Subject: NCC Weekly News: Wither the US Embassy in Jerusalem?

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NCC Opposes U.S. Decision to Declare Jerusalem as Capital of Israel
In 1980, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA adopted a policy statement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In that statement, the NCC said, “Unilateral actions by any one group in relation to Jerusalem will only perpetuate antagonisms that will threaten the peace of the city and possibly of the region.” In 2007, the NCC again affirmed a shared Jerusalem.

We reiterate those statements today. For decades, U.S. presidents have acted with prudence and caution regarding Jerusalem. President Trump’s actions threaten to unleash violence throughout the region and severely damage any remaining U.S. diplomatic credibility to act as a broker for a peace agreement.

The status of Jerusalem has long been at the center of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict. While West Jerusalem serves as the de facto capital of Israel, East Jerusalem has always been considered the capital of the future state of Palestine. By unilaterally declaring the entire city to be Israel’s capital, and by announcing the upcoming move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, Mr. Trump has thrown fuel on the fires of conflict in the region. People are likely to die as a direct result of this decision.

Some of Mr. Trump’s supporters claim biblical, theological and historical reasons to uphold Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. They are in error. The Christians in the Holy Land, whose communities trace their lineage to the first days of Christianity, know that these reasons are specious. Mr. Trump’s simplistic approach to the complexities of the region make a mockery of the hardships the people there – whether Israelis or Palestinians, whether Christians or Jews or Muslims – have suffered over the years.

We note that a delegation of leaders from NCC member communion, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), including Stated Clerk Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, is now in the region. We are grateful for their peace witness and uphold the right of all who seek to protest peacefully. We pray for the safety of all.

WCC expresses grave concern over US recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel

In a statement issued 6 December, World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit expressed grave concern over President Trump’s announcement that the United States will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“Such a step breaks with the longstanding international consensus, and almost seven decades of established American policy, that the status of Jerusalem remains to be settled,” stated Tveit. “It also pre-empts a negotiated resolution of this most difficult issue in any final peace agreement, which must be achieved between Israelis and Palestinians themselves.”

The WCC statement also shared and strongly affirmed the concerns expressed by His Majesty King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, that the measure will have serious implications for security and stability in the Middle East, will undermine the efforts of the American administration to resume the peace process and fuel the feelings of Palestinian Muslims and Christians alike.


ELCA presiding bishop responds to decision to move U.S. Embassy in Israel

December 6, 2017

I am deeply disturbed to learn of the Trump Administration’s plans to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel away from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The ELCA has long held the view that a negotiated, final status agreement, including a “shared Jerusalem,” must be reached without unilateral actions by any party that would prejudice the outcome of negotiations.

This unilateral action would not support the cause of peace and a two-state solution, but rather would unnecessarily create further tensions and possible violence that would make efforts to bring them back together for talks much more difficult. As my brother in Christ and colleague, Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, has often said, the security of Israelis depends on the freedom of Palestinians and the freedom of Palestinians depends on the security of Israelis. This proposed action would make both more insecure.

To proceed with this plan will only further isolate our nation from the global movement for a just peace for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike in the region and our church’s policy that seeks an end to the occupation, an end to terrorism and violence, and, ultimately, the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state. Since the announcement is one of intentions, I call upon the president to rescind this plan and instead continue to focus on our nation’s ability to contribute constructively toward a peaceful settlement of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Along with other interreligious partners, I continue to stand ready to discuss with the president ways to reach a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Sincerely,

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Stated Clerk issues statement on Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as capital of Israel

General Stated Clerk J. Herbert Nelson, II issued a statement today from the Holy Land – where he is traveling with a delegation of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) leaders, criticizing President Trump’s decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to instruct the U.S. State Department to begin planning to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Nelson’s statement is similar to one issued by the National Council of Churches, which had been in contact with him earlier. In its statement, the NCC praised the witness of the PC(USA) delegation and asked for prayers for its safety.

AME Church joins with ecumenical partners to denounce Trump Administration action on Jerusalem

The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church has a storied history of creating consensus in areas where parties desire but are having difficulty in finding the middle ground. In the peace negotiations related to Jerusalem, we support the Statements of the World Council of Churches, the World Methodist Council, and the National Council of Churches of Christ (NCCUSA) bodies in which we are members and participants in the leadership.

Over the decades, our leaders and members have been on pilgrimages to the Middle East to fully understand the issues and meet the people. Most recently in 2017, our Director of Social Action joined a delegation from the NCCUSA that visited Jordan, Egypt, Israel and Palestine to “check on the Christians”. The Christians pleaded for help to tell their story and help others understand the urgency of protecting the shared existence of all parties in the Middle Eastern region–whether Christian, Muslim or Jewish. That report signals a need for continued vigilant prayer and focused Peace Talks among the stakeholders as critical to finding solutions for three faiths/people (Judaism, Muslim, Christian) who call Jerusalem their founding place.

