Subject: NCC Newsletter: NCC and Member Communions Condemn Murder of George Floyd

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NCC and Member Communions Condemn Murder of George Floyd

NCC Newsletter
June 12, 2020

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From Jim: The Struggle Against Racism and Militarism Goes On
I have seen enormous changes in my lifetime in the struggle for justice and peace. Certainly, there have been significant setbacks along this journey, but we have come a long way. In recent weeks the uprising against white supremacy, economic injustice, and the militarization of our police forces has been nothing short of incredible.

The most extreme forms of resistance to our forward progress are manifested by no less than the President of the United States, who has asserted that military bases named for Confederate leaders will not be re-named and used the U.S. military to try to suppress marches, rallies, and demonstrations for change.

I have been deeply moved by the outspokenness of so many of the communions within the National Council of Churches against racism. The combination of President Trump’s many outlandish comments, his despicable use of St. John’s Church for a photo-op, the coronavirus pandemic, the sudden and dramatic increase in unemployment, the killing of George Floyd, and other remarkable events has brought our nation to a kairos moment.

For the first time in my experience, faith leaders are working actively together across deep theological and ideological differences in order to do nothing less than save the nation. The systemic nature of racism and other ills afflicting our society is being confronted as never before.

The weeks and months ahead will be intense and difficult. Frankly, we don’t know if we will be able to salvage a good and decent society, but we act in hope, faith, and love and in the name of Jesus.

Our fight for a better world is international in scope. I have been thankful for words of solidarity that have been shared with me by church leaders around the world and by protests that have taken place across the globe in response to what is happening in the U.S..

Climate change, disease, the growing gap between the rich and the poor, religious conflict and rising fundamentalism in all of the world’s major religions, and the continued spread of nuclear weapons are just a few of the obstacles in our path. 
The United States alone has spent more than $30 trillion on war and the preparation of war in the past 75 years. This is a sinful misappropriation of God’s resources.

Many years ago, Chalmers Johnson wrote a prescient book titled “The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic” which I always keep on my bookshelf. Johnson says if we continue down this path we will face four sorrows:

  • First, there will be a state of perpetual war leading to more terrorism against Americans wherever they may be;
  • Second, there will be a loss of democracy and constitutional rights as the Presidency fully eclipses Congress;
  • Third, an already well-shredded principle of truthfulness will increasingly be replaced by a system of propaganda, disinformation, and glorification of the military legions;
  • Fourth, there will be bankruptcy as we pour economic resources into ever more grandiose military projects and shortchange the health, education, and safety of our fellow citizens. 

His words ring true today. While we have changed the world for the better, if our children and grandchildren are to have a decent future it will be because we continue to work to change the direction of our nation and of the world to one committed to cooperation, justice, and peace. I am committed to that struggle and honored to be in it with you. 

Grace and peace,
Jim Winkler
President and General Secretary
NCC Condemns Murder of George Floyd, Supports Protests

NCC issued two statements in the past two weeks condemning the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police Department officers and supporting the protests that have occurred around the world. 

“In a moment like this, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, ‘silence is betrayal,’” said Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, NCC Chair and president and general minister of the United Church of Christ. “We must not sit in our privilege or comfort zones but do everything in our power to end this evil that infiltrates our nation.”

“We are all responsible for doing the hard work to end racism and white supremacy, especially white people. The burden cannot always be on our African American brothers and sisters. These are not just ideologies or individual opinions. These are the systemic issues at the core of American society and it is deadly," said Jim Winkler, NCC President and General Secretary.

According to Rev. Aundreia Alexander, NCC’s Associate General Secretary for Action and Advocacy and the staff person to the Racial Justice Task Force, “The stain of racism that pervades our systems and structures continues to be most horrifically expressed in state sanctioned murder and abuse. It is long overdue for us to put an end to police brutality targeted at Black people. We’ve had enough and all of us have a responsibility to speak, to act, and to work for justice for the people who’ve lost their lives brutally and unnecessarily.”
NCC Offering Weekly Scriptures, Prayers, and Meditations on Racism

We had been offering daily meditations for uplift during the COVID-19 crisis. In light of the new context we are all living in, we have changed these messages to a weekly focus on racism. The scriptures continue to come from the Uniform Lesson Series but now also include a selection from United Against Racism: Churches for Change. This book was created by NCC to provide resources as part of its ACT NOW to End Racism Initiative. You can purchase your own copy of the book, as well as a study guide, through NCC's publishing arm Friendship Press at

If you wish to receive these weekly emails, please click the link below and sign up as well as share our sign-up form with someone else to continue the conversation that we need to be having.  
ACTION ALERT - Stop Police Use of Excessive Force

George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Walter Scott. Michael Brown. This list of unarmed blacks killed by police continues to grow. More must be done to not only hold the killers responsible but to stop the killing before it happens.

