what Max Weber has called the "iron cage" of modem society. 


But the larger goal, to which this study points, is not just an inter- 
pretation of this iron cage but the ability to change it, to release the 
captive transcendent in modem society. 


Correction: The documents are no longer held at the 
CRRE Historical Archives, but as of 1995 are in the 
Graduate Theological Union Archives, Berkeley, CA. 

V. Valley Forge, PA: The Judson Press, 1965); ed. The Church Amid 
Revolution . (New York: Association Press, 196 7); The Secular City , 
Secularization and Urbanization in Theological Perspective . (New York: 
MacMillan, 1965). On Not Leaving it to the Snake . (New York: 
MacMillan, 1967). 

Charles Y. Clock, Benjamin B. Ringer and Earl R. Babbie, To 

Comfort and to Challenge, a Dilemma of the Contemporary Church . (Berkeley: 

University of California Press, 1967); Robert Lee, ed. , The Church and 

the Exploding Metropolis . (Richmond, VA: John Knox Press, 1965); 

and Pierre Berton, The Comfortable Pew . (New York: J.B. Lippincott, 1965). 

J.C. Hoekendijk, The Church Turned Inside Out . (Philadelphia: 

Westminster, 1962). 

The "Moonies" are the followers of Sung Myung Moon's Unifi- 
cation Church. The first study of Moon was by John Lofland, The 
Doomesday Cult . (New York: Prentice Hall, 1966). For broad treat- 
ments of the new religions see: Jacob Needleman, The New Religions . 
(New York: Doubleday, 1970); and Charles Y. Clock and Robert N. Bellah, 
ed. , The New Religious Consciousness . (Berkeley: University of Cal- 
ifornia Press, 1976). 

The conquest of the spirit has been a recurrent theme in 
many contemporary analyses of modem culture. Harvey Cox, The Seduction 
of the Spirit, The Use and Misuse of People's Religion . (New York: Simon 
and Schuster, 1973) ; Theodore Roszak, The Making of a Counter Culture , 
Reflections on the Technocratic Society and its Youthful Opposition . 
(Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Co., 1969); ^tyron B. Bloy, Jr., ed. , 
Search for the Sacred, The New Spiritual Quest . (New York: Seabury 
Press, 1972); and Morris Pi ckstein, Gates of Eden, American Culture in the 
Sixties . (New York: Basic Books, 1977). 

Dickstein, Gates of Eden , p. 1. 


Clock and Bellah, New Religious Consciousness . 

Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man, Studies in the Ideology 

of Advanced Indijstrial Society . (Boston: Beacon Press, 196A) ; Jurgen 

Habermas, Toward a Rational Society, Student Protest, Science and Politics . 

trans, by Jermey J. Shapiro (Boston: Beacon Press, 1968). C. Wright 

Mills, "Culture and Politics," in Power, Politics and People . (New York: 

Ballantine Books, 1963) pp. 236-246. 

28 ' 


"Proposed By-Laws for South Campus Coimnittee," 1967, CRRE 
Historical Archives, Berkeley, California. 

Paul Jacobs and Saul Landau, The New Radicals . (New York: 
Vintage Books, 1966); Arthur G. Gish, "An Analysis of the New Left." 
in Ihe New Left and Christian Radicalism . (Grand Rapids, MI, 1970) 
pp. 7-46; and Kirkpatrick Sale, SDS . (New York: Random House, 19 73). 


Glee Bishop has since remarried and has returned to her maiden 



Stephen C. Rose, The Grass Roots Church, A Manifesto for 

Protestant Renewal . (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966); 

and John R. Fry, The Trivialization of the United Presbyterian Church . 

(New York: Harper and Row, 1975). 


Charles A. Reich, The Greening of America. (New York: Bantam 

Books, 1970); John Charles Cooper, The New Mentality . (Philadelphia: 

Westminster Press, 1969); Roszak, Counter Culture and Clock and Bellah, 

Religious Consciousness ; Mills, "Culture and Politics;" and Richard 

Flacks, Youth and Social Change . (Chicago: Markham, 1971). 

Documents on the closing down of Pacific School of Religion, 
Harvard Divinity School and Union Theological Seminary, New York, can 
be obtained at the CRRE archives. 

"""^Mills, "Culture and Politics." 

Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man ; Mills, "Culture and Politics;" 
Roszak, Counter Culture . 


Roszak, Counter Culture ; Roszak, Where the Wasteland Ends , 

Politics and Transcendence in Postindus trial Society . (New York: 

Anchor Books, 1973); Habermas, Rational Society ; Peter Berger, The 

Sacred Canopy . (New York: Anchor Books, 1969) ; and A Rumor of Angels . 

(Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1969). For a treatment of the 

rise of "scientific value relativism" see Arnold Brecht, Political 

Theory. The Fotmdations of Twentieth-Century Political Thought . 

(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1959) pp. 207-260. 

Chapter II 



Berkeley's hip-radical newspaper the Berkeley Barb claimed that 
Christianity's tentative answer to hippie-poet and guru Allen Ginsberg 
was given by the Free Church. This "ultimate compliment" was paid 
in the reporting of the Free Church's August 12, 1967 Festival of the 
Virgin Mary. The Festival, celebrated just two months after the start 
of the Free Church, was "complete with rock bands, kids painting cars 
and the peace torch flickering beside a ten foot statue of the virgin." 

The Festival, held in the parking lot of the First Presbyterian Church, 

just off Telegraph Avenue, drew 500 people. Poetry was later written 

to capture the event: 

we made her statue ten feet tall 

a trailer in the parking lot 

was where she stood 

her station was the sky 

were you there 

i cannot convey it unless you were 

gaunt mary draped in burlap gazed us down 

half-risen as she seemed 

we traded garmets [sic] at her feet 

while many dreamed _ 

new idiom met the old mythology 

New idiom did meet the old mythology in the Festival. Allen Gins- 
berg met Christianity; the summer-af ter-Haight-Ashbury-flower-children 
met the Church and free love hippies met the Virgin. 

During the Festival, Richard Lyle York, the "hippie priest" of 



the Free Church, led a procession of clergy. He was carrying a pot of 
holy water while incense bearers perfumed the way. "The procession then 
wound out through the crowds to the center, where the ministers proceeded 
with the ceremonial washing of the feet of twelve spectators." The 
Barb account of the event continues: "York read a prayer-poem entitled 
'I would like to rise very high' by Michel Quoist, a French slum priest. 
Candles were passed out and some of the crowd joined the procession. 

York blessed the crowd by flicking holy water onto it with a green branch 

as he went. The procession stopped at the feet of the virgin." 

what is this coming together of 


in happenings 

all ages and all faiths 

or none 

with the old symbols a new pantheon 

with new laughter the old festivals 

are graced 

what is this levity 

against a darkening sky 

and who believes 

god has no sense of humor 

and no fun 

the festival was joyous 

and we came 

and lit a torch for peace 

did mary smile 

o were you there 

did you see the washing of the feet 

did you bear a light 

in the procession of lights 

in the altered street 

was it you behind me and can you tell me why 

i am i 

whoever that may be 

and why 

we came 5 

People made attempts, other than poetry, to analyze the event. 

York wrote in his daily journal that the Festival "really turned people 

on. [It] was a real bridge. [The] foot washing illustrated what the 

Graphic 2 


Free Church Archive/CRRE 



Free Church is all about serving each other." Five years later, York 

once r.ore spoke of the foot washing act. 

Ve did a procession out in the middle of this big "be--in" 
at the intermission and did a number on the microphone, 
a real short one, about why we were having this and what 
the Free Church was. Then we started washing hippies' 
feet with big buckets of warm soap water and towelis, in 
all these big vestments. . .it just blew these freaks minds. 

Cause, here were all these clergy washing their feet 

which is just what it was all about. 

Whether or not the foot washing was "just what it v;as all about," 

the event did symbolize what the Free Church was rapidly becoming, a 

hippie church . Another analysis of Che Festival concluded: 

The Assumption Festival. . .was in large part spontaneous, 
worked out by the community which clotted around the Yorks . 
I look at it here not as something staged by a student of 
Christian liturgy but as a happening produced and accepted 
by a conmmity." 

That conrnunity (or as they liked to refer tc theirselves at the time, 

"faraily") -^.'as a crurch, facilitated by the hippie priest, Richard Lyle 



V.'ho was hippie priest who could be accepted by a crowd of 

500 to bless them with holy water' How and why did he happen to be in 

chat parking lot? The answers to thfse questions take us into the whole 

culture and eavircnnent of the late sixties. A horaily by York on St. 

Francis of Assisi given in October of 1967 in a hippie celebration at 

the Berkeley Catholic Newman Center helps to illustrate the cultural 

context in vhich the Free Church and York participated. 

Let i^e run it down to you about this cat from Assisi.' 
Like he had super-advantages. Kls family had all the 
bread they needed. His mother was cool. His father was 
a straight businessman v;i th cluuh for sale: respectable, 
leading citizen in the coniriiunity , 


As a teen-ager he was like super-straight too. He 
was gifted, promising, with a successful career before 
bin in the family business.... 

His case history shows no signs of like turning- on 
with drugs but he began to act, much of the time like 
he were on a "trip," withdrawn, and experiencing visions 
ard hallucinations. . . . 

Eis actions became increasingly bizarre. Like he 
insisted nothing mattered but love and brotherhood. He 
r^de it with the Peace scene too, and openly advocated 
total integration. 

But what really blew the minds of the straights vras 
that ha turned against education and urged the run- 
aways and drop outs who flocked to share his pads to 
stay away from books. .. . 

The cat claimed he was trying to live like Jesus.... 

Like he put it all down so he could love people 
and do his thing, which he said was God's thing and the 
thing we all should do.^ 

Richard York came to the ministry with the Free Church by letting 
go of nuch of what he could have easily had. He was "gifted, promising., 
with a successful career before him." As a student at the San Francisco 
Art Institute and as a seminarian at the Church Divinity School of the 
Pacific (CDS?), he excelled. He graduated with honors in theology and 
church his tor;.- frc3 CDS?, winning nunerous prizes and fellowships. He 
was gifted at oraror-y. He won the senior class bomiletics prize, re- 
ceiv2-ng ofiers to put hxs sermon to musical and cramatxc rorm. 

Prl^'ilage and success were not always so certain for York. As 
the r?j.ddle of three children, he grew up in a family he characterized 
eccnc-^ically as living in "genteel poverty." ' His mother was a trained 
nurse but ?=ve up her profession when ?he married York's father. York's 
father, educated et Occidental College, was an of f-again-on-again sec- 
ondary school teacher and salesperson. 

Religion was a major aspect of York's family life. His mother 
was a third generation Anglican Am.erican from. Pennsylvania. Her grand- 


father, George Zeller, was an Anglican priest. Zeller wrote a major book 
on the Christian case against "reason and evolution," which York eventually 
refuted in a term paper for a seventh grade science class. York's father 
was raised a Presbyterian when his family moved to the Bakersfield Valley 
region of California, after ranching in Montana. York's parents met in 
a "Christian Endeavor" meeting. These groups were pan-Christian youth 
groups similar to the YMCA and YWCA movements. After his parents married 
they raised their family in "Bible preaching" conservative Presbyterian 
Churches. York lived in Holl3wood, California his first eleven years. 
Here the family attended the Glendale Presbyterian Church where the well 
known conservative minister, Ted Cupman, was pastor. York called the 
church a very f undamentalis tic church; no movies were allowed, for example. 
York recalled attending four services every Sunday. There was also re- 
ligious discipline at home: meal and bed-time prayers and special family 
devotions . 

York began his upward climb in status after his parents moved to 
Santa Maria, California, where he attended three years of high school. 
He excelled in school and at the end of his senior year began dating 
one of the most popular girls in the school, Joy Nesmith. Nesmith was 
the daughter of the minister of the local Methodist Church attended by 
the York's after briefly atending the local Presbyterian Church. York and 
Nesmith went away to college. York went to the Iftiiversity of California 
at Santa Barbara and Nesmith went to Whittier College. This arrangement 
lasted less than two years. They both moved to San Francisco. York 
attended art school and Nesmith enrolled at San Francisco State. They 
were married the next year, 1961. 


The next few years Joy and Dick York shared a religious quest. 
In 1962, via tape recording from a Pentecostal uncle in Fresno, Dick and 
Joy converted to tongue speaking. They ran prayer groups while attending 
the Anglo-Catholic Episcopal parish. Holy Innocence in San Francisco. 
Their prayer groups coincided with James A. Pike's attempt to censure 
pentecostals in the Diocese of California of which he was Bishop. Nation 
magazine, doing a story on these events, interviewed Joy and Dick. The 
next stop was Episcopal seminary at CDSP in Berkeley. 

In the beginning, Joy and Dick did not share similar politics. 
Dick was a Republican and Joy was a Democrat. Dick recalls wearing his 
"I like Ike" button when Dwight David Eisenhower was the Republican can- 
didate for President. He considered himself apolitical in comparison 
to Joy. Besides the political education he received from Joy, he also 
received first hand consciousness-raising in 1960. His political science 
class tried to attend the San Francisco meetings of the House UnAmerican 
Activities Committee. Along with other students picketing the meetings, 
his class was driven down the City Hall steps with water hoses by police. 
He recalls being amazed at the discrepancy between the media coverage of 
the event and what he personally saw happen. 

These experiences of York's youth and young adulthood, no doubt, 
were significant forces that shaped York's future ministry with the 
Free Church. Certainly one could argue that his basic sensibilities were 
never far away from his background in art and evangelical religion. How- 
ever, the Richard York who became the director of the Free Church was 
more a product of the cultural and political ferment of the late 1960's 
than of his artistic and evangelical roots. 


York was a political activist at CDSP. He was the contact person 
for the Seminarians' National Emergency Committee on Viet Nam. The Anti- 
War Movement was fully developed nation-wide. In February of 1967 York 
helped to coordinate and participated in the Mobilization of Clergy 
Against the War in Viet Nam in Washington, D.C. Crucial to York's anti- 
war activities was Dave Nesmith, Joy's brother. Dave was working in 
Viet Nam with the International Voluntary Services. His letters home 
described vividly the atrocities of the U.S. war effort. York was deeply 
affected by these reports. Also as a married student, now with two 
children, financial necessity forced Joy and Dick to live in a West 
Oakland low income black housing project. (In fact, they were being 
supported by small contributions from York's network of tongue-speaking 
friends.) It was in the housing project that York gained his community 
organizing skills and experienced first hand the injustices of racial and 
class oppression. The experience in West Oakland gained them a notoriety 

and political consciousness that helped dictate their vocational choice 

away from the traditional parish setting. 

It was in his senior year at CDSP that York solidified his growing 

anti-establishment political stance. Also it was this year that York 

developed friendships and relationships in a crisis situation that were 

to carry over to his eventual work with the Free Church. The peace torch 

mentioned at the Assumption festival was a memorial to the World War II 

victims of the atomic bomb. It may have seemed out of place to many who 

just saw York as a hippie priest or even to many of the hippies. But 

seen in terms of York's immediate political past in seminary, the torch 

was a deliberate attempt by York to insert politics into an otherwise 


predominantly religious or apolitical event. What happened his senior 


On February 19, 1967 (four months before the start of the Free 

Church), the Yorks and two classmate friends, Darrow and Glee Bishop, were 

at a service for the Massing of the Colors at Grace Cathedral in San 

Francisco. In a subsequent article written by York for Win and Liberation 

magazines, he documents what happened at the Cathedral this way: 

...five hours after the sacrament of our Chrlsts' Broken 
Body and Shed Blood had been celebrated on its altar, 
some two hundred armed, flag-bearing and helmeted troops 
marched into the very sanctuary and surrounded the altar 
of that Cathedral.... 

...It was the massing of the colors, a mayor-declared 
civic holiday, a time to remember George Washington.... 

One of us had a program. ">fy God," someone said, 

"they're going to march on the altar into the sanctuary 

with those guns.'" Something had to be done. We had to 
try to stop them. And our bodies were all that we had. 

I thought about ray seminary studies, about the ordi- 
nation I look forward to, about my Bishop. "This could 
be the end of that," I said to my wife. She said, "would 
you do it if it meant sacrificing ordination?" "Yes I" I 
answered. I thought later, this spectacle is the result 
of generations who have answered that and similar questions 
in the negative. 

Then it began to happen. The organ sounded. The 
people stood, the march of the troops from the transepts 
to the sanctuary began. The five of us [Including the 
Bishop's small child] ran for the sanctuary door, arriving 
there just as the first soldiers did. We pushed ahead of 
them and sat down at their feet, blocking the door.... 
Darrow got hit on the back with the butt of a rifle... They 
marched over us.... They began kicking us... Soon they were all 
in surrounding the altar with rifles and flags. The 
band began the National Anthem. We sat and wept. 

After that a man came over to me and asked me what 
group we represented. "The Christian faith and our 
consciences .... "^3 

The incident became a cause celebre , particularly in Episcopal 

circles, due to the good media coverage in the local newspapers and 

official church publications. The San Francisco Chronicle first carried 


the basic facts of the encounter. The Berkeley Barb carried the same 

account of the event York had written for Liberation and Win . The Barb 
account included a picture of the Bishop's child being held by Allen 
Ginsberg with the caption: "Hearts swelled as Poet-Guru consoled lost 
child at Human Be-In last month. Plastic soldiers marched over same 
child in Grace Cathedral last Sunday." Local clergy wrote in support 

of the Bishops and the Yorks. York also received numerous direct re- 

sponses to his Liberation and Win article from non -church people. All 

of these letters and responses helped to confirm York in his anti- 
establishment political direction. One such letter came from the Episcopal 
Campus Minister at Stanford University, Lane W. Barton Jr. Barton sent 
York a copy of the letter he had sent to the Dean of the Cathedral and 
the Bishop of the Diocese, C. Kilmer Meyers. Meyers had just replaced 
Pike as the Bishop. The letter is a good example of the positive senti- 
ment for York's actions. ' 

Good Friday, 1967 

Just a note to tell you that I agree completely with my 
friend, Dick York, about playing soldier in the cathedral 

I plan to be with you next year if the military mickey 
mouse is rescheduled. I expect you will have a lot of 
contrary-minded company. 

We have a whole year to contemplate our tactics and we 
can come up with something more effective than getting 
hit on the head with a rifle butt. 

I think of some of my former friends, the ones I served 
with in G Company of 345 Infantry, especially the ones 
whose lives were torn out of them by the flying steel. 
How bitterly they would regard the pious pomposities we 
go through in these remembrance ceremonies I A great 
many of our young riflemen, perhaps a majority of them. 

Graphic 3 




r.HEARib :3 WELLED as Poet-Guru consoled lost child at Human 
jBe-In last month. Plastic soldiers marched over same 'child in 
l£l?£?, ^^^Afcir^ last Sunday, (photo, by Paul Kagan) : - ./;::... 


Berkeley Barb 1967 



would point in a strange direction, if they were asked 

to identify the real enemy. They would round on the 

windbag burghers and the braying politicians who are so 
conspicuous at the memorial services. -'-^ 

I The negative reaction to the Cathedral incident was not well 

publicized. However, there were numerous discussions by the Cathedral 

authorities about the events. One such meeting is reported in a letter 

by the Dean of the Cathedral, Julian Bartlett, explaining his differences 

with the Cathedral protest. The letter is a good example of the kind 

of established church mentality from which York became increasingly 


At a recent meeting of the Diocesan Department of 
Social Relations, I attempted to explain to them that 
there was another valid Christian position: namely, that 
the rifles referred to are ceremonial accoutrement and 
are part of the traditional ceremonials surrounding the 
carrying of the national ensign in procession. In my 
view. .. there is no essential difference between the 
ceremonial, unloaded rifles and the stainless steel, 

shiny helmets — or for that matter the dress uniforms 

worn by the members of the color guard. It is all 
traditional accoutrement. 

Moreover, members of the Armed Forces can be and in- 
deed are often Christian people and are filling a role 
in our social structure. They are our military people 
and the Armed Forces are our Armed Forces. It is not 
a question of "they" and "us." ^Tienever these people 
are called into combat we all share in their actions, 
in my view. 

In light of the above comments, to deny these people 
certain pieces of their ceremonial accoutrement would 

be to deny them any of their pieces of accoutrement 

and, consequently, to deny them personally entrance in 
their roles as members of the Armed Forces into the 
Cathedral Church. This was a Service of national rec- 
ollection, giving thanks for the leadership of the first 
President of our country. It was not a "Jingoistic" 
affair. The Cathedral Dean and Chaplain has in the past 
and will in the future, exercise reasonable control over 
the content of the liturgy. If the Cathedral Church is 
to be the community's Cathedral Church and a house of 
prayer for all people, it appears plainly evident to me 
that such services of national remembrance have a place 
in our precincts. 


Now, you may disagree with these points but, if so, 
know that we differ as Christian gentlemen -and in all 
good conscientiousness .. .-'■" 

York was losing his tolerance for a church that made judgements on such 

criterion as "filling a role in our social structure" and had such a big 

heart and narrow vision as to "differ as Christian gentlemen." 

Back in Berkeley at CDSP, three days after the incident, the 
Yorks' and the Bishops' Ethics professor and friend, John Pairman Brown, 
posted a petition in support of the Cathedral action. The petition was 
addressed to the Right Reverend C. Kilmer Myers, [Episcopal] Bishop of 

Dear Bishop Myers: 

As you vindoubtedly know, on Sunday afternoon, February 
19, 1967, in the course of a military observance at Grace 
Cathedral, a large number of uniformed troops with helmets 
and rifles marched into the sanctuary. Some of the under- 
signed who happened to be present spontaneously interposed 
their bodies, out of respect for the sanctity of their 
Cathedral, and were roughly handled. We wish to join them 
in expressing our sense of outrage. Many of us who at- 
tended the "Tet" fast at the Cathedral the week before 
felt that on that occasion the Cathedral had regained its 
ancient function of privileged sanctuary from violence; 
and we affirm that the presence of weapons within the 
Cathedral is incompatible with that sacred character. We 
therefore respectfully petition our Right Reverend Father 
in God to make it a solemn policy of the Diocese of Cal- 
ifornia that armed troops shall not in the future be 
permitted to enter our Cathedral, nor uniformed troops 
her Sanctuary.^ 

Fifty seven seminary related people signed the petition. Only 

two were professors, John Pairman Brown and Rev. Samuel M. Garrett 

(Garrett is a Professor of Church History). Coincidently, the Board of 

Trustees of CDSP met on February 23. On February 24, the Dean of CDSP, 

Sherman Johnson, penned a letter to Brown. 

Your contract with us as Professor of Christian Ethics 


estabiisnreat posture into his Free Church miniy tir/. In this same 

letter, "crk. vsnt oa to talk about the fireiids who eventually went with 


VThat saves Die from constant retreat, from panic and 
froa terror, is close community' with otlier hiomaa beings 
vho are o-jt here with me. You have been one of those 
people "out here," Darrow has been one, Tony [Nugent] 
has "been one, etc. However, I think the conirnunity has 
to be caref Lilly watched and fed. or else in the fear of 
ths edge, it too falls apart. ^^ 

At different stages in its history', ttie Free Church provided the 

structure to help feed.ihis community. 


Kir.h these events behind hiai, York interviewed for the job <js a 
street -ioister to the hippies who were predicted to overflow from Haight 
Ashbur;.- tc Berkeley in the summer of 1967. 

Tne sponsars of the Free Church, and York himself when he took 

the job, i:ncerst.ood York's work to be a "service" or "street" ministry 

tiife clsricaj. collar on the street assessing the basic needs of the hippies: 

food, clothing, housing, drug counseling. The original name of the min- 

istr/ vas the Sourh Campus Community Ministry. Bylaws drawn up by the 

sponsors ir. May of 1967 for the purpose of incorporation state SCCM's 

purpose as: 

To riniscer to the needs of persons in the South Campus 
arei, especTally those temporarily resident in x-7ays which 
are feasible for an association not directly based in iocaJ „, 
religiov3j numanitarian, municipal and welfare institutions. 

Vho vara tr 3 spons-rs; and how war. SCCM formed'' 

I>-nald ?. Buteyn, Minister of OuL"r'='ach for the First Pr>isbyLerian 

Cr.urcr. , riT-re chsr. any other person was responsible for SCC^f's existence. 


He was its president and chief architect. It was Buteyn's "Tentative 

Sketch of Ingredients for an Ecumenical Ministry by the Churches to the 

South Campus Community of Berkeley" that provided the basic frametjork 

and goals for the ministry: 

This program should be conceived as experimental and 
subject to the honest evaluation of all concerned 
persons and groups. 

It must be ecumenical , both in terms of strategy for 
service and mission... 

It must be cooperative , embracing in its planning and 
program the insights and concerns of as many facets of 
this complex community as can be brought together... 

It must be flexible . Its structured program must have 
as little formal structure as possible... 

It must have a spiritual dimension with depth depth 

of commitment by leadership; depth of insight theolog- 
ically; depth of character that breathes integrity; the ., 
capacity to love in Christ, to speak for Christ, and 
to point to Christ... 

The ultimate purpose of the ministry shall be to serve 
the total needs of people as they are made known and as 
lives respond with the hope that in this context of 
meaningful dialogue and relationship insight can be shared, 
help given and received mutually, and Christ discovered as 
active in the midst of many hearts and many lives. Com- 
munication is the key . And communication outside of the 
warming Spirit of Christ is hardly adequate or in the 
fullest sense mature. 

It shall be redemptive in its intent and thrust, with 
the understanding that God will show all who relate 
through this program where life and hope can be found 
in a world of confusing movement and tension. ^5 

I asked Butejm, now the Adminstrative Minister of the Frist Pres- 
byterian Church in Holljwood, why he and others felt the Free Church was 
needed in 1967. His answer: 

I think the whole thing began, as a lot of these things 
do, in an attempt by the religious community in the Sather 
Gate area, (primarily the clergy) to be responsive to the 
growing problem in the area and in the spring of 1967. That 
March there was a growing sense of pressure in the Bay Area 


about the anticipated influx of kids in the summer of 
'67. ..There was some certainty, and it was well founded, 
that Berkeley would be a second kind of Mecca for these 
kids. A lot of apprehension in February, March and April 
of that spring among merchants in the south campus area, 
university officials, local police, city fathers, property 
owners as to what this would mean. And you could see it 
coming as a gathering storm. Some people saw it like an 
April showers and some saw it like a tornado... 

The property owners and business people, university 
officials [and] police saw it as a gathering storm. 
The people already in the sub-culture, students and old 
Berkeleyans, who had been around a long time and seen 
these things come and go before, saw it just as another 
thing that would pass or the harbinger of a bright new 
day. People who were anxious about our involvements in 
Southeast Asia saw this as the inevitable process of 
building on the student revolution that had started in 
'64 [with the Free Speech Movement] ... a challenge to the 
established systems. 

...The Churches really were apprehensive more than 
anything else, either apprehensive or aloof. In the 
case of First Presbyterian Church there was a little of 
both, more aloofness, or lack of awareness, than appre- 

...we had to move to organize a program that the kids 
would not be afraid of as they began coming. . . 

[Our purpose] wasn't really clear as I look back. 
[We] were concerned that we provide an emergency service 
to the kids to try to defuse the situation, maintain 
some control, maintain communication with the kids and 
do the best we could to maintain a kind of civilized 
climate. To alleviate violence and rioting which was 
anticipated and to keep police informed and involved 
and not too uptight. To allay the fears of the merchants, 
whose thought it was if we meet this thing constructively 
and positively, we avoid a monstorous thing as best as 
we could. 

The process which brought SCCM into existence was a hasty one. 

The kids were soon to arrive or were already arriving when they began to 

interview the candidates. There was a series of conmxmity meetings where 

a citizens coalition was formed. Buteyn acted as the representative from 

the established churches and had the approval of his church session to 

act in this capacity as part of his job as Minister of Outreach. A half 

dozen clergy were involved from the beginning. They were: Brad Brown, 


Rector at All Souls Episcopal Church; Bill Pothier, a Presbyterian 
minister doing community work in Berkeley and a likely candidate for the 
SCCM director's job before York was interviewed; Robert McKenzie, Pastor 
of St. John's Presbyterian Church; and George Tittman, Rector at St. 
Mark's Episcopal Church. The coalition also included a half dozen mer- 
chants, individuals from the university and the police department 
(mainly as observers). The merchants involved at this time included: 
John Alsberg of "Nicoles" clothing store (closed in 1973), Fred Cody of 
Cody's Books, Eric Goodman of Eclair Bakery, Ove Wittstock of Layton's 
Shoes and Larry Blake of Larry Blake's restaurant. 

With this seed money and support from a broad based citizen's 
committee, the South Campus Community Ministry came into existence. 
Robert McKenzie, one of the founding sponsors, documented the next step 
in a Christian Century article: 

Five candidates were interviewed for the position. 
One stood out as the obvious choice: Richard York, who 
had just graduated from the Church Divinity School of 
the Pacific (Episcopal) and was soon to be ordained 
deacon. An hour's interview revealed that here was a 
churchman with a profound sense of calling to the 
Christian ministry, plus a strong sense of identity 
with and appreciation for the values and style of 
life which mark the hippie community. 2/ 

York was chosen director; and went to work June 15. 


It is not surprising, given his past, that York got involved in an 
"experimental" rather than traditional ministry. Certainly the Festival 
of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary made it clear that York's ministry 
was anything but a traditional ministry. Experimental ministries are 



unpredictable. York's was no exception. In fact the events of York's 
ministry moved so rapidly that Brown's wife, Emily, in their Christmas 

letter remarked that "Jock [Brown's nickname] tries to analyze it but 

it gets ahead of him." Brown had attended the Festival and wrote a 

six page analysis of it. In this analysis, however. Brown's conclusions 

seemed to capture what the street ministry was rapidly becoming: "The 

elements were there for an actual peace and freedom community an 

actual church." 

The "actual church" that the Free Church was becoming, and that 
was communicated in the Assumption Festival, was also a product of the 
religious, political and cultural climate that had sped York to his anti- 
establishment stance. 

The choice of a hippie Christian "bj-in" as the first public 
religious activity of the Free Church was a reflection of some of York's 
early rationales for his ministry and the youth counter-culture of the 

sixties ^with which he identified himself, especially through his 

politics. The reasons given for the Festival were that the "frequenters 
of the Free Church" wanted a Christian "happening" and this particular 
religious holiday was next on the calendar. Those who frequented the 
Free Church were counter-cultural youths still riding the crest of 
the hippie movement. The term hippie was stereotyped as synonymous with 
new forms of youth life style, dress and outlooks: communal living, use 
of drugs, long hair, beards, love, peace and "do your own thing." The 
Festival was also planned as an event to "break the ice" and put the 
Free Church in the forefront of the Telegraph street scene. The ministry, 
as it was designed by the sponsors who hired York, was to be a "Christian 


presence" on the Avenue. What better way to demonstrate your presence 
than with a mdss hippie-like festival. The Festival, however, indicated 
that it was more than a "presence" staged by the hired minister of "out- 
side" established churches. York's ministry was not foreseen by its 
sponsors to move so rapidly beyond Christian presence (and a service 
ministry) to a community talking self consciously about being a church. 
Some of the sponsors were delighted and some were threatened. 

The early saga of the religious development of SCCM is wrapped 
up in the shift from service ministry to church. We have to go deeper 
into the religious climate of the times to understand this shift. The 
events themselves, in the months leading up to the Festival and im- 
mediately beyond, tell the story best. 

