The National Council Churches may be near collapse or radical restructuring on the eve of its 50th anniversary, according to a report in Religion Today (Nov. 27), an online news service.
For over a decade, there have been mounting reports of the NCC’s financial problems and a lack of support among congregations and some of its member denominations. The NCC is also in the midst of a leadership change as Joan Brown Campbell, general secretary for nine years, will be replaced by Robert Edgar. More seriously, a consulting group hired last year reported that the NCC is in a state of financial and administrative chaos.
The council adopted a recovery plan in October to deal with its $3.2 million operating debt, but the plan has been sharply opposed by the United Methodist Church, one of the most influential member churches. The UMC suspended its financial support to the NCC’s operating fund and stated that its funding will restart only when the council comes up with a balanced budget and workable financial plan.
All this may mean more cuts in programs and staffing to an already lean organization. For many years critics and some members have proposed that the NCC should restructure itself to include Catholic and evangelical denominations along with its largely mainline Protestant membership.
Such a proposal may be gaining in credibility; during the NCC’s Cleveland anniversary meeting, Catholics and evangelical leads will participate in a discussion regarding the council’s future.
(Religion Today, www.religiontoday.com)