Religion: Search, And Ye Shall Find

When Protestants hunt for pastors, secrecy and prayer abound

Eleven ministers are nervously keeping their December datebooks as open as they can this year. Reason: they are on the hush-hush list of semifinalists who hope to become the next minister of Riverside Church, the ritzy Manhattan citadel of Protestant liberalism. This week a lucky three or four among them will be notified by phone that they have been picked to come to Riverside for a last round of interviews. The preachers who did not make the cut will find polite rejection letters in their Christmas mail.

Riverside's elaborate hunt for William Sloane Coffin's successor typifies the method by which most...

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