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PART THREE

 

WHAT IS INVOLVED IN CONSIDERING MERGER OR ALTERNATIVES

 

 

The material in the Introduction and Parts I and II presented the general background and evolution of both the liberal denominations to the present and the make—up of the important parts. It is hoped that many questions have been answered, although it is likely that numerous others have been raised also. Each person will make his de­cision not alone on available facts, but upon what others say and think. He will want to think about whether there should be merger or not, and if he favors merger, he will undoubtedly envision some form he prefers. On the other hand, if he favors sustaining the status—quo or dissolving all forms of cooperation, he will give attention to what is involved in such decisions. The purpose of this part is to present and discuss possible plans for merger or other alternatives.

 

The possible forms of merger and the alternative plans contained herein are not complete in every detail. The purpose of this Manual is to present essentials, major data, structure, etc. To write out in full detail the complete picture on each possible plan or alternative would add several hundreds of pages to this document. For example, the full report on a Possible Plan of Merger, presented in Chapter XV in condensed form, constituted 80 pages.

 

It must be kept in mind that any plan or alternative contains many variables. The plan writer has to consider which among the vari­ables best suits a particular situation. For example, shall the chart of organization look this way or that in form; what shall the officers and staff members be called; what form the by—laws; what headquarters functions shall exist and by whom administered and how staffed; how shall financing be arranged; within all these areas lie many choices. Readers should not be disappointed if they do not find in any of them all the features they would like. No plan ever drawn suited everyone fully and completely. It is suggested that consideration be given to the principles involved rather than to the lack of all details or to a particular application of a principle.

 

Throughout all presentations of possible plans or alternatives certain fundamentals of both liberal denominations have been kept in mind as absolutes and invariables: continuance of congregational polity; representative national legislative bodies; democratic prin­ciples observed at all points and on all occasions; freedom of speech; recognized avenues for redress and for expression of views and desires; suitable checks and balances so that the people of the denomination may at all times have a voice in how things are done; no invasion what—ever of the individual church’s privileges, rights and prerogatives, including the idea that any church may have or take any name it chooses at any time without regard to what the official name of the national organization might be.

 

This report contains no detailed discussion of the legal aspects of merger. General opinion is that churches and fellowships should vote for or against merger, thus establishing the general will, be­fore it would he advisable to spend serious sums of money in legal work. If, for example, much legal work is done prior to settling the issue on principle, it is possible that considerable expense might be wasted depending on which way the majority vote goes. A vote for merger would entail one set of legal expenses, whereas a vote for withdrawal (the A.U.A. and the U.C.A. going their separate ways) would involve a different set.

 

On the general proposition of merger, counsel for the A.U.A. and the U.C.A. have advised the Commission that it could he accomplished by a consolidation of the present corporations into a new corporation. This was the method for establishing the Liberal Religious Youth, which is a Massachusetts corporation and which was authorized by legislation permitting the corporation to hold cor­porate meetings anywhere in the United States. In the case of the A.U.A. and the U.C.A. special legislation in both Massachusetts and New York would be required to authorize a merger or consolidation. All funds held by each headquarters would need to be studied legally. Many could be transferred to the consolidated corporation as a part of the consolidation, although others would probably need court approval for such transfer. Trust funds would continue to be held and their income distributed for the same basic purposes, and in cases involving specific beneficiaries — for the same beneficiaries.

 

With regard to expanding tire Council of Liberal Churches, legal difficulties have been suggested on the question of the extent to which one corporation, i.e., either the A.U.A. or thin U.C.A., may delegate or transfer any of its powers, duties or responsibilities to another corporation. Assuming that these difficulties could be overcome and that the C.L.C. could be fully expanded, sooner or later questions as to funds would need to be resolved.

 

A withdrawal would involve legal disentangling of the C.L.C. and the L.R.Y. These two corporations do not have large assets, hence the problems would not be serious.

