NCC Governing Board
Board of Directors
and Leadership Ministries
Immigration & Refugees
Relationships & Witness
NCC Staff Directory
Past General Assemblies:
Hunt Valley, Md.
2004: St. Louis, Mo.
2002: Tampa, Fla.
Return to NCC Home Page
CWS Home Page
General Assembly adjourns after adding a new member church;
sends messages on Fort Hood tragedy and nuclear disarmament
November 16, 2009 -- The General Assembly of the National Council of
Churches and Church World Service, celebrating the biblical call to rejoice,
pray and give thanks, also called upon churches and governments to take
additional steps toward worldwide justice and peace.
Assembly adjourned Thursday night following the installation of National
Council of Churches President Peg Chemberlin and President Elect Kathryn
Lohre in St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral here.
three-day meeting here, the General Assembly voted the
Church into membership, adopted a resolution calling for nuclear
disarmament, and issued messages regarding the tragedy at Ford Hood, citing
the urgency of health care reform, and urging that money saved by
international reductions in military spending be used to reduce infant
mortality and extreme poverty.
The General Assembly also issued a message of
appreciation regarding the recent visit of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
to the U.S.
Assembly agenda also included a challenging keynote address by
Rev. Dr. Margaret Aymer,
Associate Professor of New Testament and Chair of Biblical Studies at the
Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, who also addressed the
Clare Randall Women's Luncheon. Bible Study, on I Thessalonians 5:16-18,
"Rejoice Always, Pray without ceasing, Give thanks in all circumstances,"
the Assembly's theme, was led by the
Rev. Dr. Charles Amjad-Ali, Martin Luther King Jr. Professor for Justice
and Christian Community and Director of Islamic Studies at Luther Seminary
services were conducted in the traditions of the Assembly's Methodist and
Orthodox members, and by the young adult participants in the pre-Assembly
New Fire event.
Presiding over sessions of the
General Assembly were Archbishop
Vicken Aykazian, who
is finishing his two-year term as NCC President, and
Johncy Itty, chair of the CWS board of
directors. The Assembly program was designed by a committee chaired by he
Raymon Hunt of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion
Individuals and agencies that have given outstanding service to the
ecumenical movement in the United States and around the world were honored
Wednesday in a special Assembly
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty,
a Republican, greeted the Assembly on its second day of business and offered
his best wishes to The Rev. Peg Chemberlin, executive director of the
Minnesota Council of Churches, who was installed as NCC president Thursday
be cheering you on as you take over the reigns of this organization,"
Pawlenty told Chemberlin. "We know you’ll lead it as you always do, with
diligence, and we’re proud of you."
The installation Thursday night
of the President and President Elect of the National Council of Churches
featured welcoming statements by the Very Rev. James L. Jelinek, Episcopal
Bishop of Minnesota, the Very Rev. Spenser D. Simrill, Dean of St. Mark's
Cathedral, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar,
The Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes,
Jr., former pastor of The Riverside Church in New York and President of the
Healing Nations Foundation, delivered the installation sermon.
The General Assembly gathered a
week following the violence at Fort Hood, Texas, in which 13 people were
killed and 42 injured by gunfire, allegedly by an Army psychiatrist.
"During extreme crises, we
rightly seek both reasons for their occurrence and justice for the
alleviation of their pain," the message said.
"Religious communities of good
will in this country are endeavoring together to comprehensively engage
these crises, and are therefore singularly and deeply pained by the deaths
at Fort Hood."
message encouraged "all Christians and religious communities of good will to
reach out to one another through personal dialogue, local awareness
building, national advocacy advancements, and other means of fostering
relationships of trust and mutuality. These are the uncommon responses in
the present that will help to shape our collective tomorrow."
The General Assembly also acted
to ask the NCC General Secretary and CWS Executive Director and CEO to draft
a letter of appreciation to Chaplain (Colonel) Michael T. Lembke, the
Evangelical Lutheran chaplain who led the pastoral response to the tragedy.
The General Assembly sent a
message to Congress and member communions urging support of the Global
Security Priorities bill and commending the legislation's sponsors, Rep.
James McGovern (D-Mass.) and Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.)
