Subject: NCC Newsletter – November 18, 2023


November 18, 2023

NCC Donates $1k to the
Lewiston Deaf Access Fund

From left: Rev. Peter Cook, NY State Council of Churches;  Rev. Debbi Duval, pastor of High Street Congregational Church UCC, Auburn; Cathi Proulx and Rev. Mark Perry of Grace Lutheran Church, Auburn; Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches; and Eddie Greyfox Burgess, street minister and prison chaplain. Photo taken at High Street Congregational Church UCC, where a group of 20 Lewiston-area clergy and lay leaders gathered to meet with Bishop McKenzie, Rev. Cook, and MCC Executive Director Rev. Jane Field to discuss the trauma related to the mass shooting in Lewiston and needs the community will face in the time ahead.

Not long after the Lewiston, Maine mass shooting, the Maine Council of Churches, in partnership with the Massachusetts Council of Churches, announced the creation of the “Lewiston Deaf Access Fund: Meeting the Need of Maine’s Deaf Community.”

The councils partnered to create the Fund to meet the needs of Maine’s Deaf community at this tender time, so that all may fully gather to grieve, gather, pray, and mourn in their own language.


The Access Fund’s first donation was presented by NCC General Secretary Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie during a worship service at St. Luke's Cathedral in Portland last Sunday.

To read more and donate, click here, and please share widely. 

Rev. Peter Cook (left), Executive Director of the New York State Council of Churches, Bishop Thomas Brown, Episcopal Diocese of Marin, NCC's Bishop Vashti McKenzie and Interim Dean, Rev. George Stevens

Congress Passes Stop Gap Legislation to Fund Government Until Early 2024 and Extend Farm Bill through September 2024

This week, the House of Representatives and Senate passed, and President Biden signed into law, H.R. 6363, the “Further Continuing Appropriations and Other Extensions Act, 2024,” which provides fiscal year 2024 appropriations to Federal agencies through January 19, 2024, for continuing projects and activities funded in four appropriations bills. For the remaining eight appropriations bills, the CR provides funding through February 2024.


Last week, NCC issued an action alert asking member communions, partners, and supporters to tell Congress to pass a short-term extension of the farm bill without delay. We are pleased that H.R. 6363 provides a short-term extension of the farm bill, which funds the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a critical anti-poverty program that will now support millions of people through September 2024. We continue to urge Congress to work together to reauthorize the farm bill for the long-term.

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NCC Staff Attends Relationship-Building Events with Congressional Staff and Faith-Based Advocates


NCC Advocacy Consultant Rev. Adwoa Rey participated in two meet-and-greets with congressional staff and faith advocates. The first event was hosted by the House Democratic Faith Working Group, which was convened by Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (SC).

“The Meet-and-Greet served as a platform for fostering relationships. Its primary goal was to facilitate interactions between faith leaders and congressional staff to allow them to establish connections and get to know one another by discovering shared interests so they would, ideally, maintain contact to cultivate collaborative partnerships. I believe we accomplished just that,” said Tamika Mason, Director of Faith Outreach in Rep. Clyburn’s office.


The second event was a coffee with a small bipartisan group of faith-based advocates, Tamika Mason, and other House Leadership staff members.  

(From left) Tamika Mason, Director of Faith Outreach, Office of Rep. James Clyburn; Rev. Dr. Que English, Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, U.S. Department of Health and Hunan Services; Rev. Jim Wallis, Founding Director of the Georgetown University Center on Faith and Justice; Congressman James E. Clyburn; Rev. Adwoa Rey, NCC Advocacy Consultant

Bishop Vashti McKenzie to Receive

2023 Crystal Stair Award

National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) is pleased to announce Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, president/general secretary of the National Council of Churches (NCC), will be the recipient of the Crystal Stair Award at NCNW's signature fundraiser, Uncommon Height Awards Gala, on Dec. 8, at the Gaylord National Harbor Resort in Oxon Hill, Md.