 

It is not anticipated that the establishment of an interdenomina­tional council would involve many serious legal questions; likewise, the formation of a committee on cooperation.

 

 

 

CHAPTER XI

 

THE IMPLICATIONS OF MERGER AND TWO POSSIBLE PLANS

 

 

Some persons are interested in the question of what good will mer­ger bring, and how should a merger be effected. Other persons feel strongly that merger has numerous disadvantages and should be dropped from further consideration. The purpose of this chapter is to present a comprehensive list of the advantages and disadvantages of merger, the changes that merger would involve, and two possible plans for mer­ging.

 

 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Merger

 

The material presented under this topic was prepared some months ago for the consideration and reactions of the Commission members since no comprehensive list of advantages and disadvantages of merger was available. A list form is used to conserve space.

 

Advantages of Merger

 

1.         A new liberal religious denomination would have more strength at the local level and its members as congre­gations and as individuals through greater impact of programs at the grass roots would be in a better com­petitive position regarding the social, economic and ideological manifestations of surrounding orthodox religions.

 

2.         Sectarianism is inherent in each present denomination and this is inherently exclusive, consequently, a mer­ger would be advantageous because it would lessen or eliminate to a large degree present manifestations of sectarianism.

 

3.         In many ways, both Unitarianism and Universalism are seeking for the same general answers to serve the needs of liberal religious life, hence, a merger would com­bine the forces which seek the same answers and render better answers.

 

4.         Each of the two liberal religions seeks to translate the ethical drives of people into organized channels to create group opportunities for doing something con­crete about human relationships and social issues. It would be advantageous for such religions to merge their energies and resources in order that one of the funda­mental sanctions for existence might be more fruitfully implemented.

 

5.         Both of the liberal religions contain a vitality as witness their separate existences over many years; the factors composing these respective vitalities, while not equal in dimensions and intensities, are nonetheless complementary in nature, as has been evident in recent years when a significant volume of cooperation has been growing at all levels; the things which have kept goals and ends alive would be more important if they were put together.

 

6.         The growing edges of each of the two groups while distinctive, are not markedly different in principle or intent; each is constantly striving to improve its message and ministry, each is colonizing according to the same sets of policies, each is striving to improve social conditions, each is conscious of the need for improving its denominational strength and position, each is stressing a commonly held pattern of religious education, each is trying hard to enlarge and enrich its message to modern man, each is trying to improve churchmanship at all levels and in still other ways there is a marked degree of parallelism. It would be advantageous to have these growing edges in common, under one organization.

 

7.         The ideational and theological emphases expressed by the respective leaderships are also parallel and in some areas identical. Since the basis of comparison is not on what the mass of members now believes, but rather on what present leadership expresses, it would be advantageous if through merger an enriched amalgamation of ideas came about.

 

8.         Both denominations, the Unitarians in the early 1930’s and the Universalists a year ago, through the processes involved in a searching examination of strengths, weak­nesses and indicated directions and emphases, rediscovered and redirected their respective energies into more effec­tive uses and in so doing not only uncovered unsuspected values, but also found that each, to be successful, needed about the same ingredients; as a consequence, the almost identical processes that have been used by each denomina­tion to increase its effectiveness would be of increased value if used together since merger is a natural conse­quence of these procedures.

 

9.         The ministry in general would he strengthened through an increased number of trained and experienced persons, thus affording a greater common voice with common goals, parti­cularly since a number of ministers in both denominations were trained at the same theological schools.

 

10.       The work and activities of the ministers’ associations at all levels would be enhanced through availability of more trained manpower.

 

11.       The scope of the work at the headquarters level could be broadened and intensified through combined operations, thus aiding liberal religion.

 

12.       The present Uni—Uni churches, the CLC, and other forms of cooperation indicate the Unitarians and Universalists have found rapprochement to varying degrees.

