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Christianity in the World Today

Presbyterians picked up where the press left off last month. Two unrelated mergers (coincidentally only days apart) gave the alphabetical designation UP new popular meaning. Outside the United Presbyterian strongholds of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia few persons regularly applied UP to a church. UP referred to United Press, suddenly joined with International News Service to become United Press International with the logotype UPI. Two church moderators shook hands on a rainy Pittsburgh street and the theological UP became the designation for the 3,100,000-member United Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A., fourth largest Protestant denomination.

Unlike the news service merger, everyone knew the Presbyterians were getting together. The formalities, following on the heels of the 100th and last assembly of the United Presbyterian Church of North America, were part of what was labeled the 170th General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A., formerly the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A. The merger had been in the offing for years.

As the press service merger raised eyebrows at the American Newpaper Guild and at the Justice Department, so the latest ecumenical triumph brought measured concern. On the surface, reaction ranged from “amiable acceptance to starry-eyed enthusiasm.” Underneath, there were still some misgivings, even as officials were forgetting a small protest rally and secession requests of six churches. (Only one small congregation was allowed to leave.)

From the evangelical perspective, these would seem to be some gains realized from the merger:

—Presbyterians will pollenize the UP missionary outlook; the UPs will contribute greater conservative stability. (For the ...

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