Subject: NCC Newsletter – February 17, 2023


February 17, 2023

Journey to Jubilee Reparations Campaign Launches With Sign On Letter to President Biden

The National Council of Churches (NCC) launched its first action in the Journey to Jubilee campaign by releasing a sign-on letter to President Biden. In the letter, faith leaders ask President Biden to issue an Executive Order to establish a commission to study reparations. This commission would explore the harms caused by slavery, oppression, and discrimination that have persisted for centuries.

NCC invited faith leaders to add their signatures to the letter as well. You can view and sign the letter, as well as view numerous resources on reparations on NCC's website.

Farm Bill Reauthorization, Due in 2023, Critical for Food Benefits

In 2023, Congress will be working to reauthorize spending for what is known as the Farm Bill. The Senate Agriculture Committee held its first hearing on Thursday. The largest part of this bill is funding for anti-poverty programs like the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly called food stamps, and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, once referred to as welfare. SNAP/TANF are the primary programs for federal food assistance and financial assistance to people who live in poverty.


According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP),


SNAP reduces hunger by as much as 30 percent and is even more effective among children. Studies have shown that hunger among children fell by roughly one-third after their families received SNAP benefits for six months. Hunger was poised to soar early in the COVID-19 pandemic, but SNAP’s structure and policy changes made it easier for families to access SNAP during this period. Hunger stayed level in 2020 — unlike during the Great Recession, when hunger surged from 11.1 percent to 14.7 percent. SNAP also narrowed racial disparities during the pandemic: from late December 2020 through December 2021, the share of people who didn’t have enough to eat fell 7.8 percentage points for Black adults and 6 percentage points for Hispanic adults, compared to 3.1 percentage points for non-Hispanic white adults.


Read more of CBPP's report here.


Despite its significant positive impact, there remain parts of the program that need improvement. One glaring inequity is that the law allows states to ban those who have been convicted of a drug felony from receiving benefits. SNAP/TANF is a vital resource for people returning to their communities from incarceration. Without access to this aid, persons who have been convicted of a drug felony face an even steeper hill to climb to reacclimate to society. Studies by the University of Maryland and others have shown that this increases the chances that they will wind up back in prison again.


NCC joined hundreds of other faith based and civil society organizations on a letter to Congress calling for an end to the ban. We invite you to contact you member of Congress as well.

Rev. Prof. Dr. Jerry Pillay Installed as Ninth WCC General Secretary

Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay was installed as the ninth general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) during a service in the Ecumenical Centre Chapel on 17 February. Pillay, who was previously dean of the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Pretoria, is from the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa.


Amid prayers, singing, and a sermon by Pillay himself, the celebration also included special greetings from churches and partners.


In his message, titled, “Church at the Crossroads,” Pillay reflected that the purpose of the Church is to proclaim the saving love and grace of Christ to the world. “It does this as it goes out into the world to preach, teach, baptize, and disciple believers,” he said. “The Church ought to live to fulfill the purpose of God.”

Black History Is Church History

“But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children — Deuteronomy 4:9, NRSVue


Throughout Black History Month, the National Council of Churches USA (NCC) will post historic photos on its social media channels using the hashtag, #BlackHistoryIsChurchHistory. The NCC celebrates the significance of knowing and understanding Black history as part of knowing and understanding our Christian faith tradition. Deuteronomy 4:9 reminded us to tell our stories to our children and our children’s children because they point to God’s faithfulness.


Certainly, the history of people of African descent in America is a testament to our God being a deliverer, a provider, a healer, a way-maker, and one who hears our cries and answers our prayers. Black history is what testimony is all about! The stories of how we “got over,” as the spiritual says, go far beyond the pilgrimage of formerly enslaved people and their descendants. These are also stories of how communities across the country and around the world have experienced the transforming power of God moving in and through them.

Black history is church history!


NCC’s history and engagement are rich in matters of racial justice, breaking barriers, anti-racism advocacy, and offering a public witness in word and deed to the dignity and worth of all people because we are created in the image of God.


From the work of the Federal Council of Churches, NCC’s predecessor, to supporting the National Black Economic Development Conference where the Black Manifesto on reparations was presented, to NCC’s Partners in Ecumenism (PIE) program, which sought racial reconciliation, to NCC’s participation in the Civil Rights Movement led by then-Council staffer Rev. Andrew Young, to NCC’s participation in the March on Washington and crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, to the 2018 launch of the A.C.T. Now! to End Racism campaign, Black history and the church’s history are connected—sometimes in ways that are encouraging, at other times in ways that are instructive.


The photos we post will spark our remembrance of where and how God has met us in the history of the NCC, in the church, and in the lives of God’s people. Our prayer is that this pictorial celebration communicates our vigorous commitment to doing the hard work necessary to end racism and division once and for all.




We invite you to share your stories in response to the NCC’s social media posts. Tell your story of how Black history and Church history are interrelated in your life or in the life of your church by sharing your words or with personal photos. Tag us using #BlackHistoryIsChurchHistory and feel free to repost and share the photos with your networks.


*Thank you to Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith, the World Council of Churches’ President for North America and NCC Governing Board member representing the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., for sharing some of NCC’s historic Black History moments

Responding to Earthquake in Syria and Turkey

The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) is mourning the loss of thousands of lives in Turkey and Syria following a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the region in the early hours of Monday, February 6. To date, more than 41,000 people have died. NCC is urging congregations in the U.S. to join the global community in praying for and supporting those impacted. You can view many opportunities to give on NCC's website.

Have you heard the news? Friendship Press has a new website! Visit to browse the new store, including a full range of NRSVue bibles via our new partnership with! Purchasing NRSVue bibles from our website helps to fund our ongoing work!

Ecumenical Advocacy Days Registration Now Open - Join Us Virtually April 25-27

Join us at Ecumenical Advocacy Days 2023, a virtual conference to worship, educate, and advocate for the innovative and courageous policies needed to realize the prophet Micah’s vision: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”


In 2023, we gather not only at a time of ongoing war in Ukraine, and violence around the globe, but also at a time of considerable economic and social upheaval. We are still recovering from a global pandemic that has destabilized food systems and the global economy. While more money is spent on war, people around the U.S. and worldwide are dying of hunger and malnutrition. Another way must be possible.


To realize Micah’s vision, God calls us to work together to craft peace and abolish hunger. Let us heed that call by gathering as one body and embracing hope for the world—a world in which we not only re-forge all weapons of destruction into tools of life, but also cultivate healing and thriving throughout God’s creation. 


The conference this year will again be virtual, and will start with worship at 10am ET on Tuesday, April 25. All worship, plenaries, and workshops will be recorded for later viewing.


Registration is $50 and scholarships are available. Join us!

Job Opening: Executive Director of Pathways to Promise

Pathways to Promise collaborates with faith, spiritual, and non-spiritual communities to share resources that assess, educate and effect change to welcome, support, engage and include persons with mental illnesses and those who care for them.

The Executive Director is responsible for managing the organization and will report to the Board of Directors. For details on responsibilities and qualifications visit Pathways to Promise website at

Did you know that prayer, spiritual direction, and soul care have been woven into the fabric of African-American society for centuries?

In this webinar, Barbara Peacock (soul care director and author of Soul Care in African American Practice by InterVarsity Press) and Nicole Massey Martin (Christianity Today's Chief Impact Officer) explore how these disciplines were interwoven into the lives of leaders such as Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, and Howard Thurman.

This webinar is an invitation to contemplate a journey that will lead you deeper into your relationship with God. Click here to sign up today!

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