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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

INTERCHURCH COUNCIL OF GREATER CLEVELAND

INTERCHURCH COUNCIL OF GREATER CLEVELAND

The INTERCHURCH COUNCIL OF GREATER CLEVELAND, previously known as the Cleveland Church Federation, was created on 11 June 1911 at FIRST PRESBYTERIAN (OLD STONE) CHURCH as the Federated Churches of Greater Cleveland. Established as a Protestant interdenominational response to IMMIGRATION and social problems, by 1995 it had developed into a forum for ecumenical service and ministry and included about 700 local congregations representing 16 denominations and operated 10 interchurch ministries. Leaders in its creation were Dean FRANK DUMOULIN, Dr. Thomas S. McWilliams, and Rev. Worth M. Tippy, members of the Social Betterment Committee of the Cleveland Pastors' Union. The council's purpose was to coordinate all phases of church work, secular and religious; it has focused on areas as diverse as EDUCATION, WELFARE/RELIEF, civic betterment, marriage and the home, INDUSTRY, motion pictures, the mission work of WOMEN, TEMPERANCE, world friendship, drama, and MUSIC. At the first meeting 107 delegates from the initial membership of 67 churches sought to present a unified front, without conflicting with different denominational creeds; they elected Rev. Nathaniel M. Pratt of Plymouth Congregational Church as the group's first secretary. After his Oct. 1911 resignation, the Pastors' Union administered the federation until April 1912, when the Federated Churches hired the Rev. Edward R. Wright (Presbyterian) as its first paid executive secretary. Wright established the organization as a coordinating and unifying clearinghouse; offices in the Schofield Bldg. emphasized its nondenominational nature. DuMoulin served as the council's first pres., Tippy as vice-pres., Charles E. Adams as treas., and Rev. N. M. Pratt as secy.

In 1934 the federation reorganized as the Cleveland Church Federation; in 1948 it moved to the EUCLID AVE. BAPTIST CHURCH. Since 1912 women worked with the federation through an affiliated woman's council; however, the participation of AFRICAN AMERICANS increased only after World War II. In 1956 the organization elected Judge PERRY JACKSON as pres., among the first African Americans to hold such an office in a state or local church federation in the U.S. The council encouraged Christian fellowship through 4 auxiliary organizations: the Ministerial Assn. of Greater Cleveland, the Cleveland Council of Federated Church Women, the Cuyahoga County Youth Council, and the Churchmen's League. Sources of revenue included churches and denominations, individuals and businesses, FOUNDATIONS, government, fees, and investments. The council became an all-Protestant church organization when it ended its affiliation with the EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCHES in 1975. Its name changed in 1985 to the Interchurch Council of Greater Cleveland. Though the council continued to encourage interfaith and ecumenical dialogue, it also developed an emphasis on human needs, sponsoring such programs as the Hunger Task Force, 21 Hunger Centers (est. 1973), and Project Learn, a tutorial program (est. 1974). In the fight against apartheid, the Interchurch Council developed the South Africa Coalition (1983). In the 1990s the council opened the Zelma George Homeless Shelter, began a school-adoption program in which member churches "adopted" 22 inner-city schools, a summer learning program in public housing projects, and a First Teacher program for developing the parenting skills of young parents.


Cleveland Area Church Fed. Records, WRHS.

See also RELIGION.