Nobody thought it had a chance this year.

Participation in the Consultation on Church Union by the Presbyterian Church in the United States was thought to be possible only many years from now, if ever.

But when the Presbyterian General Assembly adjourned less than a week before the beginning of COCU’s scheduled Dallas sessions, the Southern denomination’s highest court had voted to become a full participant.

No presbytery or other official body had asked consideration of COCU this year; such bids had been rejected in other years. So six individual commissioners (delegates) put COCU before the assembly in a resolution. The four ministers signing the resolution were among original members of “A Fellowship of Concern,” an unofficial group within the denomination seeking more social action and broader ecumenical connections. One of the ministers is chairman of a denomination committee studying the church’s structural shape; another is the second-ranking executive Of the Board of Christian Education. The others were young pastors from border synods of Virginia and Missouri.

The two lay signers were the first woman ever to serve as a standing committee chairman and a man from the Central Texas Presbytery, which is asking permission to merge with a local presbytery of the United Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A.

Their resolution was given little chance when it was referred to a standing committee on opening night. A few minutes later, when the result of the moderator election was announced, the proposal was taken more seriously. The Rev. Frank H. Caldwell’s victory over two other nominees for the denomination’s highest office put a different light on all proposals to alter interchurch relations. He got 307 of the 458 votes cast on ...

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