Space Age Christianity: The Diocese of Olympia and the Seattle World's Fair
For those of you not from the Seattle area you may or may not know that this year is the 50th anniversary of the Seattle’s World Fair – The Century 21 Exposition – which ran from April 21, 1962 through October 21, 1962. The Fair’s emphasis was on the future with science and technology at the forefront. It was a major event in Seattle’s history with the now iconic Space Needle as its centerpiece.
Photo by Diane Wells
The Fair drew visitors from around the country and around the world and I think it’s ‘fair’ to say that almost everyone in the Seattle area participated in some way and the Church was no exception.
In its May 1962 issue, The Olympia Churchman, our diocesan newspaper, announced: Diocese to Sponsor Century 21 Program and went on to tell about the program which would “offer internationally noted scientists and churchmen discussing Space Age Christianity and climaxing in a great Christian Witness service the week of August 6.”
In accordance with the scientific theme of the Century 21 Exposition, the program focused on the theological implications of the scientific and technological developments what were at the heart of the Fair - and of the times - and on the questions which Christian faith and scientific development posed to each other. Presentations by authorities in the fields of the physical, biological and social sciences were featured over the course of three evenings. Each speaker would “outline developments in his scientific field, project them into the 21st century and correlate the part religion has and will contribute to that scientific field.” The program was introduced by the Rt. Rev. William Fisher Lewis, Bishop of Olympia and moderated by the Rt. Rev. Stephen F. Bayne, Jr., executive officer of the Anglican Communion and former Bishop of Olympia.
Photo caption reads: Josephy Gandy, World's Fair President, Greeted Bishop Bayne
We are very fortunate in the diocesan archives to have not only copies of our diocesan newspapers but copies of sound recordings of the ‘Space Age Christianity’ event - which I hope to be able to make available online - and copies of the book, Space Age Christianity, edited by Bishop Bayne and published in 1963.
The Fair propelled Seattle into the future, ultimately producing a permanent venue for community and creativity. It also provided a forum for the discussion of topics which are just as relevant today as they were 50 years ago. Over the next few months I'll be sharing more with you about 'Space Age Christianity' and will also take a look at the role archives play in making events such as the Century 21 Exposition come back to life.
NOTE: Many websites have information about the Seattle World's Fair and its 50th Anniversary celebration. HistoryLink, an online encyclopedia of Washington State history provides a good overview as well as associated stories at: http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&File_Id=2290. Videos and moving images of the Fair can be found online at: http://www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=4030725
Diocese of Olympia Archives
Diane Wells, CA