Subject: NCC Newsletter – October 14, 2023


October 14, 2023

Christian Unity Gathering 2023 Highlights

The 2023 Christian Unity Gathering was a three-day convocation of clergy, theologians, biblical experts, advocates, activists, thought leaders, and individuals from various Christian traditions to collectively envision ways to collaborate on the critical issues of the day.

The three-day format, held at the Embassy Suites Airport Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, included presentations and fellowship designed to engage attendees in meaningful dialogue around challenges facing the faith community and the country.

CUG 2023 opened Monday evening, October 9, with a welcome reception hosted at the AME Sunday School Union headquarters, followed by a powerful opening worship service at Greater Bethel AME Church. The evening sermon was brought by Bishop Anne Henning Byfield, Bishop of the 13th AME Episcopal District.

Beginning Tuesday, sessions were facilitated by widely regarded activists, theologians, academics, and practitioners. Discussion topics for 2023 included:

  • Courageous & Faithful Witness in the Public Square

  • Christian Extremism and Christian Supreme-ism

  • Faith Leaders Transforming Public Safety & Communities

  • Religious Nationalism and the Persecution of Religious Minorities in Global Contexts, with a Focus on the Situation of Christians in India and Artsakh

  • Gun Violence Protest in Tennessee State House

  • Gun Violence, Direct Action, and Movement

The Tuesday evening worship, held at the host hotel, was an intimate service led by members of the Mar Thoma Church. Rt. Rev. Dr. Isaac Mar Philoxenos Episcopa, Diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of North America and Europe, was the evening preacher. The Rt. Rev. Dr. Philoxenos is an NCC Governing Board member whose tenure ends at the close of 2023, at which time he will return to India.

Three awards were given to six recipients during this year’s CUG.

J. Irwin Miller Award for Excellence in Ecumenical Leadership

The J. Irwin Miller Award for Excellence in Ecumenical Leadership is given to a layperson who has demonstrated a commitment to church unity, and who, by living out this commitment through action in the world, has been a witness to justice and other values affirmed by our common faith in Jesus Christ. The 2023 recipients are:


Dr. Donald Thorsen, Azusa Pacific University, Wesleyan Theological Society — Long-time Faith & Order Table and Interreligious Relations Table member.

Jack Figel, founder and publisher at Eastern Christian Publications, a company that produces books for Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox in Liturgy, theology, catechesis, ecumenism, and historical reprints. In 1997 Jack founded the Orientale Lumen Foundation, a grassroots movement among lay persons and clergy to provide a forum for Christians to learn about the “light from the East.”

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Gwynne Guibord Award for Excellence in Interreligious Leadership

Gwynne Guibord Award for Excellence in Interreligious Leadership is awarded to a leader who has worked closely with leaders of many faiths and traditions to explore and uphold the experience and presence of the holy body. The 2023 recipients are:


Rabbi Harold Berman, former Executive Director of the National Council of Synagogues (just retired); long-time co-convener of the National Jewish-Christian Dialogue.


Rev. Dr. Michael R. Trice, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Rev. Dr. Trice is Spehar-Halligan Professor and Founding Director of the Center for Ecumenical and Interreligious Engagement (CEIE) at Seattle University.  Trice is also the founder of Religica, a popular virtual and multimedia platform. Trice also adopted into the CEIE platform, The Interfaith Observer, an online popular journal and substantial archive of first-hand accounts that promote cultural, religious, Indigenous, and values-based fluencies around the world. 

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President’s Award for Excellence in Faithful Leadership

The President’s Award for Excellence in Faithful Leadership is given to reward, promote, and encourage faithful, risk-taking leadership including faith leaders, who have made commendable contributions as well as rising younger faith leaders, in our midst. The 2023 recipients are:

Dr. Renita J. Weems is a renowned biblical scholar, author, minister, and public intellectual whose scholarly insights into modern faith, biblical texts, and the role of spirituality in everyday lives have made her a highly sought-after writer and speaker for more than four decades. The author of several ground-breaking books, she is considered a groundbreaking theologian in womanist theology; she also has numerous commentaries and articles on the Bible and prophetic religion to her credit.


