Hippies Shake Church!

By Jerome F. Collins of the Daily Pilot Staff

November 15, 1968, North America

More than two dozen howling, hippie-like strangers—some of the men bearded, some of the women hysterical—disrupted but did not halt services at St. James Episcopal Church in Newport Beach Sunday.

Nobody knew where they came from, nor where they went after their visit to the church.

They remained restlessly and noisily in their seats in front of the altar throughout the 11 o’clock services.

The outbursts endured by St. James’ congregation included a shout from one of the visitors during communion:

“This is hypocrisy!”

“It was a strong loud voice that could have been heard for a quarter of a mile,” said the Rev. David A. Crump later. “It was a bit shaking.”

The 41-year-old minister who is associate rector, said he was upset by the shout and his regular parishioners were doubtless horrified, but he didn’t attempt to respond.

Throughout the service, the casually garbed strangers (only two or three of the men wore ties; the women wore colorful homemade gowns) responded to Scripture readings and hymns with several loud “Amens!” and a few “Hallelujahs!”

They also babbled as if experiencing revelations.

Got Revelations

“It was obvious that a number of those people were receiving revelations.” Said the Rev. Mr. Crump.

“I think it was genuine and they weren’t mocking our services,” he added.

“We were frozen in our seats,” explained one lady, a Lido Isle resident. “You never saw so many pale faces in your life.”

“It was a very committed group. They were evangelical, revolutionary-minded Christians,” he said. “But whatever their intent some of them did hurt what they were trying to do by being very rude.”

When the final hymn was being sung, the minister quietly walked up to a clean-shaven, suited young man who appeared to be the group’s leader.

More Hostile

“It appears to me.” He whispered to the man as the church resounded in song, “that some of the very loud utterances we have heard this morning are more hostile than full of love.”

The man smiled and softly replied:

“Some of my brothers are still in need of more wisdom.”

Does he expect the strangers to return?

“No, I don’t. Next week they’ll probably give someone else a chance.”