Skip to content »

General Secretary and President of the National Council of Churches, Jim Winkler, to Deliver 161st Commencement Address

February 15, 2018
Jim Winkler

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is delighted to announce Jim Winkler, president and general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC), will speak at the seminary’s 161st Commencement on May 11, 2018. A Methodist “Preacher’s Kid,” Winkler has been a lifelong social justice advocate and has held a deep passion for ecumenical and interreligious work. The Commencement service will begin at 10:00 a.m. at First United Methodist Church of Evanston. All are welcome to attend and to hear Winkler’s commencement address titled, “Today, We Have Hope.”

“We are delighted to welcome General Secretary Winkler as our commencement speaker this year,” said Dr. Lallene J. Rector, president of Garrett-Evangelical. “The leadership he provides for the National Council of Churches of Christ is consonant with the seminary’s commitment to equip faith-informed public theologians working for the well-being of all. The NCC models prophetic challenge to injustice and also harnesses the power of Christian and interreligious communities who actively embody the love of neighbor.”

Winkler is well-known among United Methodists for his nearly 30 years of service at the General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church. At the Board of Church and Society, he held the position of seminar designer, director of annual conference relations, and assistant general secretary of resourcing congregational life before his election as general secretary in 2000. As top executive of the board, Winkler focused on the implementation of the United Methodist Social Principles through education, witness, and advocacy.

In 2013, Winkler was elected as president and general secretary of the NCC. The NCC is an ecumenical partnership of thirty-eight Christian faith groups in the United States. Its member denominations, churches, conventions, and archdioceses include Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African-American, and Living Peace traditions – in a common commitment to advocate and represent God’s love and promise of unity in our public square. Together, they encompass more than 100,000 local congregations and 40 million Christians. As president and general secretary, Winkler is the public voice of the NCC and represents the Council as it addresses two major priorities: mass incarceration and interreligious relationships with a focus on peace.

“Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary has been an important institution in the life of my family,” said Winkler. “My brother, Rev. Chris Winkler, is a graduate and my father, Eugene, was a member of the board of trustees. I am deeply honored to deliver the commencement address this year.”

Winkler studied African history at the University of Illinois, received a master’s degree in American history at George Mason University, and was granted an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Claremont School of Theology. He attends Fairlington United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Virginia, where his wife, Michelle Tello, is the office manager. Jim has three children.