NCC at a Glance: Who Belongs,
What We Do, How We Work Together
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. Click a topic
below or scroll down to find details.
Statement of Faith
"The National Council of
Churches is a community of Christian communions,
which, in response to the gospel as revealed in
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
Relying upon the transforming power of the Holy Spirit,
the communions come together as the Council in
serving in all
creation to the glory of God."
--from the Preamble to the NCC
This general statement
is accepted by all of the NCC's member communions (also called
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
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
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.
General Assembly and Governing Board
Almost 300 representatives of the member communions
come together annually as the General Assembly, the NCC's highest
policy-making body. A smaller Governing Board, which meets several times a
year, acts on behalf of the General Assembly in many matters. Click these
links to read the summaries of the last five General Assembly sessions:
2004 in St. Louis, Mo.;
2003 in Jackson, Miss.;
2002 in Tampa, Fla.; and
2001 in Oakland, Calif..
The 2006 Assembly will be held in Orlando, Fla., November 7-9. For a listing of other major NCC-related meetings,
see the Calendar.
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
American and Canadian Churches. Each quarter, the Council also
EcuLink, a newspaper about the faith community that circulates to
more than 100,000 readers across the nation. In cyberspace, the NCC sponsors
a multifaith e-advocacy service,
in addition to its own website.
Humanitarian and Public Policy Initiatives
Globally, the NCC's members engage in humanitarian
work in more than 80 countries, including the United States, through
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
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.
For more about
the Council, use the pull-down menu at the top of this page, or see . . .
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