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National Council of Churches installs new president Thursday

Rev. Peg Chemberlin
Minnesota Council of Churches
Rev. Peg Chemberlin

The Rev. Peg Chemberlin, executive director of the Minnesota Council of Churches, will be installed Thursday as the new president of the National Council of Churches in a 7:30 service at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Minneapolis.

She takes over the religious reins from Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, who represents the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern). The organization encompasses 35 faith groups, from Presbyterians and Methodists to Ukrainian Orthodox and Polish National Catholics.

Chemberlin will retain her post at the MCC while serving her presidential term.

She is known for her work against poverty and has led Minnesota FoodShare. She’s on the poverty task force of the President Obama Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

A MinnPost story in 2007 about Chemberlin’s selection as president-elect of the NCC noted that the group has seen financial woes:

At its zenith, the NCC led the way for the 20th century ecumenical movement in the United States. But as ecumenism lost some of its steam and evangelicals and Roman Catholics gained political capital, the NCC found itself in financial straits by the turn of this century. Critics argued it had abandoned its mission of church unity in favor of promoting left-wing religion. Recent staff cuts were aimed at alleviating a projected budget shortfall for next year.

“There’s always a continuing struggle for viability,” said Chemberlin, a Moravian clergywoman who for nearly 13 years has headed Minnesota’s ecumenical church movement. “We experience that in our denominations and in our congregations.”

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