Much of the impetus to become something other than a service 
ministry was provided by the "clientele" of the Free Church. The name 
"Free Church" was a product of the street culture at the time. There 
were free clinics, free stores, free buses and free love, York's 
earliest mention of the name Free Church in his journal is in connection 
with his conversations with two members of the Diggers, a hippie service 
commune that ran a free store in the Haight Ashbury and wanted to begin 
one in Berkeley. Just weeks after York was on the job, the Diggers pre- 
sented the "idea of a Free Church, putting a wagon wheel out front [as a] 

symbol of the Gandhi spirit, the Buddhist spirit, of the pioneer spirit 

and of freedom." Whoever first suggested the name Free Church for the 

work York was doing is not clear. It just happened and it stuck without 

any conscious forethought. Months later York explained: 


...There has been some criticism of the popular name 
for this ministry, the Free Church. Of course, since 
it was given to the ministry by the street community, 
there is no changing it, nor do we wish to. In the 
San Francisco-Berkeley hippie community the work "free" 
is code^for hippie. . ."Free Qiurch" merely means hippie 

York goes on to explain why the term church is also apt to de- 
scribe how the ministry had progressed in jvist a few months. 

...The Christian members of the Free Church family 
(which included many non-Christian members) do constitute 
a new ecumenical church, growing up off the streets . This 
had been one of the most exciting developments .. .There 
can be no one tradition imposed upon this group, since 
it is made up of Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, 
and other unaffiliated members, all of them from the 
streets: motorcycle riders, hippies, ex-drug addicts, etc... 

The worshiping has to be free. It is the scene of a 
developing liturgy from the hip community.... 

So in this sense, a new church does exist within the 
Free Church family ministry. But we do not see it as a 
new denomination, but rather as the ecumenical church 
being bom .-^^ [Italics mine] 

Who were these people from the street who wanted a church? Much 

has been written about the spiritual values of the hippies and the search 

for the sacred that accompanied their turning away from values of affluence 


and pri-vrLlege. One person in the early days of York's ministry helps 

to illustrate where the "up off the street" church had its roots: Greg Mack. 

York referred to this ex-monk and ex-biker from Detroit as his spiritual 

and street mentor. Mack, also a senior in psychology at the University, 
was one of the street hippies who clustered around York. He was actually 
related to SCCM before York. Mack was a hippie that the sponsors en- 
listed to help conceive the ministry and interview candidates. York 
was Mack's choice. York described him this way: 

He calls himself "God's Man's Man." He is really ray 
greatest help and supporter and critic. I really thank 
God for his help. He is so profoundly deep theologically 


so in love with Jesus and so aware of [the] world, so 

with it, and so sensitive to people. He should be the 
Man... Greg especially stirs me to real depths of thought 
and examination. He silences me and teaches me. 

Greg is one of the greats I He knows how to tell 
the Gospel stories in such a groovy relevant way (i.e. 
story of Jesus lost in Temple to illustrate what to do 
[with] runaway teeny-boppers) .. .Greg is my conscience 
and my priest. ^^ 

On the street, York remembers. Mack used to counsel him to "walk 

slow, walk slow." They were often a team in crisis situations. 

But the impetus to become a church was provided by non-street 

influences too not the least of which was York's own orientation to 

his faith. His interest in church formation and especially in ecumenical 

expressions of the new church, however, received crucial prodding from 

his friend Jock Brown now out of a job, even though being paid by CDSP. 

York the previous year had written an article for Witness magazine on 

COCU (Consultation on Church Union) . In the article he described 

that the authentic ecumenical movement would arise from the grass roots 

an idea no doubt influenced by Brown, his teacher at the time. 

Needless to say, the hottest theological topic in the middle 

sixties was ecumenicity. Nothing was on the cutting edge of church life 

if it wasn't ecumenical. But Brown's particular orientation to ecumenicity 

,^,, ^ Till Iff, ,, ii38 This was a 

was what he began to call a peace and freedom church. 

grass roots underground church that would be responsive to social issues. 
Brown became a major spokesperson for underground churches. His personal 
relationship to Malcolm Boyd, then the key publicist for the underground 
church movement and author of Are You Running with Me Jesus? solidified 
Brown's position. Brown and Boyd were friends and were co-participants 
in numerous anti-war meetings. Brown's notion of a grass roots church 
would later appear in the book Boyd edited, entitled The Underground Church. 


The book also included contributions from Daniel Berrigan, Father Groppi 
and Paul Moore, Jr. York was also in contact with Boyd, who was a CDSP 
graduate. In the midst of Brown's dismissal Boyd, as a concerned alum- 
nus, wrote a letter in support of Brown. 

The underground church concept referred to a diverse movement. 
In Boyd' s introduction to The Underground Church he tried to isolate 
some of the common features of the movement: 

The Underground Church never set out to "replace" the 
Establishment Church, let alone to "become" it. The 
Underground Church must, in a real sense, be seen as a 
radical and contemporary extension of what, for lack of 
a better word, may be called Christian renewal... 

The present Underground Church is a movement which 
has two basic drives which are identical with those of 
the Ecumenical movement: Church unity and radical in- 
volvement of the Church in the social concerns of con- 
temporary life. In its actions, the Underground Church, 
in connection with both of these drives, has acted far 
more radically than has the Establishment Church. It 
has practiced Church unity across forbidden eucharistic 
lines, experimenting liturgically with the meaning, for 
men and women living today, of "worship." And it has 
been free of the pressures brought to bear by the social 
Establishment upon the Establishment Church. So it has 
become closely identified, in various sectors and ways, 
with so-called secular humanists in movements related 
to race, peace, and poverty. In fact, "the Church" has 
been "found" in many so-called secular movements within 
society, and yet at the same time seems not to be present 
in many of the programs and activities of the Establish- 
ment Church. Involvement and commitment , in the sense 
of presence within the secular arena and outside 
"churchianity," have become key concepts in the Under- 
ground Church. 39 

York had internalized much of this way of looking at societal 

renewal through the lens of church renewal by way of the imderground 

church. But it was Brown's constant reminder to York of the need for a 

structure and definition of church beyond what he saw in the hippie "free" 


concept, that helped York begin to define the Free Church as an under- 
ground church. York recounts one of these sessions with Brown, returning 
home from anti-war activities, just two weeks after his ministry started 
and two weeks before his journal reports an "underground church" meeting 
at the Free Church. 

Had some good talks with Jock on underground church. 
He sees essential thing for such a church to be regular 
self-imposed discipline, democratic procedure, etc. 
Also pointed out failure of experiments in xian prom- ,^ 
iscuity (gave me a book on Utopian experiments to read). 

If the Assumption Festival only exhibited "elements" of the kind 

of church Brown foresaw, York's letter to Bishop Myers in December of 

1967 exhibited, at least in York's mind, an underground church concept 

for his hippie street ministry. In the letter York was explaining the 

actions of the clergy that had taken place at the Oakland Induction 

Center the previous week. 

Members of the Free Church community were par- 
ticipants feeling it part of the mission of our 

community to serve as the pastoral arm of the 
Movement to other parts of the underground church, 
especially those which represent the more political 


The movement toward the notion of an emerging church for the SCCM 
ministry had its foundations on the two pillars of "involvement" and 
"commitment." As mentioned above, Malcolm Boyd viewed these pillars as 
essential to the church activists' concept of the underground church. 
These two pillars demanded a "presence within the secular arena and outside 
' church! anity' ." York carried this notion of the underground church with 


him into his involvement with the street ministry; it predated his street 
ministry and had its origin in York's activism at CDSP mentioned above. 
Key documents indicate that a concept of an underground church was worked 
out by York and Brown in the midst of their involvement in the anti-war 
movement and during Brown's dismissal. The writings and speeches of Brown 
and York can be considered the first of two major streams of thought that 
contributed to the Free Church's self-unders tan ding in 1967. The second 
stream was represented by the original SCCM sponsors. Thought the courses 
of the two streams were not totally divergent, they only partially flowed 

Much like the thought of the larger radical church movement, Brown's 
and York's theology and ethics were based on church renewal and unity 

through societal renewal by "active involvement in the social concerns of 

contemporary life." Brown and York expounded this approach to renewal, 

which was a particular path to ecumenicity, in speeches, articles and re- 
ports during 1967 some predating June 1967 and some in the midst of the 

fragile emergence of the Free Church "family." In a document entitled 
"A Call to Covenant," dated August 1967, Brown set forth the basic ingre- 
dients for a new church, that is, what its commitment and involvement 
should be. He began with: 

This call is addressed to Christian people 
who have an open mind about what church, or 
form of congregation, their loyalty is ultimately 
due to. It is also addressed to persons who, if 
they could find a church or congregation which was 
beginning to illustrate the reconciling nonviolence 
of Jesus, woxild like to try and take Christianity 
seriously .^-^ 

Brown outlined five evils of modem society in this article: 

1) colonialism, 2) urban ghettos, 3) degradation of the biological 

environment, 4) distortion of traditional cultures by mass media, and 


5) threat of nuclear war. The most "authentic response" to these evils, 
according to Brown, was the peace and freedom movement of the 1960 's. 

He recognized the peace and freedom movement "as a true response to God's 

call in history and judgement on the churches." Brown defined the peace 

and freedom movement as the more political or new left portion of the 

oppositional youth culture: the civil rights movement of the early sixties 

and the anti-war movement in 1967. Therefore, for Brown, the proper location 

of involvement for Christians was clear at this time in history; the peace 

and freedom movement, for it was the "true incognito church, doing God's 

work in the world." Brown's identification of God working in the peace 

and freedom movement was also the basis for his ecumenical strategy. Ec- 
umenicity was not achieved by "high-level negotiations on unity" but by 

"lay[ing] our bodies on the line as a pledge for the correctness of our 

reading the signs of the times." "True reunion" of the church, according 

to Brown, would "bubble up from the roots" of this involvement, or not at 

all. However, Brown made clear that this call to covenant still must 

take place "under the umbrella of the larger truth" of God in history. 

He did not want to add to the "roster of Christian denominations." 

...for we reaffirm such parts of the truth 

as we have received from our own tradition... 

We profess ourselves loyal sons of our own 
Churches. "^8 

Brown continually refined this "Call to Covenant" and it later appeared 
as the article in Boyd's anthology on the underground church mentioned 

York drew heavily from Brown's writings and also contributed to 
them in his own work. His work with the Free Church, to a large degree. 


provided a "test case" for Brown's theories. Though the Free Church in 
the beginning was not directly a ministry within the peace and freedom 
movement, it did conform to an emerging congregation at the grass roots. 
The Free Church in 1967 was largely formed by counter cultural youths 
(hippies), not political activists. However, the hippies were also seen 
by Brown and York as a protest against the evils of modem society. York, 
in fact, used Brown's "Call to Covenant" to define what he understood the 
Free Church to be in October of 1967. In a report to the sponsors, York 
used Brown's notion of ecumenicity outlined in the Call to Covenant, a 
grass roots ecumenicity. This was a similar notion to one which York 
himself outlined in a Witness magazine article in March of 1967, prior 
to his inter-vriew for the SCCM street ministry. The article criticized 
the "official" effort at church unity by the Consultation on Church Unity 
(COCU). York understood COCU to be only a "last stand for a white middle 
class church, a mighty fortress against a truly prophetic church." He 

wanted a "truly catholic church" which also represented the "inner city" 

and lower class ecumenicity." Like Brown, York was not calling for a 

sectarian separation from the established church: 

Do we put our money on COCU or not?... 
I would say that... we cannot avoid the 
ecumenical movement, no matter how dangerous 
it may be... We must involve ourselves in 
COCU's efforts, but certainly not uncrit- 
ically .. .Perhaps COCU will be the mirror of 
self examination for the reform of our churches. 
We must all work to see that it Is so.^ 

York understood his work at the Free Church in 1967 as his attempt to see 

that the ecumenical movement would be "the mirror of self-examination for 


the reform of our churches." A grass roots hippie ecumenical church was 
a start in this direction. 

The second stream that made up the Free Church's thought, the- 
ologically and politically, also stressed ecumenicity, commitment and in- 
volvement. Tlie sponsors of the Free Church, and particularly Don Buteyn, 
understood service and ecumenical cooperation as keys to the churches' 
responses to the South Campus and the plight of the hippie. However, 
Buteyn's view of involvement was based on a particular notion of recon- 
ciliation. He saw better "communication" and "bridge building" as the 
basis for involvement, rather than advocating the rights of the peace and 
freedom movement (or hippies) as a means for the larger process of recon- 
ciliation outlined by Brown and York. Also, Buteyn's concept of ecumen- 
icity was not so much church imity for the sake of church renewal, but 
rather church "cooperation" for "service" to the community. Robert Mc- 
Kenzie, pastor at St. John's Presbyterian Church in Berkeley, an SCCM 
sponsor from the beginning, shared Buteyn's perspective on the street 
ministry. After the Free Church had been in existence for several months, 
McKenzie assessed that "the ministry was providing avenues for communication 

between generations indeed. . .This might very well prove to be its most 

important function." 

However, in its actual ministry on the street during the first 
six months of its existence, the Free Church neither represented one 
stream or the other very clearly. In fact, rather than being two streams, 
it was more like one river, though its waters were different shades of 


blue and its bed was not well defined. At the end of 196 7 there was an 
internal alliance that was forged by York and the sponsors in order to coun- 
ter the outside opposition to its work with the hippies. Nobody foresaw 
what the ministry would become but they did understand that it would be 
experimental. Therefore, at this early stage of the ministry, some of the 
conflicts represented by these two theoretical streams were tolerated in 
practice for the sake of the experiment. 

By October,, however, the differences in conception and ideology 
had sufficiently emerged to be discussed. York in his first major "dir- 
ector's report" tried to air some of these conflicts and offer a resolution 
of them by articulating a new "stance and direction" for SCCM. The major 
points of conflict revolved around the extent to which the Free Church 
would advocate the rights and values of the hippies and which concept of 
reconciliation it operated under, York's and Brown's vs. Buteyn's. York 
was straight forward: 

The SCCM has not sufficiently recognized the 

hippie movement for what it is a social revolution 

among our youth. In many instances it is formulating 
positive alternatives to established values and 
ideologies. To put it more plainly, there are con- 
flicting ideologies here, real differences of position. 
There is also misunderstanding and poor communication. 
But when these are removed, one is still faced with 
a conflict, a choice, a decision to be made. 

Reconciliation is not arrived at merely by 
clearing up communication channels. Often this 
will just make the conflict more plain. 52 

York went on to call the street ministry a "support" for the hippies, and 

define reconciliation in terms different • from those of communication and 




Social reconciliation is, in part, seeing to 
it that the minority's rights are protected, so 
that creative conflict can take place. 

We should see our ministry as supportive of 
those elements of the social revolution which 
are inherently Christian or in keeping with 
Christian values (being careful not to confuse 
Christian values with middle-class valioes) and 
as a ministry to the casualties of that social 

The Free Church's "Christian ministry," as York defined it in 

October, was a delicate theoretical convergence of the sponsors' (actually 

Buteyn's) orientation and his and Brown's theories of underground and 

grass roots ecumenicity. In a carefully worded conclusion to his report, 

York provided the theoretical cohesion needed for the building conflicts 

within the organization. 

It is much more helpful to look at the SCCM in 
terms of its scope, stance, direction, manner of 
response, style of life. 

1. The SCCM is a ministry to the total needs of 
persons in the South Campus area, especially to 
the transient youth culture which has gathered 
there. Because of the nature of that community, 

it is imperative that the ministry maintain a large 
measure of autonomy from local religious, humani- 
tarian, municipal and welfare institutions. It is 
further necessary that the concept of the "con- 
fessional seal" be extended to almost every re- 
lationship within this ministry, and held inviolable. 

2. The SCCM is a ministry of Christian Presence on 
the street and within the hippie community. We have 
to be present before we can see our task clearly. In 
one sense, presence precedes witness; in another it 
is witness. To be present in the name of Christ 
spells death to the status quo: in society and in 

the Church. We will not tire of pleading and acting 
for the restoration of normal manhood as we see it 
in Christ Jesus. This means being involved in the 
fierce fight against all that dehumanizes, ready to 
act against demonic powers, ready to identify with 
the outcast, to join and encourage the ridicule of 
modem idols and new myths. 


3. Another way of describing our stance is to say 
that the SCCM is a ministry of Availability: (1) 
physical availability: just being on the street; 
(2) psychic availability: being there because we 
want to be; (3) theological availability: allowing 
Christ to be made available through us, recognizing 
the Incarnation to be the Good News of God made 

4. It is a ministry of Servanthood, which asks 
nothing in return. But it is an open ministry, 
willing to learn and grow from the relationship 
with those whom we serve. 

5. It is a ministry which works through the comm- 
unity's own modes and social patterns, and does 
not attempt to impose upon its patterns or programs 
from without. Nforeover, it seeks to serve as a 
catalyst to the development of the community's own 
latent and natural healing processes. 

6. It is an ecumenical ministry, which affirms 
as already existent the reality of an ecumenical 
Church, the working of the Spirit of God, not in 
some other time or place, but where we actually 

are both within the supporting Board of this 

ministry, and on the street. ^'^ 

Though the peace and freedom movement is not explicitly mentioned in this 

report, the report's openness to such an option is significant: "being 

ready to act against demonic powers, ready to identify with the outcase, 

to join and encourage the ridicule of modem idols and new myths." 

In order to better understand the Free Church in December, which 
York called "the pastoral arm of the Movement to other parts of the 
imderground church," we need to examine the "foot washing" side of the 

Free Church i.e. "what it was all about." The day-to-day operations 

of the Free Church were no less dramatic than the public events in which 
its leaders participated. The service component was always seen as the 
heart (if not the soul) of the Free Church. An early critic of the Free 


Chur>ih, a member of the Frist Presbyterian Church, had to go to the 

Assumption Festival to see for herself this "hippie observance of a 

Holy Day." 

I was very glad I went.., There were three parts of the 
service that I felt were especially meaningfuJ. in an 
effort to say, "this is Christ's way": the foot wasliing> 
the prayer, and the free distribution of food. To me 
the foot washing was a symbolic demonstration of Jesus, 
the servant; and the free distribution of food symbolic 
of Jesus, our sustenance. During the prayer there v/as 
a reverent quiet. I noticed one young couple who ob- 
viously (from their facial expressions) were thinking 
through every word. It seemed to have real meaning for 
them, as it did for me. 55 

Tiie free food distribution was less than successful, for they 

ran out feeding the multitudes. Food shortages were to mark the first 

few months of the Free Church. YcrV. and his faniily vere set up in an 

abandoned house that was renovated for his ministry. It was just off 

the Avenue and backed up to the church parking lot where the Festival 

was held. In many ways the house became the ministry, and York's 

fanily the minister. Joy York gives an account of those busy days in 

the summer when t-'o or three hundred people V70uld pass through their 

home in a single cay. often it took me three hours to get from the 
front of the house to the back of the house where one 
of ny own children wanted some lunch. Then there was 
no food in the refrigerator. .. It was all gone again 
after shopping in the morning for $40 worth of food... 
it was just a physical problem of there being too many 
people in the way to get from one part of the house to 

...I woLild be coming down the stairs from where we 
sorta lived to get breakfast for the kids and there 
would be so many bodies stretched over sleeping that 
I couldn't get to the kitchen. And wVien I got to the 
kitchen to open the refrigerator door, I was standing 
like this [dem.on3 trates straddling people] to get to 
the door. ..I remember one particular morning wlien 
there was this eleven year old kid, sorta sitting 

there watching me get food for my children and looking 
really forlorn. Ke had come in. the night before. He 
had ruaaway from home and he Lad a bad acid trip. And 
he watched for a little while and I asked him if he 
would Ilka some breakfast. 1 didn't want to push him 
in any way. He said no and jast s-at there watching 
oe talk to the kids and eat braakfast, taking it all in 
and not saying anything. These kinds of things weigticd . 
heavily on qc in terms of what could I do. 

...Theai the police would be knocking on the door 
looking for runaways. . .The phone was constantly ringing. 
There were always people to I'eed, people that needed 
to do laundry, take a bath, use the bathroom, use the 
telephone. They just needed to use the house. 56 

The importance of the York's house aiad famiJy to their early 

service ministry was borne out by one of the young hippie girls who be- 

caae part of the "volunteer staff" to deal with the day to day operations, 

In an interview with York in 1973 she recalled when the Yorks moved away 

from the house and the difference that made. 

...[the house] really missed you and Joy and the kids 
though... it was that family what [sic] the people really 
needed. I can remember feeling that too. It was a 
family and people coming through and sitting around 
drinking coffee and having the fire going, like wow its 
been a long time since I felt a home... 57 

Given the uiipredicted demands of the ministry, it was not long 

before York enlisted the help of his friend Glee Bishop. She documented 

those first months like this: 

I first began assisting Richard on Julj' 11, at his 
request... As I [had] been a social worker, [had] worked 
in many church situations and [had] personal friendships 
with many hippies, he asked me to assist him. It all 
began with R. York walking up and down Telegraph Ave. 
to c-eet the youth who congregated there; with [me] 
sitting in Fr. York's office researching resources and 
setting up files. We realized at the onset that some 
of the problems Fr. York would encounter on the Ave. 
[needed] assistance beyond clerical blessing and he 
needed the resources and referral information at his 
fingertips immediately. 

Our first service, based upon apparent and urgent 

need, was an emergency housing servic e for the conKtatit 
influx of youth with no legal place to sleep. We ar- 
ranged one or two night housing in the homes, primarily 
of church families. Simultaneously began the emer ge ncies : 
drug overdoses, attempted suicides, family crise s, ruri- 
gways . . . 

The youth whom we had housed and rescued hegan dropping 
back to Fr. York's home and a c ommunity began to develop. 
The more mature and reliable soon learned how to run the 
housing service. They helped answer the door and phone 
and assisted in the crisis situations. Thus informally 
began the switchboard . ^^ [Italics mine] 

The switciiboard eventually became Glee Bishop's primary responsibility. 

Like most Free Church activities it ivas more thai; its outward appearajt^ce. 

After describing two functions of the switchboard, "to plug in people 

to each other" and "help people to plug into themselves," she describes 

a third: 

Most important, the switchboard helps people see 

that they can also plug into God mostly the staff 

does this through the actions of their own lives... 

The switchboard iS; the service arm of the wor- 
shipping community of the Free Church. It is the 
responsibility of the community to shaie God's love 
ia the world. It is bursts from the love bubble of 
God. 59 

Triere were many "bursts from the love bubble" that summer. 

Crisis situations were too numerous to document. York seeking at the 

tixe to conve3/ the nature of his ministry, devised the following litanyr 

October 1967 


Statistical conclusions, monthly reports, program evaluations these 

cannot conmunicate the meaning and nature of a Christian Ministry. 
Only persons and particulars can do that. The South Campus Community 
Ministry (Free Cnurch) is a ministry of Christian Proclamation and 
Presence on the s"r.eet and in the hippie community. It is a ministry 
which grows out o^; personal relationships, out of friendships, out of 
knowing each other. Here are some of the persons I know whose lives 
have been affected by the ministry. Here's what the Free Church is all 


I know a young iian who has taken one hundred cough drops and is standing 
on the street convulsing and foaming at the mouth from the overdose. 

I know a sixteen year old heroin addict xg-ho can't get medical attention 
for severe gonorrhea because it is the weekend. Clinics are closed and 
he is a minor. 

I know a girl who is pregnant, unmarried, needs surgery, hasn't eaten 
in two days and has no place to sleep. She feels she will have to deal 
in drugs to pay for her baby, because no one will hire a hippie. 

I know a young husband who is threatening the life of a drug dealer who 
owes him the $300 necessary to get his wife into the maternity ward. 
She is parked around the comer in die car in labor. 

I know a boy who is being beaten on tiie street by the kicking boots of 
twelve motocycle riders, because he tried to protect a girl from an 

I know a boy who took ari overdose of irethedrine before, he reported to 
the induction center, and is now in the State Hospital in Napa. 

I know a young rian who tried to slash his wrists, and whose parents don't 
want him. 

I knew a little boy who v/cnt to the hospital with pneumonia-, because 
his nother is r^mning from the law, and they sleep in a car. 

I know a rtm.-away >/ho can't get housing or medical attention without 
parental consent and who feels and acts like -i criminal fugitive be- 
cause the police are looking for her. 

I knew a hoy who wants discrete medical at tent ion for a stab wound. 

I know a boy who is vomiting in my livlngroom from a poison someone sold 
him, saying it was LSD. 

I know an upper-middle-class mother who is nearly hysterical because her 
18 year old daughter has run away, smokes pot, and is living with a hippie 

1 know a boy who is hiding because there is a warrant out for his arrest 
for "disturbing th? peace" at the hospital while in the emergency room 
being treated for attempted suicide by overdose. 

I know a 17 year old girl, picked up by the police because she looked 
like a run-away, who is crying hysterically because the officer at the 
station has just finished a screaming and violent verbal attack on her 
morality. She was heading home from a babysitting job a 8 o'clock in 
the morning. 


I know a young soldier who wants to become a conscientious objector. 

I know a girl who has just been beaten, has both eyes blackened, but is 
too high on methedrine to make much sense telling you about it. She 
just wants a place to rest, 

I know eleven hippies who went over a cliff in their car, are in the 
hospital in Colorado, have no money, and have called us for help. 

I know eighty kids a night who come to us with no place to sleep except 
in public parks where they are in danger of arrest. 

These are the people we know. This is the ministry and meaning of the 
South Campus Community Ministry. °*^ 

York's "People I Know" litany was representative of the nature 
of the "clientele" SCCM served. These same youths provided the core 
group or "family" which began to see itself as a "free church" and which 
York began to see as his emerging congregation. Though no hard "^ata 
exists on the Free Church clientele, the partial data indicates that a 
cross section of American youth were represented in 1967. The largest 

portion was from middle income to affluent backgrounds. However, a sig- 
nificant number of youths came from lower-middle and lower income families. 
On the whole, the youths were white; many were from broken homes. Most 
were alienated from their families, in some trouble with the law and 
very young often under 18 years of age. 

In one of his periodic "Director's Reports" to the sponsors of 
the Free Church at the end of October of that first year, York sums up 
the program with statistics of "Young People Served":62 

From the middle of July to the middle of Sept., we 
estimate that about 1400-1500 young people went 
through the house per week. This is figuring about 
200 per day. . . 


Housing Service: 80 per night 

Drug overdoses: 10 total 

Bad drug trips: 10 per week 

Hospital emergencies: 10 per week 

Run-away work: 15 per week (plus many others 

which we did not have time to 

work with) 
Draft counseling: several per week 

General counseling: constant work going on 

legal and arrests: 3-5 per week 

beatings: 3 or 4 total 

With these kinds of statistics the Free Church could not avoid 
the limelight and the attention of established institutions. For example, 
the conservative Berkeley Daily Gazette was always ready to feed sensa- 
tional news from police reports to worried parents and the community. 
"Her Refuge at Hippy Church Ends," read an October 2 headline in the 
Gazette . 

...A 17 year-old Oakland girl found wandering around 
the Telegraph Ave. -Haste St. area early Sunday morning, 
has been taken to Juvenile Hall by Berkeley police on 
the basis she is in danger of leading an immoral life . 

The girl has been spending her weekends doing volunteer 
work for the hippy "free church"... 

Her purse, left at the church was brought to the Hall 
of Justice by the "high priest" of the church, officers 
found a bottle of pills in the purse, one or more of 
which are allegedly illegal. 

The girl said she works and sleeps at the church 

with the permission of her mother and the permission 
of the church priest, Dick York. 

She said she has not been home for several days, that 
she is an 11th grade high school drop out. She just 
turned 17. Her mother is a domestic she said and is 
away from home most of the time. 

Based on the apparent lack of parental control, 
officers took her into custody, then transported her 
to Juvenile Hall. ^ 3 

Stories like this prompted the need for much explanation by 

York to the sponsors of the Free Church. A two page single spaced 

"Director's Report on the Case of Miss Robin Delucca" countered this 

particular Gazette story from the "high priests'" perspective. In the 


Report York explains the whole story step-by-step. He recoimted the 
time Robin Delucca came to the Free Church, and a permission slip from 
her mother was obtained for her to work at the Free Church. He re- 
counted the fact that she was baby sitting the night before she was 
arrested, sleeping at the York's home after baby sitting to avoid a 
curfew violation. He recounted the fact that she was picked up by the 
police on her way to catch a bus home in the morning. Other portions 
of the Report illustrate York's perspective more. 

...At the station... A matron searched her, asked her 
to undress, and searched her again. She was placed in 
the detention room, and left alone for about 45 minutes. 
Robbie was crying at this point. Finally officer //22 came 
by and Robbie asked him if she could make a telephone 
call. He gave her permission to do so, and she called me. 
She was crying and asked me to bring her purse and per- 
mission slip to the station... 

...I arrived at the Berkeley Station with Robbie's 
purse and permission slip, only to find that they had 
already taken her to Juvenile Hall. The officers at 
the desk took the purse... and the purse was searched... 
Robbie has prescriptions for all pills which were in 
her purse. °^ 

After being given a temporary release by the Juvenile Hall, Robbie and 

her mother visited York at his home. 

...we three went down to the station to get the purse... 
Finally officer Coyne, #25, took us into a small con- 
ference room (Greg Mack was also along) . He said her 
purse would be returned, but the pills were being held 
for analysis. He then launched into one of the most 
brutal and uncontrolled verbal attacks on Robbie which 
I have ever witnessed. Very little, if any, of it had 

to do with points of law rather it was a "sermon" on 

immorality, on Robbie's immaturity, etc. By this time 
Robbie was in tears again... 65 

Two days later at Juvenile Hall York was able to read the police account 

of the incident, written by officer Coyne. York made these comments: 

It had many inaccuracies, including two paragraphs 
dealing with the Free Church, calling it an "unsavory 
place" for any youth. The fact that she was associated 


with the Free Church seemed to be used as evidence that 
she was in danger of leading an immoral life. 

In conclusion, Robbie's case appears to be dismissed. 
The testimony of her mother showed that she was under 
proper parental supervision, that by staying at our 
house that night she in fact acted wisely, that it was 
past sunrise when she was picked up (curfew 10 p.m. til 
sunrise) that no charges are being made against her or 
her mother and that she is not being placed on any kind 
of probation. 

The article in the Gazette, "Her Refuge at Hippy 
Church Ends," is a gross misrepresentation of facts, 
based no doubt [on] police reports .66 

It was this kind of interaction with the police that made "Re- 
lations with the Berkeley Police Department" a major section of all future 
Director's Reports. In his end of October Report York concluded: 

We consider police relations with the youth of the 
South Campus Community to be one of the primary problems. 

IMnecessary harrassment, and unwarranted pick ups and 
apartment searches are frequent and compromise many of 
our legal cases. 67 


Relations of another sort, but rooted in the same problems with 
established institutions such as the police, were to be a bigger pro- 
blem for the Free Church. As the Free Church became more and more a 
champion of the rights of street people and less and less a mere 
Christian presence, the backers of the Free Church became uneasy. As 
the politics of the Free Church became clearer, questions concerning 
financial backing were immediately raised. Following a "board meeting" 
with the sponsors, just before the Assumption Festival, York made the 
following observation in his journal. 

[They] felt "Free Church" was a stab at the Es- 
tablished Churches, who were giving $...Greg suggested 
that hippies don't feel free in established churches. 
If they made us change name now, I would quit. It 


would kill everything. Things are lining up 

support and control as always are the two sides. 68 

Then August 14, two days after the Festival, York wrote after another 

board meeting: 

They are really panicked so far behind us. They 

never have established goals etc... Will recommend the 
Board set up goals committee. Fund raising committee, 
and that I submit interim program until goals and 
money can be raised to support full recommendations... 