Bishop Mary Ann McDonald Swenson is a retired bishop of the United Methodist Church (UMC). Having recently completed a 9-year term as vice moderator for the central committee of the World Council of Churches, Bishop Swenson has served as ecumenical officer for the United Methodist Council of Bishops (2012-2016), bishop of the California Pacific Conference and supervisor of the Western Jurisdiction Korean Mission (2000-2012), and bishop of Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain Conferences (1992-2000). 

The 2024 Christian Unity Gathering will convene in Nashville. Both worship services from the 2023 CUG and the awards presentations can be viewed on NCC’s YouTube channel.

NCC Reissues Call for Congress to Work Together

for the American People

The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA urges members of Congress to get back to what is important—working together on behalf the American people.

“We stand firmly against any political strategy that puts the well being and stability of the United States government at risk. Americans are caught in the cross hairs of the negative consequences of a political gridlock that threatens the very fabric of democracy,” said Bishop Teresa Snorton, NCC Governing Board Chair.

As the House of Representatives deliberates its next speaker, legislation to provide essential relief to families is being stalled. As each day passes, appropriations bills, the farm bill reauthorization, and other critical bills are pushed further down the list of priorities affecting the lives of millions of Americans who rely on federal programs and services. Americans have no time to wait for partisan games to play out.

“As we approach the November deadline and still no House Speaker,” said Bishop Vashti McKenzie, NCC President/General Secretary, “we urge representatives in Congress to prioritize passing legislation that ensures uninterrupted government functioning, provides essential services to citizens, and strengthens our nation’s stability before the midnight hour.”

The dysfunction in Congress must stop! Representatives must turn their attention to doing the job they were elected to do rather than holding the nation hostage to political factions and powerplays.

Prayer for Peace in Israel/Palestine 

Lord, we come before you with heavy hearts, lifting all who suffer in the war between Israel and Hamas. We pray fervently for the innocent civilians and children who are experiencing the devastating impact of this conflict.


We ask for your divine protection over those who are caught in the crossfire, facing unimaginable horrors and uncertainty. Provide them comfort and strength in their darkest moments. Heal their wounds, both physical and emotional, and restore their shattered lives.


We pray for the release of all hostages and a swift resolution that brings about lasting peace and an end to violence. May all parties involved find the resolve needed to create better pathways to coexist and help us see one another with compassion and understanding, remembering that each life is precious in your sight.


In Christ’s holy and precious name, we pray. Amen.

Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) Implores Restraint, De-escalation of Conflict, Humanitarian Access, and Addressing Core Issues of Conflict

Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) continues to grieve the devastating loss of life in Israel/Palestine. As the numbers of those killed and injured climb, we ask people of faith to remain committed to praying and working toward an immediate end to the violence. Yet, cessation of conflict will not automatically bring justice. Without attention to the core systemic issues of the war and the ongoing occupation of Palestinian territory, there will be no real peace. At a time when the rush by governments will be for more military responses, CMEP prays for the de-escalation of violence to prevail. We urge an escalation of diplomatic efforts by the United States, through the United Nations, and other regional bodies. Too many people are already grieving the loss of loved ones.


CMEP calls for an immediate end to all violence and calls for restraint from all parties. CMEP is deeply concerned by the prospect of an Israeli protracted military offensive and possible ground invasion into Gaza that could result in considerably more deaths and destruction and a broader regional war. Half of the 2.2 million people of Gaza are children. 


CMEP abhors reports from the Israeli government that they have shut off power, water, and fuel to the people of Gaza. These actions constitute collective punishment, and international law designates such actions as illegal and unconscionable.


The call from Israeli Prime Minister Netanayhu telling Gazan residents “to leave” is completely unrealistic given that all border crossings in and out of Gaza are closed, and leaving is not an option for the more than two million people living there. CMEP calls on Hamas to do no harm and to release all hostages held in captivity.