The Crystal Stair Award is presented to an individual who demonstrates a lifetime devoted to the protection of freedom, the pursuit of excellence in their career, and personal dedication to humanity as did Dr. Dorothy I. Height, President Emerita of NCNW.


“Class, elegance, strength, power, and success are all characteristics of recipients of the Crystal Stair Award. The recipients have journeyed to reach the pinnacle of service. It takes dedication, endurance, and determination to climb the winding staircase of life, and Bishop McKenzie embodies what this award is with her accomplishments,” said NCNW National Board Chair Dr. A. Lois Keith. “She is very deserving. Bishop McKenzie represents strength and endurance being the first Black female Bishop in the AME church among others. She did not reach it by just saying, ‘I will just follow the powers that be;’ she kept going and endured.”  


Full of firsts for women in the faith community, Bishop McKenzie is the first African American woman to hold both the president and general secretary positions at the National Council of Churches. In addition, she was the 117th elected and consecrated bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first female elected to Episcopal office in the more than the two-centuries-old AME Church. Bishop McKenzie is the first female to serve as President of the Council of Bishops and President of the General Board.


NCNW President and CEO Shavon Arline-Bradley said, “Whenever I think of a person who has braved breaking the glass ceiling for not just Black women, but women in the faith community, I think of Bishop Murphy McKenzie. We are honored to give her her flowers by awarding her the Crystal Stair Award..”


From the signature fundraiser, NCNW hopes to raise $1M to bolster programs coming out of the new era that make a difference and touch lives, not only here in the US, but also abroad.


NCNW is an “organization of organizations,” comprised of 330 campus and community-based sections and 33 national women’s organizations that enlighten, inspire, and connect more than 2 million people. Its mission is to lead, advocate for, and empower women of African descent, their families, and communities. NCNW was founded in 1935 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, an influential educator and activist.


To attend and for more information, visit or

Thirty Church Heads Urgently Call on President Biden for Ceasefire

Smoke rises during an Israeli military bombardment of the northern Gaza Strip on November 15, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. Thousands of civilians, both Palestinians and Israelis, have died since October 7, 2023. (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP) (Photo by FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images)

Thirty church organization leaders, including NCC’s President/General Secretary Bishop Vashti McKenzie, issued a letter to President Joe Biden urgently calling for ceasefire in Gaza.


November 9, 2023

Dear President Biden:

We, the heads of churches, denominations, and church-based organizations in the United States, remain deeply grieved at the now more than month-long violence between Hamas and Israel. We condemn the brutal attacks of Hamas on October 7, that caused the loss of life of nearly 1,400 Israelis and citizens of other nations, and we call for the immediate release of all civilians held hostage. The horrific violence of Hamas does not justify further violence against Palestinian civilians.

We condemn the collective punishment imposed upon the more than 2.2 million Palestinians living in Gaza when, on October 8, the Israeli government cut off water, gas, and electricity, and all goods and supplies to the territory, putting even more pressure on a community already suffering from a humanitarian crisis more than a decade in the making. We further condemn Israel’s large-scale air bombardment and ground invasion that continues to have an indiscriminate and tragically disproportionate impact on civilians.…The lives of all people, be they Israelis or Palestinians, must be protected.

Hamas’ actions and the Government of Israel’s response in Gaza in no way advance peace. Instead, they have caused loss of life and much harm, grief, and devastation, not only to the individuals affected but also to the legitimate cause of the Palestinian people in seeking an end to the decades-long occupation and the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Strong leadership from the United States is needed at this moment. We call on you, President Biden, and your administration to support an immediate ceasefire, de-escalation, and restraint by all involved. We have made the same requests to Congress. All efforts, including bilateral and multilateral ones, must be made for this war to be brought to a swift end.

We implore your administration not to ignore the growing catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Gaza and to demand immediate and adequate access to and provision of humanitarian needs.

