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Oral History Interview with Paul Hardin Jr., December 8, 1989. Interview C-0071. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Bishop Paul Hardin presided over the Council of Methodist Bishops during the 1960s and started the process of integrating the denomination. In this interview, he recalls how he got involved in Methodist ministry and became one of the first theology students at Emory University. He also describes some of the issues unique to leading a southern congregation, especially controversy over racial integration. Hardin served as pastor for the First Methodist Church of Birmingham throughout the early 1960s and remembers welcoming black attendees while excluding the White Citizen's Council against the wishes of his congregation. He used humor and personal conviction to oppose Governor George Wallace's segregationist stance and push white and black pastors past their reservations about working together. His commitment to interracial cooperation stemmed from his support of the reunification of the southern and northern Methodists in 1939 and from his father's early support for integration. He feels his life work contrasts with Martin Luther King's criticism of him and other progressive ministers in the "Letter from Birmingham Jail."
    Excerpts
  • Preaching about race relations in the 1920s and 1930s
  • Black opposition to integrating the Methodist conferences in South Carolina
  • Merging segregated Methodist conferences in South Carolina
  • Church congregations can integrate with help of strong leadership and volunteers
  • Ancestors instilled in Hardin a desire to improve church and society
  • Integrating the Methodist Church despite opposition
  • King includes Hardin in his list of unprogressive ministers
  • Interracial cooperation over many generations prepared South Carolina for integration
  • White pastors hurt their ministries by not taking risks and supporting integration
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Southern States--Race relations
  • Methodist Church--Clergy--North Carolina
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.