 

13.       If merger does not come about, and assuming that co­operation continues to grow at the local and regional levels, the respective denominations may find them­selves in embarrassing positions; moreover, if the co­operative process increases, there will be increasing confusion at the top levels, which may result in a slowing down of the advance of liberal religion. It would be more advantageous therefore to effect merger a planned, orderly basis than to have it happen in any other manner.

 

14.       Merger would be advantageous to both segments of a united church from an organizational point of view;  the Unitarians would be relieved of dual national bodies (May Meetings and General Conference), and split responsibilities at headquarters while the Universalist segment of the new denomination would gain significantly from increased national leadership and initiative; the relief of pressures for improving organization on the one hand and for strengthening organization on the other have natural consequences in making a merger not only an improvement over either, but also a stronger organization with greater depth.

 

15.       Strength can arise from diversity of ideology and belief within a common framework. It is highly doubtful that either denomination can lay claim to complete exclusive­ness of ideology and belief or the greatest or least amount of diversity in these matters; if as is claimed, liberal religion has made strides because of variety and diversity, then merger would be a distinct advantage.

 

16.       Merger would be advantageous because it will or should stimulate present Unitarians and Universalists to a heightened sense of what it means to be genuinely liberal. in religious life and belief; moreover, the adjustments to thinking and perspective which a merger should bring should mean an advance for liberal religion over what either present denomination could achieve independently.

 

17.       Neither denomination can lay claim to a distinctly su­perior and widely acclaimed and sought after ideology; at the present time, like all other institutions, each denomination has selective factors unique to its makeup which ultimately will mean a ceiling on size and re­sources of each; however, creating a new denomination should provide a changed and enlarged set of factors which would mean a lifting of the ceiling of probable size and resources larger than both together now have.

 

18.       Duplication of energy and expense at the regional and state levels would be gradually eliminated.

 

19.       The patterns of church size and location are comple­mentary. The Unitarians have developed special skills in churchmanship and the Universalists have done like­wise, both with inference for the patterns of church size and distribution, among other factors. While the skills and experiences overlap in many ways, each set would contribute to the other if there were a merger.

 

20.       Both names — Unitarian and Universalist — have sec­tarian connotations largely in doctrinal terms, there­fore it would be an advantage if some name could be devised for a new denomination which would more nearly indicate the real meaning of liberal religion.

 

21.       All denominations lose churches from time to time, in­cluding Unitarians and Universalists; likewise all de­nominations have marginal churches including the A.U.A. and the U.C .A. , and while it is true that there are more marginal Universalist than Unitarian churches, there are not as many such churches in the U.C.A. as is commonly supposed; a merger would force reassessment of all churches with the likelihood that it would bring new interest and renewed strength to a significant number of such churches, thus avoiding the loss to liberal religion of some present churches.

 

22.       A merger would he advantageous because it would mean the bringing together of present resources created by ministers and laymen in each denomination in such matters as community relationships and community organization for the purposes of advancing liberal religion, i.e. , in localities where at least one church or fellowship of each denomination is presently operating. This applies with equal vigor to local public relations activities.

 

23.       Even though, as shown immediately below, Unitarianism has grown quite rapidly from 1940 to the present, out­stripping both the rates of growth of the population and U.S. Protestants during that period, the fact remains that at the present time there are only 102,000 legal members in the AUA, and around 42,000 in the UCA, giving a total in the U.S.A. of only 144,000 legal members. While there are arguments on quality versus quantity, and, also that statistics per se do not fully measure the vitality of a denomination, all things taken together, it seems reasonable and logical that liberal religion could move ahead faster if present segments were combined.

