Subject: NCC Weekly News

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From Jim: Please join us at the Christian Unity Gathering
The Christian Unity Gathering of the National Council of Churches will be held from November 8-10, 2017 at the Sheraton Hotel in Silver Spring, MD. Please register and join us at this year’s CUG. 

Our theme is “Resilience, Resistance, and Persistence,” which I believe effectively captures the mood of these times. There will be numerous highlights at the Christian Unity Gathering. Among them:
  • Our opening worship sermon on the evening of November 8 will be delivered by Darin Moore, one of the great preachers in our nation. Darin serves as the chair of the NCC’s Governing Board and as Presiding Bishop of the Mid-Atlantic Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. You will not want to miss his message.
  • We will visit the new National Museum of African American History and Culture on the morning of November 9. The museum has just celebrated its first anniversary and remains the most popular attraction in Washington, DC. CUG participants will gain early entrance to the museum and spend time with Associate Director Dr. Rex Ellis. Perhaps nothing better exemplifies “Resilience, Resistance, and Persistence” than this fabulous museum. 
  • On the evening of November 9, our banquet speaker is the remarkable Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and former assistant attorney general of the United States. Additionally, at the banquet, we will be honoring those who have been at the forefront of the ecumenical movement and in efforts to further interfaith relations. 
  • The CUG will feature several excellent workshops including a full day focus on mass incarceration on November 8 led by the Children’s Defense Fund. Additional workshops will highlight the new racial justice truth-telling ministry of the NCC and the recent leadership delegation to the Middle East. 
Plus, every Christian Unity Gathering is an ‘ecumenical revival’ where we renew our commitment to Christ and deepen our relationships with one another. When I attend a conference, I consider it a success if I hear one good speaker, make one new friend, and learn of a good book to read. 

This CUG will exceed those expectations. In fact, we’ll have occasion during the Gathering to celebrate a new book produced by our Faith & Order Convening Table. We will have seminary students present from across the nation, so you will have an opportunity to make new friends from a rising generation of church leaders and ecumenists. 

Please join us for the Christian Unity Gathering. Don’t delay. It is possible if you wait too long to register, we will not be able to fit you into the visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. 

Most importantly, we will share our faith and prepare ourselves for the journey ahead which requires resilience, resistance, and persistence.

Grace and peace,
Jim Winkler
General Secretary and President
UCC president supports statements of North Carolina pastor who denounced white supremacy

A North Carolina minister and descendant of General Robert E. Lee recently resigned as pastor of a UCC congregation because of the attention his remarks against white supremacy and racism have focused on his church, Bethany United Church of Christ near Winston-Salem.

The General's distant nephew, Robert W. Lee IV, issued a statement Monday announcing his decision to step down.

In a statement of support, UCC General Minister and President the Rev. John Dorhauer lauded Lee for his courage and his convictions. Here is the text of that statement:

"The United Church of Christ stands in full support of Rev. Rob Lee and the statement he made at the VMA awards. He finds himself in a long line of prophetic voices from our past and present who find the courage of their convictions to speak truth to power in the face of fierce resistance. From abolitionist activists to Civil Rights leaders, from Black Lives Matter advocates to marchers on the streets of Charlottesville, Boston, Phoenix and beyond, the United Church of Christ remains an active agent for justice and racial equity. Rev. Rob Lee embodies the best of that. I have spoken directly with Rev. Lee, and communicated to him both my deep pride in the courage he has displayed, and my certain hope that new ministry opportunities will emerge for him on the other side of this. Having spoken with him, it is clear that even his act of resigning was a display of courage as he sought to remove the church from the turmoil that has ensued surrounding his prophetic action. I pray for Rev. Lee, and for all who, like him, do not count the cost of their courage when standing up for justice."

Dozens of countries sign nuclear weapons ban treaty

On 20 September at the United Nations in New York, a treaty to ban nuclear weapons was formally opened for signature. At the time of writing, some 49 states have signed.

This historic new treaty, the text of which adopted in July by two-thirds of the 193 UN member states after months of talks, bans the manufacture, possession and use of nuclear weapons and provides pathways for their eventual elimination. It not only prohibits nuclear weapons, it also requires the provision of aid to victims and environmental remediation. The World Council of Churches (WCC) is among the many groups and governments that have worked toward this development in international law for more than six years.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will enter into force 90 days after 50 countries have ratified it, the final step after signature. Already three nations – the Holy See, Thailand and Guyana – ratified the treaty on the same day as it was opened for signature.

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit expressed thanksgiving for the treaty and its signatories. “By signing the treaty today, these nations have taken a lead in protecting all our countries and the planet that is our home,” he said, adding that he urged national leaders to quickly ratify as well as sign the treaty. “This new treaty has to potential to save millions of lives, and creation itself, from the most destructive and indiscriminate weapons ever developed by human beings,” he said.


Tell your members of Congress: Pass the DREAM Act!

On Tuesday, September 5, the Trump Administration announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be terminated, effective immediately (no new applicants) and ending without continuation in March 2018.

