In Bill Brownfield’s 1967 autobiography, It’s a Good Life, he tells of a legend surrounding his birth: “Aunt Ione brought the new baby [Brownfield] down the stairs, stepped into the warm room occupied by the prod grandparents and said, “Well I’ve got it, but I don’t think much of it. He looks like a skinned rabbit” … I have always insisted that it was a rare bargain at $1.25 a pound ($10 doctor’s fee and 8 pounds) skin, bones and all.”
Brownfield is considered by many to be the most remarkable Jaycee of all for his ability to sum up, in a few extraordinary words, a statement of belief and principle of what Henry Giessenbier had started more than a quarter century earlier. His Jaycee Creed also eloquently reflected a feeling on the hearts of the returning World War II veterans.
Shortly after the original five-line creed was officially adopted in September 1947, Andrew Mungenast, of of the movement’s founders, wrote Brownfield to urge a statement indicating a belief in God. Soon he was virtually besieged with similar requests form all directions.
He thought that faith in God already was implied in the five statements of belief, but he realized that such an addition had to be made. In 1950, he put the line ahead of the others and presented the world with 65 of the most clearly expressed words it had known.
Adopted in full by Junior Chamber International in 1951, the Jaycee Creed has transcended ideological, geographical, philosophical, political and religious barriers. A year later, Brownfield was severely paralyzed by the onset of multiple sclerosis. By 1962, he was confined to a wheelchair and was on the brink of suicide.
Brownfield said childhood memories of Bible verses promising God’s grace brought to mind the “thousands of jaycees who would lose some reverence for the Jaycee Creed if its author could find no faith to give meaning and purpose to his own life.” He has sidestepped disaster and continued to serve the Junior Chamber until his death in February 1971.
Click here to hear C. William “Bill” Brownfield recite the Jaycee Creed.
This discussion of the Jaycee Creed below appeared in a “Special Edition” of FUTRE Magazine
distributed in the early 1980’s.
Throughout the world, Jaycees close their membership meetings with the same 65 words that embodies all the principles for which this organization stands. The Creed was applicable in 1947 and it is applicable today.
Had it been written in 1920, when the organization was founded, the same would have been true. The precepts of the Creed are dateless. They do not rely on fashion for their acceptability. Faith in God will never go out of style, nor will brotherhood, the worth of humanity or service to others. And, neither will a government of laws and a system of free enterprise that has built America.
Very simply, then, those 65 words of the Jaycee Creed are the golden rule. They are the foundation upon which rests the history and the future of Jaycees. These 65 words are a guide after which Jaycees may pattern their everyday lives. The Creed is a way of life.
Bill Brownfield is pictured with his daughter Margaret and his wife Lillian.
That Faith In God Gives Meaning And Purpose To Human Life …
Without faith in a greater power, our lives are meaningless. And it is faith in God’s love and His
eternal promise that gives purpose to our lives.
That The Brotherhood Of Man Transcend’s The Sovereignty Of Nations …
God made man in His own image to work together and share the earth. Jaycees gives us an opportunity to practice the art of living together in the spirit of brotherhood and in the true
interest of humanity.
That Economic Justice Can Best Be Won By Free Men Through Free Enterprise
For years, men have debated the question of how to best secure freedom for their fellowmen: government regimentation or cooperation of free enterprise and free government? Jaycees
believe the best way to nurture and support the rights of all citizens is within the framework of checks and balances known as the free enterprise system. That Government Should Be Of Laws Rather Than Of Men …
Government must rest on a foundation of constitutional Jaw, accepted and ratified by a
majority of the people. If government does not rest on such a foundation, tyranny will
flourish and people will be manipulated by those in power.
That Earth’s Great Treasure Lies In Human Personality …
None of the great and wonderful inventions and discoveries since the world began can compare with something each of us has – the uniqueness of human spirit. That spirit, that personality is the most basic and important element of humanity. And it is that which sets us aside from all other life – yet gives us a special relationship with one another. Jaycees work hard at developing that uniqueness – and that relationship.
And That Service To Humanity Is The Best Work Of Life.
Why do Jaycees give so much of their time and energy to their activities? Because they believe that giving of themselves to serve others is really doing what their God asks of them: to make their lives of lasting value, something enduring and immortal. We live through our deeds.
The Jaycee Creed: a guide for living – a pathway on the road of life. But, it may be more. It may also be the answer to racial and religious prejudice, ethnic animosities, antagonism between those of different economic status and many other forms of bigotry. In fact, it may be more than that –
the Jaycee Creed, if lived by enough people, may be the hope of our world.
Bill Brownfield was often asked for his interpretation of his masterpiece work, the Jaycee Creed. Here is part of what he had to say:
“The creed makes a powerful assertion in the first two words, “We Believe.”
“A weakness of the free world is a frequent failure to demonstrate faith in its basic principles. The descendents of those who wrote the Magna Carta, who broke the yoke of feudalism in Europe, and who have risen from colonial status to independence often act as though the battle for freedom has been won forever. But to believe in democracy is to live and work in that faith so that all men may know what freedom means.”
“If we stand fearlessly beside those who seek freedom for themselves, and if we lead out boldly toward the building of a better world, the the voice of free men will resound across nations, and men will listen!”
“But first of all, WE MUST BELIEVE!”
The First Creed Banner
During the 1950’s, Tennessee’s National Vice President presented the state with the first Jaycee Creed Banner. The first line of the creed was adopted after the banner was produced.
Addition of the first line required moving of the line “We Belive.” Needle marks bear witness to the addition of the first line which Bill Brownfiled was inspired to write in 1951.
The Tennssee Jaycees displayed the banner in their state office. State president, Doug Brannom, presented it to the US Jaycees during the Nashville Annual Meeting in June 1979.
The Creed, sealed in a glass case for protection, hung in the US Jaycee Headquarters in Tulsa, OK and now is on loan and displayed in the JCI offices in St. Louis.
Click image to the right for larger version.
Click on the image to the left to see a larger version of the
first United States Junior Chamber Creed Banner and see
if you can find an interesting fact about this Creed banner!
Photo taken in 2012 of Foundation Board Member Jack Gamel
with the first United States Junior Chamber Creed Banner.
A rare Jaycee Creed plaque shows the creed minus the “Faith in God phrase, which Bill Brownfield added in 1950, giving it a place of honor preceding all other sections of
Bill Brownfield in 1968 greets former Vice President, former Jaycee and good friend Richard M. Nixon