Subject: NCC Newsletter – April 14, 2023


April 14, 2023

NCC Statement on Recent Mass Shootings

Above: Two recent NCC social media posts on the shootings in Nashville and Louisville.

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live....” Deuteronomy 30:19 (NRSVue)

The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) abhors the rise of active shooter incidents plaguing American schools and neighborhoods. Once again, we are compelled to respond to another mass shooting, this time at a downtown Louisville bank, leaving six dead, including the shooter, and eight others injured.

When this tragedy struck, it had only been just a couple of weeks since three children and three adults were gunned down at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee. Families of innocent gun violence victims are grappling with the sudden loss of their loved ones as well as the horrific manner in which they were murdered.

“There is a real and present danger that America is normalizing gun violence,” said Bishop Vashti McKenzie, NCC Interim President and General Secretary. “If something is not done soon, school shootings and gun violence in sacred, work, and recreational spaces will become just another day in the neighborhood.”

More than 11,500 persons have died because of gun violence, according to the Gun Violence Archives. So far this year, there have been 147 mass shootings and 14 mass murders…totaling more than the number of days that have passed in 2023. The number of children and teens dying of gun violence is quickly inching toward 500, and it is only April!

“We don’t have to live like this. We reiterate our call for Congress to take urgent and decisive action to ban assault rifles and other weapons of war from our streets,” said NCC’s Governing Board Chair, Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton.

The NCC has been consistently vocal about the need to end gun violence. In its August 2019 statement, concerns were expressed that elected officials would not respond in any meaningful way to the proliferation of this violence: “…for they are collectively and shamefully within the captivity of the gun lobby. Our elected leaders are guilty of negligence and cowardice.”  

NCC renews its call for comprehensive, common-sense gun reform that focuses on safety. We can strike a balance between firearm safety and Second Amendment rights. We can increase the well-being of children with child protection and child prevention safety. We can ban assault weapons, establish universal background checks, and keep guns out of the hands of high-risk people while putting time between the purchase and the receiving of a weapon.

We must put an end to the gun violence pandemic by choosing people over profits. We choose the well-being of innocent people and not the profits of the National Rifle Association or the idolatry of the Second Amendment.

We choose life! America, we do not have to live like this.

The NCC Prays for the Release of Captives in Russia

A recent social media post calling for the release of Evan Gershkovich.

“He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and…to set free those who are oppressed…” (Luke 4:18b, NRSVue)


One of the dangers of war is the possible detention of innocent people who are used as pawns by combatants and their governments.  In Russia’s war of choice in Ukraine, there have been countless victims, taken by Russia to be used as leverage to gain some political advantage or another against Ukraine, and against those countries that support the besieged nation.


WNBA player Brittney Griner was one such victim who was detained and held for nearly 10 months of a nine-year sentence and was released only through a prisoner swap. Another is Paul Whelan, a corporate security professional who has so far been imprisoned for three years of a 16-year sentence. Now, Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich may be sentenced to 20 years. 


These are the victims whose names we know. Even worse, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of children who have suffered another kind of detention, having been kidnapped from Ukraine and transported into Russia’s interior to be adopted by Russian families, likely never to see their real families again, a fate that amounts to a life sentence.


Thankfully, there are moments when light breaks through the darkness, and joy pierces the sadness. The NCC applauded the release of Ms. Griner some months ago, even as we lamented the fact that Mr. Whelan remained captive. The NCC also rejoices that several children have been saved from captivity even as most others who were taken remain in Russian territory. Now we can only hope that justice will triumph and that Mr. Gershkovich will be released from prison.


The NCC prays for the release of all unjustly persecuted innocents in this war.  As we continue to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who was Himself unjustly imprisoned and tortured before His execution, we pray that He “proclaim release to the captives and…set free those who are oppressed.”

Panel Explores 60 Years after King's Letter from Birmingham Jail

Sixty years ago, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., sitting in a Birmingham City Jail cell, began drafting what would become one of the most important documents of the civil rights era. Written in response to eight white clergymen calling for a delay in demonstrations in the South, King expressed the “urgency of the moment,” issuing a call to all Americans to reject the “piercing familiarity” of the word “wait” and to press forward together in the fight for justice. This call, however, landed particularly on faith leaders.


What did this prophetic response mean in the historical context in which it was written? What does it mean for us today?


To explore answers to these critical questions, the Center on Faith and Justice at Georgetown University and the National African American Clergy Network are co-hosting an important virtual conversation on the “Letter from Birmingham Jail @ 60” on Wednesday, April 26, 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. ET.