The US already sends $3.8 billion per year in military assistance to Israel, for which, effectively, the U.S. has not imposed consequences for its gross violations of human rights as required in U.S. laws. Additional military aid will only prolong Israel’s offensive, will lead to more Palestinian civilian deaths, and will not likely be subject to any accountability.

We call on you to press all parties to abide by the Geneva Conventions and customary international law and for the collective punishment imposed upon the civilians in Gaza to be brought to an end. We call for actions to be taken to secure the immediate release of all civilians being held hostage and ensure international protection for all civilians.

As you focus on Gaza, we also urge your administration to do all it can to ensure the accountability of settlers in the West Bank who are using this opportunity to attack Palestinians and illegally confiscate even more Palestinian land through violent means.

Read the letter in its entirety, including signatories, here.

Prayer Vigil for Ceasefire November 20

Register now to participate in a candlelight prayer vigil led by national Christian leaders calling for a ceasefire and an end to all violence between Israel and Hamas will be held Monday, November 20, at 6:00 p.m. ET in Lafayette Square, Washington, DC. The speakers and sponsoring organizations agree on calling for a bilateral ceasefire, immediate and adequate humanitarian assistance to Gaza, and the release of hostages. All are welcome to come and participate. 

* Please note: Flame candles are allowed but only with protectors. 

Speakers Include: Bishop William J. Barber, II, Repairers of the Breach and Yale Center for Public Theology and Public Policy; The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Washington; Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP); Shane Claiborne, Red Letter Christians (RLC); Michelle Dunne, Franciscan Action Network (FAN); Hassan El-Tayyab, Friends Committee for National Legislation; Susan Gunn, Maryknoll Office of Global Concern; Lisa Sharon Harper, Freedom Road; Bridget Moix, General Secretary, Friends Committee for National Legislation (FCNL); Bishop Leila Ortiz, Metropolitan Washington D.C. Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Rev. Adam Taylor, Sojourners; Leslie Copeland Tune, National Council of Churches (NCC); Ekemini Uwan, Public Theologian. 


Sponsoring Organizations: Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), Church of the Brethren, Christian Church Disciples of Christ, Christians for Social Action (CSA), Determinetruth, Episcopal Diocese of Washington, Evangelical4Justice (E4J), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Franciscan Action Network (FAN), Freedom Road, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), Maryknoll Office of Global Concern, National Council of Churches (NCC), Network of Evangelicals for the Middle East (NEME), Presbyterian Church USA, Red Letter Christians (RLC), Sojourners, United Church of Christ (UCC).

Register here.

WCC Issues Letter Calling for Peace

A woman walks through Shejaiya, a Gaza neighborhood that bore the brunt of some of the most intense Israeli air attacks during the 2014 war. Throughout Gaza, members of the ACT Alliance are supporting health care, vocational training, rehabilitation of housing and water systems, psycho-social care, and a variety of other humanitarian activities. Photo: Paul Jeffrey/Life on Earth

“We yearn for peace and for justice, for an end to the seemingly endless cycle of violence and suffering, and for its fundamental root causes to be addressed,” reads the statement. “We lament the abject failure of the international community and of political leaders in the region who did not persist in the search for a sustainable peace founded on justice and mutual respect for the equal human dignity and rights of all, and who kept the cycle of violence turning.”

The WCC governing body also lifted before God the suffering and traumatized people in the land of Jesus Christ’s birth. “We highlight the lifelong and potentially intergenerational consequences of the terrible trauma that children in both Palestine and Israel are experiencing,” the text reads. “We pray for peace in the land, a sustainable and just peace founded at last on recognition and respect for the God-given human dignity and equal human rights of all people – Israelis and Palestinians, Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike – rather than a false ‘peace’ imposed by occupation and force of arms which cannot and should not be sustained.”

