Presbyterians Back Church Union Plan
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has taken a step toward uniting with eight other Protestant denominations.
Delegates to the church’s 205th General Assembly voted 334 to 166 early Wednesday to approve a plan for creating a ″Church of Christ Uniting″ proposed by the Consultation on Church Union.
Under the plan for church union, churches would keep their own denominational structures and ordination processes but would create ″covenanting councils″ to promote church unity through shared liturgical services and ordination ceremonies in their communities.
″There is nothing of merger in this proposal, but everything of removing old barriers to ... unity,″ said David Taylor, general secretary of the consultation. ″This is an attempt to begin to repair that 450-year-old schism″ dating to the Reformation.
The plan will be sent to regional presbyteries and local churches for study, while church bodies continue to work out the final details of the ecumenical venture.
The final plan again would require approval by the General Assembly and individual presbyteries.
The Rev. Cynthia Wickwire, moderator of the assembly Committee on Catholicity and Interfaith Relations, said the decision sends ″a clear signal to our sisters and brothers in Christ that we seek to be with them in a visible sign of unity.″
″We need to take a step. If we delay, we may never get there.″
The African Methodist Episcopal Church and the International Council of Community churches already have approved the plan.
Other churches in the consultation are the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ and United Methodist Church.
All the churches are scheduled to vote on the plan by 1998.