Religion: Controversial Methodist

Bishop Francis J. McConnells first sermon, as he recalls it, "covered a vast range of lofty religious principles, well up in the air. After having risen so thoroughly to the heights, I decided that the next Sunday I would get down closer to earth and stay there, a resolution I have been trying to keep ever since."

In the 58 years since, Methodist McConnell has stayed close enough to earth to become the best-known preacher of the "social gospel" in U.S. Protestantism. In By the Way (Abingdon-Cokesbury; $3.50), a chatty autobiography well furnished with preacher stories, the controversial patriarch of U.S. Methodists,...

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