National Council gathering pays tribute to Vincent Harding, MLK scholar and friend

Washington, May 21, 2014 – The National Council of Churches Christian Unity Gathering paused before adjourning Tuesday to pay tribute to Vincent Gordon Harding, 82, historian and professor of religion and transformation at Iliff School of Theology in Denver.

Harding, best known for his scholarship on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and as the drafter of King's landmark speech opposing the war in Vietnam, died Monday.

NCC President and General Secretary Jim Winkler announced Harding's passing to the ecumenical gathering and invited the Rev. Staccato Powell to offer a prayer.

Powell, pastor of Grace AME Zion Church in Raleigh, N.C., and a former associate general secretary of the NCC, said Harding "was a scholar, historian, and somewhat of a mystic."

Harding's impact on students and scholars "will be felt for years to come," Powell said. "It is almost providential that Christians have gathered today on his transition from earth to glory."

Powell, who knew Harding personally, added, "If we were Catholic, he would be offered for sainthood, because he was in every way a saint."


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), [email protected]