Subject: NCC Newsletter: In Partnership as Easter Approaches

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In Partnership as Easter Approaches

NCC Newsletter
April 1, 2021
Easter Prayer 
Tonight, I will be offering this prayer at the White House Easter Prayer Service.

What wondrous love is this, O God, that you would care for all the people of the earth so deeply that you would send your very Son to suffer betrayal and denial and execution so that we could be saved from our own worst impulses and brought closer to you.

What wondrous love is this that will bring us to an empty tomb on Easter morning, to the place where once a body lay; where death had already claimed victory; to a bring new light to the place where once the darkness had reigned?

What wondrous love is this, O Lord, that tears up the old script and replaces it with a new one: a fresh story in which the love of power gives way to the power of love; in which suffering is transformed; the hungry are fed; the lost are found and the marginalized welcomed?

What wondrous love is this, O Lord, that transfigures the cross of torture, shame and execution into the symbol of resurrection and new life, restoring our broken relationships and reconciling us to you, O God our Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer?

Though we must not move to quickly from the terror and pain of Holy Week to joy of Easter, we look forward to the day when your wondrous, extravagant love—made real in Jesus, the Christ transforms us into Easter People whose lives reflect that love. May your Easter light shine once again into the broken and hurt places of our world; may Easter hope free all who are trapped in fear; may all who are bitter and lonely be accompanied, and may all who suffer illness of mind and body be comforted.

Let us carry this wondrous love forward until it permeates our being and we become fully committed to justice, freedom, and peace for all your children. Let your light shine in the darkness;
let life, not death, be the final word; let hope banish fear and may hate be banished from your kin-dom forever. We pray this in the name of the one who has risen and will rise again. Amen.

If you would like to join the White House Virtual Easter Celebration this evening, Thursday, April 1, 2021 at 8pm ET/5pm PT. You can RSVP here.
An Invitation to Ecumenical Readings of 'For the Life of the World'
You are invited to Ecumenical Readings of “For the Life of the World: Toward a Social Ethos of the Orthodox Church” and Its Implications for the US and Global Contexts on April 21, 2021 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada).

“For the Life of the World: Toward a Social Ethos of the Orthodox Church” was released in early 2020, after being authored by a commission of theologians specifically convened for the task by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. This document provides, in Patriarch Bartholomew’s assessment, “the parameters and guidelines for the social responsibility of our Church before the complex challenges and problems of today’s world, without at the same time overlooking the favorable potential and positive perspectives of contemporary civilization.”

As “For the Life of the World” has been promoted and discussed in diverse settings over the past year, a clear priority has been to evaluate not only what it means for the contemporary Orthodox community but also in what ways it resonates with other traditions with which the Orthodox Church shares its civic life. 
This webinar will explore the ecumenical dimensions to the following questions. What does the document, in other words, offered and received in a spirit of good will, bring to the table in order to facilitate cooperation in terms of meeting the ethical challenged faced in local contexts by others who dwell in those contexts? And in what ways might it fall short of the “expansive theological dialogue” with other traditions that it attempts to conjoin with the “spiritual growth of the Orthodox faithful” in pursuit of social justice and sustainable peace worldwide?

Dr. James Skedros, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, will introduce the text; and ecumenical readings will be shared by Bishop W. Darin Moore, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; Dr. Barbara Hallensleben, University of Fribourg; and Rev. Margaret Rose, The Episcopal Church.

NCC is co-sponsoring the event with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute, and the Ecclesiological Investigations International Research Network.

Register for EAD 2021
The 2021 Ecumenical Advocacy Days approach! 

This year's theme is "“Imagine! God’s Earth and People Restored.” EAD 2021 is an opportunity to support the global movement centered on and led by the people and communities most vulnerable to climate impacts due to historic racial and colonial inequities. Passionately advocate and reimagine a world that lives out the values of justice, equity and the beloved community!

EAD 2021 will be a virtual gathering on April 18-21, 2021.
From our Partners
"The Seven Last Words of George Floyd"
An editorial published by the African Methodist Episcopal Church, describes connections between Good Friday and the  gruesome murder of George Floyd. "In the same way that we cannot allow our faith to be sanitized, we cannot allow the death of Mr. Floyd to be stripped of the circumstances of institutional racism, poverty, and White Supremacy that led to his brutal death at the hands of one who was charged to serve and protect," writes John Thomas III, editor. "It is customary on Good Friday to commemorate the seven last words/sayings of Jesus Christ in solemn worship. In that spirit today, I encourage us to reflect upon the seven last words of George Floyd based upon the police bodycam transcript."
Easter Prayer for Peace and Reunification on the Korean Peninsula
The National Council of Churches in Korea published this prayer of hope and reconciliation.

"God of life!
Christians from both North and South Korea give you thanks for uniting us with Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection. In you we hope; in you we live.

