Labor activism ostracizes Burgess from the larger Presbyterian membership
Burgess's attempt to join a local Presbyterian church resulted in the members' secretive rejection of his labor activism. The largely industrialist church members tied his activism to a charge of Communism. However, the church pastor supported his membership to the church.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with David Burgess, September 25, 1974. Interview E-0001. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
- DAVID BURGESS:
Yes. We moved to Rock Hill, South Carolina with our two kids, aged two
and six months. We were ostracized by the community for a while. We
applied for membership in the Presbyterian church there. A fellow by the
name of Ken Phifer was the pastor. It was a prestige church. Prominent
textile owners were members. They thought I was a Communist. I didn't
find this out until ten years later. In 1947, Pastor Phifer was told by
the members of the session that I ought not to
be allowed to join that church because I was a communist and worked for
the CIO. So he put his job on the line and said he would quit the church
if my wife and I were not allowed to become members.
- BILL FINGER:
You said you had known Ken Phifer?
- DAVID BURGESS:
No, we went to his church eventually and we became very close personal
friends. He didn't tell me this until ten years later. Anyway, he won
the fight. I eventually became teacher of the young adults class...