July 6, 1997 in Nation/World

Unification Could Heal Protestant Rift

Compiled From Wire Services

The United Church of Christ decided Saturday to unite with three other Protestant denominations, sharing congregations and ministers with the denominations for the first time since the 16th century.

The plan, which needs approval from the Lutheran Church, would build closer ties among nearly 10 million Protestants.

“This is a historic moment,” said the Rev. Paul Sherry, president of the United Church of Christ.

More than 700 delegates, representing 1.5 million members, overwhelmingly voted to accept the plan for “full communion.”

The proposal would end a 450-year rift among leaders of the Protestant denominations, which split from the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century.

The 5.2-million member Evangelical Lutheran Church of America is expected to vote on the proposal in August.

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