Subject: NCC Newsletter: Easter, the Filibuster, CUS Installation, and Voting Rights

View this email online if it doesn't display correctly
Easter, the Filibuster, CUS Installation, and Voting Rights

NCC Newsletter
April 9, 2021
The Filibuster Hinders Moral and Just Policies 
I had the opportunity to speak at a press conference organized by the Poor People’s Campaign on April 5, 2021 at National City Christian Church in D.C. Following are my remarks:

"The United States Senate is free to set its own rules, but we who vote for the senators insist the Senate must not let those rules stop them from doing our work. The filibuster is one of those old rules that keeps the Senate from getting the job done. The filibuster was long used by avowed racists who wielded it as a weapons over and over again to kill any progress to secure voting rights and civil rights for people of color in our nation.

The filibuster is a symbol and tool of white supremacy. It must never again be used to block even the opening of debate on a bill. It must never again be used to obstruct the final vote on the Senate floor. The filibuster must never again be used a threat in order to kill legislation. It is a cowardly tactic designed to forestall progress for the good of the nation.

Limiting debate to a reasonable period is common sense. We elect our senators to exercise common sense. We elect our senators to play a constructive role in addressing the needs of our people and of our nation. The filibuster is used expressly to stop fair consideration of critical legislation.

Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the Senate needs 60 votes to advance major legislation. I am all in favor of bipartisanship and I want the Senate to craft rules that will further such efforts, but maintaining an anti-democratic filibuster is not the means to such ends. There are ways to foster bipartisanship.

Let’s reduce the power of money in Senate races and in all political campaigns. There’s no reason rich people and corporations should get to spend whatever they want. If our senators aren’t spending an inordinate amount of time raising money, they should have more time to sit down together and with us to address the issues of the day. Today, the filibuster is part of a toxic stew that is poisoning our public life.

We don’t just need to address the anti-democratic nature of the filibuster which has long permitted the most reactionary forces in our society to perpetuate racism, slavery, and poverty, we have to go further and come up with creative ways to modernize the Senate. Perhaps it should be enlarged so that the millions and millions of Americans who are underrepresented in the Senate have their voice heard and their votes counted.

And we need to find ways that foster free and healthy and fair debate without permitting hate speech and conspiracy-mongering to have outsized voices. Let’s deal forthrightly with hate speech in politics and on the internet and television and radio. Once your speech and your Twitter and your broadcasts result in the storming of the Capitol or in hate crimes or in gun violence, then you must face justice. There must be consequences

The House of Representatives has already passed important legislation to empower and strengthen protections for workers; expand access to voting rights and bolster our democracy; protect the rights of LGBTQ people; hold law enforcement accountable in the wake of systemic racism; enact common sense gun violence prevention legislation; and reform our immigration system. House consideration of legislation to protect our environment and raise the minimum wage is anticipated soon.

The Senate must do its job and stop using outmoded rules hold up progress."

Grace and peace,

Oh, the Joy! – Reflecting on the Meaning of Easter
The latest blog by Dr. Tony Kireopoulos, Associate General Secretary of the NCC, explores the timing of Easter, "As many people know, this year’s Easter celebrations (in the west, for Catholics, Protestants, and Anglicans, and in the east, for the Orthodox) are four weeks apart. The dates, which infrequently fall on the same day, and usually are separated by one to five weeks (with the Orthodox celebration always falling on the later date), are both determined by a mix of calendars and lunar cycles, and related to the date of Passover. Hearkening back to scripture (Mt 26:17ff), the resurrection of Jesus took place following Passover."

His insightful writing touches upon the pain of so many deaths during this past year due to the pandemic and the very real change the vaccinations bring. Have you ever wished someone "Good Pascha"? Learn about when you should while reflecting on the meaning of Easter!
Installation of CUS Chair - Tonight
Rev. Garland F. Pierce, Executive Director of the Department of Christian Education of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME CED), was recently elected to serve as the Chair of the Committee on the Uniform Series (CUS) of the NCC. Rev. Pierce is the first AME to serve as chair in CUS's 149 year history.

His installation would have usually been held during a service at the annual meeting of CUS. Given the unique circumstances created by the pandemic, both CUS and the AMECED are meeting virtually this year. The installation service will be held tonight, Friday, April 9, 2021 at 7pm ET as part of the Annual Ministries in Christian Education Training/Planning Virtual Gathering. We are grateful to have this opportunity to worship together in thanksgiving and celebration.
An Invitation to Ecumenical Readings of 'For the Life of the World'
You are invited to Ecumenical Readings of “For the Life of the World: Toward a Social Ethos of the Orthodox Church” and Its Implications for the US and Global Contexts on April 21, 2021 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada).

"For the Life of the World: Toward a Social Ethos of the Orthodox Church” was released in early 2020, after being authored by a commission of theologians specifically convened for the task by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. This document provides, in Patriarch Bartholomew’s assessment, “the parameters and guidelines for the social responsibility of our Church before the complex challenges and problems of today’s world, without at the same time overlooking the favorable potential and positive perspectives of contemporary civilization.”

