Top church leaders showed surprising new interest last month in coming to grips with the big theological cleavage in American Protestantism. In St. Louis, President Oliver Harms of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and four Synod vice-presidents conferred with officials of the State of the Church, a conservative group. In Atlanta, more than forty Southern Presbyterians assembled in a liberal-conservative confrontation arranged by Moderator Marshall C. Dendy.
At yet another meeting, an Episcopal group promoted diversion of local-church revenues—a sign of increasing lay efforts for a greater voice in how denominational funds are used.
A blanket of secrecy covered the St. Louis talks. Christian News,This journal also reported that the State of the Church executive board approved plans for a “Twentieth Century Formula of Concord” that will clearly seperate those who accept historic Christianity from those embracing today’s liberalism. A “prominent orthodox theologian” will be asked to draft the document. a conservative weekly, said the press was barred from the meetings and added that Missouri Synod officials asked State of the Church leaders “not to publicize any statement made by officials during the all-day session.”
The two-day Atlanta meeting reflected growing concern of many laymen and rising tension in the major denominations. Conservatives at the Hilton Inn sessions were represented by Concerned Presbyterians, who are eager to maintain the primary spiritual mission of the Church. Also on hand were members of the Fellowship of Concern, who like to call themselves the “progressive” element in the church and who stress social action as necessary for the Church to be relevant today.
The meeting was characterized by a Christian ...1
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