Council of Churches Taps Young as Leader: Ex-Ambassador Picked to Raise Profile

Article excerpt

The National Council of Churches yesterday installed former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young and an advertising executive-turned-bishop as top leaders in a four-year effort to increase its profile as the nation's main ecumenical body.

Episcopal Bishop Craig B. Anderson, 55, a former adman and U.S. Army veteran who became a bishop to American Indians and then a seminary president, was installed as the two-year president of the council of 34 Protestant and Orthodox denominations.

Mr. Young, a United Church of Christ minister, was unanimously chosen by 350 delegates as president-elect. He will advise Bishop Anderson and succeed him as president in 2000.

"The National Council of Churches has to regain its voice as not captive to one ideology or another," said Bishop Anderson at a news briefing. "As an old communicator," he added, "I will be able to do that."

Bishop Anderson, who asked that the annual NCC annual meeting be held in Washington and that his installment be conducted at the Washington National Cathedral last night, was a marketing manager at Proctor and Gamble from 1966 to 1972.

But NCC delegates say they know him best for his skills in communicating faith, social concerns and community action.

"It won't be just show," said Bishop H. George Anderson, head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. "He also has content."

The council, formed in 1949, has lost prominence in the past two decades as conservative churches set social agendas, mainline Protestantism lost membership and NCC funding dwindled.

Still, in recent years, the NCC has had the ear of the White House and leads in Bible translation and Sunday school and relief work.

Since 1995, the council has done more to support weak churches abroad and also led the campaign against U. …