Subject: NCC Weekly News

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From Jim: Faith Week of Action for Social Security
In the depths of the Great Depression, President Roosevelt and Congress established the Social Security Administration, a program that has lifted millions of people out of poverty. Three years prior to its adoption, the Federal Council of Churches called for passage of social security legislation.

This year we celebrate the 80th anniversary of the passage of the Social Security Act. Certainly, members of my own family have been helped through Social Security. And, one of my college roommates was able to attend school because of Social Security survivor benefits after his parents died in a tragic auto accident. All of us have similar stories to tell. 

Not everyone is fortunate to retire with adequate savings. Thousands of years ago, Pharaoh, king of Egypt, was troubled by a dream. He sent for Joseph to interpret it for him. Joseph warned Pharaoh seven years of famine would follow seven years of plenty and advised him to store grain for the hard years so that everyone could survive.

Scripture is replete with directives to honor father and mother and to care for widows and orphans. King David made arrangements for Mephibosheth, who had a foot-related disability, to eat at his table and be cared for. Social Security is a modern-day manifestation of our commitment to care for the last, the least, and the lost.

So, this August 2-8, the National Council of Churches will join in the Faith Week of Action to commemorate the anniversary. In this edition of the newsletter, you will find a link to a toolkit that can assist your congregation not only in honoring the success of Social Security but in raising awareness of the programs available through it.

Although I have contributed for many years to my retirement account and am grateful that the NCC does so as well, I know I will depend on Social Security payments to keep me out of poverty in my retirement years.

Many people are unaware they are eligible for disability or survivor benefits or have no idea how much Social Security retirement income may be due to them in the future. It is not unusual for local churches to have health fairs, job fairs, blood drives, food pounding Sundays, etc. I encourage congregations to make use of this toolkit and invite representative of the Social Security Administration to lead a workshop at their church.

There are some who view the church’s advocacy for passage of Social Security as a political act that has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ. I humbly disagree. Caring for those in need is fundamental to who we are as Christians. This need not take place solely through tithes and offerings to the church. We have a responsibility to care for the monies we contribute to the larger tax pool to ensure those in need are cared for. 

Social Security Faith Week Of Action -- August 2–8, 2015

As part of Social Security's 80th anniversary celebration, faith-based and other community-based organizations are hosting Faith Week of Action events across the country. These events will highlight America's most successful social program and encourage Americans to take advantage of the tremendous planning resources offered by Social Security. For eight decades, Social Security has served as the foundation of retirement security for millions of Americans and helped many stay out of poverty.

During Faith Week of Action, event representatives will provide information about Social Security’s benefits and services at places of worship and community centers. Additionally, representatives will also encourage people to create a my Social Security account; an online account designed to help Americans learn about their own potential Social Security benefits and the protections that the program provides to their families.

Knoxville pastor advises putting faith over fear in tragedy

(ed. note: Pastor Tony Ritchie serves on the NCC's Interreligious Relations and Collaboration Committee)

Following the shooting rampage in Chattanooga on Thursday, many are asking questions surrounding the shooter's motivation and religion.

Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, was a member of the Muslim community.

It's possible Abdulazeez, was inspired by ISIS, or he may have been inspired "by no one other than himself," said Knoxville Special Agent in Charge Ed Reinhold.

Abdulazeez's faith has not been mentioned as a role in his motive for the attacks, but his actions are causing the Muslim community to defend their religion.

"I have never had any member of this community that has done anything that alerted me that they need to be reported," Bassam Issa, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Chattanooga, said. "If I had, I would have done it immediately."
Presidential candidates answer: How will you help the hungry and poor?

A Christian group against poverty and hunger called Circle of Protection has asked U.S. presidential candidates a simple question: "What would you do as president to offer help and opportunity to hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world?" 

The group, representing over 100 Christian leaders, recently received its first batch of video responses.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican, sent in a general campaign ad titled "Making a Difference." The ad did not specifically address the Circle of Protection's question. Mother Jones slammed Bush for not cutting a direct response in a piece titled "Jeb Bush Stiffs Christian Group on Poverty Video."

