The North Carolina Council of Churches could not do its work without the support of faithful individuals who share in our commitment to prophetic vision of social justice.
With our fall appeal underway, Executive Director George Reed’s message to Council friends is excerpted below. His entire letter can be found here. As George explains, donations from individuals have never been more important to the Council. We welcome your contribution, either online or by mail to NCCC, 27 Horne St., Raleigh, NC, 27607.
There is good happening at and around the Council:
- The Moral Monday movement, which was brilliantly conceived by the Rev. William Barber, president of the state chapter of the NAACP (and the only pastor ever to receive the Council’s Faith Active in Public Life Award), has given voice to the concerns of people of faith and has attracted national attention. It is a bright light of hope in a discouraging time.
- Council programming and staffing remain strong. Willona Stallings, Joy Williams, and Shannon Axtell Martin are helping faith communities to focus on the health of clergy and laity through Partners in Health and Wholeness. Chris Liu-Beers is continuing to lead pastors and others to greater activism on behalf of immigrants and farmworkers. Susannah Tuttle is helping congregations to focus on their impact on the care of God’s creation through NC Interfaith Power & Light. In each of these cases, Council programming is widely recognized as unique in bringing people of faith to address these important issues.
- PHW is adding a new program to help make congregations in Wake County more “baby friendly,” especially by facilitating breastfeeding. This innovative approach is consistent with our ongoing work to address childhood obesity because studies show that breastfed babies are less likely to grow into obese children. We welcome Marnie Cooper Priest to this work.
- I should also add that much of this splendid programming is being funded by several of the state’s leading foundations, who recognize the importance of investing in the Council’s work. For 2013, these generous funders include Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC Foundation, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, The Duke Endowment, and the John Rex Endowment.
- Our Covenant Partners affiliation is growing, as congregations and other entities voice their support of our work for prophetic social justice. We began quarterly conference calls for our CP liaisons, and saw an excellent exchange of ideas there.
- Additional signs of interest in the Council’s programs were evidenced by a growing number of subscribers to our weekly E-News and other electronic publications, by traffic on our website (since January 1 of this year, the site has had more than 30,000 visitors), and by strong response to our four regional “State of the Council” gatherings in the fall.
- New publications during the year include an expanded Acts of Faith worship resource, Lenten and Advent Guides, “From Jerusalem to Jericho: Christian Witness on the Tax-Sustained Road,” and bulletin inserts on the Affordable Care Act and federal immigration reform. These resources also point out another good thing happening at the Council: We have had a string of gifted interns from the Duke Divinity School and the Masters of Social Work program at NC State.
Of course, sadly, we face challenges, as a state and as a Council.
- Moral Mondays arose as a response to the terrible decisions being made by our General Assembly and governor. Friends of the Council have been distressed and depressed as we’ve watched decades of progress, much of it on issues the Council has been working on, vanish in a few weeks. Please read the analysis by Steve Ford, who retired near the end of 2012 as editor of the editorial page at the News & Observer of Raleigh and who is now writing brilliant updates and analyses for the Council.
- We have seen the passing of a number of Council friends, past and present – leaders within the Council, heads of our member judicatories, and financial supporters. I won’t try to list them – I’d surely leave someone out – but their passing is our loss.
- A third piece of sad news is that the Council’s two Catholic dioceses will be withdrawing from membership at the end of the year. We have been in conversation with the two bishops for four years, so it is not a sudden decision on their part. But it is still painful for it ends the 35 years of official relationship we’ve had. It’s also a financial hit for us. The two dioceses had been contributing together $12,000 per year, which has been more than 10% of the funding we receive from our member judicatories and member congregations.
Which brings me to the Council’s financial picture. Here, too, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that we continue to see a slippage in funding from our member judicatories, historically the principal source of support for the Council’s core budget (which keeps us operational, enables us to do all of the things we do that aren’t part of the specific programs mentioned above, and keeps the Council as a viable, influential organization worthy of foundation investment). Over the last five years, that core funding from member bodies has shrunk from about $130,000 to only $90,000. Other than the loss of Catholic funding, which was based on the Council’s neutrality on abortion and our opposition to the marriage amendment, all of this reduction has been because of funding shortfalls in our member bodies, NOT disagreement with the Council. But the losses still have an important impact.
The good news financially is that you – our individual friends – have stepped up. Last year, for the first time, our financial support from member judicatories and member congregations was surpassed by gifts from individuals and other congregations. So, because of your generosity and your belief in the value of the Council, we have not had to reduce any of the Council’s work. Of course, in these challenging days for prophetic social justice in North Carolina, any limiting of the Council’s ability to address the state’s regression would be significant. Thank you for continuing to stand with us.