Subject: NCC Newsletter – February 2, 2024


February 2, 2024

Black History Names to Note: Fannie Lou Hamer

Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith Pays Homage to Courageous Voices in History

National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) Governing Board member and World Council of Churches North American President, Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith, reflects on the courageous lives of Sammy Younge, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer in her latest article for Bread for the World, 'Speak Out and Act! Fannie Lou Hamer and Sammy Younge.'

Read this insightful reflection about historical voices committed to speaking up for racial equity here.

NCC Responds to the ICJ Case Ruling in South Africa v. Israel

“Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” 

- Romans 14:19 (NRSVue) 


Washington, D.C., February 2, 2024— The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA received the announcement of the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), ordering Israel to take measures to prevent genocide in its war with Hamas and ensure the provision of humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, with both angst-filled appreciation and deep concern. Appreciation for the recognition by this topmost court of the United Nations (UN) of the dangers of where hostilities may ultimately lead; concern that the Court did not call for an immediate ceasefire, despite growing alarm in the international community over the deteriorating situation in Gaza.  The Court’s ruling was issued on Friday, January 28, in the case of South Africa v. Israel

In light of what many, including the NCC, consider Israel’s disproportionate military response since the attack by Hamas on October 7, which led to the killing of more than 1,200 Israelis along with the capture of more than 240 hostages, we have consistently spoken out, on our own and with partners, against these acts. We continue to call for the immediate release of the hostages. Yet, it is devastating that more than 26,000 deaths have occurred among the Palestinian population in Gaza, thousands of them children. The legitimate aim of rooting out Hamas leadership to prevent another surprise attack does not justify the massacre of innocents.   

NCC has called for a ceasefire as well as an end to the killing, forced migration, and limitation of access to humanitarian aid. We fear these acts may amount to ethnic cleansing, and may even be genocidal, if not in intent, then in result.   

“We are gravely concerned over the loss of life, the escalating violence throughout the Middle East, the hostages still being held, and the worsening humanitarian crises. Just as we remember horrific atrocities in the past, we must recognize the devastation occurring in Gaza right now,” stated NCC President and General Secretary Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie. 

While we are aware of the difficulty of enforcing decisions by the UN or its various bodies, we agree with the ICJ and its call for an end to the violence to prevent genocide. And even though the ICJ stopped short of doing so, we again call for an immediate ceasefire.  This may also help to de-escalate the increasing tensions throughout the region that threaten to lead to a wider war.  

“We encourage collaborative efforts that reflect proper stewardship of resources and unite with like-minded organizations to advocate for peace in Gaza and across our global family. This war cannot spread globally. There must be a ceasefire," stated Bishop Teresa E. Snorton, Chair of NCC’s Governing Board. 

The NCC is leading a major effort in February, the Pilgrimage for Peace initiative, to call upon the United States government to leverage its influence to bring about this same end. The NCC is uniting with Faith for Black Lives, Rabbis for Ceasefire, Hindus for Human Rights, the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Philadelphia), Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Black Church Center for Justice and Equality, Until Freedom, Kairos Center, Freedom Church of the Poor, and others for a transformative journey from Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Penn., to the White House in Washington, D.C. from February 14 to February 21.  


The NCC mourns the lives lost on both sides and during the ongoing tragedy in Gaza. We will continue to watch, pray, and encourage our partners to move with urgency to prioritize the end of this war. 

Support the Movement: Register for Pilgrimage for Peace

Join Faith for Black Lives, National Council of Churches USA, Rabbis for Ceasefire, Hindus for Human Rights, The Pennsylvania Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Philadelphia), Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Black Church Center for Justice and Equality, Kairos Center, Freedom Church of the Poor, Until Freedom, and many others on a Pilgrimage for Peace to demand a Ceasefire in Gaza.

From February 14 to February 21, faith leaders, activists, and artists will journey on a pilgrimage from Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA to the White House to urge President Biden to call for an end to the war in Palestine.

Moved by our conscience, we stand united to address the ongoing tragedy in Gaza, where the death toll has reached over 24,000, the deadliest conflict in the 21st century. As we continue to mourn the loss of innocent Israeli lives on October 7, we firmly believe that responding to violence with more violence is not the solution.

We urge President Biden and Congress to halt weapons funding to Israel and, instead, channel efforts toward increasing humanitarian aid to Palestine. It is our collective responsibility to advocate for a peaceful resolution and uphold the principles of justice and compassion. 

We will either sow seeds of nonviolence today or reap nonexistence tomorrow. For more information, visit and contact 

Pilgrimage for Peace Route

February 14, 2024 - Philadelphia, PA to Chester, PA

February 15, 2024 - Chester, PA to Wilmington, DE

February 16, 2024 - Wilmington, DE to Newark, DE

February 17, 2024 - Newark, DE to Perryville, MD

February 18, 2024 - Havre de Grace, MD to Joppa, MD

February 19, 2024 - Joppa, MD to Baltimore, MD

February 20, 2024 - Baltimore, MD to Laurel, MD

February 21, 2024 - Laurel, MD to Washington, DC

Black History Highlight: Former NCC President, Bishop Philip R. Cousin, Sr.

This Black History Month, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) honors Bishop Philip Robert Cousin, Sr., NCC President from 1983-1987.

Bishop Cousin was born on March 26, 1933, in Pittston, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Roosevelt High School, he earned his B.A degree in philosophy and English from Central State University in 1953. Bishop Cousin went on to obtain a Master of Divinity degree from the Boston University School of Theology in 1956 and later received his Doctor of Ministry degree, having been awarded the prestigious MLK, Jr. fellowship from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in 1975. He continued his studies at Boston University and the University of Texas at Austin. 

Bishop Cousin was elected as the 96th Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and later served as NCC vice president in 1982 before his appointment as president.

