National Council of Churches to Examine Its Financial Problems

Major ecumenical organization National Council of Churches will be examining its financial problems at its upcoming leadership meeting later this month.

NCC will hold an executive committee meeting Feb. 23-24 in Chicago, where reports will be presented by three task forces: financial sustainability, ecumenical landscape, and transitional leadership. The executive committee meeting is in preparation for the governing board meeting in May.

"Member communions have experienced drops in revenue as their contributing congregations have been forced to cut back on giving, and as a result some member communions have been forced to curtail their contributions to the NCC," explained Philip E. Jenks, media relations specialist for NCC, to The Christian Post.

"But the communions continue to be stalwartly supportive of their ecumenical partnerships and committed to continue them in the future."

For years, there have been concerns regarding the financial stability of the NCC. Questions regarding this topic have been raised by denominations affiliated with the NCC; the denominations fund the ecumenical organization's programs.

In 1999, the United Methodist Church, a "member communion" of NCC, temporarily withdrew its funding for NCC due to concerns about the effectiveness of the ecumenical organization's financial infrastructure.

Since the economic downturn in 2008, the NCC has struggled to pay its bills even as it had already made efforts to cut expenses.

But the United Church of Christ, another denomination affiliated with NCC, remains strongly committed to the NCC as it struggles with funds and transition.

UCC Rev. Karen Georgia A. Thompson, who serves as the Secretary for the NCC and is a member of the Executive Committee, told CP that her denomination will be active in helping the NCC.

"Over the years, the UCC has stood behind that commitment with financial resources, as well as through the involvement of staff of the UCC serving in various capacities on boards and committees of the Council," said Thompson.

"During this time of transition at the NCC, UCC representatives to the Council are active participants in the decision making process that will ensure the continued success of the National Council of Churches."

According to Jenks, recently installed NCC President Kathryn Mary Lohre has been active in attempting to get more funding and ideas for how to make NCC more efficient in its mission.

"President Lohre recently issued a special appeal to member communions to seek additional funding above and beyond regular giving to support transition costs in this period of re-envisioning the NCC," said Jenks.

"She has also been in touch with communion heads and NCC board members to maintain a constant exchange of ideas. She has met with staff members individually and participated fully in a daylong staff planning retreat early in February."

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