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Former NCC President Livingston
to direct NCC Poverty Initiative

Washington, September 28, 2010 -- The Rev. Michael Livingston, executive director of the International Council of Community Churches and President of the National Council of Churches from 2006 to 2007, has been named to direct the council's poverty initiative.

The appointment, supported by the Marguerite Casey Foundation, was announced today by the NCC general secretary, the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon. Livingston will begin his new duties October 4 in the NCC's Washington office.

"There was no group of people closer to Jesus than the poor, and there is no more important ministry of the National Council of Churches than our poverty initiative," Kinnamon said. "I'm very pleased that a church leader of the stature of Michael Livingston has agreed to serve in this position."

The goal of the Poverty Initiative is to empower and mobilize the faith community to add its spiritual and prophetic voice to the urgent debate around poverty.

As director of the Poverty Initiative, Livingston will lead the Councilís efforts to eradicate poverty and childhood hunger in the United States. He will challenge member communions and congregations to add a clear faith perspective to the discussion of poverty, and build the political and public will to push these goals to the top of the legislative agenda.  He will also work to cultivate leadership at the national, state and local levels to enact poverty-reduction programs.

Livingston served as President-Elect of the NCC from 2004 until the end of 2005 and he has been a member of the NCCís Governing Board and General Assembly since 1999.  In 2003 he was a member of the NCCís Peace Delegation to Paris that attempted to delay or prevent the war in Iraq.  

As NCC President, he traveled to the Middle East and other world trouble spots to represent the council's witness for peace and justice. Last May, he represented the National Council of Churches on an interfaith delegation to Vietnam to study the residual effects of the defoliant Agent Orange used by U.S. forces during the Vietnam War.

Livingston was ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) on July 27, 1975 and he has been a member of the New Brunswick, N.J., Presbytery since 1985. He was pastor of Presbyterian churches in Los Angeles and New York until 1985 when he returned to his alma mater, Princeton Theological Seminary, as director of admissions and later as campus pastor and director of the chapel. 

He has served since 1999 as executive director of the International Council of Community Churches, headquartered in Frankfort, Ill. The ICCC describes itself as a ďfellowship of ecumenically-minded, freedom-loving churches cooperating in fulfilling the mission of the Church in the world.Ē 

Like many members of Baby Boom generation, Livingston entered college with a desire to serve people in a just cause. He earned a Bachelorís degree in sociology at the University of California at Los Angeles in 1971 before switching his emphasis to theology at the Princeton seminary. He earned a master of divinity degree in 1974 and returned to school for a masters in theology in Pastoral Care and Counseling that was awarded in 1991. 

Shortly after seminary, Livingston immersed himself in a world that required a sociologistís insights and a pastorís heart. After three years as assistant pastor of St. Paulís Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, he was called as pastor of Hollis Presbyterian Church in Queens, New York. 

He quickly became active in the inter-racial interfaith, community-based Queens Citizens Organization where he served as Executive Vice President. He was also chair of the Patient Care Committee at Queens Hospital Center and was a member of the hospitalís community advisory board.  He was also active in the Hollis Local Development Corporation and its campaign to revitalize its commercial zone.  

While he was in Princeton, Livingston was Treasurer and a long time board member of the Princeton Regional Scholarship Foundation and the Family Guidance Center of Mercer County, which provides counseling services, substance abuse recovery programs, a Childrenís Day School and an HIV Life Skills Program. 

Livingston has served the Presbytery of New Brunswick as chair of the Committee on Ministry. In the Presbyterian Synod of the Northeast he has chaired the Personnel Committee and was a member of the Womenís Concerns Team and the Racial-Ethnic Task Force on Recruitment. At the national level, he has served on the denominationís former Vocation Agency, the Consulting Committee on Racial Ethnic Ministries, and more recently he chaired the General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations.

His other ecumenical responsibilities have included the U.S. Conference of the World Council of Churches, the editorial board of Liberation and Unity, the National Workshop on Christian Unity, and the Presbyterian General Assembly Special Committee on Churches of Christ Uniting, which he chaired.  For fourteen years he served as the editor of Liberation and Unity, a Lenten guide for meditation and study jointly sponsored by the COCU and the AME, AMEZ, and CME churches.                 

Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the 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 -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches -- include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

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