The executive committee appealed for respect by all parties for the God-given life and dignity of every human being, as well as respect for the principles of international humanitarian law, especially for the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure — including hospitals (such as the al-Ahli, al-Shifa, and al-Quds hospitals), places of worship and holy sites (such as the St Porphyrios Greek Orthodox Church), and UN premises — and called for full and impartial legal accountability for all violations of these principles by whomsoever committed.

The statement demands “the immediate unconditional release and safe return of all hostages” as well as “an immediate ceasefire and the opening of humanitarian corridors.”

The text also “calls for guarantees of the unimpeded distribution and delivery of vital humanitarian assistance, including water, food, medical supplies, and fuel, and the reinstatement of electricity and internet services in Gaza.”


Health Note—Week of November 19, 2023

“And let the peace of Christ[a] rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15, NRSVue) 


Gratitude is good for physical, mental, social, and spiritual health. People who practice gratitude through journaling, writing letters, volunteering, and doing other actions can reduce stress, improve sleep, increase happiness and life satisfaction, and strengthen relationships.

The Psalmist reminds us to “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1). Gratitude is a healthy habit Christians and their congregations should cultivate throughout the year, not just on Thanksgiving Day.   

Faith and Mental Health Hub Offers
Free Online Course

A group of America's faith leaders — clergy, lay leaders, pastor’s spouses, and more — are on the frontlines of some of our nation’s biggest challenges. When people experience trauma or mental health challenges, they first turn to a faith leader in their community. However, for people of faith, mental health too often goes unaddressed and unsupported. The number of faith leaders who regularly feel burnt out, overwhelmed, or unwell has grown dramatically in the last three years.

In a virtual Town Hall with Bishop T.D. Jakes and other leaders November 14, Values Partnership (VP) addressed the mental health crisis facing people of faith today. If you missed it, be sure to watch that powerful and emotional conversation!

During the Town Hall, VP announced a new resource in collaboration with some of the nation's top Christian faith leaders and mental health experts, supported by The Ad Council, the Huntsman Mental Health Institute, and Values Partnerships.

VP is proud to introduce the Faith and Mental Health Hub,” a groundbreaking, free, interactive mental health course designed specifically for faith leaders and lay leaders.

The Faith and Mental Health Hub is a free course that provides an overview of mental health, how you can take care of your own mental health, and how you can care for others and find community. It includes videos from mental health experts and faith leaders, moments of reflection, and more. Upon completion, participants will receive a certificate.

An undated photo and a depiction of Matushka Olga Michael of Alaska. (Images courtesy of

Orthodox Canada)

A Native Alaskan midwife known for her healing love, especially toward abused women, has become the first female Orthodox Christian saint from North America after she was glorified at a meeting of bishops of the Orthodox Church in America in Chicago on Nov. 8.

Expected for more than a year, her glorification is the result of a bottom-up process that begins with lay members’ veneration and the gathering of accounts of holiness by a church committee. Unlike Catholicism, the Orthodox do not require miracles to confirm a saint, but some women have credited Olga with miraculous intercessions.

On Nov. 2, Bishop Alexei of Sitka and Alaska wrote a letter to the OCA’s highest-ranking cleric, Metropolitan Tikhon, formally requesting that she be considered for sainthood. 

“The first peoples of Alaska are convinced of her sanctity and the great efficacy of her prayers,” he wrote.

The synod then agreed in a Nov. 8 statement that “the time for the glorification of Matushka Olga has arrived, fulfilling the hopes and prayers of pious Orthodox Christians throughout Alaska and the entire world,” using an honorific for priests’ wives in the Russian Orthodox Church.

Loving the Enemy:
Jochebed and Bithiah’s Story

By Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith

But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you; pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27–28, NRSVue)

Today we are faced with the challenges of war, religious nationalism, and polarization. The conflicts in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel-Palestine, the Horn of Africa, Syria, and Ukraine immediately come to mind. Yet conflicts and wars are perpetual and threaded throughout the Bible. Hunger and famine are related consequences of these horrors of death. The hatred and fears about who is an enemy have fueled and still fuel the atrocities of bloodshed and loss of life.

