Subject: NCC Newsletter: Historic Governing Board Meeting and Enthusiastic CUG Reviews

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Historic Governing Board Meeting and Enthusiastic CUG Reviews
NCC Newsletter
October 15, 2021
Report to the Governing Board  
My report made to the Governing Board on October 13, 2021.

Since we last met in April, much has taken place.
Most notably, we are poised in this meeting of the NCC Governing Board to adopt the New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition, a truly historic achievement. We have come a long way over the past seven years in resuming active management of our bible properties, strengthening our ties to bible publishers, and partnering with the Society of Biblical Literature to update the NRSV. We can celebrate this good work on behalf of bible scholarship, all our member communions, the ecumenical movement, and, really, the interfaith movement, as well.
I am also happy to report that our bible royalties are running a bit ahead of last year at the same time.
Our anti-racism work proceeds. We continue to press for passage of voting rights legislation and for African Americans.

Our convening tables continue to focus on anti-racism. Faith & Order has created three subgroups. They are:
* Awakening to the Reality of Racism as the Original Sin of the United States
* Confronting White Supremacy as the Defining Myth of the United States
* Transforming the Church and Humanizing the Public Square

All of our interreligious dialogues are moving along well and all address anti-racism.

We have issued several statements since April:
* We have lamented the treatment of Haitians at the US border.
* We have issued a statement on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
* We decried the rise in antisemitism. We spoke out about violence in the Holy Land and our hopes for a lasting peace. 

Also, since our April meeting we conducted the North America Pilgrimage for Justice & Peace in coordination with the World Council of Churches, the Canadian Council of Churches, and the Minnesota Council of Churches.

Along with a number of member communions we have pressed the US State Department to resume former President Obama’s initiatives with Cuba and we also met with the State Depart as part of our NCC-NCC Korea consultation. We conducted another session of the Egyptian American dialogue in consultation with the Protestant Churches in Egypt.

We said farewell to our beloved Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky of the Orthodox Church in America. I was grateful I was able to attend his funeral this summer. Fr. Leonid was a former president of the NCC and served on the executive committee at the time of his passing. He was a giant in the ecumenical community.

I spoke in Armenia last month at a conference on religious freedom and peace organized by the Armenian Orthodox Church at the invitation of His Holiness Karekin II.
We are all excited about the successful Christian Unity Gathering which concluded last night. We hosted more than 900 registrants at this year’s CUG.

We look forward to celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Committee on the Uniform Series which produces the Guide to Lessons and Home Daily Bible Readings during next year’s CUG.

I am happy to report that a draft of our two year Audit has been received on Monday night and they have given us a clean audit.

We are working with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese to host a reception later this month for His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

Finally, I want to express my deepest appreciation to the Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ, as he concludes his term as chair of the NCC. John has gone above and beyond the call of duty in his service. I count him as a mentor and a friend.

I know all of us are excited to know that Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church as she assumed the role of chair. Bishop Jefferson-Snorton will be a great leader of the NCC.

Once again, I thank you and I thank God for the enormous privilege of serving as your president and general secretary.

Grace and peace,

NCC Governing Board Holds Historic Elections and Approves Updated Edition of the NRSV Bible
Top Left: Bishop Teresa Jefferson Snorton, Chair / Bottom Left: Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Vice Chair /
Top Right: Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens, Treasurer / Bottom Right: Kimberly Gordon Brooks, Secretary 
The Governing Board of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) met virtually for its biannual board meeting on October 13, 2021.

For the first time in its 71-year history, the NCC Governing Board elected all women as officers. The officers began their two-year terms effective yesterday as follows: Bishop Teresa Jefferson Snorton, 5th Episcopal District, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, as Chair; Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, as Vice Chair; Kimberly Gordon Brooks, 1st Vice President of the 3rd District Lay Organization, African Methodist Episcopal Church, as Secretary, and Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens, General Minister & President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), as Treasurer. Three of the officers are women of color.

“Serving in leadership in the National Council of Churches is both an honor and a privilege,” said new NCC Chair, Bishop Teresa Jefferson Snorton. “At this pivotal time in the life of the church in the United States, it is noteworthy that the NCC is modeling inclusiveness in selecting its leaders. The denominations that make up the NCC demonstrate a commitment to embody the diversity of God’s creation in so many ways. This commitment is a call for all of us to show the love of God to all, promote unity in Christ Jesus and to resist the current cultural trends of divisiveness. I am humbled to be a part of the life of NCC in this moment.”

The NCC Governing Board also approved the Updated Edition of the New Revised Standard Version (NRSVue) of the Bible, which is considered the most meticulously researched, rigorously reviewed, and faithfully accurate English-language Bible translation. The process began in 2017 when the NCC commissioned the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) to conduct a review and update of the 1989 New Revised Standard Version Bible (NRSV).

The NRSVue, like the NRSV and the Revised Standard Version (RSV), follows in the tradition of the King James Bible, making changes that were warranted on the basis of accuracy, clarity, euphony, and current English usage. The SBL applied recent scholarship to ancient texts to help readers explore the meanings of these texts in light of the cultures that produced them. The NRSVue is as free as possible from the gender bias inherent in the English language, which can obscure earlier oral and written renditions.

Friendship Press, a subsidiary of the NCC, acted as liaison to SBL during the review. A list of those who worked on the NRSVue can be found on the Friendship Press website: Licensees may release NRSV Updated Editions of the Bible on or after May 1, 2022.

“It is a matter of great pride for me to have led the Board through the approval process for the NRSVue. Knowing that each generation has undertaken the stewardship of this precious resource, we played our part to extend its relevance and legacy. Having relied on the most dedicated biblical scholars of our generation, we are proud now to share the most up to date translation of our sacred texts,” said Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ, National Ministries, and Past Chair of NCC’s Governing Board.