Protecting nearly 800,000 young people from deportation—“Dreamers” whose numbers include pastors, youth, and others—and providing them with work authorization, DACA is a valued and necessary moral policy in our society. Yet, the government has decided to end this protection and open up close to 1 million people (and more, counting their families) to deportation.

The only hope for DACA recipients is a legislative solution before March 2018. Call on your members of Congress to pass the DREAM Act.


LDS Church buys printer's manuscript of Book of Mormon from Community of Christ for record $35 million 

The LDS Church paid a record-setting $35 million Monday to buy the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon from the Community of Christ.

Donors provided all of the money for the purchase made by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The two churches jointly announced the sale Wednesday night. Both faiths treasure the document, which is the most complete copy of the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon dictated by Joseph Smith to several scribes.

The printer’s manuscript is a handwritten copy of the original manuscript. Smith provided it to the printer, E. B. Grandin, in Palmyra, New York, in 1830, and Grandin used it to set the type for the first edition of the Book of Mormon.

A Community of Christ news release included the purchase amount and the information that it was funded wholly by donors. The release said the amount is the most ever paid for a manuscript, exceeding the $30.8 million paid by Bill Gates for the Leonardo da Vinci Codex in 1994.

Register today for “Resilience, Resistance, and Persistence,”
November 8-9, in Washington, DC!

Through powerful speakers, seminars, and presentations we will find inspiration as people who are called to bind up wounds, fight injustice, and protect the poor and vulnerable. How do we grow, adapt, and thrive when we get discouraged? What does it mean to “stand in the way? Where do we go to find the strength to remain engaged?

Our 2017 Christian Unity Gathering will examine all these questions through our theme, “Resilience, Resistance, and Persistence.” Come and be inspired and equipped for the long journey ahead!

Speakers include:
Bishop W. Darin Moore is the Presiding Prelate of the Mid-Atlantic District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Bishop Moore also currently serves as the NCC Governing Board Vice-Chair. An electric preacher, Bishop Moore will bring the message during our opening service on Wednesday evening November 8 at 7:30pm.


Vanita Gupta serves as the President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the nation's premier civil and human rights coalition. She is an experienced leader and litigator who has devoted her entire career to civil rights work. She will speak during our Awards Gala on Thursday November 9 at 6pm.

Plus, we’re hosting a tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, perhaps the hottest ticket in Washington! This museum tour will be a profound experience for everyone. It will provide the foundation for powerful new programs of the NCC that will be also announced at CUG. This is the best way for you to see this new, important museum.

Faith leaders on the front lines in Charlottesville

What happened in Charlottes­ville, Virginia, on August 11–12 drew a strong response from local faith leaders, but it was “not just a local moment,” said Seth Wispelwey, an organizer of clergy efforts when white nationalists and neo-Nazis rallied in his hometown.

“White supremacy is woven into our country’s DNA,” he said in comments on the event gathered by the National Council of Churches. In efforts to counter racism, “the white church must help lead.”

An interfaith group of hundreds of clergy gathered alongside Black Lives Matter activists and other antiracist and antifascist groups resisting the white supremacist efforts. Churches also provided care for those harmed by the day’s violence, which included a man driving his car into the counterprotesters, killing one woman and injuring dozens. Two state police officers monitoring the rally died in a helicopter crash.

The Unite the Right rally on August 12, by some estimates the largest such demonstration in a decade, was held to oppose the Charlottesville city council’s decision to remove a statue of Con­federate General Robert E. Lee from a city park, an action currently on hold because of a lawsuit.


Ecumenical Opportunities:

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) seeks a part-time Campaign Organizer to conduct recruitment for events for its Closing Guantanamo campaign. January 11, 2018 marks the 16th anniversary of the opening of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The Campaign Organizer will conduct outreach to NRCAT members and other faith communities across the United States to recruit leadership and provide resources for rallies, vigils or other events to mark the anniversary and call for an end to indefinite detention and the closure of the detention center. 

The anticipated contract period is October 1, 2017 to January 19, 2018, with the possibility of an earlier start date. NRCAT seeks an individual for 20-25 hours per week. Preference for an individual located in the Washington, DC region.


Two New Videos on Drone Warfare

The Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare has produced two videos for congregations of all faiths: Moral and Safe?: War, Peace, Drone Warfare and the Religious Community and The Religious Community and Drone Warfare. They can be viewed at www.interfaithdronenetwork.org

Moral and Safe? is an introductory film for congregations for whom drone warfare is a new issue. It describes the history, use and nature of lethal drones as well as the human rights, legal and moral challenges posed by drone warfare. 

Click here to view the 90 second trailer.

The Network has also produced a second film, The Religious Community and Drone Warfare, which digs deeper into the religious concerns about drone warfare on an interfaith basis. Its trailer is here

In addition, the Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare has made a three 30 minute versions of three documentaries: Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars by Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films, the film National Bird by Sonia Kennebeck and Drone by Tonje Hessen Schei. A study guide is also available for each film. You can also see all of our films and the study guides at www.interfaithdronenetwork.org.

Congregations across the country are urged to show the films. Those with questions can call 609-924-5022.
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