Yet Jesus says, “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you and even bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you.” For many this seems counter-intuitive and certainly not doable. After all, in so doing, self-interest may be compromised.

Exodus 2:1–10 provides a lesson on what it means to love and pray for the “enemy.” Although enemies, an enslaved Israelite mother, Jochebed; her daughter Miriam; and an African princess, Bithiah, reject the hatred to show love to Moses.

Together they protect baby Moses’s life. They conspire to work across enemy lines, with God on their side. Jochebed and Miriam place baby Moses in a basket and send him on his way to the river waters—hidden, not knowing where or if the baby will arrive safely to a destination point. God sees them and steps in with the angels and protects the vision of the mother and daughter and, most importantly, baby Moses.

The so-called enemy, Bithiah (the Pharoah’s daughter), sees the child and does not offer what may be the expected response of showcasing the baby to her father as a prize for his evil law. Rather, the African princess has compassion for the baby and extends hospitality to the baby, his mother, and his sister. And she protects him, not only during the encounter but also by adopting the child into her regal home! This, after the dignified negotiation with Miriam and Jochebed about the nursing care of the baby.

This important and timely biblical illustration invites us to ask ourselves what we are doing to cross so-called “enemy lines”—not only to pray for our enemies, but to show love to our enemies, with children in mind first. How do we re-imagine and implement alternative pathways that stop violence and engage love and diplomacy?

Nonpartisan advocacy is one of the ways Bread does this. We invite you to work with us to advocate for a farm bill that benefits all.

Angelique Walker-Smith is senior associate for Pan African and Orthodox Church engagement at Bread for the World, WCC President for North America, and a member of NCC’s Governing Board.

Churches for Middle East Peace Update

Join Pray for Peace Every Wednesday

12:30 pm - 1:00 pm ET

Churches for Middle East Peace invites you to a virtual prayer gathering each Wednesday for peace in light of recent events in Gaza, Israel, and the occupied Palestinian territories. Click the link below to participate.


See all CMEP Public Statements at:

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Join CMEP’s weekly news briefing on Thursdays from 10 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. ET.  More info here.

Read some of the prayers offered and add your own at CMEP’s Prayers for Peace blog. Click here.

Hearts@Home — Interfaith Action for Family Unity

Join Interfaith Immigration Coalition on Nov. 30, for a lunchtime action in support of family unity! Together with participants, they will make calls to the Biden administration, urging them to reunite and protect immigrant families this year. Learn more and RSVP.

Record High Displacement in DRC
at Nearly 7 Million

Emergency shelters at the Awar camp site in Mahagi, Ituri province in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo: IOM 2023

Geneva/Kinshasa — The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is intensifying its efforts to address the complex and persistent crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as the number of internally displaced people climbs to 6.9 million people across the country – the highest number recorded yet. For the first time, nationwide displacement data has been collected in all 26 provinces of the country by the United Nations through IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix.   

With ongoing conflict and escalating violence, the DRC is facing one of the largest internal displacement and humanitarian crises in the world.  

As of October 2023, most internally displaced persons, about 5.6 million (81 percent of the total IDPs) live in the eastern provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, Ituri, and Tanganyika. Conflict has been reported as the primary reason for displacement. In the eastern province of North Kivu alone, up to 1 million people have been displaced due to the ongoing conflict with the rebel group “Mouvement du 23 Mars” (M23). More than two-thirds of the internally displaced persons, nearly 4.8 million people, live in host families.   

As the security situation, particularly in North Kivu and Ituri, continues to deteriorate, movements become more frequent, and humanitarian needs soar.   

“For decades, the Congolese people have been living through a storm of crises," explains Fabien Sambussy, IOM’s Chief of Mission in DRC. “The most recent escalation of the conflict has uprooted more people in less time like rarely seen before. We urgently need to deliver help to those most in need.”  

