The National Council of Churches Governing Board approved a "process for a stable and grace-filled transition" after General Secretary the Rev. Michael Kinnamon announced his intention to leave his position due to health reasons.
Members of the governing board received the news with reverence and respect for Kinnamon's leadership of the council during the last four years. Many expressed a sense of loss and offered tributes of appreciation for his ministry.
NCC President the Rev. Peg Chemberlin noted that "Kinnamon's announcement comes at a challenging time for the life of the council but we're encouraged that Michael is willing to work with us on this important transition and be a resource to us going forward."
The two-part Nov. 9 action by the NCC's Governing Board came after Kinnamon, 63, said his cardiologist insisted that the stresses of his current position -- particularly the extensive travel required -- must be reduced immediately and significantly.
"I have a great appreciation for Michael's leadership of the NCC and his commitment to our ecumenical goals over the years has been stellar," said the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, UCC general minister and president. "We will all feel the tremendous loss of his leadership but, most importantly, wish him well and pray for a full recovery of his health.
The council's existing Task Force on General Secretary Oversight will meet with Kinnamon to draft a mutually agreeable separation agreement that the NCC's Executive Committee can act upon at its December meeting.
At the same time, NCC President Peg Chemberlin and President-elect Kathryn Lohre will develop a proposal for transitional leadership for the Executive Committee to consider in December.
The United Church of Christ is one of 37 member communions in the National Council of Churches.