The following appraisal was written for CHRISTIANITY TODAY by Dr. Cary N. Weisiger III, minister of Menlo Park (California) Presbyterian Church, who has been a representative to the Consultation on Church Union since its inception.

The first question some will ask is whether a giant restructuring of American Protestants really touches people where they live today. Some renewalists as well as some traditionalists have greeted the Consultation on Church Union with a bored yawn. Both feel that institutional churches with their elaborate structure, ponderous machinery, and official programs have little chance of making a dent upon the world for Christ.

Even Dr. Charles Spivey, currently the secretary of COCU, has asked what the group has to say about poverty, disparity, discrimination, and depersonalization. Yet Spivey supports the consultation because it is “the only creative institution presently existing in the United States where people—Negro, white, Christians all—can come together in terms of their common commitments to Jesus Christ and … come to grips with the real basic, crucial, critical problems that beset us all.”

The major problem in the consultation itself has been to find a new way, if possible, between conflicted positions of the past. At this point I believe that the consultation has done as well as could be expected. I do not see how a dedicated group of eighty or ninety people from different denominations could have done much better. There have been no blowups or walkouts, though there have been dark moments and suppressed anger. This does not mean that strict adherents to past positions will be satisfied. It is manifestly impossible to have a union if two conflicting viewpoints will not budge.

Among those who ...

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