Subject: NCC Newsletter: In Remembrance of James Hamilton, a Prayer for Ukraine, and Calls for Action

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In Remembrance of James Hamilton, a Prayer for Ukraine, and Calls for Action
NCC Newsletter
March 18, 2022
Continued Prayer for Peace in Ukraine  
My heart is in anguish within me,
the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling come upon me,
and horror overwhelms me.

Psalm 55:4-5 NRSV

As we witness the destruction of Ukrainian cities and the continual bombings of residential buildings, hospitals, and schools as well as attacks on a power plant, nuclear waste site, and gas pipeline, we again pray with the world community for peace and an end to Russia’s war against Ukraine.

This week we saw the bombing a theater where over 1,000 women, children, and seniors were sheltering with “children” painted on the pavement on both sides of the building. Many of their fates are still unknown as the search continues for survivors. Acts that deliberately target civilians and use disproportionate force are war crimes. The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has announced that an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion is forthcoming and European nations have volunteered to document the instances and collect the evidence.

With this week’s tragedies in mind, let us pray.

Almighty and Eternal God,

We hang our heads in overwhelming sorrow while witnessing the massive number of deaths in Ukraine and the destruction of its cities.

We deeply mourn these deaths, especially the children who have lost their young lives filled with promise.

Be present with all who weep and cry out in anguish.

With your divine presence, Lord, bring an end to this war by Russia.

Move Russia’s leaders to stop the bombardment of Ukraine and the killing of its people.

Give wisdom to world leaders about the most effective ways to intervene and dissipate the harm being caused.

Fill the people of Ukraine with hope and fortitude that peace will prevail and their freedom will endure.


Former NCC General Secretary and Historic Civil Rights Advocate Jim Hamilton, Has Died
The National Council of Churches is saddened by the death of James "Jim" Hamilton, Esq. on March 17, 2022. Mr. Hamilton worked for the NCC for over 40 years in the Washington, DC public policy office and also served as General Secretary of the NCC from June of 1989 to November of 1991.

In June of 1989, Mr. Hamilton was working as the director of the Washington office and as the NCC Associate General Secretary for administration when the General Secretary departed and he was asked to fulfill the role. At the autumn meeting of the Governing Board in 1989 he was officially elected as General Secretary but insisted that a full search for the position be completed. During the process, he removed himself as a candidate because of an illness in his family. He then continued to serve the Council as Associate General Secretary for Public Policy until his retirement in 1995.

Mr. Hamilton was revered for his role in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s. His main contributions were organizing on the state and local levels and lobbying in Washington, DC. He brought huge delegations of church people to DC when it was needed during the push for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. His role was behind the scenes, not in the media. Most events featuring prominent Protestant leaders during this era were organized by Mr. Hamilton who was a major force in mobilizing the grassroots movement within the NCC churches.

Mr. Hamilton’s contribution to the Civil Rights Movement was documented in the book, “Church People in the Struggle” which reads, “Hamilton had been in the capitol city for several years, principally as a law student at George Washington University. To finance his studies, Hamilton had served as one of the doorkeepers in the House of Representatives, thus observing national politics at very close range and beginning a long self-education in the intricacies of representing the churches’ interests on Capitol Hill.”

The book details his efforts with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, which included being one of five people to participate in an elaborate watchdog system and keep track of the votes of House members. In addition, “Hamilton also developed close links with church people outside Washington, chiefly through existing ecumenical state and local councils of churches, and with the widely dispersed network of denominational officials that supported the NCC’s activities.” The book describes how Hamilton’s office regularly mailed updates to 5,000 people about the legislation and visited midwestern states holding workshops on how to exert pressure to pass the bill.

After the Civil Rights Act was passed into law, the book explains, “Six days after the triumphant signing session at the White House, Hubert Humphrey wrote to Jim Hamilton of the National Council of Churches to express ‘deep appreciation for your splendid efforts during the civil rights debate in the Senate’ and to assert that, without the ‘unremitting support’ of Hamilton and the Leadership Conference, ‘this bill could never have become law.’”

