Subject: NCC Newsletter: The Dilemma of Americans

View this email online if it doesn't display correctly
The Dilemma of Americans

NCC Newsletter
December 4, 2020
Many Years Ago
Many years ago, I led seminars on national and international affairs for United Methodist young people. Frequently, the seminars focused on hunger and homelessness and economic justice. Often, I would split the students into small groups and distribute a worksheet with the major categories of the federal budget (defense, transportation, education, etc.). 

Some of the worksheets listed the president’s proposed spending in each category and others simply had an overall budget figure. Those with the proposed budget were assigned the task of making changes, if they wished, and the others had to divvy up the total amount among the categories.

Without fail, those who had the proposed amounts in front of them made modest adjustments while the others utilized the bulk of their funds on environmental protection, education, and healthcare. 

I was not surprised by these results because repeated opinion polls show the American people desire common sense gun violence prevention measures, a clean environment, and healthcare for everyone.

People don’t want to drink coffee grown on land in Central America that should be feeding its hungry people, nor do they want to wear tennis shoes made in sweatshops in Southeast Asia, nor do they want to pump deadly toxins into their own bodies and those of their children, but many, if not most, of us engage in those actions every day. We are caught up in a moral and spiritual crisis of profound dimensions.

How do we get out of it? Our solutions must be as practical as possible. People will drink fair trade coffee, they will recycle, they will drive electric cars, they will wear masks, they will incorporate practical means to engage in justice and integrate them into their lives. They only need the tools and opportunities. 

Not everyone, I recognize, but most people will participate. They believe if you work forty hours a week then you ought to earn enough money to feed your family, put clothes on your back, and a roof over your head. Most people want a fair shake for everyone. 

The movements the NCC has been part of these past 70 years—our birthday is this week—have changed this nation and, indeed, the world—the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the peace movement, the environmental justice movement, the movement for LGBTQ equality. All of these are moral and spiritual movements.

We still have a long way to go. There are times that the optimism I heard in sermons and Sunday School has been tested, but as a follower of Christ I believe it will be on earth as it is in heaven. And so I say, “Happy Holidays to you!” 

Grace and Peace,

This Week's Faith & Fire Conversation
This week's session, "The Dilemma of Americans: Where Is Christ?," dove deep into a discussion of Christian Nationalism with panelists, Rev. Dr. Rob Schenck, President and CEO of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute; Amanda Tyler, Executive Director of Baptist Joint Committee; and Rev. Dexter Udell Nutall, Sr. Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church, Washington, DC.

The discussion included thoughts on how churches changed their theology to match their acceptance of slavery and how fear pervades the lives of those who are racist and those who are in danger because of racism. 
Register for Next Wednesday's Faith & Fire Conversation
"The World House: Mutual Inclusion for Beloved Community"

December 9, 2020 @ 1p.m. ET

  • Dr. Dennis Edwards, New Testament at North Park Seminary, author: “Might from the Margins”
  • Christian Brooks, MDiv, MSPPM,  Representative for Domestic Issues, Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of Public Witness
  • Sara Benitez, Vice President of Organizing and Campaigns, Faith in Public Life
  • Rev. Noel Anderson, United Church of Christ, and Grassroots Coordinator for Church World Service
Moderator: Min. Christian S. Watkins, NCC Justice Advocacy and Outreach Manager

Free webinar. A Zoom link will be sent after registration and will allow access to comment and participate in the Q & A portion of the Conversation.

The Faith & Fire Conversation will be broadcast at 7 p.m. ET on our YouTube channel and our Facebook page.
Sign Up for 40 Days of Prayer to Transform
Since the Spring, we have borne the grief of a global pandemic, endured a massive loss of life and of livelihood, and protested escalating violence against Black Lives. During this time, we have issued a weekly invitation to prayer. 

Now, we call on you to join us in “40 Days of Prayer to Transform: A Journey to Newness.”

Beginning December 12 and moving daily through January 20, members of the National Council of Churches and our communion partners will offer prays for hope, unity, and healing. During this Advent/Christmas season and into the New Year we put our hope in the ability and desire of God, through Jesus Christ, to heal and transform hearts and minds. We look for the Holy Spirit to breathe God’s newness into individual lives, faith communities, the soul of our nation, indeed, the whole world.
Advent Faith-based Organizing and Training for Justice
The United Church of Christ and the National Council of Churches have joined forces to offer faith-based organizing training to the wider church and beyond.

During this Advent season of viral pandemics, racial injustice, economic uncertainty, physical isolation, and socio-political strife, how does one prepare for what is to come? Advent is the season Christians are called to prepare for the coming of Jesus in the world and, with Jesus, the in-breaking of justice.

These trainings are built on a foundation of discipleship and will explore such questions as: "What will the world look like when justice comes?" and "And how do we prepare for its arrival?" These nationally recognized organizers and trainers, each paired with a theological reflector, will help interrogate both these questions and the sacred text that undergirds our discipleship in this area.

