National Council of Churches approves restructuring recommendation

September 19, 2012


[Ecumenical News International] The National Council of Churches (NCC) governing board, meeting in New York Sept. 17-18, approved a plan for re-envisioning and restructuring that includes a “new organizational structure and an implementation strategy to bring it to fruition.”

The board adopted the recommendation of a Task Force on Re-envisioning and Restructuring, which presented its final report to the board, according to an NCC news release.

The 17-member task force, which has been working over the past six months, also drafted a vision statement for the council calling for a “shared commitment to a transformed and transforming NCC through which the churches and other partners seek visible unity in Christ and work for justice and peace.”

NCC President Kathryn Lohre, who with Jordan Blevins of the Church of the Brethren was co-chair of the task force, said the board broadly affirmed the work of the Task Force, recognizing the urgency of the moment and putting its confidence in the staff, led by Transitional General Secretary Peg Birk, to begin the challenging work of implementation.

“This is an exciting moment for the NCC as we look toward the future to which God is calling us,” Lohre said. “The dedicated work of this task force has been a welcome sign that commitment to Christian unity remains undiminished among our 37 member communions.”

Lohre said, “The Task Force responded to the governing board’s mandate to be bold in its work, and we are all hopeful that this new vision and structure … will bring the NCC to the leading edge of ecumenism in the 21st century. We look forward to engaging more fully with partners, including those in local and regional contexts, and to weaving a national narrative that serves to revitalize the ecumenical movement in the US.”

Peg Birk, the NCC’s transitional general secretary, who served on the task force, also expressed confidence for the future.

“The implementation of the Task Force’s proposal and strategy will be challenging yet rejuvenating work,” Birk said. “The governing board’s action signaled that the Council is moving beyond the work of transition and into the work of transformation. I look forward to providing creative, focused, and courageous leadership to this collaborative process.”

The new organization will based on the interaction of three areas: theological study and dialogue, inter-religious relations and dialogue, and joint advocacy and action for justice and peace.

Ministries of education, formation, and leadership development will serve to integrate these areas and bolster the special role of the NCC within the ecumenical landscape for communicating faith through education and scripture.

“Today the ecumenical vision is alive and well at the local, regional, and national levels, in no small part because of the historic vision and witness of NCC,” the Task Force said its report.

The NCC’s 37 member communions — from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches — include 40 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations.