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A Letter From A Representative of The National Council of Churches

June 30, 2004
Dear Scott:

Thank you for your message inquiring whether the NCC is an open and affirming organization. As you know, the term "open and affirming" and similar descriptions are frequently adopted by congregations, ministries, or movements within a denomination to signal that they welcome the full participation of GLBT people.

The National Council of Churches, however, is not a church or a denomination. Rather we are a council of 36 Protestant and Orthodox communions (denominations) whose NCC membership is voluntary and whose
positions on issues such as the ordination of GLBT people to the ministry, same-sex marriages, etc. differ greatly. Some of our member communions prohibit all such practices, while others ordain openly gay persons and permit same-sex marriage. And, significantly, many churches are divided within themselves over such issues, and are locked in painful and debilitating debate. The Council reflects this brokenness among our
members. Because our members have no consensus on many GLBT-related issues, particularly those related to churchly functions such as ordination and marriage, their Council is not in a position to speak publicly with one voice.

Despite their diversity in approaches to these ecclesial issues, our members have voted to go on record affirming that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are entitled to full civil rights. As far back as 1975, our governing body said that "as a child of God, every person is endowed with worth and dignity that human judgment cannot set aside. Therefore, every person is entitled to equal treatment under the law. For this reason, the NCC has endeavored to insure for all persons regardless of race, class, sex, creed, or place of national origin their full civil rights. To this list the Governing Board now adds affectional or sexual preference. Discrimination based on any of these criteria is morally wrong."

In 1992 we reaffirmed this resolution when we opposed a measure enacted by the state legislature of Colorado that prohibited anti-discrimination protection for homosexual persons. We have spoken out at many other times
on the issue of discrimination against GLBT people and registered our outrage at hate crimes committed against them.

This may be a longer response than you anticipated. However, it begins to reflect the complex reality when 36 diverse communions come together to make their unity in Christ more visible-and to struggle together with the
issues that continue to divide them.

Bob Edgar
General Secretary
National Council of Churches USA

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