This weeks session, Direct Action & Risk Assessment will include NCC's Chief Operating Officer, Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland Tune, who will be doing a theological reflection on “Peace.” ($25, Sunday, December 6 | 4 pm - 6 pm ET)

You can register for the series or pay a fee for each session separately. Over the course of the sessions, participants will gain tools for: basic organizing & embodiment; direct action & risk assessment; communication & accompaniment; trauma care and healing space. Each session also includes space for interaction, questions, and downloadable resources.

Minnesota Council of Churches Reparations Initiative Featured
In this Star Tribune article, the Minnesota Council of Churches is recognized for their launch of a 10-year plan for racial healing and reparations. They are the first ­council to do so in the nation. Their statewide “truth and reparation” initiative is modeled on the principles of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in post-apartheid South Africa. NCC President, Jim Winkler was interviewed about this ground-breaking effort, “There’s a lot of anti-racism work going on. But I haven’t seen a plan as systematically laid out as the Minnesota council has done.” 
New UCC Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Manager
The Rev. Mark Pettis has been called to serve as the new ecumenical and interfaith relations manager of the United Church of Christ. A lifelong UCC member focused on ecumenical and interfaith ministry, he’ll be stepping into a role vacated by the Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson, associate general minister, and joining her team. 

“Now more than ever it is important that we live across borders and boundaries and exhibit the unity of Christ that centers us in the ecumenical community,” said Thompson, who oversees Wider Church Ministries and Global Operations. “Filling this position was a priority when I started (as AGM) in August 2019 because of its importance in engaging denominational partners. Since the position now also reports to me, it was important to be able to release those responsibilities and ably transition into the new role.”

Pettis will begin his work with the national offices on February 1, 2021, as a deployed staff member.

“The United Church of Christ has a unique role in the ecumenical world,” Pettis said. “As a denomination, we were born out of the Spirit’s working in our world seeking greater unity among God’s people. Moving forward, I will seek to lean into that heritage, walking with others, seeking common purpose, and carrying the UCC’s message of extravagant welcome and justice for all people into ecumenical circles.”

Action Items from Our Partners:
Presbyterian Call Against the US Benefiting from Militarization in the Middle East
Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of Public Witness asks us to tell Congress that the U.S. should not contribute to or benefit from increased militarization in the Middle East.

“U.S. military aid and arms sales exacerbate existing conflicts in the Middle East and fuel ongoing regional militarization. In 2020, the amount of U.S. arms sales approved worldwide reached a record-high at $83.5 billion, a $15 billion increase from the previous year, with more than half of its weapons delivered to the conflict-torn Middle East.”

Arms sales in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Palestine and Israel, Libya and elsewhere have killed thousands of civilians, destroyed basic infrastructure, and caused children to grow up with trauma and fear. 

“In recent years, Israel has become not only a recipient of U.S. military aid, but also an arms exporter. For example, sale of Israeli military equipment, including drones, to Azerbaijan has fueled renewed fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and exacerbated the growing humanitarian crisis there. Amnesty International reported in October that an Israel-made cluster bomb, banned under international law, was fired by Azerbaijan resulting in untold civilian casualties.”

The continued provision of military aid and arms to the countries of the Middle East “does not result in greater peace, but rather greater conflict, casualties, and loss of life.” 

Call for Change by Faithful Democracy 

Faithful Democracy believes we have a real shot at making historic progress to strengthen our democracy in the 117th Congress and is inviting us to join them in supporting the For The People Act (HR 1) which will:
  • Expand and protect voting rights and access to the ballot;
  • Put ordinary Americans ahead of Big Money donors;
  • End gerrymandering so that electoral districts are fairly drawn;
  • Clean up government and hold elected officials to the highest ethical standards.
They have invited us to add our names to their partners' petition to make the For the People Act the first order of business in the new administration. This will be delivered in January to welcome the incoming President and Congress.
Job Listings
NETWORK is hiring a Director of Government Relations. Start Date: January 2021 (remotely until safe to be in the office). Permanent, Full-Time, Based in D.C.| $70,000, plus generous benefits. NETWORK is a national network of social justice advocates – and the organization behind Nuns on the Bus – the organization educates, organizes, and lobbies for economic and social transformation. All applicants should email their materials to, following the directions on the job announcement.
Creation Justice Ministries, the ecological justice counterpart to the National Council of Churches USA, is currently hiring for three positions:
CA Conservation Equity Fellow
DC-based Advocate
California Truth and Healing Fellow

We are so grateful to successfully kick off this season of giving! On Giving Tuesday, we raised over $2,000 and were able to match a contribution from a special anonymous donor and friend of the NCC. Together we are stronger in our shared mission!
Will you support our advocacy efforts by making a year-end gift toward peace, progress, and positive change?

If this newsletter was forwarded to you, sign up to receive it.
110 Maryland Ave NE, Suite 108, Washington, DC 20002, United States
You may unsubscribe or change your contact details at any time.