Subject: NCC Weekly News: Nuclear Crisis, Hurricane Maria, Taking a Knee

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An Open Letter From Americans of Faith to President Donald Trump
Dear President Trump:

As people of faith, we write to you out of profound concern over the rise in tensions between the United States and North Korea. We recognize the unfortunate choice of language and careless posturing of Kim Jong Un. For the sake of peace, however, we urge you to cease utilizing bellicose language and name-calling in your public speeches and tweets and instead pursue diplomacy as befitting the leader of the free world.

Put simply, nuclear war must never take place. You are the leader of the world’s strongest nuclear superpower, and therefore you have a responsibility to act with probity, tact, and care. While we do not defend Kim Jong Un or condone the dangerous rhetoric employed by his regime, equally reckless talk by you could lead to a miscalculation in which millions of lives could be lost. Nuclear war that can destroy millions of people puts the whole world at risk and is fundamentally immoral. For this reason, we urge you to take the higher road, and thereby project strength that comes through silence.

Further, we urge you to launch a new, bold, and comprehensive diplomatic appeal to find a permanent solution to the problem of nuclear proliferation worldwide. Indeed, we are reminded of the words of President Reagan, who sought to abolish nuclear weapons while, at the same time, facing an existential threat from another nuclear power:

“I can’t believe that this world can go on beyond our generation and on down to succeeding generations with this kind of weapon on both sides poised at each other without someday some fool or some maniac or some accident triggering the kind of war that is the end of the line for all of us.”

-President Ronald Reagan, May 16, 1983

Mr. President, no threat of nuclear annihilation, nor even the limited use of nuclear weapons, can be justified by any form of moral thinking. We, as Americans of faith, urge you cease use of threatening speech, and redouble attempts to find peaceful and just solutions to the proliferation of nuclear weapons worldwide.

"As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, 'If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.'”

-Luke 19:41-42 (NRSV)

Grace and peace,

The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA
Washington, DC

Churches appeal for peaceful dialogue in Korea

Churches in Korea and in the USA continue to appeal for peaceful dialogue and an end to the threat of military action that has caused profound concern across the world.

After participating in a press conference on 28 September, the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) issued an urgent appeal to the international community for peace in Korea.

“Peace cannot be achieved through arms,” the statement reads. “As apostles of peace, the Korean churches, together with 10 million followers, strongly oppose a second war in the peninsula and therefore would not tolerate any forms of military actions aggravating the situation.”

To resolve the current crisis in a peaceful manner, the NCCK appealed to governments, churches and civil societies in the world.

The statement says the United States should immediately halt its military threats as well as sanctions on North Korea and create an atmosphere for peaceful dialogue.

“North Korea should stop its nuclear tests and respond to the dialogue requests of the neighboring countries including South Korea and the US,” the statement continues.


Bishops challenge Trump, Congress on DACA in NYTimes ad

Some 125 Episcopal Church bishops signed a full-page ad that ran Sept. 21 in the New York Times, imploring President Donald Trump and member of Congress not to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program known as DACA.

“To do so would endanger the lives of thousands of young people and their families and run contrary to the faith and moral traditions of our country,” wrote 122 bishops, along with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, 26th Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and 25th Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold. “It is unfair to threaten the well-being of young people who arrived in our country as children through no choice of their own.”
The Rev. Richard Witt, executive director of Rural & Migrant Ministries, brought the idea to the Rt. Rev. Lawrence C. Provenzano, bishop of the Diocese of Long Island. His diocese is among, if not, the most diverse in the church, in part because Queens, New York is the most diverse county in nation.

“The prayer book is in 13 different languages in our diocese,” Provenzano told Episcopal News Service. “This is in defense of the people in our pews and in our neighborhoods.”

Starting with Witt and Provenzano, then adding three other bishops, they organized the declaration and after Curry agreed, they sent an email through their list serve to all bishops with a deadline to sign on. It’s unclear the reason some bishops didn’t sign the statement, but if it wasn’t about avoiding controversy, it could have been as simple as not noticing the email in time to make the deadline.

