Subject: NCC Newsletter: Condemning White Supremacy, Calling for an End to Caucasus Conflict

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Condemning White Supremacy, Calling for an End to Caucasus Conflict, Seeking Relief for Those Affected by COVID-19 Pandemic

NCC Newsletter
October 2, 2020
A Week in the Life of NCC
Every week is full, complex, and rich at the National Council of Churches. Here are highlights of the past week:

  • We finalized preparation for our annual Christian Unity Gathering which will take place on October 12-13. Our theme is “Breathing New Life into our Nation: Repentance, Re-formation, Reparation. Among the great speakers will be Rev. Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes, Rev. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Rev. James Forbes, Bishop Eugene Sutton, and Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, III. Please register for the Gathering and join us!

  • We issued a powerful statement against White Supremacy and another against the recent military attacks on the Republic of Armenia.
  • Our Faith & Order Convening Table met to continue working on several studies, “Awakening to the Reality of Racism as America’s Original Sin”; “Confronting White Supremacy as the Defining Myth of America”; and “Transforming the Church and Humanizing the Public Square”.

  • We participated in and helped provide leadership for a 12 hour online vigil organized by the Washington Interreligious Staff Council which urged Congress not to leave town before adopting a Covid-19 relief bill.

  • I joined in a powerful procession of 100 interfaith clergy to send a mighty message outside the Supreme Court and Senate office buildings organized by the Poor People’s Campaign. The theme was "Remember Ruth: Rise Up and Vote." We prayed, read holy texts and spoke out against the sins of: stacking the Supreme Court, suppressing the vote, sabotaging the US Postal Service, stopping the stimulus, stealing healthcare, stifling living wages, separating families, and the infection and virus of greed, lust for power and racism.

  • We completed preparations for an October 15 webinar on “The Impact of the Trump Administration on Cuba” that is being co-sponsored with the Cuban Council of Churches. Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts will be one of the main speakers. Register now!

  • Friendship Press, the publishing arm of the NCC, held its board meeting this week and reported continued progress is being made on the update of the New Revised Standard Version of the Holy Bible.

  • In cooperation with Orthodox Christian Studies Center we held a fantastic webinar on “Covid-19 and Ongoing Challenges in the Ecumenical Community.” Our speakers included Rev. Monsignor J. Brian Bransfield of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Ms. Kathryn Lohre of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick, III of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, and Metropolitan Nathanael of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in Chicago.

  • We also welcomed a wonderful new director of development and communications, Cynthia Cotte Griffiths, who has hit the ground running. Cynthia is a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and was most recently the executive director of DC – MD Justice For Our Neighbors.
All of this in one week. I give thanks to God for the ministry and witness of the NCC!
Statement on White Supremacy

Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also. 1 John 4: 20-21 NRSV

The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) is firmly, resolutely, and unequivocally opposed to white supremacy. Our faith teaches us that every person is created in the image and likeness of God. We believe, as Jesus instructed us, to love our neighbors as ourselves and to treat others as we would want to be treated. Embracing white supremacy is immoral, unjust, and anti-Christian. Theologically, spiritually, and practically, white supremacy is an affront to the faith that we proclaim. We stand in opposition to it and all the ways it is manifest in our society.

The fact that any national leader, much less the President of the United States, would continuously refuse to publicly denounce this evil that has haunted and permeated American society since its beginnings, is alarming at best. We have come to accept certain shared values in our society and promoting white supremacy or being openly racist are not a part of those values. Yet, during Tuesday night’s Presidential Debate, the world witnessed the President give what can only be described as marching orders to white supremacist factions in our nation when he spoke directly to the Proud Boys, a recognized hate group, and encouraged them to “stand back and stand by.” This was unacceptable and we urge the President to retract his statements and to once and for all without equivocation disavow white supremacy.

