|The Petition is amended as follows:
Add new resolution:
Resolution on the National Council of Churches
WHEREAS, The United Methodist Church is a longtime member communion of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (
NCC NCCCUSA); and
WHEREAS, the NCCCUSA was founded for the important purpose of advancing unity in the body of Christ in the United States; and
WHEREAS, Christian unity is an important Scriptural mandate (John 13:34-35, 17:20-24, 1 Corinthians 12:4-31, Ephesians 4:11-16);
WHEREAS, the NCCCUSA still defines itself in its constitution as “a community of Christian communions, which, in response to the Gospel as revealed in Scriptures, confess Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, as Savior and Lord”; and
WHEREAS, despite such noble sentiments involved in the NCC’s beginning, today it has failed to include Roman Catholics (who officially participate in other ecumenical councils and groups), some Orthodox churches in the U.S., or more than an increasingly minority portion of American Protestants; and WHEREAS, few members of NCCUSA-affiliated churches are very familiar with the council, and even fewer would connect the NCC to the ministry of their local congregation; and
WHEREAS, there is significant evidence that the NCC has also alienated many members of its own affiliated churches, with then-NCC General Secretary Bob Edgar, who had every incentive to underestimate, telling the New York Times in 2004 that the council’s longtime critic, the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), spoke for about one-third of the core of the NCC’s claimed constituency: mainline churchgoers; and
WHEREAS, in 2007, the IRD released a special report of the NCC entitled: Strange Yokefellows: The National Council of Churches and Its Growing Non-Church Constituency; and
WHEREAS, this report is now available online at www.ird-renew.org/yokefellows <http://www.ird-renew.org/yokefellows> and reproduces many pages of the NCC’s own financial documents; and
WHEREAS, this report found that, measured in dollars, political activism was by far the largest single programmatic area of the council’s work; and
WHEREAS, the NCC’s positions on public policy issues reflect the political opinions of NCC officials, but routinely exclude voices from outside their political perspective and fail to seek widespread local church involvement; and
WHEREAS, the NCC’s many public policy pronouncements consistently reflect one ideological perspective; and
WHEREAS, the body of Christ in the United States, both within and without the United Methodist Church, includes persons of diverse political views; and
WHEREAS, witness for the Gospel of Jesus Christ is damaged when the NCC divides the body of Christ along a partisan political fault line; and
WHEREAS in a 2005 fundraising letter, the NCC made no mention of its founding goal of promoting Christian unity, but instead boasted of fighting against conservative Christians and “work[ing] closely with” MoveOn.org, a secular, partisan political group that often lacks civility;
WHEREAS, the 2005 General Assembly of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, another founding member communion of the NCC, afterwards overwhelmingly voted to depart the NCC; and
WHEREAS, in explaining why, Fr. George Kevorkian, Assistant to that denomination’s leader, Metropolitan Philip Saliba, cited that NCC fundraising letter as “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” and explained that “this does not represent a signal that we will be withdrawing from ecumenical groups,” but rather that this would enable them to better focus their “limited energy and resources ... on groups and activities that are more aligned with the primary mission, which is spreading the word of Jesus Christ”; and
WHEREAS, our denomination’s General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns (GCCUIC) responded to this development by sending a letter to then-NCC President Thomas Hoyt and to the Antiochian Archdiocese protesting the “partisan political tone” of the NCC letter and charging that the NCC had failed to adequately respond to the Antiochian Archdiocese’s concerns either before or after its withdrawal; and
WHEREAS, the NCC never expressed public regret for the letter; and
WHEREAS, in a statement printed with his permission in Strange Yokefellows, the Very Rev. Olof Scott, Chairman of the Archdiocese’s ecumenical office said that “Strange Yokefellows fleshes out the primary reason for the withdrawal of the Antiochian Orthodox” from the council; and
