Our age cherishes bigness and monolithicity. This fact is true in business and is becoming increasingly true in religion. The denominational trend toward consolidation has taken two specific forms. First, there have been mergers of “next of kin” churches similar in faith and practice (such as the recent union of the United Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., and the earlier union of Methodist bodies); and second, mergers between remotely-related groups unlike in faith and practice (such as the recently-organized United Church of Christ which now embraces many of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church).
Merger Gains Momentum
The urge to consolidate was dramatically underscored recently by the proposal of Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, Stated Clerk of the U.P.-U.S.A. He suggested that the United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., the Protestant Episcopal Church, The Methodist Church, and the United Church of Christ form one church of more than 18 million members. The idea was carefully nurtured, then presented in strategic circumstances calculated to gain for it the widest publicity. No sooner had Dr. Blake advanced his case than it was seconded by Bishop James A. Pike of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Whether this support hindered or helped the Blake proposal is difficult to determine, since the bishop had earlier enunciated what many considered heretical views concerning such doctrines as the Trinity and the Virgin Birth. Dr. Blake promptly took his proposal to the General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church, and along with it several overtures from local presbyteries supporting the project. The General Assembly “by an overwhelming voice-vote majority” agreed to approach ...1
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