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Union Seminary Joins UM Women's Division To Discuss Threat of Traditional Christianity On Mainline Denominations

Tuesday October 17, 11:38 pm ET
Press Release
Institute for Democracy

October 19th Event at Union Theological Seminary in New York City to Focus On Challenges to Mainline Christianity

NEW YORK, Oct. 16 For decades, mainline churches such as the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church, and the Episcopal Church, USA, have supported fundamental democratic freedoms in such areas as reproductive rights, women's equality, civil rights, and international peace and disarmament. Today, this commitment to broadening democracy is being aggressively challenged by the emergence of well-funded and well-organized conservative ``renewal'' movements within the churches.

Union Theological Seminary and the Institute for Democracy Studies (IDS), a research and education center that documents challenges to democratic values in the United States, have joined together to take an important first step in answering the fundamental challenge of the renewal movements.

On October 19, the Seminary and the Institute are co-sponsoring a symposium to examine what IDS President Alfred F. Ross characterizes as ``the conservative challenge to the integrity of the churches and their historic social justice mission-a challenge that threatens to erode an important bulwark of American democracy.''

THE CHALLENGE TO MAINLINE CHRISTIANITY: A Symposium on Denominational Integrity and Social Justice grew out of an awareness that the mainline denominations were being systematically targeted by the conservative movement. The Institute for Democracy Studies, Al Ross says, ``started discussions with a number of key religious leaders when it became clear that an in-depth strategic analysis of this critical trend was essential. This symposium is the first attempt to ensure that the issue of denominational integrity and its relationship to our democracy is firmly placed on the national agenda.''

The October 19th symposium will be held at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, beginning at 6:00 pm in James Chapel. It will feature prominent representatives from the mainline Protestant denominations and the two sponsoring organizations:

Anne Hale Johnson, chair of the board of directors of Union Theological Seminary and a member of the board of directors of the Institute for Democracy Studies.

The Reverend Dr. Joseph C. Hough, Jr., the fifteenth president of Union Theological Seminary.

Alfred F. Ross, president of the Institute for Democracy Studies.

The Reverend Dr. Robert W. Bohl, former national moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and now senior pastor of the 4,000 member Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, Kansas.

The Reverend Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, executive director of The Interfaith Alliance and The Interfaith Alliance Foundation, and a former national leader in the Southern Baptist Convention.

J. Ann Craig, executive secretary for spiritual and theological development, Women's Division of the General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church.

SOURCE: Institute for Democracy

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