God of healing!
The global community has been experiencing chaos and disorder due to the COVID-19 pandemic since the beginning of 2020. We pray for good health and healing not only for the people in the Korean Peninsula but for all around the world including your creation.

God of history!
This year, 2021, marks the 76th anniversary of the liberation from Japanese colonization. Both the US and South Korean troops, however, are still practicing war games, pointing guns at each other's hearts. In the power of resurrection, we pray that we may be able to firmly end to this long painful division and realize our hope for the peaceful coexistence and reunification on the Korean Peninsula.

God of love and peace!
Help us to reaffirm the 1991 inter-Korean agreement on reconciliation, non-aggression, exchanges and cooperation as a transformational expression for peace and reunification. Help us to realize lively civilian exchanges between the North and South.

God of hope!
We ask you that the rusty trains, halted in the Demilitarized Zone after the Armistice Agreement for 68 years, may run again on the track carrying peace and prosperity with them to Northeast Asia and the world. We also ask you to defeat the sin of division through the power of resurrection and give us a new life filled with the joy of peace, reconciliation, and reunification.

We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, the risen one, who lives among us, for a peaceful future for the Korean Peninsula and for the whole world."


#Faiths4Vaccines Stories
Visit the Faiths4Vaccines website for resources, such as this video produced by the Skinner Leadership Institute, to learn how you can be a part of encouraging vaccination and ending the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Joint statement of the WCC and the CCA on the Continuing Deterioration of the Situation in Myanmar
"The World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) are gravely concerned over the ongoing violence and the brutal attacks by military and security forces against peaceful protesters who oppose the military coup that took place on 1 February 2021. The opposition to the coup is supported by a large section of people across the country who lived in freedom in a relatively peaceful situation for a decade. People from all walks of life such as civil servants, students, working class as well as religious leaders, including Buddhist monks, became part of nationwide protests and a mass campaign of civil disobedience ensued against the junta. It is unfortunate that security forces have responded with mass arrests and at times lethal force. The civilian death toll in the military's crackdown on protesters passed 520 as of today.

The excessive, and disproportionate force by Myanmar's military against the civilians is a matter of grave concern. The present crisis situation in Myanmar has grave implications not only within the country but also for its neighbours. The ongoing brutal crackdown by the military displaced hundreds of thousands of people internally. Nearly three thousand people have been arbitrarily arrested, with many people being subjected to enforced disappearance. As the Army continued its airstrikes villagers are hiding in the jungle and many people have fled to neighbouring Thailand, and India. The air assaults on Karen state are reported to be the most significant attack for years in the region controlled by the Karen National Union (KNU). It is widely believed that the Myanmar military is re-intensifying ethnic conflicts to keep its illegal hold on power. In this situation, the WCC and the CCA as well as their member churches across the world express profound dismay.

The people of Myanmar need help from the international community to overcome their painful situation. The WCC and CCA call on the Myanmar military leaders to desist from lethal force against demonstrators. The international community needs to act urgently with constructive actions to ratchet up pressure on Myanmar military to disengage and withdraw from barbarous acts. We believe that it is absolutely essential to release all prisoners, and to respect the results of the elections, and make possible a democratic transition in the country.

We call on the United Nations’ Security Council (UNSC), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to promptly act and to hold the military regime accountable for protecting the dignity and human rights of the people of Myanmar. ASEAN’s continuing efforts to engage with all relevant parties in Myanmar is the need of the hour. We urge the ASEAN community to push for the restoration of civilian government and take initiative for the conducting of observer-monitored, unfettered elections within a determined period of time.

Echoing the call from the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, nations must gather for an emergency international summit on a virtual platform and follow it up with robust, coordinated action to remedy the situation. We also appeal to countries and companies that facilitate the Myanmar military in their acquisition of arms to stop their support, in a context where live ammunition is being used with brutality against unarmed people.

During this Passion Week, we call on churches world-wide, to pray and advocate for the churches and people of Myanmar, who are being terrorized with violence and death: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9).

Let us uphold them in our prayers, and affirm the sanctity of life and the dignity of all God’s people. May international solidarity, with prayer and action, be the sign of hope, inspired by the risen Christ, to liberate the people of Myanmar from oppression and pain."
Greening the Parish Resource Page
The Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical, and Interfaith Relations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has released a Greening the Parish Resource Page. This page offers various resources for parishes and their members to make more sustainable changes in their parish community and their home lives.

Looking ahead, they will release “How-To” video series beginning on Earth Day. Each video will be 2-3 minutes and feature lessons and practical guides on creation care and sustainability.

Announcement: The NCC offices will be closed this Friday, April 2, 2021 in observance of Good Friday.
If your communion celebrates this Sunday, may God bless you and your family this Easter!

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