It Couldn’t Happen to a Nicer Group of Guys

I love Schadenfreude.

Seriously though, please note how little the OCA gives in dues to the NCC. The piddling amount is not the issue but what it represents: nothing less than the NCC willing to accept such meager fare for the express pleasure of having an Orthodox jurisdiction as one of its chief members. The theological cover we presented to the NCC was that important to them. And let’s not forget that when +Jonah was elected as Metropolitan and he expressed hope that we’d finally pull out (as had the Antiochians), Syosset pulled out all the stops to derail this effort and continues to do so to this day.

Why? I guess because as far as the liberals were concerned, the OCA got a lot of bang for its buck.

P.S. Don’t feel too sorry for them. After all, they’ve always got Soros to fall back on. Article follows.

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Source: Institute for Religion and Democracy

The once influential National Council of Churches (NCC) may again be approaching possible financial collapse.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Presiding Bishop told the NCC’s September board meeting: “We have 18 months sustainability.” All voting NCC board members were scrambling for “immediate sustainability,” mostly behind closed doors as they discussed the NCC’s audit and budget. Further highlighting the crisis was an interruption of the meeting by placard waving union employees distressed over benefit cuts to NCC staffers.

At its meeting at the famous “God Box” headquarters on New York’s Upper Westside, the NCC board struggled over how to survive its already tight finances in a difficult economy. Representing over 30 denominations, the declining ecumenical organization has wrung its hands over finances for over a decade. But this latest threat may bring it closer than ever before to the precipice.

NCC member denominations, many of them losing members, like the United Methodists and Presbyterian Church (USA), continue to reduce their contributions. For instance, the UMC reduced from giving $543,265 last year to offering $ 442,404 this year. Some members like the Greek Orthodox Church and historic black denominations continue to give nothing or token amounts. The Orthodox Church in America, for example, contributed a mere $1,000 to the ECF Fund. Now, private donors are reducing contributions too.

IRD had a hard time gaining access to the specifics of NCC’s latest financial straits. Whenever discussing the audit, the NCC board went into “executive session” barring most NCC staff and all outside observers. These closed-door meetings generally stretched longer than scheduled. No doubt much time was spent on details of the NCC’s needed “streamlining.” The organization’s status reflects that of several member communions; as one African Methodist Episcopal representative bluntly reported: “I don’t know about the rest of you, but all I’ve been hearing from our denominations is ‘Cuts, cuts, cuts.’” Trimming staff is proving to be one of the most painful experiences for the ecumenical movement.

Eventually, some important information rose to the surface as NCC President Rev. Peg Chemberlin and Women’s Ministry director Rev. Ann Tiemeyer both mentioned losing a million-dollar donor. Since last year’s budget was around $4 million, this cut is quite significant. Even the Aetna Corporation’s starter grant of $25,000 offered little encouragement.

At one point, the board broke up into small table groups to propose solutions to these besetting toils. One table, headed up by Bishop Mark Hanson and United Methodism’s Betty Gamble, even recommended the NCC take a “jubilee.” Under this plan, the NCC would withdraw from public activities and focus on fundraising. Many delegates pointed out that such a recess would negate any reasons for donors to contribute. General Secretary Michael Kinnamon confessed: “I will mention that sometimes in the middle of the night I lament.”

Accentuating the tension was an interruption by the NCC staffers’ union, the Association of Ecumenical Employees, which marched into the board meeting waving placards. Ironically, the pro-union NCC has been trying to reduce retirees’ health benefits with its own union. It seems that contract negotiations have lasted nearly eight months, prompting distressed unionists to conduct their silent interruption, after which they quietly marched out.

Amid the troubled finances, both Kinnamon and Hanson advocated the NCC rediscover its theological identity. As NCC President-elect Kathryn Lohre suggested, “It would be wise to see if we’re going through some kind of purification for the greater good.” But there were no talks about sin and salvation. Instead, most voices emphasized traditional NCC liberal political themes. Staffer Jordan Blevins, for instance, led a peace litany that read, “We pray our children pursue peace-vocations.” Also, a Children’s Defense Fund’s representative met agreement when she urged members to “make sure the rich and powerful contribute their fair share.” In similar turn, female board members touted feminist activism while minority voices emphasized affirmative action.

