James E. Winkler, general secretary of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society (GBCS), has been elected general secretary/president of the National Council of Churches by the NCC Governing Board meeting here.
Winkler will succeed Peg Birk, who has served as transitional general secretary of the council since July 2012. Birk was named to lead the council through a transitional period of reorganization following the resignation of General Secretary Michael Kinnamon in 2011 for health reasons.
The office of general secretary/president, formerly general secretary, is the leading staff position in the NCC.
“With Peg Birk’s superb guidance, the council has been through an intense period of planning and reorganization to focus our mission priorities and maintain our fiscal health during a challenging time,” said Kathryn Lohre, NCC president. “We are confident that Jim Winkler’s gifts and experience are just what the council needs to stay on the right path and expand its horizons.”
Winkler is a member of the NCC’s Justice and Advocacy Commission, a member of the steering committee of the Campaign for Health Care Now, a board member of several organizations including the Faith and Politics Institute, Churches for the Middle East Peace, and Africa Action.
Winkler has served as general secretary of the GBCS, the international public policy and social justice agency of The United Methodist Church since November, 2000.
As the chief executive of the board, Jim has led a staff of 22 who seek the implementation of the church’s Social Principles through education, witness, and advocacy. The board carries out a wide-ranging ministry of peace and justice throughout the world with offices in Washington and New York.
Winkler has re-energized the work of the board around a three-part vision: to help United Methodists link mercy and justice; to connect the work of the board with local churches and annual conferences around the globe; and to be the premier denominational advocacy agency on Capitol Hill.
He has led delegations to the Middle East, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq and Germany seeking peaceful solutions to global conflict and traveled throughout the world to support the justice work of the United Methodist in Africa, Asia and Europe.
Winkler has preached and led workshops and training events in Russia, Nigeria, and the Philippines, and has been a frequent spokesperson for the justice work of The United Methodist Church to the national and international media.
The NCC general secretary/president will serve as the executive leader of the Council with overall responsibility for personnel, deploying resources to achieve the priorities of the NCC, organizational and board development, fund-raising, vision-setting, long-range planning, financial management, external relationships and thought leadership.
The former office of NCC president has been renamed chair of the National Council of Churches Governing Board under a reorganization that has taken place over the past two years.