Read the full story here.

Read more about the displacement crisis here.

Friendship Press at AARSBL Annual Meeting

(Top photo) Friendship Press display at AARSBL; (center photo) Friendship Press CEO Will Bergkamp speaking with an AARSBL participant; (bottom photo) Bishop McKenzie with Zondervan Press Marketing Manager Bob Gaudet promoting the new RSVUE at AARSBL.

At the annual meetings hosted by the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature, scholars convene for the world's largest gathering of those interested in the study of religion. More than 1,000 events take place during the annual meetings, including a plethora of academic sessions, workshops, meetings, receptions, and tours. The Exhibit Hall, with more than 130 publishers, is the best place to review the latest publications within the field. At the annual meetings, there are unparalleled opportunities to engage with leading scholars and scholarship within the field of religion. 

The 2023 AARSBL annual meeting is hosted in San Antonio, Texas, November 18–21.

UCC Sponsors Sowing Justice: Cultivating a
Just World for All in the Farm Bill

Join the final of a three-part webinar series, in collaboration with Franklinton Center on UCC advocacy priorities in the next Farm Bill. Farmers, policy experts, and impacted community leaders will highlight the need to advocate for economic, racial, and environmental justice for small farmers, the food insecure, and the earth.

Last Session: Tuesday, November 28, at 7:00 p.m. ET.


Register here.

Announcing Three New Friendship Press Journals

Three new journals will arrive and be ready to ship next week! 

  • Walking with Jesus in Suffering (Lent)

  • Words of Wisdom (Proverbs)

  • For Everything a Season (Ecclesiastes)

If you have preorders—or want to order them! They will be shipped to you next week.

Friendship Press now has Bible Journal Gift Cards! If you want to give someone a journal but don't know which they would prefer, Friendship Press has created a $25 gift card that will cover one journal plus shipping. 


It's simple! Simply buy the gift card at the link below, and you'll receive a separate email with the code that you can email to the recipient or print/include with a card or note.

Recent & Upcoming People's Book Releases…

Employment Opportunities

NCC Seeks Marketing and Communication Officer

The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) seeks a talented professional to drive the external and internal engagement of our ecumenical, advocacy, and activist agenda. This position offers an exciting opportunity to lead and implement strategic communications initiatives, from concept to reality, aimed at promoting NCC's vision, mission, and values. The Marketing and Communication Officer will manage the organization's overall communication and marketing strategy, including written and verbal communications, media relations, social media presence, and relationship building with key contacts in Washington D.C.

Joining NCC's team as a Marketing and Communication Officer offers a unique opportunity for a motivated and passionate individual to drive impactful external and internal communications strategies that advance our organization’s goals. If you are dedicated to utilizing your skills and experience to make a difference toward positive social change, NCC would love to hear from you.

Job Classification

Full-time exempt. Work is generally conducted Monday–Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. This is a hybrid position with at least one to two days in the office each week. Occasional evening and weekend availability may be required. Eligible for paid time off and retirement benefits. Salary range: $65,000 – $75,000.

To apply, click here.

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AETH Seeks Fundraiser and Development Associate

The Association for Hispanic Theological Education (AETH), a faith-based, not-for-profit organization, seeks a Fundraiser and Development Associate to build, manage, and engage prospects and donors in the United States and worldwide, especially in Spanish-speaking countries.

Salary is commensurate with experience in a similar position with the potential for an annual performance-based bonus. The salary for this part-time position is $35,000.00 annually and includes no benefits.

To apply, submit a resume, cover letter, and the names and contact of the three references to the Search Committee ( (AETH). Please include a cover letter that explains your interest in the WETH and how your experience has prepared you for this position.

The priority application deadline is December 15, 2023.

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Faith in Public Life Position Openings

Faith in Public Life is hiring for a few positions and is looking for candidates who would be a good fit. Click on the links below for more information:


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