The Decline of Real Ecumenism: Robert Bilheimer and the Vietnam War

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Traditional Christian ecumenists such as Robert Sperry Bilheimer, educated in the ways of the World Council of Churches, grappled with activist "new-breed" church leaders over how to protest against the Vietnam War. During 1966-74, Bilheimer headed the International Affairs Commission of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) and sought to unite the member churches in an ecumenical effort. Activists in the NCC, spearheaded by "new-breed" spokesmen, focused on protest, however, and church leaders, who were often more liberal than those in the pews, failed to develop consensus within their denominations. Consequently, Bilheimer's efforts at cross-denominational dialogue and consensus were in vain.

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