In our era, the road to holiness necessarily passes through the world of action.

—Dag Hammarskjöld

A cloud of ecclesiastical dust rose from Dallas this month as leaders of America’s newest denomination clashed over how to resolve social ills.

Alluding to urban unrest, Bishop Wilbur K. Smith of Brazil declared, “You are only beginning to experience some of the tensions which arise in societies where there is too great a disparity in economic and social conditions.”

The old Methodist Church and, to a lesser extent, the Evangelical United Brethren were verbally committed to the social-activist emphasis. But in the new church, born out of a two-week Uniting Conference in Dallas (see May 10 issue), a militant element was seizing the initiative, demanding deeds along with words. The conflict came when their proposals met the restraining influences of the moderates and conservatives among the 1,255 delegates.

The militants won conference endorsement of non-violent civil disobedience “in extreme cases” but lost a bid for recognition of selective conscientious objection, in which would-be draftees could decide which wars are morally acceptable. President Johnson was commended for peace initiatives but chided for failing to keep his word to start talks anywhere, any time.

As part of a campaign for social reform through economic boycott, the conference rebuffed one of its own elder statesmen, Dr. Charles C. Parlin, a New York lawyer who is co-president of the World Council of Churches. Much to Parlin’s distaste, a report supporting the Methodist Board of Missions’ removal of a $10 million portfolio from the First National City Bank of New York won conference concurrence by a decisive show of hands. The board’s action was designed to protest ...

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