Brooklyn-born Helen Kenyon (1884-1978), former member of the Board of Home Missions of Congregational and Christian Churches, said in November 1952 that 11 o’clock on Sunday morning was the “most segregated time in America.” Dr. Kenyon told the annual Christian Frontiers forum of the Women’s Society of Riverside Church in New York City that interracial churches were like “oases in a great desert.”
“Most segregated time/hour” became a line that was repeated in many churches. “What we have to do is practice brotherhood every day and stop having the 11 o’clock hour on Sunday the most segregated hour of the week,” said (Dr. Kenneth Miller, executive secretary of the New York Christian Mission Society, in April 1953.
Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) said in December 1963:
“We must face the fact that in America, the church is still the most segregated major institution in America. At 11:00 on Sunday morning when we stand and sing and Christ has no east or west, we stand at the most segregated hour in this nation.”
King is frequently—and incorrectly—credited with coining the saying.
Born in Brooklyn in 1884, the daughter of Clarence Kenyon and Emma J. Kelsey, Helen Kenyon had a privileged upbringing at the turn of the century. Her father was the owner of one of the first garment factories in New York, and her family’s genealogy could be traced back to the Mayflower.
In 1939, Kenyon stepped down from her chair on the Board of Trustees, and devoted more of her time to work in philanthropy and welfare. She became a member of the Board of Home Missions of Congregational and Christian Churches in 1938, and, in 1940, a member of the Board of Directors of the United Council of Churches. From 1941 to 1944 Kenyon was Vice President of the Dutchess County Welfare Council in addition to serving as campaign chairmen for the Greater Poughkeepsie War Chest.
As she elected chairman of the Board of Home Missions, Kenyon’s time was increasingly split between New York City and Poughkeepsie. in 1944 she sold “Cliffdale” and its land to IBM, leaving Dutchess County to pursue her work with Christian organizations, she remained chair of the Board of Home Missions Council until 1946, and a member of the General Council of Congregational Christian Churches.
4 November 1952, New York (NY) Times, “Worship Hour Found Time of Segregation,” pg. 26:
Eleven o’clock Sunday morning--when most Protestant churches are holding worship services--was designated yesterday as the “most segregated time” in America by Dr. Helen Kenyon, former moderator of the Congregational-Christian Churches.
Addressing the annual Christian Frontiers forum of the Women’s Society of Riverside Church, Dr. Kenyon said that interracial churches were like “oases in a great desert.” She declared that American Protestantism tended to maintain the “status quo” and to shy away from “new neighbors and new ways of living.”
Dr. Kenyon is chairman of the policy committee of the Department of United Church Women of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U. S. A.
14 November 1952, The Plaindealer (Kansas City, KS), pg. 5, col. 4:
SUNDAY 11 A.M. IS MOST SEGREGATED HOUR
NEW YORK—(ANP)—Dr. Helen Kenyon, former moderator of the Congregation-Christian Churches, called 11 o’clock Sunday morning the “most segregated time in America.”
She termed interracial churches as scarce as “oases in a great desert,” and that American Protestantism tended to maintain the status quo.
24 April 1953, The Daily News (Huntingdon, PA), “Mission Official Gives Figures On Cities’ Religion,” pg. 2, col. 8:
“What we have to do is practice brotherhood every day and stop having the 11 o’clock hour on Sunday the most segregated hour of the week.”
(Dr. Kenneth Miller, executive secretary of the New York Christian Mission Society.—ed.)
30 May 1953, Greensboro (NC) Daily News, “Sunday In Newton Grove,” sec. 7, pg. 4, col. 2:
Mrs. Charles Johnson, wife of the president of Fiske University, said recently of Negroes and religion: “I think we got the best out of Christianity, because we had to have it. Now matter how we may scoff, we believe...Still, 11 o’clock Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of American life.”
26 September 1953, Chicago (IL) Defender, “Anti-Communism Fight More Serious Than Many Realize, Says Mrs. Bethune” by Mary McLeod, pg. 11:
Someone has said that eleven o’clock Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in the week. It is our church hour!!
25 August 1954, Springfield (MA) Union, “World Council Report” by Rev. Harold B. Keir, pg. 16, col. 1:
Another speaker, Dr. Liston Pope of Yale Divinity School, quoted Time magazine as saying that 11 o’clock Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of the week. Dr. Pope opined that “any hour in any country club is more segregated than 11 o’clock Sunday morning.”
20 September 1954, Middlesboro (KY) Daily News, “Mrs. Barton Hostess To Trinity WSCS,” pg. 3, col. 8:
Miss Gerheart, teacher of tne School of Missions in London, Ky., said, “Eleven o’clock on Sunday morning is the most segregated time in America. People work together all week yet on Sunday at worship service are apart.”
23 October 1954, Greensboro (NC) Daily News, “Graham Hits Segregation In Churches; Says Love Of God Transcends Color,” sec. 2, pg. 1, col. 8:
“Eleven o’clock on Sunday has too long been, North and South, the most segregated hour in the calendar of the year,” Dr. Frank P. Graham declared here last night.
20 June 1955, Evansville (IN) Courier, “Three New Pastors Assigned To Local Methodist Churches,” pg. 1, cols. 2-3:
The Rev. Richard C. Raines, Methodist bishop of Indiana, complained at the conference. “The most segregated hour of the week in Christian America is 11 o’clock on Sunday morning.”
Wikiquote: United States
We must face the fact that in America, the church is still the most segregated major institution in America. At 11:00 on Sunday morning when we stand and sing and Christ has no east or west, we stand at the most segregated hour in this nation. This is tragic. Nobody of honesty can overlook this. Now, I’m sure that if the church had taken a stronger stand all along, we wouldn’t have many of the problems that we have. The first way that the church can repent, the first way that it can move out into the arena of social reform is to remove the yoke of segregation from its own body.
. Martin Luther King, Jr., as quoted in interview at at the Herman W. Read Fieldhouse (18 December 1963), Western Michigan University.
21 January 1964, Greensboro (NC) Daily News, “Segregated Churches Rapped,” pg. A4, col. 1:
BLACK MOUNTAIN, Jan. 20 (AP)—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Negro integration leader and head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said today that churches have made progress but “11 o’clock on Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour in America.”
Why Sunday morning remains America’s most segregated hour
October 6th, 2010
07:29 AM ET
“Sunday morning is the most segregated hour of Christian America.”
That declaration, which has been attributed to Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., used to startle listeners. Now it’s virtually become a cliché. For years, various academic studies and news articles have reported what many churchgoers already know: most American congregations are segregated.
In the latest issue of the academic journal Sociological Inquiry, two professors dug deeper into why Sundays remain so segregated.
The Wall Street Journal
How Churches Are Slowly Becoming Less Segregated
Pastors Seeking Racially Diverse Congregations Cope With Culture Clashes; Should Children Be Shushed?
By LAURA MECKLER
Oct. 13, 2014 10:30 p.m. ET
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said that Sunday at 11 a.m. was the most segregated hour in America. Today, pastors like Mr. Beard are working to change that, with some success.
Starbuck’s “#RaceTogether”? Really? Check it out. The most segregated time in America is no longer Sunday. It’s going to Starbuck’s.
6:49 AM - 7 Apr 2015
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • Tuesday, April 07, 2015 • Permalink