A previous article (“What Ministers Think of Mergers,” Nov. 24, 1961, issue) discussed the proposed merger between the United Presbyterian Church, the Protestant Episcopal Church, The Methodist Church, and the United Church of Christ. There we analyzed the reaction of some clergymen to the so-called Blake-Pike proposal and drew several tentative conclusions. This second article enlarges on the success or failure of mergers already consummated, and proposes several guidelines on the subject of organic union of churches.
Recent developments furnish ample evidence that union (or reunion) will be a topic for serious conversation for some time to come. In December of 1960 the archbishop of Canterbury visited the pope of Rome. The pope granted an audience also to the presiding bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the American branch of the Anglican fellowship. This latter visit by the Right Reverend Arthur Lichtenberger to the Vatican en route to the New Delhi meetings of the World Council of Churches created considerable press interest in America. The fact that this audience occurred before rather than after the World Council meetings, and that it followed the earlier meeting of the English primate, could be no accident. Such timing lends to the visit the appearance of a movement of Protestantism toward Rome.
To illustrate the urge for such union we need only go back to Bishop Oxnam’s episcopal address of 1948. He pleaded for organic union that allows but two churches—one Protestant and one Roman Catholic—and expressed the further desire that these two might someday constitute one holy, catholic church. The recent merger of the Congregational Christian Churches with the Evangelical and Reformed ...1
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