Civil rights and faith based organizations are working together to ensure that transformative change happens. These changes include setting a national standard for use of force as a last resort, ending the program that provides military equipment to police departments, and banning chokeholds and other restraints that restrict oxygen flow to the brain.

Please take action now and tell your representative that only significant, transformative change can begin to address the U.S. epidemic of police violence.

Senior Bishops of the 3 Black Methodist Churches Decry the Senseless Assasinations of Black Sons and Daughters and Demand Justice 

Senior Bishops of Black Methodist United (BMU), who represent three major Methodist
denominations, issued the following statement about the merciless killings of Black sons and daughters:

Each year on the last Monday in May, our nation, the United States of America, pauses to honor and mourn
the military personnel who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces to safeguard the liberties
we often take for granted. As we pay tribute to those who have sacrificed their lives to protect the
constitutional preamble, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they
are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the
pursuit of Happiness,” we find ourselves faced with another painful and pathetic paradox.

As a community of faith, our hearts are heavy as we remember the loss of our melanic sons and daughters,
who die at the hands of unjust vitriolic people, who apparently kill them as if it is a sport. We refuse to sit in
silence, or cry out from sectarian silos, regarding our pain and displeasure and remain idle, during this
sadistic season. We echo the sentiments of the biblical Rachel of Ramah, “weeping for her children,
refusing to be comforted, because the children are no more." (Jeremiah 31:15) 

Council of Bishops of United Methodist Church Issues Statement on Racism

The past few weeks have left many hurt, angry and outraged as we have witnessed the deaths of unarmed Black persons at the hands of police and racism; Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and the countless others whose names are known only to mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and friends. 

Many bishops have worked to amplify and magnify one another’s voices. The words of Bishop Bruce Ough, resident Bishop of Minneapolis area, were a clarion call to the crisis before us, “There is more than one pandemic ravaging Minnesota and our country at this time. In addition to fighting COVID-19, we are besieged
by a pandemic of racism, white supremacy, and white on black or brown violence.”

The voice of Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, resident Bishop of the Baltimore-Washington area, gave power to the realities, “Being Black is not a preexisting condition; being Black is not justification for probable cause; being Black is not to be inherently suspicious nor suspect. Being Black is a gift from Almighty God and
a manifestation of an aspect of God.” These prophetic voices and those of others have provided words when we had none.

As bishops of the United Methodist Church, we ask every United Methodist to reclaim their baptismal vows to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.
Coalition of Baptists Issues Joint Statement on Racism in the United States

Alliance of Baptists, Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America - Bautistas por la Paz, and American Baptist Home Mission Society denounce Floyd murder, urge action

We have seen with dismay, pain and horror the destructive mark of racism on the soul of the U.S. Throughout our history, racism being the backbone of this nation’s development and unjust enrichment of many has become the choking source of black communities and people of color affecting every aspect of our collective life. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed these racial inequities that hurt black and brown communities by hindering their access to health but also their development, freedom, and pursuit of happiness. George Floyd’s words became prophetic for as a nation, we can’t breathe anymore.

The brutal and disturbing deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Tony McDade have shaken our nation to its soul and painfully demonstrated the daily danger of being black in this nation. The resistance and slow response of the judicial system and the Law enforcement agencies to bring justice in these murders demonstrate that racism is deeply ingrained in our socio-political system and governmental policies. The recurring assaults on black people and people of color (POC) prove again and again that these lives are not worthy.

Clergy of color lead marches in Minnesota, accompanied by white colleagues

Clergy from the Twin Cities and across Minnesota took to the streets on Tuesday afternoon in a silent march and a prayerful protest, first in Minneapolis and then in St. Paul. The action took hundreds to the block where George Floyd was killed in police custody.

The march was organized by black church leaders in Minneapolis who invited other religious leaders to participate.

“People came out from large churches and small churches. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists. Everyone has been moved and shaken by this. And it’s been our backyard,” said the Rev. Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister for Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ. “We are being called upon in some way – and it will reveal itself – in church, Conference and ecumenical settings, to work on this.” 

