April 23, 1968.
Fifty years ago, The United Methodist Church was born. The 1964 General Conference of the Evangelical United Brethren Church meeting in Grand Rapids, Michigan and the 1964 General Conference of the Methodist Church meeting in Pittsburgh, PA approved the formation of a commission to develop a plan of union between the two churches. I was an EUB delegate. I voted against it, arguing that our resources and leadership should be directed to the larger union, The Consultation On Church Union, (COCU) involving ten denominations.
Dr Paul Washburn was elected chairman of the EUB Commission and wrote an article for the “Telescope Messenger” favoring the merger. I wrote an article opposing it.
In 1966, the General Conferences of the two churches met (side by side) in Chicago, IL.
The proposed plan of union was approved by both bodies and the 1600 delegates, including myself, gathered together in prayer and praise.
In 1968, I was a delegate when the General Conferences of the two churches met in Dallas, TX. On April 23, 1968, Bishop Reuben H. Mueller, representing The Evangelical United Brethren Church, and Bishop Lloyd C. Wicke of The Methodist Church joined hands and with the words, “Lord of the Church, we are united in Thee, in Thy Church and now in The United Methodist Church” formed a new denomination. Two churches with distinguished histories and influential ministries in various parts of the world were now one.
For the first week of the Conference, delegates met in General Conference Committees to write legislation for the new United Methodist Church. I had been elected secretary of the Committee on the Local Church. Subcommittees brought proposed Discipline paragraphs that became calendar items to be voted on by the conference. Each item, approved by the whole committee, had to be posted in “The Daily Advocate” for at least 24 hours before it could be considered.
It was early in the morning or very late at night – 1:45 a.m. – when after a tedious day and long hours of editing, I brought my daily report to the secretarial pool for the Advocate. A humorous note was pinned to the door:
Mary had a little lamb.
It might have been a sheep.
If it was a Methodist,
It didn’t get no sleep!