Subject: NCC Newsletter: The Armenian Genocide, Immunization Week, and Orthodox Easter

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The Armenian Genocide, Immunization Week, and Orthodox Easter

NCC Newsletter
April 30, 2021
As I Reflect 
As I reflect on my daily work life--which consists of zoom meetings, phone calls, planning sessions, writing, and emails from morning to night--I am blessed to be engaged in what I consider to be holy work.

This week included, but was not limited to, sending Easter greetings to NCC Orthodox church leaders; meeting with Circle of Protection and White House representatives to discuss the American Jobs Plan; meeting with the Farm Labor Organizing Committee and the National Farm Worker Ministry to strategize about how to secure farmworkers’ rights on Reynolds American’s contract farms; discussing with a variety of faith leaders themes for the upcoming National Day of Prayer; meeting with the Asia Pacific Forum to discuss migrant justice, human rights, and religious freedom in Myanmar, India, the Philippines, and on the Korean Peninsula; meeting to advance the process of updating the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible; meeting with Faith4Vaccines to figure out ways to employ our houses of worship to overcome vaccine hesitancy; and joining NCC staff to continue planning our Christian Unity Gathering.
Additionally, my staff colleagues are deeply involved in a host of other actions and projects and coalitions and activities each week. The variety and complexity of this ministry is dizzying and dazzling. We are custodians of a great tradition. Ecumenical bodies the world over are working for justice and it is exciting to be connected to these efforts as we seek the well-being of our human and non-human communities.
Simultaneously, as we are pursuing an urgent agenda, a renewed way of seeing peace and prosperity and wholeness, we are aware of the need to bring people along, to listen, to recalibrate. After all, we are about the search for unity.

Each day I pray for patience, strength, and endurance for myself and for you.

Grace and peace,

Recognition of the Armenian Genocide
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) commends President Biden for being the first U.S. President to recognize the Armenian Genocide of the early 20th century with these words on Saturday:

“Beginning on April 24, 1915, with the arrest of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople by Ottoman authorities, one and a half million Armenians were deported, massacred, or marched to their deaths in a campaign of extermination. We honor the victims of the Meds Yeghern so that the horrors of what happened are never lost to history. And we remember so that we remain ever-vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms.”

We are grateful that the President kept his pledge and formally recognized the Armenian Genocide on April 24, 2021, Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, in order to further the US commitment to human rights.

World Immunization Week
World Immunization Week started on April 24, 2021. Jim Winkler, NCC President and General Secretary joined eight World Council of Churches leaders to serve as Vaccine Champions, a mobilization effort by UNICEF.

“I believe it is our faithful responsibility as followers of Jesus Christ to take the vaccine against COVID-19 so that we can be part of the global effort to overcome the pandemic.

As part of this effort, the NCCUSA has joined Faith4Vaccines, a multi-faith effort led by the NCCUSA, Union for Reform Judaism, National African American Clergy Network, Islamic Medical Association, Sojourners, and Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers.

Our shared goals are to demonstrate religious communities’ trust in the vaccine, support houses of worship and faith communities to innovatively distribute vaccines, create space for multi-faith collaboration, and pave the way for global, equitable vaccine distribution.” 

Reflecting on the Meaning of Easter
As this Sunday is Easter in the Orthodox tradition, we are sharing the message from Dr. Tony Kireopoulos, Associate General Secretary of the NCC, about the timing of Easter, "As many people know, this year’s Easter celebrations (in the west, for Catholics, Protestants, and Anglicans, and in the east, for the Orthodox) are four weeks apart. The dates, which infrequently fall on the same day, and usually are separated by one to five weeks (with the Orthodox celebration always falling on the later date), are both determined by a mix of calendars and lunar cycles, and related to the date of Passover. Hearkening back to scripture (Mt 26:17ff), the resurrection of Jesus took place following Passover."

