The seeds of a new church fell on fertile ground last month as commissioners (delegates) to the 183rd General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A., meeting in Rochester, New York, received for study a new plan of union and reaffirmed interest in an old one.
The new plan was a study draft to unite the northern church (UPCUSA) with the southern, the Presbyterian Church in the U. S.; the draft will be presented to the southern church next month. The old plan was the ten-year-old Consultation on Church Union, which is to be studied at the same time despite several sharp challenges. (A motion from the Presbytery of Pittsburgh “on discontinuing participation in the Consultation on Church Union” failed.)
The road to reunion is apparently a rocky one; even the more limited plan to unite the northern and southern churches met with opposition, led by the largely black Synod of Catawba. Several motions were made to delay by four years final presentation of the plan to the two Presbyterian churches. The result was a compromise: a one-year delay. This means the Committee of Twenty-four on reunion will present its final recommendations to the 1973, rather than 1972, General Assembly.
The assembly of the 3.1-million-member United Presbyterian Church also authorized conversations on the possibility of organic union with four largely black denominations: the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Second Cumberland Presbyterian Church. The first three already participate in the Consultation on Church Union.
As currently worded, the plan for reunion of the two Presbyterian bodies permits congregations to remain outside, retaining ...1
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