Subject: NCC Weekly News

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From Jim: After a difficult week...
Over the course of many years, I’ve collected a file I call “anecdotes.” Here are a few of my favorites:

Helen Thomas, a longtime Washington journalist, told this one:

"One time LBJ had the press corps down to his ranch for a barbecue. Knowing that Bill Moyers was a Baptist minister, he asked him to say grace. Soon after Moyers began to pray, LBJ interrupted to say, 'Speak up, Bill.' Moyers replied, 'I wasn't speaking to you, Mr. President.'"

My father, who has been a United Methodist preacher for more than 60 years, told many stories in his sermons. Here are three of them:

"Do you remember the story about the audacious -- shall we say foolish? -- pastor who preached a sermon one Sunday on ALL Ten Commandments? It was a doozy! A sermon of read condemnation--every word spoken in the accusative case. At the door as he was greeting people after the service, one man came out and exclaimed, 'Well, at least I haven't made any graven images!'"

"Thomas Beecher preached in his brother's church one Sunday. Henry Ward Beecher was the most famous preacher of his day and pastor of Plymouth Church in Brooklyn. When Thomas mounted the pulpit in place of his brother that Sunday morning, people began exiting. Thomas quietly said, 'All who have come to worship Henry Ward Beecher may now leave. All who have come to worship God may stay.'"

“A bishop was flying from Chicago to the West Coast when his seatmate discovered that the person next to him was not only a clergyman but a bishop. So this professor of astronomy had to tell the Bishop (as such people always have to) why he was not a religious person. You know the drill: my parents made me go to church when I was a kid, (or) I discovered that I don't need religion when I was in college, (or) I don't like all the hypocrites at church. Finally, the professor says to the bishop, "Bishop, do you know what my religion is? It can be summed up in the words, 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." To which the Bishop replied, "And, Professor, do you know how I would sum up the science of astronomy? 'Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are."

Two men were shipwrecked on a desert island. One was frantic in his efforts to figure out how to get off the island or be rescued. The other guy was laying on the beach smoking a cigar. The worried fellow asked the relaxed guy, “Why aren’t you concerned?” He responded: “Well, I’ll tell ya, I’m a Christian, a multi-millionaire, and a tither to my local church.” “Do you think God will rescue you because of that?” “No, but my pastor will.”

During the Vietnam War, A.J. Muste stood in front of the White House night after night with a candle--sometimes vigiling alone. A reporter interviewed him one evening as he stood there in the rain. "Mr. Muste," the reporter said, "do you really think you are going to change the policies of this country by standing out here alone at night with a candle?" Muste responded, "Oh, I don't do this to change the country. I do this so the country won't change me."

Yours in Christ,

Jim Winkler
President and General Secretary

Conference of European Churches condemns assassination attempt against patriarch of Syriac Orthodox Church

Patriarch Aphrem II Karim of the Syriac Orthodox Church has survived an assassination attempt that took place Sunday morning during Pentecost liturgy at the Church of St. Gabriel in Qamishli, Syria. While the patriarch escaped death, current reports indicate that several others were killed and wounded. The attack took place during commemorations of the genocide against Assyrians Christians and Armenians.

The Conference of European Churches is deeply saddened by this news from Syria. It is especially sorrowful that the patriarch was targeted by assassins while inaugurating a monument to the victims of genocide against his people a hundred years ago.

Along with Armenians, Greeks, and other ethnic groups in the region, Syriac Christians have survived genocide and oppression over the course of centuries. We are now witnessing yet another wave of persecution and murder against these Christians and other indigenous religious and ethnic communities in the Middle East.

Mother Emanuel, One Year Later: In Memory

The Reverend Dr. Clementa Pinckney
The Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton
Cynthia Hurd
Tywanza Sanders
Licentiate Myra Thompson
Ethel Lee Lance
Susie Jackson
The Rev. Daniel L. Simmons
The Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor

-- God has prepared a city for them.

By The Rev. Jarrett Washington:

Today is that day I will never forget. So much has changed in my life, and undoubtedly the lives of the family members, friends, and congregants of those affected by the horrific tragedy at Mother Emanuel here in Charleston, South Carolina. Today, we mourn the lives of 9 innocent Bible study attendees who, by no fault of their own, are gone too soon. I've never had the inclination or even the desire to articulate my inner thoughts or feelings concerning June 17, 2015; however, as we stand today to commemorate the lives of the Reverend Senator Clementa C. Pinckney, the Reverend Dr. Daniel "Super" Simmons, the Reverend Depayne Middleton Doctor, the Reverend Sharonda Coleman Singleton, Licentiate Myra Thompson, Mrs. Cynthia Hurd, Mrs. Suzie Jackson, Ms. Ethel Lance, and Mr. Tywanza Sanders I can't help but go back to that day and reflect on where God has brought us.

The International Council of Community Churches has called as its Executive Minister the Rev. Dr. Stephen Butler Murray

The International Council of Community Churches has called as its Executive Minister the Rev. Dr. Stephen Butler Murray. Murray becomes the seventh executive leader of the Council since its formation in 1950. Murray will serve the Council as he continues as President and Professor of Systematic Theology and Preaching at Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.

