Subject: NCC Newsletter: World Concerns, Voting Rights, and Vaccine Facts

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World Concerns, Voting Rights, and Vaccine Facts

NCC Newsletter
May 7, 2021
This Week's Challenges 
There are weeks when I thank God for the opportunity to serve as president and general secretary of the National Council of Churches because of the amazing ministries in which we are involved. Even when I feel exhausted and overwhelmed, I am thankful to be a part of a worldwide network of sisters and brothers committed to Christian unity and interreligious solidarity.

Then there are weeks filled with enormous challenges and stress when I ask God for the strength to keep going forward. This is one of those weeks when internal NCC governance challenges have weighed on me as have other concerns, particularly those in poor nations.

Church leaders in India, Myanmar, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have asked not only for our prayers but for our time and attention. The news has been filled with reports of the rapid spread of Covid-19 across India and the shortage of hospital beds, oxygen, and vaccines. An international day of prayer has been proclaimed for India.

Myanmar is suffering under a ruthless military dictatorship that is making every effort to stamp out dissent and the democratic spirit. Church leaders there are under enormous stress.

Meanwhile, Congolese church leaders contacted me because of the urgent crisis in the eastern part of the country and because they feel utterly abandoned by the international community. They estimate 10 million people have been killed. They told me pregnant women have been slaughtered, children beheaded, and mass rape has taken place. Congolese church leaders are doing what they can to defend human rights, but they are pleading for assistance from churches in the United States.

This week, also, the faith community has rallied behind civil society organizations and human rights activists in El Salvador as the nation’s legislature dismissed the attorney general and five Supreme Court justices in a power struggle. Colombia, too, has been on our radar screen because of brutal repression of protest against police violence and human rights abuses.

While there have always been people and forces that desire to hold power and exercise control, in all of these instances—India, Myanmar, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, El Salvador, and Colombia—the legacy of colonialism, racism, slavery, and exploitation by Europeans and the United States have exacerbated the situation. Bad government, ruthless militaries, an inadequate and unequal response to the pandemic, greed, and nonstop killing of human rights defenders are plagues upon much of the world.

In the midst of alarming news and perpetual crises, we have no choice but to continue the long, hard walk to freedom. May God be with us.

Grace and peace,

Safeguard Our Democracy: Voice Your Support for S1
On Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at 10 AM ET, the U.S. Senate Rules Committee will mark up the For the People Act (S1). The members of the Rules Committee can be found via If you live in one of their districts, and especially if your Senator is Angus King (ME), Mark Warner (VA), Dianne Feinstein (CA), and Jon Ossoff (GA)- please reach out to their offices and let them know you are counting on them to support S1, and oppose any amendments that would weaken the legislation.

We believe that all people have the right and obligation to participate fully in our democracy and encourage you, if you haven't already, to write to your Senators and ask them to pass the For the People Act.

Voting in the United States has a racist history of violence, rigged literacy tests, property tests, poll taxes, and grandfather clauses. “Jim Crow Laws” systematically kept people of color from exercising the right to cast a ballot. Now, in numerous states, laws are being considered that would again limit the right to vote, particularly for people of color.

For the People Act sets basic, fair rules to make sure that every eligible American is registered to vote and can vote easily. Key provisions of the bill have already been adopted in many states across the country. According to Pew Research Center, a majority of Americans support provisions in the Act such as making early in-person voting available for at least two weeks prior to Election Day, automatically registering voters, and allowing people convicted of felonies to vote after they have served their sentence.

#Get Vaccinated
UMC Volunteers Help Make Vaccinations Happen
For ideas on how your church can help, read how United Methodists are "stepping up to connect people in their communities — especially the elderly and people who struggle with language barriers and computer skills — with the assistance they need to get vaccinated."
Vaccine Information
Visit the NCC website for up-to-date information on COVID-19 vaccines that can be shared within our churches such as these easy instructions on how to find a vaccine:

To find a vaccine through a website: Go to, input your zip code, and find out which pharmacies and other providers have COVID-19 vaccine doses in stock. You can choose the type of vaccine you want to receive – Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, 0r Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID Vaccine.

To find a vaccine by text: If you text your zipcode to GETVAX (for English) or VACUNA (for Spanish) you will get a message back with three possible vaccination sites, with phone numbers to call for an appointment.

To find a vaccine by phone: Call the National COVID-19 Vaccination Assistance Hotline at 1-800-232-0233.

Flier: This new flier provides helpful facts when speaking with church members, friends, and family about getting vaccinated. Many pharmacies and other vaccination sites are now offering walk-in appointments. COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require ID. 

Video Message: Former President Obama has recorded a message to African American faith and community leaders encouraging vaccinating against COVID-19. The video link can be shared and the video can also be downloaded for distribution to congregations.

Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. Jeremiah 33:6

Watch and Share the COVID-19 Webinar Clip with Dr. Wen
COVID-19 Webinar: Vaccines, the Role of Faith Groups, and How to Stay Safe interview with Dr. Leana Wen, public health professor at George Washington University and CNN medical analyst broadcast on March 24, 2021.
From our Partners
Pray for India this Saturday
The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America and the New York State Council of Churches Along with Other Indian Christian Organizations Invite You to PRAY FOR INDIA at 10:30 AM EST/8:00PM IST on Saturday, May 8, 2021. Numerous news accounts this week report that the country has been ravaged by increasing COVID-19 cases and an overwhelming number of deaths from the virus.

Prayers will be offered by Rt. Rev. Dr. Prince Singh (Episcopal Rochester Diocese), Dr. Prithviraj Misra, Dr. Cynthia Prabhakar, Rev. Dr. Nehemiah Thompson, and Rt. Rev. C.V. Mathew.
An update on the current situation in India will be given by Rev. Asir Ebenezer (General Secretary, NCCI); Dr. Priya John (General Secretary, CMAI); and Dr. Saji Lukos (President, RIMI).

WCC and the Christian Conference of Asia Grieve and Pray with Churches in India
In a pastoral letter, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and Christian Conference of Asia expressed their concern, grief, and prayerful solidarity with the churches in India as COVID-19 surges in South Asian countries.

“We stand with you in solidarity and prayer in the midst of the suffering and loss of thousands of lives in India,” reads the letter. “We grieve with you before God, for the loss of so many family members, friends, pastors, teachers and healthcare workers who have been taken by this pandemic.”

The letter also expresses grief for the pain of those who are sick and suffering. “It is our hope and prayer that during this period of crisis, God Almighty will continue to accompany you, as you uphold each other in the struggle for healing and recovery. We particularly lift up and pray for the healthcare personnel, hospitals, clinics and community health initiatives of the churches which are being overwhelmed and stretched to their limits, serving and caring for the flood of sick and suffering people.”

New Health Ministry Handbook
Based on the premise that the local congregation is the primary agent for healing, and each individual member has a unique gift to contribute to this healing ministry, the World Council of Churches has published a new handbook that provides guidelines, resources, and tools to equip and support local Christian congregations in starting a sustainable health ministry. It provides a theological and public health basis for such work and guides churches on how to organize a sustainable program.

“Everywhere people are dying from diseases that are preventable. Christians can lead the way in providing models of a comprehensive approach that can remove the burden of preventable death. Thus, prevention becomes a tool for healing.”
The Healthcare Special Enrollment Period Has Been Extended
If someone needs health insurance, the Special Enrollment Period (SEP) has been extended until August 15, 2021 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). This allows people additional time to take advantage of new savings through the American Rescue Plan. If someone wants to access the SEP to enroll in coverage and see if they qualify for financial help to reduce the cost of monthly premiums, they can visit or to view 2021 plans and prices and enroll in a plan that best meets their needs. Additionally, people can call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596, which provides assistance in over 150 languages. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325. Local assistance and agent/brokers can be found at

Wallowa UMC returned to the Nez Perce Tribe
The Oregon-Idaho Conference of The United Methodist Church returned the land and church building of Wallowa United Methodist Church to the Nez Perce Tribe. The property sits on their ancestral grounds. A ceremony of "friendship, celebration and repentance" was held to turn over the deed and keys.
UCC Webinars on Hybrid Church
Honestly, a year ago the title to this article would have left most of us dumbfounded! Now, as parishioners are vaccinated and churches begin to meet at least partially in-person, many are facing more unknowns. What will church look like? Should we embark on a new "hybrid" church approach?

The Indiana-Kentucky Conference of the United Church of Christ hosted “So You Want to Build a Hybrid Worship Experience” last month and the discussions are available for free on YouTube. The webinars touched on the technical side of going live from a sanctuary and covered cameras, microphones, software, switchers, cables, and online platforms, but also explored why it’s a good idea to permanently blend in-person worship with an online component. 

The webinars go over forming a team and making affordable plans and how to handle worship with participants both in person and online. For many worship leaders, this requires a new consciousness — and takes practice.
God in the Ghetto
An essay by NCC's Associate General Secretary, Rev. Aundreia Alexander, Esq., has been included in the reissue of the classic book, GOD IN THE GHETTO by the late, great William “Bill” Augustus Jones. The new edition is described as including Jones’ "seminal analysis of systemic racism, the integral role of the church in birthing and perpetuating it, and the Black church’s response" as he "deconstructs racism in America and offers up a responsive solution."

Edited by Jennifer Jones Austin, Jones’ daughter, the book includes several never-before published sermons of Jones, a foreword by Michael Eric Dyson, an afterword by Michael A. Walrond, and essays from other notable leaders including William J. Barber, James A. Forbes, Frederick D. Haynes, Claybon J. Lea, Marvin A. McMickle, Otis Moss III, J. Alfred Smith Sr., Al Sharpton, and Jacqueline Thompson.
Job Listings

Bread for the World is hiring:

Church World Service is hiring for two positions on their Communications Team:

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