November 23, 2014

February 15, 2013


National Council Packs Its Bags

Jeff Walton of the Institute on Religion and Democracy reports that the National Council of Churches, on its last legs financially, is moving out of its long-time headquarters in New York. Where’s it moving to? The only place that makes sense, given the nature of its mission:

The National Council of Churches confirmed today that the ecumenical council will shut down its historic office on New York’s Riverside Drive, transitioning to a single office in Washington, D.C. A decision to consolidate into a single office has been expected since a report last year by an NCC Governing Board Task Force on Revisioning and Restructuring.

The NCC, once numbering hundreds of staffers, occupied three floors at the Interchurch Center in New York….

The ecumenical body, which counts 37 oldline Protestant, Orthodox, and historically African-American denominations among its members, is also eliminating six positions as part of the “ongoing” reorganization. Transitional General Secretary Peg Birk will now be based in the existing NCC office at the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill, while three senior staff will remain in New York at what are described in a press release as “satellite offices” – one of which will be at nearby Union Seminary.

The cuts follow another round that reduced the council to a dozen full-time and a handful of part-time and contract staff between May and September of 2012. It is unclear which staff will be departing, but longtime Deputy General Secretary Clare Chapman’s biography page has disappeared from the NCC website, and she is now listed as “senior advisor” on the staff roster. Additionally, a Washington, D.C. based office staffer tasked with development and “Eco-Justice” responsibilities is no longer listed. Many of the remaining staff appear to be supported by grants related to the council’s anti-poverty initiative and “Eco-Justice” programs.

Given that the NCC is no longer really a organization with a religious mission at all, but rather a left-wing political lobbying shop inhabited by people who use God-talk, a move to Washington makes sense. That way they can be a lot closer to the people who pay no attention whatsoever to what the NCC has to say.


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4 comments

If I understand correctly, the NCC’s transitional General Secretary (titled as such because of her 18-month contract) will be the only staffer actually moving to the Washington office and joining the 4-5 staffers already there. Three senior staff will remain behind in NY, with all other NY-based staff apparently being laid off. This means the NCC is down to around eight or nine staff—smaller than IRD. Considering that one of the NY-based senior staff is only half-time, the transitional General Secretary is a contract worker, and one of the DC staffers is “secondary” staff paid by another organization, they could be down to six full-time staff.

When I started covering the NCC in 2006, they had about 40 staff.

[1] Posted by Jeff Walton on 2-15-2013 at 02:19 PM · [top]

That really is incredible. I think any organization with half a dozen staff that’s led by a “General Secretary” needs to give some thought to throwing in the towel.

[2] Posted by David Fischler on 2-15-2013 at 03:08 PM · [top]

RE: “a left-wing political lobbying shop inhabited by people who use God-talk . . . “

I like that.  It applies to The Episcopal Church national leadership as well.

[3] Posted by Sarah on 2-15-2013 at 04:24 PM · [top]

#3. Since TEc leadership and the NCC share so many of the same goals, perhaps the Teccies can move in to their Washington DC office as well? A few more people should be able to share the room.

[4] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 2-17-2013 at 08:01 AM · [top]

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