International Council of Community Churches
Community Churches in the United States date from the mid-1800s. They are a result of the desire to eliminate over-churching in some communities and solve attendant economic and staffing problems, to replace the restrictiveness and divisiveness of some denominationalism with self-determination and Christian unity, and to refocus primary loyalty to an organization outside a community to the community itself. By addressing specific needs in various places they hope to promote a more relevant religion. The earliest national organization began in 1923. The current one resulted from a 1950 merger of two previous councils, one comprised of churches with predominantly black and the other of churches with predominantly white memberships.
The ICCC is directly related to each community in which its local congregations are located and encourages each local church to take an active part in all ecumenical affairs within its community. It seeks to encourage every local church to share its faith with other Christians and people of other faiths. Its stance is that of representing ecumenical Christian religion in the local community. In concert with other mainline religious bodies it seeks to bring the light of Christian faith to bear upon all problems of society, political, social, cultural, etc. Its concept of the "people of God being one in the place where they are" is of great influence in drawing people of different backgrounds together in action to build the good community. Because it was the first significant merger of predominantly white and predominantly black religious bodies (1950) it has always had as one of its major emphases the overcoming of racism. The ICCC does not have its separate "missions" or "outreach" programmes or institutions but encourages its member congregations to support interdenominational mission programmes or those of other religious bodies.
The ICCC sees racism as one of the major issues it must tackle, along with combating all forms of prejudice, organized and individual. The growing threat of war and poverty and their effect on people are yet other issues. The implication of Christian principles and the Christian faith on these problems is a central concern. Along with these is the emphasis the Council has always laid on ecumenicity, both locally and worldwide. Increased effectiveness of the church in local as well as national and international life is sought through annual conferences in which representatives of the churches come together for worship, education, ecumenical and interfaith dialogue and to offer mutual support and encouragement.