Also, their discussion of Assumption thing was so 
strange. Their middle-classness [was] hard, and 
doesn't let them see what really happened. 

The two words which were frequently used tonight: 
rehabilitation and reconciliation, showing real colors. 
The first word never used before. The second to be 
only a secondary goal. 69 

Board member Greg Mack, who referred to himself as the "token 

hippie," also felt the board was "slowing up" York's work. At the end 

of August he made these comments: 

In the beginning they said they would be only 
support. I really became suspicious because they 

always had unanimous votes nobody can have unanimous 

votes and be cons tructive. .. Dick is director of the 
committee. The committee doesn't respect what I say 
to them about what they are doing. I can't be really 
explicit; I cannot make any direct allusions to their 
sluggishness. 70 

Buteyn, in his early paper which outlined his ingredients for 

the South Campus Community Ministry, addressed the issue of the role 

of the "representative governing committee" i.e. the board: 

...whose role shall be less governmental than sug- 
gestive, and... shall seek to add to the understanding 
of the leadership, insights that might otherwise be 
missed from their always limited vantage point. 71 

The internal organizational conflict resulted from both structural 
contradictions and the conflicting streams of thought. With greater pub- 
licity about the Free Church's controversial work on the Avenue, opposition 
from the local sponsoring churches began to develop. In order to counter 
this "outside" opposition, the inner conflicts had to be resolved. York, 


as mentioned above, was at least partially successful on the ideological 
level, but just as significant were the structural problems. These 
problems centered on such issues as meirfjership, power and authority in 
the organization. To some extent, they were problems that only arose due 
to the evolution of the ministry beyond just a social service ministry to 
the developing congregation, the hippie church. The "family" that actually 
did the day-to-day "serving" wanted a voice in their ministry. 

Officially, the only guidelines on the question of who controlled 
the South Campus Community Ministry was the by-laws drawn up prior to 
York's hiring, and the above quoted comment by Buteyn on how (or the 
spirit in which) the governing authority should rule. The by-laws were 
not of great service in this controversy. The membership criteria in the 
by-laws, besides being defined only by money, made no allowance for the 
emerging street congregation. Article III of the by-laws described two 
types of members: 

1. Corporate member: a pastor, or representative 

of a church making a regular and current contribution 
to the budget; an owner or member of a South Campus 
firm making a regular and current contribution to 
the budget. 

2. Individual member: any person who pays an 
annual and current membership fee.' 

Though the ruling board was restrained by Buteyn 's notion of being 

"less governmental than suggestive," it was clear that its suggestive 

power was great enough to intimidate Greg Mack into saying that the board 

"didn't respect what he had to say." Greg Mack and other volunteers felt 

that the board was, at best, paternalistic, and paternalism was at odds 

with the community gathering at the bottom tier of the organization. But 

the board members had to acknowledge the existence of this emerging con- 


gregation, even if they didn't approve of it or agree with its ideas. 
These unforseen developments of a "hippie worshipping church," and the 
work load carried by the volunteers, though the by-laws still remained, 
revealed that SCCM was an organization structurally divided into two parts. 
York expressed his predilections in the direction of an emerging congregation 
and grass roots church, when he skillfully maneuvered, at the end of 1967, 
to hold the two parts together by consolidating the bottom tier of the 
ministry. However, this consolidation was ambiguous, for it allowed him 
to both challenge the paternalism of the board and create a power base 
for himself without eliminating the hierarchical board. The new power 
York gained for himself created a new structural problem which became 
clearer as the Free Church evolved: the power and paternalism of the Free 
Church paid staff (such as York) over against the ever-changing "clientele" 
of the Free Church. 

As I will document later, the splits between the leadership (the 
staff) and the board were replaced with a different sort of organizational 
dilemma. This dilemma would be more concerned with how the board in- 
creasingly looked to the staff for direction and became isolated from 
the day-to-day activities of the staff. The Free Church board would 
eventually function as a support group for Richard York's ministry . 
This outcome was partially rooted in these early sensibilities of Buteyn 
that were made formal in the by-laws. Perhaps it is not too much to say 
that the organizational model of a "support" board was conditioned by 
Buteyn's own Presbyterian practice. 73 But in the summer of 1967 the 
reality of this model was not so evident. The early difficulties of the 
Free Church staff and Buteyn's own problems with his congregation would 


provide a test for this model of ministry. The outcom.e was in the 
balance for several Trranths and into the first part of the ne>:t year. 

It was not just the internal "flack" over the Festival that 
had to be dealt with. Buteyn was coming under fire from his congregation, 
particularly his trustees. All the criticism of the Free Church, 
brought to a head with the Festival, eventually merged into one issue 
which threatened the future of the ministry itself. The First Presbyn 
terian Church had to make a decision about the future use of the ren- 
ovated house they were allowing the Yorks to live in. Staff and board 
difficulties within the Free Church had to be shelved in order to unite 
against a common enemy, local pressure against "their ministry." 

Jvist ten days after the Festival, on August 22, York received a 
letter from the Business Administrator of the Frist Presbyterian Church, 
Reverend Wayne Walker: 

Dear Mr. York, 

In the absence of Rev. Donald Buteyn and at the 
insistence of several of our congregation, may I draw 
the following to your attention. 

,..I remember distinctly that when you mat with 
the Session the question was asked if this [the 
renovated house the York's lived in] would be a 
dormitory or flophouse arrangement, and your answer 
was that t-his would definitely not be the case. 

May I request you then, abide by your agreement... 

May I say also that when Mr. Euteyn asked me if 
you might xise the parking lot for your "Happening" 
he assured ne that tnere v70uld be no damage. I 
would like to request that the paintings and the 
clutter be removed at your earliest convenience. 

I want to cooperate with you in your activities, 
but by the same token I fully exj^ect you to cooper- 
ate with ne in ray responsibilities... '^ 

This restrained letter was only the tip of the Iceberg of the 

First Presbyterian Church's response to the Festival and a growing 


concern about the use of the church property (the renovated house) 

"to aid criminal elements." Buteyn referred to the Festival as "blowing 

the lid." 

When [news of the Festival] hit the press and teports 
came back, that caused the resignation of our trustees 
in mass. They all three resigned. Our Session, God 
bless them, simply replaced the trios tees and we went on.'^ 

The Festival was only the beginning of the battle. The York 
family eventually moved out of the house and it was converted solely to 
provide space for the expanded Free Church programs such as the switch- 
board and counseling. The "all out war" between supporters of the Free 
Church and the First Presbyterian Church was to happen over the con- 
tinued use of the house. The Presbyterian Church was planning to tear 
it down in six months and replace it with a new building. The Free 
Church wanted to use it for these six months. The original agreement 
was to run out January 1. The Division of Evangelism grant had been 
renewed and an additional $5,000 from the local Episcopal Diocese 
assured the Free Church's existence for another year. 

The showdown over the house was widely publicized by Episcopal 

priest Lester Konsolving, then the San Francisco Chronicle religion 

editor. Kinsolving, now a nationally syndicated columnist on religion, 

became a very helpful ally from York's viewpoint. The Session approved 

the use of the house but the road to this decision was rough. In a 

Berkeley Barb article entitled "Room at the Inn" York describes the 


"No room at the inn... it happened 2,000 years ago and 
it almost happened again," says Reverend Dick York with 
a smile. 

"But we woni We got our Free Church building after all." 


...the night before the session was to vote on 
the Free Church's right to have the Haste Street 
house, the Trustees called a special meeting, from 
which they barred all Free Church staff. 

Instead they invited Police Chief Beall, FBI 
member Donald Jones, Deputy District Attorney 
David Dutton and Lt. Johnson, Chief of the Juvenile 
Bureau. These guests were at liberty to show evi- 
dence against Free Church activities. But, Reverend 
York observed, the material he had sent to the meeting 
was hastily banned. 

The Trustees voted that night to recommend that 
the Session not allow the Free Church to have the 

But at the Tuesday night session meeting, the 
Presbyterian Church voted to give Dick York the 
house. . . 

Explaining the victory, he said, "we had the 
poison pen of Lester Kinsolving, priest and Chronicle 
reporter, on our side". The opposition used secrecy, 
we counteracted with full publicity. . ."76 

According to the Chronicle article the day after the decision, 

December 12, the Free Church also had an ally in John S. Martel. 

...Martel, a San Francisco lawyer carried the day 
by saying: "Jesus did not abandon any of His ministry 
because of fear of tangling with the police. I would 
hate to face our Lord and say we did not feed the 
least of these, your brethren." 7' 

York had more in mind for his Free Church in 1968 than "feeding 

his brethren." In the same Barb article he gives us a portent of 1968. 

He[York] speaks with sparkling eyes about the "rev- 
olution in the church." "Our mission is to turn on 
the establishment church. .. [we] will convert the church 
to real Christianity." 

"The real church is in the hippy movement, the 
street, the ghetto ci-vil rights movement, the peace 
movement that's where God is doing his thing." 

Are the people of the church going to be servants 
to the world, or servants to the establishment, he 
demands. 78 

York, his anti-establishment position further solidified and 

his hippie-underground church funded for another year, was certain he 

was out doing his thing with God. 


Correction: The documents are no longer held at the rical 

CRRE Historical Archives, but as of 1995 are in the 

Graduate Theological Union Archives, Berkeley, CA. fomia. 

..__ ^ August 1967. 

"Parish Register of the Berkeley Free Church," Free Church Records, 

Community for Religious Research and Education (CRRE) Historical Archives, 

Berkeley, California. p. 122. 

Anonymous Poem, "twenty six august sixty seven the assumption of 

the virgin happening" [sic] 8 September 1967, CRRE Historical Archives. 

"Free Church Rocks," Berkeley Barb . 

Anonymoiis Poem, "twenty six august." 

"Richard York's Journal for the South Campus Community Ministry, 
June 18 - August 26, 1967," CRRE Historical Archives. 

"Interview with Free Church Volunteer by Richard York Regarding 
Haste Street House 1967," Berkeley, California, September 1973, CRRE 
Historical Archives. 


John Pairman Brown, "Christianity and Tribal Religion, An Exami- 
nation of the Free Church and its Celebration of the Feast of the Assumption," 
CRRE Historical Archives, p. 4. 


Richard York, "Homily on St. Francis of Assisi, 4 October 1967," 

CRRE Historical Archives. 

Richard W. Slater to Richard York, 26 July 1967, CRRE Historical 

Richard York, interview, Berkeley, California, 22 September 1976. 
Richard York's biography prior to attending seminary is included in this 


Joy Bol, interview, Sabastapol, California, 20 November 1975. 


Richard York, "Temple of Mars," Liberation An Independent Monthly 

XI, 11. (Febrtiary 1967) p. 19. "Rifles in the Sanctuary of God," WIN . 

Peace and Freedom Thru Nonviolent Action III, 5 (March 10, 1967) p. 3. 


"An Incident in Grace Cathedral," San Francisco Chronicle , 

23 February 1967. 

"""^"Killers in the Cathedral," Berkeley Barb . 23 February 1967, p. 3. 



Canon Dr. Enrico S. Molnar to Richard York, 5 June 1967; W.B. Parson 
Jr. to Richard York, 29 March 1967; The Rev. W.B. Murdock to Richard York, 

28 March 1967; Chester Mott to Julian Bartlett, 27 February 1967; Lane W. 
Barton Jr. to Richard York, 28 February 1967, CRRE Historical Archives. 

Philip S. Hensel to Editors of WIN re: Richard York et al, 23 March 
1967; Frank Beaver to Richard York, 3 April 1967; Gwen Reyes to Richard York, 

29 March 1967, CRRE Historical Archives. 


Lane W. Barton, Jr. to The Right Reverend C. Kilmer Myers and 

The Very Reverend Julian Bartlett, Good Friday, 1967, CRRE Historical Archives. 


Julian Bartlett to Reverend John P. Brown, 11 May 1967, CRRE 

Historical Archives. 


"Petition to the Right Reverend C. Kilmer I^ers, Bishop of 

California, 22 February 1967," CRRE Historical Archives. 


Sherman Johnson to John Pairman Brown, 24 February 1967, CRRE 

His torical Archives . 


Richard York to John Pairman Brown, 3 April 1967, CRRE Historical 





"Proposed By-Laws for South Campus Committee," 1967, CRRE Histor- 
ical Archives. 


Donald P. Buteyn, "A Tentative Sketch of Basic Ingredients for 

an Ecumenical Ministry by the Churches to the South Campus Community of 

Berkeley," 1967, CRRE Historical Archives. 


Donald P. Buteyn, interview, Hollywood, California, 30 December 1975. 


Robert A. McKenzie, "The 'Free' Church of Berkeley's Hippies," 

The Christian Century An Ecumenical Weekly LXXXV, 15 (April 10, 1968) 

pp. 464-66. 


John and Emily Brown, "Christmas Letter 1967," CRRE Historical 

Archives . 


Brown, "Christianity and Tribal Religion," p. 6. 


York, "Journal." 




Some of the basic resources for the topic of religion and the counter 

culture include: Theodore Roszak, The Making of a Counter Culture, Reflections 


on the Technocratic Society and its Youthful Opposition , (Garden City, 
New York: Anchor Books, 1969); John Charles Cooper, The New Mentality . 
(Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1969); Myron Bloy, Jr., ed. , 
Search for the Sacred The New Spiritual Quest , (New York: The Seabury 
Press, 1972); Robert A. Evans, Belief and the Counter Culture, A Ouide 
to Constructive Confrontation . (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1971). 


Richard York, interview, Berkeley, California, 8 December 1975. 

The glorification of Mack's motorcycle escapades is put into perspective 

by Mack's wife, Charlene Meredith. Mack, according to Meredith, was only 

on the fringes of the "biker" subculture. Charlene Meredith, interview, 

Berkeley, California, 29 February 1976. 

^\ork, "Journal." 


Richard York, "COCU: Last Stand or Church," The Witness 52, No. 13 

(March 30, 1967) pp. 10-12. 


Documentation on the ecumenical movement in the 1960 's is legion. 

However, a historical overview of the various manifestations of ecumenicity 
has yet to be written. Perhaps the most crucial happening to signal the 
importance of ecumenicity was the work of John XXIII and Vatican II. There 
was also: local parishes merging; seminaries "Clustering," such as GTU or 
Boston Theological Institute; ecumenical theology and the work of the 
National and World Council of Churches. 


John Pairman Brown, "Toward a United Peace and Freedom Church," 

The Underground Church by Malcolm Boyd, ed. , (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1968) 
pp. 7-30. 


Boyd, The Underground Church , pp. 3, 6. 


York, "Journal." 


Richard York to C. Kilmer >tyers, December 1967, CRRE Historical Archives, 

BroxTO., "Peace and Freedom Church." 


John Pairman Brown, "A Call to Covenant," CRRE Historical 
Archives, p. 1. 


Ibid. , p. 2. 


Ibid. , p. 4. 




York, "COCU: Last Stand." p. 12. 



Robert A. McKenzie, "The 'Free' Church of Berkeley's Hippies," 
The Christian Century . 85, No. 15 (April 10, 1968) p. 465. 


Richard York, "The South Campus Community Ministry, An Analysis 

of its Stance and Direction," p. 3. 

^^Ibid., p. 4. 


Ibid. , p. 7. 

Minda S. Graff to Donald Buteyn, 17 August 1967, CRRE Historical 

Archives . 

56 , . 

Bol , inter-view. 

York and volunteer, interview. 


"Glee Bishop's Report," 1967, CRRE Historical Archives. 


Glee Bishop, "History of Switchboard and Service Center," 1967, 

CRRE Historical Records. 

Richard York, "People I Know," October 1967, CRRE Historical 
Archives . 

First Presbyterian Church, Berkeley, California, "Study of the 
Immediate South Campus Community," Berkeley, California, 1966, CRRE Historical 
Archives. Isabel G. Weissman, "Memorandum; Mental Health Services and the 
Hippie Community," 12 December 1967, CRRE Historical Archives. 

Richard York, "South Campus Community Ministry, Director's 
Report," 31 October 1967, CRRE Historical Archives. 


"Her Refuge at Hippy Church Ends," Berkeley Daily Gazette , 

2 October 1967. 


Richard York, "Director's Report on the Case of Miss Robin 

DeLucca," 1 October 1967, CRRE Historical Archives. 
^^York, "Director's Report," 31 October 1967. 

York, "Journal." 


"Meeting to Explore Needs of Telegraph Avenue Community," 
31 August 1967, CRRE Historical Archives. 



Buteyn, "Tentative Sketch. 


"Proposed By-Laws." p. 1. 


It is very common in mainline Protestant Churches for the con- 
gregation's "ruling committees" to see their function as little more than 
support for the "pastor's ministry." See the following two sources for 
documentation on this fact and its consequences: Charles Y. Clock, 
Benjamin B. Ringer, Earl R. Babbie, To Comfort and to Challenge, A Dilemma 
of the Contemporary Church . (Berkeley: University of California Press, 
1967) and Pierre Berton, The Confortable Pew . (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippon- 
cott, 1965). 


Reverend Wayne Walker to Richard York, 22 August 1967, CRRE 

Historical Archives. 

Buteyn, interview. 


"Room at the Inn," Berkeley Barb . 8-14 December 1967. 

"Hippies can keep Their Church," San Francisco Chronicle . 
6 December 1967. 


Room at the Inn," Berkeley Barb , 

Chapter III 


"Good morning fellow public servants: 1) Why did you. Mayor 
Johnson, Chief Beall and 15 officers enter my church on Saturday night 
without warrant and search it? 2) ^Thy was my church, a first aid sta- 
tion, tear gassed repeatedly Friday and Saturday? 3) Why was Father 
John Brown of our staff brutally beaten on our property while helping 
the injured into our door, in spite of identifying himself? 4) Why was 
our Church first aid station at Cody's gassed out? 5) Why were two 
other clergy who were assisting with corporal acts of mercy on the streets 
beaten? 6) Why all this when Chief Beall invited us to explain ahead of 
time what arrangements for first aid Free Church was making so the city 
could cooperate"? York dramatically began his address before a special 
meeting of the Berkeley City Council with these questions. After de- 
manding an investigation of these police actions and giving his interpre- 
tation of the events of the past few days he concluded with a series of 
"battle cries": "Give Tely to the kids. Lift the uncalled for curfew. 

Resignation of Chief Beall. The Liberated Zone is at hand. The Radical 


Jesus in Winning." 

The events York was referring to were the street demonstrations 
and police riots staged June 28 through July 2 in solidarity with the 
French student and worker strikes in Paris the month of May. The most 
volatile Berkeley event since the Free Speech demonstrations in 1964, 



the French Solidarity protests became known as the "first battle for 

Berkeley." Some also called it a "struggle for ghetto self rule." It 

was different only in degree from other "territorial imperatives," 

"liberated zones" and "liberated buildings" of the late 1960 's whether 

at Harvard, Columbia, Chicago, San Francisco State or Viet Nam. In the 
case of the first battle for Berkeley, all of Telegraph Avenue adjacent 
to the University of California was demanded. The sub-society of street 
people and political radicals, mostly white and young, wanted more than 
a free speech plaza; they wanted to control their home. The Avenue had 
become just that for many, it was literally home for hundred of indi- 
viduals. The symbolic importance of Telegraph Avenue as a new home was 
also felt by thousands of youth in the Bay Area. But these were only 
some of the many interpretations of the events of the summer of 1968. 
Obviously the Free Church and York had their own special interpretation 
of these events. We must discuss at some length the background leading 
up to these events to understand what York meant when he stated that 
the liberated zone was at hand and the radical Jesus was winning. 

The year 1968 had its ups and downs for the new left and parti- 
cularly for the "peace wing" with which the Free Church most visibly 
allied itself. During the year there were indications of stronger re- 
prisals against draft resisters with the indictments of Dr. Spock and 
others; but there were also signs of a growing movement of people against 
the war. York sought to ally the Free Church with the Episcopal Peace 
Fellowship (EPF) . This alliance became well publicized as York received 


and New Testament was for a period of two years, be- 
ginning July 1, 1965. I am sorry to tell you that the 
Trustees, at their meeting on February 23 voted not to 
renew your contract. 

The reason for this action is that the plan of having 
you teach Christian Ethics in this seminary has not 
worked out successfully. The failure of students to 
enroll in your courses in an indication of this. 21 

Brown made some unsuccessful behind-the-scenes attempts to negotiate 
with Johnson, On March 7, in a San Francisco Chronicle article by Lester 
Kinsolving, Brown's "dismissal" became pviblic. The same day, under 
York's leadership, the Inter-Seminary-League for Academic Freedom was 
formed to fight for Brown's reinstatement. The battle culminated in 
one year's severence pay for Brown. It is interesting to note that the 
Yorks and the Bishops were never disciplined by the Cathedral or Seminary 

The associations and awarenesses that were solidified in the 
course of the three month struggle were important for the eventual work of 
the Free Church and York's ministry. From the very beginning of the League, 
York enlisted the help of his friend at one of the affiliated seminaries 
of the Graduate Theological Union, Anthony 0. Nugent. Nugent was a 
seminarian at San Francisco Theological Seminary and also active in the 
Anti-War movement. This was the year that clergy began to be very criti- 
cal of the war in Viet Nam. Tnis criticism reached its symbolic apex in 
October when the Berrigans poured blood on draft records in Baltimore, 
Maryland. Nugent and York met while doing Alinsky-s tyle organizing to- 
gether in West Oakland. York, Nugent, Darrow, Bishop and others were, in 
effect, getting course credit for their League work. They were all taking 
a course on Alinsky-s tyle community organization by Bill Grace. Grace 
was the local Presbyterian Synod's executive responsible for urban min- 



istries. He understood the Importance of keeping people like Brown on 
the Seminary faculty, and he therefore encouraged the work of the l.eague 
as a class project. Grace eventually played a crucial role in the pol- 
itical direction of the Free Church. Along with the Bishops, Nugent and 
others, York waged an intense fight on behalf of Brown. 

An insight into York's politics and theology is given in a 
letter he wrote to Brown during the struggle for Brox>'n's reinstatement. 
York explained where he was coining from and how the events of the last 
few years had changed him. 

... a little of ray philosophy of revolution and how 

I came to adopt it. As you know, I came to CDSP hot 
on the priesthood and hot on "learning" the Church and 
its ways. I also came on some kind of Spirit- trip with 
sjoaietliiag deep inside pushing, plowing me, stirring me 
to soisething in the future which I could not make out 

clearly. I still feel like I'm on a big trip I've 

pretty nuch stopped worrying about where it is taking me. 
That after all, is not in my hands anyhow is it? 

PIL [Peralta Improvement League, York's work in West 
Oakland] cane along and I found, upon returning to CDSP, 
that much more had changed. I was much less a part of 

that place but much more myself. Then came other 

"trips" the latest of these being the EPF [Episcopal 

Peace Fellowship], peace movement, Grace Cathedral sit- 
in, etc. again a feeling of more separation from CDSP, 

ar;d more -jnity within myself. 

Now cones your situation, Tnis has really done it. 
I have ncrj been able to say that I will take dismissal 
from the school if necessary. I'm free to say that and 
neaa it. But still there is thfe priesthood thing, the deep- 
down p'jshing, the knowing. (Tliis is all hard to explain.) 

From these things I draw th 33 : '.-Jhenever we stand on 
the brink, on the outer edge of life, on the front line 
of newness- and creation, we feel separation from the old, 

froa the secure and tlie es tablishe'.e yet at the same 

tice ve feei :iore truely ourselves. I feel doubt, in- 
security, loneliness, like I don't really belong out 

here and yet its the unly place I can be free, the 

only place I can know what "God" means. 22 

York's posture toward the society he was born into and could 

have gained success in was now well developed. He carried this antl- 


good media exposure for the peace events with EPF. The Free Church 
began to see itself as part of a large national movement within the 
churches. On January 13, for example, eight national church journals 
attacked the U.S. Government's Viet Nam policies. The draft resistance 
movement, largely church based, was gaining national prominence with 
the active support of such people as Dick. Gregory, Benjamin Spock and 
Robert McAfee Bro^^n. A Sproul Plaza rally at the University typified 
the kind of peace actions for which York was getting media coverage. 
York spoke in solidarity with a draft resister from the San Francisco 
Theological Seminary (SFTS) . The Daily Califomian , the student news- 
paper, covered the event featuring the article with a photo of York in 
his Free Church clerical garb. 

Dick York, long- robed minister of the Free Church in 
Berkeley commended clergymen like Gregory [the SFTS stu- 
dent] who refuse induction. "The men who are acting as 
real churchmen are the ones acting in accord with their 
Christian principles and doing the work of Jesus..." 
"I turned in my card and demanded the right to make 
the moral decision my parishioners out on Telegraph Ave. 
are making.^ 

The peace movement received an added boost from the "Tet of- 
fensive" begun on January 29 by the National Liberation Forces in Viet 
Nam. The military vulnerability of the U.S. and South Viet Nam was now 
apparent. And the U.S. justifications for the war were made even more 
vulnerable by the "dedicated" but inadequate statements of the Secretary 
of State Dean Rusk, in hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations to 
discuss the "Tet offensive." It was in this context that the Free Church 
itself, not just York, began to move into a more explicitly "political" 
direction, beyond its hippie roots, activities and image. 

Besides York, the person becoming more and more responsible for 


this direction was Jock Brown. Brown and York remained in constant con- 
tact through EPF work, through Brown's avid interest in York's ministry 
and through York's dependence on the wisdom and stability of Brown's 
counsel. Therefore, Brown was York's logical choice to deliver the 
sermon at his Ordination service in March. Throughout the sermon, en- 
titled "God is Doing His Thing," Brown talked about two zones, an oc- 
cupied zone and a liberated zone. 

Palestine was occupied territory. Against an alleged 
threat of infiltration from the interior by guerrilla 
bands or foreign regulars, a military usurper had once 
called in the Western imperialist power. Its professional 
troops were now quartered on the countryside by a puppet 
administration, whose inner rivalries revealed its lack 
of base, and which was regularly bypassed by the foreign 
commanding general. The native clergy were subject to 
arbitrary house-arrest and desposition. . .5 

Though at this point Brown was not explicit about the obvious contemporary 

analogy, the current debate at the time over the Viet Nam war was so 

familiar to those in attendance to make it unnecessary. But Brown did 

make the analogy more explicit as he continued. 

The writing between the lines of the Gospels, as well 
as the plain words of other historians, shows that the 
rural North was the breeding-ground of a fanatical patriotic 

Resistance under Messianic claimants slandered by a Diem 

regime as "brigand chiefs..." The majority of the Apostles 
were named by their daddies after Maccabean freedom fighters... 
Galilee was the impregnable stronghold of a National 
Liberation Front, the water that its fish swam in im- 
pregnable because you couldn't ever find the resistance 
to put your finger on. The Twelve Apostles were bom Viet 
Cong. The liberation movement also had a less stable urban 
base; if we change the scene a little we may envisage the 
rebels put down by the Roman police power under Titus as 
Black Power militants. 6 

For everyone at the service, and most of the nation at the time, 

"Black Power militants" referred to no other than the Oakland based 

Black Panther Party. Huey Newton was awaiting trial for the alleged 


murder of an Oakland police officer, after a police attack that almost 
cost him his life. This was the time when repression against the Panthers 
was beginning to reach systematic proportions. It was in this kind of 
volatile setting, this occupied zone, that Brown placed his main char- 
acter, Jesus, the "radical Jesus." 

Jesus is a child of the Galilaen Resistance; he re- 
jects its tactics and goals; but he sticks to the death 
by its cry against injxjstice . The "Kingdom of God" was 
its [the Galilaen Resistance] name for the happening it 
wanted to see. Jesus adopts its name and its proletarian 
constituency; but he transforms both name and people. 
"Blessed are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God." 
He says that the liberated zone they were hoping for 
wasn't future but present. Its theirs already simply 
by virtue of the fact that they were poor, mourning, 

hungry, persecuted unable for the time being, to start 

the military action that their leaders were working 
towards. 8 [Italics mine] 

I quote at length from Brown's sermon for it marked a turning 

point in how the Free Church was to understand itself particularly the 

language it was to use to describe itself and what it saw happening in 

the world. The ordination service was the symbolic coming together of 

the politics of Brown and the hippie constituency of York's eight months 

on the Avenue. The title of Brown's sermon juxtaposed with its political 

content was an indication of the coming together. But the actual union 

was still a future thing, for the service itself was so colorful that 

the potency of Brown's political message was probably lost to many. The 

media helped to project a one sided view of the event. Pictures of the 

event that went out over the national wire services stressed the hippie 

attire and rock bands. Time magazine for example reported: 

Instead of the traditional ecclesiastical garb, the 
moustached young man in their midst [York] wore a psyche- 
delic chausuble festooned with yam balls and tinkling 


bells. In the background, a group called Martha's 
Laundry blasted out rock sellings of hyan tunes. 9 

How many in the five hundred plus crowd really understood the 

import of Brown's sermon can only be surmised. The San Francisco Chronicle 

indicated at least one person heard the political content loud and clear. 

"As the Rev. Brown compared President Johnson's Administration to the 

rule of Caesar, an elderly gray haired woman stalked out of the church 

muttering 'filth'..." Brown was also catching the ear of York. In 

fact some of his final remarks were personally directed to York. After 

talking about Jesus' rejection of establishment violence and revolutionary 

counter-violence in favor of revolutionary nonviolence, Brown talked 

of York. 

What we do this afternoon must be done. Still we 
can't expect Dick to be more learned or committed than 
we expect ourselves to be. Why do we ordain him then? 
Somebody has to preside here over the liberated community 
of love, it might as well be him as somebody else. •'■•'■ 

The liberated community of love meant something specific to Brown. 

In his final charge to York he made clear his interest in the political 

component of the Free Cnurch. Brown even politicized the early hippie 

concept, "free," with the new term liberated. 

I think we agree that the hippy community isn't a 
flash in the pan; as people get older they will want 
to stay with it, perhaps in different forms as it has 
already absorbed the bohemianism of the forties and 
the beatniks of the fifties. The first priority is to 
help viable new patterns of family life emerge... The 
second priority is for the hippie community to become 
politicized ; to translate its vision into effective or- 
ganization, to make its rejection of meaninglessness and 
murder felt on the local and national scene. -'■^ [Italics mine] 

Then in a very personal way, typifying their friendship, Brown concludes 


Graphic 4 




Episcopal Bishop G Richard Millard 
(right) as he ordained bushy-haired 
Rev. Richard York (left) at St. Mark's 
Church in Berkeley yesterday. The or- 

dinand wore a -flaming, multi-colored 
robe. The tot watching in center was, 
one of many who rayed about the' 
church during the ceremony. ,| 



San Francisco Examiner March 10, 1968 



I aa charging you not to neglect the study of those 
old books which you began in part with me; the time may 
yell come when you find y ou ha ven't got any other anchor . . . 
Have ae in your prayers, as I have you in mine, le st on 
our risky trip , af cer we' ve praached to others, we our- 
selves should be cast away .-*--^ [Italics mine] 

Tlie "risky trip" for York and Brown had begun with Brown's dismissal and 

was to continue through many storms and at least one lost anchor. 