 

 

 

 

Percent of Change*

Percent of U.S. Protestants

 

1906 to 1940

1940 to 1956

1906 to 1956

 

1906

 

1916

 

1926

 

1940

 

1950

 

1956

U.S. Population

73

30

121

 

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Protestants**

86

59

196

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unitarians#

-15

65

44

.347

.328

.191

.163

.146

.161

Universalists##

-19

-21

-36

.316

.233

.174

.137

.087

.068

U-U Combined

-16

26

6

.663

.561

.365

.300

.233

.229

 

 

*First named year in each column used as base except as follows: 1900 used for population base in first and third columns

**Basic data furnished by National Council of Churches

# Census reports and AUA Yearbooks (legal members)

## Census reports and UCA records (legal members)

 

Note:   Basic data used in above table

 

U.S. Population

U.S. Protestants

Legal Members

 

 

Unitarians

Universalists

1900

75,994,575

1906

20,287,742

70,542

64,158

 

 

1916

25,100,000

82,515

58,566

 

 

1926

31,511,701

60,182

54,927

1940

131,669,275

1940

37,814,606

61,600

51,872

 

 

1950

51,079,576

75,000

44,599

1957

168,174,000

1956

60,148,980

101,549

41,229

 

 

 

Disadvantages of Merger

 

The disadvantages of merger include:

 

1.         Some of the present ministers and laymen in both denom­inations would face a period of readjustment and may find it difficult to align themselves with a new system that requires de—emphasizing or possibly eliminating denom­inational identities which mean a great deal to them and the modification of the working relationships, sanctions and mores that have been painstakingly built up in each present denomination.

 

2.         Building new traditions, new overall identities, re­shaping loyalties, replacing the two national and the several State Convention organizations and their admin­istrations with a new system, plus realigning social structure coupled with loss of current identity, will for a period produce confusion and possibly some ob­structions due to reluctance to give up present organizations, meanings and purposes and may handicap merger in addition to each denomination losing the progress it could be making.

 

3.         Attitudes and opinions about the worth and validity of merger vary from region to region and similarly among state conventions; in areas where significant doubt exists, it may take overly long to make merger really effective and fully operative; moreover, some churches may possibly decline to become members of the new de­nomination.

 

4.         There are many funds held at the local, state and national levels in the U.C.A., while the bulk of Unitarian funds is held at the national level; this condition will require legal attention which may be expensive and time-consuming; moreover, the situation may involve voluntary realignment and changes in procedures of raising and allocating money in the future.

 

5.         From the viewpoint of local church needs and services re­quired of the whole denomination, it would be best to have as much fluidity of funds as possible so that they may be used to the greatest long run advance of liberal religion — unless transfers of funds can be made from states to regions which in some cases may involve the legal process of cy pres (ruling that a new purpose for which an old fund is planned would be in accord with the donor’s original intention) could be applied, it is possible that funds could be ‘bottle—necked’ in areas for which there is little real use for significant sums of money.

 

6.         The right and left wings of liberal religion in a new denomination would be both broadened and also intensified by a merger, thus changing the patterns of present ini­tiative and until a few years pass, considerable energy will he used in a power struggle entwined with the re­alignment processes which might otherwise be used for better purposes.

 

7.         Realigning the two denominations into one means a sig­nificant increase in the number of churches to which the new headquarters would need to relate. This increased load may turn out to be of such nature, not indicated by mere statistics of combining numbers of churches, that the size of staff necessary on the national level may be much larger than indicated by any present plans for merger.

 

8.         The total respective denominational resources, not including local church property, are significant in amounts yet they are disproportionate; this condition may be regarded as a serious disadvantage by some persons in both present denominations.

 

9.         it is conceivable that national office public relations program makers would have difficulty in securing agree­ment on what the new denomination stands for either ideationally or message—wise, thus creating a time gap in promotion initiative, causing a slow down, or rather, not as much gain as might he expected, at least for a time.

 

10.       In connection with pensions and/or retirement allowances, merger will make necessary the recalculation of such bene­fits and the probabilities are that the amounts for new pensioners would be less than some Unitarian ministers now receive, at least for a time, until pension capital funds could be built up; this would constitute a monetary disadvantage for new pensioners which some persons might construe as a penalty. There would be no change in exist­ing pensions.

 

11.       The creation of a new headquarters organization and the related regional organization will offer problems in staffing.

