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.
Statement of Faith
“The National Council of Churches is a community of Christian communions,
which, in response to the gospel as revealed in the Scriptures,
confess Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, as Savior and Lord.
These communions covenant with one another
to manifest ever more fully the unity of the Church.
Relying upon the transforming power of the Holy Spirit,
the communions come together as the Council in common mission,
serving in all creation to the glory of God.”
–from the Preamble to the NCC Constitution.
This general statement is accepted by all of the NCC’s member communions (also called churches, conventions and denominations), which as Christian bodies hold these and many other beliefs in common. Each of the member communions also has a unique heritage, including teachings and practices that differ from those of other members.
As they gather in the Council, the member communions grow in understanding of each other’s traditions. They work to identify and fully claim those areas of belief they hold in common; they celebrate the diverse and unique gifts that each church brings to ecumenical life; and together they study those issues that divide the churches. And they cooperate in many joint programs of education, advocacy and service that address critically important needs and that witness to our common faith in Jesus Christ.
NCC member churches reflect the diversity of Christianity in the United States. They also vary greatly in size and in the geographic distribution of their congregations, their style of worship, even the architecture of their buildings.
Each participating denomination brings distinctive faith traditions to the Council’s common table. Protestant and evangelical traditions are represented by churches of British, German, Scandinavian and other European origin, historic African American churches, and immigrant churches from Korea and India. Orthodox member communions have roots in Greece, Syria, Russia, the Ukraine, Egypt, India and other places where Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy have long histories.
Reflecting the rich variety of its members, the NCC believes that genuine unity demands inclusivity and a respect for diversity, and strives to embody this belief in its programs, decision-making and staffing.
A full list of member communions, along with their websites can be found here.
Recent General Assemblies have been in Denver (2008) and Minneapolis (2009). The 2010 General Assembly will take place in New Orleans.
Delegates to the NCC General Assembly, like their church bodies, represent a wide spectrum of the Christian experience in the United States.Delegates to the NCC General Assembly, like their church bodies, represent a wide spectrum of the Christian experience in the United States.
Working together in the Council, the communions carry out a wide range of ministries. Though it was formally established in 1950, the Council continues the work of more than a dozen previously existing interdenominational organizations, many of which have roots that go back a century or more. Most of these ministries are carried out under the guidance of the Council’s five program commissions, whose participants are drawn not only from the NCC’s member churches, but from a total of more than 50 denominations representing a broad spectrum of American Christianity, from Evangelicals to Roman Catholics to Pentecostals. The commissions are:
Through these ecumenical commissions, the NCC works for peace and justice in the United States, addressing issues ranging from poverty and racism, to the environment, family ministries, and much more. It serves churches through a wide variety of educational ministries. And it coordinates the production of national network television and cable TV programming of religious interest.
Scholarship and Publication
The Council has an honored history in the advancement of Biblical and theological scholarship. It provides for the translation process that produced the Revised and New Revised Standard Versions of the Bible and works to increase the use of the Bible in churches and in the marketplace. It hosts an ongoing conversation about Faith and Order — doctrines and practices — among scholars from a wide variety of denominations, including many faith groups beyond the membership of the NCC itself.
The NCC also collects and publishes the most comprehensive directory of information on American religious life in the annual Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. Each quarter, the Council also publishes EcuLink, a newspaper about the faith community that circulates to more than 100,000 readers across the nation.
The National Council of Churches supports and provides a wide variety of ministries in the U.S. and 80 countries around the world.
Humanitarian and Public Policy Initiatives
Globally, the NCC’s members engage in humanitarian work in more than 80 countries, including the United States, through Church World Service (CWS). With partner churches and ecumenical agencies around the world, CWS shares in the struggle to help move people beyond poverty and powerlessness. Over five decades, CWS has provided more than 5.3 billion pounds of material assistance in support of community-based disaster relief and long-term development efforts. CWS aids uprooted people worldwide, including cooperative efforts with U.S. denominations and their congregations that have resettled some 400,000 refugees in this country. And CWS is a leader in advocacy and educational efforts that address root causes of poverty and violence in our world.
The NCC office that deals with public policy issues, based in Washington D.C., makes a strong witness on the moral and ethical dimensions of public policy issues. Working from a policy base developed by the churches over many decades, the NCC makes the views of the ecumenical community known to government and keeps its constituents informed of legislative and other developments of interest to the churches.
A Partnership Among People of Faith
The NCC’s leadership helps to link faith groups throughout the country and worldwide. In addition to working closely with its member communions, the NCC maintains working relationships with the Roman Catholic Church, Evangelical and Pentecostal communities and other Christian bodies, and has reached out to numerous partners in ministry, both on the local and regional level, and in national alliances that help get important objectives accomplished.
The NCC also networks with the many ecumenical and interfaith organizations established at the local, state and regional level, in the U.S. and abroad. And it promotes harmonious relations among Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, practitioners of traditional Native American religion and many other faith groups in a society that is increasingly multireligious. The NCC has been particularly focused on building relationships between Christians and Muslims in the aftermath of the national crisis of September 2001.