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From Jim: NCC's Second Annual Christian Unity Gathering
The National Council of Churches’ 2nd Christian Unity Gathering (CUG) will be held from May 7-9, 2015 in the Washington, DC area. I want to encourage readers to register for the CUG and to spread the word about it. 

This year we will be remembering a genocide, honoring a Nobel Peace Prize winner who helped stop a civil war, and hearing from a Christian leader who works for peace. Our Governing Board and Convening Tables will meet during the CUG as well.

I think we’ll be struggling with some important questions. Why is there so much anger and hatred abounding in humanity? Why was there a terrible civil war in Liberia? Why was a genocide carried out against the Armenian people? Why has the church of Jesus Christ not been able to bring more love and peace to the world?

I struggle with these and other questions all the time. I wish I had the answer to them. I’m convinced it is only in community and partnership that we can overcome the huge problems facing our world. At last year’s gathering we highlighted our emphasis on mass incarceration and we continue to work with many others to bring an end to that scourge. This year we will focus on the other major NCC priority: interreligious relations with an emphasis on peace.

We are co-sponsoring, along with the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, a May 7 worship service of remembrance of the Armenian Genocide. It will be led by the two leaders of the worldwide Armenian Church: His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and His Holiness Aram I, the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia. 

The year 2015 is of special significance for the Armenian people as it marks the centennial anniversary of the period in which 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children were killed and hundreds of thousands were exiled from their ancestral homeland. 

Leymah Gbowee, a Lutheran laywoman from Liberia and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, will keynote our Christian Unity Gathering and share stories and lessons from the interfaith peacemaking effort she participated in to bring the long and tragic Liberian civil war to a conclusion. I encourage you to read her memoir, Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed A Nation At War, and to view the award-winning documentary, Pray The Devil Back To Hell, of which she is the narrator and central character. 

We are also blessed to have Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, join us for the CUG. Olav will speak to the Governing Board, preach at the Armenian Genocide Commemoration Service, address our World Council of Churches Relations Committee, and participate in a panel at the CUG. Olav is a major leader in the world ecumenical movement. We are honored he can be with us.

I accept that conflict is a part of the human condition, but I also know that each of us can improve our conflict resolution skills and every Christian should, in my estimation, do all they can to bring an end to war and violence. This Christian Unity Gathering will be a time of study, prayer, and reflection to equip us for the days ahead. 

Genocide Centennial in DC: Events Proceeding at Top Speed

WASHINGTON—Preparations for the Armenian Genocide Centennial commemorations, slated to take place in Washington, D.C., from May 7-9, are proceeding with speed as details emerge daily. The unique event will present a united Armenian-American community, bolstered by dedicated supporters from the American and worldwide religious, diplomatic, and governmental fields.

The commemoration is the work of the Armenian Dioceses and the Armenian Prelacies in the United States working together on all levels, including organizational and fundraising efforts.

Leading the three-day commemoration will be the Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II and the Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I. This will be their first appearance together following the inspiring ceremony on April 23 in Holy Etchmiadzin, Armenia, which will anoint the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide as saints.

ABC Delegation Embarks on a “Peace and Justice” Advocacy & Mission Trip to Malaysia/Thailand/Myanmar (Burma)

A delegation of eight American Baptists, led by General Secretary Roy Medley and joined by Jim Winkler, President and General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, embarked on a “Peace and Justice” advocacy and mission trip to Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar (Burma) from January 27 to February 21, 2015. The delegation also met up with Rev. Joan Friesen and Jay Nordgaard, and a Kachin leader, Maw San Awng (Jum) at Myitkyina, the capital city of the Kachin State, Myanmar. The Kachin State has had a lapse of at least fifty years since American Baptists have visited, due to restrictions imposed by the Burmese government. Today, nearly 98% of the Kachin people are Baptist and trace their Christian heritage to mission work started in the 1850s.

Presbyterians host NCC at the Texas-Mexico border

The Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, the Reverend Gradye Parsons, and members of the Office of the General Assembly and World Mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) were honored in February to spend a day with our ecumenical partners from the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. (NCC) and international partners from the Waldensian Church of Italy addressing issues of migration and border policy in El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The NCC lends their collective voice to issues of migration and wrote a powerful statement just this summer addressing our country’s treatment of families and children fleeing Central America.

PC(USA) mission coworkers, Amanda Craft and Omar Chan, from World Mission’s binational ministry in Texas, hosted the group of twenty-two as they visited ministries and outreach organizations on both sides of the border. The day ended with a dinner at Divino Salvador Presbyterian Church in El Paso, Texas, where Teresa Waggener from the Office of Immigration Issues, the Reverend Mark Adams from World Mission, and the Reverend Jessica Vaughn Lower from Grace Presbyterian Church, shared about U.S. immigration policy and how it affects the communities they each serve.

Letter to Pakistani churches after Lahore bomb attacks

I write these words of condolence and solidarity with a heavy heart on learning of the bombing attacks that took place in Lahore yesterday targeting two specific churches. The tragic loss of life from these deplorable acts of violence targeting the Christian community in Pakistan reveals once again the tremendous challenges and heavy sacrifice Christians bear as they strive to remain faithful to the gospel values of life, justice and peace. Further, these attacks demonstrate the worsening situation for religious freedom, human rights and dignity in Pakistan.
Commemorating International Women's Day: Make It Happen Now!

As the world commemorated International Women’s Day All India Council of Christian Women the women’s wing of National Council of Churches in India launched the campaign 365 Days Zero Tolerance To Gender Based Violence: Make it Happen Now!!! IWD was also commemorated in different churches all over India.

The Executive Committee members of AICCW along with women leaders from Diocese of Nagpur, Church of North India visited different police stations in the city of Nagpur to honor the women police for the contributions. “This is the first time in my life someone is honoring me on International Women’s Day. Such event has never happened in any Police station in Nagpur.” opined Shefali Police woman serving in Sadar Police station Nagpur. Certificates of appreciation, trophies were distributed to police women in different police stations in Nagpur. “In our country where women are regarded as a burden and suffer discrimination and violence from womb to death it is not easy for a woman in India to be a police woman. Yet there are women who dare to risk their lives and overcome all challenges to become police women. They deserved to be honored” states Moumita Biswas Executive Secretary of AICCW.

Registration open for 2015 Christian Unity Gathering!

The 2015 NCC's signature event, the annual Christian Unity Gathering, will again be held outside of Washington, DC at the Hilton Washington Dulles International Airport. This year's gathering will continue our focus on Mass Incarceration as well as spend significant time examining NCC's second priority area, Interfaith Relations with a Focus on Peace. In addition, there will be a special service of commemoration for the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide held at the Washington National Cathedral. This service will include visitors from around the world and from many levels of government as well.

Thursday's keynote address will be given by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee. During the Liberian civil war, Gbowee organized Christian and Muslim women to demonstrate together, founding Liberian Mass Action for Peace and launching protests and a sex strike. Gbowee's part in helping to oust Charles Taylor was featured in the documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell. This will be a powerful event you will not want to miss!
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