Kinnamon and Hanson want the NCC to focus on poverty issues (i.e. mostly touting government programs) for the moment. Hanson observed; “You can talk abstractly about ecumenism or you can join with those causes that are furthering the kingdom of God now” like Sojourners and the “Circle of Protection” protest against government welfare and entitlement spending limits. Kinnamon went on to say that the “Circle” is “not a matter on which we can be divided or silent.” At the conclusion of the frayed and frustrated gathering, a Quaker representative exclaimed: “Some new thing was trying to birth among us today…the new fire is not just for the young people. It’s among us and it just needs to be captured.”

As senior NCC officials try to rally around traditional liberal political causes, many traditional Christians may ask what is so unique about such stances. If only offering a narrow set of political and economic policies, the NCC is merely slapping religious terms on liberal initiatives. Would the NCC’s removal from America’s religious landscape have any major consequence?


  1. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    Why are we still apart of such a heretical and anti-Christian Organization? Why? Why? Why? ALL Orthodox Churches need to leave and need to leave now! These people are NOT christian. They may be good people, but why are we providing cover for them as faux Christians?

    Ever since I was a child not one Greek Orthodox, Antiochian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox or Orthodox Christian of the OCA and the ROCOR had anything good to say about the NCC, WCC or Ecumenism in general. I along with others have been praying, pleading and screaming for us to leave the NCC and Ecumenism in general for a very long time. It is high time we did so, and did so QUICKLY!!


  2. Read It And Weep says

    Organizations like the NCC and the WCC played an important role for Orthodox Christians when the Iron Curtain made it almost impossible for Orthodox to meet other Orthodox during the Soviet era. Many important contacts between Orthodoxs were forged as a result of these ecumenical meetings.

    But now, with the fall of Communism and the rebirth of the Orthodox Churches that suffered under the Soviet and Eastern European Red yoke, using the WCC, in particular, is not at all necessary for the Orthodox Churches. As for the NCC, it provided a platform for the Orthodox when it was important, in the mid to late 20th century, for Orthodox to be seen.

    But today, with the advent of the Internet, with free travel to all Orthodox countries, the Orthodox have every opportunity to be seen and heard in the USA and the world, quickly and easily thus making our participation in such ecumenical organizations less important and some argue totally unnecessary and counter-productive to Orthodox witness.

    Others, like one of the most famous Orthodox ecumenists, Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky, has made a lifetime of world travel on the backs of the NCC and the WCC. He has and will continue to plead the case for the OCA to maintain her memberships in these organizations. This is purely a self-serving egotistical desire on his part to play the role of some sort of Orthodox Kissinger.

    The OCA has had resolutions before its All American Councils for several years for it to leave these organizations, but that has been fought off by Kishkovsky playing on the “poor little OCA needs to be seen” argument. That argument, like the need for these organizations has past and the relative benefit of our membership in the NCC and WCC has been exhausted.

    These organizations have done little or nothing to advance the Orthodox witness compared to the grass-roots evangelism done by parish priests and laity in communities around the world.

    It is time for the OCA to save its $1000 annual tip to the NCC and its dues to the WCC and move one and let such organizations either finally become the unabashed playground for wacky left-wing christian agendas or mercifully fade away into the dust bin of history.

  3. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    For the schism and heresy that Ecumenism costs our Church we could have done without the recognition and the contacts.


