Sharon Watkins to Lead Major New Initiative on Racism

The National Council of Churches is pleased to announce that Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, former General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), will be leading a major new emphasis of the Council.  Rev. Watkins will be directing a nationwide accounting of how churches and their leaders have been complicit in, and have perpetuated, racism in America.

The National Council of Churches believes that a complete, honest, and exacting truth about racial prejudice and hate has not yet been told. This ambitious project, co-chaired by Jaquelyn Dupont-Walker (African Methodist Episcopal Church) and Rev. John Dorhauer (United Church of Christ), will unfold over a period of years and will involve the 38 member communions of the Council, a community of mainline Protestant, historically African American churches, Orthodox and Peace churches.

“The complicity of the white churches and leaders must be accounted for and acknowledged if we are to begin the process of moving toward healing in this country,” says Watkins. “Predominantly white congregations and denominations have been complicit in perpetuating the sin of racism in ways we have not yet fully recognized, and no healing, no justice, no reconciliation can be achieved without a complete telling of the truth.”

For the past two years, Watkins has served the National Council of Churches as the Chair of the Governing Board.  She served as the General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) from 2005 to 2017.  She gave the sermon at President Obama’s National Prayer Service in 2009 and served a term on the White House Advisory Council for the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.  She has a lifelong commitment to racial justice.

Watkins has been succeeded in her term of office at the National Council of Churches by Bishop Darin W. Moore of the AME Zion Church, who begins his term immediately.  Watkins is employed as contract staff specifically for this project.

“This is clearly one of the most ambitious, and most important, projects of the National Council of Churches in its history,” said General Secretary and President Jim Winkler.  “This effort is a clarion call to the conscience of the churches and the soul of America.  We have the utmost confidence that Sharon is the right person for this work and for this era of the Council.”

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