Science in Christian Perspective




The Federation Christian Fellowship (FCF): 
A History

A. Kurt Weiss
Department of Physiology and Biophysics 
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center 
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

From: JASA 32 (September 1980): 185-186.

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (EASEl)) is an umbrella organization comprised of the following groups: The American Physiological Society, American Society of Biological Chemists, American Society' for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, American Association of Pathologists, American Institute of Nutrition, anti The American Association of Immunologists.

Its membership includes Nobel Prize winners members of the National Academies of Science and of Medicine. In the 1950s and 1960s, when government research grants were plentiful and relatively easy to obtain, the Annual Scientific Meeting, also k noun as the Federation Meeting, attracted sonic 20 to 30 thousand scientists, exhibitors, press corps. etc., and could he held only in a very- few cities with large enough facilities to accommodate  this large group At least every-other year the meetings were held in Atlantic City, N.J. More recently, some of the organizations (particularly the American Society of Biological Chemists), have held their meetings separately, thus allowing the Federation meetings to be held at other cities. Moreover, other organizations, not members of the Federation, have been guest participants recently. Thus in April 1950 at Auaheim, California the following groups participated as FASEB Guest Societies: Biomedical Engineering Society, Reticuloendothelial Society, Society' for Experimental Biology and Medicine, Society of Mathematical Biology, and the Committees on Nutritional Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association.

In 1956 Drs. Walter B. Hearn and A. Kurt Weiss met for the first time on a bus shuttling travelers from the Brussels, Belgium, airport to the City Terminal. Both were delegates to the International Physiological Congress being heild in Brussels that year. They recognized each other as Christians and promised to look each other up at the next Federation Meeting for prayer and Christian fellowship. At a subsequent encounter Dr. Hearn expressed his desire to become acquainted with other fellow Christians who, like himself , attend the Federation meeting, yearly. It was not difficult for him and Dr. 'Weiss to meet a few other believers.

Dr. Hearn first suggested the establishment of a Federation Christian Fellowship Meeting, In April 1959 or 1960, posters were placed in key hotels in Atlantic City, inviting the conventioneers to a Christian Breakfast get-together at the old Jefferson Hotel at 7 A.M. More than 30 individuals attended and Dr. Weiss gave  a short message based on Proverbs 16:3: ''Commit thy works unto the Lord and thy thoughts shall be established." The attenders agreed to meet again next year am the annual convention. Thus the Federation Christian Fellowship was born. Meetings in subsequent years were held in the evening, however. it was decided from the beginning that the group would have no constitution, no dues, no officers; rather, at each meeting a Chairman was chosen to make arrangements for a room and some coffee or tea for the following year, to arrange for a speaker to lead in prayer, to take take a collection to defray the expenses and to make up out of his own pocket the difference between the actual cost incurred and the collection received.

By 1965, contact had been made with some 175 individuals who, at one time or another, had attended these meetings. Over the years some of the names on the list changed. In 1977 the list included 98 names, with some individuals coming from faraway places like Hawaii and other countries like Canada and Switzerland.
Over the years two improvements were made which were extremely beneficial. Announcements of the next meeting were mailed its advance to individuals on the contact list. Its the mid1960s the Federation included the Federation Christian Fellowship Meetings in the official program, and was willing to add the name and topic of the speaker whenever we were able to furnish these in time. Now if an individual forgot when or where our meeting would he held, he could look it up in the official program.

Attendance at these meetings varied front year to year. In 1977 in Chicago some 40 persons were present. In other years the group was slightly smaller or larger. But the fellowship was always sweet and welcome after long hours of listening to technical papers and arguing about the finer points of one's own presentation.

When in 1971 the Biochemists decided to meet separately in San Francisco in July, we tried holding two FCF meetings. In April in Chicago Mr. John Stocky from the Medical Assistance Program, Inc. spoke to a large group. Through the efforts of Dr. Quinton B. Rogers of the School of Veterinary Medicine of the University of California in Davis, some 16 Biochemists met in San Francisco in Judy to hear Dr. Marvin Chancy, Assistant Professor of Old Testament at the San Francisco Theological Seminary speak cm "A Socio-Economic Approach to the Faith of Early Israel: Illustrated by the Detailed Exegesis of Selected Old Testament Texts."
Not all lectures given over the years were as technical as this one. A complete list of all speakers is not in existence. However, in the early 1960s the speakers included Dr. Walter R. Hearn, A. Kurt Weiss, Robert Herrmann and Dr. Henry Morris, then a Professor at the Virginia Polytechnical Institute and all members of the ASA. Other early speakers were Dr. James A. Shaw, Harvard Nutrition Professor, Dr. John Alexander, newly elected President of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, and Mr. Joseph Finkelstein of Philadelphia who ministers to Jewish young people in his home in Philadelphia. The record for speakers its the 1970s is more complete, and includes Dr. John B. Brobeck, who, when he served as President of the American Physiological Society, honored us by attending our meeting in Atlantic City.

In 1973 when Lewis P. Bird, Eastern Regional Director of The Christian Medical Society was the speaker, I was contacted by the editor of Federation Proceedings who requested an edited manuscript of Mr. Bird's talk for possible inclusion in the Proceedings. This was gladly provided and publication of an article on "The Christian Medical Society" appeared in the Federation Proceedings (32:2086-7, 1973) with the notation that this material had been presented at the Federation Christian Fellowship evening session at Atlantic City, N. J. on April 19, 1973.

Twice in the 1970s we had guest speakers from each of our sister organizations, the Christian Medical Society and MAP Inc. In 1971 in Chicago and again in 1977 when we met in Chicago again, MAP, Inc. provided the speakers for Our program. Mr. John Stuckey in 1971 and Mr. Tom Knighton, son of MAP's founder, in 1977. Its addition to the meeting in Atlantic City with Mr. Lewis P. Bird, the Christian Medical Society provided as speaker its General Director, Dr. Haddon Robinson, when the Federation held its first meeting ever in Dallas. Other recent speakers include Dr. Frank Roberts of the Delaware County Christian Schools near Philadelphia, Dr. Robert Herrmann from Boston University's Medical School, Mr. David Livingstone of the Biblical Research Institute its Philadelphia and this year in Anaheim, California, Dr. Ernest B. Brown, Jr., the above to retire as first Chairman of the Physiology Department of the Oral Roberts University Medical School who presided over a meeting in which the philosophy of his department was discussed, particularly as it relates to "Whole Person Medicine."

Over a period of some 20 years many hurl individuals have helped make these annual gatherings a reality by volunteering to organize the following year's meeting and chairing the session. Names not yet mentiones which come to mind for this very incomplete list include Dr. Gordon Mills of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Dr. James C. Kennedy, Canadian pathologist from Queen's University, Dr. Elizabeth Zipf from Biological Abstracts who, together with her sister, brought baked goods and cookies from Philadelphia to our frequent Atlantic City meetings, Dr. Richard I,. Huston of the National Dairy Council and more recently of Ross Laboratories in Columbus, Ohio, Dr. David Bruce of Wheaton College. Dr. William Matthew's of Smith, Kline and French Laboratories, and Dr. Kenneth Dormer, most recently, my colleague at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

What of the future? It depends on what direction the gigantic Federation meetings will go. For the immediate future these meetings 'sill continue and provide moments of spiritual refreshment and fellowship and it foruni for the discussion of it side of life which is not frequently paid much attention during scientific meetings.