NCC holds great gratitude and appreciation for the faithful and faith-filled leadership of this prolific scholar. 

"We are the best vehicle for salvation that God has planned for this earth! Let us now take these winds and somehow funnel them, and in funneling, help cause them to blow away all of the dirt and all of the things that would destroy us. And help us to grow and become what God would have us be."

 - Bishop Philip R. Cousin

Read more about Bishop Cousin in his 2021 interview with The History Makers here.

Register for PBS GOSPEL Virtual Town Hall

Join PBS on Wednesday, February 7, at 7 p.m. ET for a National Zoom Town Hall discussing the upcoming PBS Documentary, GOSPEL. This online event will feature an engaging dialogue by notable guests including:

  • Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr; Professor, Author, Producer

  • Shayla Harris; Director, Series Producer

  • Stacey Holman; Director, Series Producer

Learn more about how to register for this virtual event here.

Rev. Dr. Gina Jacobs-Strain Called as General Secretary of American Baptist Churches USA

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 11/4/23)—The Board of General Ministries of American Baptist Churches USA has affirmed the call of the Rev. Dr. Gina Jacobs-Strain to be the next General Secretary of the denomination. Dr. Jacobs-Strain’s term of service began on February 1, 2024.

In announcing the call of Dr. Jacobs-Strain, ABCUSA President Jim Wolfe noted that Dr. Jacobs-Strain was the unanimous choice of the search committee. “The committee committed itself to prayer and the discernment of God’s will in this process. We believe Dr. Jacobs-Strain is the person that God has chosen to lead our denominational family. She has the academic background, professional and personal skills to lead this diverse family into the mission that God has prepared for us.”

Read more information here.

Save the Date: Mass Poor People's and Low-Wage Workers' State House Assembly in Annapolis


March at 11 a.m.

Assembly at 12 p.m.

Sign up to be part of a powerful presence with the Maryland Poor People's Campaign as Mass Poor People's & Low-Wage Workers' State House Assemblies are held in 38 state capitals in a Day of Nationally-Coordinated, Simultaneous DIRECT ACTION ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY!

Join thousands of people across the nation to bring the demands of 140 million poor and low-wealth people directly to lawmakers! Everybody in, nobody out!

We call on all who believe in and demand: living wages, healthcare, voting rights & stopping voter suppression, equal rights for all, worker/labor rights, environmental justice, access to housing, fully-funded public education; abolishing poverty…

… and all who believe IN THE UNITY OF LOVE, not the division of hate!

Webinar Offers Reflections on the
Council of Nicaea

Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

A webinar on February 8, “From Nicaea, Walking Together to Unity: The Beginning of a New Beginning,” will offer deep reflections on the Council of Nicaea and its enduring legacy for Christians today.

The general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay, will join His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in offering opening greetings to the event, alongside Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, and Bishop Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher, general secretary of the World Evangelical Alliance.

The webinar comes as the Christian world is preparing to celebrate in 2025 the 1700th anniversary of the Council of Nicaea, which brought together for the first time bishops representing the whole of Christendom.

The event is being supported by the Pasqua Together 2025 (Easter Together 2025) initiative, which is calling for all churches to celebrate Easter on the same date, as currently Eastern and Western Christianity have different ways of calculating when Easter should fall.

As well as marking the anniversary of the Council of Nicaea, 2025 is one of the years when all churches celebrate Easter on the same date.

Other speakers at the webinar will reflect on the Council of Nicaea as a new Pentecost, understanding the Nicene Creed, Nicaea and the challenges of the churches’ global mission today, and many other topics.

Interpretation is being offered into Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Italian.

More information can be found here.

Explore Nurturing Justice February Events

On February 15, 2024, at 7 p.m. ET to commemorate Black History Month, Nurturing Justice is hosting an amazing scholar, author and artist Dr. Renee K. Harrison to discuss her book, Black Hands, White House: Slave Labor and the Making of America, and her work, The Requiem. Check out her website: Dr. Renee K. Harrison - Teacher, Author, & Scholar (

Join NJ at 7 p.m. on February 15 here:

On February 24 at 7pm NJ is hosting an online panel discussion about the Spirituality of Reproductive Justice with Dr. Lucinda Canty founder of Lucinda’s house, Rev. Kyndra Frazier of Kynd Consulting,  kyndconsulting Kaylan Frazier  Nurturing Justice’s leader of our Southern Reproductive Justice initiative, and thought leaders Erin Livenspager of the Wild Gifting Project and Tasha Blanco of the Black Girls Health Collective. This online panel will delve into the critical issue about women’s agency of their own bodies. We will explore the historical narrative and the current restrictions on personal agency for women. And we will explore how our spirituality influences our choices and ability to advocate effectively for our bodily rights.  Keep an eye on our social media platforms for more information.

More information on NJ events can be accessed here.

Employment Opportunities

NCC Position Openings

Receptionist (Part Time)

The National Council of Churches is seeking a part-time Secretary/Receptionist to join our office team. This position requires working at least two in office, and up to three days a week, providing essential support in various administrative tasks. The ideal candidate will be highly organized, detail-oriented, and possess excellent communication skills.  

Application Process: 

To apply for this position, please submit a resume, cover letter, and a list of three professional references. In your cover letter, please highlight your relevant experience, interest in ecumenical/ advocacy work, and knowledge of the DMV area. 

How to Apply: Submit a cover letter and resume to 

• • • • • •

Interfaith Alliance Position Openings

Interfaith Alliance is seeking to expand their team with passionate and talented candidates! Click on the links below for more information:

• • • • • •

Faith in Public Life Position Openings

Faith in Public Life is hiring for a few positions and is looking for candidates who would be a good fit. Click on the links below for more information:


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