The United States has long failed to serve as a constructive partner in helping to secure a just and lasting peace in Israel/Palestine. During heightened tension, CMEP implores the U.S. government to refrain from steps that only exacerbate the violence and increase the risk of expanding war into the broader region. Core issues of the conflict must be addressed, including but not limited to: ceasing the expansion of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories; ending impunity given to settlers when they attack Palestinians, their homes, their lands, and religious sites; reversing de facto annexation of Palestinian land; ending the blockade of Gaza while ensuring the legitimate security needs of Israelis; ensuring freedom of access and movement for Palestinians. These are among numerous other issues that the United States and many in the international community have not held Israel accountable for decades.


While mourning the tragic events happening in Gaza and Israel, CMEP remains committed to prayer and the belief that peace is possible even in these devastating times.


The Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem Unite in a Call for Peace and Justice Amidst Unfolding Violence

The Holy Land, a place sacred to countless millions around the world, is currently mired in violence and suffering due to the prolonged political conflict and the lamentable absence of justice and respect for human rights. We, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, have time and again appealed for the importance of respecting the historic and legal Status Quo of the holy shrines. In these trying times, we come together to raise our voices in unity, echoing the divine message of peace and love for all humanity.


As custodians of the Christian faith, deeply rooted in the Holy Land, we stand in solidarity with the people of this region, who are enduring the devastating consequences of continued strife. Our faith, which is founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ, compels us to advocate for the cessation of all violent and military activities that bring harm to both Palestinian and Israeli civilians.


We unequivocally condemn any acts that target civilians, regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, or faith. Such actions go against the fundamental principles of humanity and the teachings of Christ, who implored us to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31).


It is our fervent hope and prayer that all parties involved will heed this call for an immediate cessation of violence. We implore political leaders and authorities to engage in sincere dialogue, seeking lasting solutions that promote justice, peace, and reconciliation for the people of this land, who have endured the burdens of conflict for far too long.


In our capacity as spiritual leaders, we extend our hands to all those who suffer, and we pray that the Almighty may grant comfort to the afflicted, strength to the weary, and wisdom to those in positions of authority. We call upon the international community to redouble its efforts to mediate a just and lasting peace in the Holy Land, based on equal rights for all and on international legitimacy.


Let us remember the words of the Apostle Paul: "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace" (1 Corinthians 14:33). In the spirit of this divine message, we implore all to work tirelessly towards an end to violence and the establishment of a just and lasting peace that will allow the Holy Land to be a beacon of hope, faith, and love for all.


May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us all during these challenging times.


The Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem

NCC Statement on the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh

The Armenian Genocide (1915–1923) was the first genocide of the 20th Century. Over one million Armenians, whose forebears comprised the first nation to become Christian, were systematically killed, and hundreds of thousands more were displaced and roamed the earth as refugees until they found safe havens in other countries, including the United States. Many who came to the US, as well as their descendants, continued to practice their faith in the Armenian Orthodox Church, one of the 37 member communions of the National Council of Churches. It is out of this relationship with our Armenian brothers and sisters that the NCC has long stood with the Armenian community in condemning the historic genocide, in urging its recognition by the global community, and in solidarity with the Armenian people.

These actions include responding to the suffering of the Armenians today at the hands of Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh. Indeed, due to actions by the Azerbaijani government, many today fear that another genocide of the Armenian people is taking place. While genocide typically takes place methodically over months and years, the NCC believes we may indeed be witnessing a continuation of genocide against the Armenian people, one that is borne of supremacy as in other genocides, but rather than consume the perpetrators in swift and orchestrated killing, unfolds over the long term in disparate acts of ethnic cleansing. As we have noted with alarm the illegal humanitarian blockade of the region and the destruction of critical infrastructure, and observe the steady stream of refugees flowing through a single geographic conduit to safety, can we not assume this is in fact what is happening?

The crime that became known as “genocide” did not always have a name. According to the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, by Ambassador Samantha Power—who spoke at the NCC’s commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide in 2004 and informed its resolve to work to end the genocide in Darfur that year—it was only after the Armenian Genocide that the world had identified the crime and raised the expectation that people of goodwill would respond to it.