The silent demonstration was led by clergy of color, with white religious leaders following behind, as allies. Prestemon estimated over 1,000 people participated in the clergy-called march, with more than 3 dozen clergy from the Conference taking part. Other justice advocates followed the religious leaders. Most wore masks, following COVID-19 precautions.

A Call to Action: The Time is Now! - A Letter from the College of Regional Ministers to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

In the wake of the death of George Floyd, the latest African American to die by police violence, the people of the United States, indeed the entire world, moan in grief and burn with anger. George Floyd’s name is added to a long list of unarmed Black and Brown people, including Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, who have died by actions taken by police officers or vigilantes in the past few decades and indeed centuries.

We are reminded that on July 17, 2014, Eric Garner was arrested in New York City where a chokehold smothered him. Hauntingly similar to George Floyd, Garner was heard to be saying, “I can’t breathe” eleven times before losing consciousness and dying an hour later.

In 2015, the College of Regional Ministers wrote to you, the Church, about race and racism in America in the shadow of similar events, expressing our concerns and laying out a plan of action for our church to follow to move forward in our work of becoming an Pro-Reconciling/Anti-Racist Church. We ask ourselves if our words made any difference, if anything has changed?

Because on May 25, 2020, as we heard George Floyd on an 8 minute 46 second video gasping “I can’t breathe” as a police officer kneeled on his neck, we know we must speak to you again with our hearts broken and our resolve strengthened.

This must stop. Black Lives Matter!
Washington Interreligious Public Witness Community Outraged, Calls for Action

The Washington Interreligious Staff Community (WISC) sent a letter to Congress expressing outrage at the murder of George Floyd and calling on Congress to take substantive action. In the letter, the group said the following:

We call on Congress to enact long overdue policing reforms, such as eliminating federal programs that provide military equipment to law enforcement. Congress needs to raise the use of force standard for police and require the use of de-escalation techniques. Congress should also deem excessive measures federal civil rights violations (such as neck holds, chokeholds, and other maneuvers that restrict blood flow to the brain).
FEMA's Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Disburses Funding

This week, FEMA announced that the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) National Board will begin disbursing $320 million to assist organizations in communities across the country dedicated to providing food, shelter and supportive services to people with economic emergencies, including our nation's hungry and homeless populations.. The National Board is chaired by FEMA with representatives from American Red Cross, Catholic Charities USA, The Jewish Federations of North America, National Council of Churches, The Salvation Army and United Way Worldwide.

Congress appropriated $200 million of this funding as supplemental humanitarian funding in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Congress also previously appropriated $120 million in Fiscal Year 2019 annual funding to the EFSP. The funding, totaling $320 million, will be awarded by jurisdictions (counties or cities) to human service organizations assisting those in need throughout the country.

These funds are for people with non-disaster related emergencies and can be used for a broad range of services, including: mass shelter, mass feeding, food pantries and food banks, payment of one-month’s utility bills to prevent loss of services, payment of one-month’s rent/mortgage to prevent evictions/foreclosures and transition assistance from shelters to stable living conditions.
Collaborative Effort Issues Guidelines for Worship During COVID-19

On Monday, June 8, The Ecumenical Consultation on Protocols for Worship, Fellowship, and Sacraments released, “Resuming Care-Filled Worship and Sacramental Life during a Pandemic.” This is a group of theologians, scientists, physicians, pastors, bishops, and practitioners from United Methodist, Evangelical Lutheran, Episcopal, Pan-Methodist, and Roman Catholic traditions, among others. The resource provides medically sound and theologically informed recommendations for in person worship and sacramental practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.
27 Church Leaders Write to Congress opposing unilateral annexation of the Occupied West Bank

Churches for Middle East Peace’s (CMEP) Executive Director, Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, joined 26 church and Christian organizational leaders in a letter to members of Congress opposing the unilateral annexation of significant portions of the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his intention to proceed with annexation of parts of Area C in the Occupied Palestinian territories as early as July 1. In the letter, the leaders call on “Congress to wield its power of the purse and not allow any United States funds provided to Israel to be used for the recognition, facilitation or support of annexation…” Annexation of occupied Palestinian land is in direct contravention to international law and would have a devastating impact on the prospect of reaching a just and lasting end to the conflict in Israel-Palestine. 
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