Tl;e content for Brown's sermon was not sometiiing created just 
for the ordination service. He was rapidly concluding a manuscript for 
a book that brought together his religious convictions and his politics. 
This was » book that provided the Chnr. ti^^n grounding for his political 
activities. The book was eventually published under the title The Lib - 
erated Zone, A Christian Guide to Resistance . Tlie content, language, 
tone and direction of the book were largely drawn from Brown's anti-war 
activities prior to his dismissal from CDSP and specifically his trip 
to Hanoi in September of 1967. But these were just deepenings of this 
self- described "maverick Yankee Episcopalian," educated at Dartmouth 
Colleg^.'* Prior to his teaching at CDSP, Bro'.^n was a fellow and tutor 
at General Seminary, an instructor at Hobart College and a prcfessoi: at 
the flrp.erican University in Beirut Lebanon, 1958-1965. He also served 
as an editor to The Ivitness , an Episcopal social action magazine which 
had roots in the turn of the century social gospel movement and the 
various labor struggles in the 1920's and 30 's. 

In the summer of 1967, however. Brown and his wife Emily "de- 
cided (with many others) one critical way v/e had to work for peace was 
draL t-resistance." This conviction led to sit-ins at the Oakland 


laductioa Center, arid eventually to being jailed. This active resistance 

put Brown in the nidst of the political underground. He was one of the 

U.S. peace representatives to a conference in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. 

From this meeting with representatives of the NLF and North Viet Nam • 

he was invited to Hanoi. This first hand contact with "the enemy" was 

a fertile experience which Brown cultivated conceptually in his writing 

and vocationally in the months ahead. "I went to Hanoi to find the 

enemy and what I found was the Church, " stated Brown to a church group 


1 n 

upon his return. Brown spent much of his two and a half weeks in 

Hanoi visiting Ronan Catholics. He concluded that the Roman Catholic 

Church had becon« a national church free of colonial influences. But 

it was the struggle of the Viet Namese people as a whole that provided 

the 303t profound theological lesson for Brown. It was the life in 

the "liberated zones" that was described to him in Bratislava that 

Bro'.^n felt was the key to the x/aole Viet Nam struggle. At the time, of 

York's ordination the liberated zone concept was fully grown, reaped by 

Brown not just for political struggle but total Christian resistance. 

Also it would only be two and a half months from the Ordination 

that Brown made official his vocational choice, so intertwined with his 

recent political activities and his writings. In a letter to Bishop 

'■^'ers ■ May 31, 1958 he wrote: 

Just yesterday I sent off to John Knox Press the 
final >'S of TVi e Liberated Zone . I think 1 am duty 
boimd to try and realize the theoretical scheme which 
I block out there. -^'■8 

He officially began as a staff member of the Free Cliurch on June 1. 

His new vocation was what he called a "venture of faith," "I think 

necessity and c:n-/iction have to coincide: nothing else suitalile has 

Graphic 5 
IN HANOI 1968 



Berkeley Free Church Calendar 1970 



shown up, and I really am committed to the idea." 

Brown was no stranger to the Free Church by then. He began 
teaching "rap groups" on the radical Jesus in February for the whole 
Free Church community. Also early in May he was a constant representa- 
tive of the Free Church, with York, in meetings with Mayor Johnson and 
Police Chief Beall. And, even though The Liberated Zone was not published 
until the first part of 1969, its influence on the Free Church staff, 
board and community was already apparent. The book was the Free Church's 
"bible" for the next two years. 

As a guide to Christian resistance, the book built firmly on 
the notion of revolutionary nonviolence that Brown talked about in his 

ordination sermon. Revolutionary nonviolence provided a "third way," 

an alternative "to joining the Viet Cong or Black Panthers." He 

was clear that this did not mean being outside the struggles of the 

Viet Cong or the Black Panthers; he wanted revolutionary nonviolence. 

Choices had to be made. Speaking about the churches. Brown put it this 


The top-level consultants on church unity have sent 
out the cry for dialogue where people are at, for a 
grass-roots church. I hope they won't be offended if 
I testify that the thing they're asking for is already 
happening among those of us forced by history to take 
Jesus' words seriously once again. . .Bob Dylan reminds us 
"everybody's shouting which side are you on?" More and 
more of us from inside and outside all the denominations 
have had to surface and answer. With fear and trembling, 
I say that under pressure of the crisis of exploitation, 
the critical necessity of affirming the servant society, 
reunion is right now happening in our asphalt church. ^■'■ 

It was to his work with the Free Church in the "sweaty market 

place of reality" that Brown was committed to "melC the denominations 

from the bottom up." This commitment was predicated on a clear under- 


standing of the relationship and meaning of the two zones he talked 


St. Augiistine was wrong in making a contrast between 
the city of God and the earthly city. Rather the two 
societies are both features of tlie only history we-. '11 
ever know, they're engaged in guerrilla warfare on the 
one planet, which is at the same time the earth polluted 
and deforested by human folly, and the transformed earth 
of poetic vision. "^^^ 

No one took Brown more seriously than York. He followed Brown's 

writings closely, constantly receiving rough drafts of Brown's work. 

On >fay 26, less than a week before Brown joined the staff, York delivered 

a sermon at St. Mark's Cathedral in Seattle; the sermon was entitled 

"Tne Liberated Zone." This was one of a dozen or so speaking engage- 

Hents that York maue tlie first part of 1968. His publicity as tiie 

"apostle to the hippies" had put him in demand on the suburban church 

speaking circuit where "kids from respected families" were confounding 

their parents and clergy. York brought along more than just his hippie 

counter cultural talk now. The mode was still hip but the political 

content was more explicit. 

...we all live in both zones. The Man and his Oc- 
cupied Territory are as strong as ever today: look at 
riot troops occupying the ghetto. You know what the 
occupied territory looks like. Like its super-savage, 
slave trade, napalm jelly, IBM card machine mentality. 
Like its Hiroshima caught in a sea of flames on the 
Feast of the Transfiguration. Like its King with 
his brains blown out. Like its dead gooks and burning 
villages, its Dow Chemical and American industry con- 
trolling the Tnird World. Like its California growers 
putting Japanese in concentration camps. That's the 
Occupied Terrltoryl 

But the Occupied Territory is also _us, when we bum- 
trip and exploit our brothers, x^?hen we do our ego-trips 
on people's heads when we push dope or use our chicks. 

...[Jesus] said "the Liberated zone is at handl" 
Its already here, baby. Blessed are you poor, for your's 
is the Liberated Zone. Like, you don't have to exploit 


to hang on to your plastic possessions, because you 
don't have any possessions. You're closer to the 
Liberated Zone than you think. 

...that is what the church celebrates when it 
worships. It celebrates the victory of the Liberated 
Zone over the Occupied Territory. That's subversive 
celebration. . . 

The Liberated Zone is within you, all we have to 

do is start acting like it. Now let's celebrate it 

Amen. 23 

It was just this kind of oratory and language translation ability that 

prompted a Department of Speech Arts student at the University to write 

a Masters thesis on the Free Church. But as successful as the Free 

Church was becoming in communications ," The Man and his Occupied Terr- 
itory" were busy making 1968 into an ambiguous year for the Liberated 
Zone's victory over the Occupied forces in the "real world." By June 
the Free Church had a number of minor skirmishes with the Police De- 
partment over runaways. The national political scene had taken a more 
desperate turn with the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and 
Robert Kennedy. 

The Occupied Territory's forces also struck York's personal 
life. He experienced the trauma of a divorce. It was just after his 
ordination that Joy expressed her desire to begin the divorce proceedings, 
After several weeks of attempted reconciliation the divorce became final. 

Board members Fred Cody and Don Buteyn attributed the divorce 
to the exhausting demands of York's ministry and the difficult living 
conditions in that Haste Street house. The overcrowded and frantic 
living conditions certainly were not conducive to a stable relationship. 
However in a 1975 interview, Joy indicated that the separation was 
building prior to the frantic summer of 1967, and was inevitable. In 


tune with the sexual experimentation of the counter-cultural sixties, 
Joy and Dick agreed to extra-marital relationships. As it turned out 
Joy's relationship with Dick's best friend in college, Richard Bol, 
proved to be -nore meaningful to her. The divorce was a difficult time 
for both of them. Joy lived for some time with her parents and eventually 
married Bol. Otto Smith, the Free Church's Chairman of the Board, ex- 
plained in a letter to Bishop >tyers^ how York's divorce had slowed down 

work at the Free Church. However, Smith stated that the Board had "re- 


affirmed their call" to York at the Free Church. 

Fortunately for the Free Church there were liberated forces also 
at work in 1963. Brown was now on staff. The Bishops still contributed 
to the daily operation of the switchboard. Two Conscientious Objectors, 
Mike Baxter and Glenn Clarke got their alternative status at the Free 
Church and added stability to the volunteer staff. And York's polit- 
ical ally from se^ninary, Anthony Nugent; accepted a "call" from the Free 
Church to become co-director with York. Nugent was actively recruited 
by York and received support and funds from the local Presbyterian 
Synod to take the job. Nugent decided to forego his own plans for an 
independent radical pastorate and join forces with York and Brown for 
a stronger church venture. Nugent, as an Al ins ky- trained organizer, 
also brought r^ore politics to the hippie Free Church. He officially 
became part of zhe staff June 15, even though he had been active in 
Free Caurch meetings since March. Tne cionth of June was busy, new 
strategies and nany meetings. If the radical Jesus wasn't winning, he 
at least was laying great plans. 

A new resolve, a new seriousness and even typed staff minutes. 


thanks to Brown, typified the month of June. Also adding to the newness 
was the move to a new location. The Free Church rented a portion of 
the Lutheran Church of the Cross. The Haste Street location had been 
demolished for a parking lot by the First Presbyterian Church. The new 
location, now on Durant Avenue, was still only a few houses off of 
Telegraph Avenue and jvist one block from the main entrance to campus, 
Sproul Plaza. With excellent quarters in the basement, plus access to 
the sanctuary for large services, this was the most ideal location in 
the Free Church's history. It proved to be a strategic location for 
any activity planned for the street community and the South Campus in 
general. A new community center was organized under Nugent, called none 
other than the "Liberated Zone." Guerrilla church actions and a mass 
solidarity rock music worship service for the Berrigans, Spock and former 
Stanford Student Body President, hvisband of Joan Baez and draft resister 
David Harris were planned. Even new stationary was printed in June to 
officially reflect the new staff additions. It must have been with a 
great deal of satisfaction that York introduced his full staff at the 
solidarity service. The Free Church had come a long way in one year. 
His introductions give us a sense of the Free Church's newness in June 
of 1968: 

Jock Brown, as most of you know from marching on the 
picket line with him, is the super-radical seminary 
professor of the Liberated Zone. He is responsible for 
this service tonight. He is the Free Church's resident 
ideologist, Greek scholar, tourist in Hanoi, organizer 
of other disorganized staff and hippie in disguise. 

Tony Nugent, is the Presbyterian minister from Haight 
Ashbury. During the last year he has worked at Howard 
Presbyterian Church, directed the work of Hearth Coffee 
house there, and worked with the Resistance. He is, in 
fact, a member of the Resistance, having turned in his 


deferrment card last Oct. 16, and then returned 
his lA to the Seattle draft board in a Bible not so 
long ago. 

...Glee Bishop has been with us since the Free 
Church began a year ago today (this is our anniversary 
also). She is a social worker: We call her our super- 
director of resources, volunteers and services. But 
then we change her title every week. 26 

With new plans and new staff the Liberated Zone's forces were ready at 

the Free Church to respond to impending events of the French Solidarity 

Strike, the first battle for Berkeley. 

The Berkeley Daily Gazette . June 29, in two inch red front page 
headlines dramatically announced the beginning of the battle: 

The Free Church staff, June 30, in an introduction to a 30 page 

funding proposal, the product of June's busy month, added references 

to the battle: 

The entire operation has passed through the crisis of 
siege by nightstick and gas during the nights of June 28 
and June 29, which will probably modify its shape in as 
yet unforseen directions. . .We are. . .persuaded that these 
events have validated our conviction that the Free Church 
idea is a viable pattern for any American community un- 
dergoing radical social change. '^^ 

The drama indicated by the Gazette's headlines, the Free Church's 
uncertainty of what lay ahead, on the one hand, yet on the other hand 
its certainty of its own validity, all provided the ingredients for 
what the Free Church would become in the remainder of 1968. But what 
happened in this first battle for Berkeley? 

According to Mayor Wallace Johnson's 20 page report of the crisis, 
it all began 11:40 p.m. Tuesday, June 25, 1968 at a meeting of the Berkeley 


29 30 

City Council. Peter Camejo of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) 

and the Young Socialists Alliance (YSA) , spoke before the Council rep- 
resenting a coalition of radical organizations which had planned a 
demonstration for the next Friday night. 

Peter Camejo: .. .What we want is this. We want the 
City Council to inform the Police Department that it 
does not want them to bring police from outside of 
Berkeley into Berkeley, and secondly that it does not 
want any interference with the constitutional right of 
the demonstrators and the people holding the rally, and 
that therefore it would be preferable that they keep 
away from the demonstration. If you keep the Police 
away there will be no violence. .. If you bring the Police 
we can only therefore hold that you are deliberately „^ 

provoking and creating a situation. . .This is your Choice. 

After an exchange between council members and Camejo about his refusal 

to request a "parade" or "public assembly" permit, Camejo responded: 

You see t^ere is no requirement to have any other 
permit than the one we have (a permit to operate a sound 
truck) in order to have a street rally in this city and 
I am ready to test that any time in the courts, anywhere, 
that you can't go out into the street and speak to your 
fellow Americans without having to sit down and make 
applications for permission to do that. That is 
guaranteed us by the constitution. That's not some- 
thing you apply for.^^ 

Camejo then turned down a compromise suggestion to have the demonstration 

in the Sather Gate Parking lot, just off Telegraph Avenue. 

It was this and a series of other confrontations that led the 

Mayor and the City Manager to conclude that the "purpose of the rally was 

ostensibly to express support for the French students" and "opposition 

to the repression" in France. City Manager William C. Hanley was direct. 

I mean that the purpose of the rally was completely 
secondary to the central concern... It is my conviction 
that the whole performance was cynically contrived to 
create precisely the confrontation that ensued. 33 

Graphic 6 




A youth at the Berkeley demonstration got ready to throw a rock at a policeman 

' ,..,^....^:;,,^_t •"? ,*be, second JFfoor halcon^y of the UC Student Union .^^ „\{ ,,.,^, .,. j 


San Francisco Examiner June 29, 1968 



Interpretations of what happened that Friday night were legion. 
One could choose from: the Pacifica radio station, KPFA; the newspapers, 
the Gazette or Barb ; police reports; the American Civil Liberties Union 
(ACLU) ; Mayor Johnson, who was on the scene of the crisis, for he be- 
lieved in "going to the grass roots to find out for himself;" the City 
Manager Han ley; innocent bystanders or the Socialist Workers Party. 
The Free Church had its version too. The staff and board called it a 
"police initiated disturbance." 

Hearing about the demonstration at the last minute, the Free 
Church made hasty preparations in the event violence was to occur. 
They set up two first aid stations, one at the Free Church and the 
other at Cody's Bookstore. Fred Cody, one of the original members of 
the Free Church board, was still a board member. They also activated 
their "violence intervention program." This program had been previously 
organized by York and Nugent for the Oakland Induction Center protests 
and more recently after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. It 
consisted of a "clergy phalanx" that juxtaposed itself between the dora- 
onstrators and the police. In addition to the phalanx, monitors with 
identifiable armbands were mobilized to patrol the streets for unnec- 
essary violence. Ten clergy and twenty monitors, under the direction 
of David Allen, another CO. to work with the Free Church, were on hand 
for the Friday night confrontation. The Free Church account of what 

...At 9:05 p.m., Friday, Chief Beall pronounced the 
rally an illegal assembly, and ordered the crowds on the 
sidewalks to disperse. About ten clergy left the rally 
and holding hands, walked up Haste St. to request per- 
mission to speak with the Chief. The request was denied 


changing staff and a changing street scene. As early as April, Buteyn 

and York reported to the Executive Committee of the Free Church that the 

"nature of the Free Church group is changing." "People now [were] 

from High School, some U.C. [students], some Black Panthers i.e. not 

just 'hippies.'" City manager Hanley characterizing the "residents, 
transients and habitues" of the south campus on the eve of the demon- 
strations mentioned the following mix: 

. . . hippies , or flower-children, essentially gentle 
and apolitical, though both their number and influence 
on the life-style of the Ave have declined noticeably 
in the past year... At the opposite pole there are the 
Hell's Angels ...The myriad of free association groups 
variously referred to as "family units" or communes " . . . 
the current intellectual and artistic counter part of 
the "Bohemians" of an earlier era. . . Tourists , teeny- 
boppers , and kindred souls from all over the Bay Area. . . 

Finally there are the numeroxis factions of a rev- 
olutionary Marxist or anarchist character . 37 

This cross-section of people constituted the parish of the Free Church. 
It was this traditional church concept of the parish that the Free 
Church took more seriously as the Free Church deepened its understanding 
of itself ecclesiastically. 

Brown's presence was largely credited for further developing 
the "church" aspect of the Free Church. He did this through his rap 
groups on the radical Jesus, his sermons and his general theoretical 
writing. This development allowed a self understanding in broad enough 
terms to enable the Free Church to relate to the total and diverse con- 
stituency of its parish. 

The Church aspect of our ministry has attracted to 
the Free Church other people long alienated from the 
churches: high school students, university students, 
young people and adults in the peace and liberation 
movements, and other church drop outs. Our ministry „„ 

is to many more than just the Telegraph Ave hippies now. 


In the same staff memo just quoted, three phases of the short but active 
history of the Free Church were traced. The church phase was the third 
and most recent. However, a church component always existed in some 
form from the very beginning of the rapidly evolving service ministry. 
The evolution from spontaneous worship at the Haste street location 
to York's ordination and the first two Saturday night services in June, 
set the stage for the logical extension: a worshipping congregation. 
Brown and York had dreamed about their own "undergrotmd church," ever 
since their student-professor days at CDSP. A July 13 memo to the 
"membership" made the congregation official. With the worshipping con- 
gregation came liturgical experimentation and the plans for a Free Church 
Prayer Book. Again, Brown's influence was cited; the liturgies drew 

"heavily from Jock Brown's forth coming book which itself incorporated 


many insights from Dick, Tony, Glee and Bay Area friends." 

Besides the new church development, the switchboard, the first 
phase of the Free Church's ministry, was still going strong. It was 
now fully institutionalized, all the duties made routine. Twenty four 
volunteers, in pairs for four hour shifts, 16 to 24 hours a day, with 
four supervisors, plugged themselves and others into twenty other medical, 
legal, psychiatric and pastoral consultants. The switchboard was now 
considered to be the core of the service ministry. York and Glee Bishop 
shared much of the responsibility for this aspect of the Free Church's 
work. Bishop provided most of the technical leadership and York did 
much of the counselling and community follow through. York still, however, 
functioned as the director of the whole Free Church. This was even 

acknowledged in a staff memo when he was referred to as "the focus of unity 

of the whole community." 


The second phase of the Free Church's development, the comraunity 
center, now the Liberated Zone, became Nugent 's primary responsibility. 
With the location of the Free Church in the large Lutheran Church of 
the Cross, the Liberated Zone became a strategic resource for any hap- 
pening on the street. It was the center of political organizing, social 
activities, art exhibits, first aid activities, arts and crafts, library 
resources and mimeographing of street leaflets for the whole street 

The three components of the ministry church, switchboard and 

community center were never fully separable, in theory or practice. 

The theoretical fusion was provided by the understanding of the parish 
of the Free Church as a "white ghetto." The ghetto concept was a pop- 
ular notion at the time, drawing its analogy from the civil rights 
movement's analysis of the oppression of blacks and the realities of 
ghetto life. A well circulated street pamphlet, "The Student as Nigger," 
written by Jerry Farber, a Hayward State professor, was one of the cor- 
nerstones of this analogy. York was even to apply the concept of "nigger" 
to the hippies. He saw them as a subject population that "fled the 

middle-class because they couldn't live up to its code of affluence and 

success." Even though the white ghetto was seen as the symptom of 

a larger problem, in order to work on the larger problem, York, Brown and 

Nugent felt they had to have an organizing base from which to work. 

The white ghetto of the south campus, in all its diversity, became this 

base. Therefore, it directly followed that organizing in a white ghetto 

created the need for a church, a community center and a service center 

(switchboard). The switchboard provided direct access to everyday 


street life and the church and community center sought to relate every- 
day life to the larger problems of society through political and re- 
ligious organizing. How these three components are related can best 
be illustrated in practice. York reflected on the Free Church's ac- 
tivities during the French Solidarity protests and called them "fusion 
under siege." 

Even under normal conditions the three phases of the 
operation blend into each other, and in crisis their 
unity becomes complete. 

...The Switchboard became the one information center 
open in the crisis area, and first aid clinics were main- 
tained in the Liberated Zone and for a while in Cody's 
Bookstore. The members of the staff were repeatedly 
gassed while getting back to the church and helping the 
kids off the street. ..As the basement quarters became 
uninhabitable and were being broken into by police, we 
opened up the main part of the church as a sanctuary. 
Although some gas seeped in and the police raids were 
made, we managed to maintain it all night for between 
50-150 people and some dogs. Coffee was served, first 
aid administered, there was Bible reading and spontan- 
eous prayer. 

...the wartime scene in the sanctuary Friday night 
with the community simultaneously praying, feeding, 
administering first aid, counselling each other, struck 
us as the very definition of the church. ^2 


The fusion under seige of the Free Church extended beyond its 
street activities during the escalation of the crisis. The behind-the- 
scenes meetings of the board and staff of the Free Church also displayed 
an important organizational fusion. The coalition of radical groups, 
for which Peter Camejo was the spokesperson, continued their demand to 
have a fourth of July rally at an all day Tuesday City Council meeting, 
attended by more than one thousand people. The day before, Monday, at 
a meeting at the First Presbyterian Church, local clergy and lay leaders 


came to the conclusion that a closing of the Avenue would "cool things 
off." They reasoned that church leaders speaking in favor of the street 
closing would "take the wind out of the sails of the militants." After 
their Monday meeting, the clergy went to the Telegraph Merchants Asso- 
ciation meeting to persuade them that the clergy's reasoning was correct. 
Before the clergy arrived, the merchants had already voted not to support 
the street closing plan being proposed by Camejo. It took some fast 
talking to convince the merchants. But with the spectre of violence only 
escalating with the present stalmate, and with the willingness of the 
clergy to act in a violence intervention capacity on the streets, the 
merchants were willing to go along with the clergy's strategy. It was 
also seen as the path of reconciliation on the part of many of the 

It is hard to single out the individuals most responsible for 
the position taken by the merchants and clergy. Certainly within the 
merchants association Free Church supporters such as Larry Blake, Fred 
Cody and Eric Goodman should be given credit for representing the pos- 
ition of reconciliation and wanting to "cool things off." Also within 
the group of church leaders the voices of Bob March, Otto Smith and 
Ray Jennings were instrumental. March was a lay leader of Trinity Meth- 
odist Church and an executive in the Consumers Cooperative credit union 
in Berkeley. Otto Smith was active in St. Mark's Episcopal Church and 
a math professor at the University. He and his wife, Phyllis, had been 
active in a socially concerned North Oakland parish and were well steeped 
in community politics. Jennings was the month old pastor at the First 
Baptist Church in Berkeley. His Church was located just one block off 


of Telegraph Avenue, across the street from the First Presbyterian Church, 
Glenn Clarke, one of the Free Church's C.O.'s, recounted how the events 
surrounding the French Solidarity demonstrations had a great impact on 
Jennings, a rather conservative Baptist minister when he arrived in 
Berkeley. Clarke recalled that during the first night of rioting Jen- 
nings came running into the Free Church explaining that he now knew 

how the blacks in the ghetto riots felt. However, Donald Buteyn, 

more than any other individual, was responsible for the thrust toward 

reconciliation on the part of the merchants and clergy and lay leaders. 

His deep convictions of concern, involvement, reconciliation and fair 

play were decisive. These were the same convictions that led him to 

begin a ministry to the hippies. 

Therefore, it was Buteyn, Jennings, Blake, Smith and York who 
addressed the City Council on Tuesday. They spoke on behalf of the 
street closing. The staff and board of the Free Church were united. 
But this well conceived effort was still not enough to convince the 
majority of the council; the request was denied. 

However, united under seige, the staff and board were not to be 
denied. They called an emergency meeting at the Free Church Tuesday 
night and mobilized other local clergy once again. The meeting re- 
sulted in a petition signed by twenty two clergy designed to persuade 

two of the fence sitting council members to vote in favor of the street 


July 2, 1968 

City Manager, City of Berkeley, California: 

We, the undersigned, clergymen [(sic) included one Epis- 
copal Deaconess] serving churches in Berkeley, desirous 


of finding a solution to the polarization that has 
marked our community in recent days, and to offer a 
creative plan acceptable to all involved, hereby 
petition for a permit to use Telegraph Avenue between 
Dwight Way and Bancroft Way, or a portion of it for a 
hours of 12:00 noon and 12:00 midnight on that day, 
with the use of any sound amplification equipment to 
be curtailed at 10:00 p.m. 

We further pledge ourselves and others we shall re- 
cruit to serve as monitors for the event. 

We believe that such a party, with all the citizens of 
Berkeley invited could do much to alleviate the present 
stalemates'^*^ offer an opportunity for new beginnings 
in effective communications. 


Richard York, Free Church George Tittman, Episcopal 

Donald E. Ganoung, Episcopal Anthony 0. Nugent, Presbyterian, 
James H. Carson, Methodist Free Church 

John S. Hadsell, UNITAS, Tommy Derrick, Christian 

Presbyterian Jim Conway, Roman Catholic 

Norman Mealy, Episcopal Donald P. Buteyn, Presbyterian 

Raymond P. Jennings, Baptist David L. Stone, Episcopal 

Samuel W. Garrett, Episcopal Richard Hart, Methodist 

John Pairman Brown, S.C.C.M. James C. Smith, Presbyterian 

David E. Green, Episcopal San ton J. Bringer, Christian 

L. William Youngdahl, Arthur J. Abrams, Temple Beth El 

Lutheran Ester Davis, Episcopal 
James M. Roamer, Baptist 
Norman Gottwald, Baptist 

Mayor Johnson, in a sub-section of his official report on the 

crisis, cynically entitled "capitulation," concluded the following: 

"It is now apparent that a major factor, if not the major factor in 

the persuasion that tipped the scales to a 5 to 3 vote on July 3, was 

the influence of 'the ministers.'" At a 7:00 a.m. emergency city 

council meeting Wednesday, July 3, an "assembly permit" to close Tele- 
graph Avenue on July 4, from 12:00 noon to 10:00 p.m. was issued to 
"Peter Camejo (Socialist Workers Party), Larry Blake (Larry Blake's 


Restaurant), and Donald Butejm (pastor at the First Presbyterian Church)." 

To most people the receiving of the permit was a victory. Camejo 

now felt the rally "would be peaceful because we got what was due us." 

The purposes of the rally, Camejo said, "were to fight racial oppression, 

to protest the war in Viet Nam and the imprisonment of Huey Newton, and 

to express solidarity with student protest movements in France and all 

over the world." Other activists were less enamored with the council 

turnabout. In an anonymous street broadside. Barricade , Vol. I No. 1, 

an article entitled "Liberated Zone or Trap" voiced cynicism: 

Now we've proven that merchants will pressure the 
City Coimcil into letting us meet on Telly so that 
business can proceed as usual. The problem is that 
we don't want business to proceed as usual. Berkeley 
gotta change. . .There remains a possibility of making 
Berkeley a model, Berkeley is perhaps the only city in 
the country where radicals are truely like fish in the 
water'... We don't make trivial demands or petitions. 
We raise enough hell in this town to demonstrate our 
power to take control. This is our goal and until we 
have it, it is meaningless and dangerous to declare 

It was this type of militance and politics of which the Free 
Church and its supporters made it clear they wanted no part. Even though 
the events had a politicizing effect on them, staff and board included, 
they could not identify totally with the radicals. Their politics were 
based less on support for the "radical elements" and more on their al- 
ienation from "the authorities" the police and the City Council. Ray 

Jennings in a "Ministers' Monday Morning Missive" to his congregation 
made it clear that none of the clergy wanted "the radical elements (of 
Left or Right) to continue to polarize the community.' ^ He felt the 


"big stick" policy of the city to run the "bearded element out of town" 
was not a solution. He wanted reconciliation. 

Jennini^s was a good example of the new style Free Church board 
member. He had already been elected to the Vice Presidency of the board 
prior to the riots. Like Jennings, this was a board that was, more 
than anytime in the history of the Free Church, in basic solidarity with 
the Free Church staff. The early criticism of the staff that emerged 
around such events as the Festival of the Virgin had all but vanished. 
The unified effort to keep the Haste Street house at the end of 1967 
and the symbolic coming together at York's ordination had been further 
consolidated in the events of June 28 through July 4. The basis of this 
unity was now more self-evident: its was a personal support of York's 
ministry. He was undeniably the focus of the whole Free Church com- 
munity, a community that included staff, volunteers, board members and 
the diverse parish of the south campus. This fact is not to deny the 
crucial role Brown and Nugent were playing in the Free Church of 1968. 
However, York was the major figure because he took most of the risks 
publically and was charged with the ultimate responsibility of the Free 
Church's activities. 

In order to arrive at this stage of staff and board cooperation 
it was necessary to deal with an undertow of dissatisfaction that sur- 
faced at the beginning of the year. There was a strong disapproval of 
the constrictions that the hierarchical board/staff structure placed 
on the staff and the larger Free Church community. Staff minutes as early 
as January were calling for a democratic voting process within the whole 
community, "kids, staff, volunteers [and] the board. "^^ Therefore, new 


by-laws were drawn up in June (and eventually ratified July 10, after 
Berkeley calmed down) to give more control to the day-to-day workers 
at the Free Church. The changes allowed for the board members to be 
elected from the community at large and not be self-perpetuating as 
stated in the old by-laws. Thus, after the next election for the board, 
over half of its members consisted of staff and volunteers in the day- 
to-day work of the Free Church. This structural change institutionalized 
the process of greater and greater staff and board unity that had been 
going on in practice for the last six months. 

Other organizational changes were made that continued the process 
toward greater institutionalization, mainly in the direction of becoming 
more of a church. New levels of accountability were formalized between 
staff, board and community, carrying over to the church funding agencies. 
For the first time staff meetings became regularized. Brown's theoret- 
ical work sought to provide the basis for this drive to institutionalize. 
The model he set forth was important for the immediate self-understanding 
of the Free Church. He understood the model of the Free Church to be the 
"classical form, which an indigenous church emerges from missionary 
tutalege." Therefore, it followed that he understood the Free Church 

to be an emerging congregation, independent but not sectarian. 

. . . the Free Church owes loyalty to no one denomina- 
tional hierarchy or board, but rather to the emerging 
ecumenical church in America. . .The community should 

determine its own course in harmony with the direction 

already being given it by staff and SCCM Board. 50 

Thus it is important to realize that the theological, organi- 
zational and political foundation was already in place prior to the riots. 
This fact made it possible for them to act as decisively as they did. 


The old battles between staff and board over the Free Church turning 

against the churches that sponsored it seemed to be gone in the new 

spirit of solidarity and internal congregational self understanding. 

Also the politics, at least for the moment, seemed to be convergent. 

The "third way'" notion of the radical Jesus' revolutionary nonviolence, 

allowing sufficient independence from the "radical street militants," 

appealed to the reconciliation politics of many of the board members. 

