Subject: NCC Weekly News

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Joint Statement: NCC and CJM lament withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement
Creation Justice Ministries (CJM) and the National Council of Churches (NCC) join together in sorrow and lament at President Trump’s announcement that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. We believe this withdrawal endangers a sustainable future, departs from the will of the whole world, and breaks the Great Commandment to love God and neighbor.

Over the past five decades, both climate science and theology have advanced. Many of the churches connected to the National Council of Churches and Creation Justice Ministries are repenting and moving away from “dominion theology,” a harmful belief system Christians have used to rationalize reckless consumption of God’s creation, as well as colonialism, genocide, and slavery.

Today our churches and denominations are involved in countless efforts to conserve the gifts of God’s creation, teach children sustainable ways to live, shepherd communities dependent on fossil fuels toward new opportunities, and advocate for policies through which we care for creation. Christian communities are also serving on the front lines of responding to climate-related disasters: floods, droughts, famines, tornadoes, hurricanes, and the refugee resettlement that is too often related to climate displacement. Together, we have advocated for structural changes in our economy that will support a safer, more sustainable future.

We are cognizant of the very real possibility that human action can destroy our way of life as we know it on this earth. We are concerned for our own lives and the lives of our children, our grandchildren, and the creatures with which we share the planet — one in five of which is threatened or endangered. The governing boards of Creation Justice Ministries and the National Council of Churches recently met together in Norfolk, Virginia, where they witnessed with their own eyes the present and growing effects of rising sea levels due to climate change. Therefore we find it particularly frustrating that a president who was raised in churches associated with Creation Justice Ministries and the National Council of Churches has failed to grasp these realities and has acted to reverse the progress we have so painstakingly made.

The Paris Climate Agreement represents decades of work by committed Christians and other people of faith. We recommit ourselves to preserving and building upon this work, even as President Trump seeks to dismantle it. We support those communities, states, corporations and churches which are committing to honor the promises of the Paris Climate Agreement.

We call upon churches to continue to teach, practice, and encourage others to care for the God’s creation and work to reverse the devastating effects of climate change. Many churches have made their sanctuaries carbon-neutral, and we challenge all congregations to find ways to use our ministry spaces and practices to lead by example. We stand in solidarity with coastal communities who are already suffering the effects of sea level rise. We commit to accompanying communities moving away from the fossil-fuel economy. We commit to walking with those who have lost generations-old, land-based livelihoods to climate disruption. We commit to preserving the spirit of the Paris Agreement in our own lives and practices. We stand together in faith, affirming that “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it (Psalm 24:1, NRSV).”

Grace and Peace,
Jim Winkler
General Secretary and President

UMC bishops ask Trump to reconsider decision to withdraw U.S. from climate accord

The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church is asking U.S. President Donald Trump to reconsider his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord.

In a statement released today, COB President Bishop Bruce R. Ough said the decision by President Trump was disheartening and would worsen the state of this planet already exacerbated by overconsumption and misuse of resources. “The decision further isolates the United States from critical and essential climate and energy use conversations and negotiations.”

Bishop Ough said the bishops of The United Methodist Church were speaking in continuity with the church’s stance as articulated in God’s Renewed Creation: Call to Hope and Action, Scripture, the Book of Discipline and the Book of Resolutions. “It is our responsibility to take care of this planet we live on, this beautiful gift from God, the Creator of all things seen and unseen.”


Community of Christ responds to USA Withdrawal From Paris Climate Agreement

In response to the announcement of the withdrawal of the USA from the Paris Climate Agreement, the First Presidency said:

"An Enduring Principle of Community of Christ, based on numerous insights in scripture, is Sacredness of Creation. This fundamental principle of our faith calls us to join with God as stewards of care and hope for all of creation. In Doctrine and Covenants 165:1d we are called to “Pursue Peace on and for the Earth.” Today and in the future, Community of Christ will be faithful to our calling to protect and heal our environment as a mission priority."

Pentecost Prayers for Unity and Just Peace in the Holy Land from Church Leaders Worldwide

Church leaders from all over the world are joining our call for prayer for unity and just peace in the Holy Land. Download this packet of prayers for use in your devotional or congregational life.

Los Angeles priest champions interfaith education, dialogue

The Rev. Gwynne Guibord is trained as a clinical psychologist, and for much of her adult life she expected to continue in private practice until retirement. But God had other plans for her.

She began feeling a call to the priesthood after a series of midlife events prompted a stretch of soul-searching, especially the death in 1992 of her sister from leukemia at age 37.

“One morning I got up, and I remember saying out loud, ‘All my life I’ve told you I love you’ – referring to God – ‘and if you’re asking me to do this one thing, then I had best show up and do the work.’ And within a month I was in seminary.”

Now Guibord, after being ordained as a priest in 2003 and serving in Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, is the head of the Guibord Center, an independent nonprofit organization she founded in 2011 to promote interfaith education and dialogue through a wide range of events and resources. She spoke to Episcopal News Service recently by phone.

(Note: the Guibord Center is the host of the NCC's Buddhist-Christian and Hindu-Christian dialogues.)

What Kind of Unity?

Don Ashmall, Council Minister, ICCC

As a fellowship of community-based churches and ministry centers, we proclaim that we are at the forefront of the search for Christian unity. And well we might. In the year 1950, some Christian denominations (but not all) in the USA were carefully and painstakingly negotiating the beginning of the National Council of Churches. Billy Graham had just become a “name” in American Christianity, with both supporters and opponents forcefully expressing their opinions about his ministry. That year Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, an event that if it had been noticed (generally it wasn’t) might have been scorned by many Protestants. Mao Tse Tung’s newly communist China expelled Christian missionaries, a move that certainly was noticed and widely denounced. Unity seemed a distant goal or perhaps an impossible dream.

