The face of ecumenism in the United States may be changing. Recently, the National Council of Churches (NCC) has taken a first step to broaden its reach to include conservative Protestants, Roman Catholics, and charismatics."It's time for the Christian community in America to kiss and make up," Bob Edgar, the General Secretary of the NCC told Ecumenical News International in May. "It is time to risk ourselves and examine what a national ecumenical organization could look like in a new century."NCC's new emphasis seems to have been spurred on by the organization's financial plight. Membership, funding, and staff have been declining for two decades. Last year was particularly tough for the 35-denomination, 50-million-member organization. Consulting fees, retirement fund errors, and an unexpected rash of burned churches drawing down the NCC's rebuilding fund have left the NCC with an estimated $6.4 million deficit. The NCC board is in the process of reinforcing financial accountability.In May the council received another blow when Church World Service (CWS), an organization under the auspices of the NCC, formalized its break from the council. As the NCC's relief agency, CWS was responsible for about 85 percent of NCC spending, thus eliminating a large part of the NCC's traditional mission.Taking a landmark step of its own in March, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) changed its bylaws to allow NCC members also to have a membership with the NAE if they commit to NAE's statement of faith and mission. This change gave rise to a bid by the Reformed Church in America in June to become the first member of both organizations."The Reformed church has historically been both ecumenical and evangelical," Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, ...1
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