Confession urged for churchmen

 — May 16, 198516 mai 1985

by Jack Houston, Chicago Tribune

The newly installed head of the National Council of Churches, in his first address before the ecumenical body’s governing board, called Wednesday for a public confession of past institutional sins, a healing of internal structure and a renewed commitment to the council’s goal of Christian unity and service to society.

“I propose we face up to ourselves, to confess our woundedness, our weakness, our lack of will and our other infirmities,” Rev. Arie R. Brouwer told 263 board members gathered in the McCormick Center Hotel for the council’s biannual meeting.

Rev. Brouwer, 49, a clergyman of the Reformed Church in America, was installed as the council’s general secretary in January. In Wednesday’s address, he pointed out that the council has been the object of “increasingly bitter” external and internal attacks over the last 30 years that have “taken their toll in personal pain and in institutional suffering, in decline and disorientation and dismay, and sometimes in despair.”

“I confess them here openly and invite you to confess them with me as an essential step toward healing,” he said.

“Plainly put, the National Council of Churches is still somewhere between the founders’ vision and a confederation. The parts are unbelievably disconnected from one another and from the whole.”

The council, representing 31 Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox denominations, has been under fire in recent years for its alleged leftist political leanings and detachment from mainstream American churchgoers. Though later he acknowledged that his call for renewal was influenced by such outside attacks, Rev. Brouwer concentrated more in his speech on the council’s internal problems.

He cited the body’s Division of Church and Society, its social justice arm, as “an example of our failures in planning, decision-making, programming and funding.

“Much commotion was mistaken for much commitment, which before long resulted in competition, confusion and a large loss of the council’s resources,” he said. He said he has asked the council’s Finance and Service Committee to approve a special $50,000 grant to offset the division’s 1984 debt.

Rev. Brouwer also called for creation of new divisions, commissions and offices needed to meet the council’s ecumenical agenda. For the sake of time, he skipped over specific proposals during his address, but in the text of his speech, he proposed establishment of a Commission on Worship and Evangelism and a Commission on International Affairs.

The proposed international unit, he said, would provide an identifiably responsible body in the council related to the governing board where various social and political tides of global affairs can be assessed. The proposed worship and evangelism unit “promises to give body to our spirit of renewed commitment to the spiritual dimension of our struggles,” Rev. Brouwer said.

Rev. Brouwer first signaled his intentions to revamp the council in a speech last month in Seattle before the United Methodist Council of Bishops.

Posted: May 16, 1985 • Permanent link:
Categories: NewsIn this article: ecumenism, National Council of Churches of Christ (USA)
Transmis : 16 mai 1985 • Lien permanente :
Catégorie : NewsDans cet article : ecumenism, National Council of Churches of Christ (USA)

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