In his enthronement sermon as archbishop of Canterbury in 1942 William Temple famously declared the ecumenical movement to be ""the great new fact of our era."" In this book Martin Camroux tries to face honestly how hope met reality. By the end of the century the enthusiasm had largely dissipated, the organizations that represented it were in decline, and organic unity looked further away than ever. One significant ecumenical merger took place in Britain--the creation in 1972 of the United Reformed Church, which saw its formation as a catalyst for ecumenical renewal. Its hopes, however, were largely illusory. With the failure of its ecumenical hope the church had little idea of its purpose, found great difficulty establishing an identity, and faced a catastrophic implosion in membership. This first serious study of the United Reformed Church also includes groundbreaking analysis of the unity process, the mixed fortunes of Local Ecumenical Projects and how the national ecumenical organizations withered. All of this is put in the wider context of religion in British society including secularization, individualism, and post-denominationalism. What failed was not ecumenism but a particular model of it and the book ends with a commitment to a renewed ecumenical hope. ""This book presents a brave and incisive critique of the United Reformed Church. It reveals what happens when intra- and inter-denominational concerns take precedence over a church's primary responsibility to present the Christian witness of faith in ever-changing contexts. Ecumenism in Retreat will be required reading not only for the members of Martin Camroux's own church, but also ecumenists coming to terms with the collapse of the twentieth-century ecumenical paradigm."" --David Peel, Principal, Northern College, Manchester (1993-2003) and Moderator of General Assembly, United Reformed Church (2005-6) ""Convinced that it would bring renewal, a generation of ecumenists committed themselves to the pursuit of organic union across denominational boundaries. This study explains why the goal became increasingly elusive after the emergence of the United Reformed Church, and argues that commitment to this ecumenical vision was waning even at the time of its formation in 1972. This is a sad, even tragic, tale, but one that needed to be told--and now deserves to be read."" --Robert Pope, Reader in Theology, University of Wales, Trinity St. David Martin Camroux is chair of Free to Believe, the United Reformed Church Liberal Network, and edited Renewing Reformed Theology (2012). He served in local ecumenical partnerships for nearly thirty years and was ""Times Preacher of the Year"" in 2001.