Thus, the politics and theology of reconciliation provided the basis for 

a common mind within the Free Church community in the early summer of 

1968. This unity is best captured in the July 4th festival, largely 

the product of the efforts of the Free Church staff and board. A Free 

Church street flyer set the tone for the festival: 


The people of Berkeley have won an important victory. 
Through our united efforts we have defended the rights 
of free speech and assembly. Today will be used to 
celebrate our winning of the Avenue. So enjoy I 



12:45 Welcome to the FREE AVENUE: by a student, merchant 

and clergyman 
1:00 SAN FRANCISCO MIME TROUPE PLAY-in front of Cody's 
2:00 ROCK BANDS-at Dwight and Channing 
3:00 NOW THEATER-at Cody's 
3:30 FOLK MUSIC-at Cody's 

4:00 POLITICAL RALLY-at Cody's (speakers will be announced) 

FOLK MUSIC or BANDS-at Channing 
7:00 BANDS-at both ends of strip 

Rock Mass and Light Show 

River, Purple Earthquake, the Phoenix, Morning, Summer- 
fallwinterspring. Bay Rock, Sky Blue. 

There will be no police on the Avenue today. 


An information table. will be in front of Cody's. 

The Free Church (2516 Durant) will provide first 
aid and lost and found services. 

Free food and refreshments courtesy of the clergy 
and merchants. 

the people 

the students 

the merchants 

the clergy 

of Telegraph-South Campus 

By all accounts the 4th of July festival was a success. Police 

reports tried to highlight a few disturbances; but most had to agree 

with the press stories that heralded "Happiness in Berkeley," "Berkeley 

Street Crisis Ends with a Festive Day," or "Sunshine, Songs and Solid- 

arity." The crowd was estimated at 10 to 15,000. Most of the day was 

spent listening to rock bands and watching street theater. The polit- 
ical speeches, scheduled for 4:00, did not begin until 6:00. Eldridge 
Cleaver was on hand to drum up support for Huey Newton and the Black 
Panthers. Some people spoke of recalling the Mayor and City Manager. 
The San Francisco Chronicle ended its account of the day with: 

Probably the most dismayed of the local establishment 
was restaurateur Larry Blake. Word spread that he was 
providing free beer... the management made clear that no 
such rash promise had been made. 53 

The clergy turned out in large numbers to monitor the event. 

There were 49 clergy, a dozen or so lay leaders and the entire Free 

Church community on hand to patrol the streets. The motivations for 

being there on the part of most of the recruited clergy were similar to 

those held by Jennings, that is, the general desire to cool things off. 

But Reverend James Comfort Smith of the St. John's Presbyterian Church 


made it clear to his congregation where he thought most of the clergy 
stood. The festival was designed "not only to avert a real riot..., 
but to pull the rug out from under the political intentions of such left- 
wingers as Peter Came jo and his ilk." He expanded on his negative feeling 

for Came jo: 

...and I for one was dismayed to see our name tied to 
the dissidents' in the council action... 

It should be clear to any observer that ministers in 
their suggestion [the petition] to the Council have no 
sympathy with the kind of political philosophy of the 
left which Camejo argues, and even less with his kind 
of threatened mob rule. 55 

Smith's attitude may have been more representative of the re- 
cruited clergy, for at the Free Church celebration climaxing the fes- 
tival the talk was more militant. However, the militancy was still 
cautious and tempered by the radical Jesus and the "third way." The 
service was attended by over 1,000 people. York welcomed the congre- 
gation on behalf of those "who worked to get us the street." He then 
summarized the role of the Free Church in the events of the past few days. 
He asked why the Free Church had become the target of the police, his 
answer being: 

. . . the Free Church is an underground church , a church 
for the avenue and its people, the pastoral medical and 
healing arm of the revolution for peace and liberation. 

We know ±tl The Man knows it... that's why he bombed 
it with gas. . .^^ 

York went on to express solidarity with the "cause of liberation and 
peace." The euphoria of victory bordered on apocalypticism when he con- 
cluded one of his sentences with: "...when the revolution comes, if 
it hasn't already." He then repeated his litany of slogans: 

This is our hour of celebration of ultimate victory 


of [the] Liberated Zone... The Radical Jesus is winning, 
the world is coining to a beginning. .. the Liberated 
Zone is at handles 

Nugent then preached a sermon, the band played, and the light 
show filled the sanctuary. The crowds dispersed quietly by 12:30; and 
the Avenue was "open" again. 


A high-water mark for organizational cohesion was achieved by 
the Free Church during the first battle of Berkeley. A sense of certainty, 
harmony and new direction is communicated in all the documents from this 
period. This new direction and harmony was particularly reflected in the 
formal documents announcing the existence of a new organizational struc- 
ture. These documents went so far as to claim that in the new Free 

Church community "distinctions of old and young, hippie and straight, 

staff and clientele, male and female" had "disappeared." The by-laws 

were revised and new membership criteria were outlined, giving credence, 

at least formally, to the new claim of unity. Article IV Section 1 defined 

"General Members": 

General meiibership in this corporation shall be 
open to all persons who elect to participate in 
its work and program and attend its meetings , 
subject to such restrictions as may be imposed 
by regular meeting of the general membership."^ 

There still existed a board of trustees but it was no longer, at least 
officially, a board composed of the funding institutions. The new trustees 
were elected directly by the membership, which could consist of all of those 
bottom tier workers that staffed the switchboard or the new community cen- 
ter coffee house, and presumably all of those who attended or helped with 


the worship services on a regular basis. 

The old board members, the original sponsors and funders, were not, 
however, totally eliminated from the formal structure; they were given a 
new title, the "Advisory Commission." But their formal powers were elim- 
inated. Though they were considered members like everyone else, and could 
be elected to the new board, they were seen to be only advisory, benevo- 
lent sponsors, such as those who might support a "missionary church." 
The "Free Church," now the official public name of the whole ministry with 
the new by-laws, was formally the Advisory Commission's mission church. 
And like all sponsoring missionary agencies, the sponsors would continue 
to support it until it could gain full autonomy. This mission church 
notion never caught on, nor did the Advisory Commission. 

This new organizational shift did not just automatically jump onto 
the pages 'of the revised by-laws, nor did it totally break down old patterns 
or all of the old distinctions as it had claimed. However, there were 
crucial developments that did allow the new organizational shift to be 
partially successful and did help to create a formal document that seemed 
to break down the old distinctions. I have already alluded to these de- 
velopments but to summarize them, they were four. First, there was the 
change in the nature of the South Campus youth ghetto; it became less 
hippie and more political. This change was reflected in the Free Church 
which now understood the South Campus to be its "parish." The Free Church 
gave voice to these more political elements, which were more in line with 
its leadership's (York, Brown and Nugent) notions of a peace and freedom 
constituency. Second, there was York's consolidation of the ministry un- 
der his guiding spirit; it became "Dick's ministry to the South Campus." 
The old sponsors were willing to either step aside, now that their work 


was done, or to see themselves being replaced by a new breed of trustees 
more in line with the new politics and congregation model. Also, 
essential to this transition was the spirit of cooperation between staff 
and board and the politicization of both which occurred during the French 
Solidarity Strike in their joint efforts for the July 1st street closing. 
A unity and mutual respect existed from the bottom level of the organi- 
zation to the top; everyone did their part according to the needs of the 
battle. Finally, there was a unified predisposition of the new leader- 
ship toward a new model for the ministry, a grass roots ecumenical 
Christian congregation. This model had germinated in the thought and 
practice of York, in the writings of Brown and in Nugent's youth church 
in San Francisco. Even before the street battle, the form of this church 
was well defined. And by June of 1968, jxjst days before the street battle, 
the new church developments could be documented. 

1. We are finding [regular services of worship and 
special liturgical events] to be a much more im- 
portant part of the program: we find in fact that 
the Free Church 1^ a church in every sense. 

2. Several hippies and other youths have asked 
for Baptism. . . 

3. We have at the Free Church now a developing 
theology or language of the Gospel which catches 
the imagination of the young people and makes ex- 
plicit many of the values they have been implicitly 
acting ijpon: nonviolence, liberation, reverence for 
life, servanthood. . . 

4. People are coming into the Free Church... not 
just for some help through our Switchboard, but for 
true sacramental and pastoral ministry of the church: 
weddings, funerals, Eucharist, baptism. . .°-'- 

This church development was undertaken, according to this document, "With 

some fear and trembling. .. [and] moving toward an old fashion evangelism 

and commitment in a new idiom." 


But this "evangelism and comniitment in a new idiom," was not with- 
out some of the tensions of the past nor beyond creating new conflicts. 
The unity and harmony initiating this new era of the organization was to 
quickly give way. Organizationally, there still existed the two basic 
tensions or contradictions of being funded by the established churches and 

the three tiered structure albeit a new three tiered arrangement. These 

two contradictions were the source of increased conflicts as the Free Church 
became more identified with the "political elements" of the South Campus 
and more of an "alternative church." This evolution to more politics and 
alternative church status had sectarian overtones as the Free Church con- 
tinued its criticism of the very churches by whom it was funded. These 
tensions set the stage for the solidification of the Free Church as an 
underground church in the last part of 1968, which carried over into 1969. 

Another tension should be mentioned, even though, at this stage 
of the Free Church's development, it was less crucial, this was the unre- 
solved relationship between the social service ministry and the emerging 
congregation. For most of 1968 the two were complementary as the service 
ministry took on the added component of a coffee-house organizing-center 
for street politics under Nugent' s supervision. The large number of vol- 
unteers and subsistence-wage workers who staffed the coffee house and 
switchboard in 1968 were more politically and theologically sophisticated 
than in 1967. The new breed of workers, with the addition of some simi- 
larly sophisticated adult board members, constituted the "serving and 
worshipping congregation." Momentarily there was a fusion of all min- 
istries; even the bottom tier was well represented on the new, more sym- 
pathetic board. But the fact remained that the board still existed and 
still consisted of diverse interests: local church sponsors, full-paid 


staff, subsistence-wage workers and volunteers. For most of 1968 harmony 
and cooperation did prevail but divisions soon reasserted themselves in 
the form of an hierarchical organization "serving the youth," rather than 
being a youth or an alternative church thus giving rise to the old dis- 
tinction between social service ministry and an alternative church. 


The events of this week of struggle and the Free Church's open 
solidarity with the militants of its street parish (though cautious on 
ideology and opposed to violence) were to be played out in the months 
ahead. In many respects the summer of 1968 was a dress-rehearsal for 
the spring of 1969, the second battle of Berkeley: "People's Park." 
The quarter of a million dollars that the first battle cost would seem 
mild in comparison to 1969. However, the rest of 1968 was still to keep 
the Free Church busy. The new plans made by the new staff in June were 
still to be acted out in at least two key events late in 1968: sol- 
idarity demonstrations with the protesters at the Chicago Democratic 
Conventions and a Reformation Day Procession. Both of these events had 
symbolic importance for the Free Church's growing self-definition as 
an underground church. 

Berkeley once more became a battle ground in September. A state 
of civil disaster was declared and a city-wide curfew was imposed. 
These drastic actions were taken in response to demonstrations that were 
officially planned to protest the police riot that took place at the 
Democratic Convention in Chicago. No doubt, however, there was some 
truth in the Berkeley adage, recorded by new left historian Kirkpatrick 


Sale, that "the issue was not the issue." °^ The territorial imperative 
issue of the South Campus white, and we should add youth , ghetto played 
as big a role in these demonstrations as did the solidarity with the 
protesters in Chicago. The politics of resistance and street theater 
were rapidly combining with the politics of confrontation. 

The Free Church was also becoming more identified with the 
politics of confrontation late in 1968. It was during the period of the 
imposed curfew that a Free Church liturgy was planned in defiance of 
the ban. This type of action was the logical outgrowth of its growing 
underground or guerrilla church self-understanding. It was also an ex- 
tension of their liturgical emphasis, not just sanctuary liturgies but 
street liturgies. York and Nugent laid out the theory for these actions 
in an elaborate "Mission Design" document, early in the summer of 1968. 
They were asked to prepare the document by their two respective fimding 
sources, the Episcopal Diocese and the Presbyterian Synod. The doc- 
ument contained their theological and political self-Justifications. 
In it they spoke of "developing the 'crack team of the Guerrilla Church' 
just as the Episcopal baptism service speaks of 'fighting manfully under 
the banner of Christ' ." Another self defining concept and symbol emerged 
just prior to their defiance of the curfew. It, too, deepened their 
understanding of the Free Church in the direction of an underground Church. 
The Free Church saw itself as the "submarine church." York recalls that 
he and Brown were searching for a symbol that would capture the liberated 
underground church nature of the Free Church. Somewhat prompted by the 
popular Beatles' song and movie of that time, "The Yellow Submarine," 
York and Brown reasoned that if the establishment churches were "ships 


on the sea of life," the underground church was a submarine surfacing. 
A large yellow submarine sign hung outside the Free Oiurch in September 
of 1968, and the street liturgy in defiance of the curfew was a pro- 
duction of this submarine church. 

The liturgy was also announced as the anniversary for the As- 
sumption of the Virgin Mary Festival. The Free Church was already de- 
veloping its sense of its own tradition symbolically. Much advanced 
publicity for the liturgy was done. It was announced in a press re- 
lease that stations of the cross would be celebrated and that a pro- 
cession would proceed to Provo Park. At the park, just across the street 
from the city hall and police station, an ecumenical mass would be held. 
The participants were excitedly aware of their violation of the law. 
The curfew explicitly prohibited any "meeting, assembly or parade in 
or upon the public streets or highways or other public place... at any 
time during the presently proclaimed state of civil disaster." The 

Free Church press release, intentionally designed to draw attention to 
their actions, quoted York and Nugent. York seemed to be taking a leaf 
out of the notebook of Peter Came jo: 

We rely on the constitutional provisions that 'Congress 
shall make no law. . .prohibiting the free exercise of re- 
ligion, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble' 
and therefore cannot be bound by the Berkeley City ordi- 
nance. . . 

Nugent' s theater-like language was more ironic in tone: 

...if a state of civil disaster does indeed exist in 
the minds of city officials then such religious pilgrimages 
and services are needed to reduce the level of mistrust 
and bring a new spirit of reconciliation to the entire 
Berkeley community."' 

The procession went on without incident. I asked Nugent in an 


interview, six years later, how he would characterize the politics that 

lay behind these type of activities of the Free Church. He responded: 

Marxism or Socialism did not penetrate the Free Church 
at this point, it was the politics of confrontation, there 
was no thought of what would replace its anti stance. 
There was no strong ideological component and no answer 
to what the alternatives should be.°° 

But the important fact remained that for the Free Church to do 
its work, only this level of definition was needed; for the staff and 
board were unified around this anti stance. If this anti stance was 
a correct characterization of the Free Church's political component, 
certainly more positive things could be said about its religious com- 
ponent at the time. 

The submarine church surfaced again on November 1, to tack 10 
theses on the doors of the churches in the South Campus. It was All 
Saints day, the anniversary of Martin Luther's 95 theses. Bob March, 
the lay leader at Trinity Methodist Church and Free Church Board member 
from 1968 til the Free Church's closing in 1972, called this act the 
symbolic break with the established churches. It certainly was inter- 
preted by the churches as a slap in the face. But it was clear by the 
flyer circulated to announce this Reformation Day event that it was as 
much of "a spoof and pure theater as it was serious confrontation. Por- 
tions of the flyer read: 

Out Demons Out I 

The Demons are Exorcised 

The Saints go Marching in 

The Radical Jesus is winning 

The Submarine Church is surfacing 


The Liberated Zone is at Hand 

The Free Church invites all fairies, minstrels, priests, 
prophets, exorcists, angels, arch angels, wizards, sooth 


sayers, nymphs, elves, hobbits, priestesses, and 
saints as well as other people of good will."' 

However, on the other hand, it was also true that the Free Church 
was becoming more aggressively anti the established churches. The 10 
theses posted were more poignant in this respect, clearly putting the 
Free Church in a position over against the established churches. The 
theses sum up what the Free Church had become, largely due to its pol- 
itical baptism in the summer and its deepening church development: 

Reformation Day- All Saints Day 
November 1, 1968 

The 95 Theses which Luther posted 450 years ago on this 
date were radical responses to the Exploitative and 
Oppressive Establishment of his time. But the Protestant 
Church to which he gave birth is now a foimdation of this 
Establishment along with the Catholic Church. 

But a new Spirit of Radical Non-Violence is moving in the 
land. The pace of the struggle is slow, but the Movement 
is winning. Love and peace shall triumph. The demons of 
violence shall be exorcised. The Liberated Zone is at hand. 

The Churches must hear the cry of this Movement of spiritual 
renewal and rebirth which is occurring outside their walls. 
The Church must return to the revolutionary impulse of 
Jesus. The Free Church presents these following theses 
for a New Reformation in the Church to the Established 
Churches, not in a spirit of hostility, but in hopes that 
all of us together can learn to follow more perfectly the 
Way of Jesus: 

1. Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they 
shall be called sons of God." Yet the Churches which 
profess to follow him are timid and silent about the 
immoral aggressive war being waged by the American military 
in South Vietnam. 

2. Jesus said, "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the 
kingdom of God." Where are the poor, the homeless, the 
black, the young, and other oppressed people? Not in 
the churches I 

3. Jesus said, "If ray kingship were of this world, my 
servants would fight." Yet ministers and seminarians 
of the Churches carry special 4-D exemption cards, the 
indulgences issued them by the Selective Service System. 


4. Jesus said, "Lend, expecting nothing in return, and 
your r«vard shall be great." Yet the Churches are afraid 
to speak and act prophetically when financial pressure 

is applied by uptight members. 

5. Jesus said, concerning taxes, "Render unto Caesar the 
things that are Caesar's." Yet the Churches, as privi- 
leged institutions, pay no taxes for their vast income, 
and land holding. 

6. Jesus said, "See these great buildings? There will 
not be left one stone upon another that will not be thrown 
down." Yet the Churches build magnificent and irrelevant 
offices while Humanity screams for food, shelter, and 

7. Jesus said, "You hypocrites, first take the log out 
of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take 
the speck out of your brother's eye." Yet the Churches 
are the seedbeds of white racism and prejudice. 

8. Jesus said, "It is harder for a rich man to enter the 
Kingdom of Heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of 
a needle." Yet the members of the Churches grovi? fat on 
Contracts for War and Exploitation. 

9. Jesus said, "Sons will rise against their fathers and 
daughters against their mothers for my sake." The Churches 
shovild know that their sons and daughters are rising up 
against them for Jesus' sakel 

10. Jesus said, "Love your enemies," and yet the greatest 
hate campaigns in the country are waged against Communists, 
hippies, blacks and other "unbelievers" in the name of God 
and Christianity.'^ 

The shift to a more self-conscious imderground church, as mentioned 
above, was rooted in the increased political direction of the Free Church; 
the Free Church was not just related to the counter cultural hippie. The 
political direction and underground church direction went hand-in-hand, 
they deepened and fostered each other. The theoretical resources for this 
politically oriented church at this stage of the organization were well 


developed. Though the exact nature of the political and religious com- 
ponents were still evolving, the fact that they did go together were seen 
to be axiomatic. Brown's writings, in particular, gave expression to this 
relationship between the work of the Spirit in the new left and its meaning 
for a new kind of church. Brown was certain that in order for this new 
underground church to be a viable church alternative, it had to be modeled 
in the "third way of Jesus." However, the changing street scene did not 
always conform to theory, and the content of the "radical Jesus" was open 
to various intei^jretations. 

Nonetheless, in 1968, Brown's understanding of the ministry per- 
meated the whole organization and was largely accepted. The facilitators 
for Brown's thought were primarily Nugent and York. They interpreted the 
radical Jesus and revolutionary nonviolence to "straight" board members, 
to the lower level of the staff and to the bottom tier of the organization. 
Brown most systematically expressed his thoughts in Liberated Zone , but 
they were transmitted to the organization, for the most part, indirectly 
through worship services or other smaller documents, and most often not 
by Brown himself. I have already dealt in detail with Brown's sermon at 
York's ordination. This sermon was essentially the core message in Brown's 
Liberated Zone . As already mentioned, York expressed these same thoughts 
in his many speaking engagements. The "Mission Design" document, pre- 
pared by York and Nugent, outlining the nature of the Free Church min- 
istry, for which they were seen by denominational funders as co-pastors, 
directly paralleled the Liberated Zone . The "Mission Design" prepared 


late in 1968, is crucial in the understanding of what developed in 1969. 
I, therefore, will examine it in detail in the next chapter. Also worth 
mentioning again in connection with the prevalence of Brown's concepts was 
the naming of the Free Church's community center and coffee house "The 
Liberated Zone." 

Brown's Liberated Zone is a classic book for anyone wanting to 
trace the emergence of a "liberation theology" that might be indigenous 
to struggles in the Uaited States. His treatment of the Occupied Terri- 
tory's violence is a capsule summary of most of the evils of modem so- 
ciety perceived by the oppositional youth culture. 

Its the teen-agers who see through it, because 
they're the ones that have to enter it from outside. 
Brought up in those tough plastic bags up on the 
hill, with every lesson in playing the game of 
affluence, they're breaking through and becoming 
dropouts or activists. Neither the drug scene nor 
the street scene necessarily shows the way to a 
renewed society. But at least they're a finger 
pointing at the reality of violence here and over- 
seas, a clumsy lunge beyond alienation. American 
society is being rejected by the most interesting 
of its youth. A cry has gone out for restoring 
contact with the past, the tradition embodied in 
the torch race of the generations.' 

In the Liberated Zone Brown formulated more systematically the evils he 
had only outlined in his "Call to Covenant" of 1967: destruction of en- 
vironment, manipulation of culture, colonialization, etc. 

Brown's biblical scholarship in the Liberated Zone was ground 
breaking in many ways. His hermeneutics were based on insights from lib- 
eration struggles and solid understandings of the sociology of biblical 

times. He focused on the setting of Jesus' as one of political and 

social struggle of "colonialized" peoples within the Roman Empire. The 


parallel to the struggles of the sixties and the U.S. empire and neo- 
colonialism was obvious and striking to Brown. The appropriate strategy 
for struggle was understood by Brown to be the one employed by Jesus. 

Jesus "fought" violence with nonviolence the only tenable model for today. 

But Brown understood Jesue' nonviolence not as a timid or a noncommittal 
response to injustices; its was revolutionary. Revoluationary nonviolence 
"supported" "revolutionary counter- violence, as necessary" but saw the 
need to forge a "third way" that would help to transform revolutionary 
counter- violence into an agent for the liberated zone. Using the ethic 
of Jesus and his understanding of Gospel times, Brown developed his strat- 
egy for church renewal in the midst of the counter culture and new left. 
The Free Church, as the emerging underground church, was both his agent 
for renewal, as a confirmation of his theoretical model and an inspiration 
for its further elaboration. 

Brown learned a great deal from York's ministry. His Liberated 
Zone was bound up with the immediate struggles he saw in the antiwar move- 
ment or York's ministry. Therefore, to understand the thought of the Free 
Church in 1968, the independent resource of York himself must be considered. 
Nugent's thought and influence was not yet a major factor for most of 1968. 
He still lived in Marin, on the other side of the San Francisco Bay, comm- 
uting to Berkeley only for certain days of the week. Also, from even 
earlier in 1967, Nugent was not as close to York's ministry as was Brown. 
He had some catching up to do to become fully integrated into the Free 

York was the individual who was daily involved in the total min- 
istry service and congregation. He made things happen. Brown's thought 


was influential to York, but York in turn had an effect on Brown's thinking, 
and always gave his own "twist" to Brown's ideas. He had to; his audience 
was not the formal audience of Brown's writing. York's audience was the 
mix of the whole organization: the theologically and politically unso- 
phisticated, the established church sponsors, the Free Church staff with 
competing interests, etc. York had to be the unifier, to deal first-hand 
with the internal tensions. The practice of the Free Church always fell 
short of the agreed-upon theories. In a sermon York delivered to the 
total Free Church congregation at the close of 1968, York illustrates his 
special twist to Brown's theories which were dictated by events. He 
addressed the growing internal dissension and the falling away from the 
ideals of an underground liberated church. 

The Free Church has publically professed again 
and again to be the radically servant church (or 

at least trying to be that) a church which gives 

a loaf of bread when a loaf is asked for, and not 
a stone; which gives a fish when a fish is asked 
for and not a serpent. Too often we have seen the 
sold-out establishment church give stones and ser- 
pents: wishy-washy ethical pronouncements when men 
faced with draft are seeking strong guidance and 
when men who want to act for peace want a peace 
church to support them. 

Hundreds of Teley young people are asking for 
help: food, clothing, shelter, help with drugs, 
counselling, a place to celebrate the victory of 
the Liberated Zone (to worship)... 

...But the Gospel is not just talking to the 

Established churches. It is talking to us too 

and it has a lot to say... 

The Free Church is trying but we fool only 

ourselves if we pretend to have found it'. We are 
not fooling the people of The Avenue, or of our own 

Community Center and those are the people who are 

asking for bread and fish I... 


The word is that we are, at least right now, just 
as hypocritical as our mother, the Established Church. 
Our staff has all but fallen apart in back-biting and 
back stabbing. We are not serving as a community of 
liberated lovers... 

We are all pointing to the speck in our brother's 

eye, and forgetting the log in our own. The result 

is that those who come to us for bread and fish are 

receiving stones and serpents too in the form of 

signs on the door saying we are closed, staff ears 

that are too up- tight to listen to people in trouble, 

staff ego's which are too defensive to sense and 

love and risk for the sakes of our brother's on the 
street. 73 

York's comments are an indication and reminder that the coherence 
of the thought of the Free Church was always partially limited by the un- 
resolved tensions of the structure of the ministry. Even at the theoret- 
ical level these tensions began to emerge late in 1968. In order to fully 
understand these tensions the independent contribution of Nugent and the 
second stream of thought, still represented by some board members, will 
have to be addressed. This treatment will occur in the other chapters. 
For it was still true that, for most of 1968, this tension was covered 
over by a successful summer, new funding and a new organizational 


This new underground church posture of the Free Church produced 
some raised eyebrows on the part of some of its established church Board 
members, particularly with its increasing orientation to confrontation 
politics. However, the attitude of such Board members as Otto Smith, 
Bob March, Jennings, and Buteyn was compatible in many respects with 
the Free Church's challenge of the local churches, most of which were 


their own churches. Therefore, the board and staff unity remained in- 
tact late in 1968. 

However, with the Free Church's broader circle of funders and 
allies, and more particularly with members of the local congregations, 
serious conflicts emerged. The alien and threatening language of its 
self description as the crack team of the guerrilla church could not be 
sold to local Berkeley residents. The Berkeley Gazette helped to fuel 
this conflict with stories that lumped the odd assortment of street 
radicals with the Free Church. The two- fold task of the Free Church to 
"'baptise' the Movement where it is timid or incomplete (the Gospel 
humanizes the New Left and politicizes the Hippies), and 'confirm' it 
when it is strong (moving the already committed from movement to or- 
ganization),"''^ just did not speak to the local churchgoer. Toward the 
end of 1968 much of the staff and board time was spent in answering 
criticisms of its programs. 

No one had a more difficult job in defending the Free Church to 
his congregation than Buteyn. A series of letters from members of the 
First Presbyterian Church, where Bueyn was pastor, illustrates the problems 
which beset him. 

A parishioner irate at Buteyn 's role in the Free Church wrote 

the following letter. 

...I have withdrawn my interest in the First Presby- 
terian Church of Berkeley, at the present time. The 
funds which I was to receive from an Estate were received 
last week. These had been earmarked for the Church. They 
have now been re-directed to other charities.'^ 

Claiming that the July 4th incidents, and Buteyn 's role in them, were 

not the reasons for her decision to withdraw support, she went on to 


enumerate "other recent occurances in the church" which led her to her 


1. If a Black Panther speaks his opinions, I feel the 
necessity to listen for we can not be part of the improve- 
ment of these lines [of communication] without doing so 

if not agreeingl.' However, this is a groups which preaches 
violence and hate. I do not intend to be asked to con- 
tribute to this cause.'''' 

• • 

2. The bulletin board in the church library with the 
picture of the Oakland Induction Center last Fall with 

a book thumb tacked beside it on "How Students May Change 
Society riot if necessary." 

3. The meeting of the militants in the basement of our 

4. The recent accusations of Dr. Buteyn of police 

brutality in front of the militants. It backs up 

their philosophy of lack of law and order. 76 

The final two reasons dealt., with York and the Free Church. 

5. York as the leader of the "Rebel Christ" as 

quoted when he too was complaining of "police brutality." 

6. And our participation in the Free Church with a man 
of the so-called cloth as this minister as its leader. 
We need mature men of moral and social stature to com- 
municate with these young people for the betterment of 
society. We certainly do not need to add to the violence 
which is brewing or already exists, therefore, York should 
be put out promptly and immediately ! 1 1'' 

However, the feedback was not all negative. Buteyn also received 

positive comments for his efforts. Another parishioner wrote: 

We want you to know, for whatever encouragement we 
may give you in the midst of a diversity of opinion, 
that our family heartily approves and appreciates your 
wisdom and your courage in taking part as you did in the 
events surrounding Telegraph Avenue... 

...Today we have made a contribution to the Summer of 
Sharing Fund, and wish you and those who are working with 
you in the program every success.' 

The church was now polarized to the point of irreconciliable 

differences. In another letter written during the summer riots, the anti 


Buteyn sentiment was made clear, and is representative of the growing 

sentiment within the churches at the end of 1968: 

...I was shocked to hear a clergyman support and en- 
courage the actions and position of young Camejo who 
openly admitted that as a socialist he would do all in 
his power to over-turn the economy and government of 
Berkeley. .. It was shocking to see you side with Camejo 
who represents the red flag of communism and the black 
flag of anarchism instead of law and order and the legal 
government at Berkeley. You are so wrong it is really sad. '^ 

Technically, Buteyn was not forced to leave First Presbyterian 
Church. However, professional pressures and personal and family traumas 
made it easy for him to accept a "call," a year later, as the Moderator 
of the Seattle Presbyterian Synod. His Berkeley house was bombed, he 
received numerous threats, his children were tear-gassed at their schools 
and he had to periodically send his family out of town for their safety. 

It was in this highly volatile and emotional environment that 
the Free Church had difficulty maintaining their early local financial 
support. The financial records show local business and church contri- 
butions budgeted at $3,000 and $4,000 respectively for 1968. By the 
end of the year the receipts from these two categories added up to less 

than half of the expected figures also down from the previous year. 

Therefore, more reliance had to be put on individual donations and reg- 
ional and national grants. The Diocese of California and the Presby- 
terian and Episcopal national offices were particularly looked to for 
help in this situation. And by the end of the year, three major grants 
had been negotiated to help out with the 1968 budget and for 1969. 
These sources prompted Mayor Johnson to accuse the Free Church of being 
funded by "outside radical sources." 80 

However, financial support for the Free Church became increasingly 


problematic due to its militancy as an underground church. The local 
church, community and business polarization that existed in 1968 was to 
be extended to all levels of national support beginning in 1969. 1969 
was an extension of 1968; but this was not a mere extension, it was a 
dramatic extension. 1968 was the dress rehearsal for 1969. 


Correction: The documents are no longer held at the 
CRRE Historical Archives, but as of 1995 are in the 
Graduate Theological Union Archives, Berkeley, CA. 

Richard York, "Speech before the Berkeley City Council," 
2 July 1968, CRRE Historical Archives. 



Michael Rossman, "Claiming Turf in Berkeley," The Wedding 

Within the War , (Garden City, New York: Doubleday Co., 1971) p. 315. 


Debbie Heinz, "Complicity in Resistance to Draft Urged at 

Noon Rally," Daily California , 10 January 1968. 

John Pairman Brown, "God is Doing His Thing," The Witness , 
53 No. 13 (March 28, 1968) pp. 6-10. 


Huey P. Newton, Revolutionary Suicide , (New York: Ballantine 
Books, 1973). 

Brown, "God is Doing His Thing." 