In recent years, the NCC has responded to the challenges that seek to further victimize and erase the existence of the Armenian people, their history, and their culture. This response has included:

Today, as we look aghast at the renewed trauma and threat of genocide against the Armenian people, the NCC again resolves to continue facilitating humanitarian assistance, providing spiritual sustenance, and conducting political advocacy to end this conflict and the very real threat of genocide.

Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA
Appeals for Help for Ukraine

As news agencies around the world have informed, the situation in Ukraine has become worse, almost beyond comprehension — the invasion of Russian Federation of Independent Ukraine.

It appears that the lessons of history have not been learned and the murder of the citizenry and destruction of Ukrainian land are utilized to advance geopolitical agenda of the Russian Federation.   

In the past we have urged our faithful, if they have a desire to do so, to contribute funds in support of our charitable aid efforts. However, as the nation of Ukraine defends itself against aggression — the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA is issuing an urgent appeal for contributions, which will be delivered in person to the proper individuals, for the medical care of the thousands of people who have been injured, some very severely, during these difficult days.

Information on where and how to contribute can be found here.

Church of the Holy City Hosts Hybrid Training
on Trauma Transformation

The Church of the Holy City, National Swendenborgian Church at 1611 16th St. NW, Washington DC, is hosting a hybrid training session on trauma transformation on October 25, from 6:00–8:00 p.m. ET., with certified trauma professional Dr. Laverne Adams.


This free community training and discussion around trauma will help participants learn to recognize and manage trauma in themselves and others.


The training agenda includes: 

  • Who is Traumatized?

  • What is Trauma?

  • When does Trauma happen?

  • Why does Trauma occur?

  • How to manage Trauma

Registration is mandatory to attend either virtually or in person. Click on one of the buttons below to get a free ticket.


Registration Link (for joining in person)
Registration Link (for joining online)

The National Cathedral Introduces the
Now and Forever Windows

The Cathedral’s new Now and Forever Windows, dedicated September 23, capture the resilience, faith, and endurance of African Americans and the nation’s struggle with the original sins of racism and slavery.


The new windows and poetry grew out of the church’s decision in 2017 to remove windows that honored Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.


These new windows are the creation of world-renowned visual artist Kerry James Marshall (pictured below). Through this new addition to the Cathedral, their hope is to tell a broader, more inclusive story of American history. In this House of Prayer for All People, they desire to tell the stories of all people.

To see the new windows, visit during general sightseeing hours. Tickets are available here.

View an online documentary about the transition here.

White House Faith and Neighborhood Partnerships Team Issues Resources on Israel and on Student Debt Relief

U.S. Department of State

U.S Department of Homeland Security

White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

U.S. Department of Education

 Student Loan Debt Information and Resources

ACLA Awards 2024 Nominees Sought

The American Climate Leadership Awards 2024 (#ACLA24) is in its fifth year. The program recognizes leading local, state and national climate leadership programs with $175,000 in prizes. Please submit an application and spread the word. Apply today and nominate your favorite climate leaders! Nominations accepted until December 1. 


There is now also a separate awards program for high school students, the American Climate Leadership Awards for High School Students, with $125,000 additional awards to showcase the leadership of the next generation. High school students and their advisors can find that separate application form, or make a nomination here. We are accepting nominations until December 1. 


The fifth annual American Climate Leadership Awards seeks models of effective climate advocates and changemakers. If you know a climate champion or organization making a serious impact to mobilize Americans to curb climate change in a just equitable and inclusive way, please invite them to apply! We are seeking frontline communities, faith leaders, community organizers, teachers, high school students, youth, conservation efforts, and many others. Find FAQs here.  


Twenty semi-finalists will be awarded $1,000; eight finalists will receive $10,000; one runner-up will receive $25,000; and the winner will receive $50,000! The high school student program has earmarked $25,000 for the winning application. Five applicants will take home $10,000 each and 10 high schoolers will be recognized with $5,000 awards. 


