FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mennonites Become Members of the North Carolina Council of Churches
October 18, 2010
Contact: George Reed
The Eastern Carolina District of the Virginia Mennonite Conference of the Mennonite Church USA is the newest members of the North Carolina Council of Churches. The addition of the group brings to 17 the number of judicatories who have chosen to work with the Council on issues of social justice and Christian unity. More than 1.5 million people of faith in the state are represented through these member organizations.
“Mennonites are one of the three historic peace churches, along with the Friends and the Brethren. We are very pleased to welcome them into Council membership,” said Council Executive Director George Reed. “I am also grateful to Spencer Bradford, pastor of the Durham Mennonite Church and the Council’s former peace associate, for encouraging the Eastern Carolina District to join.”
The district includes five congregations: the Chapel Hill and Greensboro Mennonite fellowships and the Durham, Raleigh and Graham Mennonite churches. Isaac Villegas, pastor at Chapel Hill Mennonite Church, will serve on the governing board of the North Carolina Council of Churches.
“While Mennonites have participated in many collaborative efforts, for a variety of reasons we have been hesitant to formally join ecumenical bodies. Several years ago, Mennonite Church USA, our national conference, became a full participant in Christian Churches Together, but very few area conferences have joined statewide ecumenical bodies,” said Andre Gingerich Stoner, Director of Interchurch Relations, Mennonite Church USA. “ This is an important opportunity for us to give and receive gifts in the body of Christ, to engage with each other at the points of common conviction and also on differences, and to more fully live into our place in the broader body of Christ.”
Founded in 1935, the NC Council of Churches had its beginnings in the movement for racial equality. The Council’s work has since grown to include support for economic justice, farmworker rights, peace, and environmental justice through care of creation, among other areas. While the Council is itself overtly Christian, many of the committees and task groups are interfaith, including members from non-Christian faith communities. Several committees also include members of Christian denominations which are not part of the Council of Churches.
The North Carolina Council of Churches is a statewide organization representing 17 Christian denominations and committed to the twin goals of ecumenism and social justice. More than 1.5 million North Carolinians are members of congregations under the Council’s umbrella.