Winkler speaks on the importance of faith voices in larger conversations, future of National Council of Churches

By Emily Woodell, Baptist Joint Committee Intern

Jim Winkler at DC Chapter meetingOn March 19, the Washington D.C. chapter of the Religion Communicators Council sat down with Jim Winkler, the newly elected General Secretary/President of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. The conversation centered on the future of the organization and religion in the United States.

The National Council of Churches has been an ecumenical leader in uniting Christians across the United States since its founding in 1950. Its members reflect the diversity of Christianity within the United States and work with each other to learn and impact the world in positive ways.

This long history of interaction between different traditions gives the National Council of Churches a unique perspective on church membership and participation. In recent years, they have noticed a new trend: declining membership. The decline has led to what Winkler referred to as a "doom and gloom" outlook on the future of the church, especially within smaller denominations.

Despite these shrinking numbers, Winkler is confident about the future of the church as an institution to create change. The National Council of Churches is focused on reestablishing effective communication with their constituents on a personal level to raise awareness of their national efforts. Members of the executive and legislative branch have expressed the importance of faith communities in "swaying the difference" on issues like the minimum wage debates and tobacco regulation. Organizations like the National Council of Churches add a compelling and emotional voice to those conversations that couples well with more scientific arguments.

Winkler's current emphasis is on turning the widespread panic of declining membership into a spiritual and organizational maturity. It is vital for denominations to shift away from a pessimistic gospel to a more positive view. He feels that even with fewer people, the future will be bright for the church as a whole.

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