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Traditional methods, imaginatively used, have resulted in crowded Masses at New Orleans' St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church. The white frame building once stood in an equally white section of town, but now the central-city area is black. To meet the needs of the new congregation, Father Joseph Putnam, 40, its white pastor, employs more than one kind of tradition. The freewheeling Sunday services, though Catholic in ritual, are heavily Black Baptist in flavor. Music Director Alexander Rankins, a Negro, pounds an old upright piano, leading the al-tarside choir in standard Negro spirituals and other numbers from three books on the piano: The Catholic Mass, The Baptist Standard Hymnal and Gospel Pearls. Father Putnam talks about the meaning of humility—"A humble man must be strong. Jesus taught us that" —and recommends a play that some of the neighborhood's angry young blacks are presenting in the Dashiki Project Theater, for which the parish supplies space. The Mass closes with Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. Membership is particularly strong among the young.

Still within the urban parish mold —but hardly in the traditional church building—is Chicago's Circle Church, which meets in a Teamsters hall. Its founder, David Mains, 33, was a vaguely dissatisfied Baptist minister trying to start a new parish in a polyglot Chicago neighborhood when he chanced to stop by the union hall. "Any time you want to start a church," the local's secretary-treasurer told him, "you can meet here for free. What this neighborhood needs is another goddam Protestant church." Mains' church is Protestant—it has since affiliated with the Evangelical Free Church of America —but it welcomes everyone. His team ministry is mixed (a Negro, two whites and a Filipino-Chinese assist him), and the congregation is even more disparate: foreign students from the University of Illinois' nearby Chicago Circle Campus, poor people from the neighborhood, an increasing number of hippies and occasional young whites from the suburbs. Worship services are simple: a sermon, followed by a choice of four discussion groups, ons in each corner of the hall. Despite his social concern, Mains insists that his mission is primarily spiritual. ''I think." he says, "that man has changed mainly through personal relation with God."

That theme—spirituality—is stressed more and more these days by activist members of the ministry. Ivan Illich, who gave up the formal priesthood to work on his educational theories at the Center for Intercultural Documentation in Cuernavaca, Mexico, insists that the proper outcome of any of the new ministries is "an intimate personal awareness of the meaning of religion." The psychedelic generation's most revered and thoughtful guru, former Episcopal Priest Alan Watts, now living in Sausalito, Calif., argues that church services ought to offer "more opportunity for meditation and spiritual experience." Monsignor Robert Fox, director of New York's Full Circle Associates, is an activist who nonetheless maintains that "you can't reach others without prayer and contemplation."

The Riches of Others

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