Subject: NCC Newsletter: CUG Videos, Philippine Human Rights and Build Back Better

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CUG Videos, Philippine Human Rights and Build Back Better  
NCC Newsletter
October 22, 2021
Pass the Philippine Human Rights Act  
My remarks onTuesday, October 19, 2021, at a press conference with the International Coalition of Human Rights in the Philippines, U.S. Chapter (ICHRP-US) and Representative Susan Wild (D. PA) who introduced the Philippine Human Rights Act, HR 3884. This critical legislation calls for the suspension of security assistance to the Philippines until human rights violations cease and perpetrators are held responsible.

I want to begin by thanking Rep. Susan Wild (PA-07) for hosting this press conference in which we honor the thousands of lives lost under the Duterte Regime in the Philippines and also to call for the passage of the Philippine Human Rights Act. Further, this press conference kicks off a national day of action; Filipino organizations and allies will be hosting vigils across the country (Portland, Seattle, Northern & Southern California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Chicago, etc.), bringing attention to the human rights situation in the Philippines.

First and foremost, I want you to know the National Council of Churches stands with the National Council of Churches in the Philippines as they and many others face the Duterte government’s practice of ‘red-tagging’, that is the targeting of church leaders for standing up for social justice and opposing human rights abuses.

Here we gather a few feet away from where a mob stormed the Capitol only nine months ago in an attempt to overturn a fair and free election and murder senior elected officials including the VP of the US. We are in the midst of a constitutional crisis in this nation and so, too, the Philippines faces a constitutional crisis and like ours it, too, was planned by the president of the nation.

Permit me to read a paragraph from the letter we sent to members of Congress recently:
“Bishops, priests, pastors, women religious, church workers, and laity (in the Philippines) have been threatened, intimidated, harassed, and murdered for speaking out against extrajudicial killings and the war on drugs. President Duterte has threatened to ‘kill useless Bishops’ who speak out against Duterte’s infamous Drug War, a war which has been widely condemned as a cruel and unjust killing spree without due process. The Armed Forces of the Philippines recently included the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (the largest Protestant church body in the country) in a list of organizations it described as ‘communist terrorist groups.’”

This is a lie. Shame on the political and military leadership in the Philippines for these nefarious acts. Let me conclude by pointing out the success and durability of our own democracy depends not only on facing down the mob and the forces that attempted to destroy our government here but on stopping those same forces everywhere. That is why we want to see passage of the Philippine Human Rights Act. 

Grace and peace,

CUG Recorded Sessions, Keynote, and Closing Worship Videos are Now Available 
NCC's annual Christian Unity Gathering (CUG) was held virtually on October 11 - 12, 2021 with the theme, "In New Wineskins: From Pandemics to Possibilities to Promises," based on the scripture in Luke 5:37-39. 

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, "The old is good."

Build Back Better Campaign
The Washington Interfaith Staff Community held a 12-hour rally in support of Build Back Better legislation on Wednesday, October 20, 2021, with elected and religious leaders. 

Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland Tune, NCC Chief Operating Officer, spoke to secure a bright future for those most in need and concluded with a prayer which in part said, “We pray that we would have the courage to do what has to be done, even as you turn the hearts of those sitting in places of power and privilege to do what is right, to do what is just, to do what is necessary for all of your people — especially the most vulnerable.”

The rally and Dr. Copeland Tune's prayer were covered by Religion News Service in an article, Lawmakers join faith leaders to voice support for ‘Build Back Better’ package.
Development and Peace Ambassador Program
On Monday, October 18, 2021, Rev. Aundreia Alexander, Esq., NCC Associate General Secretary for Action and Advocacy for Justice and Peace, spoke to the Development and Peace Ambassador program at Hands Along the Nile Development Services, Inc. (HANDS) about her experiences as a leader in religious tolerance and advocacy for peace.

The program provides "a space for young Egyptian and American religious leaders to understand their own role in building and maintaining more peaceful and cohesive communities." They "aim to promote a deepened appreciation for diversity and encourage tolerance and intercultural cooperation through interactive learning and dialogue." Rev. Alexander has engaged in various American and Egyptian dialogues with this organization for years both in the U. S. and in Egypt.
This Month's Spiritual Practice: Praying for Spiritual Freedom
The Spiritual Practice of Praying for Spiritual Freedom with Janné Grover is presented by the Christian Education, Faith Formation, and Leadership Development (CEFFLD) Convening Table of the National Council of Churches.

Janné Grover is a member of the Council of Twelve Apostles, the lead missionary quorum of Community of Christ. She is assigned to the Central USA Mission Field and also serves as director of Formation Ministries. She has served on the NCC Christian Education and Faith Formation Convening Table since 2013.