 

12.       Though the two present organizations are basically simi­lar in pattern, they operate in different ways at different points and it will be difficult to begin the operation of a new plan of organization.

 

13.       The patterns of present fund raising will need to be changed and the transition will be complicated.

 

14.       The problem of present denominational type functions which are legally independent may not be resolvable and confusion will result.

 

15.       Merger will present problems for those auxiliary national bodies which are not presently united; it may also be that some of them may not elect to unite.

 

16.       Merger will not save any money at the national level although it likely will at the intermediate level.

 

 

POSSIBLE PLANS FOR MERGER

 

 

Although there are a number of ways by which merger could be ef­fected between the two liberal religious denominations, this chapter confines its attention to two possibilities: 1. complete, functional merger, and 2. broadening and enlarging the present Council of Liberal Churches. Each of these plans is described sufficiently, though not exhaustively, together with the advantages and disadvantages of each plan. The reader will note some parallelism between the presentation of the first plan and the material in Chapter XIV, since the general topic is the same in each case.

 

 

 

Plan 1. Complete Functional Merger

 

Material under this topic includes discussion of what complete functional merger means and what would be involved, the highlights of a possible plan and the advantages and disadvantages inherent in it.

 

What Functional Merger Means and What Would Be Involved

 

Functional merger means the complete uniting of the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America all at one time according to a master plan. Such a plan would involve a general time table for taking various required actions, once the will of the churches has been registered.

 

Certain changes would be required because a merged denomination would come into existence and the A.U.A. and the U.C.A. would go out of existence. These changes include the following, but the list is not exhaustive:

 

1.         Probable abandonment of both names: Unitarian and Universalist, unless the churches should vote for some hyphenated name.

 

2.         Consolidation of the two present Corporations: the A.U.A. and the U.C.A. into a new corporation for the merged denomination.

 

3.         The C.L.C. would cease to exist as a corporate structure.

 

4.         If the following bodies vote to become internal functions of the merged denomination, their corporate structures would no longer be necessary: L.R.Y., U.P.H., U.S.C.

 

5.         If there is a merger, the two women’s groups and the two men’s groups will have to face the issue of whether to combine or not. If they elect to continue as they now are, each would have serious problems of relationships, loyalties, and programs.

 

6.         Consolidation of existing corporations will involve trans­fer of funds to the new corporation; this will mean study of each fund to determine whether any could not be trans­ferred to a new corporation; the same would be true for any titles to property; moreover, special court action may be required in a number of instances.

 

7.         Special action in the states of New York and Massachu­setts would be required to effect a consolidated corpora­tion; moreover, a new charter and new by—laws would be required.

 

8.         The form of organization of headquarters would need to be changed.

 

9.         The composition of Boards and Committees would have to be changed to fit the merged denominational structure.

 

10.       The two national ministerial associations would become one body.

 

11.       The new national delegate body would be enlarged and have a different composition, according to whatever by—laws the merged denomination adopts.

 

12.       If a regional plan of intermediate organization is adopted, the State Conventions would need to be consolidated with the new regions and the whole policy of funds reappraised. This does not mean that special purpose and trust funds could be diverted to other purposes.

 

13.       Existing A.U.A. regional boundaries in some cases would need to he changed to make units capable of serving the increased number of churches and fellowships, if a regional plan is adopted.

 

14.       A new denominational magazine would need to be created.

 

15.       Some likely changes in fellowshipping rules and related practices concerning ministers would be required.

 

The Highlights of a Functional Merger

 

Certain highlights emerging from a mandate resulting from the will of the churches to establish an organic merger of the A.U.A. and the U.C.A. are discussed next, though in very brief form.

 

Name of New Denomination:          It would not be possible to select any name that would please everyone, though it is likely that a name could and would be chosen by the majority. The choosing of a name should he based on sound principles, which are discussed in Chapter XIII.

