Nat'l Council of Churches Installs 25th President

The National Council of Churches installed its 25th president last week as the ecumenical body concluded its 2009 General Assembly.

The Rev. Peg Chemberlin, executive director of the Minnesota Council of Churches, was installed Thursday evening during a public service at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Minneapolis, becoming the second Moravian, the fourth woman, the first Minnesotan and the first head of a state council of churches to hold the office.

One day earlier, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty greeted the Assembly and offered his best wishes to Chemberlin, who will continue to serve as MCC executive director even as she serves as NCC president.

"We'll be cheering you on as you take over the reigns of this organization," Pawlenty told Chemberlin. "We know you'll lead it as you always do, with diligence, and we're proud of you."

Chemberlin, who has led the MCC for 14 years, is an ordained minister who holds standing in the Moravian Church of America-North and has dual standing with the United Church of Christ. She was also bestowed recently the honor of being named a canon in the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota by Bishop James L. Jelinek.

"She has an amazing stable of relationships – one of the broadest sets of relationships both in and outside of the faith community in Minnesota," commented Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

"Under the Rev. Chemberlin's leadership, the Minnesota Council of Churches has been a model of the best practices for ecumenical and conciliar organizations," he added.

During Chemberlin's time at the helm of the MCC, membership in the statewide council grew 30 percent - half of which is from the historic black churches. The Waconia native also established MCC as a gateway organization between the faith community and other sectors.

In 2009, Chemberlin was appointed to President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, in which she serves on the task force focused on economic recovery and fighting poverty.

The Rt. Rev. Jelinek, a former president of the board for the Minnesota Council of Churches, said the NCC will be blessed by the leadership of Chemberlin – a woman "whose very soul is filled with ecumenical passion and whose adult life has been invested in building bridges and relationship within the Christian Church, and in interfaith circles, as well."

"She is both a professional and a volunteer, with the gift of leadership and the gift of inspiration," he added.

Chemberlin will serve as NCC president for a two-year term, during which she'll lead the network of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox and historic African American churches. Presently, NCC claims to represent 45 million churchgoers in more than 100,000 local congregations.

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