Justice and peace advocate to be US churches leader

Justice and peace advocate to be US churches leader

By staff writers
4 Oct 2007

The Rev Dr Michael Kinnamon, known for his work on issues of justice and peace, has been nominated as the next General Secretary of the National Council of Churches (USA).

He is a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) clergyman and a long-time educator and ecumenical leader

If affirmed by the council's Governing Board and General Assembly next month, Kinnamon will become the Council's ninth general secretary since its beginnings in 1950. He succeeds the Rev Bob Edgar who resigned August 31 to become president and CEO of Common Cause.

Speaking from his office at Eden Theological Seminary in St Louis after his nomination was announced, Kinnamon cast an eye to the future.

"What I want to stress is that a council of churches isn't just an agency that does things for churches," he said. "It's a community of the churches themselves."

Acknowledging that the National Council of Churches is undergoing a reorganization and reduction in staff because of reduced revenues, Kinnamon expressed confidence that member churches will renew their commitment to the missions and ministries they carry out through the NCCUSA.

"Because of their life together, I hope churches will engage each other in depth and with accountability," he said. "I hope to encourage member churches to pray for one another and know one another at a deeper level than simply across a meeting table or picket line."

Kinnamon was General Secretary of the Consultation on Church Union, which became Churches Uniting in Christ, from 1999 to 2002. He was executive secretary of the World Council of Church's (WCC's) Commission on Faith and Order from 1980 to 1983 and had a major role in drafting their major planning document, "Toward a Common Understanding and Vision of the WCC."

He has been the Allen and Dottie Miller Professor of Mission, Peace and Ecumenical Studies at Eden Theological Seminary since 2000. He was professor of Theology and Ecumenical Studies at Lexington, Ky., Theological Seminary from 1988 to 2000 and was dean of the seminary from 1988 to 1998.

Kinnamon was Assistant Professor of Theology at Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, from 1983 to 1988 and Acting Dean from 1986 to 1988. He was a visiting professor at United Theological College and South Asian Theological Institute, Bangalore, India, in 1987 and 1997.

Michael Kinnamon is a member of the National Council of Churches Governing Board and chair of the Council's Justice and Advocacy Commission. He has overseen the commission's development of resolutions and statements on a wide range of justice and peace issues and was the primary drafter of the NCCUSA's Strategic Plan drafting committee over the past three years.

NCCUSA President Michael Livingston welcomed news of the nomination.

"Michael Kinnamon is well known to those of us on the Governing Board and we have always appreciated his ecumenical commitment and knowledge, his commitment to the visible unity of the body of Christ, and his unwavering dedication to social justice," Livingston said.

Clare J. Chapman, who has been serving as Acting General Secretary since September 1, said she was delighted Kinnamon has been nominated "to this new place of ministry" with the NCCUSA.

"He brings tremendous skills and commitment to a very important leadership role in the ecumenical movement," Chapman said.

Kinnamon earned a PhD from the University of Chicago Divinity School in 1980, in the field of religion and literature. He studied at Tel Aviv University from 1969 to 1970.

Michael Kinnamon has written extensively on the ecumenical movement, most recently, The Vision of the Ecumenical Movement and How it has Been Impoverished by its Friends. He wrote the official report of the Seventh Assembly of the World Council of Churches, and he is the co-editor of The Ecumenical Movement: An Anthology of Key Texts and Voices, a volume widely regarded as an essential tool for students of ecumenism. Kinnamon has made important contributions to two other staples of ecumenical literature, The History of the Ecumenical Movement and the Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement.

Eden Theological School President David Greenhaw said Kinnamon's nomination for general secretary brings "the sadness of saying goodbye to a wonderful scholar and teacher on the Eden faculty," but it also "affirms his gifts for ecumenical leadership and his calling as a servant of the church as it participates in the mission of God in the world."

Kinnamon was ordained in 1976 and he has ministerial standing in the Disciples of Christ and the International Council of Community Churches.

He chaired the NCCUSA's Ecclesiology Study Task Force from 1993 to 1997. He has been a featured speaker at such ecumenical gatherings as the National Workshops on Christian Unity and Ecumenical Advocacy Days in DC.

Michael Kinnamon has been active in the mission and ministries of his denomination and has been a frequent speaker at Disciples and United Church of Christ national and regional assemblies, ministers gatherings and special conferences including the Disciples Peace Fellowship and the North American Pacific Asian Disciples.

He is married to the Rev. Katherine Kinnamon, associate minister of Webster Groves Christian Church in St. Louis. The couple has two daughters, Anna and Leah.

If affirmed by the NCCUSA Governing Board and General Assembly during their meetings November 5-8, 2007 in Woodbridge, Kinnamon will assume his new responsibilities in January 2008.

Keywords: nccusa
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