 

Denominational Body:          The merged denomination would require a representative, legislative body whose delegates would come from churches, fellowships, and other organizations in numbers and kinds prescribed by the by—laws adopted. This body would be the principal and only national body of the denomination in which all power and responsibility resides, it would meet at such times as prescribed in the by—laws and in such places as determined by the Board of Directors (Trustees) consistent with the charter of incorporation.

 

Plan of Organization:            A plan of organization for a new head­quarters should be based on sound, modern principles of organization adapted for institutional operation. These should embrace unilateral control of all headquarters operations, avoidance of splitting re­sponsibility and overlapping or underlapping complementary authorities, avoidance of any dualities in policy making or execution and the like. Good principles of organization are illustrated in the sample chart of organization which appears in Chapter XIV.

 

By—Laws:     In a democratic, delegate type organization, the by­laws have great importance. These need to he conceived in high level, broad terms with sufficient detail to avoid the possibility of unhappy or undesirable situations occurring and offer sound guides for business­like conduct of the denomination’s affairs. The drafting of a suitable set of by—laws might involve consideration of the best features of what exists in both present denominations, or it might be determined to forget existing by—laws and create a brand new set. Some sugges­tions for a set of by—laws appear in Chapter XIV.

 

Personnel:      The number and kinds of personnel needed would be controlled to a large extent by any by—laws and plan of organization voted. A sufficient number of personnel should be considered to in­sure that the functions of the merged denominations would be adequately manned so that advance and progress could be assured. Who the per­sonnel should be would be a matter for the new Board of Directors (Trustees) and their chief executive officer to consider and act upon. It is imperative that Unitarian and Universalists both recognize that the issue of organic merger will depend in large measure upon select­ing personnel without regard to previous denominational affiliation.

 

Finance:         The budget for the new headquarters would have to depend upon the combined resources now available for the respective separate headquarters. It should not require any more money than now is used by the two collectively, but it is highly doubtful that it would require much less than the total now spent by the two. It should be kept in mind that no plan is worth considering that would involve the spending of any capital except that which is expressly given to be spent for operating purposes. The ultimate financial plan would depend upon whether or not certain elements now independent should elect to become a part of the headquarters operation.

 

 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Functional Merger

 

Everyone recognizes that no plan conceivable by man is perfect. While an ideal plan relates as far as possible to all the conditions facing an institution, the full ideal can never quite be attained.

 

The advantages of this plan include:

 

a.         Establishing a brand new organization, a situation which offers both existing denominations an opportunity to eliminate any weaknesses inherent in their present plans.

 

b.         Affording an opportunity to create a streamlined, modern headquarters organization.

 

c.         Organizing for sufficient flexibility to meet long range needs.

 

d.         Aligning the functions which should constitute a modern small denomination headquarters plan of organization.

 

e.         Affording an opportunity to create improved working re­lationships between the national offices and the inter­mediate organization units, having in mind both the necessary centralization and decentralization, and also eliminating duplication of effort at this level.

 

f.          Creating an opportunity to lift the sights of both de­nominations to new levels of insight, initiative, and moving closer to all those ideals for which modern liberal religion claims it stands.

 

 

The disadvantages of this plan include the following:

 

a.         It involves numerous changes, some of major importance for both denominations; these will be complicated and will require time, effort and expense to consummate.

 

b.         Denominational names and identities will be altered if not eliminated, at least at the national level.

 

c.         Any change towards adopting a regional plan of inter­mediate organization will cause the loss of any advan­tages inherent in units of state size such as Univer­salist Conventions.

 

d.         Many new alignments and relationships will be necessary, with a parallel reduction or possible elimination of many present relationships painstakingly built up and made effective over a long period of years.