"Episcopalians: Hippie Ordination," Time (March 22, 1968) p. 63. 

"Episcopal Rite, Hippie Enters Priesthood," San Francisco 
Sunday Examiner and Chronicle , 10 March 1968, sec. A p. 3. 

Brown, "God is Doing His Thing." 




John Pairman Brown, The Liberated Zone, A Guide to Christian 

Resistance (Richmond, Virginia: John Knox Press, 1969) p. 9. 

133 ' 


John and Emily Brown, "Christmas Letter 1967," CRRE His- 
torical Archives. 


"Episcopal Priest Sees Hanoi," Catholic Voice , 29 November 1967. 

John Pairman Brown to Emily Brown, 7 September 1967, CRRE 
Historical Archives. 


John Pairman Brown to the Right Reverend C. Kilmer Myers, 

31 May 1968, CRRE Historical Archives. 



Brown, Liberated Zone , p. 176. 

"Brown, "God is Doing His Thing." 


"Christianity, Underground Manifesto," Time , (March 29, 1968). 

^rown, "God is Doing His Thing." 


Richard York, "The Liberated Zone, A Sermon Delivered at St. 

Mark's Cathedral, Seattle, Washington, 26 May 1968," CRRE Historical 
Archives . 


CRRE Historical Archives. 


Otto Smith to C. Kilmer Myers, 10 October 1968, Diocese of 

California (Episcopal), Urban Department Archives. 

Richard York, "Talk at Solidarity Service, 15 June 1968," 
CRRE Historical Archives. 


"Police Rout Demonstrators," Berkeley Daily Gazette , 

29 June, 1968. 

^^"Unified Proposal The Free Church, July 1, 1968- - June 30, 1970," 
CRRE Historical Records, p. 1. 


Wallace Johnson, "The Need to Know, July 18, 1968," CRRE 

Historical Archives. Wallace Johnson was a candidate for Vice President 

of the United States in several primaries in 1976. His campaign was to 

protest increases in salaries by legislators without public approval. 



Peter Came jo was the Socialist Worker's Party candidate for 

President of the United States in 1976. 


Johnson, "The Need to Know," p. 2. 


Ibid., p. 3. 


William C. Hanley, "Memorandum to the Honorable Mayor and 

Members of the City Council, 22 August 1968," CRRE Historical Archives, 
pp. 2, 3. 


"Police Interference with the Free Church, June 28-30, 1968," 

CRRE Historical Archives. 


"Minutes of the Executive Committee of the South Campus 

Community Ministry, 10 April 1968. CRRE Historical Archives. 



Hanley, "Memorandum." 


"Unified Proposal," p. 11. 


"The Free Church Becomes a Congregation," 13 July 1968, 

CRRE Historical Archives. 

"Unified Proposal," p. 16. 

lb id . , p . 3 . 


Ibid. , p. 13. 


Glenn Clarke, interview, Berkeley, California, 24 June 1976. 


Petition to William C. Hanley, 2 July 1968, CRRE Historical 


Johnson, "The Need to Know." 

"Leaders Meet to Organize," San Francisco Chronicle , 4 July 1968. 



Johnson, "The Need to Know." 

Tlaymond Jennings, "The Minister's Monday Morning Missive," 
The Percolator, Berkeley First Baptist Church . 14 (July 24, 1968). 


Staff minutes, 9 January 1968, CRRE Historical Archives. 


"Unified Proposal." 

^°Ibid. , p. 19. 

"The Avenue is Yours," CRRE Historical Archives. 


San Francisco Examiner , 5 July 1968; San Francisco Chronicle . 

5 July 1968. 

^^Chronicle, 5 July 1968. 


James Comfort Smith, "The Pastor's Pen, The Telegraph Avenue 

Issue." St. John's Call . 27 (July 10, 1968). 


Richard York, "Talk Delivered at Celebration Service, July 4, 
1968," CRRE Historical Archives. 



^^"Unified Proposal," p. 17. 

"By-laws of South Campus Ministry, Inc." 10 July 1968, CRRE 
His to ri cal Archives . 

^""""Unified Proposal," pp. 10-11. 

Ibid. , p. 11. 


Hanley, "Memorandum." 


Kirkpatrick Sale, SDS, (New York: Random House, 1973) p. 435, 

"Press Release, September 8, 1968," CRRE Historical Archives. 





Anthony 0. Nugent, interview, Berkeley, California, 5 March 1974, 

"Reformation Day Street Leaflet," October 1968, CRRE Historical 
Archives . 

"Reformation Day - All Saints Day Theses, November 1, 1968," 
CRRE Historical Archives. 

Brown, Liberated Zone . pp. 38-39. 

^^Ibid. , pp. 49-86. 


Richard York, "Sermon: Text Matt. 7: 3-13," CRRE Historical 

Archives . 


Richard York and Anthony Nugent, "Mission Design of the 

Organizing Pastors of the Berkeley Free Church, January 1, 1969 - 

January 1, 1970," CRRE Historical Archives. 

Maryetta Gross to Donald Buteyn, 11 July 1968. CRRE 
Historical Archives. 




Wenifred McLeod to Donald Buteyn, 14 July 1968. CRRE 

Historical Archives. 


Anonymous to Donald Buteyn, 12 July 1968. CRRE Historical 



Johnson, "Need to Know." 

Chapter IV 



"It is no longer sufficient to say that the police and the mili- 
tary have 'over-reacted.' With the approval of the Governor of this 
state and the Attorney General, the action taken against the students, 
the street people and many other citizens has assumed the character 

of a full-scale military operation replete with the strong-armed and 

brutal methods which I as a student observed in Germany in 1939." 

Thus began a statement by C. Kilmer Myers, Episcopal Bishop of Cali- 
fornia at the height of the second battle of Berkeley: the People's 
Park crisis. This was a struggle over a university owned vacant lot. 
The South Campus white youth ghetto wanted to build a park on the lot. 
The university wanted, first a soccer field, then student housing. At 
least, these were the surface issues. The 1969 slogan and strategy of 
the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) , "bring the war home, "2 ^^g 
more indicative of what was at stake in the Park crisis — for the war 
was brought home in Berkeley in the spring and summer of 1969. 

The statement by Bishop Myers was read on May 25, to "concerned 
people in Berkeley at the Chapel of the Reformation, Pacific School of 
Religion" (PSR) . The tension in Berkeley was still high when the state- 
ment was read. It was less than three weeks since the PSR chapel was 

bombed and only three days since the death of James Rector in the 



People's Park battle. Bishop Myers' analogy to Nazi Germany made it 

clear where he stood in his interpretation of the crisis. However, he 

went even further to place the blame: 

The Governor [Ronald ReaganJ Is the one who has unleashed 
the "dogs of war" in Berkeley. He has been aided and 
abetted by other members of our governing circles who 
maintain that law and order must be upheld. The charge 
of violation of the law, both civil and moral, must be 
laid at their feet rather than at the feet of the helpless. 
We remember that it is this same Governor who advocated 
paving over Vietnam. He is a war-monger in Southeast 
Asia and he is a war-monger in California. The system of 
violence which spawns persons like the Governor of Cali- 
fornia is all of one piece. 

Myers added his interpretation of the larger symbolic significance of 

People's Park. 

...We all desire the return of peace. We must pray 
for it and work for it. Ronald Reagan will not join us 
in our prayer or work for our cause. Let us then call 

for help from the rest of the United States the prayers 

and support of all freedom- loving people who wish to re- 
cover our entire land for the people.... I want America 
without war, without the draft, without a huge standing 
army, without control by the military in coalition with 
University research and the billions "sacrificed" by cor- 
porate industry. .. . The People's Park is to me a symbol of 
the revolt against the demonic powers which threaten to 
destroy utterly our America in which men [sic] may grow 
into freedom and dignity. Brethren, let us reaffirm the 
events in the Garden of Joseph of Arimathea! Let us call 
upon our brothers [sic] everywhere to join in our Exodus 
and in our celebration of the death of alienation from 
life and love!^ [Italics mine] 

Myers' strong statement indicates that the Free Church had an 
ally; and it was a good thing. The Free Church was more and more de- 
pendent upon the support of church leaders such as Bishop Myers for 
their legitimacy and even more for their financial solvency. Myers 
certainly was on the Free Church's side in his analysis of People's 
Park; the blame belonged on Reagan and "other members of our governing 
circles." By taking this kind of stand Myers opened himself to criticism 


and pressure too. According to Arch Deacon John Weaver, a key confidant 
and assistant to the Bishop, Reagan made efforts to get Myers to retract 
his statement. Reagan's proposal, according to Weaver, entailed Reagan 
consenting to meet vTith Myers if he would retract his harsh words. "I 
just never passed the message on to the Bishop, "Ssaid Weaver. The 
Free Church also had a supporter in Weaver. Weaver had developed an 
early admiration for York's ministry and for York. Weaver, like York, 
had a Pentecostal, tongue-speaking background. Without the support of 
key people in key places, such as Myers and Weaver, the difficult year 
1969 would have been even more difficult. They acted as "buffers" as 
repression mounted against radicals. They acted as interpreters and 
legitimators of the Free Church's growing identification with radical 
causes . 

Myers and Weaver were not alone in feeling that responsibility 
for events such as People's Park came from "high places." In an impor- 
tant disclosure, seven years after the crisis, Free Church founder Don 
Buteyn also felt People's Park was used by Reagan. Buteyn was privy to 
inside information. Berkeley's Chancellor, Roger Heyns, was a parish- 
ioner and close friend of Buteyn. Heyns was an early supporter of the 
Free Church but during the Park crisis he was attacked by the Free 
Church staff and Board. Buteyn, seeking some vindication for his friend, 
explains the political situation like this: 

...[People's Park] was not a local Berkeley issue... We 
all saw it coming. In the previous November I was out 
walking with Roger Heyns on the campus.... We went over to 
the Golden Bear [Restaurant] to have a bite to eat and then 
took a walk. .. .We walked off campus, down Telegraph Avenue 
a block or two... On the way back Heyns said, "That lot 
over there is going to be cleared. It is going to be a 
source of great trouble unless the Board of Regents has a 
change of heart and subscribes to the things I am asking 
them to do .... 


He was asking them not to stop in mid-stream in the 
process of clearing the old houses off the property. He 
wanted them to move quickly to develop the land and not 
let it remain empty. He said it would be a focal point 
for a great disaster. Then he described in great detail 
the political dynamics that were going on in Sacramento 
in the Regents' and Governor's offices, over against the 
Berkeley campus in particular. He was no great lover of 
Governor Reagan. ..nor was I. He knew that in Southern 
California Reagan's political strength would be enhanced 
at every point if he could be recognized as the knight on 
the white horse who subdued the Berkeley campus. If there 
was an opportunity for the administration in Sacramento 
to rap the knuckles of the Berkeley administration or to 
embarrass Berkeley, .. .Reagan would do it. 

Roger saw it coming. .. .The property had been purchased 
as part of a master plan by the University. .. .Houses, at 
that time, were in the process of being demolished, and 
the land cleared in order to begin construction. In order 
to begin building in the spring the Regents had to raise 
and allocate the necessary capital. What Roger feared 
Reagan would do was to persuade the Regents to deny the 
funds to the Berkeley campus as a means of rapping their 
knuckles for prior disturbances. Disturbances for which 
the Berkeley administration was accused of being respon- 
sible because they were not high handed or hard nosed 
enough . 

So Roger was afraid the funds would be denied, and they 
subsequently were denied. The land lay fallow and people 
began squatting, sleeping, having shindigs on the land. 
And by April, for lack of a better issue, they began claim- 
ing the land. 

Thus, Roger found himself halfway across the river 
with his rope cut... The land was on his hands and there 
was nothing he could do with it.... He actually wanted the 
land to lay fallow and let the kids camp on it. He wanted 
People's Park to stand. 

Buteyn was probably right as far as he went. But it was also 
clear to others that even Reagan's efforts were only part of a larger 
national plan that in part came right out of the White House. Only 
due to recent disclosures, however, have these plans been fully docu- 
mented. The systematic nature of state coordinated repression reached 
its peak in 1969. 

There were obvious signs, even at the time, to lead many to 
speculate correctly on the degree of the repression. People's Park had 


been preceded, early in 1969, by two "hard line" speeches on campus dis- 
orders, one by President Richard M. Nixon, the other by U.S. Attorney 
General John Mitchell. Their analysis and strategy was similar to 
Reagan's. The blame for campus disorders had to be shared by University 
administrators who "failed to act" and who should "stop negotiating 
under the blackmail threat of violence." The speeches were drafted 
during policy consultations Nixon and Mitchell had with former FBI 
Director J. Edgar Hoover. The speeches indicated that Nixon and Mitchell 
had received information from "investigations" which had been conducted 
on a "small core of professional militants." Reagan confirmed similar 
fact-finding attempts during People's Park. 

I told you some time ago that we've been aware of meetings 
in which they've been discussing their strategy and how 
far they should go and what they should do to keep this 
alive and so I think this was just another outburst." 

The "outburst" Reagan was referring to was one of the many ac- 
tions surrounding People's Park by people he considered as not having 
"outworn or outgrown their pink booties." 

However, it is only in recent years that we have learned some 
of the details of these intelligence gathering missions on the part of 
federal and military agencies . The one that has become more and more 
publicized in connection with Reagan was the Airmy intelligence program 
"Garden Plot." The purpose of this plan was to quell urban disorders. 

Reagan indicated he was aware of this program and it is likely he was 

well informed about other such programs. One aspect of the Army's in- 
telligence work consisted in looking for the possible existence of a 
charismatic leader who could lead a major revolt. They feared the 
emergence of a leader in the black community with the stature and fol- 
lowing of a Martin Luther King Jr. or a Malcolm X. Now it is also known 


that Army intelligence had infiltrated a "network of religious youth 
movements." Whether or not these intelligence programs made direct 
contact with the Free Church and its growing network is not known. 
However, 1969 cannot be understood without realizing this backdrop of 
"the war brought home." 


Over against this backdrop the Free Church increasingly depended 
upon people such as Myers, and to some extent Buteyn (even though he had 
retired from the board) , to get its message across to local church 
people, and to "come to bat" for them with local and national funding 
sources. The funding from local organizations, churches and merchants 
in Berkeley became more and more tenuous as the Free Church deepened its 
identification with its "street constituency," the radical youth move- 
ment in all its manifestations cultural, political, within and outside 

the churches. Therefore, the ties to national funders became crucial 
in order to cover its largest yearly budget of $60,000 in 1969. 

By 1969 the Free Church was still largely supported by monies 
from the United Presbyterian Church and the Episcopal Church. A new 
arrangement was negotiated in the first part of 1969 to cover Jock 
Brown's salary and additional programming. The money from the national 
offices was theoretically not contingent on local support, but without 
it, the funding would have been doubtful. For example, the Episcopal 
money that came in 1969 would not have been so generous without Bishop 
Myers' blessing of the Free Church program. One factor behind his sup- 
port of the Free Church was its usefulness in indicating to critical 
libexals that the church was active and involved in the urban crisis. 


No doubt there were other factors responsible for Myers' support. Cer- 
tainly York worked hard at keeping Myers on his side. He was particu- 
larly successful in drawing parallels between the Free Church street 
ministry and Myers' early street ministry in New York. 

However, the strategies of many national funders were increas- 
ingly at odds with local and regional church organizations, even to the 
point of undercutting their local support. Their interest was in putting 
the church "up against the wall," in really challenging the church to 
be the real church. In many cases in the 1960's ,bureaucratic positions 
were created precisely for achieving prophetic witness within the chur- 
ches. They were given large sums of money and much personal discretion. 
It was almost a sign of success if conflicts were created in local 
parishes . 

For example, in November of 1969 Anthony Morley, the Executive 
for Experimentation and Development of the Executive Council of the 
Episcopal Church, wrote a letter of encouragement to "his" local pro- 
jects in the Bay Area of which the Free Church was one. The letter 

was sent in response to one of the "actions" of the Free Church's Guer- 
rilla Academy of the Revolutionary Church (GARC) . GARC had just dis- 
rupted a meeting of the National Association of Episcopal Schools and 
Military Academies (NAES) at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. In a 
"Declaration of War," GARC charged NAES with "maintaining a system of 
military academies and other schools for the education of imperialist 

military personnel in church institutions, rather than training the 

cadre of the Christian revolution." At the conference forty militants 

disrupted a worship service conducted by John Hines,the Presiding Bish- 
op of the National Episcopal Church, to announce their demands, and 


then "conmandeered the building" for a peace march the following day. 

The text of Morley's letter: 

Fratres ! 

All encouragement to GARC and the revolutionary soli- 
darity of EMHA-FCB [Ecumenical Ministry in the Haight-Ash- 

bury Free Church Berkeley] therein. Does Bishop Hines 

understand that his interrupters were 815 [number of na- 
tional office in New York] grantees? HOW LONG WILL ANY 

Yours in anticipation of future poverty, and a place 
to crash. 

For 1969, at least, the national agencies within the churches, 
with some regional collaboration, were willing to fund their own revo- 
lution. However, most immediate local support had dried up for reli- 
gious radicalism, for which the Free Church was known. 

Therefore, as a direct consequence of the Free Church's iden- 
tification with the radical street scene, even prior to their partici- 
pation in People's Park, the local church supporters had increased 
difficulty justifying their financial support of a "radical organiza- 
tion." However, some of the most serious local criticism was aimed at 
the Free Chui'ch because of its religious radicalism, that is, its 
challenge to the churches. To some people, as long as the Free Church 
remained a champion of street people's rights they were not concerned. 
However, when the Free Church's radicalization in the streets was con- 
nected with their church politics, many church leaders felt threatened. 
The threat became all the more serious when the Free Church could back 
up its actions with Christian tradition and its own sense of being the 
real church. For example, Brown Barr, the minister of Berkeley's 
First Congregational Church, in April of 1969 expressed his serious 
reservations about the Free Church ministry. He was concerned that 


the Free Church had moved beyond a "street ministry" to become "insti- 
tutionalized" and to "develop its orders and its liturgies and other 

paraphernalia of the established Church." He was particularly con- 
cerned about the theology that he felt was responsible for the Free 
Church's shift to an "established church." He called it "neo-funda- 
mentalism": seems to us that the Church thus formed is committed 
to a neo-fundamentalism which we personally cannot accept. 
It may indeed be that the radical wing of the Church, both 
to the right and to the left, is correct and that the Church 
must possess and declare a specific political bias. Per- 
haps that is the form the Church must take. But that is 
yet to be proved. ■'-^ 

Barr then quotes from former U.S. Cabinet member for Health, Education 

and Welfare and the founder of Common Cause, John Gardner, on radicals, 

and concludes with a financial threat . 

"As radicals move into the conflict that is often required 
to produce social change they tend to rigidify as individ- 
uals and to form themselves into highly dogmatic organiza- 
tions, intolerant of diversity within their own ranks... 
They splinter because there is no reasonable way to disagree 
except by breaking up." The neo-fundamentalism of the 
Free Church differs only in objects of devotion from the 
neo-fundamentalism of churches which have made a patron 
saint of John Birch. Neither one of us wants our money 
to go to support either sort of operation. Furthermore, 
we do not believe that we can responsibly allocate the 
funds entrusted to us by our people to that sort of opera- 
tion. [Italics mine ]•'•'' 

The radical "neo-fundamentalism" that jeopardized support of 

the Free Church from the First Congregational Church reached its apex 

in the People's Park struggle. 


Complaints similar to Barr's came even from such an ardent supp- 
orter as Don Buteyn. He was beginning to question the direction and in- 
volvement of the Free Church. But he still felt loyalty to the experi- 
mental project he helped to bring into existence. Therefore, he just 
wanted, as he put it, "to share differences of viewpoint in love and 
peace with [his] brothers without holding over them the threat of with- 
drawal of either spiritual, moral or financial support." The money 
from First Presbyterian Church was secure, at least for 1969. The diff- 
erences that Buteyn wanted to share reflected his original rationale for 
the South Campus Community Ministry. Buteyn's position represented the 
parallel, at times complementary but usually conflicting second stream 
of thought that existed within the organization in the past. With Buteyn 
retired from the board this second stream of thought was more external 
to the Free Church, yet not without influence, especially as it was 
backed up by funding ($1,200 for 1969 from First Presbyterian). Buteyn's 
notions of "bridge building," "communication breakdown" and "reconciliation" 
were prominent in a letter written by him on behalf of First Presbyterian's 
Department of Mission. He summed up the basic difference in his final 

We are concerned that public statements and in- 
ferences made by Free Church Staff and others 
related to the program have tended to break the 
bonds with the rest of the Body of Christ in 
Berkeley, to over-identify the Free Church with 
only one segment of the community, and to deprive 


the Free Giurch of its most essential quality 

its freedom. The militant segment of Berkeley 
must be reached. If it is reached at the price 
of ignoring the rest of the community the 
process of reconciliation will be seriously 
Hampered. Confrontations are definitely not 
the only way to the resolution of difficulties. 
To seriously implement the Confession of 1967 
[United Presbyterian Church U.S.A.] every avenue 
for reconciliation must be skillfully employed. 18 
[Italics mine] 

These criticisms were to be expected by the Free Church after its 
involvement in People's Park. What was the role of the Free Church in the 
second battle of Berkeley? 


Three and a half weeks after the University of California- 
owned vacant lot in the South Campus had been "liberated" by local 
street people, a group of clergy led by York consecrated the liberated 
territory with an "ecumenical" religious service. Father James Conway 
of the Catholic Newman Center, an Episcopal Deaconess and a celebrant 
dressed in flowing eastern-style garb assisted York in the "blessing." 
The simple consecration liturgy was to evolve to a fully developed 


guerrilla liturgy, later to be included in the Free Church's Covenant 

of Peace; A Liberation Prayer Book. The liturgy was called "Earth 

Rebirth." Writing in 1970, Brown and York refer to "Earth Rebirth" li- 
turgy in the Preface to the Covenant of Peace ; evolved from the consecration of People's Park on 
11 May 1969;... It is superficially syncretistic for a wide 
coalition with ecology activists. Thanks to Viv Broughton 
for "How shall we sing the Lord's song"; to Gary Snyder 
for "earth household"; to various straight sources for 
well known slogans; to Incredible String Band for the 
Benediction; and to Smokey the Bear for kind permission 
to reproduce his sutra free forever. 19 

Portions of the liturgy give us a feel for the ability of the 
Free Church, particularly Brown and York, to translate secular move- 
ment themes into liturgical form. The ecology movement was beginning 
to blossom in 1969. 


Plant the world park 

Let the world park 

Give grass a chance 

Liberate the park of your choice 

Support your local garden 

Dig up all asphalt . . . 

Green is beautiful 
Live invisible 
Make love not war 
Weave the great web 
Replace wheel by feet 
Smash consumer culture 
Shut down machines 
On strike shut it down 
Planet on strike 
Planet on strike 

Graphic 7 


Berkeley Free Church Calendar 1970 



Planet on strike 
Plant the world park 

(At streetcomers, when held up by cops, etc..) 

Restore our earth household: Restore our earth household. 
All powers of being, restore our earth household: Restore 

our earth household : 
Sea of air, blowing out the smog of our self poisoning: 
...Stream and river, purifying the land's body: 
Deer and buffalo in cooperation with grasslands: 
...Insurgent Red Men, putting a new song in our mouth: 
Insurgent Black Men, putting a new song in our mouth: 
Insurgent Brown Men, taking over the vineyards: 
Insurgent Yellow Men, resisting patented poisons: 
...Spirit of John Muir, keeper of the garden, marching 

beside us: 
Spirit of Johnny Appleseed, planter of Eden, marching beside 

Yin and Yang, male and female principles of creation: 
Buddha the compassionate, surviving the cycle of dying: 
Adam and Eve, first parents in the paradise of Eden: 
...Refugees in the blackened ruins of the doomed city: 

Restore our earth household 
All who build a new world on the vacant lots of the 

old: Restore our earth household. ^0 

"Restore our earth household," "Planet on strike," and "We are 
building a new society on the vacant lots of the old," are phrases that 
spoke to many "Free Churchers" and many others during the People's Park 
crisis. But what was People's Park all about? People's Park was the 
year 1969 in miniature, one dramatic scene. It was another battle for 
territorial rights of the South Campus subculture. At its best it was 
a symbol that had meaning beyond its surface contradictions. In fact, 
it was this meaning that allowed for a reconciliation of the various 
internal contradictions. People's Park was the height of mass protest 
in Berkeley; but People's Park was the height of mass repression in 
Berkeley. People's Park was the height of coalitional radicalism in 
Berkeley on a given issue; but People's Park was staged at the height 


of factionalism in the radical community. People's Park represented 
the "Woodstock" 21 experience of 1969, fused with a deepening political- 
economic critique of U.S. society. Ecology and new life styles were 
held in tension with anti-capitalism and Marxist analysis; but People's 
Park also represented the deep divisions between cultural radicals and 
political radicals. 

If People's Park was the year 1969 in miniature, the Free 
Church in 1969 was People's Park in miniature. Therefore, in order to 
understand the "radical" Free Church in 1969, some background details 
regarding the actual events of the Park battle are necessary. 

People's Park, as Don Buteyn observed, was something that every- 
one close to the Telegraph Avenue scene could see coming. However, to 
date its origins precisely would be difficult. Was it 1956, when the 
site of the Park, which included many charming Berkeley residences, was 
designated for University expansion? Was it 1964, when it became ob- 
vious that Berkeley had a subculture at odds with the business-as-usual 
policies of the "town and gown"? Whenever one chooses to begin the 
story, the summer before must be seen as a portent. The French Soli- 
darity strikes, riots and aftermath, when the Free Church won its battle 
stripes, was a^ beginning to People's Park. It was after this first bat- 
tle for Berkeley that city and university officials had to take measures 
to head off future possible riots. Therefore , in the immediate after- 
math of the riot they created an official city "fact finding" group, 
the Telegraph Avenue Concerns Committee (TACC) . Ray Jennings, the pastor 
of the First Baptist Church and a Free Church board member, York, and 
other local clergy, merchants, university and town officials met to 
solve the problem of violence in the South Campus. The South Campus 


subculture now was fully recognized as the extremely volatile youth 
ghetto it had been proclaiming itself. Therefore, one of the official 
recommendations of this committee was the development of a park and 

recreation center just off of Telegraph Avenue. They wanted to channel 

the revolution on the streets" into an organized community recreation 

program. Coincidentally, late in 1968, the future site of People's 

Park had been cleared of houses and was only being used for a dirt 

parking lot. The TACC recommended that the city of Berkeley purchase 

the property from the university. This recommendation lay buried in 

official city reports, known only to the small group of TACC members 

and never acted upon. 

It was not until April of 1969 that the Park became an issue. 
Depending upon one's sources the real beginning of the Park was: a logi- 
cal outgrowth of the obvious needs of the South Campus subculture; a 
buf f oonish event in the spring ritual of "What else is there to do" ; 
or a contrived, calculated and sinister plot by the fascist pigs of 
Nixon-Mitchell-Reagan-Hoover or by the "Commie-Maoist-Marxist-Leninist- 
pinkos." At the time it was clear which one the Free Church chose. It 

is also clear by the public record of the event which is not without 

contradictions that the event itself became much more than its be- 
ginning, regardless which interpretation one wants to believe. 

The Free Church, through the eyes of its street "clientele," 
volunteers, staff and board, saw People's Park much the same way Bishop 
Myers saw it in his PSR Chapel communique. It happened because it was 

needed as the Telegraph Avenue Concerns Committee report indicated. 

York described the first few days of building the Park as "the best 
possible therapy" that could be devised for the street people that com- 


prised his youth ghetto parish and for whom he was minister and coun- 
sellor. The building of the Park began as a spontaneous "freak" event 
that emerged from real human needs, according to York. He described 
the "organization" that went into the initial planting of the grass. 

"Super Joel," a local hip-street-freak figure, took it upon himself 

"with a little help from his friends" to place an anonymous ad in the 

Berkeley Barb calling for the building of the Park. He purchased the 
sod, and made contact with other South Campus freak (1969 term for 
"hippie") organizations. The Free Church was contacted, since it was 
considered a legitimate freak organization with a large constituency. 
The desire for a large confrontation was not present in the minds of 
these self-proclaimed freaks. In fact, according to the radical fac- 
tions on the street, the freaks or cultural radicals like Super Joel 
resented the student political radicals precisely because the political 
radicals would stage their revolution on the Avenue and the freaks 
would get their "heads busted." Therefore, regardless of what eventu- 
ally happened, the Free Church's "myth of origin" of People's Park was 
clear: it was spontaneous and needed. The buffoonish, freaky and spon- 

o / 

taneous origins of the Park were captured in Super Joel's Barb ad. 
It was signed "Robin Hood's Park Commissioner." 

At one o'clock our rural reclamation project for 
Telegraph Avenue commences the expectation of beauty. 

We want the park to be a cultural, political, 
freakout and rap center for the Western world. 

...Bring shovels, hoses, chairs, grass, paints, flowers, 
trees, bulldozers, topsoil, colorful smiles, laughter 
and lots of sweat. 

'Nobody supervises and the trip belongs to whoever 
dreams . ' 25 

A letter to Chancellor Heyns by the Chair of the Board of the 

Free Church, Otto Smith, mathematics professor at the University, 


further illustrates the Free Church's perspective on People's Park. 

The construction of "People's Park" on university pro- 
perty was a spontaneous suirprise, and a creative venture 
by university students, local residents, and the street 
community. Its existence demonstrates that it fills an 
important need. 26 

However, People's Park became much more, at least symbolically, 
than this "spontaneous surprise." The Free Church also became deeply 
involved in every facet of the struggle. 

The major confrontation occurred on May 15, just three days 
after York's consecration of the Park. The University officials de- 
cided to fence out the builders of the Park, regain control of the 
land, and, in their terms, "reestablish the conveniently forgotten fact 

that the field is indeed the University's, and to exclude unauthorized 

persons from the site." The events following the fenclng-off are 

generally known and form part of this country's "legend of the sixties." 

On May 15 at 6:20 a.m. the fence went up. At 12:38 p.m. 6,000 
people marched to the Park and were met by California Highway Patrolmen 
and Alameda County Sheriffs. When the bottles, bricks, tear gas, fire 
hoses, and shotguns calmed, over fifty people were in hospital, one, 
James Rector, eventually to die, one blinded, and numerous maimed for 
life. The Free Church building was converted into a hospital to ad- 
minister first aid. Teams of Free Church medics were sent to the bat- 
tle zone. Emergency first aid supplies from the National Red Cross 
were released to the Free Church. A disaster alert and curfew were 
put into effect. The National Guard was called in. Hundreds of people 
were carted off to jail. May 15 was only the beginning, and even today 
the verdict is still not in on People's Park. Today the site remains 
undeveloped, half of it devoted to a parking lot and half to trees. 


grass, and a makeshift conmunity garden. 

The frantic pace of the battle continued for the rest of the 
month and culminated In a Memorial Day march In support of the Park. 
The march was attended by over thirty thousand people. Over this peri- 
od of a month, the Free Church's staff, volunteers, building and equip- 
ment were at the total service of the struggle for People's Park. The 
first aid medical teams operated for a month out of the Free Church 
building. York was appointed by the militants to serve on the People's 
Park Negotiating Committee. The church was the primary headquarters 
of the pro-Park movement. The mimeo machines were operated twenty- 
four hours a day according to a Free Church quarterly report. Over 

a three week period, $50,000 dollars was collected by the Free Church 

for the People's Park Bail Fund which operated out of Jock Brown's 

home. York played a leadership role in most of the public events. 
Nugent 's role in People's Park was to organize the local churches to 
support the pro-Park forces. This was an exhausting behind-the-scenes 
job, but crucial to the "public" effort of York, and the Free Church 
in general. The Free Church began the Memorial Day march with one of 
its guerrilla liturgies. 

