National Council of Churches pays tribute to Glen Stassen

Washington, May 8, 2014 – National Council of Churches leaders are paying tribute to Glen Stassen, a nuclear engineer turned critic of nuclear weapons, who died April 24.

Stassen, 78, was an American Baptist scholar and professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, and a lifelong peacemaker and civil rights activist.

“Glen came from strong American Baptist stock,” said the Rev. Roy Medley, chair of the National Council of Churches governing board and General Secretary of American Baptist Churches USA.

“Following Baptist ideals, he consistently modeled how an evangelical theology spawns a deep commitment to peace and justice,” Medley said. “His activism was always biblically based and evocative of the teachings of Jesus.”

Stassen was the son of the late Governor Harold Stassen of Minnesota, president of the International Sunday School Convention, a founding parent of both the NCC and the World Council of Churches, and president of American Baptist Churches USA.

Glen Stassen’s upbringing in a religious household opened his mind to the role faith must play in the secular world. An obituary in the Los Angeles Times quoted Stassen: “Jesus didn't just say no to anger and revengeful resistance, but commanded transforming initiatives: Go make peace with your brother or sister; go the second mile with the Roman soldier. Christians need more than an ethic of ‘just say no’; we need an ethic of constructive peacemaking.”

“Glen Stassen’s transforming initiatives for peace attracted support from many member communions of the National Council of Churches, despite the wide range of traditions they represent,” said Jim Winkler, NCC President and General Secretary. “He spoke for many of us.”

Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, NCC Associate General Secretary, Faith & Order and Interfaith relations, said Stassen was a “legendary figure” in the peace movement.

“The fact that he was both a biblically trained evangelical and a former nuclear physicist for the Navy gave him enormous credibility to speak on these issues,” Kireopoulos said. “His leadership will be sorely missed.”


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Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 37 member communions -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches -- include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 646-853-4212 (cell), cruzandjenks@gmail.com