|Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary|
At a Glance
This collection is arranged in one alphabetical series.
Scope and Contents
This collection contains records of the state councils of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, including bulletins, magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, correspondence, annual meeting minutes, and reports. Regional ecumenical and interfaith organizations came together under the umbrella of their respective state council of churches. Rooted in local communities and able to respond to needs specific to their regions, councils were agencies of cooperation focused on service and Christian unity. New York, Ohio, Massachusetts and New Jersey form the bulk of the collection; other state councils include Alabama, California – Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. Of note within the New York material are records ertaining to the New York City Protestant council, which was a large regional council serving the local needs of the city. The Ohio collection is a large run of the Ohio Christian News dating from 1946 to 1971. The Massachusetts records also contain a large run of the state council's newsletter Christian Outlook and copies of annual reports. The New Jersey records contain reports of its annual meetings from 1958 to 1974.
Burke Library record group:
William Adams Brown Ecumenical Library Archives
Using the Collection
Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
The following boxes are located offsite: Box 1-10. Please note that requests for use of boxes held in offsite storage must be made three business days in advance.
Conditions Governing Use
Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Information concerning copyright, fair use, and reproduction requests can be consulted at Columbia's Copyright Advisory Office.
Item description, WAB: State Council of Churches Records, 1943-1974, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
WAB: Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America Records, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
This collection is part of the William Adams Brown Ecumenical Library Archives, which was founded in 1945 by the Union Theological Seminary Board of Directors.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The exact provenance of this collection is unknown.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Bulletins, newsletters, and reports were cataloged by Lynn A. Grove on 1988-08-09. Metal clips were removed from materials, folded items were flattened, and bound materials were removed from their original housing. Materials were placed in new acid-free folders and boxes. Acidic items were separated from one another by interleaving with acid-free paper as needed. The finding aid was created by BreeAnn Midavaine in 2012 with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, and edited by Leah Edelman in 2022.
2021-02-07 PDF converted to EAD and description updated by Leah Edelman.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
The ecumenical movement and the formation of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America in the early twentieth century influenced church federation movements on the state level. State councils were founded to serve primarily as instruments of cooperation between denominations which had little direct contact with each other. They did not deal with theological or ecclesiological questions, but rather their objective was to manifest the common purpose of the churches, to express unity within the church and to recognize that there are things that are done more effectively together state-wide. The state councils function on a level between local councils and national councils with coverage determined by the geographical boundaries of the state in which it functions. The role of state councils was clarified in a pamphlet written by the Association of Council Secretaries in 1957. It states, "The functions of a state council are determined first of all by its constituent membership… in contrast to the functions of local councils that bring local congregations into a cooperative relationship… a state council relate[s] the churches of a given state to state-wide agencies and endeavors. A state council is also an agency by which the churches carry on programs that need supervision and coordination beyond the boundaries of local councils." These functions can include research studies, encouraging cooperative work of the churches, extending Christian fellowship on a state-wide basis, and representing "Protestant – Orthodox Christians of a given state in legislative matters emerging at the state capital and in similar concerns in the national Congress and the United Nations." The basic role of the state councils is to enable its members to "manifest their oneness in Christ in the geographical community." However, a state council also plays a role within the world-wide ecumenical movement, which is "to enable each part of the church to work properly with every other part, to the end that the Body of Christ—the Church—may be upbuilded in love." Kessler and Kinnamon's book Councils of Churches and the Ecumenical Vision asserts state councils contribute to the dialogue of the ecumenical movement by providing a "place where trust can grow, where divisive issues can be discussed, [and] where reception of the results of [those] dialogues can be encouraged." According to the National Council of Churches website the tone of these dialogues are "different when [they are] grounded in a particular community with shared needs and concerns. "Issues like poverty, immigration, racial justice, environmental justice, healthcare reform, and gun violence…are no longer abstract policy ideas," but they affect each person within those communities. State councils are rooted in their regional communities therefore, they are "uniquely positioned" to respond to these shared issues. This sharing of experience, personnel, resources and support through the state council of churches point individual church bodies "beyond themselves to the eschatological vision of shalom." (Kessler and Kinnamon)