Merger of The Methodist Church and The Evangelical United Brethren Church won easy approval this month from the top legislatures of both denominations.
If the plan of union gets enough endorsement from the 178 annual conferences of the two churches, a new denomination to be known as The United Methodist Church will come into being at a uniting General Conference in Dallas in 1968. Two-thirds of the aggregate conference vote will be necessary to effect the merger.
The merger was endorsed in principle by the two churches at simultaneous General Conferences held in adjoining ballrooms of Chicago’s ageing Conrad Hilton Hotel. In standing votes on November 11, the Methodists adopted enabling legislation and a constitution for the new church by 749–40, and the EUBs by 325–88.
In the Methodist meeting, the race issue overshadowed even the merger. A racially inclusive structure has continually eluded Methodists. They still have segregated annual conferences in Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. The coordinating Negro Central Jurisdiction is to be abolished by 1968, but segregated annual conferences would follow the Methodists into the merged church intact.
Methodist delegates repeatedly beat down efforts to legislate a racially inclusive church. Instead, they set a 1972 “target date” for voluntary abolition of segregated conferences. The reluctance of delegates to adopt mandatory legislation was believed to rise partly out of fear of schism.
The voluntary 1972 target of the present Methodist denomination is referred to in the proposal for the new united church, but the new church is not committed to any target date, voluntary ...1
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