Methodists: Beyond Lip Service

"Whenever we try to achieve something here," complained the Rev. James Laird of Detroit, a leader of the integration-minded Methodists for Church Renewal, "we are told, 'all right—but not now.' " By the end of the Methodist Church's quadrennial General Conference in Pittsburgh last week, the 858 delegates had given more than lip service to civil rights, but had not forced integration on white-only congregations.

The pursuit of compromise made the conference sometimes seem more like a political convention than a church meeting, as delegates caucused in hotel corridors and committee rooms to work out approvable resolutions. In the end,...

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