Although temporal concerns have been the mainstay of the National Council of Churches throughout its twenty-four-year history, there have also been brief spurts of interest in the spiritual side of life. The NCC’s Governing Board witnessed the latest such attempt at a semi-annual meeting in New York last month. For the first time, the NCC staff is attempting to draw up a definitive policy statement on evangelism. A pair of new papers have already been prepared as resource materials for the evangelism statement.
NCC general secretary Claire Randall indicated she was thinking of the move as part of what she called a “search for transcendence.” The board had authorized establishment of a working group on evangelism, complete with paid staff if funds are forthcoming, at a meeting earlier this year.
Ms. Randall said the NCC would not abandon its advocacy role for the poor and needy. But she added that “we have to move to struggling more specifically with deeper areas of concern.” She cited growing demands for consideration of “another kind of life style” and the need for exploring “the peculiar responsibility of the church having to do with the meaning of life.”
Underlining the latter point was Dr. Curtis Roosevelt, head of the United Nations liaison with non-government organizations (appropriately enough on the ninetieth anniversary of the birth of his late great grandmother Eleanor). “In my arena,” said Roosevelt, “I do not observe any religious organizations acting as if they understood their unique role.” He said that the present style of Christian religious organizations was either aping or competing with foreign offices or a style indistinguishable from social organizations.
“Someone has to begin speaking to the major issues ...1
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