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Thursday Morning Actions Also Include Africa-Related Initiatives, Reports

November 16, 2000, ATLANTA, Ga. – The Alliance of Baptists, born in 1987 "in the white heat of controversy within the Southern Baptist Convention," in the words of its executive director, was welcomed today as the National Council of Churches’ 36th member communion.

The 60,000-member, Washington, D.C.-based communion of 125 congregations in the southeast, joins the NCC’s 35 other Protestant and Orthodox member communions, whose delegations to the General Assembly voted unanimously, one by one, to seat the Alliance. The NCC’s members count 50 million adherents in the United States.

Membership in the National Council of Churches is a two-step process. In November 1999, the Council’s General Assembly had completed the first step, declaring the Alliance of Baptists eligible for NCC membership.

Alliance of Baptists Executive Director Stan Hasty thanked the General Assembly for its "affirmation and acceptance" and said, "We have looked forward to this day from the day of our founding, February 12, 1987, when our founders, 33 brave women and men, declared … that we commit ourselves to the larger body of Jesus Christ" and to "cooperation with believers everywhere in giving full expression to the gospel. Today we lean into and try to live up to that initial commitment.

"Ours has been a movement of congregations and individuals committed to historic Baptist principles and to a radical inclusiveness of all God’s children among us," Mr. Hastey said. "This is where we belong, in this ecumenical body."

AFRICA POLICY DEVELOPMENT: Thursday morning’s business also included authorization for development of a comprehensive policy statement on Africa for the NCC and its global service and witness ministry, Church World Service.

Canon Patrick Mauney, CWS Chair, brought the proposal, noting the priority that CWS and the NCC give to Africa in humanitarian aid and development, education and advocacy work, including debt relief and response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The NCC’s President, Andrew Young, also is known for his leadership with regard to Africa.

"The NCC lacks a comprehensive policy statement on Africa," Mauney said, pointing out that NCC policy is used in education and advocacy work with government, the United Nations and others.

A process broadly consultative with partners in Africa and NCC constituents – much like that used in development of the Council’s "highly durable" Middle East policy more than a decade ago – would result in a first draft for NCC General Assembly review in November 2001, with final approval in November 2002, he said.

The General Assembly this morning also received several reports, including reports from the NCC’s Executive Board and treasurer, Phil Young, who reassured the Assembly that "the NCC is alive, well, healthy, well-staffed and well-served, and has a future that only expands; it will not, so help us, God, retract."

Young described in detail the transformation of the NCC’s financial and administrative management over the past year and emphasized the importance of all the NCC’s member communions support.

He expressed his full confidence that the United Methodist Church will soon release the some $500,000 it owes toward its pledge of support for the NCC’s 1999 debt reduction campaign – which, upon receipt, will lay to rest the deficit spending of the last several years. The NCC in 2000 balanced its budget without touching the principal in its investments and, in fact, expects to end the year with a small surplus.

The General Assembly this morning also heard -- and were encouraged to use -- a "Report of the World Council of Churches Decade to Overcome Violence" and the U.S. Conference of Religions for Peace new statement, "Diversity and Community: A Multi-Religious Statement on Social Responsibility in the Context of Ethnic, Cultural, Racial and Religious Diversity in the United States."


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