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The Congregational Christian Church and the Evangelical and Reformed Church Merger Collection, 1945-1965.

 Collection
Identifier: RG5387

Scope and Contents

The Congregational Christian Church and the Evangelical Church Merger Collection consists of extensive correspondence and publications of Congregational Christian Church councils, committees, and appointed individuals including The General Council, International Congregational Council, State and Local conferences, Helen Kenyon, Arthur Bradford, Albert Palmer, Stanley North, and Douglas Horton. The Collection also contains considerable correspondence and literature from the anti-Merger side of the process; committees and individuals pushing against the creation of the United Church of Christ. The Collection prominently features the Committee for the Continuation of the Congregational Christian Church, League to Uphold Congregational Principles, National Association of Congregational Churches, and Malcom K. Burton, Charles Merrill, Robert Richardson, as well as responses from average parishioners. The Congregational Christian Church and the Evangelical and Reformed Church Merger Collection also contains extensive legal documentation for the Basis of Union, Cadman Memorial Church v. Helen Kenyon, First Congregational of Burlington , Iowa et. al. v. the Evangelical and Reformed Church, and several other court cases over the creation of the United Church of Christ. Coverage of these cases, and the merger process, are well documeted view newspaper clippings collected by Helen Kenyon and the Congregational Historical Society. There are also several mansucripts detailing the process of the merger from after the official creation of the United Church of Christ.

Dates

  • Majority of material found within 1945 - 1965

Restrictions on Access

Access to this collection is unrestricted and open to the public.

Restrictions on Use

Items in this collection are subject to U.S. Copyright Law. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine the copyright status of collection items and to secure any permissions necessary for their reproduction and publication. Requests for permission to publish material must be discussed with the archivist or librarian.

Historical Note

The Congregational Christian Church and the Evangelical Christian Church Merger Collection was intentionally collected during and after the events that created the United Church of Christ. As it was a collected over a period of twenty-five years, it remained separate and not as accessible as General Council documentation covering the same period. While at times it mimics documentation found in other parts of the Congregational Library and Archives, its singular focus allows greater detail and access for research into the very important part of American religious history. The merger of the Congregational Christian Church and the Evangelical and Reformed Church, first proposed in 1943, resulted in the creation of the United Church of Christ, one of the largest church bodies in the United States. Though the initial vote for the Basis of Union between the two congregations occurred in 1948, it was not until 1961 that the merger was deemed complete with the United Church of Christ running as a single body, and the General Council and General Synod of the respective churches dissolved. During this entire process, extensive documentation was created and collected by individuals and official bodies such as Helen Kenyon, Douglas Horton, the Executive Committee, and the Congregational Historical Society. It was an ask from the Historical Society during the 1960’s to involved parties that brought in much of the correspondence from Helen Kenyon and opposition leader Malcom K. Burton. Ms. Kenyon was also able to provide her personally notated copies of General Council reports, committee minutes, legal documents, and opposition publications, adding value to similar items collected as official archives. The Historical Society’s proactive approach also brought in a considerable amount of published material that was distributed to churches, arguing for and against the union. A very dedicated anti-merger front, led ostensibly by Malcolm K. Burton, stalled the initial vote with publications, speeches, and several lawsuits. The first, and most covered in the press, came from the Cadman Memorial Church in Brooklyn, New York against the Congregational Christian Church Moderator, Helen Kenyon. This case was at first successful as the presiding judge sided with Cadman Memorial Church’s argument and put a legal stop to any more merger proceedings. An appeal from the Congregational Christian Church followed and the decision was reversed; that judge's ruling reprinted and distributed to show there were no longer legal barriers to the merger. Another suit followed, brought by four Congregational churches and ten individuals (Malcolm K. Burton amongst them) from across the United States against the Evangelical and Reformed church and its Treasurer. This second attempt to stop the merger also failed. While the merger was eventually approved and carried out, it did result in many congregations not joining the UCC and forming new groups like the National Association of Congregational Churches and the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference. The very beginnings of these groups, and their arguments, can be seen via the various correspondence and publications put forth by the anti-merger groups like the Committee for the Continuation of the Congregational Christian Church and the League to Uphold Congregational Principles.

Extent

9.72 Cubic Feet (9 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Records, correspondence, legal briefs, and publications that pertain to the merger between the Congregational Christian Church and the Evangelical and Reformed Church during the 1950's that resulted in the creation of the United Church of Christ.

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in five series, the fourth series containing one sub series. The records in each series and sub series have been primarily left in existing order, with secondary alphabetical arrangement by topic for larger sections.
Series 1: Church Councils, Committees, and other Organization Records, 1946-1964
Series 2: Basis of Union, 1944-1960
Series 3: Correspondence by Individual, 1947-1960
Series 4: Pamphlets and Publications, 1950-1962
Subseries 1: Manuscripts, 1949-1988
Series 5: Newspaper Clippings and Photographs

Physical Access

Contains oversized items. Newspaper clippings are viewed as surrogates of orginals.

Acquisition Information

The materaials were acquired by the Congregational Library, Historical Society, and from solicitations to those involved.

Related Materials

Additional content can be found in General Council of the Congregational and Christian Churches of the United States. Records, 1865-1962, RG0045.

Bibliography

Bendroth, Margaret. The Last Puritans, Mainline Protestants and the Power of the Past. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015. 9.3.367 c. 1

Processing Information

Re-processed and described by Brett Freiburger, August 2018. Duplicate materials held in the main General Council records were weeded.
Title
The Congregational Christian Church and the Evangelical and Reformed Church Merger Collection
Status
Completed
Author
Brett Freiburger
Date
2018-08-14
Description rules
Dacs2 2013
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English
Sponsor
The H.W. Wilson Foundation Grant

Repository Details

Part of the Congregational Library & Archives Repository

Contact:
14 Beacon Street
Suite 200
Boston MA 02108
617-523-0470