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Interview with Clare Chapman
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What attracted you to the NCC position?
First, I would say that I have long appreciated what the NCC is and stands for, as the place where the member churches come together as churches as a sign of the oneness to which Christ calls us, a sign of what we can be together, a sign of hope and peace. The Council has a strong history of being that sign and symbol even in difficult times, such as during the civil rights movement, and now today in areas of conflict over the war in Iraq and elsewhere. The churches struggle together and when they find their collective voice on these difficult issues it is a profound witness to all.
Second, I would say that I see the NCC's future as very bright. The focus on poverty is bringing significant resources to bear on the issues of health care, benefit assistance, educational resources. The work that has been done around biotechnology leading up to the approval of the new policy and related resolutions on human cloning and on bio-weaponry are important places for the churches to speak with one voice and they have done so strongly. These are all signs of the vitality and witness of the council.
Third, I would say that the Council has strong leadership, both at the board level and on staff. This is a period of transition for the NCC, but transitions can generate energy and be very forward looking at the same time that they can be important times to see where the Council has come from. After emerging from a very difficult period 6 or 7 years ago, the council is on sound footing, both in leadership and finances. It will be a privilege to serve with the excellent staff of the council as I move from responsibilities as a board member to this new staff position.
After years of denominational service, what drew you to ecumenical service?
My work in The United Methodist Church has been in the ecumenical office of our church, where I have served in a variety of positions, most recently Associate General Secretary for the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns. In that work, I have had responsibilities on behalf of our church in board leadership at the NCC, the WCC and in relationships with the World Methodist Council and others. My work has always been ecumenical, even though on behalf of the United Methodist Church and with significant denominational involvement. I have been enriched by the many colleagues and friends I have in the UMC at many levels and look forward to deeper relationships within the NCC family of churches also.
I am an ecumenist, a United Methodist Christian, and have skills and interest in administration. I am pleased to bring these facets of who I am to my work with the Council.
How do you view administration and finance as a ministry to the church?
I have always felt a call to service in administration and finance, and believe that we are all called to different areas of expertise and experience to be in ministry. Each of us has been given differing gifts and graces and it is in bringing all those areas together that the mosaic becomes a complete picture. In addition, I do not view administration and finance as separate from the program ministry of the council. In fact, I have carried programmatic responsibilities with administrative ones at the GCCUIC, and look forward to programmatic involvement at the NCC. The most effective organizations have strong collaboration between program and administration. It is a fact that every budget is a mission statement! It is my hope that working with my colleagues at the council we can be more fully integrated as we work together in the future.
What challenges do you look forward to in your new position?
Challenges are also opportunities, and I look forward to opportunities where I can participate with my new colleagues to support and enhance the programmatic focus of the council, provide further financial resources to enable its programs, and assist in the transitions that will come over the next year or so. I'm very happy to be part of the staff leadership at the Council and look forward to working on behalf of the member churches of the NCC to attain the goals they hold as important.
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