200 Years of United Methodism
An Illustrated History

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All was not faddish, however. The Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist churches preserved concern for Christian certainty and continued the quest for unity. Chatham, New Jersey, United Methodist Church, erected 1956-1963. Photograph, ca. 1970.Their union talks, having begun in 1956, continued in the 1960s to deal with problems such as: size--there were over 10 million Methodists and under 800,000 Evangelical United Brethren; the name of the new church; whether bishops would be elected for life or for a limited term; whether district superintendents would be elected or appointed; whether the ordained ministry would have two orders--deacons and elders--or one; how to define the boundaries of permissible theological discussion; and what to do with the all-black Central Jurisdiction of The Methodist Church. Once again Methodism's "Jim Crowism" brought union negotiations to the sticking point. A group of Evangelical United Brethren ministers opposed any union that preserved segregation of the races. Finally a compromise was achieved: the plan of union did away with the Central Jurisdiction and 1972 was set as the non-mandatory target date for abolishing segregation on the annual conference level. This compromise made it possible for the Methodist General Conference to approve merger by a vote of 749 to 40 and the Evangelical United Brethren one to support it 325 to 88.

Therefore, a dream was consecrated on April 23, 1968, in Dallas--the city that watched in 1963 the desecration of another dream, that of the Kennedy Camelot--when Evangelical United Brethren Bishop Reuben H. Mueller and Methodist Bishop Lloyd C. Wicke joined hands and declared their two peoples to be one in The United Methodist Church. It was a ceremonious moment to be savored, but only for a moment; then the delegates got on with the work at hand. They approved $25 million for World Service and voted another $20 million for a Fund for Reconciliation. They also made the new denomination responsible for supporting its seminaries, decided to investigate the employment practices of the Publishing House, provided limited support for non-violent civil disobedience, and established a Commission on Religion and Race--followed two years later by the Commission on Status and Role of Women. United Methodism was ready to deal with Big Brother and Fading Faith.

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