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NCC establishes new women's development fund

By Matt Hackworth
Church World Service

Iselin, N.J. When she first came to work in the ecumenical office of the United Methodist Church, Clare Chapman remembered being surprised that then-National Council of Churches USA (NCC) General Secretary Claire Randall would take the time to talk with her.

"She would come down for meetings in our office and we'd just chat about life, or work," Chapman said. "It was a personal connection to a woman in leadership. It's part of the tapestry that led me to this point."

Chapman is now acting general secretary of the NCC. She announced a memorial fund in Randall's name at a celebratory luncheon for the NCC's Women's Caucus at the 2007 General Assembly of the NCC and Church World Service.

Randall, who died in September, was the NCC's first female general secretary, after coming to work for the NCC in 1974 as a layperson. She is credited with overseeing turbulent times for the ecumenical movement, including the NCC's backing of a much-contested plan to ship U.S. grain to Vietnam in the mid-1970s.

The fund will be used women's ministries, acting largely to support ecumenical justice and leadership programs for women. Chapman said Randall's biggest legacy should be found in the relationships developed amongst a new generation of women.

"We should take time to reach out to young women of today, to build those relationships, because you never know when what you say can change the world," Chapman said.

The National Council of Churches USA is the ecumenical voice of 35 of America's Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican, historic African American and traditional peace churches. These NCC member communions have 45 million faithful members in 100,000 congregations in all 50 states.

Church World Service is the relief, development, and refugee assistance agency of these same communions, working in 80 countries around the world to eradicate hunger and poverty and promote peace and justice.
General Assembly on site contacts: Ann Walle, Church World Service; Wesley 'Pat' Pattillo, National Council of Churches USA.

CWS News contact: Lesley Crosson, 212.870.2676,

NCC News contact: Philip Jenks, 212.870.2228,  or Dan Webster, 212.870.2252,

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