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Religion: Methodists

4 minute read

In 1925, the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Congregationalist Churches of Canada ceased being separate organizations and became the United Church of Canada (TIME, June 22. 1925). The unification was not unanimous nor was it accomplished without wheezings and cries from minority separatists.

In the U. S., there have always been men to cry for union and other men to cry them down. Yet last week, at the Quadrennial General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, being held in Kansas City, a resolution was introduced to effect not merely the long-discussed union with the Methodist Episcopal Church South but also with Presbyterian and Congregationalist Churches. This resolution was passed unanimously by the Committee on the State of the Church; when presented to the entire congress of Methodist potentates, it was passed again by a vote of 852 to 3. The proposal concerned 55,000 pastors,60,000 churches, 35,000.000 human souls, $1,300,000,000.

Said Dr. Daniel L. Marsh. President of Boston University and head of the Committee on the State of the Church: “. . . One of the most significant things done by any religious body in a long time. . . .

“There are vast reaches and important implications in this action. It will doubtless be a long time before Christianity is united, but it never will be accomplished without some great denomination faring forth with friendly overtures.”

The Conference approved a single commission of 37 members to represent their entire church in all unification discussions. The first of these will perhaps occur soon after the General Assembly of the PresbyterianChurch in the U. S. A. at Tulsa, Okla., next week, where a similar unity proposal will be discussed.

This was the most important action taken last week by delegates to the Quadrennial Conference. Also, they:

Unanimously asserted their confidence in famed liberal Bishop McConnell of Pittsburgh and ordered expunged a charge against him, brewed in bitterness by one George A. Cooke, of Wilmington, Del., of “maladministration and immorality.”

Decided that restricted immigration was just and fair but adopted the resolution of Missionary E. Stanley Jones urging “all Christian citizens to unite in removing as soon as possible such legislation that restricts immigration and the rights of citizenship on grounds of race and color.”

Approved the erection in Manhattan of the projected Broadway Methodist Temple, after much argument and the anxious comment, provided by the opposition, that the Temple would open “a very, very wide door.”*

Learned with pleasure that, after their approval, Ellis Laurimore Phillips, president of the Long Island Lighting Co. and the Empire Power Corp. in Manhattan, had provided a donation of $500,000 toward the building of the Temple. Mr. Phillips laid two comparatively easy conditions upon the acceptance of his gift: that the Temple Trustees secure $250,000 more by July i; that they secure $750,000 more by Dec. 1. This done, the building fund will be complete.

Heard Bishop Fisher of India saying: “What we need is to restore the passion of the Church in a world-wide mission and lift Christ above the entanglements of the nations,” and pointing out that college students regard missions, missionaries, and missionary work with complete and dismal apathy.

Voted away the eight-year time limit upon the tenure of office of Methodist bishops and advised the Episcopal Committee, in charge of assigning bishops, to be guided instead by a bishop’s record and qualifications.

Speculated on what bishop would be chosen to succeed Luther Barton Wilson, presiding bishop of the New York area, who was retiring at the end of sixteen consecutive years of service. The two most probable were Bishop Francis John McConnell of Pittsburgh, whose habit is to first think and then speak, or Bishop Thomas Nicholson of Detroit, whose habit is to speak first and then act.

Sat in sad silence while one A. W. Hewitt of Vermont, in a plea for better salaries for preachers and a tribute to the heroism of the ministry, acknowledged that he, during the twenty years of his service in a single, cold, quiet country parish, had received an average salary of $1,500.

*The Temple, a 36-story skyscraper, in three units, is already being erected on Washington Heights, the highest point on Manhattan Island. The building will be surmounted by an electric cross. It will contain apartments on those floors not used for church purposes; also a large auditorium, gymnasium, swimming pool, cafeteria, basketball courts, assembly rooms and bowling alleys.

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