“He had a wonderful gift for enabling other people and helping them to discover their talents and be bold in taking on new tasks,” explained Mary Cooper who served as his secretary and was Director of NCC’s Washington office when he was General Secretary. “He was very dedicated and a committed social justice advocate who was always a kind and generous person. He was a joy to work with.”

Because of another of his priorities, Mr. Hamilton was a founder and the first Chair of Churches for Middle East Peace, which encourages US policies that actively promote a comprehensive resolution to conflicts in the Middle East.

Mr. Hamilton is survived by his daughter Carolyn Schaeffer and his son Jim Hamilton, Jr. and four grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife, Mary, his daughter Elizabeth Givans, and his son, John Spenser Hamilton. We will announce funeral arrangements when the details are made available.

Watch Reparatory Justice 101 (Part 2)
The interfaith series centered on the national and global reparatory justice movement continues this month with a second webinar themed “Reparatory Justice 101.” The session featured a welcome message from Mr. Jarrett Smith, Government Relations Advocate, NETWORK Lobby; theological framing by Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; a presentation on the global perspective on reparations including a review of the compensation to slave owners and the Caricom 10 Point Plan for Reparatory Justice which was presented by Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson, Associate General Minister for Global Engagement and Operations and Co-Executive for Global Ministry of the United Church of Christ; and a call to action with closing remarks by Rev. Antonia M. Ruth, Program Coordinator, The Center for Reparatory Justice, Transformation, and Remediation at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference.

This series is meant to equip each of us to take faithful action to “repair the breach” as commanded in Isaiah 58:12 and is produced in coalition with the Center for Reparatory Justice, Transformation, and Remediation at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference; Church World Service; The Episcopal Church; the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Religious Action Center for Jewish Reform; Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice; National Council of Churches; the Presbyterian Church (USA); Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Inc.; and the United Church of Christ.
Faith Leaders remember the “Atlanta Massacre” 
On the anniversary of the “Atlanta Massacre” NCC Chief Operating Officer, Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland Tune, joined a diverse group of African American, Asian American, and allied clergy and faith leaders to stand in solidarity against AAPI hate and racial injustice in a joint statement.
This Week's Faith-based Wordle
Play this week's faith-related Wordle! We've customized the game solutions to be religion-based each Friday. Click on the link to play. Instructions on how to play can be found by clicking the "i" for information. We invite you to share this newsletter with your friends, family, and faith community members who may enjoy completing these special Wordles!
COVID-19 Pandemic Response:
Staying Safe During Spring Break
Churches and faith leaders can keep their communities safe by sharing best practices for college students who may be traveling or visiting home for spring break. Encourage young people to get vaccinated and boosted against COVID and take other precautions as recommended in this video from "We Can Do This," a public education campaign of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The campaign provides this sample post: "Make sure you’re prepared for fun and relaxation by taking simple steps to protect yourself against COVID. Find vaccines and boosters near you at #WeCanDoThis"
From our Partners:
CWS Calls for Signatures to Support Displaced Ukrainians
Church World Service is circulating a faith sign on letter urging the administration to support Ukrainians and uphold protections for displaced and at-risk populations. The deadline for signatures is Wednesday, March 23, 2022.

Faith leaders can sign on using this form
Faith organizations (local, state, national) can sign on using this form

In addition. CWS is urging the administration "to robustly respond to protection needs of all displaced and at-risk populations without discrimination, including displaced individuals of African-descent and stateless people," the specific asks to the administration included in the letter are:
1. Do everything in your power to see that the United States continues to invest in humanitarian and displacement assistance and to support UNHCR’s emergency response efforts to ensure people have access to shelter, food, medicine, and other forms of humanitarian aid in Ukraine and neighboring countries;
2. Ensure swift processing of pending refugee applications for Ukrainians, and non-Ukrainians who had been in Ukraine, at all potential processing locations and especially in Ukraine’s neighboring countries;
3. Facilitate family reunification processing to reunite loved ones, such as by processing Ukrainians and non-Ukrainians who had been displaced in Ukraine with pending I-130 family petitions through the U.S. resettlement program;
4. Support non-governmental organizations in Ukraine and neighboring countries to assist internally displaced individuals or individuals seeking asylum in Ukraine and other host countries;
5. Recognize unique barriers encountered by stateless persons displaced in and fleeing Ukraine and better identify and protect such individuals; and
6. Immediately designate Special Student Relief (SSR) to protect Ukrainian students in the United States.

