Subject: NCC Newsletter – May 26, 2023

May 26, 2023

NCC Co-Hosts Delegation of Egyptian
Religious and Political Leaders

The National Council of Churches USA co-hosted a delegation of Egyptian religious and political leaders to the US this week, as part of a long-standing dialogue and exchange of delegations.  The initiative is coordinated by Hands Across the Nile, an ecumenical organization that seeks to foster good relations between Egyptian and US organizations and communities.  The NCC participates in the organization and took part in the planning of the delegation’s visit.


The delegation visited both New York, where they met with United Nations officials in the Office of the Alliance of Civilizations, and Washington, where they met with US Congressional and State Department officials, to discuss human rights and other matters impacting civil society in their own country.  They also met with religious leaders in both cities, to foster closer ecumenical and interfaith relationships, particularly with those churches that conduct advocacy on related issues. 


In New York, the delegation met with heads of US churches.  The latter included:  Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, President and General Secretary of the NCC; Bishop Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church; Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Rev. Terri Hord Owens, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); and Rev. Ruth Santana-Grace, Co-Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA. 


The Egyptian delegation was led by Rev. Dr. Andrea Zaki, President of the Protestant Churches of Egypt and President of the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services, and included:  H.E. Ambassador Dr. Mahmoud Karem, Vice President of the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights; Dr. Mohamed Mosalam, Member of the House of the Egyptian Parliament and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Culture, Tourism, Antiquities, and Media; Dr. Tarek Radwan, Member of the House of the Egyptian Parliament and Chairman of the Committee of Human Rights in Egypt; Dr. Ibrahim Negm, Senior Advisor to H.E. the Grand Mufti of Egypt and Secretary General for Fatwa Authorities Worldwide; and Ms. Samira Luka, Senior Director for the Forum of Intercultural Dialogue and Member of the National Council for Human Rights in Egypt.


Among the issues discussed in this meeting that impact both Egyptian and US contexts were:  water security and other matters at the intersection of environmental and humanitarian concerns; the conflict between religious freedom and intolerance, extremist violence and terrorism; connections between the spread of disinformation through social media and the problems of hate speech, discrimination, bigotry, and racist ideology; and the reality of religious nationalism and the tension between individuality and community.    


What became apparent in the discussion was the recognition that, whether we come from the US context or the Egyptian context, we share common challenges.  In response, what also became apparent was the conviction that addressing these challenges is possible through shared hope and cooperation. 

NCC Calls for End to Political Brinksmanship and Swift Passage of Debt Ceiling Legislation

As of Friday, the White House and Republican members of Congress were still in negotiations about critical provisions of the Debt Ceiling bill. Part of those discussions have included harmful proposals that would result in millions of Americans losing vital assistance that enables them to purchase necessities such as food, access medical care, and cover other essential expenses like housing and transportation.

This week, NCC issued a statement Condemning the Political Debt-Ceiling Brinksmanship that Threatens to Harm Millions of Americans.


If America defaults on paying its bills, not only will those who depend on monthly benefits to survive to be phased out of nutrition, healthcare, and cash assistance programs due to unfair time limits and other unreasonable requirements; but all Americans will be impacted by the likely recession, stock market crash, and the government's limited access to cash flow that will result from a financial catastrophe of this magnitude. Hundreds of millions will suddenly be at risk of falling into extreme poverty.


On Thursday, May 25, NCC held the first day of the Call Your Legislators Campaign, which urged NCC member communions, partners, and supporters to call and write their members of Congress and tell them that defaulting on America’s bills is irresponsible, taking food and healthcare from people is immoral, and that they should pass a debt ceiling bill before the June 1 deadline with no conditions.

ACT NOW and tell Congress that defaulting on America’s bills is irresponsible, taking food and healthcare from people is immoral, and that a debt ceiling bill must be passed before the June 1 deadline, with no conditions!


Join us for our next days of action on May 30 (Call Your Senators) and May 31 (Call House and Senate District Offices).

The Action Network offers the following points of emphasis when you reach out to your Members of Congress:

  • You are a person of faith and his/her constituent

  • The debt ceiling should be raised without any conditions

  • Programs that provide food, healthcare, and money for household expenses should not be cut nor have other onerous eligibility requirements added

  • Share personal experiences you have with these essential programs. Stories are powerful tools of persuasion.


  • Sign up for NCC’s Call Your Legislators Campaign here.

  • Click here to find your U.S. senators.

  • Click here to find your U.S. representative.

  • Email your members of Congress and the President by clicking on this Action Network link.

CEFFLD Appoints New Co-Conveners

The Christian Education, Faith Formation, and Leadership Development convening table met on May 15. Fifteen communions were represented in an energetic dialogue around the CEFFLD purpose. Will Bergkamp (CEO of Friendship Press) joined the meeting to propose a second edition/revision of United Against Racism.  

