NCC groans in transition

The National Council of Churches is getting reorganized and refocused amidst painful realities.

A release concerning a recent meeting paints the picture.

The National Council of Churches Executive Committee has created a 15-member task force to “re-envision and restructure” the 62-year-old ecumenical body.

The appointment of the task force came at a three day gathering Feb. 22-24 of more than 30 denominational leaders who have been laying the groundwork for change over the past several months.

In September, and again in November, the Council’s Governing Board — facing chronic financial shortfalls and the Dec. 31 departure of the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon as general secretary for health reasons — appointed three task forces to address the NCC’s financial sustainability, the current ecumenical landscape in the country, and the NCC’s transitional leadership needs.

The action of the Executive Committee also included the dissolution – with affirmation and gratitude – of two of these task forces, and the continuation of the third as a search committee for a transitional leader.

NCC President Kathryn Lohre of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America called the work of the three task forces to date and the appointment of the new task force “a signal of the rebirth of the NCC.”

The new task force is scheduled to engage its work intensively over the next six months, bringing a final report to the Governing Board at its September 2012 meeting.

Those gathered reaffirmed the NCC’s historic commitments to “visible unity in Christ and to justice and peace,” adding that “the work of justice and peace is integral to the manifestation of visible unity in Christ.”

The Rev. Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the ELCA and chair of the transitional leader search committee, said the group hopes to present a candidate for transitional executive leadership of the council to the Governing Board “by the end of the fiscal year” (June 30, 2012).

Clare Chapman, NCC deputy general secretary and general counsel, has been serving as Interim General Secretary.

By the way, if you’re interested in the job of NCC Transitional General Secretary and are able to – hang on, let me just see here, what’s the precise wording – “establish trust amongst diverse constituencies,” a position description has been made available.

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