Subject: CHRISTIAN UNITY GATHERING: More Speakers Announced

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Speakers at 2019 Christian Unity Gathering
Opening Speaker: Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Elected as the ELCA’s fourth presiding bishop at the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton earned a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School and a Bachelor of Music Education from the College of Wooster.

Ordained in 1981, Eaton served three congregations in Ohio before being elected bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Ohio Synod in 2006 and re-elected in May 2013.

In 2015, under Eaton’s leadership, the ELCA underwent an extensive vision process to help this church journey faithfully and effectively together in the years ahead. The process resulted in Future Directions 2025, a strategic framework that serves shared leadership across the ELCA to realize common aspirations and better face the challenges of this church.

Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, Pastor and Chair, Conference of National Black Churches

W. Franklyn Richardson serves as the Chair of the Conference of National Black Churches, which is comprised of the national leadership of the eight largest historically Black denominations in America. The organization represents more than 80% of African American Christians across this nation that have a combined membership of over 15 million people and 30,000 congregations.

Dr. Richardson is also the Senior Pastor of the historic Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, New York. He has been the head of this vibrant, diverse, multi-staffed ministry since April, 1975. Under his leadership, the congregation has continually thrived, growing to include more than 4000 members, as well as a second church in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
A graduate of Virginia Union University, Dr. Richardson received his Divinity degree from Yale University Divinity School and his Doctorate of Ministry as a Wyatt Tee Walker Fellow from the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. Dr. Richardson has received extensive recognition for his dynamic and impactful leadership in ministry with Honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees from several colleges and universities including his alma mater, Virginia Union University.

Ruby Sales, Activist and Public Theologian

Ruby Sales is the founder and director of the Spirit House Project. She joined the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the 1960s as a teenager at Tuskegee University and went to work as a student freedom fighter in Lowndes County, Alabama. She is one of 50 African Americans to be spotlighted in the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.

While studying at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, Sales became involved with the state's Freedom Summer voter registration drive. One afternoon, as she and Jonathan Daniels, a white seminarian, stood in line at a corner store, a man shot and killed Daniels for standing behind Sales in line. Unnerved and unable to speak significantly for seven months, Sales determined to attend the trial of Daniels' murderer, Tom Coleman, and to testify on behalf of her slain colleague. Her perseverance moved her to a career of social activism.

Previously announced:
Author and speaker Ibram X. Kendi, American University

Ibram X. Kendi is one of America’s foremost historians and leading antiracist voices. He is a New York Times bestselling author and the Founding Director of The Antiracist Research & Policy Center at American University in Washington, DC. A professor of history and international relations, Kendi is an ideas columnist at The Atlantic. He is the author of THE BLACK CAMPUS MOVEMENT, which won the W.E.B. Du Bois Book Prize, and STAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING: THE DEFINITIVE HISTORY OF RACIST IDEAS IN AMERICA, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction. At 34 years old, Kendi was the youngest ever winner of the NBA for Nonfiction. 

His third book, HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST, was published on August 13, 2019 by One World, an imprint of Random House.

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, World Council of Churches general secretary

One of today’s greatest Christian leaders, The Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit was elected general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in August 2009, and was re-elected to a second term in July 2014. At the time of his nomination, Tveit was the general secretary of the Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations (2002-09).

In his home country, he served as a member of the board of directors and executive committee of the Christian Council of Norway, moderator of the Church of Norway – Islamic Council of Norway contact group and the same for the Jewish Congregation contact group. He also was a member of the Inter-Faith Council of Norway and a member of the board of trustees of Norwegian Church Aid.

Dr Agnes Abuom, Moderator of the WCC Central Committee

Dr Agnes Abuom, from the Anglican Church of Kenya, was elected unanimously by the WCC 10th Assembly on 8 November 2013 to serve as moderator of the WCC Central Committee. She is the first woman and the first African in the position in the history of the World Council of Churches.

Abuom has served on the WCC Executive Committee, representing the Anglican Church of Kenya. She is also a development consultant serving both Kenyan and international organizations coordinating social action programmes for religious and civil society across Africa.

Abuom was the Africa president for the WCC from 1999 to 2006. She has been associated with the All Africa Conference of Churches, National Council of Churches of Kenya and WCC member churches in Africa, as well as Religions for Peace.

Abuom’s areas of work include economic justice, peace and reconciliation.

Archbishop Mark L. MacDonald

The Most Rev. Mark MacDonald became the Anglican Church of Canada’s first National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop in 2007, after serving as bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Diocese of Alaska for 10 years.

Archbishop MacDonald was born on Jan. 15, 1954, the son of Blake and Sue Nell MacDonald. He holds a B.A. in religious studies and psychology from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minn., an M.A. in divinity from Wycliffe College, and did post-graduate work at Luther-Northwestern Theological Seminary in Minneapolis.

He has had a long and varied ministry, holding positions in Mississauga, Ont., Duluth, Minn., Tomah, Wis., Mauston, Wis., Portland, Ore., and the southeast regional mission of the Diocese of Navajoland. Immediately prior to his ordination to the episcopate, Archbishop MacDonald was canon missioner for training in the Diocese of Minnesota and vicar of St. Antipas’ Church, Redby, Minn., and St. John-in-the-Wilderness Church, Red Lake, Red Lake Nation, Minn.

He is the board chair for Church Innovations, Inc., and a third order Franciscan.

Register today for the Christian Unity Gathering

This year the National Council of Churches will be marking 400 years since the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in America.  At the Christian Unity Gathering we will join together in a public witness at Point Comfort, Virginia, where it is recorded that the suffering of millions began in  a legacy that lives on today through systemic racism that ravages our churches, communities, and lives.

This year's theme:

Ending Racism: Confronting Our Past, Revisiting Our Present and Naming God’s Preferred Future

The Christian Unity Gathering is the signature, annual event of the National Council of Churches.  All members of NCC governance structures, convening tables, and all ecumenical officers and regional, state, and local ecumenical executives are urged to attend.

Hotel: Holiday Inn Newport News-City Center

Nestled in a wooded area off I-64 and overlooking a parking lot, this beautiful hotel is 10 miles from Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport.

The modern rooms and suites feature free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and minifridges. Suites add living rooms and walk-in showers.

Booking is now available!  When you book, identify yourself with "National Council of Churches Christian Unity." Use the code: NCC to book your room today.

About the National Council of Churches: 

Serving as a leading voice of witness to the living Christ in the public square since 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) brings together 38 member communions and more than 35 million Christians in a common expression of God’s love and promise of unity.

The Christian Unity Gathering is the signature annual event of the National Council of Churches.  Join us!

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