National Council of Churches Challenged to 'Become the Exclamation Point'

BALTIMORE – Over 200 representatives from the National Council of Churches were challenged to “become the exclamation point” that could change the world by fighting poverty, injustice and sickness, during the final service of the Council’s 55th annual assembly on Thursday.

“Forty-five million people in America do not have insurance. Where is the exclamation point?” asked Kr. Brian K. Blount, professor of New Testament Interpretation at Princeton Theological Seminary and main speaker of the service. “Thirty-six million Americans are hungry or in the midst of poverty. Where is our exclamation point?”

The theme of fighting poverty was peppered throughout the closing worship service, which also doubled as an installation service for the NCC’s new president, the Rev. Michael Livingston, as well as the entire two-day General Assembly.

“The council makes a major point of representing the churches and their desire for just peace and eradicating poverty,” explained Philip Jenks, Communications Director for the NCC. “Poverty, peace and planet earth are the three primary emphases for the council right now.”

During the assembly, delegates passed several resolutions on these three “P’s,” including a resolution to establish a special commission to make sure the U.S. Gulf Coast is rebuilt in a “just” way.

“The commission is there to make sure the separation between the rich and the poor will not be the way that it was before the hurricane,” said Jenks. Delegates also heard special reports on the NCC’s new campaign to raise minimum wage.

Accordingly, Livingston, who will serve as the NCC President for the next two years, said his priority will be to work on issues of poverty around the world.

“I’d want to see us continue to be a community of faith where we can get to know each other better as member communions and work together on poverty and sickness,” said Livingston. “It has been a top priority and will continue to be.”

In his first address as president, Livingston urged the delegates to see the critical issues at hand and “act upon it as exclamation points.”

“I am going to remember the exclamation point I have been charged to be,” he said. “The world needs to know we are here. This is the day, now is the time.”

The 55th NCC General Assembly was held this year in Hunt Valley, Md., from Nov. 8-10. The installation/closing service was held at the Douglas Memorial Community Church in Baltimore, Md.