- Blake, Eugene Carson
- (190 6-1985)major ecumenical leaderEugene Carson Blake is considered one of the 20th century's primary ecumenical visionaries. He was born on November 7, 1906, in St. Louis, Missouri. After graduating from Princeton in 1928 with a philosophy degree, he spent a year teaching at the Forman Christian College in Lahore, India. He completed his ministerial degree at Princeton Theological Seminary (1932) and served for 20 years as a Presbyterian pastor in New York City, Albany, New York, and Pasadena, California. During his decade in Pasadena, he was regularly heard in the broadcast ministry over the station his congregation owned and operated.Also at Pasadena, in 1948, he attended the first assembly of the World Council of Churches, where his speaking and organizations skills were initially recognized internationally. Two years later, he was invited to preach at the service culminating the organization of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. In 1951, he was elected as the stated clerk of the United Presbyterian Church (now a constituent part of the Presbyterian Church [USA]).Retaining his Presbyterian post, Blake also served as president of the National Council of Churches between 1954 and 1957. He continued on the national board of the Presbyterian General Assembly until 1966, when he became general secretary of the World Council of Churches. Blake had worked with the World Council of Churches starting in 1954, serving in a succession of key posts.Blake was instrumental in formulating an ambitious plan to unite some of the larger Protestant churches in the United States, which resulted in the Consultation on Church Union. In 1960, Blake invited representatives of the Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches and the United Church of Christ, along with several other groups to engage in conversation looking toward the creation of a united Protestant church. The consultation began meeting in 1962. over the years, it has presented several proposals for overcoming differences between the major participants, though none of the plans received more than modest support from denominational authorities.Blake traveled widely on behalf of church union. He earned the enmity of the more conservative elements in the Protestant community who protested the attempts to build a super denomination and to establish relations with Christian churches in Communist countries, most notably the Russian Orthodox Church. Blake retired from the World Council in 1972. He went on to work with Bread for the World, an antihunger organization. He died in Stamford, Connecticut, on July 13, 1985.See also Ecumenical movement.Further reading:■ Eugene Carson Blake, The Church in the Next Decade (New York: Macmillan, 1966)■ ----, He is Lord of All (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1958)■ R. Douglas Brackenridge, Eugene Carson Blake: Prophet with Portfolio (New York: Crossroad Books, 1978)■ Paul A. Crow, "Eugene Carson Blake: Apostle of Christian Unity," The Ecumenical Review 38/2 (April 1986): 228-236; Martin Niemller, Eugene Carson Blake, and Marlene Maertens, The Challenge to the Church: The Niemoller-Blake Conversations, Lent, 1965 (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1965).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.