This month the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and representatives of its 35 member communions will journey to Cleveland, the city of the NCC's founding in 1950, to celebrate (a few months early) its golden anniversary. But despite the upbeat tone of the 50th anniversary brochure and Web site, some church leaders are wondering whether the council is likely to survive for very long after the ambitious celebration and, if so, in what form.
The New York-based NCC will end the year with a deficit approaching $4 million—$3.987 million, according to one council report, in a budget of $68 million. Deficits are not new for the NCC, but this time it faces an especially severe crisis. Having repeatedly borrowed from reserve funds, its unrestricted reserves are now exhausted.