The Free Church was also instrumental in "liberating People's 

Park annex." Hoes and shovels were provided by the Free Church as 

people moved in to "claim" the vacant land cleared along Hearst Street 

in Berkeley by the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) for its subway system. 

York recounts this particularly dramatic episode, typical of the many 

events surrounding the People's Park battle: 

We were very involved in this ... I had the great honor 
and distinction of being the first person to stick a shovel 
in People's Park Annex soil. 


By then we were helping to lead the battle. We pro- 
vided the trucks and tools. On this big march, we were 
screaming run, run, dig, dig, and jumping off the trucks 
throwing the tools to people running beside the truck. 
The police were behind us and "millions" of people were 
pouring onto the land. They were starting to dig and plant 
like mad, while waiting for the cops to descend on us 
any minute, which they did. The National Guard and the 
cops immediately descended. They pushed us off the land 
and chased us through the back yards of nearby houses. 

I remember hiding with Tom Hayden that day. After 
they pushed us off the land, they pushed us north of the 
Annex. . .heading into the residential north side. Hundreds 
of people, all running, would regather at intersections 
and stop traffic. The police would zoom in and club us all. 
I remember Hayden and I running together for our lives . 
We went over a fence into someone's back yard with four 
or five others. The police came running in after us... 
We all went over another fence, just went like monkeys, 
into another back yard. The police followed. So we went 
over another fence and ended up in a laundry room of an 
apartment building. Hayden and I were the only ones that 
made it into the laundry. . .But there was a window open 
with no glass... and this "pig" with a big club sticks 
his head in and looks at us and says, "no sanctuary"! 
"no sanctuary"! "Get out of here." 

That "blew my mind"; that will stick with me forever. 
It was like the rules of the game. They were into the 
game as much as we were. It was a game mentality. It 
was like "hide and seek," when you say "home"! "home"! 
And he was saying that that was not fair to hide in there. 
So we got up and ran out the door, with him on our tail, 
out into the street again. We ran right into the arms 
of more clubs and cops. There was no sanctuary! 28 


However, beneath the "fun and games" there were serious issues 
and developments. A large public outcry addressed itself to some of 
these issues. For example, there was the "closing down" of Berkeley 
with a state of disaster decree and the quartering of National Guard 
troops in the Park for over a month. This was seen by most people, 
even anti-Park people, as over-kill tactics by Reagan. He had the 


power and authority to overrule local Berkeley officials, who felt the 
National Guard presence was aggravating the situation. The list of 
those coalescing against Reagan's Park policies was impressive, and 
included, besides church leaders like Myers, prominent figures such 
as poets Gary Snyder and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the International 
Longshoremen and Warehousemen Workers , professors at the Center for 
Advanced Study in Behavioral Science in Palo Alto, and scientists at 
the Linus Pauling and Salk Institutes. Also, U.S. Senator Eugene 
McCarthy was a participant in a mass demonstration in Sacramento 
protesting the National Guard in Berkeley. The pro-Park solidarity 
was well mobilized on the other California state campuses. For 
example, 2,000 students marched at the University of California at 
Los Angeles (UCLA) . 

The Free Church did its part in focussing national attention 
on the People's Park battle. They sponsored benefit rock concerts for 
the Park bail fund and used their network of friends and contacts to 
raise more money. Nugent, attending a Presbyterian General Assembly in 
San Antonio, Texas, when the battle first broke out, sponsored an Assem- 
bly resolution in favor of the Park and against Reagan. It was passed. 

This large and favorable outcry though Reagan had his supporters 

too buoyed the spirits of many radicals hopeful for new coalitions 

and alliances. The new alliances were not built just on negative Rea- 
gan sentiment. The struggle for such a human need as parks caught the 
imagination of many people. The "politics" of the Park battle allowed 
for the fusing of cultural and political radicals. A new coalition de- 
veloped that was oriented to creative and positive issues, not just to 
the anti politics of confrontation. The effervescence of the early 


civil rights marches seemed to be recaptured, at least for a brief 

moment. A new day was dawning. The Free Church now saw more hope for 

its agenda within the movement. 

The Park, and the whole green revolution/ecology theme 
of it, had a beneficent effect on the Berkeley Movement: 
[it] humanized the violent political vibes and put ecology, 
for the first time, in the center of radical issues here. 
We, needless to say, are happy about both.29 

But as much as ecology was a theme in the crisis , there were 
other themes that would prove more dominant. And as much as the Park 
was able to fuse political and cultural radicals, the underlying dy- 
namic was too strong to keep the two groups together. Repression 
against and factionalism within the radical movement had gone too far 
to be overcome by one brief struggle within the history of the new 
left. Therefore, the real story developing in 1969 was the beginning 
of the end for counterculture radicals and the new left. The real 
stories were not effervescence and revolution but repression and fac- 
tionalism. Berkeley City Manager Hanley correctly perceived the under- 
lying issue that helped to create the polarized situation when he posed 
the following alternatives. 

The basic issue, therefore, was and is whether public 
property is to be developed and controlled by a duly con- 
stituted authority or by any ad hoc group that chooses to 
assert rights and powers over it. 

OR, as it was succinctly put in a people's handout 
on May 16, "control over that Park represented more than 
just a piece of land. It raised the basic question of 
who will control the institutions and property in this 
country and for what purposes. "-^^ 

These were the same alternatives that disturbed many legisla- 
tors. The new concern was no longer disruptive student radicals it 

was the articulated challenge that went to the core of U.S. society. 


The challenge had no chance of succeeding, but the fact that the radi- 
cals perceived the issue so clearly frightened many. The Movement was 
becoming increasingly anticapitalist. This position challenged the 
basic property rights of U.S. capitalism and resulted in increasingly 

repressive tactics by U.S. officials tactics that the fun-and-games 

theater-like quality of the street battles served only to mask over. 

But the downfall of the radical movement, particularly its poli- 
tical side, was not only the result of "outside" forces. The repression 
strategy was aided and abetted by internal Movement factionalism. No 
doubt there were outside agents helping along the factional disputes. 
But the new left factionalism could not be reduced to agents provoca- 
teurs . The most celebrated split occurred within SDS. The Progressive 
Labor Party (PLP) had developed enough strength within SDS to totally 
divide SDS into two distinct organizations. One was controlled by PLP, 
the other by the group that was to emerge as the Weather Underground. 
This split was a microcosm of the whole radical student movement nation- 
wide. Numerous issues separated the two groups, some false and some 
real. Even though both groups had become isolated from early SDS con- 
stituencies at the time of the split, the division was a version of the 
cultural/political split in the whole radical movement: "life-style 
politics" vs. "seizing state power," "adventurism" vs. "real politics." ^^ 

Thus, a complex mixture of new analyses, coalitions, and hopes, 
with repression, factionalism and false hopes set the stage for the 
drama of which People's Park was only a brief interlude. And the Free 
Church mirrored all these elements of the 1969 scene. It had its own 
version of the division within the Movement, although its involvement 


in the People's Park battle seemed, at least temporarily, to solve the 
problem. At one level, "the radical church," which the Free Church had 
unquestionably become, deepened its analysis and self-understanding. 
This was the level of ideology, or the "religious politics" of the 
Free Church. In 1969 the coherence of this ideology was made possible 
by the heavy cultural component of the People's Park battle, for it 
was in the realm of cultural politics that the Free Church excelled. 
The religious politics of the Free Church depended on a strong cultural 
component alongside its growing political component. In the Free 
Church, as in the rest of the Movement, this coherence was shortlived, 
overstrained by factionalism and repression. 

However, it was still easy for the Free Church to be hopeful in 
1969. Much like the rest of the Movement, this was the year of one con- 
tinuous "action" for the Free Church. And if one believed "actions" 
were important, one also had to believe that they were accomplishing 
something toward the new world one hoped to create. One could point to 
"facts." The radical church movement was growing. New national net- 
works across denomination lines were formed. There was agit-prop theater. 
The People's Park liturgy, quoted above, was only one of many such guer- 
rilla liturgies to come out of 1969 they comprised a major portion of 

the Free Church's actions. 

Locally, the Free Church helped to organize a two day "exorcism" 
of the Pacific School of Religion. And as part of draft resistance pro- 
tests, the Free Church "exorcised the demons" at the San Francisco Federal 


Court building. The Guerrilla Academy of the Revolutionary Church (GARC) , 
mentioned at the beginning of the chapter, was another action that kept 
the Free Church visible and busy locally. 

It was a national action that was the most significant theater 
staged by the Free Church in 1969. At a November meeting in Detroit of 
the General Convention . of the National Council of Churches (NCC) , the 
guerrilla-underground-radical-liberated-submarine churches formed a na- 
tional coalition of "from the bottom up" ecumenists to protest the offi- 
cial "top down" ecumenism of the NCC. Dubbed "Jonathan's Wake" in honor 
of U.S. "free church" theologian Jonathan Edwards, the protest brought 
a coalition of radical church "youth" to Detroit to wage a full scale 
battle on behalf of a potpourri of radical causes. The Free Church was 
given the responsibility for its specialty, guerrilla liturgy. The 
liturgy they prepared bore the significant title "Jonathan's Wake: The 
Death and Transfiguration of the Jolly Green Giant." The implied an- 
alogy was obvious, or as the Jonathan's Wake protesters put it: 

It comes to us from informed sources that a wake was 
originally established to watch over a corpse to make 
sure the body was actually dead. This was to avoid a 
premature burial. Now apply that formula to the National 
Council of Churches Triennial Meeting and you will see 
what Jonathan's Wake is all about. -^^ 

The first part of the "Death of the Jolly Green Giant" was prin- 
cipally performed by a large contingent of members of the Free Church 
headed by York, Nugent and Brown. Stephen Rose, editor of Renewal Maga- 
zine and main organizer of Jonathan's Wake, also participated in the 
liturgy. The liturgy communicates the flavor of the protest, and even 
more clearly the Free Church's style of church protest late in 1969. 

(The Giant represents the church in complicity as coopted 
by the PIG.) 

Graphic 8 



Berkeley Free Church Calendar 1970 


Stephen ; Ladies and gentlemen, the mayor of this city 
has asked me to announce 

Jock : (Whispers in his ear.) 

Stephen ; (Is flustered.) It seems there really is 
some disturbance, everybody should not say anything 
or do anything. Teargas is not harmful to you... 

(Disturbances are heard outside. Enter blacks with 
Tony [Nugent] as MC; "The mother-fucking blue meanies are 
after us." Enter street people under Glen [Clarke]; "Heavy, 
Man." Enter VC under Melinda [Harley] with flags and 
guns; "Giai Phong.: The VC set up guerrilla outpost 
behind potted palms.) 

(Enter Jolly Green Giant, blue meanies, Dick as 
World Pig. (TAPE Begins) "Jolly Green Giant to base. 
We see Berkeley. We see Auschwitz. We see Lidice. 
We see Pinkville. We see Watts. We see Greenboro. 
Shall we proceed with search and destroy niission? Over 
and out."... Many of the militants are zapped... all 
fall dead, except PIG who escapes.) 

Stephen ; Ladies and gentlemen, I congratulate you 
once again for having said nothing and done nothing 
as you have done for the last two thousand years. 
(Feels his pulse.) No pulse. I hereby declare this 
church well and truly dead. (He dies.) 

Jock; (Begins wake.) 

How are thou fallen from heaven, Lucifer 

son of the morning. 
We had to destroy the city to save it. 
Oh my people, what have I done unto thee. 
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Deathless, have 
mercy upon us . 

(Militants come to life and do refrain as indicated. )-^-^ 
Jonathan's Wake represented a year-long attempt by radical 
Christians at strategizing and building networks and coalitions all 
across the country. The Free Church was playing a major organizing role 
at the national level. Under Nugent 's editorship it published a news- 
letter, the Liberated Church Press , that served this national network 
of radical churches. Nugent was more and more responsible for this na- 
tional focus. He was aided by the volunteer work of Emily Brown, who 


was now playing a major role with Jock in the Free Church community. 
She was in charge of a resource directory called Win With Love , a na- 
tional catalog of "liberated" or radical churches or church-related or- 
ganizations. The national "liberated church" forces had gathered in 
"camp meetings" at least twice by the time of the NCC meeting in Novem- 
ber in Detroit. The NCC convention, therefore, culminated almost a 
year of planning, and the enthusiasm was high. The Free Church had some 
right to feel hopeful. 

The growing forces within the churches, to some extent, were also 
indicative of the nationwide Movement in general. Half a million people 
demonstrated against the war in October. "Earth Day" brought millions 
of people an awareness of ecology. Mass rock festivals were signalling 
new strength in the counter-cultural wing of the Movement. New forces 
were emerging, too. The women's movement was gaining momentum within 
radical circles. New alliances were being attempted between black and 
white militants . There were parallel developments within the churches • 
For example, a large portion of the Jonathan's Wake protest was in sup- 
port of the "Black Manifesto" presented by James Foreman. However, the 
women's movement within the church was just beginning, and was not yet 
integrated into the coalitional politics of the radical church movement. 
In fact, the NCC convention marked the first time a major church conven- 
tion heard the clear voice of the contemporary women's movement politics. 
Women delegates were mobilized against what they called a "white, middle 
class, over-forty convention. "^^ 

But the growing nation-wide radical church movement was congratu- 
lated, like the larger Movement, with repression and new forces of back- 
lash. The Reagan side of the People's Park battle was only one example 


in the 1969 drama of repression for the Free Church. There were two 
other events worth mentioning that illustrate the backdrop of revolution- 
ary euphoria being dampened by repression and backlash in 1969. Even- 
tually this repressive climate was to stretch and strain the internal 
organization of the Free Church. The first of these events involved 
civil disobedience by two members of the Free Church; the second con- 
cerned the Black Panther Party. 

Sali McAllister and Charlene Pope, Free Church "parishioners," 
were convicted on charges that stemmed from civil disobedience in con- 
nection with the courtmartial of twenty seven Army men protesting the 
Viet Nam war at the Presidio in San Francisco. McAllister and Pope had 
sprayed the military courtroom with red paint. Soon after the incident, 
at their court appearance, they, along with other Free Church members, 
performed a guerrilla liturgy at the San Francisco Court House. During 
the liturgy paint was poured into the large Court House fountain. While 
police were arresting the two women, York blocked the passage into the 
Court House and was also arrested. The two women were convicted and re- 
leased on bail. After they jumped bail the Free Church issued a press 
release in their support, signed by York, Nugent and Broxm: 

United States Commissioner Goldsmith's remark to the 
press to the effect that these women were in need of 
psychiatric attention reminds us irresistably of the Czarist 
policy in Russia, whereby critics of the regime, not falling 
under any provision of law, were adjudged insane. We rather 
think that it is the masters of war, the keepers of stock- 
ades, and the judges of injustice in this nation that are 
in need of psychiatric care. ^-' 

McAllister and Pope were later arrested when they sought symbolic sanc- 
tuary in a church. York's charges were dropped. 

Civil disobedience protests such as these, however, were only 
minor flirtations with the repression of the time. One of the most 


sinister plots by U.S. intelligence agencies, in cooperation with the 
Nixon administration, took place largely on the Free Church's home front 
in Berkeley. This was the repression against the Bay Area-based Black 
Panther Party. There were deliberate attempts in 1969 by numerous U.S. 
agencies to splinter or actually "wipe out" the Party. The Free Church 
developed close contact with the Panthers. In July, York was a speaker 
at the Black Panther Party-sponsored United Front Against Fascism. Ties 
with the Panthers were also strengthened when Earl Neal, an Episcopal 
priest, and the Panthers' "chaplain," joined the Free Church Board in 

The local law enforcement agencies also got into the act against 
the Panthers. There was a Berkeley Police plan for the "annihilation" 
of the Black Panther Party national headquarters located on Shattuck 
Avenue in Berkeley. It was exposed, and later admitted by Berkeley 
police officials. York, in a letter to the new Police Chief Baker, re- 
gistered his "strongest protest against even the thought of such a plan, 
much less the actual drafting of it." 

I can no longer consider of any value such proposals as 
police-community workshops and public meetings aimed at 
bettering relations between police and the people. 
Who can sit down and talk with the mentality represented 
in this plan. Rather, it fills me with disgust, and 
then with fear and anger. Rather than talking, I believe 
that my church would do better to begin installing armor- 
plate on our own windows immediately. Let me put it more 
directly; do you have similar plans for the Free Church 
and other Movement headquarters? We are anxious to know... 

I think I speak for the Free Church community in 
saying that we are a church which will support our 
brothers in the Black Panther Party with whatever resources 
we have. Documents such as this plan only confirm us in 
the belief that the Party is the cutting edge of the 
black man's struggle (and our own) for liberation of 
this society. -'^ 

"The Panther hunt," as columnist Nicholas von Hoffman was to call 

it in a passionate article in December, had just achieved its most sig- 
nificant "rubout" of 1967: the murder of Illinois Black Panther Party 
chairman Fred Hampton. The paranoia York expressed in his letter was 
based on cold cruel facts in the world around him. Also, the factional- 
ism experienced by the Panthers in the face of repression had parallels 
In the Free Church. In order to understand the dissension brewing 
within the Free Church, more needs to be said about the structure and 
thought of the Free Church in 1969. A stable structure and integrated 
theology and politics was crucial for the Free Church to remain active 
and united in the volatile year of 1969. First, let us analyze the 


In keeping with the revision of the by-laws in June of 1968 and 

its loose concept of membership, an announcement for the annual board 

meeting in July of 1969 read: 

Anyone who elects to participate in our work and 
attend our meetings may vote in the Annual Meeting 
(By-laws, Art. IV sec. 1). It is very important 
that you come. Please do. 

The minutes of the board meeting show that sixty seven people attended the 

annual meeting to vote in a new group of trustees and officers. Over half 

of the people attending were from the bottom tier of the organization. 

The "great new dynamic," that was acknowledged in the "First Quarter 

Directors' Report," was still going strong: "The hippie [a catchall word 

used in 1969 to refer to all the non-establishment youth] community is 

asserting itself at all levels of the project." In fact, at the annual 

meeting another by-law revision was talked about to insure an even greater 

degree of participation for the bottom tier in the decision making process 


of the organization. The major restructuring plan already in the process 
of being defined at the time of the annual meeting was referred to as the 
"collective plan." This plan was eventually outlined in the Free Church 
Collective Handbook , printed in January of 1970 but written the last two 
months of 1969. 

The collective plan was largely a response to pressure from the 
strong bottom tier of the organization. It wanted a fully developed 
"use church," not one administrated by "outside" directors. The bottom 
tier workers did not want a structureless church that would breed chaos, 
only greater assurance that the people who did the work of the church had 
some control over its operation and policy. The loose definition of mem- 
bership was challenged because it fostered a de facto criterion of mem- 
bership which excluded many involved people. A person had to be a worker 
on one of the Free Church's service projects to be considered a "member." 
Many who were interested in the liturgical and congregational aspect of 
the Free Church were unable to secure a staff job or volunteer at one of 
the service jobs. Early in 1969 these people began demanding structural 
revisions which would better facilitate a worshiping congregation. On 
March 27, 1969 a petition was signed by people in various ways associated 
with the Free Church: 


We, the members of the Free Church want a radical community 
that models its life and action on the example of our brother 
Jesus. To date, this community is non-existent. We see the 
following plans as the only means of achieving this: 

1. That we have dialogue with Jock and Dick 

2. That we receive Christian/Political inspiration 
taught by our resident theologian, John P. 
Brown, on the basis of the document The Axis 

of History , and The Liberated Zone, a Guide 
to Christian Resistance . (time will be left 
up to Jock and Dick) 


3. that we establish monthly meetings of the 
worshiping congregation with clergy present. 

a. to help organize special services 

b. train lay readers 

c. to help organize more congregation 
participation in our services. 

d. to help organize guerilla theater 

e. to help organize political activities 

f. to help organize a day (this summer) 
of public witness, card turn in, 
people's liberation. 

g. develop creative guerilla tactics. 

To summarize, we want the clergy to spend as much time as 
possible helping us to develop a radically political community 
using the example of Jesus as our model. 


Peoples Park arrived, demanding an adjustment in the timetable for this 

new restructuring. It was not until August that York once again put the 

restructuring at the top .of his list of priorities in a directors report. 

He acknowledged that the current organizational structure could not "build 

community" and "at any given time only a certain number of people can be 

involved in any depth with the program." 

For example: a new young person, or a student or 
a drop-out clergyman comes and asks , "How can I 
get involved as an active member of the Free Church?" 
Our usual answer is: well, you can work Switchboard 
or help man the coffee house. We worship on Friday 
nights, and if you hang around. . .long enough, you 
might find some other way of getting involved. This 
will not longer do... 

...Many feel the heavy lack of a sense of commxmity 
here because (in part) of this terrible open- 
en dedness.^^ 

What York alluded to, and what was the case with those who signed 

the March petition, was that new kinds of people were active in the Free 

Church's work. They were not the "clientele" of the social service ministry 


nor the average transient youth off the streets. They were drop-out clergy 
or well-educated politically active residents from the large community of 
Bay Area radicals. Many were seminarians dissatisfied with their theolog- 
ical education at the local Graduate Theological Union, looking for an 
alternative Qiurch experience. The existence of this "new breed" of Free 
Church workers was reflected in the greater responsibility given to a 
growing group of "next in line" managers. These were the subsistence wage 
workers, now given full responsibility for the oversight of programs in 
the absence of the full paid staff. Counting additional work-study in- 
terns, this group of staff workers expanded to twelve people for much of 
1969. But these workers were just part of the large number of new people 
now associated with the Free Church. They commanded more respect and less 
paternalism than the old bottom tier consisting largely of "clientele." 

The collective plan being pushed by this new breed of workers was 
seen as a means to: better worship community, better membership defi- 
nition, better representation for the bottom tier, and perhaps a degree 
of financial independence from outside funders. The plan called for 
spinning off numerous "collectives," also called "house churches," which 
would still be affiliated with the Free Church. 

The second quarter directors' report outlined what the house 

church would consist of: 

Each house church would contribute financially, 
worship, study, and participate in F[ree] C[hurch] 
program and action. Membership will be more de- 
fined. . .House churches will be tied into the larger 
Free Church by virtue of subscribing to the purposes 
of the Church... (a kind of Covenant) ^-^ 

Collective discipline was eventually defined in the Collective Handbook . 

A Free Church Collective in good standing is one 
which follows the following collective discipline 


as a minimal rule of collective life: 

1. It subscribes to the November 5 Statement. 

2. It conducts weekly meetings of the collective 

3. Its members commit themselves to at least a 
six-month period of active collective membership. 
This covenant commitment shall be expressed by 
the signing of a role of members which shall be 
kept by each collective and made available to the 

4. Members shall contribute 5-10% of their income 
to the Church. 

5. 10 hours of voluntary work per week is expected 
of the members. 

6. The collective shall conduct weekly worship, the 
nominal form being the freedom meal. 

7. The collective shall engage in regular study 
and reading. 

8. The collective and its members shall participate 
in the Free Church program. Collective projects 
should be co-ordinated with the staff. Members 
should be given work assignments in FC and Movement 
programs. ^^ 

The collective plan, however, was largely a paper proposal and 
not a functioning reality for the Free Church. The by-laws were never 
revised to give the house church members the authority to vote as full 
members, thus, having a part in the election of the board. Therefore, 
without these changes, the board was still operating with unresolved in- 
ternal tensions. Late in Noveirber of 1968, for example, when the collective 
plan should have subdued criticism about an unrepresentative and hier- 
archical structure, the board was criticized by individual bottom tier 
workers to be functioning, not for the bottom tier (or lower level staff) 

enlarged by new house churches, but "as a rubber stamp for [full paid] 

staff decisions." The immediate consequence of this fact was grave: 


the dissension that was growing between York and Nugent was not brought 
out and aired in the arena of a larger and more representative organiza- 
tional form, but behind the scenes in maneuverings to get the necessary 

board votes. Though the board, mainly syTi5)athetic to the Free Qiurch's 

more radical direction, consisted of many youths from the bottom tier, 

along with the adult community leaders, there still existed structural 

hold overs from a more hierarchical social service past. For example, 

in late July of 1969 it was discussed that staff should not vote at board 

meetings because of a "conflict of interest." For an organization 

seeking to break down such distinctions as a congregation, these comments 
were odd indeed. In terms of structure the year 1969 is best charac- 
terized for the Free Church as a time of high expectations but unreal- 
ized new directions. Perhaps, there were just too many fronts on which 
the Free Church tried to attack to create something new. Time, resources 
and energy were limited in 1969. The Peoples Park battle and repression 
helped to deny the expectation for "all things to be made new." 

The various factors of unfulfilled plans, limited resources and 
opposition could also be identified in programming and constituency 
building for the Free Church in 1969. Early in 1969, the Free Church 
moved to its Parker Street location (see map, p. 7 ), the building of a 
small defunct church, with the hope of being more deliberate and "pro- 
grammed" in its activities, not having to react to every street crisis. 
Peoples Park did not allow this. The battle engulfed the whole city and 
with police crackdowns on loitering youths the Free Church became a haven 
for hasseled young people precisely because it was located well off 
Telegraph Avenue. Therefore, security and discipline were hard to main- 
tain and frequently broke down. Numerous instances occurred in this 


atmosphere which gave the Free Church more bad publicity. One situation 
which was well publicized was when a young woman was raped at the Free 
Church by a man ostensibly offering to give her housing for the night. 
An inability to control events at Parker Street, less emphasis on a drop- 
in center and increased rent prompted the move to an Oregon Street store 
front building which provided greater security. Also for a while in 1969 
the business offices were maintained on the Northside of the campus in the 
basement of the Berkeley Human Interaction Center. 

High expectations and unrealized plans also characterized the re- 
ligious aspect of the Free Church's program in 1969. The Free Church was 
granted permission to hold its mass liturgies, for which it was becoming 
famous, in the sanctuary of Trinity Methodist Church on the South Campus. 
The services, though somewhat irregular, continued on a monthly basis 
until September. On the occasion of Ho Chi Minh's death, Nugent organized 
a memorial service to be held at Trinity. Eight hundred people, including 
Black Panthers with guns, attended the service and the subsequent procession 
to the rededication of a South Campus park in Ho's name. The service was 
a scandal to the >fethodist congregation and the Free Church was refused 
permission to use the sanctuary again. 

Therefore, under outside pressure and self-criticism, the Free 
Church began to withdraw from local confrontations such as the Ho Memorial 
and began talking more about developing disciplined and smaller organi- 
zational units rather than highly public mass liturgies. In this spirit 
the house churches or collectives were not just seen as an organizational 
change but also as a program shift. The coffee house was suspended and 
more effort was put into planning for the house churches. However, the 
house churches had to share the limelight with another "program emphasis" 


that took valuable time and resources away from the house church's real- 
ization. Again, trying to usher in the revolution all at once, the Free 
Church began its big push toward national organizing within the radical 
church movement, as mentioned above. As a vanguard church within the 
radical church movement, it emphasized its publications efforts. The 
Liberated Church Press became Nugent's main job with the close of the 
coffee house. Brown and his wife Emily devoted most of their time to 
compiling the national directory of "liberated churches." Also, the whole 
staff spent much of 1969 on the road, attending various annual meetings 
of large denominations. The National Council of Churches convention in 
December climaxed this national effort. 

In the midst of this flurry of activity, restructuring and 
planning, there still was the under current of staff dissension between 
York and Nugent. Therefore, the covert context for 1969 was the extent 
to which this split surfaced. The quarterly reports indicate that the 
split was an "on again off again" affair throughout the year. The re- 
stnacturing and program shifts of 1969 often reflected the emerging diff- 
erences between York and Nugent as we shall see below. Also the thought 
of the Free Church was not immune to the overactivity and dissension of 
1969, to which we will now turn. 


There was a functioning, coherent, and integrated theology and 
politics existing within the radical Free Church for most of 1969. It 


had been hammered out by York and Nugent late in 1968, and it relied on 
much of the theoretical work of Jock Brown. Brown, now funded half- 
time as the "Theologian in Residence," was working on another book. 
Planet on Strike . Much like his Liberated Zone , this provided the 
framework for lively theological discussions, particularly within the 
staff; and there were more of these discussions now. In fact, part of 
Brown's job description was to work on a document that would reconcile 
the growing differences between York and Nugent. The volatile and re- 
pressive events of 1969 put a severe strain on the organization, which 
in turn raised ideological questions. Numerous Free Church reports and 
correspondence allude to this development. Writing to the main Episcopal 
f under in September, Brown responded to inquiries about the splits, now 
well known in radical church circles : 

Our divisions were less ideological than personal 

and 1 truly believe were the reflection in us of the cata- 
strophic Reagan blitz. Dave Allen completely freaked out 
and went back to Texarkana, many others have deteriorated .^9 

Even as early as April, a quarterly report was to characterize 
the basic ideological split; it was between "mysticism and action, ac- 
commodation and confrontation, Utopian and revolutionary." It went on 
to report: 

This split has been responsible for delaying the start 
of the Guerrilla Church Training Course, and for making 


necessary a Confessional agreement between Dick [York] and 
Tony [Nugent], before it can begin. Its ramifications 
can be heard in discussions at the Church on how we should 
respond to student unrest all the way down to how we 
should enforce house rules at Church on drugs. ^^ 

The divisions cut across the whole organization. However, the 
most serious one was the one developing between York and Nugent. In 
many ways it represented the two major factions in the Free Church. At 
least, Free Church members felt compelled to take sides. York charac- 
terized the split as a struggle between Nugent 's "hippie-street-freak" 
orientation and his "political-Panther" orientation. It was the cul- 
tural/political split that had characterized the whole Movement in 1969 • 
It is not totally clear why they felt these two positions to be at odds 
with each other. The Free Church had carefully developed theoretical 
formulations that integrated these two perspectives. These formulations 
were widely circulated and discussed within the Free Church. In order 
better to understand this division, a closer look is necessary at some 
of these formulations and the other resources available to Free Church 
members . 

There were four key "internal" resources for developing ideo- 
logical/theological coherence in 1969. First , there was the constant 
writing and reflection by Brown. Second , there were the mutual discus- 
sions by York and Nugent that produced, late in 1968, a document called 
the "Mission Design of. the Organizing Pastors for the Free Church of 


Berkeley January 1, 1969-January-l, 1970." Third , there was the every- 
day experience of being on the front line of action. This experience 
was refining and developing the basic positions that were held by all 
the Free Church members. Fourth , there was the growing mythology of a 
two year old organization. The Free Church's "myth of origin" and evo- 
lution became a significant resource for self-understanding. 

Brown's new book Planet on Strike was refered to by Brown as 
his book on sacraments. Its overarching framework was founded on three 
areas of human struggle ecology, peace and liberation, and interper- 
sonal sensitivity. This was the same framework that Brown was using for 
his attempt to develop a Berkeley Confession to house the unreconciled 
differences emerging in the Free Church. A twenty- three page document, 
entitled "The Axis of History" and sometimes subtitled "Draft of a Con- 
fession for the use of the Free Church of Berkeley, March 1969" or 
"Syllabus of Study in the Free Church of Berkeley, April 1969," was cir- 
culated for approval. The twenty- three page version never received of- 
ficial approval. However, a shortened version of one and a half pages 
was approved on November 5, 1969. It still followed the general schema 
of Planet on Strike : 

The Free Church of Berkeley is a community within the 
revolutionary Movement which relates to the radical tra- 
dition of Jesus, the Prophets, and the Church of Liberation. 

