The South Carolina Christian Action Council is a statewide ecumenical agency embracing many of the state’s major Christian denominations. It provides educational programs for its constituents and a Christian witness in public affairs. Its origins can be traced to 1933 and the formation of the South Carolina Federated Forces for Temperance and Law Observance. Temperance education and alcohol control provided the focus of activity in the early years. Reorganization in 1951 formally established the Christian Action Council and set forth a broader understanding of the agency’s mission. The council became involved in race relations, world peace, and ministry to the handicapped. In the 1950s several black denominations joined the council, creating the state’s first racially inclusive organization supported by both black and white denominations. Its collective voice in response to school desegregation was deemed a positive force for peaceful change.
Over the years the council’s work expanded, and membership included Roman Catholic as well as Protestant denominations. It addressed a range of issues, including human rights, public education, empowerment of women, hunger, opposition to the death penalty, faith and health, and AIDS ministry. The council’s approach to abortion affirmed the sanctity of human life and encouraged member denominations to work out more specific positions. The South Carolina Southern Baptist Convention objected that the position was not staunchly antiabortion and withdrew from council membership in 1997. The council promoted ways to facilitate cooperation between churches on membership, baptism, and other faith and order issues. Through its interchurch cooperation and linkage with other groups, the council’s programs pursued a vision of justice for all of the state’s citizens.
Spears, R. Wright. Journey toward Unity: The Christian Action Council in South Carolina. Columbia, S.C.: Christian Action Council, 1983.