Contact NCC News Service: 212-870-2252  |  E-mail    |  Most Recent Stories   |  NCC Home

General Assembly elects officers,
sets directions for a new quadrennium

G.A. pictures here

New York City, November 14, 2007 The General Assembly of the National Council of Churches and Church World Service concluded its business last week with the installation of new officers and a new NCC general secretary.

The General Assembly also set in motion plans for a new quadrennium, passed resolutions on social issues, and received the text of "A Social Creed for the 21st century" that had been approved earlier by the NCC Governing Board.

His Eminence Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, a Turkish-born priest who represents the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) in Washington, was installed Thursday (November 9) as the President of the National Council of Churches in the USA. (Read more.)

The Rev. Peg Chemberlin, a Moravian clergywoman and executive director of the Minnesota Council of Churches, was installed as President Elect of the National Council of Churches in annual meetings this week. Under the current NCC constitution, her position means she will automatically assume the presidency in January 2010.

The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) clergyman and a long-time educator and ecumenical leader, was installed Thursday as the NCC's ninth General Secretary. Kinnamon was unanimously elected to the office by paper ballot November 9 General Assembly.

He will succeed the Rev. Bob Edgar, who served as general secretary from January 2000 to September 2007, when he became president and CEO of Common Cause in Washington.

A Social Creed for the 21st Century

The General Assembly received a "Social Creed for the 21st Century" that had been approved by the Governing Board in September.

In 1908 the NCC's predecessor, the Federal Council of Churches, adopted a social creed that addressed issues of the early twentieth century, such as industrialization. The churches in the last century pledged "to work together for a better, fairer and more faithful United States." 

The NCC and many of its member communions developed a social creed for the 21st century that addresses globalization, poverty, violence. "We individual Christians and churches commit ourselves to a culture of peace and freedom that embraces non-violence, nurtures character, treasures the environment, and builds community, rooted in a spirituality of inner growth and outward action," states the conclusion of the new social creed.

Reaffirmation of commitment to Middle East peace

The Assembly unanimously passed a statement reaffirming the NCC's commitment to peace in the Middle East. The statement is an update of the NCC's 1980 Middle East policy that was written in a more hopeful period after the Camp David Peace accords signed by Egypt President Anwar Sadat and Israel Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

The updated statement calls for "responsible public discourse" about Middle East issues and a focus on issues related to the Israel-Palestine conflict. It also expresses concern for the drop in the number of Christians in the Middle East, and calls for interfaith sensitivities "devoid of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Recognizing the Armenian Genocide

The General Assembly urged the U.S. House of Representatives to pass legislation recognizing the slaughter of Armenians in 1915 as a genocide.

The resolution put forward by the Rev. Arem Jabejian, an Armenian Orthodox priest from Chicago, was passed by voice vote with six persons requesting to be counted as abstaining.

The Armenian genocide statement as amended and approved by the General Assembly said it is "unacceptable that the United States has yet to officially recognize the Genocide of 1915, which in fact decimated a majority of the Armenian population then living in Asia Minor."

The statement cited House Resolution 106 "acknowledging this universally recognized historical fact (and) condemning this crime against humanity." Most historians agree that the slaughter was carried out by soldiers of the then Ottoman Turk Empire.

The House leadership decided not to place the legislation before the House because of objections from the Bush Administration, which said it would harm relations between the U.S. and Turkey, a NATO ally.

Work on the Gulf Coast Report Card continues

Nearly one year since issuing its landmark report on rebuilding the Gulf Coast, the NCC continues to evaluate federal, state and local agencies on recovery efforts.

The nearly 20 members of the NCC's Special Commission for the Just Rebuilding of the Gulf Coast have made more than a dozen visits to the disaster area since the 2005 hurricanes struck. A report on their work was presented to Assembly delegates.

In its February 2007 Report Card the commission highlighted government failures and problems in Louisiana, Mississippi and New Orleans. Delivering at least a dozen "Fs," Mississippi earned the report card's highest marks, two "Bs," for its work in ensuring environmental safety and functional schools after Hurricane Katrina.

In August the special commission met with Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour.

"He was very strong in taking care of some the needs of Katrina victims but there is always room for improvement," said Bishop Thomas Hoyt, past president of the NCC who co-chairs the special commission.

The commission urged the governor to reconsider his decision to steer millions in federal Community Development Block Grant funds away from housing assistance to a port re-development project.

NCC established fund honoring Claire Randall

Acting NCC General Secretary Clare Chapman announced a memorial fund in the name of Claire Randall, the NCC's first woman general secretary, at a celebratory luncheon for the NCC's Women's Caucus.

Randall 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.

General Assembly Slide Show

NCC News contacts:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228,, Dan Webster, 212.870.2252,

Photos by Kathleen Cameron


Return to NCC Home Page