Subject: NCC Newsletter: Infrastructure, BBB Act, the Wealth Gap and Staying Sensitive

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Infrastructure, BBB Act, the Wealth Gap and Staying Sensitive
NCC Newsletter
November 19, 2021
Order Your Copy Now
This week I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving full of joy, friendship, and good food and one bereft of arguments, anger, and cold gravy.

My hope, also, is that you will visit and pre-order your copy of the New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition of the Bible which I believe will prove to be regarded as the best and most accurate version available, just as is the New Revised Standard Version.

The National Council of Churches, Friendship Press, and the Society of Biblical Literature have worked in partnership over the past several years to produce the NRSVue. It was approved last month by the NCC Governing Board and it will be available for the next few months only through Friendship Press.

When I look back on my time as president and general secretary of the NCC, I am sure that participating in this update of the NRSV will be at the top of my list of fond memories. There are other aspects of my tenure I already know will be important to me, but helping to update a highly respected Bible is absolutely thrilling.

The first copy of the Revised Standard Version was presented to President Harry Truman in the Rose Garden in 1952. He said, “I am highly appreciative of the privilege of receiving this first copy of the new revised version and translation of the Old and New Testaments….I shall read this with great interest, and try to use it for a better understanding of the Bible on which I was brought up.

“The only thing that James I of England and James VI of Scotland are remembered for is the fact that they had a number of scholars--such as you had in this undertaking-make a direct translation of the Old Testament and the New Testament from what they thought were the original documents on which they were first set up.
“Now you have gone further, and have, I am sure, investigated other documents that clarify the meaning of the words in the King James version. And I am certainly most happy to have it.”

The scholars who have produced the NRSV Updated Edition have gone further yet and have investigated even more documents. Over these many years, the NCC strives for accuracy in regard to the bibles for which we have custodianship, we engage the best scholars in the field, and we present their findings to the world.

Order your copy now. 

Grace and peace,

Statement: NCC Sees Equity Advances in the Signing of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
November 15, 2021, Washington, DC – The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) praises the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which has been signed into law by President Joseph Biden today.

Since 2018, the NCC’s priority has been the A.C.T. Now to End Racism initiative. We have called our partners to Awaken to the many manifestations of racism, to Confront the need for change, and to work to Transform church and society into a reflection of the inclusive and equitable reign of God.

The horrific damage from 400 years of slavery has been embedded in U.S. laws and practices. We witness this damage when polluted air renders children of color unable to breathe because of asthma. We witness this damage when water infects poor communities with deadly levels of lead and other toxic substances. We witness this damage when statistics analyzing institutions and systems in our society prove disparities exist for people of color.

We commend the White House for acknowledging that Black, Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and Native communities are more likely to be burdened by pollution and for detailing these and other disparities in the Fact Sheet on Advancing Economic and Public Health Opportunities for Communities of Color.

The NCC believes that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a start toward repairing some of the damage that continues to inflict harm on people of color. Although the funding level in this legislation does not meet the full needs to reverse all the many wrongs, its investments are positioned to advance equity and bring racial justice to our communities in certain ways:

  • With families of color at the highest risk for lead exposure at home and in schools and knowing that higher exposure can negatively affect academic performance and lead to cardiovascular disease, the NCC applauds the Act’s investment in clean drinking water by replacing all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines.
  • As air pollution is linked to health problems including asthma among students who miss school particularly in communities of color and Tribal communities, and death from asthma-related illnesses for Black people at almost three times that of their white counterparts, the NCC recognizes that the Act will begin to alleviate pollution and improve health by delivering thousands of electric school buses and thousands of zero emission transit vehicles, while investing in clean energy transmission.
  • With 26% of Black Americans and 29% of Hispanic Americans living within 3 miles of a Superfund site, the NCC is pleased to know that Brownfield and Superfund sites will be remediated for improved health and well-being.
  • Since people of color and tribal members are more likely to live in areas with flooding and climate change-related weather, the NCC welcomes the Act’s investments that will help communities build resilience to these threats through infrastructure upgrades.
  • Acknowledging that Black families are 9% less likely to have high-speed internet than their white peers, Latino Americans are 15% less likely, and about 35% of individuals living on Tribal lands lack access to broadband service, the NCC embraces the Act’s goal of providing every American with access to reliable high-speed internet.
  • As racial injustices were evident when significant portions of the interstate highway system were built through Black neighborhoods and highway construction projects too often divided and demolished Black communities, the NCC applauds the Act for creating the first-ever program to reconnect communities divided by these transportation projects. We look forward to the reconstruction of street grids and parks in these neighborhoods.