We further decry the President’s call for his supporters to engage in voter intimidation tactics by going to polling places to “monitor” voters on Election Day. This is a tactic that was used during the Civil Rights Movement to prevent Black people from voting with tragic outcomes. Surely, this is not a part of our history that we want to repeat. A democracy only works when the people and the leaders abide by its principles. We are deeply concerned about the rhetoric and devices that are being employed in this election and we call on all candidates to exercise decorum, mutual respect, and common decency toward those running against them as well as those with whom they may disagree. We urge our member denominations and churches to find creative and meaningful ways to bring people together. Let us be for one another beacons of light in the midst of escalating tensions in communities across the country.

We pray that our nation will continue to be the example of democracy around the world that it has always striven to be. In order to uphold this banner, we must continue to repudiate white supremacy, no matter who seems to be a proponent of it.

October 12-13 - Online
Breathing New Life into Our Nation: Repentance, Reformation, Reparation
NCC Calls For an Immediate End to the Armenia/Azerbaijan Conflict
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) laments the increased hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the loss of life in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. As the fighting escalates, NCC opposes this unprovoked surprise attack by Azerbaijan that has brought Armenia into a state of war.

The NCC stands in solidarity with the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, the World Council of Churches, and people of goodwill everywhere in expressing our outrage and deep sadness at this conflict.

We deplore the use of military force by Azerbaijan and the Syrian rebel fighters that are funded and sent by Turkey to assist their assault on the Armenian community. The use of armor, aviation, heavy artillery, and drones suggests a planned operation. It is time that Turkey ends their involvement in the region by stopping their participation in the fight and their encouragement of the war.

We recognize that the fighters from Syria have been displaced from their homes and are desperate to feed their families which may have caused them to be recruited into this destructive conflict.

NCC calls on the United States to undertake diplomatic measures to halt the fighting. We hope and pray that the U.S. Department of State will not be indifferent to this situation. We ask our member churches to immediately convey this message to their elected officials.

Other Statements
Hundreds Attend Webinar Exploring Ecumenical Challenges of COVID-19
On September 30, 2020, NCC and the Orthodox Christian Studies Center of Fordham University sponsored “ COVID-19 and Ongoing Challenges in the Ecumenical Community”. This webinar included a broad spectrum of guests, including Metropolitan Nathanael of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago,  created a wonderful, supportive space where church leaders shared their priorities during this season of challenges and explained their efforts to keep everyone safe while responding to the basic needs of so many in their communities. Kathryn Lohre of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America shared her eye-opening list of nine pandemics during the pandemic. In the midst of such difficult times, participants discussed the blessings they had experienced such as closer connections across faiths, time for more prayer, and realizations about their faith.
Faith Based Advocacy Groups Hold 12 Hour Vigil, March for COVID-19 Relief
Starting at 7am on September 29, 2020 staying strong for 12 hours until 7pm, the Washington Interreligious Staff Community, a group of faith based advocacy offices of which NCC is a part, held a virtual Prayer Vigil to call on Congress to pass a desperately needed robust COVID relief bill. Sponsors included NCC, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Bread for the World, Network Lobby, Islamic Relief USA, and other faith leaders.
In addition, the Poor People's Campaign organized 100 religious leaders, including Jim Winkler, to gather on Capitol Hill to protest the inability of elected leaders in the Senate to pass a relief package that would save lives during the pandemic while they instead use their time to rush the confirmation for a Supreme Court seat. They issued a challenge and a call to action by kneeling and bowing in prayer, reading Holy Text, and speaking out against injustices, greed, the lust for power, and racism.
Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania Celebrates 50 Years of Ecumenical Work
50 years of history were celebrated on September 30 with an online celebration of Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania. This regional ecumenical organization works with churches in Pittsburgh and 10 surrounding counties. Its membership includes 28 church bodies with 2,000 congregations that represent 1,000,000 members. Jim Winkler brought greetings to the group and Rev. Dr. Tammy Wiens, NCC Director of Christian Education and Faith Formation, and her husband Sheldon Sorge participated in a virtual choir.
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