CWS Executive Director: Agency Has “Imperative to Move Forward” in Time of Global Crisis

McCullough Calls Community to Forge Collective “Optimism about the Future” MIAMI – March 26 – “Beneath the surface of faith and conviction, hope and change, lies the fate of humanity. Answering their needs will be the mission of Church World Service in the century that stretches out before us,” the Rev. John L. McCullough, Executive Director and CEO of Church World Service, told the agency’s Board of Directors, meeting in Miami. With historic vision, McCullough pledged to the gathered representatives of CWS member denominations and communions that in the midst of the current global economic crisis, “CWS remains steadfast, present, thinking, enabling, and creating.”

McCullough Calls Community to Forge Collective "Optimism about the Future"

MIAMI – March 26 – "Beneath the surface of faith and conviction, hope and change, lies the fate of humanity. Answering their needs will be the mission of Church World Service in the century that stretches out before us," the Rev. John L. McCullough, Executive Director and CEO of Church World Service, told the agency's Board of Directors, meeting in Miami.  With historic vision, McCullough pledged to the gathered representatives of CWS member denominations and communions that in the midst of the current global economic crisis, "CWS remains steadfast, present, thinking, enabling, and creating."

McCullough set as backdrop the history of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 100 Days to create his message of focus, commitment and belief. "As Christians we know something about extraordinary achievements, because (of what) Jesus accomplished in three short years. As followers, we believe that hope and change is more than just possible despite the fragility of the world; it is something we have come to expect. It is this expectation that creates the imperative to move forward, and which fuels our optimism about the future."

McCullough noted that FDR was elected President of the United States in 1932, during the Great Depression. Perhaps the first physically challenged person to be elected to that office, Roosevelt is remembered for having set the high water mark of the first 100 days of the presidency. He temporarily closed the banks and set up agencies to support farm prices, employ young men, assist business and labor, insure bank deposits, regulate the stock market, subsidize home and farm mortgage payments, and aid the unemployed.

In 2008, observed McCullough, Barak Obama was elected President during what has come to be known as the Global Economic Meltdown.  The first racial minority to hold our nation's highest office, Obama too will be measured by many for what he accomplishes in his first 100 days. What many people already credit President Obama with, noted McCullough, is a profound sense of hope.


McCullough noted an indefatigable spirit of the hope and change that he has perceived in over the past 100 days in the life of CWS.  Among the highlights he lifted up:

  • CWS advocated on Capitol Hill for a lifting of the religious travel ban to Cuba;
  • named Biesti (in rural Moldova) its first Dream Village; 
  • recognized Deborah Katina, Church World Service "Water for All" program partner and coordinator of the regional Yang'at women's organization, on being awarded Kenya's 2008 Head of State Commendation Award for her instrumental work with women and in bringing new fresh water resources to the region;
  • provided humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza; 
  • responded to the growing crisis with immediate food and nutritional aid in the agricultural districts of Kenya's drought-plagued Eastern Province; 
  • honored New York City's The Riverside Church with membership in CWS's New Millennium Donor Society; 
  • supported refugees living in Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill and Greensboro, North Carolina, by opening two new CWS resettlement offices; 
  • congratulated CWS communications officer Chris Herlinger on receiving a DeRose-Hinkhouse Award from the Religion Communicators Council;
  • responded to drought and a severe food crisis in Afghanistan; 
  • provided more than a thousand bio-sand water filters in Cambodia; 
  • and, helped host the more than 700 ecumenists and activists who gathered as part of the Ecumenical Advocacy Days, where we commenced the Countdown to Copenhagen while raising our prophetic voice for the imperative to ward off climate change and increase public awareness that there is Enough For All of the earth's inhabitants to be sustained and enjoy a better quality of life.

"It is not enough for us to lift theological and moral platitudes," noted McCullough.  "We need to also lead by example and put our faith into action."

"This has been a time," he continued, "in which CWS helped: a pastor become literate in order to read the Bible along with his children's school work; a small girl in a nutrition program play with her friends every day rather than lying listless on the floor; an older widowed woman in Pakistan become a veterinarian; Haitian women gain some measure of self-sufficiency; some Iraqi families resettle here in the United States; and a growing number of Burmese displaced persons respond to issues of food security and personal safety."

McCullough ended his address to the Board of Directors with commitment and conviction:  "Let it not be said of us that we did not do enough. Rather, let it be said that CWS remains steadfast, present, thinking, enabling, and creating.… Answering [humanity's] needs will be the mission of Church World Service in the century that stretches out before us."

A cooperative ministry of 35 Protestant, Orthodox, and Anglican denominations and communions, Church World Service works with partners to eradicate hunger and poverty and to promote peace and justice around the world.

For information on your denomination's participation on the CWS Board and in CWS programs, please contact Ann Walle at awalle@churchworldservice.org or 212.870.2654.