“For decades the US has not invested in its infrastructure, and all across the country we see the results of this lack of foresight,” commented Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, Bishop of the 5th Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME) and Chair of the NCC Governing Board. “So many years of disregard for the crumbling structures that surround us cannot be erased with just one funding bill, but the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a much-needed step in the right direction. We commend all the elected leaders who worked together to meet these basic needs of the people. We look forward to future legislation that will continue to improve the quality of life for Americans.”

We pray that the benefits of this Act are realized as quickly as possible so that the suffering can be alleviated. May all who work on the infrastructure projects be blessed with the competence and resilience necessary to achieve such worthy goals.

NCC Welcomes the Passage of the Build Back Better Act in the House
November 19, 2021, Washington, DC - The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) applauds the House of Representatives for passing the Build Back Better Act and urges the Senate to vote for its passage immediately. We firmly hold that the BBB Act will alleviate poverty and change the economic future for millions of low-income families who have been left behind for far too long.

Jesus told us that the kingdom of God belongs to the little children so the NCC embraces the BBB Act’s provisions that will create a brighter future for our children by providing universal pre-k for 3 and 4-year-olds and ensuring that childcare is affordable for many families so parents can work, look for work, or get job training.

One of the National Council of Churches’ 2021 priorities is to expand the Child Tax Credit (CTC), which most families use to cover the cost of food, housing, health care, and transportation, so we affirm its extension for one year in the BBB Act. We will continue to advocate for its permanent implementation.

The NCC has called for the administration to address the health disparities that have been laid bare during the pandemic. As we have fully supported healthcare for all, we approve of the provisions in the BBB Act that will expand access to healthcare, including the Affordable Care Act premium tax credits for up to 4 million uninsured people in states that denied them access to Medicaid and the reduced premiums for more than 9 million Americans because of the extension of the expanded Premium Tax Credit. We also acknowledge that the care made available for older Americans and people with disabilities in their homes will make a substantial difference in their ongoing quality of life.

As educational disparities persist, the NCC maintains that investing in education will create thriving futures for those who have been barred from success by the systematic racism in this nation. As the BBB Act will increase the maximum Pell Grant by $550 for the more than 5 million students enrolled in public and private, non-profit colleges, and expand access to DREAMers, we know this will help undergraduate students, especially the more than 75% of undergraduate Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) students who rely on Pell Grants to pay for college expenses. We also affirm the Act’s investment in HBCUs, Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and minority-serving institutions (MSIs) to build their capacity, modernize their research infrastructure, and provide financial aid to their low-income students.

We affirm that the funding provided by the Act for the construction, rehabilitation, and improvement of more than 1 million affordable homes which will boost the housing supply and reduce price pressures for renters and homeowners is commendable and begins to meet our call for the basic human need of housing for all people.

In addition, this important legislation positively impacts people returning from incarceration, as all of these provisions do not prohibit those convicted of drug felonies from receiving aid, which is another NCC priority.

“The Bible points out the inequities between the poor and the rich and makes known that these disparities are contrary to God’s will. We are called to secure the well-being of God’s people and therefore we applaud every advancement toward this end in the Build Back Better Act and call for its passage so the funding can make the transformative difference in our society that we know is possible.” - Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, Bishop of the 5th Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME) and Chair of the NCC Governing Board.

“The National Council of Churches has long fought to end poverty. This is a historic step toward that goal. We call for the quick passage of the Build Back Better Act in the Senate so that President Biden can sign this legislation and bring us closer to righting the wrongs of the damaging systems that cause the suffering from poverty in our nation.” – Jim Winkler, NCC President and General Secretary.

Honoring the Life of Rev. Dr. W. Sterling Cary
Rev. Dr. William Sterling Cary, who was the first Black president elected by the National Council of Churches, died on November 14, 2021 at the age of 94. He served from 1972 to 1975.

An Associated Press article this week shared details of his life, noting that in 1974 he was the first Black person named an United Church of Christ (UCC) conference minister. He continued to lead the the Illinois Conference, UCC’s third-largest conference with nearly 250 churches, until retirement in 1994.

According to the article, in 1966, Dr. Cary was among dozens of Black pastors who published a searing letter titled “Black Power.” in the New York Times calling out white clergy and others on American race relations and outlining steps for change, stating, “We, an informal group of Negro churchmen in America are deeply disturbed about the crisis brought upon our country by historic distortions of important human realities in the controversy about ‘black power.’ What we see, shining through the variety of rhetoric is not anything new but the same old problems of power and race which has faced our beloved country since 1619." 

During a NPR interview in 2008, Dr. Cary explained that it was intended as a loving and reconciling document, "The love that we know has been made known by Christ," he told the NPR interviewer. "Not to allow freedom is a sin against God."

"We as churchmen recognized the need to become engaged in efforts to empower people," Dr. Cary told NPR. "We felt it important to say that the will of God was that people be engaged in this struggle against the powers and principalities that were oppressing them. Racial injustice is a legacy of the slave period and continues until this day."

