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Evangelical United Brethren Church Bishop Reuben H. Mueller (left) and Methodist Bishop Lloyd C. Wicke join hands on April 23, 1968, symbolizing the merger between the two denominations. 1968 file photo courtesy of the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History; cropped from original.

1968 file photo courtesy of the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History; cropped from original.

Evangelical United Brethren Church Bishop Reuben H. Mueller (left) and Methodist Bishop Lloyd C. Wicke join hands on April 23, 1968, symbolizing the merger between the two denominations.

Ask the UMC: When was The United Methodist Church created?

 

When was The United Methodist Church created?

The United Methodist Church was created on April 23, 1968, when The Evangelical United Brethren Church and The Methodist Church joined to form a new denomination.

Uniting the two churches had been in the making for more than 10 years. Two years before the union, the General Conferences of each church separately approved the Plan of Union.

On April 23, Bishop Reuben H. Mueller, representing The Evangelical United Brethren Church, and Bishop Lloyd C. Wicke of The Methodist Church joined hands at the constituting General Conference in Dallas, Texas. In unison, the two bishops, 1,300 delegates and 10,000 visitors recited these words:

"Lord of the Church, we are united in Thee, in Thy Church and now in The United Methodist Church. Amen."

To make the union happen, each denomination made compromises. The racially segregated Central Jurisdiction of The Methodist Church was eliminated, women clergy were assured the right to be ordained and have full clergy rights, and the Methodist practice of life tenure for bishops was adopted.

The Uniting Conference also approved the development of an official insignia for the new church and the cross and flame was adopted later that year.

Late in the conference, delegates realized that the work of actual uniting could not be completed in 1968. A special session of General Conference was approved for 1970. It met in St. Louis.

Thus these two churches, each with distinguished histories and influential ministries in various parts of the world, came together to become the largest Protestant denomination at that time.

Read more about The United Methodist Church's 50th anniversary.

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This content was produced by Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications.

First published April 17, 2018.