Subject: NCC Newsletter: U.S. Election, Call for Peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan

View this email online if it doesn't display correctly
U.S. Election and Call for Peace Between Armenia and Azerbaijan

NCC Newsletter
November 6, 2020
Election Week
As I write this column, votes in the presidential election contest are still being counted. Like millions of people around the world, I am extremely interested in the outcome as so much hinges upon it. 

Church leaders from around the world have told me they watch our election campaign with intense interest because the results directly affect them. For example, will the United States participate in the global effort to bring the coronavirus under control or go its own way? Will the United States re-join the global effort to deal with climate change or not? Will the United States cooperate with the rest of the world in addressing the global refugee crisis? These and many other questions have enormous significance.

Meanwhile, one thing is certain as I study the election results that have been reported to date and that is millions of Americans have voted for xenophobia and racism. This is deeply disturbing, but it’s nothing new.

Recently, I’ve been reading about some of our lesser known 19th century American presidents including James Buchanan, Benjamin Harrison, and Rutherford B. Hayes. I’ve just completed the brief volume on John Tyler. Tyler is the only US president to join the Confederacy. He is not the only one who was a slaveholder or a White supremacist. 

Tyler was deeply devoted to slavery and denounced the abolitionist cause as “the antagonist of that which we cherish. It invades our hearth, assails our domestic circles, preaches up sedition, and encourages insurrection.” 

Similarly, South Carolina Senator William Preston said in 1860, “Slavery is our King; slavery is our Truth; slavery is our Divine Right.” Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens stated that the Confederacy’s “foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man…” 

I hear echoes of these sentiments in the statement recently by a prominent White Southern politician running against a Black candidate who said, “We’re not going to let our life and our way of life go away Tuesday, and that’s what’s on the ballot.” That fear is not relegated to the American South; it is widespread throughout the White community in our nation.

Racism and White supremacy is the cancer yet to be excised from the soul of our nation and that cancer is found in our churches, as well. I have not had cancer, but I have lost family members to it and I know the fight against it is long, hard, and frightening. I also know that those who recover from any serious disease are aided by prayer and by a positive outlook on life. 

We must confront racism forthrightly and honestly and with the conviction that with the help of God Almighty we can overcome it and enjoy a disease-free future. 

Grace and Peace,

Breathing New Life - NCC Governing Board Statement
Statement for a Peaceful Election
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. Galatians 5:22-23 NSRV

The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) calls on all Americans to come together, uniting across our differences, to trust in our electoral system, to be patient as we await the 2020 election results, and to ensure a peaceful democratic transfer of power after the election.

During this election, Americans are anxious and concerned about violence on Election Day and the peaceful transfer of power once the results are certified. We call to account those in positions of power who have stoked fear and increased uncertainty with divisive rhetoric and actions, even as we continue to deal with the surging COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic turmoil. We lament that the United States has gravely splintered as we witness individuals demonizing their fellow Americans because of differing viewpoints and going to extremes to win at all costs, including undermining the dignity of those with whom they disagree. We call for the love of God to be shown to each other and peace to be attained through the thoughtful acceptance of differing opinions. 

Since the United States had the world’s first democratic transition of power more than 220 years ago, our fundamental commitment to democracy has triumphed over threats of violence and fiercely contested elections. The U.S. has always held elections and upheld the results even in times of great crisis - amid the Civil War, Great Depression and both World Wars. We commend both houses of Congress for adopting resolutions to insure the peaceful transfer of power. We ask our elected officials and faith leaders to join us in reassuring Americans that nothing – even a global pandemic – will stand in the way of our democratic commitment to free and fair elections.

We call for unabridged patience. Every eligible voter should have their voice heard and their vote counted. During the pandemic, it could take longer to count the votes and verify winners in this year’s election. We celebrate this positive outcome because it means more people voted and they stayed safe by voting with absentee ballots. As a nation, we are stronger and better off when more people vote. As we are all human, we accept that we are flawed and mistakes are made in some instances, but we stand assured that there are not voting irregularities on a grand scale in our country. Voting by mail is a tried and true system used by the military for over 140 years and by several states that vote exclusively by mail without widespread fraud. We applaud our election officials who show tremendous dedication and have, on average, worked in seven previous elections. Let us have patience when waiting for the results because we are assured that our wait is finite and will end after our election officials take the necessary time to affirm the will of the people. 

We pray that our nation will heal from the extreme polarization we have recently experienced and build a democracy that works for all Americans with a commitment to racial equity and justice, and fair and just access to healthcare for all.
Thoughts about the Election - “The Fasting of a Different Kind”
Andrew Gardner, a member of the Alliance of Baptists Board of Directors and a Visiting Faculty Associate of American Religious History at Hartford Seminary, writes, "As members of the Alliance of Baptists Free and fair elections are not only critical to the stability of our nation, they are critical to our pursuit of justice—to our pursuit of yet still a more perfect union. Now is not the time to shrink back in confusion or frustration, but rather a time to raise our voices like a trumpet to ensure that every ballot—every voice—is counted. We cannot hold back."
 Statement in Support of Armenia and Armenian Church
NCC, Member Communions Together Call for Peace Between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Support US diplomacy to End Violent Conflict

The National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) reiterates its lament and deep concern about the continuing conflict and rapidly deteriorating situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, known by its Armenian residents as Artsakh. In the last three weeks, since the NCC issued an earlier statement and prayer, the people of the region have continued to be victims of Azerbaijani aggression, and a violation of the cease fire agreement brokered by Russia and supported by the United States and others. The NCC supports the new cease-fire agreement brokered by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo between the parties – Armenia and Azerbaijan – as a first step towards ending the conflict. We pray that it will bring peace to Artsakh, and urge that this new cease fire agreement be observed immediately, even while a more robust resolution of the conflict is being pursued.