 

 

Plan 2,            Broadening and Enlarging the Council of Liberal Churches

 

It will be recalled that the basic reason for establishing the Council of Liberal Churches was to create an organizational instrument that would not only merge Universalism and Unitarianism but would also make it possible for liberal religious people to come together from such groups as the Quakers, Reformed Jews, Ethical Culture Society, and from liberal wings of the orthodox denominations. The new organi­zation would be Federal Union in type and at first would have charge of only a few merged functions of the A.U.A. and U.C.A.: education, public relations and publications. As operation of these proved suc­cessful, other A.U.A, and U.C.A. functions such as extension, ministry, fund raising etc., would gradually he merged. Ultimately this would have meant that the A .U.A. and U.C.A. as operating corporations would have nothing left to do except to administer the income of any funds which study and rulings indicated could not be transferred to the C.L.C.

 

The mode of organization is a bit unusual in that the C .L.C. cor­poration has 16 regularly elected members plus the A.U.A. President and the U.C.A. General Superintendent as ex—officio members without vote. The 16 members are elected by the Business meetings of the A.U.A. and the U.C.A., each selecting eight members on a rotating plan. Thus the C.L.C. while a legal entity is in reality a captive corpora­tion through the manner of electing the members of the C.L.C. corpora­tion and through the budgetary control of the A.U.A. and the U.C.A. particularly since the C.L.C. by—laws expressly provide that it may not engage in any fund raising activities for its own account. An­other very unusual provision in its by—laws is the statement on ter­mination, i.e.. that either the A.U.A. or the U.C.A. in an annual business meeting may expressly vote the C.L.C. out of existence.

 

The foregoing background material is repeated here to refresh the reader’s mind as he considers a possible plan for broadening and enlarging the C.L.C. The original framers of the C.L.C. gave very great energy and much time to the task which the two delegate bodies assigned them. To what extent it was possible for them to make a complete analysis of the problems to be encountered and also a pro­jection is not known. However, it is obvious that sooner or later, the C.L.C. would become a third ‘denomination’ increasing in stature and importance as all Unitarian and Universalist headquarters func­tions gradually became merged and under the aegis of the C.L.C. If, for example, the C.L.C. had under its jurisdiction religious education, public relations, publications, extension, and ministry, it is obvious that the A.U.A. and the C.L.C. could continue as legal entities with legislative bodies, having few or no actual direct operations of their own. They would need to make policies for those activities to be carried out through the C.L.C. Council and its staff. They would also continue to exercise jurisdiction over whatever funds they had, and appropriate increasing amounts of money for the annual C .L .C. budget and correspondingly decreasing amounts for their own annual budgets. Thus Federal Union could continue to be the guiding concept, sectarianism would still be intact in large measure, but the whole situation would be exceedingly awkward.

 

Moreover, it seems reasonable to suppose that restiveness would increase to a serious point as it became realized that sooner or later, in order to have a more direct influence upon and control over the governing council of the C.L.C., there would be a need for establish­ing an overall legislative body for the C.L.C. with delegates from churches and fellowships. If that should eventuate, the whole situa­tion would have circled around to where functional merger should have been the initial concept rather than Federal Union. The Commission charged with appraising the C.L.C. evidently recognized much of the foregoing and recommended that the C.L.C. be expanded no further and that the present Commission be established to look into functional mer­ger and/or alternatives to merger.

 

What This Plan Is and What It Involves

 

This plan is an enlargement of the present C.L.C. Essentially, this moans continuing with the present merged education function and rapidly adding alt other functions on a merged basis. It does not propose that the C.L.C. become a service agency for several denominations in such areas as religious education, public relations, pub­lications and possibly additional functions. It has already been shown that this kind of arrangement is not wholly satisfactory to Unitarians and Universalists.

 

The rate of addition is a very highly important factor since it would have much to do with how soon both the A.U.A. and the U.C.A. become paper entitles only, being in existence until the disposition of any funds each holds in trust is attained. Unless this possible plan were consummated as quickly as possible, the interim period would be featured by three competitive groups: the A.U.A., the U.C.A. and the C.L.C. This, of course, raises the whole question of member­ship in the C.L.C. Eventually, the locus of power and responsibility would need to pass from the present A.U.A. and U.C.A. delegate bodies to a new delegate body. Space does not permit description of the sev­eral stages to be involved, hence attention is given only to what appears to be the ultimate situation.