The deadline to apply is December 15, 2023. 


The 2024 ACLA Selection Committee is comprised of exemplary climate leaders. You can read more about those individuals here. 


Questions should be directed to Check out the 2023 awards ceremony here to learn about ACLA’s most recent group of finalists.

Tri-Faith/USDA Summit, November 8–9

Free COVID Rapid Antigen Test Kits Available

Effective September 25, residential households in the U.S. can order one set of four (4) free at-home tests from the United States Postal Service again. Please keep in mind:

  • Limit of one order per residential address

  • One order includes four (4) individual rapid antigen COVID-19 tests ( has more details about at-home tests, including extended shelf life and updated expiration dates)

  • Orders begin shipping the week of October 2, 2023.

  • Click this link to order your free COVID test kits.

Need help placing an order for at-⁠home tests?
Call 1-800-232-0233 (TTY 1-888-720-7489).

The U.S. government will continue to make COVID-⁠19 tests available to uninsured individuals and underserved communities through existing outreach programs. Please contact a HRSA health centerTest to Treat site, or ICATT location near you to learn how to access low- or no-cost COVID-⁠19 tests provided by the federal government.

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

Join the 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. Tuesdays, November 7, 14, and 28 at 7 pm ET.


Register here.

Dr. Benjamin Chavis Keynote Preacher for Creation Justice Ministries 40th Anniversary Celebration Service

Creation Justice Ministries (CJM) is planning a Service of Celebration commemorating their 40th anniversary on October 26, in Washington, DC at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church1518 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20005. The keynote preacher is Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.

The service will also be live-streamed. A link will be sent to registrants closer to the date. While there is no charge to attend, interested persons are asked to register in advance.


Learn more about the Service of Celebration and register to attend on CJM’s website. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. More information, including the benefits of sponsorship, can be found on the CJM website.

Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations (OGR) to Hold Advocacy Training Sessions

International Climate Advocacy Day – November 10, 12:00–1:30 p.m. EDT. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP) 28 is rapidly approaching. During this conference, political leaders from around the world will gather to discuss the next steps in the global approach to climate change. One of the most crucial aspects of meeting the goals set in place by the COPs is advocating to the U.S. federal government. During this advocacy training, a progress overview will be given, as well as a report on what still needs to be done, tips for setting up and having meetings with elected officials, and more! Register here.

LBGTQIA2S+ Advocacy Days – November 7 (virtual), or 8–9 (in-person). Join the Office of Government Relations in one of two opportunities to advocate for federal protections for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions! Participants will first engage in a half-day of advocacy training to learn best practices, hear from Office of Government Relations staff, network with other Episcopalians, and connect with key coalition partners in the LGBTQIA2S+ advocacy space. Then, depending on the training attended, participants will be prepared for personal congressional office meetings. There are two ways to participate.

Join from 1:00-4:00 p.m. ET for a virtual advocacy training mirroring the in-person option. Participants will receive guidance on setting up virtual meetings with their members of Congress and/or in-district meetings with local staff. Advocacy meetings for this option do not need to take place on the same day and may extend into the following week.

The morning of November 8, will be the advocacy training, with that afternoon and the morning of November 9 reserved for potential congressional meetings. Participants should arrive in D.C. on November 7, and can begin leaving on November 9, after 3:00 p.m.

This Advent, journal your way to the birth of Jesus! Behold, What Wonder, the Advent volume in the NRSVue Bible Journal series, draws thirty key passages from Matthew, Luke, and elsewhere to inspire you to reflect on your own journey of faith. 

NRSVue Bible Journals are themed 30-day journals designed to inspire people in their life of faith and to encourage thoughtful engagement with the Bible through journaling.

Each journal is an elegant linen hardcover book containing more than 96 pages. The compact 4.5" x 7" size fits perfectly in the hand and makes it easy to carry on the go.

An excellent gift for yourself and others in this special season. Bulk discounts are available! Inquire by emailing

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 1 to 2 days in 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 explain in the cover letter 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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