VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 2/14/13)—In a move aimed at streamlining operations to “free up the Council to be about the priorities that the churches set together,” the National Council of Churches, a partner organization of ABCUSA, will consolidate its operations in Washington, D.C.
The NCC will remain in New York through “satellite offices” for three senior program staff: Dr. Joseph Crockett, associate general secretary, Education and Leadership Ministries; Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, associate general secretary, Faith & Order and Interfaith Relations; and the Rev. Ann Tiemeyer, program director, NCC Women’s Ministries.
NCC Transitional General Secretary Peg Birk will join Cassandra Carmichael, head of the NCC’s Washington Office, and Shantha Ready Alonso, director of the NCC’s poverty initiative, in the Council’s offices at 110 Maryland Avenue, an ecumenical center owned by the United Methodist Church.
Rev. A. Roy Medley, general secretary of American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA), was elected president elect of the National Council of Churches in 2011, and remains active with the organization. He will succeed to the presidency on January 1, 2014, and will serve as president through December 31, 2015.
The decision to consolidate operations in Washington followed a feasibility study by staff to determine “where the NCC can best achieve its work, providing the flexibility required by the new structure” Birk said.
The study followed a report last year by an NCC Governing Board Task Force on Revisioning and Restructuring the NCC. “The decision to consolidate operations in Washington provides flexibility for future possibilities concerning the location – or locations – of the Council,” said NCC President Kathryn Lohre.
“The critical NCC policy work can be coordinated from any location but to be the prophetic ‘voice of the faithful’ on the ground in the places of power, it is best served by establishing our operations in Washington,” Birk said. The long-run savings of the consolidation in Washington are projected at between $400,000 and $500,000, according to Birk.
In the 1960s, the National Council of Churches occupied three floors of The Interchurch Center in New York, in addition to its offices at 110 Maryland Avenue in Washington.
The NCC was the impetus in the planning of The Interchurch Center, which opened in 1960. The Interchurch Center was conceived as the “Protestant Vatican on the Hudson” when President Dwight D. Eisenhower laid the cornerstone in 1958.
Over the years, however, many church denominations moved their headquarters outside New York, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the United Church of Christ.
“It is important that we honor this moment with reverence and respect for the Council’s history as an iconic presence in the beloved ‘God Box,’” said Lohre.
“It is equally important that we look with hope upon this new chapter in the Council’s life,” Lohre said.
“This consolidation will free us from the infrastructure of a bygone era, enabling us to witness more boldly to our visible unity in Christ, and work for justice and peace in today’s rapidly changing ecclesial, ecumenical and inter-religious world.”
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 over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.