The ecumenical partnership between the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ faces threats from supporters and detractors alike, according to the Disciples' associate ecumenical officer.
Addressing a joint conference in Garden City, N.Y., of the Disciples' northeastern region and the UCC New York Conference, the Rev. Robert K. Welsh said four kinds of challenges "threaten to torpedo the partnership before it has a chance."
After failing to work out a plan of union, the two denominations pledged themselves to a "journey toward union" a year ago. Welsh said the challenges come from:Those who think any work on church union is the wrong agenda, that any discussion aside from major human issues like hunger, war, armaments and apartheid is irrelevant. Supporters who have a precise vision of what union looks like and who are preoccupied with structures. Supporters who have experienced major setbacks in their ecumenical life and believe it won't work. Those who support the call for diversity in the partnership but who push their own agenda to the exclusion of others.
Welsh urged the 600 participants to have patience with the 22-member partnership committee. "To push too hard could do as much damage as those who sit outside and do not share your concern," he warned. New Franciscan Leader
For the first time since the early years of the Franciscan order, a nonordained brother has been chosen visitor general of a Franciscan province.
Brother Edward Coughlin, O.F.M., will serve a one-year term in that capacity for the Cincinnati-based St. John the Baptist Province beginning in September.
As visitor general, the 37-year-old brother will be responsible for confidential interviews with each of the 325 friars in the province, offering them an opportunity to discuss personal problems and areas of their fraternal life and ministry.
The Rev. Cassian A. Miles, O.F.M., spokesman for the Franciscan Communications Office in New York, noted that priests and brothers "share the same religious life and take the same vows." Under the Catholic Church's canon law, he said, brothers are barred from posts of "ecclesiastical jurisdiction," such as superiors of religious houses, without special permission from Rome. Resolution on Abortion
Delegates to the Annual Conference of Virginia United Methodists, expressing concern for the number of abortions in society, called for "thoughtful and prayerful consideration" before ending the life of an unborn child.
Delegates to the conference in Roanoke, Va., also urged the denomination's hymnal revision committee to retain three popular hymns earmarked for deletion because of "militaristic" images: "Onward Christian Soldiers," "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "America."
Most people who like the hymns say the songs' military references are appropriately left in because they are symbolic of the Christian's fight against Satan.
Debate on the parsonage system versus privately owned housing for clergy resulted in a resolution to leave the parsonage system in place, particularly for small rural parishes, but at the same time permitting those clergy who opt for home ownership to do so.
Despite complaints from some that most delegates were technically unprepared to deal with the issue, the conference adopted a resolution opposing the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers in agriculture. Delegates asked that alternatives be sought to the use of substances that can contaminate water supplies. La Voz Wins Awards
La Voz, the Spanish-language biweekly of the Miami Archdiocese, took all the Spanish-language awards of the Catholic Press Association competition this year.
It won the general excellence award in the Spanish-language category and took each of the five merit awards for best article, column, editorial, feature story and news story.
La Voz is edited by Arceli Cantero and is published on alternate weeks with The Voice, the English-language newspaper of the Miami Archdiocese. It is not a Spanish translation of The Voice, but is a separate newspaper.
Other general excellence awards in the CPA competition this year were:National Newspapers: National Catholic Reporter. Diocesan papers up to 17,000 circulation: Catholic Spirit, Austin, Tex., a monthly with a magazine format. Diocesan papers with 17,000 to 40,000 circulation: Catholic Free Press of Worcester, Mass. Diocesan papers with a circulation of more than 40,000 circulation: Courier-Journal, Rochester, N.Y. Magazines: U.S. Catholic.