The Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar
General Secretary, National Council of Churches
New York, New York
Dr. Bob Edgar is general secretary of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, the leading U.S. organization in the movement for Christian unity. Thirty-six Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox member communions, to which approximately 50 million congregants belong, work together in the Council to promote unity and to serve churches and people worldwide.
Dr. Edgar took office January 1, 2000, at a time of great opportunity, as the 50-year-old Council began to reshape its life and mission. Under his leadership, the Council is refocusing its energies on two major initiatives. One is a ten-year domestic Mobilization to Overcome Poverty. The other is an exploration of an expanded ecumenical vision for the new millennium, a conversation that includes Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, the Roman Catholic Church and the Council¹s member communions.
An ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, Dr. Edgar came to the Council from Claremont Theological School, Claremont, Calif., where he was president from 19902000. During that decade, he brought a school on the brink of collapse back to institutional health, confirming his reputation as an optimist, a futurist, and a coalition builder who enjoys meeting a challenge.
Dr. Edgar is well known for his service as a six-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he was the first Democrat in more than 120 years to be elected from the heavily Republican Seventh District of Pennsylvania. His election and service demonstrated the bipartisan, ecumenical quality that has marked his whole life and ministry. Serving in Congress from 1975 to 1987, he led efforts to improve public transportation, authored the community Right to Know provisions of Super Fund legislation, co-authored the new GI bill for the all-volunteer service, fought wasteful water projects and supported environmental goals. Among other appointments, he served as chair of the Congressional Clearinghouse on the Future (198286) and as a member of the Select Committee on Assassinations (197678) that investigated the deaths of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and President John F. Kennedy. In 1987, true to his belief in term limits, he voluntarily stepped down from office.
His wide-ranging career has also included pastorates at United Methodist congregations and stints as a teacher, college chaplain, community organizer, and director of a “think tank” on national security issues.
An active volunteer, Dr. Edgar serves on several boards, including the Board of Directors of Independent Sector, an alliance of national organizations interested in fostering the not-for-profit contribution in society, and of the National Coalition on Health Care. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment and the Advisory Board of the Skirball Institute for American Values.
Dr. Edgar received the bachelor of arts degree from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pa., and the master of divinity degree from the Theological School of Drew University, Madison, N.J. He holds three honorary doctoral degrees.
Many national organizations have recognized his work with awards, including the American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America and the National Taxpayers Union.