Subject: NCC Newsletter: Infrastructure and Building Back Better

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Infrastructure and Building Back Better
NCC Newsletter
November 5, 2021
All Those Programs  
The late Fritz Hollings who served as governor of and US Senator from South Carolina for many years once told this story:

"A veteran returning from Korea went to college on the GI Bill, bought his house with a Federal Housing Authority loan, saw his kids born in a Veteran’s Administration hospital, started a business with a Small Business Administration loan, got electricity from the Tennessee Valley Authority and, later, water from an Environmental Protection Agency project. His parents, living on Social Security, retired to a farm, got electricity from the Rural Electrification Authority and had their soil tested by the US Department of Agriculture. When his father became ill, the family was saved from financial ruin by Medicare and a life was saved with a drug developed through the National Institutes of Health. His kids participated in the school lunch program, learned physics from teachers trained in a National Science Foundation program and went to college with guaranteed student loans. He drove to work on the Interstate and moored his boat in a channel dredged by Army engineers. When floods hit, he took Amtrak to Washington to apply for disaster relief and spent some time in the Smithsonian museums. Then one day he got mad. He wrote his Senator an angry letter - "Get the government off my back", he wrote. "I'm tired of paying taxes for all those programs created for ungrateful people!".

I am reminded of this as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act legislation remains stalled in Congress. Although it is popular with the general public, would put people to work, and meets long unmet needs in strengthening national infrastructure, it is viewed by some as another example of wasteful government spending.

As people of faith, we support economic investment for the people. Our people have been starved by disinvestment in human needs and our roads and bridges and infrastructure have been neglected as we have poured more than $30 trillion into military adventures since WWII. Our government has been running deficits because the rich and the corporations don’t pay their fair share and that has led to distrust in our very ability to work together to provide adequate healthcare and better education and a clean environment.

Corruption pervades the land and our judges and officials have not rendered just decisions and laws for the people. Too many have accepted bribes and campaign contributions from the rich and corporations and those bribes have blinded the eyes of the wise and subverted the cause of those who are in the right. "Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, so that you may live and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you." (Deuteronomy 16:20 NRSV)

Grace and peace,

Build Back Better Update
The U.S. House of Representatives is poised to vote on the Build Back Better Act by tomorrow. The legislation creates 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. If passed, the Act will improve health-care access for eligible individuals who reside in states that have not expanded Medicaid and invest in housing, rental, and homeowner assistance programs. These efforts to alleviate poverty could change the economic future for millions of low-income families who have been left behind for too long. #BuildBackHoly
WCC Reports on Ecumenical Patriarch's Visit
The World Council of Churches described the historic visit of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the National Council of Churches on October 26, 2021.

The article details his remarks about Christian unity:

"We require a new worldview, he said. 'We need to open our hearts to the language of dialogue,' he said. 'This is the ultimate condition for the restoration of unity among Christians.'

The path to Christian unity has been neither peaceful nor painless, he acknowledged. 'Unity is a task that remains difficult to fulfill.'

Love is essential, so that dialogue between our churches can occur in all freedom and trust, he concluded. 'Then, we will acknowledge that the divergences originating from different ways in which churches respond to moral problems are not necessarily insurmountable, since churches witness to the gospel in different contexts,' he said. 'Let us, therefore, process with hope along the path toward our restored unity.”'

If You Missed the Christian Unity Gathering
You can watch the recorded sessions on YouTube. This week we feature the Faith Summit - Racial Reckoning in America: A Christian Response, where denominational and other faith leaders discussed what they have been doing to negotiate the racial reckoning in the country.

Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, Presiding Bishop, 5th Episcopal District, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, and NCC Governing Board Chair, moderates.

Panelists include:
  • Dr. Richard Hughes, Scholar in Residence, Lipscomb University, author of Myths America Lives By: White Supremacy and the Stories that Give Us Meaning – Opening Speaker
  • Karen Gonzalez, immigrant advocate at World Relief (previously at Lutheran Immigration Services), author of The God Who Sees: Immigrants, the Bible and the Journey to Belong
  • Dr. Jonathan Tran, Associate Professor of Theology and George W. Baines Chair of Religion, Baylor University
  • Elona Street-Stewart, Co-Moderator, Presbyterian Church (USA)
  • Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, Chairman, Conference of National Black Churches
  • Minister Candace Simpson, Associate Minister, Concord Baptist Church of Christ
COVID-19 Pandemic Response:
Vaccines Available for Children
COVID-19 vaccination is now available for children 5 and older. During the pandemic, children have missed church and religious instruction and this is the chance to protect them and our communities. COVID-19 vaccines can be found at

Resources, including various toolkits, infographics, videos, and one-pagers that provide answers to frequently asked questions, can be found on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources website. Churches and faith leaders can find the latest data, tips on how to talk to parents and guardians about vaccinating their children, and explanations on why vaccination is the best way to protect children against COVID-19 by visiting the website.
From our Partners:
Archbishop Vicken Aykazian Honored for Half a Century of Service
The Massis Post reports that on Sunday, October 17, 2021, a celebration of the 50th ordination anniversary was held for NCC Governing Board member, Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, the Diocesan Legate and Ecumenical Director of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America. He was honored by more than 160 people on the “golden anniversary” of his ordination, in a ceremony and banquet organized by Holy Trinity Church of Cheltenham, PA.
Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs
The Lilly Endowment’s Clergy Renewal Programs are administered by the Center for Pastoral Excellence at Christian Theological Seminary. The programs provide an opportunity for pastors to step away from their parish obligations and engage in a period of renewal, reflection, and exploration to regain enthusiasm and creativity for ministry.

Details and application materials for the 2022 programs are now available. Through the 2022 Lilly Endowment National Clergy Renewal Program and the 2022 Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Program for Indiana Congregations, eligible congregations will be able to apply for grants of up to $50,000 each to support a renewal program for their pastor. Up to $15,000 of the grant may be used for congregational expenses associated with the renewal program.


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