Some prefer to describe “mainline” denominations with words such as “ecumenical” or “establishment” or “old-line” or even “mainstream.” Whichever words you choose, they point to a group of churches that, not so long ago, functioned as the unofficial religious establishment of the U.S.
These churches have lasted over time and have played a significant role in the life of U.S. society and culture. They also have tried to avoid moving too far from the religious and cultural center of American life. As the nation swings from left to right, these churches have acted as forces of moderation.
“Mainline” denominations include the ELCA, the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, the Disciples of Christ, the American Baptist Church, and the Reformed Church in America.
Mainline denominations matter. America needs
them. Our country is polarized: Conservative religious groups are
synonymous with political conservatism, while more liberal groups seem
out-of-touch. But mainline denominations—if they hold true to their
heritage—provide a place where all kinds of people can live together
and learn from each other as Christians.
Black and white, rich and poor, biblical literalists and modernists, political conservatives and liberals—all come together in one body to worship each week. This is critical to the well-being of society. It’s time that mainline denominations celebrate this gift.
worshipers crowd around Mark Moller-Gunderson during the children’s
sermon, a popular part of the contemporary service at Immanuel Lutheran
Church. “We’ve been revolutionized by the Spirit,” says
Moller-Gunderson, called to join his wife two years ago, about the
congregation whose community outreach includes an after-school program.
See related story, "What's the future?"|
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