It is the essence of ecumenical work to seek ways of helping all humanity to know the nurturing and continually creating presence of God. Thus the preamble of the New York State Council of Churches includes the following sentences:
From this, grows the purpose of the New York State Council of Churches as a statewide organization through which Christians accomplish mission goals that can be achieved more effectively by working together. These mission goals focus on social justice, institutional pastoral care, and ecumenical cooperation in education, worship and action.
The New York State Council of Churches (NYSCC) continues the work of its former entities, including the Alcohol Education For Youth, Inc., the New York State Council of Religious Education, the New York State Sunday School Association founded in 1889.
What an organization such as the New York State Council of Churches can do to be supportive of its member churches includes providing networking opportunities, a forum for addressing common problems and education on issues that affect large segments of the constituency. Some of the ways this is done includes:
Prophetic ministry in the public sphere is best seen in advocacy with decisionmakers and education resources about the issues for congregations. At times there are legislative memos of support or opposition, testimony before committees or press conferences. The two groups primarily responsible for the prophetic ministry of the New York State Council of Churches are the Executive Committee and the Social Witness Commission.
Healing ministry in the public sphere is evident in the work of the Chaplaincy Commission which oversees the certification and recommendation of Protestant chaplains in state institutions of the Department of Corrections, the Office of Children and Family Services, the Office of Mental Health,and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. They set the criteria, develop the process by which prospective candidates are certified, serve on certification committees and help develop proposals for more effective ministry.
The Chaplaincy Commission is also made up of representatives from member denominations plus active and retired chaplains from the various state departments that employ chaplains.
Representatives of member bodies plus the chairs of the Commissions, Standing Committees, and other groups make up the legal governing body of the New York State Council of Churches. It is called the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee has responsibility for the spiritual well being and organizational integrity of the organization and for exercising leadership in local, regional and statewide ecumenism.
Standing committees are responsible for organizational oversight in areas of Finance, Personnel, and Nominations. These committees report and make recommendations to the Executive Committee. In addition to usual requirements for a quorum, standing committee meetings must have representatives from at least three denominations.
Nearly three-fifths of the funding for ministries and programs of the New York State Council of Churches comes from denominational judicatories. Gifts from congregations and individuals are another important source of funding. The remainder comes from investment income and a chaplaincy grant. No monies are received from government or United Way sources.