"I will make a covenant on behalf of my people with 

the wild animals, with the birds of the heaven 

and the creeping things of the earth." -Hosea 2.18 


Wa recogniza the Spirit of God at work in the raovement 
of our brothers and sisters for the restoration and pre-* 
servaticn of tl^e ecological balance of our planet . We 
believe thai: uncontrolled production and consumption con- 
stitute violence against ecological law and order. We 
admit our complicity, individually and collectively, la 
the. pollution of our environment by chemicals and radiation, 
in the exploitation of natural resources and wilderness, 
in the horror of over-population. Therefore we dedicate 
ourselves to working toward a life-style which holds a 
viable ecologica3. order as a sacred and revolutionary 

"I will break bow, sword, and battle in the coun- 
try-, and make her sleep secure.;';! -Hosea 2.18 
"I will make a covenant of peace with them;- I will 
break their yoke and liberate them from their op- 
pressors." -Ezek. 34.25-7 

We recognize the Spirit of God in the movement for peace 
and liberatioa throughout the world. We join in the struggle 
for the liberation of oppressed peoples (the poor, the 
Third World, racial minorities, women and youth) from ex- 
ploitation and racism at home and from imperialism abroad. 
We dedicate ourselves to serve the victims of force and 
oppression, avoiding the trap of the. colonialist mission 
in perpetuating a corrupt systeji, and recognizing that the 
highest fom of service is organizing structures which are 
jusc, humane, and participatory. We will resist institutions 
of war, conscription, racism, imperialism and injustice, 
and shall attanipc to offer an alternstive through the life. 
of joy and suffering in our voluntary community of brothers 
and sisters. 

"I will betroth you to myself for ever, betroth 
ycu with integrity and justice, with tenderness 
and love." -Hosea 2.19 

We recognize the Spirit of God at work in the struggle 
of our tiue toward se xual int im acy, v ocational creativity , 
psychic integr it y, and in t.e rpers onal sensitivity. We resist 
those institutions of our society vhioh dehumauiiiii aru' 
destroy real interpersonal relations. We accept the im- 
perative to develop attitudes and life-styles that are 
personally and conmunally liberating and non-exploitative. 
In celebration we will be freed to work towards the eco- 
logical and social revolutions. [Italics mine] 51 


This docunftQt, tiiou^h it reflected much of Brovm's writing and 
particularly his latest book, was hammered out in a three week staff re- 
treat' in l^oveinber. Tlie ('ocument became the covenant to which all coJlec- 
tive members wer« to adiiere. Ihe above mentioned discipline for the coll- 
ectivfis was also the result of this retreat and Included im additional 
criterion for the staff. There was to be : 

No aljustt o [• body or impairtaent of rand through 
use of alcohol, caffeine, stimulants, tobacco, 
or dope while on the job. No holding or dealing 
while on the job.^'^ 

The iiTipetus for this added discipline no doubt came, in part, from the 
numerous complaints received at the Parker Street lon^tixtn.. Rut ro,ore 
fundamentally non 2bi.ise of the body was essential to Brown's notion of 
a life-style necessary to combat the evils of our time. Brown's con- 
ceptualization of these evilc became even more syateiaatic than the earlier 
renditions in 196/ and 1963 where he usually outlined five. In PI ane t 
o n St rike these evils were three basic ones and they conformed to the 
Novemher 5 stateicjsnL. Tae evils were defined as die destruction of: 
environment, human community and personal intef'riry . It ^'as to this ] alter 
evil that Brown devoted most of his attention in Planet on Strike. It v.vis 
only by a renewal of integrity^ that is, an "inuef revolution," that the 
renews! of the environment and community would occur. '.(I)ough Brown saw 
this inner revolution as dii ectly related to the s c iiggles for the environ- 
ment ecid corjruni.ty e-bodied iu the peace and freedom and ecology movements, 
he oflen slipped liro a n(,'a dialectical \yay of talking about this re- 
lationf/hip , as in the following passages: 


...The green revolution and the peace revolution 
are the nost elem entary tasks of housekeeping in 
our forest city. 

Ar>.d those jobs, tar beyond our capacity as 
they seen are only the ojter consequences of aii 
inner rebuilding.^-^ [Italics mine] 

Brovn here sav t^ie "outer" aiid "inner" rebuilding jobs not as the conse- 
quences of each other like in his earlier "incognito church" formulation 

even thouga the incognito church was prone to reverse the relationship and 
slip into another kind of non dialectical formulation. 

However, in defense of Brown, Planet on Strike was not intended 
to be a political book; his sole intention was to set forth a program for 
inner rene'//al. Perhaps just the weight of this limited purpose may have 
lea hin co violate his usual dialectical approach to total renewal = 'Oiis 
book should also be seen as Broim's attempt to develop a more systematic 
theDlojical framework for the liturgies that he and York were developing 
at the Free Ciurch ; Planet on Strike was his book on sacran«nts while 
Libe rate d Zone was his book on ethics. In the second half of Planet on 
? trika he outlines seven sacraments that coincide with biological turning 
points ii people's lives. Brown formulates what is demanded of each in- 
dividual at these turning points, given the planetaiy context of the three 
evils, b^j-z agaJ-n vith special attention to the inner revolution necessary 
in this context. 

On the fixed biological groundbass of birth, 
sexuality, and d^^ath, a force going beyond nature 
and history is building each turning-point of our 
lives into a revolMtionary sanctity. Our beginning 
i? to for:nulr.te clearly the demands made by each 
period of ILio in the permanent new situation. 

Tb a dp-mand for fidelity: a fresh start . As each 
individual in his birth repeats the birth of the, by a symbolic rebirth ha must take on the 

fidelity called for by history from now on, a 

cornriic-rent to nonviolence. 


Tlie demand fo;: lov&: sexuality . ^s, sexuality 
continues the speclss , each parson, through iriarrlage 
or othariv'isa, takes on ttae job of building a few 
others into the most permanent possible example of 
stable coiumunity. 

The de.iiand for usef ujaess ; vocatio a. As eadri 
person channels sexuality into creativity ^ we must 
redesign old vocations and invent new ones to push 
through the. necessary t^skc of the revolution. 

The dema nd for justtce: the problem cf £Ow^'r • 
Aggression organizes people in a society of coercioa, 
the State., Over against that imperfect justice, the 
individual must give a higher cornmitr.Gnt to the pTJu- 
ciple.Qf coramunity through voluntary assent. 

The deman d to help: san/ice . The most: expensivt^ 
form of community is availability to th-? needs of 
others. This universaJ ordination to human service, 
a waiting on table, ±r. the most basic novelty of ths 

New Tastamcnt. 

The demand for hop*': falling casu alty. At another 
stage the tables are tnmed, and the waiter must be 
waited on. Our conduct when in casualty status UiCa-- 
sures the genuineness of that connpunity x^hich we 
claim is constituted by failure. 

The demand for joy^' th e feast . Roth the indi- 
vidual body and the body of the commur-ity are main- 
tained and bui].t up by i"he act of assimilation. In 
the context of the festival, all our piiascs and 70] es 
are celebrited in thg/r final definition. 

The destruction of environT:;ent, community and integr.vty demanded 

a revolutionary response, but not one that was built on old stiategies of 

violence, sucri -as Marxir>m, according f.o Brown. A new strategy was needed 

that involved a renewed church, a church with a new call, Thif; call had to 

recognize that the "f lanet was on strike" and that "the human race [had] 


issued 3 i!Dn-risgotiah)l6. demand fot life."" The. r.-ew call would :.ot invoke 

a coi-nmunity based en the Communist Manifesto, whi di , according to Brown, 

''sets -mankind at war witli itself." [r. would be the following c£)M: 





Brown's emphasis on church was also seemingly less dialectical 
than his earlier formulations of the underground church. The church in 
Planet on Strike was not the "church incognito" in the peace and freedom 
movement but a self-conscious church along the side of the Movement. He 
was not longer advocating societal renewal for the sake of church renewal, 
but vice versa. Brown was more and more disenchanted with the new left 
and counter culture as a result of his experiences in Berkeley and with 
some activities of the Free Church. The counter- violence and hate of the 
"rebels" in Berkeley prompted him to write an important article for the 
national radical church movement called, "Who is the Enemy." He had often 
written in previous books and articles that the "enemy was also within 
us." He now expanded this insight. The volatile situation demanded it. 
Of particular concern to Brown was the way evil was too often just ascribed 
to "the enemy;" and more precisely, how evil was usually identified with 
individuals. A common example in 1969 was the identification of police 
officers with evil; they were "pigs." Brown understood Jesus to be con- 
stantly avoiding "identification of the transcendent Enemy with any one 
particular enemy." Therefore, Brown insisted that we only talk about 

evil in the enemy. 

For unless we can say in a secular way that the 
World Pig is in our enemy, then we must say in 
a secular way that our enemy is_ the World Pig. 
And then who can we be except God, or at least 
the Archangel Michael, spearing the Great 


Greased Pig into the abyss? But when we start 
thinking that way the Enemy is closer to us 
than we realize.^" 

To a large degree Planet on Strike was an attempt to come to grips 
with this dual existence of the enemy. Brown's solution was an inner rev- 
olution by a renewed church. The "Axis of History" document. Brown's 
attempt to formulate a Confession for the Free Church, was only an early 
and related manuscript for what became Planet on Strike. Brown's seem- 
ingly undialectical emphasis on inner revolution and church was problem- 
atic for the Free Church and the Berkeley new left outside Brown's study. 
Brown's writings, what were once almost automatically accepted resources 
for York and Nugent, began to be replaced by others. 

The second major resource, the "Mission Design" document, already 
alluded to in the previous chapter, was based on the lowest common de- 
nominator betv/een Nugent and York. However, it was a coherent and well 
integrated document connecting the various dimensions of the Free 

Church religious, political and cultural. It served York and Nugent 

well as a theoretical foundation to be refined in action. There was 
much of Brown's language and conceptualization in the document, but less 
the Brown of Planet on Strike and more the Brown of Liberated Zone . 
An examination of this document is important for it set the tone for 
1969. It was requested by the funder from the Presbyterian Church. 
The document tries to explain in traditional church mission categories 
the social mission of the Free Church. 


The framework of their "mission objectives" and "mission stra- 
tegy" was provided by what they identified as a "crisis of exploitation" 
on four fronts: 1) ecological; 2) colonial; 3) racial; 4) generational. 
Within the Movement, which they considered their "organizing base," 
they felt that its response to these crises of exploitation was "timid 
and incomplete." There were two responses of the Movement, the "utopian 
and revolutionary." The Utopian response, represented by the hippie, 
was considered by York and Nugent to be in search of "personal liberation 
in intimacy." 

However, he falls into his own version of old exploitation: 
abuse of his body and psyche with drugs, disregard for per- 
sonal health and hygiene, sexual abuse. He may run away 
from home or school or job, but he regrets the self-abuse 
of bourgeois society on the streets. He has failed to 
find an alternative vocationalism, political responsibility, 
and style of family life. ^^ 

The revolutionary, on the other hand, represented by the new 

left radical, seeks to "confront, disrupt and destroy the institutions 

of oppression in order to replace them." 

However, he has too often adopted the worst of these 
institutions which he left: their violence. There is ul- 
timately nothing revolutionai^ about violence in our society. 

The Free Church's response, according to the "Mission Design" 
document, to the crises of exploitation in the midst of the Movement, 
was "the Gospel." Therefore, their "mission objective" was to build 
an organization of "people who want to make a radical new start in com- 
munity, as a response to this New Way brought into history by Jesus 
Christ, in order to effect the renewal of society. "^-'- 

The Gospel is ultimately the only full and complete 


response to the crises of exploitation. It proclaims that 
in Jesus something new happened in history, revolutionary 
non-violence. It proclaims that His way leads to life 
and liberation, as surely as violence and exploitation 
carry within themselves the seeds of their own destruction. ° 

Therefore, understanding the Movement (defined not just in terms 
of youth) as their organizing base, York and Nugent saw an "initial" 
twofold "mission strategy." First there was the task of "'baptizing' 
the Movement where it is timid or incomplete (the Gospel humanizes 
the new left and politicizes the hippie), and 'confirming' it where it 
is strong (moving the already committed from movement to organization). 
They said they took "baptism" seriously. It must involve a commitment, 
just as strong as those in the Movement itself. It was in this context 
that they also spoke, as mentioned earlier, of "developing the 'crack 
team of the Guerrilla Church' just as the Episcopal baptism service 
speaks of 'fighting manfully under the banner of Christ.'" It was the 
strategy of the Free Church to work from this base, which was primarily 
oriented to societal renewal. They wanted to organize other "movement" 
churches with similar goals. These churches would in turn serve as a 
nucleus of radical reunion and renewal within the churches. The stra- 
tegy for the renewal and reunion of the churches was considered the 
third phase of the Free Church strategy. This third phase was inter- 
dependent with their twofold task mentioned above. They explained it 

this way: 

Therefore, the third phase of our strategy is to 


build a church which will work for the renewal of society 
through the reunion and renewal of the denominations. As 
long as movement churches, like the Free Church, remain 
outside the denominational institutions, then radical 
ecumenism and renewed life, liturgy and action will not 
be taken seriously. ^ 4 

It was this phase of the strategy that propelled the Free 
Church to play active roles in denominational assemblies and conven- 
tions, culminating in 1969 with the Jonathan's Wake confrontation. 
This phase of the strategy also called for "affiliation" with certain 
denominations. They proposed affiliation with, at least, the United 
Presbyterian Church and the Episcopal Church. They gained official 
affiliation with the Presbyterians but achieved only "voice represen- 
tation" with the local Episcopal Diocese. The affiliation strategy 
was short lived. It became untenable as the Free Church became less 
a reform oriented movement church and more radical and sectarian in 
respect to the larger denominations. This untenableness was less the 
result of the Free Church theoretical position and more the result of 
the Free Church taking seriously its organizing base in the radical 
movement. This identification put the Free Church in direct conflict 
with many established church policies. They further alienated the 
churches by their confrontational tactics while trying to implement 
their overall church strategy. Therefore, perhaps the validity of 
the whole strategy was never given a chance nor adequately tested. 
Certainly the agenda of repression that faced the Free Church and the 
emerging internal splits were other factors that made problematic the 
"affiliation" strategy. 


The concerted attempt to reconcile the differences by a Confession, 
and the seemingly well integrated religious politics of the "Mission 
Design" document proved to be no match for the third and maybe most cru- 
cial resource, the front lines of action. York and Nugent were now 
getting their cues from the streets in 1969. Brown, though actively 
informed about the street, was not involved in the day to day activities 
on the street, such as the Free Church Switchboard. In fact, many 
volunteers and people who considered themselves to be part of the 
Free Church congregation never saw Brown. It was only at certain li- 
turgical occasions or for Free Church Board meetings that Brown was vi- 
sible. Even the Board, which was similar in composition to the 1968 
board, were not certain of what Brown was doing. However, it was pre- 
cisely this relationship that was insisted upon by the Episcopal funders 
of Brown's salary: "the terms of his employment are not considered a 
regular staff member, but a kind of resident theologian who in no way 
is to meddle in the decisions or activities of York and Nugent. "°^ 
Also by September of 1969, Brown saw his obligations outside the local 
Free Church. 

For myself I feel that the collective to which I belong 
is more national, and I have closer ties with Rosemary 
Ruether, Tom Durkin, people like that than with most of 
the locals. I don't know how far they think so too. 
I am trying to get out a theological document which will 
say so. "^ 

While Brown was identifying himself less in terms of his o'./n 
organization and local community, Nugent and York, through the Free Church, 
were deepening their local radical community ties. Nugent, for example. 


solidified his in such events as the organization of the Ho Chi Minh 
memorial service in collaboration with the Black Panthers and radicals such 
as Tom Hayden. He also began teaching a course at the local Free Univer- 
sity, and became more involved in Berkeley collective and communal life 
styles, and community issues. Within these involvements and commitments 
Nugent functioned more on a tactical level as an organizer. However, as 
editor of the Liberated Church Press he was engaged in theoreticail writing, 
though these writings were often either tactically oriented or reworkings 
of Brown's concepts with a more confrontational twist. The Harper's 

Magazine account of the Ho Memorial was illustrative of the nature of 
Nugent' s involvements, a service of "calculated scandalization. " 

Not long after the death of Ho Chi MLnh, some 
two hundred youths gathered in Sproul Plaza, 
began a memorial march onto Telegraph Avenue, 
suddenly filling the streets with a booming "Ho, 
Ho, Ho Chi Minh I" The cars of Friday night 
motorists were hopelessly moored among them for 
a moment, the faces behind the windshields grinning, 
or studiously empty. There was an iciness in the 
twilight now. Sweeping around comers, they fin- 
ally began advancing on a church; there the church 
doors were unbolted and swung open and the demon- 
strators advanced into the sanctuary, spilling 
down the carpeted aisles — an infusion of alien 
disheveled primitives out of the subterranean 
grottoes and caverns of the American libido, into 
this muted Gothic California suburban cathedral 
of tans and browns, walnut pews and fluted stone 
columns and soft amber lights suspended from a 
high dizzy vaulted exaltation of a ceiling. But 
it was filled now with the glare of Vietcong 
liberation anthems played over the amplifier sys- 
tem, and pictures of Ho had been hastily 
taped to the choir rails and the elevated 
pulpits on both sides of the sanctuary; a 
marble aisle led to the altar where a comm- 
union of bread and jugs of wine had been set 
under a cress of epic dimensions hung against 
satiny drapery, to the foot of which had been 
thumbtacked another picture of Ho. It was a 

/: Q 

ceremony of calculated scandalization. °° 


What was once a unified stream of thought, the work of Brown accepted 
by York and Nugent, divided into three tributaries. Each branch of the 
stream was carving out new canyons for self-definition. Brown's trib- 
utary was trying to keep afloat the notion of inner Integrity. Nugent's 
tributary was developing rapids of confrontation. York's tributary, for 
the moment at least, was still staying close to the source of the original 
stream. Brown's theories. A unified stream of thought still was needed 
in order for the organization to maintain its strength against opposi- 
tional forces diverting its flow. Though York took Brown's work seriously 
his main concern was to maintain a unified stream. Even if he had to 
carve out a new one. Therefore, his new stream had elements of Brown's 
inner revolution; it even had elements of Nugent's collectivization. But 
most importantly his new stream was an attempt to come to grips with the 
evolving history and vocation of the Free Church. It was in the Peoples 
Park battle that the new stream came together for York, at least for a 
brief moment. 

The People's Park battle was a typical kind of "street 

event" which served as a resource to the whole Free Church. It is 
within this event that we see the refinement of theory and strategy 
"out on the front lines." We also get a glimpse of the fourth re- 
source for Free Church self-understanding in the midst of the People's 
Park battle. In an address delivered at a community-wide emergency 
meeting May 25, York explained what the Free Church was at that moment 
in comparison to the Free Church's beginnings. The "myth of origin" 
and evolution were secure in York's mind and they provided the dis- 
tinctions that became increasingly Important in battles with the 


local churches for support. This battle was now drawn ideologically 
in terms of a rejection of Buteyn's simple notion of reconciliation. 
Buteyn's stream of thought was no longer tenable and was denounced in 
this community-wide address. 

York outlines two "discoveries" in the two years of the Free 
Church's existence, "two things which needed to be said to our spon- 
soring churches and to the Berkeley community as a whole." 

(1) First, that a paternalistic service ministry was not 
enough. That the only effective ministry for the Telegraph 
Avenue population was the development of a community, a 
youth church. We discovered, mainly through the demands 
the kids made on us, that if the Gospel and the Church was 
good enough for them, it was good enough for us. And the 
Free Church had the gall to open up the Bible on its own, 

to start celebrating the Freedom Meal on its own, to pass 
its members through the waters of baptism. And the Churches 
cried: 'That is not what we intended you to do at all! ' 

We were a creation, it now seems, to salve the consciences 
of the Berkeley Church establishment, so they could say 
'look how avant-garde we are: ecumenical ministry to hippies 
— even hippies ! ' 

But once a church grew up out of that — a church full 
of people who looked like me — they were horrified! The 
problem, you see, was that this new church, this Free Church, 
found in those very pages, a manifesto for human liberation, 
a radical Jesus, a Good News for its own problems. 

The Free Church has demonstrated during this last week 
and a half by its actions and words, once and for all, that 
it is not (nor are its clergy) pawns of the Establishment 
Church; that it is not and never intends to be the Established 
Church's cork in the volcano of oppression on Telegraph, or 
among our youth in general. 

We accept money from these churches — but not in order 
to salve their consciences, not to buy off angry and alienated 
young people, not to say peace, peace when there is no peace; 
not to reconcile if reconciliation means silence in the 
face of more oppression. 

This brings me to the second thing we discovered and 
that needs to be said : 

(2) You cannot minister to alienated runaways, drug users, 
and street people without addressing yourself to the causes 


of that alienation. And the causes are bigger than family 
problems. The causes are war, the draft, racism, police 
oppression, injustice and corruption in high office, ex- 
ploitation and manipulation of personal freedom. We said 
this to the churches too, and they thought: 'Well, Dick 
York just has to talk like a radical peacenik in order 
to keep their ears — you know, sound radical and win a 
few more spiritual scalps.' 

But now, to their shock, they know we meant it. Our 
people, the people of the streets, the alienated kids, the 
students are an oppressed class, in every sense of the 

(a) Every kind of selective and concentrated law 
enforcement is used on the people of my parish, just as 
it is in the black community. 

(b) My people are called animals and are abused and 
treated as though they were. 

(c) It is oppression to be forced to fight a busi- 
nessman's war, especially one like Vietnam. 

(d) It is oppression to be drafted or channeled into 
a profession not of your own choosing, but rather to the 
interest of national security. 

(e) It is oppression to not be able to make decisions 
affecting your future, or your education. 

(f ) It was oppression last summer when my parish was 
unwarrantedly beaten and gassed on Telegraph; when our 
church and its clergy were also gassed and beaten. 

(g) It was oppression again all last week: shotguns, 
gas from Army helicopters, mass arrests, loss of freedom 
of assembly and worship, brutality in prison. 

(h) It was oppression to see the gas on Telegraph and 
campus, and not on Shattuck and Northgate. The South Campus 
is a white ghetto — it is oppressed like Watts is oppressed. 
And both are little Vietnams. 

And people still ask me to come speak in suburban churches 
on the "drug problem," adding: please don't get into the 
subject of war or racism. 

On May 9th, this year, a week before it came down on us 
here, an article appeared in the Berkeley Gazette reporting 
on the Convention of the California Peace Officers Associ- 
tion in Fresno. It reports: 

"The new Chief of Police of the University of Cali- 
fornia Police Department, Beall joined Berkeley City 
Manager William Hanley in telling law officers they 
should force agitators to 'overplay their hands'." 

This was their tactic in Berkeley this week. So far 
they have failed and have come off looking like fools and 
fascists. This is oppression. And I charge our city, uni- 
versity, county and state officials with premeditated op- 
pression of my parish last week in Berkeley. 


In spite of all that happened here last week, again some 
of my fellow South Campus clergymen said to me the other 
day; 'You can't use the word oppression about white street 
people and students.' What was that then , that hit the 
South Campus last week anyway ? 

The Free Church took its mandate for ministry from 
the mother churches seriously. During this crisis we have 
headquartered medical teams, converted our building into 
a hospital, started the bail fund and run the legal offices. 
But that is not enough. Reconciliation between oppressed 
and oppressor does not come by just picking up and bailing 
out the beaten bodies of the oppressed. Nor does it come 
by calling for a peace which is merely a return to the 
status quo. Reconciliation can only come through struggle 
and conflict. The oppressed and the oppressor are recon- 
ciled when the oppressed have enough power to enable them 
to sit as equals at the bargaining table. And so to be 
reconcilers, we had to march with the oppressed (as did 
Martin Luther King with his) , we had to violate the ban 
on assembly with them — and we will have to again until 
the People's Park is the people's once more.^^ 


With this speech York indicates that the "radical" church's 
self -understanding was taken very seriously. The political content 
of the Free Church, both in its analysis of society and in its organi- 
zational identification, was highly developed. But where was ecology 
in this speech? Where was the hope of the strategy of reunion and re- 
newal within the churches? And if Sacramento's police state was respon- 
sible for the "oppression," and so effective, where was the hope for 
societal renewal? The answers the Free Church could give to these 
questions and problems depended greatly upon the solution of its own 
internal problems. The ideological split between Nugent and York, sym- 
bolic of the Movement as a whole and "movement churches" in particular, 
needed attention if the Free Church was to contribute positively to 


Its stated goals. 

Within the People's Park crisis this split was temporarily 
bandaged with a common enemy. But the common enemy was sufficiently 
persistent and the split reopened. It is difficult to get a proper 
perspective on the real nature and cause of the split. The role of 
Nugent within the Free Church has to be more closely examined. Why 
did he join the Free Church? What did he do? Who was his constitu- 
ency? Like York his mission strategy was constantly being refined 
and developed in the front line battles, and in respect to his own 
origin with the Free Church. What was a "radical church" in 1969 was 
rapidly becoming two "radical churches" in 1970 and 1971. 


Correction: The documents are no longer held at the 
CRRE Historical Archives, but as of 1995 are in the 
Graduate Theological Union Archives, Berkeley, CA. 

C. Kilmer Myers, "Statement Read to Concerned People in 
Berkeley at Chapel of the Reformation, Pacific School of Religion, 
May 23, 1969," CRRE Historical Archives. 

Kirkpatrick Sale, SDS (New York: Random House, 1973), p. 600. 


Ifyers, "Statement to Concerned People." 




John Weaver, interview, San Francisco, California, 26 November 

Donald Buteyn, interview, Hollywood, California, 30 December 

"Nixon Campus Edict, End Violence by Radicals," San Francisco 
Examiner , 23 March 1969; "Attorney General, Campus Crackdown Call," 
San Francisco Chronicle , 2 May 1969. 

"Reagan, Daily Cal Condemn Radicals," San Francisco Chronicle , 

16 September 1969. 

Ron Ridenhour and Arthur Lubow, "Bringing the War Home," 
New Times (November 28, 1975), pp. 18-24; "Array Tested Secret Civil 
Disturbance Plan at Woimded Knee," New York Times , 2 December 1975; 
"Army Disclosing its Role in Plans to Quell Urban Riots," Los Angeles 
Times , 26 August 1975; Bill Wallace, "The Army's Secret War," San 
Francisco Bay Guardian , 17 October 1975. 

John M. Crewdson, "Military Flouted Civilians' Rights, 
Senate Unit Says," New York Times . 17 March 1976. 

"Declaration of War From the Guerrilla Academy of the Rev- 
olutionary Church (GARC), November 13, 1969," CRRE Historical Archives. 




Anthony Morley to Richard York, November 1969, CRRE Historical 
Archives . 


Browne Barr to Walter S. Press, 8 April 1969, CRRE Historical 

Archives . 



1 6 

Donald P. Buteyn to the Board and Staff of the South Campus 

Community Ministry, 27 June 1969. CRRE Historical Archives, p. 1. 

"Income Revised Budget for 1969," 1 January 1969. CRRE 
Historical Archives. 


"Butejm to Board and Staff," pp. 2-3. 


John Pairman Brown and Richard York, The Covenant of Peace ; 

A Liberation Prayer Book . (New York: Morehouse-Barlow Co., 1971) p. 12. 

^°Ibid., pp. 191-202. 


Abbie Hoffman, Woodstock Nation . (New York: Pocket Books, 1971); 

Sol Stem, "Altamont: Pearl Harbor to Woodstock Nation," Counter Culture 
and Revolution , edited by David Horowitz, Michael P. Lemer and Craig 
Pyes (New York: Random House, 1972). These references indicate how the 
mass rock festival in Woodstock, New York became a new symbol for the 
counter culture. 


Richard York, interview, Berkeley, California, 22 April 1976. 


"Memorandum to William C. Hanley from Telegraph Avenue Concerns 

Committee, October 28, 1968," CRRE Historical Archives, p. 3. 


There is some dispute over who placed the ad in the Barb . My 

information comes from: York, interview, 1974. See also Stanley I. Click, 

"The Forgotten Confrontation: The Story of the People's Park in Berkeley, 

California," (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: History Department, 

August 19 74), pp. 8-14. 

^^ Berkeley Barb . 18-24 April 1969. 

Otto Smith to Roger W. H eyns , May 1969. CRRE Historical 

Archives , 



"Statement by Chancellor Roger W. Heyns , May 13, 1969," CRRE 

His to ri cal Re co r ds , 

p. 5. 


York, interview, 1974. 


"Quarterly Report: April- June, 1969," CRRE Historical Records, 


Berkeley Daily Gazette , 19 May 1969. 

■^"""Sale, SDS, pp. 511-99. 


Renewal . 9 No. 8, (November 1969), p. 12. 


"The Death and Transfiguration of the Jolly Green Giant," 

December 1, 1969," CRRE Historical Archives. 


"News Release, Gene rail Assembly, National Council of Churches, 

December 1, 1969," CRRE Historical Archives. 


"Free Church Press Release February 29, 1969," CRRE 

Historical Records. 


Richard York to Police Chief Bruce Baker, 27 August 1969. 

CRRE Historical Archives. 


Nicholas Von Hoffman, "The Panther Hunt," San Francisco 

Chronicle . 18 December 1969. 


"Free Church Annual Board Meeting," 16 July 1969. CRRE 

Historical Archives. 

"Project Directors' Quarterly Report: March 15, 1969," CRRE 
Historical Archives, p. 23. 

"To our Clergy," 27 March 1969. CRRE Historical Archives. 

"Director's Report and Strategy Proposals: August 12, 1969," 
CRRE Historical Archives, p. 2. 


"Quarterly Report," pp. 5-6. 

"Free Church Collective Handbook," January 1970. CRRE Archives, 
pp. 13-14. 



"Regular Meeting of Free Church Board of Trustees, held at 

1st Presbyterian Church, November 4, 1969," CREE Archives, p. 1. 


Glenn Clarke, interview, Berkeley, California, 24 June 1976, 


"Annual >feeting of Free Church," 22 July 1969, p. 1. 


John Pairman Brown to Anthony Morley, 19 September 1969, 

CRRE Historical Archives. 

"Project Directors' Quarterly Report: March 15, 1969," 
CRRE Historical Archives, p. 24. 

"Statement Adopted by the Staff of the Berkeley Free Church: 
November 5, 1969," CRRE Historical Archives. 


"Quarterly Report," p. 4. 


John Pairman Brown, Planet on Strike (New York: Seabury Press, 

1970) p. 175. 

^^Ibid. , pp. 51-52. 

Ibid. , p. 2. 

^^Ibid., p. 179. 

John Pairman Brown, "Who or What is the Enemy?" Renewal 
(February 1970) p. 11. 



Richard York and Anthony Nugent, "Mission Design of the 

Organizing Pastors for the Berkeley Free Church, January 1, 1969 - 

January 1, 1970," CRRE Historical Archives, pp. 1-2. 

Ibid. , p. I. 




Ibid. , p. 3. 
Ibid., p. 5. 


Robert R. Hansel to James Guinan , 2 January 1969, CRRE 
Historical Archives. 


John Pairman Brown to Anthony Itorley, 19 September 1969, 

CRRE Historical Archives. 

Marshall Frady, "California: The Rending of the Veil," 
Harper's Magazine (December 1969) . 



Richard York, "Address at a City-wide Meeting, Berkeley 

Theater, Sunday, May 25, 10:30 a.m.," CRRE Historical Archives. 


3 2400 00376 8896 


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