Subject: NCC Newsletter: Heal Our Nation

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Heal Our Nation

NCC Newsletter
January 15, 2021
Before It's Too Late
Throughout my adult life, I have been involved in struggles for justice and peace. I have been blessed to do so by living out my faith in Jesus Christ. My faith is in a loving Jesus who experienced in his homeland the oppression attendant to a brutal Roman military occupation, who loved his enemies, and who led a movement that changed the world. 

In my lifetime, it is my own nation that has been the occupier as we maintain troops in many nations and have militarily invaded numerous countries. Even within the United States, we maintain a standing occupying police force in Black and Brown communities. 

Further, our entire national existence has been marked by a devotion to White supremacy and the legacy of slavery and racism. It has taken a long time for portions of the White church to begin to commit to an anti-racist agenda.

The movements for justice and peace of which I have been a part include those for a nuclear free world and for environmental, economic, racial, and gender justice. We have had some successes and many defeats. It is certainly my conviction that my faith compels me to be involved in these efforts to challenge injustice. 

The events of January 6 and the storming of the US Capitol reveal once more how violently and vehemently committed millions of mostly White Americans are in their opposition to these movements. Over the years, I confess I have sometimes been bewildered by their emphatic rejection of attempts to rectify obvious wrongs.

Recently, I was talking to a seminary professor friend about the strenuous efforts to uproot the Nazi ideology undertaken in Germany in the wake of World War II. That paranoid, anti-Semitic, hateful creed did not emerge out of nowhere. It was deeply entrenched in German history and culture. Despite successes over recent decades, even now there are Nazi-like organizations and political parties in Germany. It is clear that the work to counter hatred and racism is never-ending.

I have also spoken to evangelical Christians here in the US who feel foolish by the extent to which they have been deceived by Trump and who are deeply disturbed by the degree to which a great many of their fellow evangelicals remain devoted to Mr. Trump and a racist, anti-immigrant agenda that views the movements to which I am devoted as essentially anti-American. 

How do we change hearts and minds? Well, as one of our NCC leaders said to me just last night, “People must be motivated to change before they will change.” I know from many conversations and from experiences in my own family that many Southern (and Northern) Whites changed their views on race over the past 60+ years. 

We all know change is possible. In the context of the Christian faith, it is accompanied by intense conversations, by prayer, and by repentance. Truly, we are one people, although I think many of the extremists are lost to us. 

Please forgive me if my thoughts are too rambling for you. It remains quite possible that armed groups will gather in Washington, DC and at state capitals this weekend to express anger and fury over the defeat of Donald Trump. Never have I thought such an occurrence was unimaginable, but, as I said, what perplexes me is how we counter this ideology before it’s too late. 

Grace and Peace,

NCC Interfaith Prayer Service of Reflection, Lament and Hope
Today, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC), in partnership with the Washington Interfaith Staff Community (WISC), held a Prayer Service for members of Congress, their staffs, and all who work at and protect the U.S. Capitol building.

The Prayer Service was organized to bear witness to the trauma and destruction caused by the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and, through compassionate interfaith sharing and mutual support, to bring comfort and hope to all who work at the Capitol complex.

The public portion of the Prayer Service was streamed on NCC’s Facebook and YouTube channels this morning at 11:30am ET. 

Those attending commented that it was comforting to be together and, when hearing the words spoken, they realized how much they needed to pray and connect during this troubling time for our nation. To experience these beginning steps toward healing, watch the service on YouTube
Last Five Days!
You can still join us for this "Journey to Newness! Through January 20th, members of the National Council of Churches and our communion partners are offering prayers for hope, unity, and healing. We put our hope in the ability and desire of God, through Jesus Christ, to heal and transform hearts and minds. We look for the Holy Spirit to breathe God’s newness into individual lives, faith communities, the soul of our nation, indeed, the whole world. Sign up to receive a daily prayer email. The prayers are also published on our website.

