More than ever, our region needs a connected, relevant, and representative ecumenical organization...
In 1879, a group of leading clergy formed the “Atlanta Preachers’ Meeting” – all clergy, all white, and all men. It was created in response to community need that seemed best approached by a unified Christian group. At that time the plight of orphans was dire, child labor laws were not yet established, and free public education was not universal. Acknowledging the continuing need for greater Christian unity, the “Meeting” added laity and women, opened hands to the needy, and updated its name.
The predecessor to the Regional Council of Churches was the Christian Council of Metropolitan Atlanta. This organization incubated or started many programs and projects that still serve our community; a few of them are Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters, the Airport Interfaith Chaplaincy, Congregational Exchange, Sullivan Center, Atlanta Community Food Bank, Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta. October of 2007 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Ministers Manifesto of 1957. This document, written and signed by leaders of the Christian Council and published by Ralph McGill in the Atlanta Constitution, declared the responsibility of people of faith to speak out in the face of hatred, violence, and oppression and expressed the Christian belief in the equal worth of every person. It was followed by the first Annual Breakfast – Atlanta’s first large-scale, public “sitting-down-together” of the races to eat.
Another defining event for the Council was our role in the community’s response to the many Katrina evacuees who flooded our area, Standing Togerther. Because of our comprehensive and accurately maintained communication system, our ties in judicatories and congregations throughout the region, and our relationships with faith-based and secular ministries and agencies we were able to coordinate response to the needs of the evacuees out of space loaned to us by Grace UMC. There thousands of evacuees obtained housing and employment assistance, food and clothing, mental and physical health screening, short-term childcare, communication help, case management, and support group services.
The Ministers’ Manifesto of 1957 points out the responsibility of people of faith to speak for justice; it shows us that we can have tremendous influence when we work together; and it tells us that the creation of intentional ecumenical community is necessary for this step. When the time to speak out arises or when a disaster like Katrina fills our streets with evacuees, the Council of Churches with ties across our region enables effective collective response.
Today, the growing Atlanta region consists of up to 21 counties – a rich mix of ethnic and racial diversity, long-term residents and recent transplants from all over our country and the world. Now, more than ever, our community needs a connected, relevant and representative ecumenical organization to strengthen the voice of the Christian response to the opportunities and challenges that face us. This is the legacy of leadership, hope and bridge-building that The Regional Council of Churches of Atlanta strives to carry on.
The Regional Council of Churches was created by clergy over a century ago to support faith leaders and nurture a collective mission. The Council continues to be led by clergy and to be used by them for community response to issues of justice, reconciliation, and want. It also continues to enable lively, generative, unified Christian leadership where clergy whose forms of worship may differ respond to the same gospel.
The Regional Council Of Churches Of Atlanta, Inc.
Last updated by RCCAtl Apr 6, 2015.