Subject: NCC Weekly News

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From Jim: In Different Corners, Continuity
Several months ago, I was invited to participate in a conference call sponsored by the Oprah Winfrey Network to learn of a seven-night program called “Belief” that begins on October 18. Truthfully, I half listened in on the call while sitting at my desk working on other matters.

Though the series sounded quite interesting and I placed it on my calendar to view, it was difficult to envision and fully appreciate the excitement shared by those promoting the program. Subsequently, I was invited to travel to Oprah’s home to view the first two episodes of “Belief” and have dinner. I figured I was probably one of thousands who had received the invite and didn’t plan to attend until staff colleagues told me I would be crazy not to go.

So, last week I traveled to California for the event. The “Belief” episodes I viewed were truly beautiful. The message of “Belief”, to me, is that faith is an enormously powerful force in the world and that, ultimately, we are all connected to one another. Filled with moving vignettes and breathtaking cinematography, the series should have a significant impact.

Oprah told us that she was raised Baptist, is a Christian, but really considers her faith to be universal. Oprah herself has become a universal figure, one of those people who everyone knows simply by her first name.

A couple of hundred faith leaders were present, many of whom I knew. Several of us agreed that it took a person such as Oprah to gather us together in the same space. 

I encourage you to watch for more information regarding “Belief” and to be among the viewers.
From California, I flew to St. Louis to participate in the commissioning of Bishop Frank Krebs as the presiding bishop of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, a member denomination of the NCC. Bishop Peter Hickman greeted those gathered by saying, “Gathered here together in the unity of God, what then shall we say to this?” To which we replied, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

At that moment, I realized the continuity of the message of the commissioning service with that of “Belief.” 

In his homily, Bishop Krebs told us that what the Ecumenical Catholic Communion has to offer the world is a communion of persons where heart speaks to heart. It is, he said, a church fully alive connected through love, a church that wants to contribute to the national culture and to reach across divides whether those boundaries are represented by Delmar Boulevard in St. Louis or real and figurative walls along the Rio Grande. He challenged Ecumenical Catholics to connect with people sleeping on train tracks in Hungary and sewer grates in St. Louis. 

Together, we prayed, “Holy One, we offer you the mystery of our precious lives lived in relationship. In moments of joy and heart ache, we trust we are not alone and that you empower us to seek your Sacred Presence.”

Jim Winkler,
President and General Secretary

Ecumenical Catholic Church moves to St. Louis, installs new bishop

Just as many were preparing for Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S., there was another Francis on Friday throwing his own separate Catholic celebration.

The Ecumenical Catholic Church, an independent U.S. denomination with about 10,000 members, has moved its national headquarters to St. Louis.

On Friday, Francis Krebs, a pastor at Sts. Clare & Francis in Webster Groves, became the organization’s new presiding bishop at a ceremony celebrated in English and Spanish at Eden Theological Seminary — the group’s host institution.

Hundreds from all over the country packed into Eden for a joyous service that commissioned the new bishop.

“This is all we have to offer the world, a church that is fully alive,” said an emotional Krebs. “We have the ability to awaken something in each other.”

Federal Service Workers Strike to Send a Message to Pope Francis

As Pope Francis arrived in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, one thousand federal service workers—including many at the US Capitol, where the pope will speak later in the week—went on strike to protest poverty wages, poor working conditions, and the lack of a union.

The federal government is the largest low-wage employer in the country, despite President Obama’s recent executive order requiring federal contractors to pay at least $10.10 an hour. At an interfaith prayer service with the workers before a march to the Capitol, faith leaders decried the situation and appealed to the pontiff, who has spoken out strongly about income inequality as “the root of social evil.”

“Low-wage work is a sin against you and against all of human dignity,” Jim Winkler, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, told the crowd. “So we are so excited that today Pope Francis will come here, because his message has struck a chord in all of us in this nation. And we know the day after tomorrow, when he speaks to the Congress, that he is going to lift up your cause and our cause of economic justice and of just wages and working conditions for all of you.”

U.S. Black Methodists release documents to help confront racism

The United States-based organization “Black Methodist United” has released three documents to help churches and communities confront racism by taking deliberate action.

After a press conference and worship service in Washington, D.C., leaders of historically African-American Methodist churches, that are member churches of the World Council of Churches (WCC), suggested that churches worldwide keep the momentum of a “Liberty and Justice for All” movement by investing in young black men, as well as planning steps that will change policies that propagate racism.

The three texts are: Male Investment Plan: a strategic prayer and outreach movement on behalf of the African-American male; Action Items: a list of policy changes and other items that churches will use to call upon the Obama Administration, the Congress, governors and state legislatures to act and Social Action Guide: a text to assist churches as they seek to do God’s will while worshipping, witnessing and promoting justice.

“The initial step is making a conscious decision that you are going to fully engage and participate in this process,” said Dr Staccato Powell, pastor of Grace AME Zion Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, and a member of the WCC Central Committee.

Tribute to Everett Parker

Rev. Dr. Everett C. Parker passed away last week at the age of 102. He was the first director of Communications in 1957 for the newly-formed United Church of Christ. In that role he founded the United Church of Christ, Office of Communication, Inc., a media reform and accountability ministry with a civil rights agenda, that worked to improve the coverage and employment of women and people of color in broadcasting and other media. Dr. Parker was named one of the most influential men in broadcasting by the trade publication Broadcasting Magazine and is featured Museum of Broadcast Communications Encyclopedia of Television.

"My heart is broken today. I had the chance to work with Everett at the start of my career and visit with him many times after that. Everett was such a strong leader: his standards were always high, he was always thinking three moves ahead and was prepared for any contingency," said Cheryl Leanza, the current policy advisor for UCC OC Inc.

Ecumenical Opportunities:

The National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund and the Peace Tax Foundation, both based in Washington D.C., seek a qualified individual to assume the part-time position (averaging 24 hours/week) of Executive Director. Decision-making in both organizations is largely consensus-based and depends on a high level of cooperation and consultation between the Executive Director and the Boards of the two organizations. Please submit your resume and other pertinent materials to the Chairperson of the Personnel Committee of the NCPTF/PTF Boards of Directors prior to October 15, 2015.

The Friends Committee on National Legislation is searching for a Legislative Director to be responsible for leading our multi-issue federal policy and lobbying for peace and justice. The Legislative Director guides and builds FCNL’s Quaker-based presence on Capitol Hill and effectively represents the legislative policies and priorities established by our governing body, the General Committee.

Jubilee USA is looking to immediately hire a Policy Director and a Communications Director in our Washington, DC office. We are also hiring regional field organizers in multiple locations around the country this Fall. Please see the link below for job descriptions and application instructions for the positions of Policy Director, Communications Director, and Regional Field Organizers.

110 Maryland Ave NE, Suite 108, Washington, DC 20002, United States
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