As this table was instrumental in the first edition (2018), it is a natural fit to tap CEFFLD as a resource in this updated edition. One of the ways the CEFFLD table could be instrumental is in the design of the curriculum sections of each chapter in the book. Ideas for this section include questions for reflection, suggestions for worship/liturgy, definition of terms, biblical engagement, and a curated library of denominational resources.


Participants weighed the value of meeting together for mutual support and sharing of best practices alongside the value of working together on a publishing project(s) and the decision was made to develop a blend of the two approaches in future meetings. Two co-conveners were appointed to provide leadership for the 2023 gatherings. Janné Grover (Community of Christ) and Reshma Phillips (Mar Thoma Church) will work with NCC Director of CEFF, Tammy Wiens, in planning an online meeting in September followed by an in-person meeting in conjunction with this year’s Christian Unity Gathering in Nashville, TN (October 9-12).

Janné Grover, serves as an Apostle in Community of Christ with leadership responsibilities in the Central USA Mission Field and Campus Ministries.  She maintains a passion for teaching and learning and supports formation ministries for disciples, priesthood, congregations, and families across the fields of the church. Janné has been a member of the CEFFLD table since 2015.

Reshma Phillips has been a member of CEFFLD since 2018. She is a member of the Mar Thoma Church and serves on the Mission Board and South East Regional Activity Committee for the Diocese of North America and Europe. In addition to her engagement with Mar Thoma’s many mission and outreach activities involving the youth, Reshma is also a college professor.

NCC Remembers Former Staffer Vicki Manning

It is with heavy hearts that NCC shares news of the passing of Vicki Manning, who served as Executive Assistant to NCC General Secretary Rev. Dr. Robert (Bob) Edgar.


Vicki faithfully served on the NCC staff from 1999–2007. She was known for her beautiful singing voice, kind spirit, and infectious laughter. She was a wonderful NCC colleague who brought to her work a hearty sense of humor.


Vicki was a trained opera singer who attended the Manhattan School of Music. She once apprenticed at the Santa Fe Opera and often used her musical gifts to bless her NCC colleagues and many others. She sang in The Interchurch Center’s choir and other choirs in New York.


Originally from Oregon, where she received a bachelor’s degree from Portland State University, Vicki returned to her home state upon retirement. She passed away just short of her 70th birthday.


According to a Facebook post from her sister, Sue, Vicki died on May 16, after complications from a stroke. Sue stated, “She bravely fought Parkinson’s disease for eight years and now she is at peace singing with the angels.”


May Vicki rest in peace, and may her memory be eternal. 

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas Issues

National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin


In consultation with the Intelligence Community and law enforcement partners, Secretary Mayorkas has issued a new National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin regarding the continued heightened threat environment across the United States.     


Lone offenders and small groups motivated by a range of ideological beliefs and personal grievances continue to pose a persistent threat to the United States. Both domestic violent extremists (DVEs) and those associated with foreign terrorist organizations continue to attempt to motivate supporters to conduct attacks, including through violent extremist messaging and online calls for violence.


In the coming months, DHS expects the threat environment to remain heightened and that individuals may be motivated to violence by perceptions of the 2024 general election cycle and legislative or judicial decisions pertaining to sociopolitical issues.


U.S. critical infrastructure, faith-based institutions, individuals, or events associated with the LGBTQIA+-community, schools, racial and ethnic minorities, and government facilities and personnel are likely targets of potential violence. 


The public should report any suspicious activity or threats of violence to local law enforcement, FBI Field Offices, or a local Fusion Center. Read the NTAS Bulletin here.   

Florida’s Poor People’s Campaign Hosts
Livestream/Mass Meeting

The Florida Poor People’s Campaign hosted a livestreamed mass meeting to “Demand Truth and Justice,” on Thursday, May 25, at in Orlando, FL.


Today, 47 percent or Floridians are poor and low-income. Yet, since 1979, income for the top 1 percent of Floridians has nearly doubled. But for everyone else, real income has fallen over the same four decades.


All the while, Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida state legislators are using deception and deflection rather than addressing the needs of those who are hurting in the state, especially those who are poor and low-wealth.


Florida’s deadly policies are not constrained to the state’s border; what happens in one state affects the nation. Those who cannot attend in-person are urged to watch the livestream.


The livestream, hosted by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, can be viewed here.

Where Are the Least of These?

Join the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life and the Center on Faith and Justice at Georgetown University for an in-person and live-streamed Public Dialogue on “Whatever Happened to Matthew 25? Where Are ‘the Least of These’ in U.S. Religious and Public Life?

Wednesday, May 31, 2023, 6:00 – 7:00 pm EDT at Riggs Library, Healy Hall, Georgetown University. Reception to follow. For more information and RSVP, click here.


