A woman is tabbed to take over the presidency of the National Council of Churches this week as it faces the most crucial hour in its nineteen-year history.

Many months ago, planners of the NCC’s eighth triennial assembly selected as a theme “Therefore Choose Life,” from Deuteronomy 30:19, 20. They may or may not have realized that the organization might actually face a life-or-death situation. As the five-day meeting drew near, council leaders announced they would seek to redefine the organization’s role on the American ecclesiastical scene. Meanwhile militant groups who see the NCC as a big power base laid plans for a takeover. The results will determine the nature and outcome of ecumenism in the United States for years to come.

This year’s assembly may debate personalities more than issues. The leading candidate to succeed Dr. Arthur S. Flemming as NCC president is Dr. Cynthia Wedel, an Episcopal laywoman. Religion editor Hiley Ward of the Detroit Free Press reported that “unless there is a black revolt” she will be elected.

An authoritative NCC source said that NCC leaders had previously sought to nominate Mrs. Martin Luther King but that she had refused to allow it. There also were reports that a leading black churchman might be chosen.

Ward indicated that Dr. Wedel’s name would be presented to the NCC’s two hundred and forty-five-member General Board at its pre-assembly meeting on Saturday, November 29. Dr. Wedel is the wife of Dr. Theodore Wedel, retired canon at Washington Cathedral. She has long been active in ecumenical affairs in the NCC, the World Council of Churches, and her own denomination. Earlier this year she resigned her salaried position as associate general ...

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