As the National Council of Churches (NCC) in the USA reshapes amid budget shortfalls, top officials were installed Thursday to lead the ecumenical group.
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, who represents the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern) in Washington, and the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) clergyman, were installed as NCC president and general secretary, respectively.
Aykazian is the third Orthodox president and the first from the Oriental Orthodox tradition, according to NCC News Service. He will succeed outgoing president Michael Livingston, who served in the office since January 2006, as the 24th NCC president in the group's more than 50-year history.
Kinnamon was unanimously elected to succeed the Rev. Bob Edgar, who resigned on Aug. 31 to head the Washington-based advocacy group Common Cause, becoming the ninth general secretary of the ecumenical organization.
Both officials will take office Jan. 1.
As general secretary of an organization representing Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, historic African American and Living Peace churches, Kinnamon acknowledged differences among the various faith groups but stressed the church of Jesus Christ is "already one."
"Unity is not synonymous with agreement," he said, according to NCC News Service. "We understand that we have deep disagreements and try to address them. This is a consequence of being in Christ.
"We can fight like cats and dogs and still sit at the same table," he added.
The installation ceremony took place during NCC's General Assembly Nov. 6-8 in New York.
The ecumenical group announced a period of reorganization and a staff cut of 14 positions due to an "expected budget shortfall" for fiscal year 2008.
The National Council of Churches was founded in 1950 and claims a membership of 45 million people in more than 100,000 local congregations in the country.