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NCC announces Kinnamon's departure, transition plan

By Gregg Brekke

New York, January 6, 2012 --The Executive Committee of the National Council of Churches has announced that the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon completed his service as NCC General Secretary on Dec. 31, 2011, at the close of his four-year term.

The NCC Governing Board will meet on January 20, 2012 to address the next steps in this leadership transition.

Kinnamon announced his intended departure at the November 2011 Governing Board meeting. Based on advice from his cardiologist, Kinnamon relayed that frequent travel and other demands of the office were detrimental to his health.

Upon his announcement, the Governing Board issued a statement saying it "received the news with reverence and respect for Kinnamonís leadership of the council during the last four years" and many expressed "a sense of loss and offered tributes of appreciation for his ministry."

Clare Chapman, Deputy General Secretary and General Counsel of the NCC, will assume the responsibilities of general secretary until the board names an interim general secretary on January 20.

Chapman served as NCC Acting General Secretary from September 1, 2007 until January 1, 2008, when Kinnamon assumed office after his election by unanimous ballot in November 2007.

Prior to assuming the office of General Secretary, Kinnamon served as chair of the Council's Justice and Advocacy Commission from 2004-2007. He oversaw the Commission's development of resolutions and statements on a wide range of justice and peace issues and was the primary drafter of the NCC's Strategic Plan. He also chaired the NCC's Ecclesiology Study Task Force from 1993 to 1997.

Within the wider ecumenical movement, Kinnamon served as general secretary of the Consultation on Church Union, which became Churches Uniting in Christ, from 1999 to 2002. He also served as executive secretary of the WCC's Commission on Faith and Order from 1980 to 1983 and had a major role in drafting the World Council of Churches' major planning document, "Toward a Common Understanding and Vision of the WCC."

From 2000-2007, he was the Allen and Dottie Miller Professor of Mission, Peace and Ecumenical Studies at Eden Theological Seminary. He was professor of Theology and Ecumenical Studies at Lexington, Ky., Theological Seminary from 1988 to 2000 and was dean of the seminary from 1988 to 1998.

Kinnamon was Assistant Professor of Theology at Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, from 1983 to 1988 and Acting Dean from 1986 to 1988. He was a visiting professor at United Theological College and South Asian Theological Institute, Bangalore, India, in 1987 and 1997.

Kinnamon earned a Ph.D. degree from the University of Chicago in 1980 in the field of religion and literature. He studied at Tel Aviv University from 1969 to 1970. His A.B. degree is from Brown University in 1971. He was ordained in 1976 and he has ministerial standing in the Disciples of Christ and the International Council of Community Churches.

Following his departure from the NCC, Kinnamon plans to continue working in the ecumenical and theological arenas as a writer and teacher.

[Gregg Brekke is news director for the United Church of Christ and vice chair of the National Council of Churches Communication Commission.]


Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 37 member communions -- 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.

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