About Us

The Ohio Council of Churches (OCC) is a partnership of 17 Christian faith denominations throughout the state.

Established in 1919, Ohio is one of the oldest of the state ecumenical councils. Its seventeen denominations encompass some 4,000 congregations and 1 million members. The Council co-sponsors various events and activities with other organizations.

The Board is comprised of each bishop and executive leader of the 23 judicatories (governing bodies.) The Board meets twice a year.

The Foundation, Board of Trustees  is entrusted with fiduciary responsibilities of endowment and investment. It is comprised of representatives from the various 23 judicatories of the Council. 

We are an Ohio expression of the worldwide ecumenical movement. Ecumenism is the quest for unity and the collaborative effort of the churches to be one in their witness and service to the world. Our mandate is to respond to Jesus' prayer: "that they may all be one...so that the world may believe." (John 17:21)

Meeting dates:

May 2, 2018,  October 10, 2018

What We Do


The Ohio Council of Churches has voice and presence at the Ohio General Assembly through the office of Public Policy.  A network of individuals and organizations committed to social justice and public policy issues, connects concerned Ohioans. A monthly Legislative Brief informs constituents of current legislations and concerns. 


Orthodox, Protestant, historic

African American, and Peace

churches come together learning

about church agreements and

their impact, about one another’s

polity and traditions, and dialogue

with each other on current/critical issues. The ecumenical

table expands with four Related

Organizations and two Affiliate

Bodies. Christian unity and common

mission give direction as we

try to understand others

as we hope to be understood.”


We network with ecumenical and secular constituencies around the state and offer  support. We seek to create opportunities for common work and ministry  and reach out to secular structures in order to promote the well-being  of all people. One of the current emphases is environment, partnering  with the Ohio Interfaith Power & Light organization (OhIPL).  Others are civil discourse, peace efforts, immigration reform, health care, education, disaster response, the death penalty, and interfaith dialogue.


Bishop Marvin F. Thomas, President

 Bishop Marvin Frank Thomas, Sr. was elected the 62nd bishop of the  Christian Methodist Episcopal Church on July 1, 2014 at the 37th  Quadrennial Session & 38th General Conference in Baltimore,  Maryland.  

Rev. Vanessa E. B. Clark, Vice-President

 Rector, St. James Episcopal Church (2009- present) and Ecumenical Officer, Episcopal Church, Diocese of Ohio (2016.) 

Rev. Deb Oskin, Secretary

 Deb is ordained to Peace Ministry in the Church of the Brethren (one of  the historic peace churches), and has worked on an interfaith basis to  promote nonviolent methods of peacemaking since 2003.  

Rev. Adam Sornchai, Treasurer

 Pastor Sornchai was born and raised on Long Island, NY.  His  father is from Thailand and late mother was from Iowa, giving what he  has always felt to be the gift of a unique and diverse background.

Pastor  Adam Sornchai was ordained and installed as pastor of St. John on June  24th 2011.


Rev. Rebecca J. Tollefson Executive Director rtollefson@ohcouncilchs.org

 The Rev. Rebecca J. Tollefson, a native of Iowa, became the Executive  Director of  the Ohio Council of Churches in April, 1997. She has held  ministerial standing in  the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) since 1981.  

Rebecca served for  10 years in parish ministry in Iowa and  Minnesota, as the Director of the Commission  on Faith and Order for the  Minnesota Council of Churches, and then joined the national  staff of  the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 1991. While there she served as Associate,  Women Employed by the Church, and later as Associate for  Call Referral Services.  

 "I believe in ecumenism....the church universal.  This is  vital to the Christian faith community’s  presence today. We are ALREADY  the Body of Christ. We are called to live that out as sisters and  brothers. We each have gifts and traditions which enrich the other. I am  blessed to work with such a wonderful tapestry of who this Council is.  Thanks be to God.”   

Tom Smith, Director for Public Policy, tsmith@ohcouncilchs.org

 Tom Smith is a graduate of the Ohio State University with a Masters  degree in administration.  He served for 15 years in the Ohio Senate in  various staff positions including Chief  of Staff and Senate Clerk. He  finished his public service as Public Affairs Director  for the State  Treasurer.   

Upon his retirement he joined the staff of the Council as the  Legislative Advocate.  He is the editor of the Legislative Brief,  published bi-monthly. He is a member  of Westerville Community United  Church of Christ.   

Cindy Ries, Bookkeeper, cries@ohcouncilchs.org

 Cindy began working with the Council in November 2013.   She is a solutions-oriented professional with over 15 years of  experience in accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll and human  resources record keeping with a broad range of clients in various  industries. She is a part of Kaiser Consulting. 



African Methodist Episcopal,

-Third Episcopal District

African Methodist Episcopal Zion,

-Mid Atlantic One Area

Alliance of Baptists,

Ohio Community

Christian Church in Ohio (Disciples of Christ)

Christian Methodist Episcopal Church,

-Second District

Christian Science

Committee on Publication for Ohio

Church of the Brethren,

-Northern Ohio District

-Southern Ohio District

Community Churches, Ohio Fellowship

Episcopal Church in the USA

-Diocese of Ohio

-Diocese of Southern Ohio

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

-Northeastern Ohio Synod

-Northwestern Ohio Synod

-Southern Ohio Synod

Greek Orthodox Church

-Detroit Metropolis

-Pittsburgh Metropolis

Moravian Church in America

Ohio Baptist General Convention

Presbyterian Church (USA)

Synod of the Covenant

Religious Society of Friends

Wilmington Yearly Meeting

United Church of Christ

-Ohio Conference

United Methodist Church

-East Ohio Conference

-West Ohio Conference

Web sites

African Methodist Episcopal Church

African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church

Alliance of Baptists

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Ohio

Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

Christian Science

Church of the Brethren, Northern District


Church of the Brethren, Southern District

Community Churches - Ohio Fellowship

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Episcopal Church, Diocese of Ohio

Episcopal Church, Diocese of SO Ohio

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, NE Synod

Evangelical Lutheran Church, NW Synod


Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, SO Synod

Greek Orthodox Church, Metropolis of Detroit

Greek Orthodox Church, Metropolis of Pittsburg

Moravian Church, Northern Province

Ohio Baptist General Convention

Presbyterian Church (USA) - Synod of Covenant


Religious Society of Friends, Wilmington

United Church of Christ, OH Conference

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United Methodist Church, E OH

United Methodist Church, W OH

Observer/ Affiliate Bodies

St. Gregory of Narek Aremenian Orthodox Church

Ohio-Meadville District of the Unitarian Universalist Association

Trinity Community Church