The National Council of Churches Governing Board met at the Washington, DC United Methodist Building to discuss restructuring, finances, and future prospects. The venerable ecumenical body has fallen upon economic hard times as of late; financial strains leave the NCC’s future unsure. An ashen-faced president Kathryn Lohre confessed, “Are we in an ecumenical winter or ecumenical spring?…We’re clearly in the ecumenical winter.” “We are challenged to ground our hope in anticipation of growth and newness,” she furthered. Lohre foretold a “dormancy…a blessed gestation period” for the organization.
The board explored the new NCC workflow model. Transitional General Secretary Peg Birk instructed, “It’s an experiment. It doesn’t mean we’ve given up or won’t move forward.” NCC representatives will have to “relinquish ways of working together used for a long time.” “Change is hard,” she warned.
In conclusion, Birk stated, “It’s not about the money. It’s about the NCC living into its call to visible unity….” The apparent pessimism nevertheless indicates that matters are not all well in the world of federal ecumenism. Representatives took a break from business this afternoon to petition Congressional leaders to support entitlement programs during the lame duck period.