 

The features that would be contained in the ultimate plan of enlarging the C.L.C. would not be greatly unlike those found in a plan of organic merger without reference to the C.L.C. It assumes a con­tinuance of the Federal Union concept insofar as any governing body below may be conceived and subject to the national delegate body. This would mean a Board of Directors, or Trustees or Council equally com­posed of Unitarians and Universalists. Should another liberal group desire to join the C.L.C. provision would need to be made for its representation on the governing board, provided of course, that its member churches, societies or groups became C.L.C. members, subscribed to all the requirements and sent official delegates to national busi­ness meetings. In time to come, it would be hoped, should extension of the C.L.C. take place that present sectarianism would decrease to such an extent that the delegate body would be in a position to elect persons to the C.L.C. governing board based on merit rather than on adherence to any particular interpretation of liberal religion. The other changes this plan would involve are the same as for the pre­ceding plan, except that there would be no loss of denominational name in the national title since the full name of the new denomina­tion would be Council of Liberal Churches (Universalist—Unitarian). However, in due course, if it became evident that other liberal groups would Join, the hyphenated names would probably have to be dropped.

 

 

Advantages and Disadvantages of This Plan

 

An enlarged C.L.C. would have advantages and disadvantages which are cited next.

 

The advantages include:

 

1.         Continuance of the name of an agency which is well known in and accepted by Universalist and Unitarian circles.

 

2.         The present well conducted program of religious education would have a minimum of interruption.

 

3.         Operating cost over what both denominations collectively spend when all functions are merged and under common administration and supervision will not be increased.

 

4.         Duplicated costs for conducting two patterns of inter­mediate organizations: Regions and Conventions should be eliminated.

 

5.         A united front of religious liberals would provide an opportunity to move ahead.

 

 

The disadvantages include:

 

1.         Having for a time at least, a continuance of three de­nominations: A.U.A., U.C.A. and C.L.C.

 

2.         A governing board composed of equal representation:

this feature offers too many opportunities for voting impasses, too much attention to guarding sectarian “rights, privileges, etc.”, does not guarantee that members shall be chosen on merit, and withal offers much too great an opportunity for jockeying.

           

3.         A likely continuance of competitive sectarianism within the same parent body.

 

4.         A serious problem of how to arrange for inclusion of and adequate representation for other liberal religious groups who may wish to become associated.

 

5.         Considerable confusion which may become attenuated during the merging process.

 

6.         Difficulty in securing adequate financing.

 

7.         Establishing a third high level administration.

 

8.         Losing the advantages inherent in intermediate organi­zation units of state size if a regional plan of inter­mediate organization should he adopted. Moreover, until the time comes when the A.U.A. and U.C.A. cease to exist, there would be two plans of intermediate organization in effect: Regions and State Conventions.

 

9.         Either a whole series of committees (one to each func­tion to be merged) or a body similar to a Commission would need to be at work almost continuously until the whole task is consummated.

 

10.       Unless the plan of merger based on an enlarged C.L.C. were effected at one time, there would be considerable administrative confusion. For example, while head­quarters functions or departments operate separately for many purposes, there are numerous other matters on which they must work in coordinated fashion on a more or less continuous basis; having three top bodies at some critical points would more than likely create delays, unwitting blockages and a considerable communication problem.

 

 

It is believed that there is no point in broadening and enlarging the C.L.C. short of placing all present internal functions under its direction. Hence there would ultimately be no purpose in having a con­tinuance of the present two denominations. If a plan of merging func­tions and placing them under C.L.C. could he effected all at one time, the only difference in that case between the new C.L.C. and a func­tional merger would be in the governing board. These statements are prefaced upon the continuance of a liberal religious body whose main policy making and general direction is by a delegate body.

 

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