The Global Priorities Campaign
is seeking ways to use money saved in reducing military spending to meet
The Global Securities bill, House Resolution 278, calls for
deep reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, saving at least $13
billion annually, The money saved would be used to reduce child
morality and eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches and the Board of
Directors of Church World service earlier this fall passed identical
resolutions calling for nuclear disarmament. (See
NCC story here.)
The General Assembly
unanimously adopted the resolution with the following new conclusion:
IT RESOLVED that the member communions of the National Council of Churches
of Christ in the U.S.A. (NCCC) and Church World Service (CWS), speaking
together through their respective governing boards, hereby reaffirm the goal
of the total disarmament of nuclear weapons and commit themselves:
1. to ask
for commitments toward this end from national, state, and local governmental
and ecumenical representatives and agencies.
to engage in international anti-violence advocacy efforts including the
programs and events of the World Council of Churches such as the Decade
for Overcoming Violence.
encourage appropriate working groups/committees to designate nuclear
disarmament as a central theme for the 2011 Ecumenical Advocacy Days.
develop measurable outcomes that inform faith-based educational materials.
BE IT FURTHER
RESOLVED that the President and the General Secretary of the NCCC and the
Chairperson and Executive Director/CEO of the CWS communicate this
commitment to the President of the United States and congressional leaders.
AND BE IT
FURTHER RESOLVED that the President and the General Secretary of the NCCC
and the Chairperson and Executive Director/CEO of the CWS report regularly
to the General Assembly regarding their actions toward the end of nuclear
The full text of
the General Assembly resolution is
Fire Arms Control
fire arms control were expressed by a panel led by the Rev. Michael
Livingston, former president of the National Council of Churches and
executive director of the International Council of Community Churches.
Panelists included Sylvia Graves, General Secretary of Friends United
Meeting; Mor Cyril Aphrem Karim, Archbishop for Eastern U.S., Syrian (Syriac)
Orthodox Church of Antioch, and the Rev. NaKeisha Sylver Blount of the NCC
and United Church of Christ staff.
Recalling the Fort Hood
tragedy, Livingston said, "It is not simply that this is tragic; the
awful truth, the stark reality is that mass killing is America is
commonplace, it is normal. One editorial (in the NY Times) called
the shooting, the “latest appalling outrage.” The day after,
a disaffected perhaps mentally ill man who had been laid off from
his job went back to his former workplace and killed a co-worker and
wounded several others. The grotesque is ordinary. Shame on a
nation such as this."
text of Livingston's remarks can be found
Mountain Top Removal
General Assembly affirmed a statement by the West Virginia Council of
Churches condemning the removal of mountain tops as a mining practice. The
Assembly referred the statement to the NCC Justice and Advocacy Commission
Next year in New Orleans
The 2010 General
Assembly -- the first of the General Assembly biennial meetings -- will meet
November 9-11, 2010 in New Orleans. The meeting marks 100 years since the
meeting of church agencies and mission societies in Edinburgh, Scotland, in
1910, the gathering church historians describe as the birth of the modern
ecumenical movement. The theme of the meeting will be "Witnesses of these
things: Ecumenical engagement in a new era."
Kinnamon and McCullough cite worldwide challenges
and call for a recommitment to the unity of the church
Minneapolis, November 11, 2009 --
The annual General Assembly of the
National Council of
Churches USA and
Church World Service
commenced Tuesday amid sober assessments of national and
world conditions and calls for renewal of the the
churches' historic commitment to unity.
of noon Tuesday, 28 of the General Assembly's 35 member
communions had registered delegations, said NCC
President Elect Peg Chemberlin as she called the roll.
Chemberlin will be installed
Thursday as President of the National Council of
Churches for a two-year term.
The 2009 General Assembly, which
meets here November 10-12, will be presided over by NCC
President Archbishop Vicken Aykazian and by Bishop
Johncy Itty, chair of the CWS Board of Directors.
Delegates responded to the keynote
address, delivered by the Rev. Dr. Margaret Aymer,
Associate Professor of New Testament and Chair of
Biblical Studies at the Interdenominational Theological
Center in Atlanta, with a standing ovation. (Story
Aymer and other speakers cited the
theme of the Assembly, which at first glance seemed
inappropriately optimistic in the face of world
conditions: "Rejoice Always, Pray without ceasing, Give
thanks in all circumstances (I Thessalonians 5:16-18,
speakers noted that the theme reflects the church's
faith that God has called them together to proclaim the
gospel and restore justice to the world.
