When Robert Edgar of the National Council of Churches suddenly told the NCC’s General Assembly that he was removing his name from an evangelical-mainline-Catholic statement on marriage, it appeared he knocked a leg off the much-discussed wider ecumenical table he was in the process of building. At the very least, his reversal embarrassed a vital ally in forming such an unprecedented pan-Christian voice in the U.S.
A joint statement urging churches to redouble efforts to strengthen marriages and discourage divorces seemed like a good idea to Edgar and a congenial new friend, Kevin Mannoia, president of the National Association of Evangelicals. Both men are relatively fresh in their executive positions, looking to spur their respective umbrella organizations into new ventures. Both are Methodists—Mannoia a bishop in the theologically conservative Free Methodist Church, and Edgar a liberal minister in the United Methodist Church.