No Longer Strangers:
The Moravian Church, Moravian Theological Seminary and the National Council of Churches in Partnership
On March 17, a delegation from the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) visited the Northern Provincial headquarters in Bethlehem, and spent several hours in dialogue with representatives of the Moravian Church in America. At the end of the day, two of the NCC representatives visited Moravian Theological Seminary (MTS).
Since its founding in 1950, the NCC has been the leading force for ecumenical cooperation among Christians in the United States. The NCC’s member faith groups — from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches — include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.
The Moravian Church is one of the thirty-five member communions in the NCC. (For ecumenical purposes, the Northern and Southern Provinces are considered one church body and hold a single membership in the National Council.)
The purpose of the Bethlehem meeting—described as a “church-to-church visit”—was for Moravians and colleagues from partner denominations to discuss a wide range of issues, including the current life and witness of the Moravian Church, the ecumenical hopes and commitments of the Moravian Church, issues which may influence Moravian participation in the NCC, and the gifts that the Moravian Church may have to give and receive in ecumenical fellowship.
The NCC visitors included representatives from the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the American Baptist Churches, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the International Council of Community Churches, and the United Church of Christ. The delegation leader was the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the NCC.
Northern Provincial President David Wickmann served as moderator. Fifteen Moravians—among them parish pastors; lay persons; a bishop; district presidents; district, provincial, and inter-provincial staff; and seminary students and faculty—participated in the session. The Rev. Peg Chemberlin, executive director of the Minnesota Council of Churches, was present in the dual capacity of Moravian representative and president-elect of the NCC.
At the conclusion of the church-to-church consultation, Dr. Kinnamon and the Rev. Lydia Veliko, ecumenical officer of the United Church of Christ, came to Bahnson Center, where Dean Frank Crouch greeted them and chaired a meeting with MTS students, faculty, and staff at which the educational and ecumenical mission of the Seminary was discussed.