Certainly faith refused to fade in The United Methodist Church in the 1970s. The liturgical fads of the 1960s gave way to services filled with biblical insights expressed in crisp but not chatty contemporary language. Social Principles adopted by the 1972 General Conference vigorously upheld birth control and limitation of population, cautiously approved abortion and remarriage of divorced persons, extended support for conscientious objectors to include those opposed to particular wars, and offered encouragement to struggles for racial and social justice. Segregated annual conferences disappeared by July 1,1973. Three missional priorities were set by the 1976 General Conference: ethnic minority local churches, world hunger, and evangelism. In 1980 the denomination's Board of Church and Society helped provide a mail exchange between the American hostages in Iran and their families. The same year, the first woman, Marjorie S. Matthews, was elected bishop. Congregations, taking seriously the challenge to be leaven in their communities, opened day care centers; sponsored preschool programs; offered marriage and divorce counseling; made their facilities more accessible to persons using canes, crutches, and wheelchairs; rehabilitated and rented houses; backed credit unions; staffed medical clinics; and during the depressed economic times of the early 1980s operated employment agencies, clothing depots, and soup kitchens.
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