The staff leaders of the two
organizations -- the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, general
secretary of the National Council of Churches, and the
Rev. John L. McCullough, executive director and CEO of
Church World Service -- each described alarming
conditions in which millions live in the nation and
around the world, and called upon the member communions
to recommit themselves to proclaiming this gospel of
hope and justice.
"In the U.S. we have entangled ourselves in an almost
senseless discussion about healthcare," McCullough said.
"It’s a fascinating discussion, given that the United
States has the widest gap of personal wealth between
rich and poor of any industrialized nation. I venture
that there are none amongst us who would not spend even
their last penny to save an ailing child, or a dying
spouse. Yet, we tolerate a world where an estimated
forty million people are living with HIV/AIDS; where
every year out of the 350–500 million cases of malaria,
there are one million fatalities; one million, eight
hundred thousand (1.8) million children die each year as
a result of diarrhea, and another 2.2 million children
die because they are not immunized. It seems odd hearing
us argue that we cannot afford universal healthcare?
Sure, I agree, the poor cannot afford to underwrite the
cost, and neither can the middle class, but the rich
McCullough issued a challenge to
the delegates. "At Church World Service we pray that the
churches will always choose hope over hunger, because
like the poor who are
afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but
not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken;
struck down, but not destroyed, we too have
hope," he said. "Like the poor, we have
to Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in
all circumstance, because we too want or expect
something that to us seems possible or likely: We
believe there is enough food that no one should go
hungry, enough water that no one should thirst, and
enough love that all children should reach their
potential. We believe in the right to peace with justice
and a place people can call home. We need your help."
Kinnamon said it was appropriate
for Christians to be openly outraged about the state of
the world, and he cited some examples:
"Forty-six million Americans, 9 million of them
children, have no health insurance," Kinnamon said. "Be
Furthermore, he said, "Before the
end of today, 276 people – 57 of them children and teens
– will be shot by a gun. Be outraged! There are about
3,000 homeless people in Hennepin County, the site of
this assembly, and more than 9,200 in Minnesota, a third
of them children. Be outraged! Approximately 11 million
people living in the
United States are undocumented
immigrants with uncertain futures, as the debate on
immigration policy reform continues unabated. Be
outraged! The people of Cuba suffer under a 50-year
economic embargo by the United States, which
nevertheless engages in full economic relations with
countries like China that have a record of human rights
abuses exceeding Cuba’s. Be outraged! While Americans
debate the reality of global warming, the rise in sea
level due to melting glaciers and thermal expansion of
the ocean has forced the 11,000 inhabitants of Tuvalu –
a tiny Pacific island between Hawaii and Australia – to
abandon their homeland. Be outraged!"
Kinnamon said the Assembly theme
"is a wonderful text for stimulating such reflections.
On first reading, this passage from I Thessalonians can
sound human centered, as if the most important thing
about our faith is what we do: 'We urge you,
beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the
fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all of
them…Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks
in all circumstances.'"
CWS and NCC honor ecumenical leaders at
By Lesley Crosson
Nov. 11, 2009--Individuals and agencies that have given outstanding service
to the ecumenical movement in the United States and around the world were
honored tonight at the 2009 General Assembly of the National Council of
Churches and Church World Service.
The annual J. Irwin Miller Award was bestowed upon Lois Dauway, interim
deputy general secretary for mission and evangelism of the United Methodist
Board of Global Ministries. Dauway, who has demonstrated a life-long
commitment to racial and gender inclusiveness in the church and larger
society, serves the ecumenical community in many capacities,
including as a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of
Saying the ecumenical movement made her “nimble”, Dauway recounted her
experience “dodging rocks” while working in the Boston school system and
then dodging the "barbs and iniquities" directed at social movements. The
best part of her work, Dauway said, was the "folks, and the relationships I
will cherish," and walking behind, next to, and in front of people over a
career distinguished by a deep engagement in domestic and international
The award is in tribute to the memory of J. Irwin Miller, the first layman
to serve as president of the NCC.
NCC and CWS celebrated recipients of the honors at a dinner ceremony during
their joint General Assembly in Minneapolis.
