The director of the Minnesota Council of Churches will become president of the National Council of Churches on Thursday evening during an installment ceremony.
The Rev. Peg Chemberlin was elected to lead the national organization of Christian churches two years ago, but a ceremony at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Minneapolis will make her position official.
Under her leadership, Chemberlin said the National Council of Churches will focus on issues like poverty, which all denominations involved in the council agree deserve attention.
The organization will also need to pull its more than 100,000 member congregations together, even when there are differences of opinion on gay marriage and whether to allow gay clergy to serve, she said.
"It's part of the life of the national council because it's part of the life of our denominations," Chemberlin told MPR's Morning Edition. "We have very diverse perspectives among our denominations at the table."
The other challenge, Chemberlin said, will be to raise the council's profile while also raising the profile of member denominations.
She said the Minnesota Council of Churches, where she will continue to serve as executive director, has become "the go-to organization when a public leader needs to be engaged with the faith community," such as when there's a major tragedy.
"We're also just going to make ourselves more available than we have in the past," said Chemberlin, a Moravian clergywoman who is the first Minnesotan to lead the national organization.
Thursday's ceremony will include a worship service at 7:30 p.m. and a procession of 20 national church leaders of various denominations. The installation will take place at 8:30 p.m. The event will be open to the public.