COLUMBIA — For the first time in its 67-year history, the South Carolina Christian Action Council has selected a woman to lead the state’s most visible ecumenical organization. The Rev. Brenda Kneece, a native of Batesburg, will assume duties as executive minister of the Christian Action Council on Dec. 1, succeeding the Rev. Dr. Wayne Bryan, who has served in this capacity for the past decade.
The Christian Action Council was organized originally as a temperance movement, but expanded its mission to include concerns of social justice and improved race relations. Under Bryan’s leadership, the council has grown to a budget of $315,000 and a staff of five. Twenty-one judicatories representing 16 denominations are members of the council. As a member of Greenlawn Baptist Church in Columbia, Kneece is affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of South Carolina, a member of the Christian Action Council for the past two years.
Kneece is an ordained Baptist minister, currently serving as the associate executive director of the Woman’s Missionary Union, an auxiliary of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“This new opportunity builds not only on my experiences within Baptist life, but also on my ecumenical-interracial ministries as a chaplain at an orphanage, a nursing home, and with the police,” said Kneece. “Looking over my first 25 years in ministry, I see God’s provision of preparatory experiences leading to this role.”
Kneece, 47, has degrees from Winthrop College and the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. With the Woman’s Missionary Union, she has helped organize the Christian Women’s Job Corps, a ministry designed to help impoverished women move from being unemployable to meaningful work.
Christian Action Council Board President Lewis Galloway, pastor of Shandon Presbyterian Church, said, “The Christian Action Council looks forward to working with Brenda Kneece as we prepare for meaningful ecumenical ministry in the coming millennium. We believe Brenda will do an outstanding job of building on the foundation already in place in areas such as race relations, child advocacy and health and faith.”
Kneece said that she was attracted to this ministry by what she calls the council’s “heart statement,” which advocates, “A loving and just church creating a loving and just society.” When asked about the future of the council, Kneece said she wanted to “continue to address social issues and to encourage ministries for society’s victims. … Serving the Christian community and the larger community of my home state will be challenging and rewarding in ways I can only imagine.”