Saturday, March 13, 2010

40 years ago: Consultation on Church Union officially moves to create an American superchurch

On March 13, 1970, a concrete merger proposal to unite 25 million members of nine Protestant denominations into a single church within the decade was sent by the Consultation on Church Union to the denominations. The proposal was to receive two years of detailed study and probably extensive amendment by laymen and clergy at all levels.

COCU (or as I prefer to call it, "Cuckoo") originated with an address given by Eugene Carson Blake on December 4, 1960 at Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco. Dr. Blake, a Presbyterian, had been invited to speak by Grace Cathedral's minister, the notorious Bishop James A. Pike.

Despite the liberal churches' talk about unity, the 1970 proposal was overwhelmingly rejected. COCU officially ended its existence on January 19, 2002, and was replaced the next day by Churches Uniting in Christ (CUiC--I pronounce it "kook"). Of course, when you now have such ecumenical movements as United Religions Initiative (founded in 2000 under the leadership of one of Bishop Pike's successors as Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of California, the appropriately-named William Swing), a mere mainline Protestant superchurch doesn't seem very impressive in comparison.

As an aside, I chuckled when I saw CUiC's COCU history page refer to the California bishop as "James K. Pike." Apparently they're confusing him with James K. Polk, President of the United States from 1845-1849.

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