Written by Gregg Brekke
"Lean times like ours provide a moment of opportunity," the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches told members and guests of the United Church of Christ at the Ecumenical Achievement Dinner during the 27th General Synod.
The Rev. Michael Kinnamon confessed that he had never expected to lead the NCC at a time of economic stress. "But," he said, "I believe that the member churches of the Council will discover that the NCC is not an organization that churches 'join' but a "covenant that they act out with each other."
Kinnamon, a Disciples of Christ minister, was professor of peace and ecumenical studies at the UCC-related Eden Theological Seminary before becoming General Secretary of the NCC. He is a long-time ecumenist, having also headed the Consultation on Church Union (now known as Churches Uniting in Christ).
He observed that current financial pressures offer a moment in which church leaders will need to decide whether ecumenism is, in fact, a part of their denominational identity.
He also said that the churches may discover more clearly the spiritual dimension of the ecumenical movement. "We will come to affirm with greater conviction that we are together in the hands of God."
Dr. Kinnamon expressed appreciation for the leadership of the United Church of Christ in helping the National Council of Churches see that "the essence of our work is relationship building—that the Council embodies a witness to the God of reconciliation whenever we invite people to work together,"
At the ecumenical dinner, Barbara Brown Zikmund was presented with the Avery D. Post Ecumenical Achievement Award for, among other things, the interfaith directions she set when she was President of the Hartford (Conn.) Theological Seminary.