Of particular concern is that this conflict has revealed again the heavy hand of other regional powers to fuel belligerency. Several nations, including Turkey, Israel, and the United States, have provided military arms (including weaponry, drones, and strategic support) to Azerbaijan (a former Soviet republic); and Russia, which has a military base in Armenia (also a former Soviet Republic), has interests in Armenia’s security. Leaders of the nation of Armenia have appealed to regional and global powers to use their leverage to bring peace and relief. The militarization of the area has only served the interests of outside powers, and not the interest of the people who live there.

Let us be clear: there can be no military solution. We urge the US, the International Community, and indeed all involved, to intensify efforts to bring an immediate end to the current crisis, and to resolve outstanding issues in a just manner so that Armenia and Azerbaijan may live in peace as neighbors. We implore outside powers to end their military interference in the region so as to reduce the flow of arms and avoid future armed conflict. Finally, we state our deep and sincere concern for the people of Artsakh/Nagorno-Karabakh, who are Armenian by heritage, recognizing that they are the victims of this continuing conflict, and advocate strongly for their safety, security, and protection.

As churches that enjoy close and longstanding ties with the Armenian Apostolic Church – which is also a member of the NCC – and the Armenian Evangelical (Protestant) churches, we hear their persistent cries, and offer our collective support.

Appended Signatures of the Communions

Kimberly Gordon Brooks, The African Methodist Episcopal Church; At-Large Member, NCC Governing Board
Dr. C. Jeff Woods, Interim General Secretary, American Baptist Churches, USA
Rev. Teresa Hord Owens, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada
Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
Rev. David A. Steele, General Secretary, Church of the Brethren
The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Apostle Barbara L Carter, Member of Council of Twelve Apostles, Community of Christ
Metropolitan Zachariah Mar Nicholovos, Northeast American Diocese of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller, President, Moravian Church Northern Province
Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.
Rev. Jane Siebert, President, The Swedenborgian Church United States and Canada
Rev. Richard Tafel, Swedenborgian Church
Dionysius Jean Kawak, Archbishop, Archdiocese of the Syriac Orthodox Church for the Eastern USA
Rev. Dr. John C. Dorhauer, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ; and NCC Board Chair
Bishop Sally Dyck, Ecumenical Officer, United Methodist Church

Learn More about the Conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan
Presbyterian Mission has published an article, Nagorno-Karabakh: Is a peaceful resolution possible between Azerbaijan and Armenia? , after holding a webinar to provide background on the decades-long unrest and military conflict in the region and efforts toward a diplomatic solution.
CEC Prayer for peace following attacks in France and Vienna
Following recent attacks in France and Vienna, CEC is offering the following prayer for peace. In his respective letters to the churches in France and Austria, CEC President Rev. Christian Krieger expressed deep sorrow on these acts of violence, conveying solidarity with the churches.
The Olive Harvest Initiative
With the annual olive harvest season commencing, the World Council of Churches launches a global initiative to highlight the spiritual, economic and cultural importance of the olive harvest for Palestinian communities, and witnessing to the impact of the occupation. The objective of the initiative is to express solidarity and raise public awareness of the constraints and injustices Palestinians endure, along with continuous threats, harassments and vandalization of their land and property. 100,000 Palestinian families rely on the olive harvest for their income. To spread the word, watch the webinar or get the messaging toolkit.
Post Election Prayer Vigil Today
Join Faithful Democracy for a virtual gathering of faith leaders in prayer and reflection to close out a tumultuous election week on Friday, November 6, 2020, from 3-5 PM ET. NCC's Rev. Aundreia Alexander, Associate General Secretary, Action and Advocacy for Justice and Peace; Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland Tune, Chief Operating Officer; and Christian Watkins, Justice Advocacy and Outreach Manager, will be participating. We have much to be grateful for: we learned that when we step up, our democracy can still deliver. But the faith community cannot let up now. There is much that needs to be done to repair our democracy and deep divisions among American voters. 
Take a Journey with Word@Hand
The Word@Hand App is a fresh, efficient way to engage the Bible for everyday situations. Take the Journey–Belonging to God and Others and Read, Think, Pray, and Act each Step of the way. Clarify your life purpose, receive encouragement, and experience a better life with God and others. Journeys are designed to be equally engaging for the young and old.
110 Maryland Ave NE, Suite 108, Washington, DC 20002, United States
You may unsubscribe or change your contact details at any time.