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National Council Of Churches Executive Board "Weighs In" On Confederate Flag, Hotel Campaigns

March 3, 2000, NEW YORK CITY – The National Council of Churches Executive Board today "weighed in" on the side of the NAACP and others seeking to pressure South Carolina to stop flying the Confederate battle flag over its capitol. It also resolved not to meet in any Adam's Mark Hotel pending positive resolution of a civil rights lawsuit against the chain.

While the 54-member Board stopped short of outright endorsement of the NAACP's call for economic sanctions against South Carolina's tourism industry until the flag comes down, the resolution supports the National Urban League, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and four NCC member communions in their decisions to relocate or cancel events scheduled for South Carolina, and commits the Executive Board to review and "take appropriate action" in respect to NCC meeting sites.

The Committee on the Uniform Lesson Series of the NCC's Ministries in Christian Education set its March 19-23, 2000, meeting for Charleston, S.C., three years ago – well before the NAACP's January 1, 2000, call. About 40 people are to attend.

Breaking the contract with the Radisson Hotel would cost the NCC $100,000, not including new site costs – a particular blow given the Council's financial stringencies and lack of reserves, said MCE's Executive Director, the Rev. Patrice Rosner. "We asked the Radisson to relocate us to another state, but they couldn't."

Still wanting to support the economic sanctions, MCE is working closely with local churches and the NAACP to move at least some parts of the meeting, including a reception and a meal function, out of the hotel. In addition, the Committee will sponsor a "service of reconciliation" in a local church and make a public statement in support of the NAACP-led campaign.

At least four NCC member communions – the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Progressive National Baptist Convention – have relocated or canceled events scheduled for South Carolina. The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church is struggling now to withdraw an annual conference, reported Bishop Paul A. Stewart Sr. of Birmingham, Ala., the CME's ecumenical officer.

In a second resolution, the NCC Executive Board voted to join The Episcopal Church, an NCC-member communion, in declining to meet in any Adam's Mark Hotel, pending positive resolution of the issues that are the subject of a civil rights lawsuit alleging a broad pattern of racial discrimination by the hotel chain's parent company.

The lawsuit was filed in December 1999 by the U.S. Justice Department, Florida Attorney General and NAACP. It cites patterns in which African Americans were charged higher room rates, given inferior accommodations and subject to quotas in restaurants.

In other business, the Executive Board:

* Marked the 85th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. Between 1915 and 1923, during the days of the Ottoman Turkish Empire, 1.5 million Armenians were killed.

* Elected the Rev. Wendy L. Pomeroy as Director, Immigration and Refugee Program, NCC/CWSW, beginning March 15. The program works to ease suffering in refugee camps around the world and links church sponsors with refugees admitted to the U.S. for resettlement. (Year 2000 budget: $17 million. Anticipated U.S. resettlement "caseload": 11,000 refugees.) Most recently Conflict Transformation Program Director for the World Conference on Religion and Peace, New York, she has professional experience as a non-profit executive director, international non-governmental organization program director, organizational consultant and international bank account officer.

* Honored the Rev. Dr. Rodney Page, Executive Director of the NCC's Church World Service and Witness ministry, who will retire on May 15. Dr. Page also will be honored at the CWSW Unit Committee in Portland, Ore., in mid-March.

* Confirmed the following as its meeting dates for 2000: May 22-23, Washington, D.C.; October 2-3, New York City; November 14, Atlanta, Ga. The NCC General Assembly will hold its annual meeting November 15-17 in Atlanta. The Executive Board set its year 2001 meetings for February 26-27, New York City; May 7-8, Washington, D.C., October 1-2, New York City, and November 13, Oakland, Calif., with the General Assembly to meet November 14-16 in Oakland.


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