According to NCC President and General Secretary Jim Winkler, “Being part of the update of the New Revised Standard Version has been a joy for me. This is a monumental achievement. Credit is due to many people, but I especially wish to thank the Society of Biblical Literature and Friendship Press for their scholarship and leadership,” he said. “The NCC approved this project a number of years ago and has provided oversight throughout. The NRSV is viewed as the most accurate Bible available and the incorporation of new learnings and insights makes it only better.” Mr.

Winkler added, “I also congratulate our new NCC board officers. We believe this is the first time all of our officers are women. I look forward to working closely with our new chair, Bishop Teresa Jefferson Snorton. She is an extraordinary and gifted leader.”
News Coverage of the NCC Governing Board Meeting

Religion News Service covered these historic decisions by the Governing Board in the article, National Council of Churches elects all-female officers, approves NRSV update, by Adelle M. Banks
Legislative Update
Rev. Aundreia Alexander, Esq., NCC Associate General Secretary, Action and Advocacy for Justice and Peace, provided a Capitol Hill update to the NCC Governing Board, commenting, “To be honest with you, everything on NCC’s list of 2021 priorities is at risk of not moving anywhere.”
  • On voting rights issues, Rev. Alexander said, “If nothing else passes, some form of voter protection is absolutely necessary or we just don’t have a democracy, not even the one that we think we have now." 
  • She noted that H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act, "is something we have been working very closely on and actually been at the forefront on.”
  • About the infrastructure bill reconciliation package she stated that there have already been things done that have had a significant impact on poverty, “What we want and need is for those things - at a minimum - is for those things to be extended. Hopefully, to make them permanent, particularly, the Child Tax Credit and the expansion of Medicaid.
Explaining her outlook on advocacy Rev. Alexander said, “We want God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, and we negotiate down from there." She encouraged church leaders to use their voices in the public square on these issues if they are called upon to do so.
NCC's annual Christian Unity Gathering (CUG) was held on October 11 - 12, 2021 with the theme, "In New Wineskins: From Pandemics to Possibilities to Promises," based on the scripture in Luke 5:37-39.

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new wine, but says, "The old is good."

NCC welcomed over 900 attendees to this year's CUG held virtually on the Whova event platform. If you missed a session or want to share the sessions with your church, colleagues, family, and friends, all but one of the sessions were recorded and are being shared through NCC's YouTube channel. The videos will also be viewable on the NCC CUG webpage The video links are being added to the agenda within Whova which will remain active for attendees for three months. 

Sessions currently available for viewing:
Closing Worship Service

A fun feature of the event was the ranking system for participation. Attendees were given challenges such as completing their profiles, suggesting meet-ups, posting questions, sharing articles, and answering Ice Breakers. We want to congratulate and thank the most active attendees at CUG! 
News Coverage of the Christian Unity Gathering
Religion News Service reported on the CUG Panel on Christian Nationalism in the article, White Christian progressives can be nationalists too, ecumenical panel says, by Adelle M. Banks.
The White House Recognizes the Work of the NCC 

Cedric Richmond, Senior Advisor to the President, sent a message to the Governing Board stating, 

"On behalf of President Joe Biden, I want to extend best wishes for your Christian Unity Gathering and Governing Board meeting. We are deeply grateful for your continued service to your communities, your commitment to the common good, and your steadfast partnership. From helping people to get vaccinated and sign up for the Child Tax Credit to supporting the American Rescue Plan and the Build Back Better Agenda, we are tremendously appreciative of the opportunity to work together in pursuit of justice and peace.

I also want to congratulate the incoming slate of officers, including incoming Chair Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton. You are history-makers in the best way, and we could not be more excited to continue our work together. Thank you again for all you do."
COVID-19 Pandemic Response:
Watch the CUG International Briefing on the COVID-19 Pandemic
Moderated by Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith, Senior Associate for Pan-African and Orthodox Church Engagement, this update focuses on the state of the world in ending the COVID-19 pandemic. Panelists included Dr. Francis Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health; Dr. Pauline Muchina, Public Education and Advocacy Coordinator, American Friends Service Committee; Rev. Joel Ortega Dopico, President, Cuban Council of Churches; and Rev. James Bhagwan, General Secretary-Elect, Pacific Conference of Churches.

From our Partners:
White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Announces "Deep Dives"
In their effort to better serve people in need, the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships is launching a series of “Partnerships Deep Dives” webinars that will explore specific ways partners, such as churches, can address such challenges.

Safety, Security and Partnership Engagement
October 19, 2021 at 2 pm ET. 
This one-hour online event will showcase multiple ways for faith and neighborhood organizations to enhance the safety and security of their institutions and communities by partnering with the Department of Homeland Security, which includes the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA. Register here.

HHS Webinar Series: Engaging Faith and Community Partners in Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Register for the series here.

Part 1: Talking about ACEs: Preventing and Addressing Childhood Trauma
Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, 12:00 p.m. EDT.
"Faith and community organizations are well-positioned to increase protective factors for children and young adults. Many are able to support families and a strong start for children, promote social norms that protect against violence and adversity, connect youths to caring adults and activities, and intervene to lessen immediate and long-term harms. Part 1 of this webinar series will increase awareness of Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs) and their long-term harms."

Part 2: Preventing and Addressing Childhood Trauma with Faith and Community Partners
Tuesday, Nov. 16, 12:00 p.m. EST.
"Join Part 2 to hear examples of how faith and community groups are integrating prevention of Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs) into their programing and community efforts. Learn the specific evidence-based practices and strategies that have been identified to reduce these events and reduce the severity of the harms associated with them."
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