    • Read It And Weep says


      In hindsight, as soon as the Iron Curtain fell, we could have said goodbye and moved on. But, the powers that were and still be in the OCA External Affairs Department have pushed back very hard on leaving, as I believe, only for personal advantage and prideful motives. As long as Kishkovsky is still traipsing around the world to promote himself and not the OCA, and badmouthing +Jonah as he did on his most recent trip to Moscow, where, by the way, he met with no high-ranking MP officials, and clear sign of his falling credibility with Moscow, as long as this continues, the OCA will still be led not by policy but by personal agendas being passed off as policy.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Peter, I agree with you. Even though they provided us with contacts behind the Iron Curtain, it came at a price, which is the loss of our Orthopraxy. If they were true Christians, they would have provided us these same contacts simply as an act of Christian charity. Just like soup kitchens feed all comers whether they belong to the church which sponsors the kitchen or not. Instead, the more clever among them (always theological liberals) beguiled us with promises of “support” and “a seat at the table.” All we had to do was give up our theological rigor.

      I’ve taken Metropolitan +Philip to task the past couple of years for some things, but he deserves a roudy “hip hip, hourah” for what he did back in 2003.

      Enough of these people, their adherence to traditional Christianity is minimal if that. We lose more by breaking bread with them than we’ll ever get out.

      • Agreed: It is past time that the OCA got out of both the NCC and WCC.

        • Peter A. Papoutsis says

          Agreed to everything said.


          • Reader Daniel says

            At the AAC in Pittsburgh in ‘08, +Jonah did express hope that we’d finally pull out, to considerable applause if I remember correctly. It was then debated for a short while…a few spoke eloquently why we need to pull out, and Kishkovsky gave his usual defense. But the momentum of the arguments and general feeling of the room were not in Fr. Leonid’s favor. Nevertheless, further discussion was tabled to another time, perhaps another AAC. Any chance NCC/WCC withdrawal will be on the agenda in November?

  4. Chicagoan Observer says

    What is the point of the NCC anymore, anyway? It is not like America is a Christian country anymore. What purpose does the NCC serve, other than a holdover from days gone by when Christianity was dominant in America and there was a need to unify different branches of Christianity.

    Yes, it is a HUGE WASTE OF TIME for any Orthodox body to be involved with the NCC anymore. It serves no purpose these days, and it should become defunct. Let it die a natural death.

  5. Read It And Weep says

    If anyone is actually going to Seattle for the AAC in October/November, you will notice that any attempt to bring the NCC/WCC withdrawal question was scuttled in the Resolutions Committee. You can expect the same old “it is all about me” Leonid Kishovsky External Affairs report at the AAC and the usual attempt to lull the good delegates into a desire to say “yes to anything as long as Leonid with shut up.”

    Sadly that lack of attention has led the OCA to spend millions of dollars on External Affairs and what do we have to show for it? Not much, if anything. If you all want to have a Church that is a “legend in her own mind” then that is what the OCA is today. Thanks a lot Leonid for only feathering your own bed for the last 30 years at the expense of the Church that pays you a salary.

    Sadly, +Jonah’s words about the NCC/WCC uttered in Pittsburgh have fallen short since then as we are still, most embarrassingly, a part of both organizations. Maybe he can follow through in his second term if +Mel and +Benjamin don’t get him first!

    • I thought Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky was now in Moscow at St. Catherine’s. Who’s handling the OCA’s external affairs now?

  6. Read It And Weep says

    Kishkovsky is the “remote” dean of St Catherine’s but still residing stateside in NY as priest in Sea Cliff, NY and the OCA External Affairs chief. He went to Moscow to make a show over the 9/11 event since AZ had established the annual commemoration as an opportunity to showcase the OCA Representation Church and honor the fallen ( no disrespect.)

    What is interesting is that Kishkovsky was ordered to bring AZ back with him. Kishkovsky came back alone. He also met with no one higher in the MP than Fr Nikolai Balashov. This is a clear sign that the MP did not consider his trip or presence in Moscow a serious event.


    • Thanks for explaining, Read it. Maybe Fr. Leonid can open another OCA representation parish in Novaya Zemlya.

  7. Read It And Weep says

    Since he didn’t open the first, not sure he has the juice to open a second!