His insightful writing touches upon the pain of so many deaths during this past year due to the pandemic and the very real change the vaccinations bring. If you are celebrating this weekend, we wish you "Good Pascha"!
I am the Grandson of Immigrants
On NCC's blog this week, Dr. Tony Kireopoulos, Associate General Secretary of the NCC, writes about this family and how it is wonderful to see how "big, varied, and fruitful" his family tree had grown before reflecting:

"That is why today I am heartbroken to see how we, as Americans, are treating the immigrants at our southern border who are struggling to find freedom and opportunity. When I see pictures of the children, I remember the eyes of my Mexican cousins when they were children. When I hear the cries of the parents whose children have been separated from them, I remember the laments of the poor and oppressed in Central America with whom I once had the honor to stand in solidarity against an injustice. When I read the stories of the violence many are trying to escape, I remember the stories of the war that ravaged the village from which my own family had sprung. 

And when I listen to the rantings of those who espouse “replacement theory” and advocate for policies limiting, or even barring, immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers from entering the US, I wonder what is happening to our country, the country that once welcomed my grandparents and witnessed the contribution my relatives have since made to American society. If my family was welcomed, why not these families? If we were able to prosper, why not offer others the same hope?"
Watch the Video from White Privilege: Let's Talk
In order to move beyond the basics toward the beloved community, this past Wednesday, Grace and Race Ministries, Inc. and the National Council of Churches co-sponsored a frank and thought-provoking conversation between Rev. Dr. John C Dorhauer, General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ and Chairman of the NCC Governing Board, and Rev. Samantha Houser, Associate Conference Ministers for the Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota Conferences of the UCC. The conversation was moderated by Rev. Dr. Donna Claycomb Sokol, Pastor of Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, Grace and Race Board Member.

During the event, Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Founder and President, Grace and Race Ministries, Inc. and Chair of the NCC Racial Justice Advisory Committee invited everyone to participate in a series of virtual transformational dialogues to be held in June. Check this newsletter for registration information.
Washington Interfaith Rally & March: A Call for Justice and Healing
On Friday, April 23, 2021, NCC joined the Washington Interfaith Staff Community in front of the Department of Justice for a rally and then walked to Freedom Plaza in response to the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial. Proclaiming that every person deserves the right to live a life free from harassment, discrimination, and police brutality, religious and civic leaders, including Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune, NCC Chief Operating Officer, gathered in public witness to lament and demand just policies in policing and an end to racism. 

Speakers include Dr. Sabrina Dent, Senior Faith Adviser, Americans United for Separation of Church and State; Yenny Delgado – founder of PUBLICA and Wesley Theological Seminary student; Rabbi Esther Ledner – Director of Congregational Innovation, Union of Reform Judaism; Jason Miller - Director of Campaigns & Development, Franciscan Action Network; Dr. Nisa Muhammad – Chaplain, Howard University; Rev. Charles Watson, Jr. – Director of Education, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty; Rev. Jennifer Butler – Executive Director, Faith In Public Life; Rev. Nancy Neal – Director of Church Relations, Bread for the World, Anthony Vance – Director, U.S. Baha’is Office of Public Affairs; and Bishop LaTrelle Easterling - Baltimore-Washington Conference, United Methodist Church.
From our Partners
PC (USA) Congregation Confronts Structural Racism
First Presbyterian Church in Tecumseh, Michigan is on a journey to address the injustices and disparities experienced by Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in the United States. The effort began with a spring 2019 pilgrimage to Montgomery, Ala., to explore the country’s history of racial injustice and led to the congregation joining the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Matthew 25 initiative that has a threefold goal of building congregational vitality, dismantling structural racism, and eradicating systemic poverty. 

“All these conversations for justice can be overwhelming, and churches can feel like they don’t even know where to start,” said Rev. Cathi King, pastor of First Presbyterian. “And the answer is, we may not know where to start, but our partners in the community, our siblings of color, have been at this work for decades. So we start by coming alongside them, owning what we don’t know and listening to each other.”

World Labyrinth Day 
The Community of Christ informs us that Saturday, May 1st is World Labyrinth Day and that "Walking the labyrinth is a purposeful prayer walk. It can be a catalyst for meditation and reflection." 

Job Listings

BJC (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty) is hiring a Director of Marketing and Media Relations and hopes to fill the position by June 1.

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State is hiring for two positions:

Digital Comms Manager:

Email Marketing Manager:

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