The First Fifty Years of the North Carolina Council of Churches
AN ECUMENICAL PRAYER
O God of Grace, how merciful thou art! For through thy beloved Son, the Word made flesh, thou hast bound us together in a fellowship of love that overleaps the walls of nation, race, and class. Thus with one accord we exclaim: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
Thanks be to God for the Church, the Body of Christ. Wherein sectarian strife and human dissidence have dishonored the Body, fill us with shame and sorrow. The new manifestations of a schismatic spirit are grievous to behold. Restrain, we entreat thee, those who would fragmentize still further the household of God. Do thou hasten the day when Christ’s prayer for the oneness of his followers will be fulfilled.
For this Council of Churches, we most heartily thank thee. Bless its member bodies, and grant unto them a growing commitment to the ecumenical movement in North Carolina.
As we labor together as Communions, open our eyes to the new fields that are white unto harvest. Sensitize our ears to the anguished cries of families without food and clothing, of abandoned or abused children, of industrial workers suffering from brown lung, of victims of crime and violence, of prisoners without hope, and of all who feel forsaken.
Liberate us from cowardly fear, and deliver us from moral complacency in these confusing and perilous times. Grant us wisdom to discern the right and fortitude to do it. For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory. Amen.
Offered by NC Council of Churches founder Dr. H. Shelton Smith
at Closing Session of House of Delegates
October 18, 1977
Shiloh Baptist Church, Greensboro
The history of the North Carolina Council of Churches is the story of persons, religious leaders struggling to respond in faith to the signs of their times. Sometimes the signs could be clearly read; at other times they had to be discerned through a glass darkly. The records show that the leaders would prefer to be measured in terms of the fullheartedness of their responses rather than the accuracy of their discernment, in terms of their deeds rather than their words.
This document outlines the first fifty years of the Council’s work in North Carolina.
–Sister Evelyn Mattern, May 1985