Subject: NCC Newsletter: Advocacy at the Start of Lent: HR 40, Vaccinations, 2022 Budget

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Advocacy at the Start of Lent: HR 40, Vaccinations, 2022 Budget

NCC Newsletter
February 20, 2021
NCC Letter to on H.R. 40
 “Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act”
February 16, 2021

Dear Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Subcommittee Chairman Steve Cohen, and Chairman Jerrold Nadler,

The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) has served as a leading voice of witness to the living Christ for 70 years. NCC is a diverse covenant community of 38 member denominations with more than 35 million individuals in 100,000 congregations from Protestant, Anglican, historic African-American, Orthodox, Evangelical, and Living Peace traditions. We have a common commitment to advocate and represent God’s love and promise of unity in our public square. As part of our commitment to unity is our commitment to end racism and dismantle White Supremacy and the vestiges of slavery.

On April 4, 2018, the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination we launched the A.C.T. Now to End Racism. Focusing on the need to awaken and confront the realities of racism in our society it is our prayer and hope that individuals within our churches and society will be transformed and all will seek to transform the systems and structures that divide us.

We want to thank the House Judiciary Committee for holding a hearing on H.R. 40 “Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act”. Dr. E. Tendayl Achiume, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism noted in her report on reparation issues on August 19, 2019:
“The transatlantic slave trade has been described as the first system of globalization. At the core of transatlantic slavery and the slave trade was the dehumanization of persons on the basis of race”; a social construct that to this day shapes access to fundamental human rights. Slavery and the slave trade embodied and entrenched extreme forms of racial discrimination, relying on domestic and international legal frameworks to institute and protect racial hierarchy in the various parts of the world affected by transatlantic slavery.”

Every aspect of daily life in the United States is impacted by racial discrimination: housing, education, the criminal legal system, healthcare, etc. For too long we have accepted these disparities as normal or blamed those impacted. This hearing and the ultimate passing of HR 40 is a first step to American beginning to live up to its dreamed promise of all people having a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness envisioned by the founding fathers.

Healing and unity must begin with the work that the HR 40 Commission will accomplish by providing a record of these disparities and proposals for repairing the breach that is inherent in our country.
We pray and wish you well in this endeavor and the National Council of Churches of Chris in the USA is available and willing to work with you as you move forward.

Respectfully Submitted,

Rev. Aundreia Alexander, Esq.
Associate General Secretary for Action and Advocacy for
Justice and Peace
National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA

NCC's Lenten Reflections
NCC’s 2021 Lenten Reflections follow the Committee on the Uniform Series plan for reading and studying the Bible. Each Wednesday, we will share the scripture from the week’s Sunday Bible verses. We call on each of us to reflect on these passages of scripture during the seven weeks of Lent in light of your own experiences and relationships.

World Council of Churches' Lenten Series
"Seven Weeks for Water 2021" from the WCC Ecumenical Water Network is a thought-provoking series that includes discussion questions for virtual groups to use. This first week's reflection is written by Michele Roberts and is entitled, "The rainbow color of the pilgrimage of water justice in North America," The author, based on several instances of large scale water contamination in many cities in the USA, comes to a conclusion that lack of access to clean water in USA is a result of systemic racism.
COVID-19 Vaccinations 
Sign and Promote the #Pastors4Vaccines Campaign 
In partnership with Sojourners, Christian Churches Together, and Christians for Social Action, NCC is co-sponsoring the #Pastors4Vaccines campaign and we encourage all of our communions to spread the word and participate.

As COVID-19 vaccines become increasingly available, we have an opportunity to help put a stop to the virus. It is crucial that those able to get the vaccine do so as soon as possible to protect one another. As trusted members of our communities, faith leaders are in the unique position to increase trust in the vaccine, prevent the spread of harmful misinformation, and ensure equitable distribution of doses.

