Efforts to Merge Protestant Churches
Religious leaders the world over are profoundly moved by evidence of a growing desire among large numbers of Christians to labor for eventual union in a single church of all believers in Jesus Christ. The goal is remote, possibly never to be attained, but the rising strength of influences working for organic union of churches is unmistakable. Belief in a divine mandate to terminate division, discord and dissension among true Christians is winning wide acceptance. There is even consideration in theological circles of the possibility of healing the 400-year-old breach between Roman Catholics and Protestants.
The so-called ecumenical movement—that is, the movement for joining separate parts of the Christian church into an undivided whole through recognition of a common faith—has produced concrete results in certain Protestant denominations. Several church bodies have recently consolidated, and negotiations for additional mergers are continuing in the face of many obstacles.
A pull toward Protestant unity has been gaining momentum, not only in the United States but wherever Protestant churches exist, for more than half a century. The movement is now being vigorously promoted by a number of highly influential church leaders. The sense of urgency they have imparted to the work is reaching local church pulpits and is being communicated to congregations through many interchurch programs. Where all this activity will lead cannot be foretold. However, it is clear that, despite the existence of strong areas of resistance, the unity movement is becoming a major influence in modern church life.