Religion: The Church Uniting, Slowly

For a decade, mainstream U.S. Protestantism has been groping toward institutional unity. Now it has a concrete proposal to bring it about. Last week a 15-man commission headed by Southern Presbyterian William Benfield Jr. announced a detailed, 147-page plan to bring together the nine denominations-that belong to the Consultation on Church Union.

The unity proposal is a lucid, ingenious compromise that strives to preserve the best elements of widely varying traditions of piety and polity. Tentatively called "The Church of Christ Uniting" to imply its openness to other groups that may want to join, the proposed superchurch will be theologically broad-minded in...

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