The Rev. Michael Livingston, a former president of the National Council of Churches (NCC) and now leader of the Council’s Poverty Initiative, has resigned that position effective August 31.
Livingston said he will be joining the staff of Interfaith Worker Justice, a Chicago-based group that mobilizes persons of faith to support economic justice and worker rights at local, state and national levels, according to an NCC news release.
“Words are insufficient to the task of conveying my deep appreciation for the opportunity to labor among the people of God,” Livingston said in a letter to NCC President Kathryn Lohre and NCC Transitional General Secretary Peg Birk.
“Michael has been an invaluable addition to the public witness work that we have done on behalf of vulnerable populations,” said Cassandra Carmichael, Director of the NCC Washington Office. “I know that his passion and expertise will be a continued blessing for those living in poverty.”
As director of the Poverty Initiative, Livingston worked on many fronts to keep the issue of poverty before the public.
In July 2011, he was one of a dozen leaders from the faith community who were arrested for kneeling to pray in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol to call attention to Congressional efforts to slash the budgets of essential poverty programs.
Last March, Livingston joined farm workers in a Lenten fast in Florida to put pressure on the Publix supermarket company to join the Fair Food Campaign to raise the wages of the workers and to dramatically improve deplorable working conditions in the fields.
Livingston, who also served as executive director of the International Council of Community Churches, served the NCC as a board member, officer and staff for nearly twelve years.
As NCC president from 2006 to 2007, Livingston traveled to the Middle East and other world trouble spots to represent the council’s witness for peace and justice. Last May, he represented the NCC on an interfaith delegation to Vietnam to study the residual effects of the defoliant Agent Orange used by U.S. forces during the Vietnam War.
Livingston served as President-Elect of the NCC from 2004 until the end of 2005 and he has been a member of the NCC’s Governing Board and General Assembly since 1999. In 2003 he was a member of the NCC’s Peace Delegation to Paris that attempted to delay or prevent the war in Iraq.
Livingston was ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 1975 and he has been a member of the New Brunswick, New Jersey Presbytery since 1985. He was pastor of Presbyterian churches in Los Angeles and New York until 1985 when he returned to his alma mater, Princeton Theological Seminary, as director of admissions and later as campus pastor and director of the chapel.
He served from 1999 to 2010 as executive director of the International Council of Community Churches, headquartered in Frankfort, Illinois.
Livingston earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology at the University of California at Los Angeles in 1971 before switching his emphasis to theology at the Princeton seminary. He earned a master of divinity degree in 1974 and a masters in theology in Pastoral Care and Counseling that was awarded in 1991.
His other ecumenical responsibilities have included the U.S. Conference of the World Council of Churches, the editorial board of Liberation and Unity, the National Workshop on Christian Unity, and the Presbyterian General Assembly Special Committee on Churches of Christ Uniting, which he chaired. For fourteen years he served as the editor of Liberation and Unity, a Lenten guide for meditation and study jointly sponsored by the COCU and the AME, AMEZ, and CME churches.