National Council of Churches to consolidate operations in its Maryland Avenue offices in Washington
New York, February 13, 2013 – In a move aimed at streamlining operations to “free up the Council to be about the priorities that the churches set together,” the National Council of Churches will consolidate its operations in Washington, D.C.
The NCC will remain in New York through “satellite offices” for three senior program staff: Dr. Joseph Crockett, associate general secretary, Education and Leadership Ministries; Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, associate general secretary, Faith & Order and Interfaith Relations; and the Rev. Ann Tiemeyer, program director, NCC Women’s Ministries.
Discussions are currently underway with NCC partners to secure office space, with the express hope that the Council will be able to maintain its historic presence at The Interchurch Center, 475 Riverside Drive.
One of the satellite offices will be in Union Seminary, across the street from The Interchurch Center.
NCC Transitional General Secretary Peg Birk will join Cassandra Carmichael, head of the NCC’s Washington Office, and Shantha Ready Alonso, director of the NCC’s poverty initiative, in the Council’s offices at 110 Maryland Avenue, an ecumenical center owned by the United Methodist Church.
Six administrative positions have been eliminated by the Council as a result of its ongoing restructuring and a streamlining of its accounting system. Outside vendors will likely provide human resource, IT, strategic accounting, and communications support, according to Birk.
The decision to consolidate operations in Washington followed a feasibility study by staff to determine “where the NCC can best achieve its work, providing the flexibility required by the new structure” Birk said.
The study followed a report last year by an NCC Governing Board Task Force on Revisioning and Restructuring the NCC. “The decision to consolidate operations in Washington provides flexibility for future possibilities concerning the location – or locations – of the Council,” said NCC President Kathryn Lohre.
“The critical NCC policy work can be coordinated from any location but to be the prophetic ‘voice of the faithful’ on the ground in the places of power, it is best served by establishing our operations in Washington,” Birk said.
The long-run savings of the consolidation in Washington are projected at between $400,000 and $500,000, according to Birk.
In the 1960s, the National Council of Churches occupied three floors of The Interchurch Center in New York, in addition to its offices at 110 Maryland Avenue in Washington.
The NCC was the impetus in the planning of The Interchurch Center, which opened in 1960. The Interchurch Center was conceived as the “Protestant Vatican on the Hudson” when President Dwight D. Eisenhower laid the cornerstone in 1958.
Over the years, however, many church denominations moved their headquarters outside New York, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the United Church of Christ.
“It is important that we honor this moment with reverence and respect for the Council’s history as an iconic presence in the beloved ‘God Box,’” said Lohre.
“It is equally important that we look with hope upon this new chapter in the Council’s life,” Lohre said.
“This consolidation will free us from the infrastructure of a bygone era, enabling us to witness more boldly to our visible unity in Christ, and work for justice and peace in today’s rapidly changing ecclesial, ecumenical and inter-religious world.”
Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC’s 37 member communions — from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches — include 40 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.