As “For the Life of the World” has been promoted and discussed in diverse settings over the past year, a clear priority has been to evaluate not only what it means for the contemporary Orthodox community but also in what ways it resonates with other traditions with which the Orthodox Church shares its civic life. This webinar will explore the ecumenical dimensions to the following questions. What does the document, in other words, offered and received in a spirit of good will, bring to the table in order to facilitate cooperation in terms of meeting the ethical challenged faced in local contexts by others who dwell in those contexts? And in what ways might it fall short of the “expansive theological dialogue” with other traditions that it attempts to conjoin with the “spiritual growth of the Orthodox faithful” in pursuit of social justice and sustainable peace worldwide?

Dr. James Skedros, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, will introduce the text; and ecumenical readings will be shared by Bishop W. Darin Moore, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; Dr. Barbara Hallensleben, University of Fribourg; and Rev. Margaret Rose, The Episcopal Church.

NCC is co-sponsoring the event with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute, and the Ecclesiological Investigations International Research Network.

EAD 2021 Is Almost Here
The 2021 Ecumenical Advocacy Days will be held virtually on April 18-21, 2021. 

This year's theme is "“Imagine! God’s Earth and People Restored.” EAD 2021 is an opportunity to support the global movement centered on and led by the people and communities most vulnerable to climate impacts due to historic racial and colonial inequities. Passionately advocate and reimagine a world that lives out the values of justice, equity and the beloved community!
Get Vaccinated!
Rev. Aundreia Alexander, NCC Associate General Secretary, was vaccinated to do her part in stopping the spread of #COVID19. Learn how and where you can get your COVID-19 vaccine, too. #Pastors4Vaccines #Faiths4Vaccines #GetVaccinated
COVID-19 Community Corps
NCC and many of our communions and faith leaders answered the call of the Biden-Harris Administration to become founding members of the COVID-19 Community Corps, a new program to encourage people to get vaccinated. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control developed the Community Corps to share science-based information directly with community leaders and organizations across the country, empowering them as trusted messengers in the fight against COVID-19. 

Community Corps members receive weekly toolkits and resources on "the latest scientific and medical developments, FAQs about the vaccine, social media suggestions, infographics, factsheets with timely, accurate information, and tools on ways to help people get registered and vaccinated." Community Corps members are also encouraged to host social media conversations with doctors and write op-eds

Last week, Vice President Kamala Harris met with Bishop Mariann Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington to talk about the program.  

Individuals and faith organizations can still join the COVID-19 Community Corp and participate in the effort by getting fully vaccinated and encouraging everyone to do the same. 

From our Partners
WCC Easter Initiative on Palestine and Israel
With this year's initiative, the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (WCC-EAPPI) is connecting the Biblical narrative with current realities in Palestine and Israel, to spotlight the injustices of life under occupation.

The initiative reflects on what life in the geographical sites described in the Bible during the life of Jesus look like today: "Through biblical reflection, prayer, advocacy engagement, and feature material highlighting present-day experiences in these sites, churches and partners around the world are invited to engage with the different narratives around Easter, also together with their local communities."

Four one-minute videos and Bible studies are available.
Israeli-Palestinian Joint Memorial Day Ceremony
The Joint Memorial Day Ceremony, sponsored by Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) and co-hosted by Combatants for Peace and Parents Circle – Families Forum, will be held on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 from 1:30 - 3:30 pm Eastern / 10:30 am - 12:30 pm Pacific. The Ceremony will challenge the traditional narrative about Israeli and Palestinian peoples of victimhood and separation, and brings people together declaring, “War and occupation are Not Acts of Fate – but a Human Choice!” Last year 200,000 people participated in this live Broadcast. 
Support Voting Rights
Since December 6, 1961 when the National Council of Churches’ General Assembly adopted its Human Rights Policy, we have boldly affirmed “the right to full participation of the person in political and civic life, including the opportunity: to vote by secret ballot…” 

The For The People Act is a once-in-a-generation package of proven reforms that would expand voting rights and increase election security, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and enhance ethics standards for government. The For The People Act has passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and is expected to come to a vote in the Senate on Wednesday, April 14, 2021.

Just as our faith traditions teach that we’re all created in God’s image and are of sacred worth and dignity, we understand that the right to vote in a democracy is a matter of honoring said worth and dignity. It is preservative of all other rights. Our faith has us engaging in politics to create a more just world. That work hinges on a functional democracy where lawmakers are held accountable and constituents trust that they are taken into account.

We ask our Senators to demonstrate the moral courage to take bold action, transcend partisanship, and support these voting rights. For people of faith this is not a matter of right versus left, but of right versus wrong.

Faith Leaders/Churches Are Protesting State-level Voting Restrictions
In Georgia, "AME church to boycott Coca-Cola, other companies unless they do more to fight Georgia election law"

There’s nothing like opening the scriptures for personal inspiration, devotional practice, or to deepen one’s connection with God. Word@Hand mobile Bible engagement platform opens the gateway to relatable, reliable, and readable Bible experiences. Available for Android and iOS devices, Word@Hand provides all that is needed to support one’s daily walk in faith.

If you find our newsletter informative, please forward it to friends and colleagues! 

To receive the newsletter, sign up here.


Your gifts helps us build a more just and equitable community that chooses grace over greed, love over hate, and faith over fear.

110 Maryland Ave NE, Suite 108, Washington, DC 20002, United States
You may unsubscribe or change your contact details at any time.