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Christianity remains seriously fragmented in the North America and elsewhere. There are over 1,000 Christian organizations in the United States alone. The religion is sometimes viewed as being divided into three wings: conservative, mainline and liberal. Some view Christianity as being composed of two or more quite different religions, each sharing the same name and each being based on a different interpretation of the Bible

This division is reflected in the multiplicity of Christian associations at the national level. The main ones are:

bulletThe National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) is the largest ecumenical organization of Christians in the U.S. It includes mainline and liberal Protestant, Orthodox, and black Protestant denominations. It is commonly referred to as the NCC or National Council of Churches. Its member communications/denominations "include more than 50 million adherents in nearly 140,000 congregations nationwide.1
bulletThe National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) is the largest conservative Protestant group in the U.S. It " is a voluntary association of individuals, denominations, churches, schools and organizations comprised of approximately 43,000 congregations nationwide from 50 member denominations and individual congregations from an additional 27 denominations, as well as several hundred independent churches. The membership of the association includes 250 parachurch ministries and educational institutions." 2 It was founded in 1942. Their motto is "cooperation without compromise." 

One important group that had been affiliated with the NAE since 1944 was the National Religious Broadcasters. This is an organization of conservative Christian broadcasters. They voted unanimously on 2001-FEB-9 to sever their connection with the NAE, after the NAE decided to stop vetoing memberships of denominations which held dual memberships with the NAE and NCC. 6
bulletThe National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB), and its committees, are composed entirely of Roman Catholic bishops. Their prime task is to prepare proposals for the consideration of the church hierarchy. 3
bulletThe United States Catholic Conference (USCC) is the Roman Catholic's decision-making organization in the U.S. It is also composed of Roman Catholic Bishops. However, members of its committees include "lay people, clergy and religious, as well as bishops." USCC committees recommend policy to the body of bishops. 3
bulletThe Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA) provides a "framework for fellowship, dialogue, and cooperation between the various Pentecostal and charismatic denominations, churches, and ministries in North America..." The Pentecostal movement started in Kansas in 1901 with "the experience known as the baptism in the Holy Spirit evidenced by tongues and other gifts of the Spirit." 4
bulletThe North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC) has six  member denominations: Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, Korean American Presbyterian Church, Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America, Reformed Church in the United States, and Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America. Prior to 1998-NOV, the Christian Reformed Church was also a member. They were suspended by NAPARC because they had voted in 1995 to accept women as ministers, elders, and evangelists. The vote was 6 to 1. 5
bulletChristian Churches Together is a new cooperative effort involving faith groups from five families within Christianity: Evangelical/Pentecostal, Historic Protestant, Orthodox, Racial/Ethnic, and Roman Catholic." In 2003, 45 church leaders representing a wide range of Christian religious groups produced a proposal which "...calls for a fellowship that is committed 'to grow closer together in Christ' in order to strengthen its 'Christian witness in the world'." This proposal will be "placed before the top decision-making bodies of many denominations (or communions as some bodies are called) and other Christian organizations, as their regularly scheduled assemblies take place." 7 More details.

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  1. The NCC has a website at: http://www.ncccusa.org
  2. The NAE has a website at: http://www.nae.net/ 
  3. The joint NCCB and USCC website is at: http://www.nccbuscc.org/ 
  4. Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA) has a website at: http://www.iphc.org/pccna/ 
  5. NAPARC apparently does not have a web page. The decision whether to create one is in the hands of a three person committee.
  6. "Religious broadcasters cut ties with Evangelical group," Baptist Press, at: http://www.mcjonline.com/news/01a/20010216b.shtml 
  7. "Plans for 'Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A.' Move from Vision Toward Reality," National Council of Churches, 2003-JAN-29, at: http://www.ncccusa.org/

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Copyright © 2000 & 2001 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-MAY-30
Latest update: 2001-OCT-30
Author: B.A. Robinson

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