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Chemberlin is the first leader of a state church council
to become president of National Council of Churches

Minneapolis, November 9, 2009 -- The Rev. Peg Chemberlin, executive director of the Minnesota Council of Churches, will be installed as President of the National Council of Churches at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, November 12, in a public service at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral here.

Chemberlin will be the 25th president of the National Council of Churches since 1950. She is the second Moravian, the fourth woman, the first Minnesotan and the first head of a state council of churches to hold the office.

The installation will feature a sermon by the Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Jr., the nationally known president of the Healing of the Nations Foundation and former pastor of the Riverside Church in Manhattan.

A 70-voice choir composed of choristers from seven Minneapolis congregations will be led by Philip Brunelle, and Jeralyn Steele will be the featured soloist.

Since its founding in l950, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for ecumenical cooperation among Christians in the United States.  The NCC’s member faith groups – representing a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, historic African American and Living Peace churches – include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

In 2009, Chemberlin was appointed to President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.  On the council, she serves on the task force focused on economic recovery and fighting poverty.

Chemberlin has led the Minnesota Council for 14 years.  “The National Council of Churches will be blessed by the leadership of the Rev. Peg Chemberlin, a woman whose very soul is filled with ecumenical passion and whose adult life has been invested in building bridges and relationship within the Christian Church, and in interfaith circles, as well," said The Rt. Rev. James L. Jelinek, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota and former president of the board for the Minnesota Council of Churches.   "She is both a professional and a volunteer, with the gift of leadership and the gift of inspiration.”

Chemberlin is ordained and holds standing in the Moravian Church of America-North and has dual standing with the United Church of Christ. She was recently bestowed the honor of being named a canon in the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota by Bishop Jelinek. 

“She has an amazing stable of relationships – one of the broadest sets of relationships both in and outside of the faith community in Minnesota,” said Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. 

“Under the Rev. Chemberlin’s leadership, the Minnesota Council of Churches has been a model of the best practices for ecumenical and conciliar organizations.”  

During Chemberlin’s time at the statewide council it has grown 30 percent in membership, half of which is from the historic Black Churches.  She is known for developing an organizational culture of collaboration and relationship-based programming, establishing MCC as a gateway organization between the faith community and other sectors.

She has opened up the council’s interaction with Native American tribal leadership throughout the state, brought the MCC into the cross-sector effort to eliminate poverty in Minnesota by 2020, and launched Decade for Development of Leadership for the Common Good.   

She organized faith leaders for a massive gathering at the State Capitol after 9/11.  The Council of Churches organized a broad group of religious leaders including Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and member denominations of the Council to pray after the 35W bridge collapse.  This gathering received international media attention. 

Before moving into leadership with the MCC, Chemberlin was director of Minnesota FoodShare.  Chemberlin is a member of the clergy of the Moravian Church in America-North.   

She will continue to serve as executive director of the Minnesota Council of Churches when she assumes the president’s role in the national organization.

The Minnesota Council of Churches is made up of 24 Christian denominations, linking more than 1.2 million Christians in Minnesota or 23 percent of the state’s population. The MCC has the broadest set of inter-religious relationships in the state of Minnesota and is regularly seen as the “go to” organization in the state for broad faith engagement. Under Chemberlin’s leadership an organizational culture of collaboration and relationship-based programming has been established.

The council owns and operates the Minnesota Church Center, a six story, $7 million building housing 28 tenant organizations from the faith community.

 She is a recipient of former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson's award for Women of Excellence in 1994, where Chemberlin was recognized for extraordinary personal achievement, for support of others in their pursuit of excellence, and for on-going contributions to the State of Minnesota.  

Chemberlin has been honored with the annual Distinguished Alumni Award from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. She is the recipient of the Angel of Reconciliation award, from Unity Baptist Church, St. Paul, Minnesota. In addition, in 2003 she was the Honorary Chair of the statewide Minnesota FoodShare Campaign. She also received the NOVA (Non-Violent Alternatives) Peace and Justice Award, presented at St. Cloud State University in 1985 for special programs she helped introduce which looked at alternatives to violence, ranging from campus sexual assault and domestic abuse to global issues and nuclear proliferation.  

Chemberlin received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, graduating with honors.  She graduated from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities (UTS) in l982, where she was awarded the academic prize for historical theology.  She was ordained a deacon in the Moravian Church in l982.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell) ,

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