Scheduled participants are: Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, Interim President and General Secretary of the National Council of Churches and retired Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, Senior Pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL, and Professor of Homiletics, School of Theology, Mercer University; and Rev. Jim Wallis, Chair in Faith and Justice and Director of the Center on Faith and Justice, McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University.


There will be a virtual Q&A following the discussion. To register for this free event, click on this link.

NCC Supports Permanent Child Tax Credit Increase

Last week, Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), and Ritchie Torres (D-NY) distributed a letter inviting members of Congress to co-sponsor the American Families Act, which includes several provisions to permanently expand and improve upon the child tax credit.


According to the letter, the tax bill would remove a rule that limits the refundable portion of the credit to $1,400 and the earning requirement, continue the increased $300 per month Young Child Tax Credit (YCTC) for children under 6 years old, expand the maximum Child Tax Credit to $250 per month for children under 17 years old, and extend the Child Tax Credit to the United States territories.


For years, the NCC has advocated for an expansion of the Child Tax Credit to help lift American families out of poverty. We strongly support making the Child Tax Credit permanent.

Prepare now to participate in the NCC's Spring Governing Board events, beginning on Monday, May 15, 2023, with a special, sponsored luncheon for the Governing Board and the new Health and Wellness Task Force, and ending at noon on Tuesday, May 16. 


All events will be held at the National City Christian Church, Thomas Circle. Hotel reservations can be made at: 


The Madison Hotel

1177 15th Street NW

Washington, DC 20005 


Book your reservations by April 24, 2023, using the following link.

Schedule of Events


Monday, May 15, 2023

9:00a–11:00a Christian Education and Faith Formation

Convening Table (Members Only)

10:00a–11:15a Health and Wellness Task Force Meeting (Members Only)

11:00a–12:45a Sponsored Luncheon for  Governing Board & Health and Wellness Taskforce (Members Only)

1:00a–5:00p Governing Board Business Session (Members Only)

5:30p–6:45p Dinner (Members Only)

7:00p–Anniversary Launch Worship Service (Open to the Public)


Tuesday, May 16, 2023 

8:00a–12:00p Governing Board Business Session (Members Only) 

12:30p  Box Lunch (Members Only)

1:00p–3:00p Policy Roundtable (Members Only)

WCC and ACT Alliance Representatives
Make Solidarity Visit to Turkey

Visiting communities in southern Turkey, April 4–6—the delegation met with churches in Mersin, Iskenderun, and Antioch, including communities in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, Latin Catholics, and others. Photo: WCC/ACT

During Western Holy Week, April 4–6, World Council of Churches (WCC) General Secretary Rev. Prof. Dr. Jerry Pillay and ACT Alliance General Secretary Rudelmar Bueno de Faria made a solidarity visit to Turkey, accompanied by Laki Vingas, Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and former elected representative of minority foundations in Turkey. The trio visited Mersin, Iskenderun, and Antioch.


In a subsequent video, Pillay and Bueno de Faria spoke about what they saw, and how churches are working together, and shared some unique reflections regarding their visit.


Both Pillay and Bueno de Faria expressed that they were very sad to see the devastation left by the quake, which killed more than 45,000 people in Turkey alone. There is a grave need related to the lack of food, water, and healthcare, and many first responders continue to work under extremely aggravated circumstances.


“What stood out to me first was the powerful impact of the earthquake on the infrastructure and the life of the people,” said Bueno de Faria, who is a survivor of earthquakes in Central America in 2001. 


Bueno de Faria said that ACT Alliance is responding to the humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable both in Turkey and Syria through ACT’s appeal, which has raised almost $8.5M to date. Churches also play a vital role in the humanitarian response to the plethora of needs.

“Much time and effort are going to be put into the reconstruction of people’s homes and churches and buildings, and so forth,” assured Pillay. “One of the great things happening at the moment, from what we have seen, is the great ecumenical collaboration. The churches are all working together.”

Read the entire story here.

NCC Supports Korea Peace Appeal, Welcomes Delegation

L to R: Kurt Esslinger, Mission Co-Worker, PC(USA); Elizabeth Cho of Women Cross the DMZ and Korea Peace Now!; Rev. Kipyung Nam, NCC in Korea

NCC had the privilege of welcoming faith leaders involved in the peace movement in Korea. They were visiting various faith groups in seeking support for the Korea Peace Appeal. The Appeal is seeking endorsement signatures from all people of goodwill who want to see a permanent peace agreement on the Korean peninsula to end the Korean War 70 years after a fragile ceasefire was agreed to. You can add your name to the appeal at

Ecumenical Advocacy Days Registration Open

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