National Council of Churches

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The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, usually identified as the National Council of Churches (NCC), is an ecumenical partnership of 38 Christian faith groups in the United States. Its member denominations, churches, conventions, and archdioceses include Mainline Protestant, Orthodox, African American, Evangelical, and historic peace churches. Together, they encompass more than 100,000 local congregations and 45 million adherents.[citation needed] It began as the Federal Council of Churches in 1908, and expanded through merger with several other ecumenical organizations to become the National Council of Churches in 1950.[1]

The NCC's influence reached its peak in the 1950s, largely because of its commitment to ecumenism, and to the popularity of a wide variety of collaborative programs and ministries undertaken by its member churches, including the humanitarian movement, Church World Service.

The NCC's strong position against the Vietnam War in the 1960s alienated many laity, leading to a decline in influence among pro-war members of some of its member bodies.[2]


File:NCC USA.jpg
Old Logo of the NCC

The Council's 38 member denominations, churches, conventions, and archdioceses include Mainline Protestant, Orthodox, African American, Evangelical, Josephite, and historic peace churches.[3] Individual adherents of more than 50 Christian faith groups actively participate in NCC study groups, commissions and ministries. Some of these participants belong to Christian faith groups, including the Roman Catholics, fundamentalists, Southern Baptists, and Missouri Synod Lutherans, that are not officially a part of the Council's membership.[2]

All NCC member organizations subscribe to the NCC's statement of faith, which forms the preamble to the NCC's charter: "The National Council of Churches is a community of Christian communions, which, in response to the gospel as revealed in the Scriptures, confess Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, as Savior and Lord. These communions covenant with one another to manifest ever more fully the unity of the Church. Relying upon the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, the communions come together as the Council in common mission, serving in all creation to the glory of God." [4]

Social and political advocacy

According to Gill (2011), the NCC's position against the Vietnam War became increasingly strident in the 1960s and 1970s, and alienated the laity.[2] As in the Mainline churches, the senior officials and the laity had diverging positions on public policy.[5] At one point conservative media falsely reported NCC had channeled money to Communist groups in Vietnam and left-wing groups in Central America, provoking an outcry. Even the NCC's defenders admitted it had been "opaque" and "tone-deaf to their constituents."[6]

Although often accused of being a left-wing organization, the NCC never attracted support from the New Left. The result of being caught in the national polarization between left and right in a variety of controversies has been a long-lasting challenge to its influence.[2]

The member churches have engaged on issues of public policy and moral values, including the adoption of the "Social Creed of the Churches" in 1908, a document addressing the moral and ethical issues facing society, updated by the NCC General Assembly in 2007.[7]

The Council has supported minimum wage laws,[8] environmentalist policies, and affirmative action,[9] and played a significant role in the civil rights movement in the 1960s.[10]

Since the late 1960s the NCC has taken positions sympathetic towards Palestinian land rights.[11]

NCC partners with dozens of other faith-based groups, such as Bread for the World, Habitat for Humanity, and Children's Defense Fund, to press for broad policy initiatives that address poverty issues.[12] The Council helped launch the Let Justice Roll grassroots anti-poverty campaign that has been successful in raising the minimum wage in more than 20 states since 2005.[13]

In July 2005, the Antiochian Orthodox Church suspended its participation in the NCC because, according to an assistant to the denomination's senior cleric, "the NCC...seems to have taken a turn toward political positioning." [14]

Publishing and research

The NCC fostered the multi-denominational research effort that produced the Revised Standard Version and the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, and holds the copyright to both translations.[15]

The NCC sponsors the research program on which the Uniform Sunday School Lesson Series is based. The series began in 1872 under the auspices of the National Sunday School Convention.[16]

The NCC also published until 2012 the annual Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, since 1916 a widely used reference work on trends, statistics and programmatic information on religious organizations in North America. Future editions of the Yearbook will be published by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB).[17]

Theological and ecumenical dialogue

The NCC Faith and Order Commission is an ongoing, scholarly, ecumenical dialogue among North American Christian theologians and church historians, including Evangelical, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, mainline Protestant, and African-American scholars.[citation needed] In 2007, the Commission celebrated its fiftieth anniversary.[18]


The NCC is a founding member of the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission, a partnership established in 1980 to provide religious television programming for the local affiliates of ABC, NBC and CBS.[19] The current IBC members include a variety of Jewish, Muslim, Protestant and Catholic organizations.[19]


The Council was the original anchor tenant in the 19-story Interchurch Center built in 1952 adjacent to Columbia University, Union Theological Seminary and The Riverside Church in New York City. It vacated these premises in 2013 when it consolidated its offices in the building long used by its public-policy staff at 110 Maryland Avenue, N.E., on Capitol Hill in Washington DC.[20]

See also


  1. "Civil Rights Greensboro: National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA". Retrieved 2012-05-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Jill K. Gill (2011). Embattled Ecumenism: The National Council of Churches, the Vietnam War, and the Trials of the Protestant Left. Northern Illinois University Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "National Council of Churches: Membership List". Retrieved 2014-03-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "About the National Council of Churches".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Jason S. Lantzer (2012). Mainline Christianity: The Past and Future of America's Majority Faith. NYU Press. p. 57.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Diane Winston (2012). The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the American News Media. Oxford University Press. pp. 189–90.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "The Social Creed of 1908 Updated for 21st Century".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Faith and community leaders urge Congress to raise minimum wage to $7.25 an hour". NCC News. Retrieved 2007-04-10.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. NCC General Assembly (1997). "Resolution on Continued Support For Affirmative Action".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Findlay, Jr., James F. (1993). Church People in the Struggle: The National Council of Churches and the Black Freedom Movement, 1950-1970. Oxford University Press Inc, USA. ISBN 0-19-507967-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. James Q. Wilson (2010). American Politics, Then & Now: And Other Essays. AEI Press. pp. 126–27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "NCC's Partners in Ministry". National Council of Churches. Retrieved 2010-03-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Morality of the Minimum". The Nation magazine. Retrieved 2007-05-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "NCC Speaks Out About Withdrawal of Orthodox Church". 2005-09-30. Retrieved 2007-04-07.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "The Bible and Christian Life".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Historic Uniform Series Now Meets 21st Century Needs". Retrieved 2007-04-22.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Yearbook Transition".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "Celebrating 50 Years of Faith and Order". Retrieved 2007-05-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. 19.0 19.1 "About Interfaith Broadcasting Commission: History". Interfaith Broadcasting Commission. Retrieved 2010-03-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Markoe, Lauren (February 13, 2013). "Cash-strapped National Council of Churches to move to D.C." Religion News Service. Retrieved 2013-09-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links