What are the spiritual practices that strengthen you for the long haul in your work for justice? In this monthly series, the CEFFLD Convening Table of the NCC shares personal stories of practices that have nourished them for the long haul of justice ministries. Faithful action in our communities, regions, countries, and the world, is sustainable when we are spiritually fed by the same Spirit that prompts us to bring Christ's love and justice to bear in our world. Each monthly segment shares a testimony of how a specific practice has been helpful for the faith formation or leadership development of an individual or congregation. The series will share resources (e.g., books, website, articles, videos) that give readers/viewers a chance to learn more about the practice and to use these tools to move forward in faithful efforts toward justice.

We hope this series will show connections across faith traditions that have some similarities in practices, helping to build stronger bridges of understanding around commitments to shaping spiritual lives and communities to be agents of peace and justice in the world.

COVID-19 Pandemic Response:
Online Faith-based Conversation
With a goal of informing rather than persuading, Faiths4Vaccines is partnering with New Beginnings Community Church in the San Francisco Bay Area to hold an event entitled, "Let's Talk: An Online Faith-based Conversation" with Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.

Faiths4Vaccines notes that, "Although the pandemic's impact is touching an extraordinarily diverse population spanning ideological, political, and theological viewpoints, the epidemic has been politicized to the point that it's hard to separate facts from fiction." To address the questions and concerns of such a diverse population, a panel of facilitators from various faith backgrounds have been assembled to participate in a Q & A with Dr. Murthy. Questions can be submitted in advance.

During the event, "Dr. Murthy will provide the most up-to-date information the scientific and medical communities have available regarding COVID-19 and how to combat it.
The pandemic, coupled with our current political climate and racial unrest is having an enormous impact on our mental health. Dr. Murthy will also discuss how the current climate is affecting our mental health and offer advice on how to cope during these challenging times."

From our Partners:
Presiding ELCA Bishop Shares Pastoral Letter on RCA Actions, Full Communion Partnership
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton offered a pastoral letter following the actions of the Reformed Church in America (RCA) General Synod noting that "for nearly a quarter century, we have grown in full communion with the RCA, sharing in mutual ministry and mission."

Bishop Eaton wrote, "The synod said yes to all three by affirming the central place of global mission in the RCA, forming a restructuring team, and adopting regulations to provide an unobstructed pathway for those local churches that will depart the denomination. On the whole, these actions reflect the RCA's commitment to walking together, respecting differences, and affirming common mission and ministry. Importantly, the spirit of the synod was conciliatory and hope-filled, as delegates shared their disagreements in the bond of peace. We give thanks to God that the RCA, and our full communion partnership, will continue."

Africa and African Diaspora Conference
As part of our ACT Now to End Racism initiative, NCC is happy to share an invitation to the Africa and African Diaspora Conference on 23-29 October 2021 (14h00-17h00 CAT). From Manchester 1945 to a Pan African Renaissance : The Shared Journey Past, Present and Future:

"The vision of the Conference emerged from discussions among Africans and African Diaspora who are members of, and advisors to, the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the All-Africa Conference of Churches (AACC). The WCC and the AACC have been part of the AAD Conference preparations since 2017.

The Conference will revisit the historical 1945 Manchester Pan-African Conference and critically review progress made since then as well as determine and develop effective global strategies to radically change the lot of Africans and people of African descent globally and thereby defeat the scourge of racism in the world.

The Conference is convened on the backdrop of the 20th Anniversary of the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerances; the UN International Decade for People of Africa Descent (2015-2024); the AU Constitutive Act which considers Africans in the Diaspora the Sixth Region of the AU; the Quad Centennial of the Transatlantic Slave Trade to Jamestown in Virginia, USA and earlier such acts to Latin America; the “Year of Return’, Ghana, 2019.

Participants will consist of representatives of, and thought leaders from, the African continent and the African Diaspora, that is, from all the regions where people of African descent are found. The regions are Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America, North America, and Oceania. Each delegation is planned to be representative of the diversity of the African continent and people of African descent globally including women, youth, and diverse cultural and religious traditions, and expressions. Representatives of Indigenous and Aboriginal peoples are also invited as they have also experienced the devastation of colonisation and violations of their humanity."

Reparations Town Hall
North American Academy of Ecumenists Conference
The North American Academy of Ecumenists will hold their 2021 Annual Conference on November 18, 2021 virtually via Zoom. The conference is titled, "Dangerous Ecumenism for a Divided World."

Job Listings

Director of Policy Analysis & Coalition Building at Bread for the World - To provide leadership and direction for Bread’s domestic and global hunger policy analysis and advocacy, research, educational outreach, and grant-related fundraising, and PACB’s financial and personnel management.  Full job description.


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