Rev. Dr. Lewis S. Mudge, who died in September 2009 at the age of 80, was
honored posthumously with the Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Award, given to a
clergy person whose life and work have significantly advanced the cause of
unity among churches in the United States and internationally.
Accepting the honor for her late husband, Mrs. Jean Mudge told the audience
that Dr. Mudge would have been "pleased and humbled” by the recognition of
his work during "the last century's steady progress of Christian communions"
and by having been able to "play a part in that
Dr. Mudge, a scholar and theologian whose breadth of interests and expertise
enriched virtually every corner of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the
global ecumenical movement, served as a leader and writer for virtually
every organization, including the World Council of Churches, National
Council of Churches in the USA, the World Alliance of
Reformed Churches, and the Consultation on Church Union.
Mrs. Mudge said that at the time of his death, her husband-who she recalled
actually worked with Cardinal Bernadin, for whom the award is named--was
preparing a Christian approach to the current economic crisis.
Dr. Mudge edited or authored 12 books, including One Church: Catholic and
Reformed (1963), The Crumbling Walls (1970), The Sense of a People (1992),
The Church as Moral Community (1998), Rethinking the Beloved Community
(2001), and The Gift of Responsibility (2008).
The Eugene Carson Blake Award, given this year for the first time on the
centennial of Dr. Blake's birth, commemorates this former president of the
National Council of Churches (1954), founder of the Consultation of Church
Union (1960) and former general secretary of the World Council of Churches,
who exemplified modern ecumenism.
Honoree David A. Leslie has effectively led Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon
(EMO), a statewide association of more than 100 denominations, congregations
and faith-based community ministries, for more than a decade.
Leslie said it was an "honor to be able to serve" the ecumenical movement as
a layperson and that the movement leads to "places where we discover our
passion and gifts we didn’t know we had.”
Under his leadership EMO has established itself as a respected source for
theological dialogue, a reliable provider of community-based services, and a
vigorous advocate for those in need.
Leslie, said his father, a Presbyterian minister, heard Eugene Carson Blake,
whom the award is named for, when he was a young man, and that Blake’s words
“inspired him to action.”
There were four honorees for the Assembly's 2009 Award of Excellence, which
recognizes individuals whose life and work demonstrate extraordinary
achievement in furthering the ecumenical movement, meeting human needs,
advocating for peace and justice, and/or providing a strong prophetic voice
in the Christian community.
The first honoree, Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches, has battled
poverty in Minnesota for more than five decades. GMCC operates a successful
family of social service programs and recruits support across denominational
lines to help struggling Minnesota families remain self-reliant. It is the
largest council of churches in the nation and the largest direct-service
volunteer organization in the state.
Also receiving the Award of Excellence was Deacon James Kalustian, president
of the Armenian Heritage Foundation, which brings together various church
communities. Kalustian is actively involved in the spiritual, cultural, and
philanthropic life of the Armenian Church in America, which he has
represented at regional, national and international ecumenical meetings.
Kalustian presently serves on the Supreme Religious Council, the highest
governing body of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Award of Excellence recipient Joan Leof, a long-time Church World Service
CROP Hunger Walk supporter, has made a concerted effort to engage both the
Jewish and Muslim communities of Rochester in the planning and leadership
for the Walk. With a tireless commitment to promoting peace and justice
locally and globally, Leof, a member of Peace United Church of Christ,
serves as a lead coordinator in the congregation's Sacred Conversation on
Race, an anti-racism project of the United Church of Christ.
Rev. Katherine Austin Mahle, a leader in Minnesota's ecumenical community
for more than two decades, also was honored with the Award of Excellence.
Mahle, who has been involved with both the Greater Minneapolis Council of
Churches and the Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC), now serves on the
Minnesota Church Foundation. Incoming NCC President, Rev. Peg Chemberlin
says of Mahle, “In the hardest times Kathi has carried forward a hopeful
spirit, a spirit that believes ecumenism is one of God’s most important
agendas for the Church and her witness has strengthened me more often than
she will ever know.”
Minutes of the 2009
Click on the tree to download General Assembly information
mailed after July 20.
Steward Application for
the 2009 General Assembly.
New Fire Pre-Assembly
Event for Young Adults.
Hotel Reservation Form and Travel Information.
GA 2009 Doubletree