The ecumenical path has always been narrow, but recent events cast a new light on the limited and shifting range of ecumenical possibilities. With the exception of the success of the rapprochement of Luth eran, Reformed and United churches in Europe, intra-Protestant ecumenism seems to be dead in the water.
Churches Uniting in Christ, the successor to the Consultation on Church Union (COCU), the most ambitious of all intra-Protestant ecumenical initiatives in the U.S., suspended operations in January 2008, and its future is uncertain at best. Full communion agreements between individual Protestant churches, which blossomed in the 1990s, have proven to make little difference in how the national churches operate or in the lives of most individual congregations. (Churches supposedly in full communion tear themselves apart over sexuality questions in complete isolation from each other, without seeking a common mind.)
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).