Subject: NCC Newsletter: HR 40, the TRIPS Waiver, and December's Spiritual Practice

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HR 40, TRIPS Waiver, and December's Spiritual Practice
NCC Newsletter
December 17, 2021
Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas! This is my final column of 2021, a most interesting and challenging year. Shortly, I am about to begin a vacation, one I feel I need more than ever. I pray each of you will have a holiday season that brings you joy and rest.

My head continues to reel as I recall how this year began with the attack on the US Capitol by a violent mob intent on murdering elected officials and overturning a free and fair election. The bitterness and division in our nation has only deepened since that point and we truly face the possibility of losing our democracy in the years ahead due to strenuous efforts being made to suppress the right to vote.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic rages on, exacerbated by the emergence of a new variant, the onset of cold weather, and the staunch refusal of millions to get vaccinated. The National Council of Churches advocates mask-wearing, social-distancing, and vaccinations and we work with Faiths4Vaccines and others to spread vaccine availability around the world.

This year, the NCC approved the update of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, held a successful Christian Unity Gathering, advocated for the eradication of racism, spoke out on a host of issues, worked for Christian Unity, produced the International Sunday School Lessons, and marched in the streets for peace and justice.

Finally, as you are doing your last minute Christmas shopping, here were some of my favorite books I read during 2021:
• “Until Justice Be Done: America’s First Civil Rights Movement, From the Revolution to Reconstruction” by Kate Masur.
• “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together,” by Heather McGhee.
• “The Ministry for the Future,” by Kim Stanley Robinson.
• “The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism,” by Katherine Stewart.
• “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” by Isabel Wilkerson.
• “Rage,” by Bob Woodward.
• “The End of October: a novel,” by Lawrence Wright.

Grace and peace,

NCC’s Beloved Archbishop Vicken Honored for 50th Ordination Anniversary
On Sunday, December 12, 2021, St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church in Washington, DC, celebrated the 50th year of the priestly ordination of His Eminence Archbishop Vicken Aykazian. 

Archbishop Vicken served as the 24th president of the NCC in 2008 and 2009 and as the first Oriental Orthodox president. He currently serves on our Executive Committee and represents the Armenian Church in America on our Governing Board. We are grateful for his dedication to the ecumenical community and congratulate him on this momentous occasion.

Jim Winkler, NCC President and General Secretary, was the keynote speaker. Jim is pictured above with Archbishop Vicken and Her Excellency Lilit Makunts, Ambassador of the Republic of Armenia to the United States, at the celebration.
This Month's Spiritual Practice
"Practicing the Presence of Jesus" with Carmichael D. Crutchfield, D.Min, Ph.D., is presented by the NCC Christian Education, Faith Formation, and Leadership Development (CEFFLD) Convening Table.

Dr. Crutchfield is the Clara Scott Chair of Church and Ministry, and Professor of Christian Education, Spiritual Formation and Youth Ministry at Memphis Theological Seminary (MTS), and General Secretary of Department of Christian Education and Formation for the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church. Also, he serves as pastor of Mother Liberty CME Church in Jackson, TN.

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:
NCC Prayer as the US Surpasses Another Sorrowful Milestone
Loving God, help us through the despair of this overwhelming suffering from the pandemic which continues even though you have provided the knowledge and capabilities to create life-giving vaccines. Bring comfort to those who mourn the loss of their loved ones. Strengthen all who work to heal the sick and lift their heavy burden of fatigue. Help each of us to bear this season of concentrated grief. Fill us with love for our neighbors so that we can encourage each other and end the pandemic. Amen.
NCC Joins World Faith Organizations to Support TRIPS Waiver
During a virtual press conference on Monday, December 13, 2021, the NCC joined the global faith community to release a letter signed by 115 organizations, representing five world faith traditions and including the World Council of Churches, calling on World Trade Organization member countries to act before year’s end to waive Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights rules. The faith community spotlighted the moral necessity of increasing access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.
From our Partners:
How to Help Tornado Victims
The Kentucky Council of Churches has a full list of ways to volunteer and financially help the victims from this week's devastating tornado disaster that destroyed communities for more than 200 miles. The list includes several relief agencies from NCC communions including Disciples of Christ, Episcopal Relief and Development, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, United Church of Christ, and United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) U.S. Disaster Response and Recovery.
Join the Big Push to Support H.R. 40
On behalf of the Why We Can’t Wait Coalition, we are encouraging organizations to sign onto a letter that supports bringing H.R. 40, the Commission to Study & Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act, to the House floor for a vote. 

In April, the House Judiciary Committee voted to move H.R. 40 to the House Floor for full consideration, the first time in the bill’s 32-year history. H.R. 40 now has a record 195 co-sponsors and commitments from 20 additional members to vote “yes” when a vote is held. This level of support indicates it will pass the House as long as public promises are kept. This is a once-in-a-generation moment for this reparations study to advance and for the federal government to finally respond to the overwhelming support and momentum we are witnessing. Coalitions are advocating for a vote before the end of January.

National, state, and local organizations are asked to sign on by Friday, January 14, 2022, at 12pm PT / 3pm ET. 
Job Listings

The Salvation Army’s National Office of Social Services & Public Policy seeks applicants for three positions: Senior Policy Analyst for Basic Needs, Senior Policy Analyst for Housing, and Senior Policy Analyst for Vulnerable Populations. Find all Salvation Army employment opportunities here.
NCC Offices Closed for the Holidays

Our offices will be closed from Thursday, December 23, 2022 through Monday, January 3, 2022. Staff will return on Tuesday, January 4, 2022. Happy New Year!
Our work toward common goals, sustains and unites us. By making a year-end gift, you choose grace over greed, love over hate, and faith over fear.


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