The action taken by the President of the United States is inconsistent with engaging the stakeholders, finding lasting solutions, and achieving a peace that is more than the absence of conflict/war/terrorist acts. It flies in the face of finding peace on earth, in a season where we are affirming the continued quest for this seemingly elusive quality of life. In fact, it seems to be the actions of a bully.

And for all of these reasons, we stand with those who oppose the action of declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel and urge continued efforts to find lasting peace. We urge resumption of Peace Talks with renewed urgency.

AME Social Action Commission
Bishop Frank M Reid, III, Chairperson
Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, Director

Bishop Clement W. Fugh, President of the Council of Bishops
Bishop McKinley Young, Senior Bishop


CBS Interfaith Special: Faith on the Frontlines

FAITH ON THE FRONTLINES, a CBS Interfaith Special, looks at the interfaith clergy movement that has vowed to take on white supremacy. 

As the Charlottesville, Va. city council discussed plans to remove confederate statues from local parks, tension within the community was mounting. In May and July, two separate demonstrations by white nationalists and Ku Klux Klan members inspired counter-protests by local activists, including clergy. This summer, as word got out about the size and scope of an upcoming white supremacist Unite the Right rally, local faith leaders quickly mobilized and formed Congregate Charlottesville. In addition to non-violent direct action training, the group invited national faith leaders and lay people from around the country to join them in their counter-protest against white supremacy. On August 12, the Unite the Right rally ended in the death of a 32-year-old woman and two police officers.

Among those interviewed in FAITH ON THE FRONTLINES about the events leading up to that day and the aftermath is Brittany Caine-Conley, lead organizer of Congregate Charlottesville. She is a member in Discernment with Sojourners United Church of Christ in Charlottesville. Other local Charlottesville faith leaders include: Rev. Brenda Brown-Grooms, co-pastor of New Beginnings Christian Community; Rev. Phil Woodson, associate pastor of First United Methodist Church; Rabbi Rachel Schmelkin of Congregation Beth Israel; and Don Gathers, a deacon at the First Baptist Church.

In the wake of Charlottesville, Rev. Robert W. Lee made national headlines after speaking out against white supremacy at the MTV Video Music Awards. Rev. Lee, the fourth great nephew of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, was recently ordained in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship after graduating from Duke University Divinity School with a Master’s in theological studies. Today he continues his work as a public theologian and anti-racism activist. He calls for all clergy to speak out against white supremacy from the pulpit and in the public square.

John P. Blessington is senior executive producer and Liz Kineke is producer. In creating the topics and content for this series, they sought input from religious scholars, clergy and others including Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Islamic, Sikh and various interfaith organizations.


A World Uprooted: Responding to Migrants, Refugees and Displaced People

FRIDAY, APRIL 20 – MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2018
DOUBLETREE BY HILTON, CRYSTAL CITY – WASHINGTON, D.C.,
ARMY-NAVY DR., ARLINGTON, VA.

We live in a time of upheaval and uprootedness – a world in which each year millions of people cross borders in search of more secure and sustainable lives, while white supremacist ideologies continue to impede the fight for justice and peace for all of God’s people. As we witness historically high levels of migration, we also find that racism, sexism, Islamophobia, xenophobia and other forms of discrimination are also on the rise in our communities and used for political gain. At the root of this global upheaval and migration are the push factors of violent conflict, climate change, and corruption which often intersect with one another. At a time when there is such need around the world, we grieve that the U.S. has greatly reduced its refugee admittance numbers while smaller, poorer countries are stepping up to welcome and provide refuge for those in need. As people of faith, we know we can do more. We believe God is with Dreamers, the migrant and the outcast and calls us to create places of sanctuary; to offer hospitality to the stranger, to welcome all – regardless of faith, race, gender or nationality – and to break down the dividing walls that separate us.

Ecumenical Advocacy Days 2018 will focus on the uprootedness of our world. We will analyze current policy and envision ways to more fully and justly respond to the global and local needs of displaced communities. Through prayer, worship, advocacy training, and networking, we will seek policy changes that advance hope and overcome the devastating impacts of conflict, climate change and corruption on God’s people.


Ecumenical Opportunities:

The Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty is now accepting applications to the 2018 Baptist Joint Committee Fellows Program. All applications must be postmarked by February 16, 2018.

Ten “Baptist Joint Committee Fellows” (“BJC Fellows”) will be selected from diverse educational, professional and religious backgrounds, and they will attend the BJC Fellows Seminar at Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia from July 25-29, 2018. The intensive education program will equip the BJC Fellows for activism, utilizing Colonial Williamsburg’s educational resources in conjunction with BJC staff members and other preeminent scholars.

Click here to learn more
Serving as a leading voice of witness to the living Christ in the public square since 1950, 
the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) brings together 38 member communions 
and more than 40 million Christians in a common expression of God’s love and promise of unity. 
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