A Time for Burning

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A Time for Burning
A Time for Burning FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed byWilliam C. Jersey
Produced byWilliam C. Jersey
StarringRev. L. William Youngdahl, Ernie Chambers, Ray Cristensen
CinematographyWilliam C. Jersey
Music byBarry Kornfeld
Quest Productions
Avernus Productions
Distributed byLutheran Film Associates
Release date
Running time
56 minutes
CountryUnited States

A Time for Burning is a 1966 American documentary film that explores the attempts of the minister of Augustana Lutheran Church in Omaha, Nebraska, to persuade his all-white congregation to reach out to "Negro" Lutherans in the city's north side. The film was directed by San Francisco filmmaker William C. Jersey and was nominated for Best Documentary Feature in the 1967 Academy Awards.[1][2] The film was commissioned by the Lutheran Church in America.

The film is shot in "cinéma vérité" style. It chronicles the relationship between the minister, L. William Youngdahl, and his white and black Lutheran parishioners. Youngdahl was the son of former Minnesota governor and federal judge Luther Youngdahl. The film includes a meeting between Youngdahl and a black barber, Ernie Chambers, who tells Youngdahl that his Jesus is "contaminated." At one point another Omaha Lutheran minister, Walter E. Rowoldt of Luther Memorial Lutheran Church, says, "This one lady said to me, 'pastor', she said, 'I want them to have everything I have, I want God to bless them as much as he blesses me, but', she says, 'pastor, I just can't be in the same room with them, it just bothers me'." Rowoldt and other ministers also discuss the concern that blacks moving into white neighborhoods will decrease property values.

The attempt to reach out does not succeed and Youngdahl resigns as minister of the church.

In 2005, A Time for Burning was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[3][4]

Chambers completed law school and was elected to the Nebraska Legislature in 1970. By 2005, he had become the longest-serving state senator in Nebraska history.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "NY Times: A Time for Burning". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-05-21. Retrieved 2008-11-11.
  2. ^ "The 40th Academy Awards (1968) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved June 1, 2019.
  3. ^ "Librarian of Congress Adds 25 Films to National Film Registry". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  4. ^ "Complete National Film Registry Listing". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2020-05-13.

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