It was in 1950, a year of uncertainty and change, that two fellowships of churches joined and formed the International Council of Community Churches. Most commonly the merger was seen as a victory for racial harmony, since the two groups were predominately Afro-American and Euro-American. That such a demonstration of inter-racial unity took place in that particular year was amazing. But the merger was even broader than that.

Most of the churches in the new fellowship were clearly Protestant, although their worship styles ranged from what might be termed high-church Presbyterian to determinedly Pentecostal. But there were also independent Catholic congregations – churches with bishops in apostolic succession but not in communion with Rome. The theological diversity didn’t stop there. Though the member churches of the new group were uniformly within the Christian tradition, there were all sorts of theological opinions being expressed. Now a few of the pastors were relieved that they now belonged to a fellowship in which they could preach as they felt the Spirit led them, without risking charges of heresy from somebody within a denominational hierarchy. That recognition of freedom continues today.

New UCC logo reflects, complements denomination's Purpose, Vision, Mission Statements

Beginning with General Synod 2017 in Baltimore this summer, the United Church of Christ will begin the transition to a new logo for the denomination. The logo, last re-designed in 2004, has been updated to reflect both tradition and innovation within the church as it faces the challenges and opportunities of Christian witness in the coming decades.

The new logo's design and colors are intended to complement the graphic representation of "A Just World for All," developed to illustrate new Purpose, Vision, and Mission Statements adopted by the national setting of the church last fall.

Those statements were finalized at the October board meeting, adopted following a denomination-wide survey in 2016 and are summarized by the words "A Just World for All."

"I have been traveling around witnessing the work of our churches," said the Rev. John C. Dorhauer, UCC General Minister and president, "and what we are doing will not change. What will change is our ability to tell the story more fully, and to narrate the impact of a mission we are all collectively engaged in. We are hoping to deepen the sense that we are all in this together; and that together we make a profound difference in our world."

The new logo's colors were chosen to work with both 'A Just World for All' and the '3 Great Loves campaign — Love of Children, Love of Neighbor, Love of Creation,' which will be rolled out during General Synod in Baltimore (June 30 – July 4). Blue has replaced red, with black retained as the second color, in the new design, to visually and symbolically represent Creation elements of water and earth.


Response to Opioid Epidemic Neglects Narrative of the Poor and Minorities

By Rev. Shakira Sanchez-Collins, MD, Columnist

Many politicians across the nation are now pushing for increased funding to address the opioid (i.e., oxycodone, heroin, and fentanyl) epidemic since overdose deaths in the United States have nearly tripled in the last decade. Notably, the overdose death rate has skyrocketed for white males and is higher than the rates for any other demographic group.

Not surprisingly, the pleas of many politicians have centered upon the narrative of the suburban middle-class white male who initially became addicted to prescription narcotics like oxycodone but then moved on to illicit narcotics like heroin due to its cheap cost of $10 per hit. Yet this emphasized narrative fails to capture the stories of the poor and minorities who also have been and are currently battling with addiction. In fact, the overdose death rate for non-Hispanic Blacks has increased at a rate similar to non-Hispanic Whites.

The current response of politicians is striking when compared to the “tough on crime” response to the crack epidemic that hit urban cities in the 1970s. In contrast, the current opioid epidemic is now also affecting white people living in suburban and rural neighborhoods. Now that those affected include the family members and friends of current politicians, the epidemic has become a national crisis prompting an empathetic response.


Check Out the Award-Winning
National Council of Churches Podcast!

Winner of the DeRose-Hinkhouse award for excellence in Digital Communications!

“Fascinating topics on issues moral, religious, and political.
Very well edited—actually—the editing is ‘impeccable!'”


This week's episode: Nathan Hosler, director of the Washington office of the Church of the Brethren, joins us to talk about community gardening and how churches are using gardens to make a difference (sorry, we were unable to post this episode last week).

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast in the iTunes Store, Stitcher Radio, and iHeartRadio. If you like what you're hearing, please write a review. By doing this you will help us reach the widest possible audience!

Ecumenical Opportunities:

The Episcopal Church is accepting applications for the full-time position of Missioner for Black Ministries, a member of the Presiding Bishop’s staff. Detailed position information and application instructions are available here. Deadline for applying is July 19. 

For more information contact hrm@episcopalchurch.org.

The Alliance for Fair Food (AFF) seeks an experienced organizer to co-coordinate the involvement of people of faith in the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ (CIW) Campaign for Fair Food. Ideal candidates are highly responsible, work well in teams as part of a fast-paced environment, and possess excellent written and verbal skills.


Interfaith Power and Light seeks a Program Manager: As Program Manager, you would serve as the second core staff person—with our Director Joelle Novey—helping to deliver programs and support advocacy campaigns that engage local religious communities in the restoration of the planet.


The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) seeks an entry-level administrative staff person to work on the Citizen Security and Border programs with program staff. The Program Assistant provides administrative and research support to senior staff within a fast-paced human rights organization working in Washington, DC and Latin America.


The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) seeks an entry-level administrative staff person to work on the Mexico program. The Program Assistant provides administrative and some research assistance to senior staff within a fast-paced human rights organization working in Washington, DC and Latin America.


The Episcopal Church is accepting applications for the full-time position of Domestic & Environmental Policy Advisor, a member of the Presiding Bishop’s staff. As part of the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations based in Washington DC, the Domestic & Environmental Policy Advisor focuses on environmental policy and U.S. domestic policy. The Advisor represents the Episcopal Church to the U.S. Congress, the Administration, and other domestic and foreign government bodies and mobilizes Episcopalians to undertake advocacy on critical issues supported by the Episcopal Church’s General Convention Policy.

For more information contact hrm@episcopalchurch.org.


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