A cloud is hanging over the 19-story Interchurch Center at 475 Riverside Drive in New York City this summer. That’s the site of headquarters Offices for the National Council of Churches, which is in the midst of the biggest shakeup of top-level management in its twenty-three-year history.

Six Veteran NCC executives got their walking papers last month. Five were let go, according to NCC spokesmen, as part of organizational changes designed “to implement the new structure and management style voted by the NCC General Assembly in December, 1972.” The sixth, the head of the NCC’s big relief arm, said one reason for his dismissal was “deep theological differences.” Announcements of the firings stressed that the action in no way reflected on the personal integrity of the people involved.

NCC general secretary Claire Randall, who took Office January 1, refused to describe how the decision was made to fire the five.

Dismissal of the other official, James MacCracken, executive director of Church World Service, was announced in somewhat more explicit terms by Dr. Eugene L. Stockwell, associate general secretary for overseas ministries. Reportedly, the two had long been at loggerheads. Stockwell is a United Methodist clergyman and MacCracken a Presbyterian layman. Stockwell was quoted as saying that MacCracken was fired for complex reasons rooted in organizational factors. But MacCracken, 51, went beyond that, citing “personality conflict as seen by Dr. Stockwell,” criticism of CWS among certain denominational leaders and overseas church leaders, and “deep theological differences.” CWS has one of the world’s largest relief operations, and its budget is greater than those of all the other NCC agencies put together. Because of its reputation ...

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