The leftist National Council of Churches (NCC) has recently announcedthe nominee for its new General Secretary / President: Jim Winkler. Winkler is wrapping up his thirteenth year working for the United Methodist Church’s political lobby office, the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) as its General Secretary.
The choice seems sadly appropriate.
Both the NCC and GBCS have had great potential to serve as unifying forces in the body of Christ and provide a space for faithful representation of the United Methodist Church – and chosen to do quite the opposite.
The NCC openly opposes historic Christian teaching (still officially espoused by many NCC member churches) on sexual morality and compassion for unborn children threatened by violence, while under Winkler’s leadership, the GBCS directly opposes some of the very UMC social stances it is paid to promote. Having extensively monitored and attended meetings of both the NCC and GBCS for years, it’s hard to miss very similar behaviors of both very theologically liberal institutions: abusing the names and resources of churches for yawningly predictable, leftist partisan politicking, self-servingly demonizing and bearing false witness against members of their own churches who dare to question their divisive political agendas, simultaneously suggesting that they somehow speak for all members of their affiliated churches, and enjoying little to no effective accountability.
It is rather revealing that the NCC’s likely choice for its next leader is another DC-based partisan political activist rather than someone with more of a background in theology, evangelism, or genuinely Christian bridge-building. For much of the first decade of this century, the NCC was led by the recently deceased Bob Edgar, an ordained United Methodist minister and former Democratic Congressman. Perhaps the selection of yet another United Methodist leader is related to the fact that the United Methodist Church has long provided roughly one-third of the NCC’s total denomination income, despite the fact that United Methodists only constitute only one-sixth of the 45 million U.S. church members the NCC purports to represent.
With the NCC’s entrenched secularized, politically partisan, and actually very anti-ecumenical orientation, Winkler can be trusted to offer no significant shifts to the NCC’s increasingly irrelevant, stuck-in-the-1960s, Liberal Protestant orientation.
Given the left-wing echo chamber that the NCC seems quite happy to remain, I would expect Winkler’s nomination to be quickly rubber-stamped at the NCC governing board meeting next week.
Buy my unsolicited advice to Winkler would be to not get too comfortable in his new perch. The NCC has recently been shedding income and programming as rapidly as GBCS supporters shed core biblical teaching.
Comment by Donnie on November 10, 2013 at 9:22 am
If the NCC wanted to prove it’s an apostate organization, it did admirably well.
Comment by cleareyedtruthmeister on November 11, 2013 at 11:40 am
This is, of course, a marriage made in _______: a left-wing political crusader joining an organization with a history of not just socialistic activism but communist sympathy. The fact that so many of the political/social policies each advocates has led to even greater distress for the poor seems to be ignored.
One is reminded of C. S. Lewis’ admonition in Mere Christianity that clergy should not be overly involved in areas outside their expertise, particularly as it relates to advocacy of political programs. One might assume that Lewis would council political activists–like Winkler–to not be overly involved in ecclesiastics, either.
Close attention should be paid to how much influence Winkler is able to exert on his old liberal friends at GBCS, as well as any favors, financial or otherwise, he is able to garner from them in order to prop up a dying NCC.
Comment by Pudentiana on November 11, 2013 at 4:29 pm
As Screwtape always says, “On the other hand we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything-even to social justice. The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice.
Comment by cleareyedtruthmeister on November 11, 2013 at 5:23 pm
Yes, good point. Using Christianity as a MEANS is the great deception, one which is surprisingly easy to achieve: “…Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist’s shop. FORTUNATELY, IT IS QUITE EASY TO COAX HUMANS ROUND THIS LITTLE CORNER.”
Comment by Jeff Walton on November 12, 2013 at 10:02 am
This makes perfect sense in so many ways: Winkler is already located in DC (he can literally remain in the same building), already fits the NCC liberal advocacy issue profile, and has already built up working relationships with many in the NCC. My only question is this: why does Winkler want to work for the NCC? He’s going from leading a staff of 22 at GBCS to leading a staff of 5-7 at the NCC, three of whom are still in NY.
When I began covering the NCC in 2006, it had a staff of about 40 persons and a budget of over $7 million. There have been three separate rounds of layoffs at the NCC since 2007, with the budget now under $3 million — and significantly tied up with pension obligations.
With secular foundation support now mostly gone, and denominational funding continuing a downward trajectory, I find it unlikely that the NCC will have more than 2-3 staffers by the end of Winkler’s term, if it is still around at all. Maybe he sees something that has eluded me.
Comment by cleareyedtruthmeister on November 12, 2013 at 10:19 am
Jeff, knowing Winkler, there is likely something going on behind the scenes.
Winkler has established ties with the Daddy Warbucks of atheistic secular liberalism–George Soros–so there may be greater access to funds around the corner. I would also be concerned that, using political and personal ties, he would further seduce the UMC into giving more to the NCC.
We also know that Winkler and his GBCS cronies have used the UM building in questionable ways to secure funding for their liberal causes, so that expertise may prove valuable in trying to revive another dying organization.
On the other hand, Winkler has presided over the diminution of the GBCS, so perhaps, if we are lucky, he will act as the de facto angel of death for the NCC.
Comment by Jeff Walton on November 12, 2013 at 10:51 am
If Winkler is able to secure more funding for the NCC, I’d tip my hat to him. While in the God Box, the NCC shared space with any number of liberal philanthropies that could conceivably contribute to the council — but very few did. For as much as conservatives make Soros into the liberal boogeyman, Soros expects a return on his investments. He’s not going to throw good money into an organization unless he believes they have the ability to deliver something.
By now, we should all know that the NCC is capable of delivering little.
Comment by cleareyedtruthmeister on November 12, 2013 at 2:00 pm
I think you are correct–by hook or crook Soros is going to protect his bottom line–I would just point out that, though its influence is greatly diminished, the NCC still wields unwarranted power based on its history. You still see the mainstream media reporting on it from time to time. Orthodox Christian organizations that are much bigger rarely get a mention (except in a negative sense).
Comment by Pudentiana on November 14, 2013 at 2:09 pm
Winkler will have the honor of “closing the door” as he leaves the liberal church into retirement. It is an easy step and now he can keep the wonderful status and soapbox which are necessary for any self-respecting liberal prophet.
Comment by Bill Ruoff on November 6, 2018 at 7:34 pm
So, the vultures have come home to roost! Even though this blog is now five years old, the prophetic finger pointing at Jim Winkler as President of the NCC has borne bitter fruit and I’m specifically referring to the so-called vote, so widely publicized by the main stream media, by the NCC against the confirmation and blatant request that his name be withdrawn from consideration for Supreme Court nominee. Now, it comes to pass that Jim Winkler was ‘given the authority’ to act on his own to issue such a proclamation. This is outrageous and America needs to know what a sham this organization has become, hoodwinking millions of well meaning Christians into believing that these people in positions of power are working for them. What a joke (to echo Brett Kavanaugh).