A new group that aims to bring U.S. Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Christians together for the first time has been postponed because the effort has received little interest from black churches, leaders said.

The fledgling group, Christian Churches Together in the USA (CCT), has struggled to recruit historically black churches, who have been skeptical that their issues would be addressed in another ecumenical group.

At a meeting last week (June 1-3) in Los Altos, Calif., 67 leaders from some 31 church bodies decided to postpone a formal launch that was scheduled for September to allow more "productive and positive conversation" with churches that have not yet joined.

The delay—which officials insist can be overcome—highlights the difficulty of trying to overcome decades of mutual suspicion and political differences between U.S. churches that have kept them from speaking with a unified voice.

"Frankly, we felt this was so historic and promising that we want to be sure that we get it right," said the Rev. Wes Granberg-Michaelson, chair of the CCT steering committee, and general secretary of the Reformed Church in America.

The effort to build a broader "ecumenical table" was launched four years ago as a looseknit forum for U.S. churches to work together, including Catholics, evangelicals and Pentecostals who had been reluctant to join other ecumenical groups.

When it finally launches, CCT will be organized into five church "families"—Catholic, Orthodox, mainline Protestant, racial/ethnic and evangelical/Pentecostal churches—and will only take action when all five families agree by consensus.

The nation's largest Protestant body, the Southern Baptist Convention, has said it has no intention of ever joining CCT. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.