Often I hear it said, "If the National Council of Churches came to an end, church leaders would gather and decide to create something like it again." I agree. And that might be the best thing that could happen. The NCC's immediate financial crisis is but the symptom of a deeper crisis. Trust in the NCC by the leaders and constituency of many of its member communions has been severely eroded. Further, much ecumenical momentum within the U.S. churches no longer flows through the structures of the NCC.
In short, even if it is capable both of balancing its current books and persuading its member communions to raise the additional funds essential for its financial viability, the NCC would still need to answer an underlying question: What vision of an ecumenical future drives the council, and can it be realized through its present institutional life?
Wesley Granberg-Michaelson’s most recent book is From Times Square to Timbuktu: The Post-Christian West Meets the Non-Western Church. He served for 17 years as the general secretary of the Reformed Church in America and has been active in several ecumenical initiatives, including Christian Churches Together in the USA and the Global Christian Forum.