In his video, Bush vows to increase opportunity in America. He says, "We need to start fixing things."

View the videos here.
'We Are All Ferguson' conference planned

"We Are All Ferguson" aims to bring people together in productive ways for a series of workshops and conferences on Aug. 2-9 at Wellspring Church, a United Methodist congregation in Ferguson. The event will bring together community and business leaders to address the racial and economic issues that became widely known in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown last year. "We Are All Ferguson is not just about the ZIP code," said the Rev. F. Willis Johnson Jr. of Wellspring. "It's about the shared human experience and the realities we're all faced with across the country of immense inequities, injustice and the need for us to work toward the eradicating of them."

James M. Dunn: 1932-2015

James M. Dunn, the firebrand Baptist who led the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty for nearly two decades, died on July 4 at the age of 83. Known for his stalwart defense of religious liberty, colorful turns of phrase and ubiquitous bow tie, Dunn will be remembered for his contributions throughout Baptist life, including his leadership of the Baptist Joint Committee through the 1980s and 90s. He consistently fought for a strong Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause while simultaneously shepherding the organization through a tumultuous time in Baptist denominational history.

“The 20th century had no greater champion of religious freedom – of conscience – than James Dunn,” said Oliver “Buzz” Thomas, who served as general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee under Dunn from 1985-1993. “Like Roger Williams, John Leland, George W. Truett and the other great Baptist leaders before him, James understood the dangers of civil religion.”

White House Honors Faith Leaders for Climate “Champions of Change” 

The NCC congratulates Cassandra Carmichael for this honor

On Monday, July 20th, the White House recognized twelve people of faith as “Champions of Change” for their efforts in protecting our environment and communities from the effects of climate change. These Champions have demonstrated clear leadership across the United States and around the world through their grassroots efforts to green their communities and educate others on the moral and social justice implications of climate change. 

Honored by the White House: Cassandra Carmichael is the Executive Director for the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, which is an alliance of four major faith groups: Jewish, Catholic, Evangelical and Protestant. Previously, she was the Washington office and eco-justice program director for the National Council of Churches where she implemented the environmental and justice ministries of NCC’s 37 member denominations, which represent 100,000 churches nationwide. Cassandra is a senior fellow in the Environmental Leadership Program, and a previous board member on the Chesapeake Bay Alliance.
Ecumenical Opportunities:

The Jesuit Conference is seeks a Senior Advisor on Environmental Justice.  The Conference coordinates the ministries of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in Canada and the United States and facilitates relations with the Jesuit international headquarters in Rome. Located in Washington, DC, the Jesuit Conference also maintains an advocacy office which aims to educate and inform legislators, public officials, and multinational corporations on issues of importance which affect the Jesuits’ mission of social justice and faith. The office is nonpartisan and seeks to express how Catholic values such as human dignity and the common good are at stake in policy decisions. The office adopts its advocacy priorities in conjunction Jesuit works throughout the United States and Canada, and in partnership with Jesuit institutions abroad.

The Jesuit Conference seeks a full-time employee to fill this position. Salary is commensurate with experience and compensation includes an excellent benefits package.

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate – Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Office is seeking a full-time Communications Coordinator. The Office of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation coordinates social justice ministry and advocacy efforts in the United States of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate on behalf of the interests of the poor and abandoned in the U.S. and 65 countries where the Oblates are in mission.

The Communications Coordinator assists in developing and implements the organization’s communications and outreach strategy. The communications coordinator will ensure that all Oblates JPIC communications; website, print, social media, event resources reflect and support the Missionary Oblates JPIC strategic mission and goals. Communications Coordinator will report to the JPIC Director and the Associate Director.

World Student Christian Federation seeks a creative, innovative, dynamic and energetic person to fill the position of Communication Campaign Coordinator for eight months starting in September 2015. Work location: Anywhere in Canada and the US, with a preference for New York City. Click here to apply.

Justice Fellowship (JF), part of Prison Fellowship Ministries, advocates for the reform of the justice system so communities are safer, victims are respected and lives are transformed. Our growing team is seeking an Advocacy Volunteer Coordinator in our Lansdowne, VA office. For more information, click here.
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