By a vote of 372 to 2, the congregation of Riverside Church here voted to call the Rev. William Sloane Coffin Jr., the prominent social activist and former Yale University chaplain, as its senior minister.
Edith Lerrigo, who chaired the search committee of the 2,600-member congregation, said the divorce of the United Presbyterian minister had been the most controversial aspect of his career for the committee.
Coffin's marriage to Eva Rubenstein, daughter of pianist Artur Rubenstein, ended in divorce in 1968. They had three children. The following year he married Harriet H. Gibney, director of health education at Children's Hospital in Boston and former wife of an encyclopedia company executive. They are now separated.
Coffin, 53, will become the church's fourth senior minister in November. He is expected to follow in the tradition of liberal theology and social action established by the Rev. Harry Emerson Fosdick.
Riverside was constructed in 1931 with major financial support from John D. Rockefeller, a Baptist. The interracial congregation, which is jointly affiliated with American Baptist Churches and the United Church of Christ, is supported by an endowment of more than $40 million.
A native of New York City, Coffin is a member of the family that owns the furniture store, W. and J. Sloane Co.