Global Prayer on UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
This Monday, March 21, 2022, on the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the World Council of Churches (WCC) offers a global prayer comprised of a “patchwork” of different elements from the daily regional prayers on antiracism that have been offered each day this week. These short daily prayers have been crafted with inputs from regional members of the recently formed WCC Reference Group on Overcoming Violence and WCC staff from the respective regions. In the spirit of the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, the WCC invites you "to journey with one another and in prayerful solidarity."
PNBC Rally for Voting Rights, Democracy
The Progressive National Baptist Convention Social Justice Commission will host a march and rally for Protecting Voting Rights and Upholding Democracy on Monday, March 21, 2022 on the U.S. Capitol Hill Grounds Area 12. 

The Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC) is working to "ensure all voices and votes are counted in our country." They have extended an invitation to "join leaders and pastors from across the country for an event on Capitol Hill, calling on Congress and all Americans to protect the rights of others. From the theological framing of voting rights as an essential component of our democracy to the importance of representation on the U.S. Supreme Court, pastors and ministers will address issues key to ensuring our country protects all people and ensures voices are heard at the voting booth, in the courts, on the international stage, and in the course of public discourse."

In a press release for the event Rev. Dr. David Peoples, president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, said “Justice is blind, but we need to see everyone represented on our nation’s highest court. As the denominational home of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it is in our DNA to speak up and speak out regarding social justice and the rights of all people. As Congress begins confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, we are coming to Capitol Hill to make our voices heard, asking for a swift, bipartisan confirmation for the nation’s first Black woman Supreme Court justice. And, as we continue to see an unacceptable disregard and disrespect of civil rights in our country, we are calling on all members of Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.”

12:30 PM ET March begins at 200 Maryland Ave., NE
1:30 PM ET Rally begins at Area 12 of U.S. Capitol at Constitution Ave., NW & First Street, NW Intersection
UM Commentary on Mental Health and the Black Church
UM News has published a commentary by the Rev. Dr. Ron Bell, lead pastor of Camphor United Methodist Church in Saint Paul, Minnesota, on a recent study by the Barna Group entitled, “Mental & Emotional Well-Being of Black Americans Before, During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic." The study was part of a larger report, “Trends in the Black Church.”

"As a Black leader of a mostly Black church, I can tell you that Black leaders and Black churches are carrying a lot and that those bags are close to bursting," states Dr. Bell before explaining that "the study found that 15% of Black church attendees experienced direct loss as a result of COVID-19, compared to 7% of white church attendees during that same time."
ELCA Publishes a Study Guide on "Facing divisive issues in the Beloved Community"
In Living Lutheran’s March issue, Michael Cooper-White, president emeritus of Gettysburg (now United) Lutheran Seminary and director of Lutheran formation at Union Theological Seminary, explains how conversations within communities can help heal a fractured society. A congregational study guide, "Facing divisive issues in the Beloved Community," can also be downloaded.

EAD Announces Opening Worship Preacher
The Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice conference (EAD) has announced that Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, III will be the opening worship preacher. Dr. Moss is a preacher, activist, and author who serves as Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago and was ordained in both the Progressive National Baptist Convention and the United Church of Christ.

The EAD announcement states that for over two decades, "Dr. Moss has practiced and preached a Black theology that unapologetically calls attention to the problems of mass incarceration, environmental justice and economic inequality.

A third-generation warrior for civil and human rights, Dr. Moss is committed to preaching a prophetic message of love and justice, which he believes are inseparable companions that form the foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."


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