In the middle of budget and debt debates, this dialogue will ask why the poor and vulnerable are most at risk and how to focus more directly on lifting up the "least of these." Participants include Ralph McCloud of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development; Sr. Robbie Pentecost, OSF, of the New Opportunity School for Women in Berea, Kentucky; Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute; and Rev. Jim Wallis, Archbishop Desmond Tutu Chair in Faith and Justice at the McCourt School of Public Policy and Director of the Center on Faith and Justice.

The Racial Healing of America Revival and Bus Tour

The ACU Carl Spain Center on Race Studies and Spiritual Action invites everyone to join them for the Racial Healing of America Revival and Bus Tour, July 9–17, 2023.


The American Evangelical Church has been compromised and weakened through its constant consumption of the doctrine of violent Christian Nationalism. This has weakened America’s spiritual immune system. If this spiritual malady continues untreated it will lead to America’s political and social disintegration.


The uncompromised church must become more vocal and visible as the moral unifying healing agent that constrains toxic faith leaders who currently influence and encourage their followers to violently destabilize America’s already fragile multiethnic society.


The Racial Healing of America Revival and Bus Tour will serve as one form of direct spiritual action. It will publicly demonstrate that we are against violence and racial division by visually demonstrating that we are for racial healing.


The Racial Healing of America Revival and Bus Tour will bring together people of faith and goodwill from various ethnic backgrounds to publicly promote racial healing and biblical justice, and to advance social peace across America. The revival and bus tour will start in Dallas (TX), with stops in Memphis (TN), Birmingham (AL), Charleston (SC), and ending in Washington (DC). The revival services will include featured speakers and congregational singing in each city. Tour participants will visit the International African American Museum in Charleston and the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.


Click here for event information and registration.

WCC General Secretary to Patriarch Kirill: “The War in Ukraine Must Come to an End”

Exclusive interview: World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr. Jerry Pillay shares details on a recent meeting with Patriarch Kirill, including topics discussed at the meeting, what the WCC contributed to the dialogue, and steps forward.


What did you discuss with Patriarch Kirill?


Dr. Pillay: I raised four important concerns in our conversation with him. First, the war in Ukraine: we said quite strongly that the war must come to an end. We have visited Ukraine. We have seen the impact of what is happening to people, the loss of lives and properties, and how this war is senseless in terms of its purpose and the tragic loss of people’s lives—which is really unacceptable. We related to him what we have seen and we said we need to work toward the cessation of this particular war.


The second point was that we expressed concern about the Orthodox family and the different views about the situation that requires us to work together for the unity of the Orthodox family. One must really understand that in this context of Ukraine and Russia, the Orthodox Christians are in huge numbers. They can play a very significant role and have an absolutely powerful influence in responding to the current situation. They can talk against the war; they can talk in favor of peace. The Orthodox family and the unity of the Orthodox family are essential in this. Therefore, we focused quite strongly on the fact that we need to bring together the Orthodox family in unity.


Third, we discussed what role churches can play in terms of bringing unity, in addressing the issue of war, and bringing a stop to what is taking place in this kind of situation.


The fourth aspect was to talk about the possibility of a roundtable and how we can come together to take this conversation further in dialogue so that we as churches freely seeking unity amongst ourselves can then actually work toward seeking peace in the context of Ukraine and Russia at this time.


To read the complete interview with Dr. Pillay, click here.

To watch a video of the interview with Dr. Pillay, click here.

Reparative Justice Bible Study

Harvard Kennedy School’s Partnership with the National Council of Churches has produced an effective resource to aid congregations in learning about reparative justice.

Download the Reparative Justice Bible Study toolkit to use in your congregation.

Also, join the National Council of Churches in Washington, D.C. on June 19, 2023, to support Justice on Juneteenth.


Friendship Press Reissues Classic Titles

Friendship Press is honored to announce the reissue of Benjamin Mays' 1957 title, Seeking to be Christian in Race Relations. This new edition offers both new and familiar readers a fresh opportunity to hear the prophetic voice of this visionary leader. 


Print copies can be pre-ordered from the Friendship Press website or readers using Kindle can preorder on Amazon.  Both editions release June 1, 2023!

Register for March on Washington 60th Anniversary Event

Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President of National Action Network; Arndrea Waters King, President, Drum Major Institute; and Martin Luther King, III, Chairman, Drum Major Institute enlist your participation in the 60th Anniversary of the March on Washington to be held August 26, 2023 in Washington, DC to mobilize the faith community across America, for "March on Washington Not a Commemoration, a Continuation!"

Please use the link to register for the march and to confirm your participation and that of your congregation, peers, and colleagues. The link has information you can use to share with your contacts.

For more information please contact Ms. Trudy Grant at or (843) 830-7118 or Rev. Nelson B. Rivers at (843) 412-2249 or via email at

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