Ordained by the American Baptist Churches in the USA, Murray has served as the Senior Pastor of The First Baptist Church of Boston, Massachusetts and as American Baptist Chaplain to Harvard University and Denominational Counselor and Lecturer in Ministry at Harvard Divinity School, following tenures in American Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Unitarian-Universalist, and United Church of Christ congregations. He has been on the faculty of Endicott College, Skidmore College, and Suffolk University, was an administrator at Yale University’s Dwight Hall Center for Public Service and Social Justice, and taught at Union Theological Seminary in New York and Auburn Theological Seminary.

The International Council of Community Churches was formed in 1950 as a merger of two groups of community churches, one African-American and the other Caucasian. The association of independent congregations remains one of the most racially diverse among US Protestant communions, and now has member churches in Africa and Europe as well as in Canada and the US.

Episcopal Church issues resolution regarding House of Representatives’ Task Force on Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility

Resolved, That the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, meeting in Chaska, Minnesota from June 8-10, 2016 recognize poverty in the United States as a blot on the character of our nation and that as Christians, apart from loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves, there is no higher mandate than a commitment to the poor, the widow, the child, the stranger, the sick, or the prisoner; and be it further

Resolved, That the Executive Council applaud Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and the House of Representatives’ Task Force on Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility for their initiative on poverty as contained in “A Better Way; our Plan for America”—a plan offered on hunger and poverty and the policies required to end them in the United States—in a chaotic time in our nation when conversation about the poor and marginalized is desperately needed; and be it further

Resolved, That the Executive Council call for bipartisan conversation and commitment to policies that alleviate poverty and hunger in the United States with programs that:
  • encourages a focus on childhood education and criminal justice reform recognizing that the racial inequities where these issues are linked are abhorrent and require attention by a just society 
  • supports efforts to reduce inefficiencies in federal poverty programs with scarce resources but not at the expense of reducing the funding of programs that are successful when adequately funded and where strong linkages between job training, work and supports are well integrated 
  • opposes any type or form of “block grants” to states of federal that effectually reduces access to those programs to those who are legally entitled to support as a national commitment to the poor and most vulnerable in the United States because the federal programs that form the social safety net in our nation has often kept the most vulnerable of our country from destitution, hunger and homelessness and remains urgent for many in our communities and our parishes; and be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council encourage all Episcopalians to be advocates with policy makers at the local, state and federal level to make eliminating poverty a national conversation and form a commitment to the social safety net in our nation and that the Secretary shall communicate this resolution to appropriate leaders of Congress.


The plan is found here:
Speaking up after Orlando shootings

In the aftermath of the worst mass shooting incident in U.S. history, church leaders say United Methodists must speak up about the contributing factors — bigotry, hatred and the availability of military-style guns.

“I hope United Methodists will see this as an opportunity to speak up and speak on behalf of what is at the core of our DNA — love God and love neighbor,” Bishop Bruce Ough, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, told United Methodist News Service. “Wesley was pretty clear that that’s the mark of who we are.”

A gunman killed 49 people and injured 53 early on June 12 when he opened fire at the Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Police killed the gunman. “Crimes of hate that terrorize any of God’s children are abhorrent and intolerable,” said the United Methodist Board of Church and Society in a statement. “This time it is against LGBTQ persons and communities.”

United Methodists in the Orlando area assisted with blood donations and began reaching out to the LGBTQ community after the tragedy. In a statement, Florida Area Bishop Kenneth Carter Jr. expressed his hope that “we can discover creative, pastoral and grace-filled ways to bear witness to all — including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons — that together we are God's beloved children.”

This Week's Podcast: Subscribe TODAY!

The NCC is bringing the best, most interesting and relevant voices from the faith community to your mobile device. Every week NCC communications director Rev. Steven D. Martin interviews faith leaders, activists, and people from across the NCC's 38 member communions and affiliated organizations.

This week's guest: Shaun Casey, Special Representative for Religion and Global Affairs at the US Department of State, speaks with us about the role of his newly-created office and how it is changing the culture at the State Department.  He also shares with us about the refugee crisis and how churches can get involved.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast in the iTunes Store and Stitcher Radio. If you like what you're hearing, please write a review. By doing this you will help us reach the widest possible audience!

Ecumenical Opportunities:

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) seeks a full-time Communications and Program Associate to work in its Washington, DC office. The individual will split their time between NRCAT, a 501(c)3, and the NRCAT Action Fund, a 501(c)4. Through NRCAT, the individual will also provide assistance to the New Evangelical for the Common Good. This is a new position and the position will be evaluated after one year. We seek someone who can work independently and as part of a team. The individual will provide critical communications, program and administrative support across NRCAT's program areas.

The Children’s Environmental Health Network is seeking nominations for its 2016 Nsedu Obot Witherspoon (NOW) Youth Leadership Award!

The NOW Youth Leadership Award was created as part of the Children’s Environmental Health Network’s (CEHN) 20th anniversary celebration in 2012, in honor of Executive Director Nsedu Obot Witherspoon. This award honors a young person (ages 12-21 at the time of the nomination) who has demonstrated exceptional environmental health leadership--efforts to protect human health, especially of our most vulnerable populations, through actions including: raising awareness of, advocacy for, and outreach around safer, healthier environments across places.

We encourage submissions of nominees who are young leaders that are involved and committed to environmental health, participate in community action, and have strong leadership skills. Submissions must come from non-family members. This award will be presented at CEHN’s 11th Annual Child Health Advocate Award Event in Washington, DC on October 13th, 2016. The winner must be able to travel to DC and attend the event to accept their award. Submit your nomination here by 4pm EST, July 15th, 2016!

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