During the interview, he noted the challenges when he led the NCC, "It was a tense period when I was president. We had Vietnam, we had tensions over Gay, Lesbian and transgendered people." Arguments on the floor of the NCC Governing Board were intense and often angry."

However, Dr. Cary believed that his presiding style encouraged more civil debate, "There was a tendency for our discussions to turn into dissentions ... but we created a climate where we could give everyone a hearing – we created an arena in which we could express our differences. Everyone had a say."

NCC's current President and General Secretary, Jim Winkler, said, "We give thanks for the life of Sterling Cary and his leadership of the NCC. We celebrate the fact he was the first Black president of our Council."

This Month's Spiritual Practice: Staying Sensitive
In this monthly series, "Spiritual Practices to Sustain Our Spirit-Led Work for Justice," the Christian Education, Faith Formation, and Leadership Development (CEFFLD) Convening Table of the NCC shares personal stories of practices that have nourished them for the long haul of justice ministries.

This month's contribution is from Dr. Reshma Susan Phillips, a member of the Mar Thoma Church who serves on the Mission Board for the Diocese of North America and Europe. She is an educator and has been serving on the Christian Education and Faith Formation Convening table since 2018.

She writes, "In this article I offer my reflections on the spiritual practice, “staying sensitive.” I am guided in my reflection by the scripture. The first text that comes to mind Psalm 106, verse 3, Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right.

How do we as Christians align ourselves for justice? Which are the causes or organizations that we should support, both personally and as the community of faith? These are often questions that have weighed me down. Here I share a few practices based on what I have found helpful in my work for justice."
Watch the First Reparatory Justice Webinar
This week's Racial Wealth Gap simulation led by Christian Brooks, MDiv, MSPPM, of the Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of Public Witness is now available on video to provide a deeper understanding of the quantifiable economic impact of US policies that have widened the racial income and wealth divides.

The presentation guided participants through the connections between racial equity, poverty, and wealth, carefully detailing how federal policies created structural inequalities—property ownership and education are just two among many areas affected—and how these policies increased poverty in communities of color. The session left no doubt that racial equity is fundamental to ending poverty in the United States.

This video and the free simulation tool in the presentation can be used by churches, organizations, agencies, schools, and communities that want to learn more about the role that public policy has had, over time, in creating structural divides based on race.

Student Loan Forgiveness Webinar
The NCC is co-hosting a session on Student Loan Forgiveness on Friday, December 3, 2021 at 2:00 PM ET with the United Church of Christ.

Attorney Ashley Harrington, a senior level official from the Federal Student Aid office of the US Department of Education, will go through the process of consolidation of loans, public service loan forgiveness, and other methods to reduce and/or eliminate student loan debt for all, including religious workers and clergy.

Since the Meet-Up on Student Loan Forgiveness was so popular during the Christian Unity Gathering, we have collaborated to offer this additional webinar on Zoom for greater access. Registration is now open. Spread the word!

COVID-19 Pandemic Response:
Keeping the Circle Strong: We Can Do This Indian Country

Tonight, November 19, 2021 at 7:30 pm CT/6:30 pm MT join Native Roots Radio and the We Can Do This campaign for the town hall where tribal leadership, community advocates, and health experts will talk about the COVID-19 pandemic in Indian Country and the available vaccines. 

Watch it live on Facebook at or on YouTube at
Booster Shot Eligibility
Current COVID-19 vaccine booster shot eligibility can be found on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website. You can choose which COVID-19 vaccine you receive as a booster shot. Some people may have a preference for the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. CDC’s recommendations now allow for this type of mix and match dosing for booster shots.

Resources, including social media graphics and videos, are available for faith groups to use to promote booster shots in your community.   

From our Partners:
WCC Dismayed by COP 26 Outcome 
During its first meeting in person in two years due to the pandemic, the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) expressed in a public statement “disappointment and dismay at the inadequate outcome of the COP 26 Climate Change Conference” in Glasgow, United Kingdom.

According to their statement, “This is the last crucial decade for climate action to avoid the catastrophe long foretold. In Glasgow our political leaders have once again procrastinated on taking the actions that the climate emergency demands, and diminished the window of opportunity for taking that action.”
Black Church Women Leaders Speak Out on Climate Justice
On behalf of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, the Women of Faith and Climate Justice, including Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, Bishop of the 5th Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church (CME) and Chair of the NCC Governing Board, have produced a video to express their concern about the world our children and grandchildren will inherit. 
Happy Thanksgiving! 

The Weekly Update newsletter will be taking a holiday next week as the NCC offices will be closed on Thursday, November 25th and Friday, November 26th. We are thankful for God's blessings in our lives, especially for all of you and our work together. 

If you find our newsletter informative, please forward it to friends and colleagues! 

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