Brooklyn church takes a knee to call out racial injustice

The continuing debate about professional athletes protesting social inequality on the field of play remains in the American spotlight, and this week a Brooklyn congregation of the United Church of Christ is taking a stand — or a knee, rather — in support of those athletes and team owners publicly calling attention to racial injustice.

Congregants at Nazarene Congregational UCC in New York City "took a knee" on Sunday, Sept. 24, answering a call to demonstrate their love of neighbor by kneeling after their worship service. They posted their photo to Twitter before NFL games kicked off that afternoon.

"In solidarity with the victims and families of racial injustice, and athletes such as Colin Kaepernick 'taking a knee' during the national anthem to raise attention to said racial injustice, members of the congregation took a knee today," said Greg Halzen, a deacon at the church.

About 30 church members, from young children to the elders, knelt or were seated for the photo, and many of them raised a fist. The group was inspired to this action partly by the Resistance Revival, a choral group of 60 women, which sings protest songs about resistance.

American Baptist Home Mission Societies Pledges to Rebuild, Restore, Renew Puerto Rico

In response to the devastating one-two punch leveled at Puerto Rico first by Hurricane Irma and most recently by Hurricane Maria, American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS), in partnership with American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA), will launch a multi-year initiative, “Rebuilding, Restoring, Renewing Puerto Rico,” Executive Director Dr. Jeffrey Haggray announced today.

“Rebuilding, Restoring, Renewing Puerto Rico” seeks to raise $1 million within the next three to six months through One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) to support rebuilding the homes, churches and lives of our brothers and sister in Christ. ABHMS has pledged $25,000 to launch this major renewal effort, matching OGHS funds already earmarked for Puerto Rico recovery.

“Within the next three to five years,” Haggray said, “we will work with our American Baptist partners to restore all 114 churches and nine missions in the Iglesias Bautistas de Puerto Rico as well as Corporacion Milagros del Amor and Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico.”


Interfaith Toolkit: No Muslim Ban - No Refugee Ban
October 18th Day of Action


What’s Happening on October 18th?

While the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) was scheduled to hear oral arguments on October 10th challenging the legality of the Muslim and refugee bans created by Trump’s executive orders, they have postponed this and may or may not reschedule. Lawyers representing the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), HIAS, and other plaintiffs are making the case that the bans - including the most recent proclamation extending the ban to Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela - violate U.S. law. While rescheduling of the hearing is unknown right now, it is important that we mobilize on October 18th to demonstrate opposition to the Muslim and refugee bans. Events in DC and around the country are being coordinated at www.nomuslimbanever.com.


Click to find a Google Doc containing advocacy tools to help defeat the "Muslim Ban."

In surprise move, National Association of Evangelicals opposes Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), the main US umbrella group for 45,000 churches and millions of individuals, has surprisingly come out against Republican attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known as 'Obamacare'.

According to the Think Progress website, a list of statements distributed yesterday by the faith-based anti-hunger group Bread for the World showed that the NAE spoke out against the latest effort to repeal the initiative.

'Despite its impressive achievements, our health care system often fails to deliver affordable, life-saving help to many of our citizens,' the NAE president Leith Anderson said in a statement. 'Reforms are needed, but they should be carefully studied and not rushed through Congress without expert analysis and thorough debate on the inevitable trade-offs inherent in any reform. Above all, any policy and funding changes should be evaluated by how they treat the most vulnerable among us.'

The NAE statement demonstrates a rare point of agreement between its leadership and that of the National Council of Churches (NCC), a group of more liberal, mainline denominations that the NAE was created partly to counteract.

'There is not a single Member of Congress who does not understand that [the repeal attempt] will result in fewer people with health insurance and reduced spending on Medicaid,' Jim Winkler, president of the NCC, said in a separate statement. 'This bill will create unnecessary hardship for millions of our people. As Christian leaders, we cannot possibly support legislation that will hurt the last, the least, and the lost.'


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.

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.



Refugee Council USA Seeks a new Director: the Coalition is looking for a passionate and visionary leader who will work with 25 member organizations to develop and implement strategies that best protect and serve refugees and that help restore a positive national discourse about refugees and refugee resettlement. The ideal candidate will have ample experience in government advocacy at the federal and/or state levels, is a gifted communicator and has proven interpersonal and management skills, notably in leading a member-driven coalition.


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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