Church Cooperation in the United States: The Nation-Wide Backgrounds and Ecumenical Significance of State and Local Councils of Churches in Their Historical Perspective

Church Cooperation in the United States: The Nation-Wide Backgrounds and Ecumenical Significance of State and Local Councils of Churches in Their Historical Perspective

Church Cooperation in the United States: The Nation-Wide Backgrounds and Ecumenical Significance of State and Local Councils of Churches in Their Historical Perspective

Church Cooperation in the United States: The Nation-Wide Backgrounds and Ecumenical Significance of State and Local Councils of Churches in Their Historical Perspective

Excerpt

Fifteen years ago I was bequeathed a large file of archives accumulated by Roy B. Guild and John Milton Moore over a period of three decades. Dr. Guild had long wished to write a history of the state and local council movement, with major emphasis on the personalities whom he had known. It seemed a happy and relatively easy task to take over where he had left off, filling in details of a story already outlined. The idea of such a narrative won general approval. The chief necessity seemed to be merely to find time to get at the job.

Meanwhile there were other things to do. The materials were however repeatedly examined and carefully arranged, geographically and chronologically; and the writing process was more carefully assessed. Finally, there came freedom to get seriously to work. Once at it, the task loomed larger and larger, as some of those best informed were sure it would. The assembled data, a mixture of the priceless and the inconsequential, needed supplementing at many points, especially for the intervening years; the movement had snowballed, and the size of the task had greatly increased. The primary problem now was not to find data, but to evaluate and compress; not to find something to say, but how to say it briefly enough to suit the initial market.

Obviously one could not write a detailed history of more than two score state councils, or nearly three hundred local councils with paid staff, or nearly seven hundred volunteer local councils, or more than two thousand councils of church women. Even selected case studies seemed to provide no adequate answer. What was really needed was a crew of historical workers, and at least a decade for their investigations and writing. But such dreams require money and time, neither of which was available in the necessary abundance. So we have done what we could, hoping that this little volume will serve as a sort of historical primer to open up a vast quest for more adequate documentation of state and local church cooperation.

He who reads may well ask, fairly enough, "Why is this omitted, and that neglected?" If this all-too-brief story of state and local beginnings and national backgrounds serves to stimulate the writing and publication of a whole series of historical monographs, already well begun, it will have served one of its most important purposes. If it informs those who bear the burden and heat of our day as to some of . . .

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