VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 9/20/12)—The governing board of the National Council of Churches (NCC), a partner organization of ABCUSA, met in New York City September 17 and 18, 2012, and approved a plan for re-envisioning and restructuring the NCC that includes a “new organizational structure and an implementation strategy to bring it to fruition.”
The board adopted the recommendation of the Task Force on Re-envisioning and Restructuring, which presented its final report to the governing board.
ABCUSA General Secretary Roy Medley, a member of the task force and president elect of the NCC, said, “The Church in every one of its expressions is facing the challenge of change. The NCC is moving to a streamlined, flexible structure whose goal is to serve as a convener of the churches as they focus on theological discourse, interfaith dialogue and action for peace and justice. There was excitement and affirmation present among us.”
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, 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.”
The new organization will based on the interaction of three foci: 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 foci and bolster the special role of the NCC within the ecumenical landscape for communicating the 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 in its report. “We see with clear eyes a renewed opportunity to bear witness to our unity in Christ by weaving a national narrative of the movement in all of its expressions and contexts ‘so that the world may believe.’”
The members of the task force were Kathryn M. Lohre and Mr. Jordan Blevins, co-chairs; Ms. Peg Birk, the Rev. Jose Luis Casal, Martha Gardner, Bishop Thomas L. Hoyt. Jr., the Rev. Dr. Raymon Hunt, the Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, Ms. Arpi Kouzouian, Dr. Peter Makari, the Rev. Roy Medley, the Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, the Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson, Dr. Tony Vrame, the Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, Bishop John F. White, and Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader.
Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. 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 in communities across the nation.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with 5,500 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.