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NCC Executive Board Approves Mission Priorities For 2000-2001

February 29, 2000, NEW YORK CITY – The National Council of Churches' emerging reorganization was shaped further by the NCC's Executive Board, which this week approved priorities for 2000-2001 for work in four program areas: education, justice, public witness (especially legislative advocacy priorities) and unity.

"We are trying to focus on some achievable goals as we work to rebuild the NCC's finances," said Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary (see related NCC News Release of 3/2/2000, "NCC Executive Board Reinforces Fiscal Accountability, Receives Progress Reports, Expresses Sense of New Beginning.")

As a unifying theme, Dr. Edgar encouraged the Board to consider all the proposed priorities in light of their impact on children. "When we work against gun violence, let's emphasize how it impacts children," he said. "When we address AIDS in Africa, let's highlight how it affects children and families. When we hold a CROPWALK to raise money to fight hunger, let's educate about hunger among children."

While not descriptive of all NCC program work, the Year 2000-2001 priorities offer a window on what these major program areas consider most important within their program portfolios for the next 12 to 18 months. As adopted by the NCC Executive Board, they are:

Education: 1) Programs and resources for strengthening families, so that every child may grow up and fulfill his or her full potential; 2) Leadership development for congregational leaders; 3) Action programs for dismantling institutional racism, 4) Creative projects to enhance and foster spiritual formation, and 5) Promotion and support of high quality, comprehensive public education.

Justice: 1) The elimination of racial violence and injustice and the building of a racially and culturally inclusive society through multicultural educational and enhanced empowerment programs especially for children and youth in collaboration with the Education and Public Witness Program areas; 2) The eradication of poverty, especially among women and children, through mobilization of and collaboration with local congregations, established anti-poverty groups and other similar community based organizations, and 3) the improvement of health, quality of life and survival of the planet.

Public Witness (Legislative Advocacy): 1) Work for passage of the Hunger Relief Act and 2) of minimum wage/living wage legislation and a commitment 3) to work against gun violence, 4) to address AIDS in Africa and to 5) advance the Jubilee 2000 debt relief campaign. These were identified in mid-January by an NCC-convened consultation as priorities for joint public policy advocacy work in the Year 2000. Consultation participants included some 70 representatives of denominational and ecumenical legislative and social policy offices, representatives of state ecumenical and interfaith agencies and staff of the NCC and its Church World Service and Witness Unit.

Unity: 1) To nurture and strengthen the ecumenical network, including the sharing of insights into the practical results of the ecumenical movement; 2) to promote the visible unity of the churches through study and theological dialogue; 3) to study, interpret and implement the "Report of the Ecclesiology Study Task Force," adopted unanimously by the NCC's General Assembly in November 1997; 4) to study the NCC policy statement, "Interfaith Relations and the Churches," adopted by the General Assembly in November 1999, and implement its recommendations; 5) to foster local, regional and national interfaith engagements; 6) to promote reflection on the nature and purpose of the ecumenical calling, especially as relationships between the churches have entered a new chapter in ecumenical relations, and 7) to promote the integration of Faith and Order, Ecumenical Networks and Interfaith with justice and peace.

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