Eugene Carson Blake
|Eugene Carson Blake|
Eugene Carson Blake in 1967
November 7, 1906|
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
|Died||July 31, 1985
Stamford, Connecticut, United States
|Occupation||Presbyterian Church leader, president of the National Council of Churches, head of the World Council of Churches|
(m. September 12, 1929); Jean Ware
|Parents||Orville Prescott Blake (father)
Lulu Carson (mother)
|Relatives||Rhea Carson Blake Harvey (sister); Howard Carson Blake (brother)|
Eugene Carson Blake (November 7, 1906 – July 31, 1985) was an American Presbyterian Church leader.
From 1954 to 1957 he served as president of the National Council of Churches in the United States; from 1966 to 1974 he served as General Secretary of the World Council of Churches. He also helped organize and would subsequently participate in the 1963 March on Washington.
Life and career
Eugene Carson Blake was born in St. Louis, Missouri on November 7, 1906. He graduated from Princeton University in 1928 with a Bachelor of Arts and the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1932 with a Bachelor of Theology. He would also attend classes at the University of Edinburgh.
From 1928 to 1929, he taught at the Forman Christian College in Lahore; from 1935 to 1951, he was the minister of Presbyterian churches in America, holding pastorates at churches in New York City and Albany, as well as serving as the Senior Minister of the First Presbyterian Church in Pasadena for eleven years.
From 1951 to 1958, he was stated clerk of the General Assembly of the PCUSA, and of the United Presbyterian Church until 1966. He served as the president of the National Council of Churches from 1954–1957 and the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches in 1966. Blake retired from the World Council of Churches in 1972.
Blake became a trustee of Princeton Seminary in 1954.
Although an experienced and talented administrator, Eugene Carson Blake is best known for his forthright stand against racial segregation as well for his progressive stance on a number of issues affecting Protestant church denominations. In 1960, he preached a sermon calling for the unification of a number of major Protestant denominations into one separate church. This sermon is considered to be the impetus for the 40-year Consultation on Church Union ecumenical effort to unite ten mainline denominations.
Dr. Blake once said that he was "the first white clergyman to be arrested in the civil rights movement."  In 1963, Martin Luther King,Jr., Eugene Carson Blake, and eight other civil rights leaders called for a March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. Dr. King, Dr.Blake, and the other organizers met with President John F. Kennedy at the White House before the March, and subsequently participated in the demonstration, marching down Constitution Avenue with linked arms. At the Lincoln Memorial after the March, Dr. Blake spoke following A. Phillip Randolph and before John Lewis. Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech a few minutes later.
When Dr. Blake was Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, Richard Nixon first ran for Congress in that Congressional District. Dr. Blake had a number of opportunities to vote against Nixon and took advantage of every one. Dr. Blake campaigned actively against U.S. participation in the Vietnam War, for which he earned a spot on President Nixon's Enemies List, and Dr. Blake was audited by the Internal Revenue Service every year that Nixon was President.
He is buried in Stamford's Long Ridge Union Cemetery.
Education and work
High School: Lawrenceville School
University: BA, Princeton University (1928)
Theological: ThB, Princeton Theological Seminary (1932)
Teacher: Forman Christian College, Lahore (1928–1929)
University: New College, University of Edinburgh
World Council of Churches, General Secretary (1966–1974)
National Council of Churches, President (1954–1957)
United Presbyterian Church, Stated Clerk, General Assembly (1958–1966)
Presbyterian Church USA, Stated Clerk, General Assembly (1951–1958)
There are multiple collections of Eugene Carson Blake's papers at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They include papers relating to his tenure as stated clerk of the General Assembly, correspondence and addresses, and personal papers from 1940-1966.
- "The Presidents of the National Council of Churches USA". Retrieved 2007-10-22.
- James D. Forman (1997). The Making of Black Revolutionaries. University of Washington Press. ISBN 978-0-295-97659-4<--None-->
- Finding Aid for Eugene Carson Blake Papers. http://www.history.pcusa.org/collections/findingaids/fa.cfm?record_id=3.
- "Blake's Sermon and Pike's Response (1960)". Retrieved 2012-08-15.
- Personal communication at Rye Presbyterian Church (NY) in 1983.
- King Center; Google: Eugene Carson Blake; Martin Luther King
- Personal communication from Dr. Blake to his great niece Diddo Clark