Subject: NCC Newsletter: Mourning the Loss of John Lewis

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Loss of Rep. John Lewis Mourned by Churches, New Events and Action on Racial Justice 

NCC Newsletter
July 24, 2020
National Council of Churches Mourns the Loss of Civil Rights Leader Rep. John Lewis
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) joins the nation and world in mourning the loss of Congressman John Robert Lewis, even as we honor the gift that he was and celebrate a life well-lived. He was not only a 17-term member of Congress but also a civil rights icon and American hero whose life exemplified servant leadership and faithful public witness. He inspired generations with his courage and optimism, and worked tirelessly to steer our nation to live up to its most noble ideals. Indeed, by his many sacrifices and bold activism, Congressman Lewis bent the long arc of the moral universe toward justice.

Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, co-chair of NCC’s Racial Justice Task Force, shared her thoughts on Congressman Lewis’ legacy. “I owe a debt of gratitude to Congressman John Lewis. He gave new meaning to the ways we work for racial justice and his words always energized me to try to do something for the cause of building the beloved community,” she said.

For Congressman Lewis his activism was motivated by his faith: “The civil rights movement was based on faith. Many of us who were participants in this movement saw our involvement as an extension of our faith. We saw ourselves doing the work of the Almighty. Segregation and racial discrimination were not in keeping with our faith, so we had to do something.” And do something he did. Congressman Lewis was arrested more than 40 times and spent his life advocating for civil and human rights for all people. He was one of the first Freedom Riders and encouraged others to get into “good trouble” in the pursuit of justice. In 2016, he even staged a sit-in on the House floor in an effort to force a vote on gun control.
“For some making ‘good trouble’ meant walking across the bridge in the face of horrifying opposition. His life inspired me to become a bridge to help connect people to fight against racism with my body, mind and soul,” said Rev. Girton-Mitchell, who is also the Founder and President of Grace and Race Ministries, Inc., an ecumenical ministry to help foster racial understanding, healing, and reconciliation.
Additional Statements by Member Communions
Muslim Leaders in Solidarity with Urgent Calls to Keep Hagia Sophia a Place of Openness

On July 11, World Council of Churches (WCC) interim general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca sent a letter to the Turkish president expressing “grief and dismay,” noting that since 1934, “Hagia Sophia has been a place of openness, encounter and inspiration for people from all nations and religions.”

The letter generated widespread reactions from churches and the media—and also from Muslim leaders.

Sauca met online with H.E. Judge Mohamad Abdel Salam, general secretary of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity (HCHF), special adviser of the Grand Imam of al Azhar Cheikh Ahmad al Tayeb, and special adviser of the Muslim Council of Elders.

A letter from the HCHF, signed by Abdel Salam, stated: “In recognition of the cultural and spiritual value of Hagia Sophia for humanity all over the world, we support your call to avoid divisions and to promote mutual respect and understanding among all religions, and it gives me pleasure to attach herewith a copy of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity's statement regarding this issue.”

NCC also issued its own statement last week both decrying the Turkish government's decision on the Hagia Sophia as well as recalling the 25th anniversary of the massacre in Srebrenica.

COVID is Spreading in Prisons and Immigration Detention: Tell the Senate to Act Now!

It has been nearly six months since the Secretary of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, federal authorities responsible for incarcerating hundreds of thousands of people continue to ignore the risk. Act now to tell the Senate to mandate the release of vulnerable people who are incarcerated in prison or immigration detention!
INVITATION: ACT Now Event on the Politics of Death in the U.S.

NCC, as part of its ACT Now Anti-Racism initiative, invites you to join us on July 30 for a discussion of necropolitics, the politics of death, in the U.S. as exposed by the COVID-19 crisis. Learn more about how structures perpetuate the devaluation of people and determine who is expendable. 
United Methodist Church Launcing New Online Course on Racism
You Are Here: First Steps for White Christians on Race and Racism is an online course for Christians who want to acquire a fundamental understanding of race and racism from a biblical perspective. This four-part self-directed course offers videos featuring Robin DiAngelo and Rev. Dr. Anderson Hooker, reflections, and activities to help people of faith to recognize racism and begin to challenge it in their lives.

Job Announcement: NCC Hiring Director of Communications and Development

NCC is hiring!  The Director of Communications and Development is responsible for managing the public relations work and fundraising efforts of the NCC. This position will be located in the NCC’s Washington, DC offices. Some key functions include managing the Council’s public relations, brand and reputation, create and distribute press releases, action alerts, and marketing campaigns (including this newsletter!). The position is also responsible for continuing to build NCC's development and fundraising program including the creation of a development plan and providing creative leadership regarding fundraising opportunities and objectives.
Pennsylvania Council of Churches Seeks Executive Director
The Pennsylvania Council of Churches (PCC), with offices in Harrisburg, PA, seeks full-time Executive Director to lead the PCC in addressing the issues facing the Christian community. The successful candidate will be a skilled and committed ecumenist combining broad scriptural/theological scholarship, passion for and demonstrated experience in ecumenism with strong leadership and relationship-building skills.
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