This important contribution to American ecumenism is an impassioned plea for an encounter between the mainline denominational churches and the vital new ""third force"" of the evangelical and ""free"" churches. It strives to bridge the gulf between the most uncritical supporters of organic church union and those most suspicious of its organizational purpose and theology. It suggests that the common elements of the New Testament church life in all local churches provide a basis for understandings out of which a new spirit and a broad new alignment can evolve. It urges the mainline groups to achieve an understanding with these free churches--whose doctrine of authority posits a direct, personal rule of Christ over each local ""gathered"" congregation without the meditation of bishops, priests, synods or councils--in seeking a new basis for achieving the reality of the ""great church coming"" which is the ecumenical hope. The author's conviction is that the future of the church in America and of any vital ecumenical witness rests with these ""left out"" churches and their creative rapprochement with other life of all churches together in an exciting and meaningful mission in which American churches of all traditions can share completely, yet without compromise. ""Brings a point of view to the ecumenical situation that is much needed and should challenge much fuzzy and generally accepted thinking...It is a book that I would urge upon local pastors and lay people in my area of Christian involvement... I think it is a fine effort."" --Samuel McCrea Cavert ""At the end of this book there is a rather simple plan suggested under the title 'Proposal for Christian Unity.' It is so simple that I believe it would receive approbation from the vast majority of Protestant Christians. It would be a definite step forward toward experiencing our unity and bearing witness to our existential oneness in Christ before the world. It would not water down our differences into some common denominator. It would not create a huge bureaucracy which is nearly always the enemy of spiritual insight and experimentation. In short, it ought to be considered by all of us faithfully and honestly."" --From the Introduction by Bishop Gerald Kennedy ARTHUR A. ROUNER, Jr. is minister of the Colonial Church of Edina, Minneapolis. He received his A.B. from Harvard University, his BD from Union Theological Seminary (N.Y.) and his DD (Honoris Causa) from Piedmont College, Georgia, with special studies at New College, Scotland. He has been American delegate to the International Congregational Council Meeting--once in St. Andrews, Scotland, and once in Rotterdam, Holland. He is Governor of the Congregational Historical Society, member of Rotary International, and the Boston Authors Club. His writings include two book: The Congregational Way of Life and Master of Men, as well as articles for the Union Seminary Quarterly Review, Minster's Quarterly, Christianity Today, and The Christian Herald.