WHEREAS, other prominent endorsers of Strange Yokefellows include United Methodist theologian Thomas Oden, Bishop Robert Duncan of the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Pittsburgh, Eastern Orthodox columnist Frederica Mathewes-Green, and Bishop Basil of the Antiochian Orthodox Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America; and
WHEREAS, the NCC’s two main avenues for receiving funding from its member communions are the Ecumenical Commitment Fund (ECF) and Cognate funding; and
WHEREAS, according to the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) and the NCC’s audited financial statements, The United Methodist Church’s total contributions to these streams amounted to 35.6% of the NCC’s total income from it member communions ($656118 out of $1,854,520) in the NCC’s 2005-2006 fiscal year, 34.1% ($596,233 out of $1,750,332) in the 2004-2005 fiscal year, 31.4% ($566,459 out of $1,803,539) in 2003-2004, 32.6% ($597,123 out of $1,834,441) in 2002-2003, and 34.7% ($844,148 out of $2,431,879) in 2001-2002; and
WHEREAS, NCC counts its constituency as the 45 million U.S. members of affiliated churches, of which United Methodists compose roughly 18%; and
WHEREAS, we United Methodists have therefore been paying nearly twice our fair share to the NCC when declining U.S. membership and tightening budgets are straining our support of important ministries; and
WHEREAS, such disproportionately large financial contributions to the NCC obligate us to scrutinize the NCC’s stewardship; and
WHEREAS, Strange Yokefellows found that despite heavy United Methodist funding, the NCC, by its 2004-2005 fiscal year, was receiving more funds from largely secular and political foundations and activist groups than from the NCC’s member communions; and
WHEREAS, during that fiscal year, only six of the NCC’s sixteen top funders were actually church groups; and
WHEREAS, recent non-church financial supporters of the NCC include the Sierra Club, the AARP, and the foundations of professing atheists Ted Turner and George Soros; and
WHEREAS, since the release of Strange Yokefellows, the NCC has become more secretive about its finances, refusing to release previously available information; and
WHEREAS, despite its alleged neutrality on homosexuality, NCC officials have repeatedly promoted opposition to The United Methodist Church’s teaching, including their promotion of Edgar’s recent book, Middle Church: Reclaiming the Moral Values of the Faithful Majority from the Religious Right, which advocates the ordination of self-avowed, practicing homosexuals, and their co-sponsoring “Ecumenical Advocacy Days” conferences in 2006 and 2007, which featured presentations by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; and
WHEREAS, the NCC, despite the noble founding intentions, has sadly become a divisive force within the body of Christ in the United States,
WHEREAS Church World Service, the international relief agency associated with the NCC, is now financially and administratively independent of the NCC;
WHEREAS, any serious reform of the NCC may not be realistic; and .
Therefore, be it resolved, that the 2008 General Conference offers its prayers for God’s will for the NCC to be realized
Whereas, the United Methodist Church, as a significant contributor to the work of the NCCCUSA will seek assurances, through the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns (GCCUIC) and The Council of Bishops, that the NCCCUSA remain faithful and accountable to the purpose defined in its Constitution,
Therefore, be it resolved that the 2008 General Conference offer its prayers for God's will for the NCCCUSA to be realized.
The Committee recommends to adopt the above.
Laurie Goodstein and David Kirkpatrick, “Conservative Group Amplifies Voice of Protestant Orthodoxy,” New York Times, 22 May 2004.
Pauline J. Chang, “Orthodox Church Leaves National Council of Churches,” Christian Post, 5 August 2005; available from <http://www.christianpost.com/article/20050805/3785_Orthodox_Church_Leaves_National_Council_of_Churches.htm> ; accessed 26 October 2007.
Linda Bloom, “United Methodist agency looks inside, outside on unity issues,” United Methodist News Service, 27 September 2007; available from <http://www.umc.org/site/c.gjJTJbMUIuE/b.1074039/k.CB99/United_Methodist_agency_looks_inside_outside_on_unity_issues.htm> ; accessed 26 October 2007.