Pledge to:
  • Get the COVID-19 vaccine when I am eligible and share my experience with the hashtag #Pastors4Vaccines by posting a photo or video of myself reflecting the experience of getting vaccinated!
  • Educate my community about the COVID-19 vaccine by preaching a sermon or sharing resources related to the vaccine.
  • Advocate for racial equity in the vaccine distribution. 
Got to the website, sign the pledge, and make sure everyone in your communion joins the effort.
A Town Hall Gathering: Celebrating a Faithful Democracy As Black History 
NCC joins the Faithful Democracy coalition in celebrating the impact of Black History on our democracy with a Town Hall on Thursday, February 25, 2021 at 4:30pm. 

If not for the courageous struggle and perseverance of African Americans to be civic participants, the oldest democracy in the world might still be an exclusionary system for white men.

Learn how the For the People Act would honor that legacy with transformational federal democracy reforms. This faith-based Town Hall will look at the racial equity benefits of the bill, how it complements the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the urgency of passage to safeguard our democracy.

Loss of a Longtime Partner
UMI (Urban Ministries, Inc.) founder, Dr. Melvin E. Banks, Sr., died on Saturday, February 13, 2021, at age 86. UMI has been a partner of the Committee on the Uniform Series (CUS) since its beginning with NCC. In a press release, UMI explained that Dr. Banks founded UMI in 1970 to “provide African American churches and individuals with images reflecting their congregations and relatable, Christ-centered content from an urban perspective.” The release also states, “For the last 50 years, under Dr. Banks' leadership, UMI has developed Christian education resources, including Bible studies, Sunday School, and Vacation Bible School curriculum, websites, magazines, books, and videos for its 40,000+ strong customer base. He wrote a number of books and devotionals and hosted a two-minute daily podcast called Daily Direction.” UMI is described as the “largest, independent, African American-owned and -operated, Christian media and publishing company.” 
Calling on Congress to Reduce Pentagon Spending
NCC joined 30 faith-based organizations from across the United States, representing many different faith traditions to call on Congress to prioritize a sustainable, peaceful recovery for the country while
developing the government’s budget for fiscal year 2022. Instead of spending money on weapons and war, we implored our elected leaders to invest in things that address the urgency of climate change and build resilient communities- including clean energy and sustainable infrastructure.

How to Divest From Nuclear Weapons
WCC has an exclusive interview with H.E. Cardinal Silvano M. Tomasi on the the global conversation about a world free from nuclear weapons, and how churches can get involved. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons heralds in a new era in international law and public opinion is growing against states owning and using nuclear weapons. Divestment in nuclear weapons would allow funds used for the nuclear arms race to be reallocated toward economic recovery. Isolating states that do not agree and encouraging them to accept the treaty is a way forward. In addition, non-nuclear weapons-holding states can use legal leverage, as well as financial pressure with resources derived through divestment, to promote this goal.

Don’t Bank on the Bomb has educational materials for faith groups that explain how everyone can divest their money away from companies that produce nuclear weapons.
From Our Partners:
NCC Recognized for Pro-Democracy Efforts
The Center for American Progress and Auburn Seminary have released a report, “The Pro-Democracy Faith Movement,” describing how religious communities are among the most powerful advocates for a more inclusive American democracy in which everyone has a vote and a voice.
NCC and many of our member communions were recognized for supporting a free and fair 2020 election through such actions as signing petitions, issuing strong statements, and advocating for elected officials to count every ballot.

Equity and Equality in the Movement for Racial Justice
"Tuesdays for Nurture" is a Tuesday webinars series in which the United Church of Christ faithfully focuses on education for the people of God. Rev. NCC’s Associate General Secretary, Aundreia Alexander, joined Adele Halliday from The United Church of Canada, and Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson for the discussion which included thoughts on equity and racism in relation to the pandemic. Tune in to learn more about “radical prophetic truth telling.”
Jim Winkler's letter will return next week.
Help NCC to continue our vital role in all of this work. Your gift will help us build a more just and equitable community that chooses grace over greed, love over hate, and faith over fear.

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