Faith & Fire Conversations
This Week's Faith & Fire Conversation, “Where We Are Going: Spiritual Sustenance for the Journey Ahead” was recorded on Wednesday, January 13, 2021. 
Panelists: Dr. Loida I. Martell, Vice President of Academic Affairs/ Dean and Professor of Constructive Theology of Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky;  and Dr. Heidi Miller, Director of the Master of Practical Theology and Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at Pfeiffer University,
shared some truly inspiring spiritually formative wisdom and faithful witness! The beauty of courageous conversation is the provision of fresh breath of wisdom bringing new life. 
Next Week's Faith & Fire Conversation is on TUESDAY
Due to the Inauguration - "Birth of a New Nation: Interfaith Dialogue as Model for Building Unity" will be held on TUESDAY, January 19, 2021 at 1pm ET, with panelists: Rabbi Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Erica Littlewolf, Indigenous Visioning Circle Program Coordinator, Mennonite Central Committee, member of Northern Cheyenne Nation; and Mohamed Elsanousi.
The episode will be broadcast on NCC's Facebook and YouTube channels at 7pm ET.

WCC letter to the member churches in the United States of America
Geneva, January 8, 2020

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Greetings in the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, our hope and our guide.

On 6 January – the feast of Epiphany for many churches – vast numbers around the world watched as your democratic processes and institutions were challenged by violence and lawlessness. We witnessed scenes that few of us ever expected to see. Sadly however, when division, confrontation, denigration and misinformation become the primary modalities of political discourse, and when the pursuit of power supersedes the common good as the main objective of political leaders, such outcomes – or worse – are ultimately inevitable.

Your sisters and brothers throughout the global ecumenical fellowship have been inspired by the Christian witness that many church leaders in the United States have given throughout the years, for peace, for justice, against racism, and for respect for the equal God-given human dignity and rights of all people. And in the aftermath of the attack on the Capitol Building your witness has once again been loud, clear and faith- driven. Through this letter, I wish to convey to you the renewed and strengthened solidarity of all WCC member churches with you as you raise your prophetic voices in the midst of this new and acute crisis, and as you hope and pray for a peaceful transition of power respecting the will of the people.

You are called to be the shepherds of a deeply divided, distrusting and frightened flock, whose fears and differences have been played upon by those seeking to secure and maintain political power for themselves. Great harm has been done to your Republic in the process. The burden of rebuilding trust and promoting reconciliation in such a widely polarized society is an impossibly heavy one for you to carry alone. We pray that God will gift each of you and all of us a special measure of wisdom and strength to work together to meet this challenge. In this task, we assure you of the accompaniment and support of sister churches around the world, some of whom face similar challenges in their own contexts.

We are reminded in Proverbs 12:20 that “Deceit is in the mind of those who plan evil, but those who counsel peace have joy.” May your churches and country find the peace and joy assured to us in the scriptures. And we pray that God will lead us all together and be our guide on the path of understanding and compassion, towards justice and peace.

In the everlasting peace of Christ,

Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca
World Council of Churches
Interim General Secretary and
Director of the Ecumenical Institute Bossey

From Our Partners:

Responding to Violence Toolkit
As we know, the FBI has warned that violence by those who have not accepted the election results could continue through the inauguration. Faith In Public Life has provided resources that can be adapted by faith leaders to best reach their communities. The "Responding to Violence Toolkit" includes: a messaging guide for sermons and op-eds, social media content, and ways to contact your elected officials to urge them to denounce white supremacy.
2021 King Holiday Observance

Beloved Community Commemorative Service to be held virtually on January 18, 2021 @ 10:30 am - 1:45 pm ET. With keynote speaker Bishop TD Jakes, Bishop of The Potter’s House; and remarks by Kirk Franklin, Grammy Award-Winning Gospel Artist and Author, and Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary General. This is the culminating program for the weeklong celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and legacy.

Additional events are scheduled tonight and through the weekend by The King Center. Find more information here.

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