Subject: NCC Weekly News

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From Jim:
“Our Immigrant Fathers”
Father’s Day sermon
Delivered at Fairlington United Methodist Church
By Jim Winkler
June 19, 2016

When I was invited to preach today I was informed the decision was made to choose a theme that is relevant and challenging this year—immigration--and asked to reflect on what our faith says about how we should view and treat those on the margins.

Well, the Bible has a lot to say about immigrants and immigration. Here are but a few passages: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Deut. 10:17-19)

“You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 23:9)

“There shall be one law for the native and for the alien who resides among you.” (Exodus 12:49)

Like everyone in this nation who is not descended from the native people who lived here before us, I come from a family of immigrants. Although my surname, Winkler, is German, most of my family tree is English and Scots-Irish.

In my role as head of the National Council of Churches, I have the opportunity to interact with councils of churches around the world. I have learned it is now standard practice in Canadian church gatherings to acknowledge and discuss the native peoples who lived in the area where the meeting is taking place. I think we should follow their example. In Canada, they refer to native peoples as the First Nations. 

It turns out that in July 1608, just over 400 years ago, John Smith and 14 other Englishmen arrived in these parts and found a Necostin village called Nameroughquena just a few miles south of here. There were other villages around here speaking an Algonquian dialect. It is estimated there were about 500 men, women, and children in this area. They received the Englishmen in a friendly manner, but when a Captain Argall returned two years later to buy corn from them, they refused, so the English burned their villages and stole their food.

I’m not sure what they would have done with the money anyway and, for all we know, they may have been short of food themselves, but a pattern of hostility was established. In 1669, John Alexander purchased from Robert Howson 6000 acres extending from Hunting Creek, south of Alexandria, to about where Fort Myer is now.

So, let’s just be honest about things and acknowledge humbly and repentantly that we worship on land that was stolen from its native people. That’s not a very pleasant thing to think about--which is probably why we don’t do so very often.

About two hundred years later, my great great grandfather, Christopher Philip Winkler, came to the United States from the village of Guttenstetten in the province of Mittelfranken in the kingdom of Bavaria in what is now southern Germany. He settled in Memphis, TN where he taught music at a Catholic girls' school during the week. On Friday nights and Saturday mornings, he was the organist for Poplar Street synagogue. On Sunday mornings, he was the organist and choirmaster for St. Peter's Catholic Church. Christopher Philip was a Lutheran from a predominantly Catholic country who married a Scots-Irish Cumberland Presbyterian. They raised their six boys as Methodists.

Although I was born and raised Methodist, I like to think Christopher Philip’s example set the stage for my current work in the ecumenical field.

During World War I, my great grandfather, Eugene Winkler, was a medical doctor in southeastern Arkansas, about 100 miles south of Memphis. Dr. Winkler was proud of his German-American heritage, but this quickly became suspect when war broke out with Germany.

Remember, it was Teddy Roosevelt (not Donald Trump) who said, “There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. When I refer to hyphenated Americans, I do not refer to naturalized Americans. Some of the very best Americans I have ever known were naturalized Americans, Americans born abroad. But a hyphenated American is not an American at all.”

He went on to say:

“This is just as true of the man who puts “native” before the hyphen as of the man who puts German or Irish or English or French before the hyphen. Americanism is a matter of the spirit and of the soul. Our allegiance must be purely to the United States. We must unsparingly condemn any man who holds any other allegiance.”

The local townspeople insisted Dr. Winkler raise the American flag each morning in his front yard to prove he was loyal to the United States and not to Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany. The duty to raise that flag fell to his teenage son, my grandfather, also named Eugene Winkler.

(The rest of this sermon will be published in next week's newsletter and at

Yours in Christ,

Jim Winkler
President and General Secretary

J. Herbert Nelson is new PC(USA) stated clerk

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has elected a new stated clerk: J. Herbert Nelson II – a third-generation Presbyterian pastor, a prophetic voice for justice.

Nelson issued a call to Presbyterians stop focusing on internal church disputes, numerical survival, and labeling each other as progressives or conservatives, and to focus on “the impact God can make through us” in a broken world.

“I believe we are not dying,” Nelson told the 2016 General Assembly. “I believe we are reforming.”

On the first ballot, the assembly voted overwhelming 447 to 112 to elect Nelson – the official nominee and the director of the PC(USA)’s Office of Public Witness – over challenger David M. Baker, stated clerk of the Presbytery of Tampa and its director of communications.

Nelson will serve as the PC(USA)’s top ecclesiastical and constitutional officer, representing the denomination in interfaith and ecumenical settings.

World church leaders hail J. Herbert Nelson’s election as Stated Clerk of the PC(USA)

It didn’t take long for the kudos to start pouring in Friday after the 222nd General Assembly (2016) elected J.Herbert Nelson as the PC(USA)’s new Stated Clerk, the highest ecclesial office in the 1.5-million-member denomination.

Nelson, 57, is the first African-American elected to the post. “On behalf of the World Council of Churches, I wish a warm welcome to J. Herbert Nelson as he takes up the responsibilities of his new position,” said General Secretary Olav Fykse Tveit. “I am eager to meet personally with him, to share our views and discuss how best we can work together in the quest for Church unity and the unity of humanity.

“The new stated clerk and co-moderators of the General Assembly bring remarkable gifts and skill in addressing the things that make for peace, justice and unity,” Tveit said. “We in the WCC look forward to collaborating with you, as we have with retiring Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons, a member of the Central Committee who throughout his tenure has lent great strength and wisdom to the work of the World Council. May God’s blessing continue to be felt in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)!”

Derek Browning, ecumenical officer of the Church of Scotland, said, “We congratulate your new Stated Clerk and celebrate his election. What a bold and historic step for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)!”

From the Presbyterian Church in Canada, Principal Clerk Steven Kendall, said, “We have had great relations with Cliff (Kirkpatrick) and Gradye (Parsons), and I have had a chance to talk with J. Herbert Nelson this week. I look forward to his fresh perspective and his carrying on the strong ecumenical commitments of the PC(USA).”

Holy and Great Council draws to a close: An expression of Church unity, witness to faith in Christ

The Conference of European Churches commends its Orthodox Member Churches for the successful proceedings of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, held on 20 to 25 June in Crete. The Council was an expression of Church unity, and thus of great ecumenical significance.

The Holy and Great Council was the culmination of a century-long process, closely linked with the development of the modern ecumenical movement. The Orthodox church leaders who in the beginning of the 20th century initiated the discussions leading to the Great Council were also among the pioneers of dialogue and cooperation among all Christian churches.

“The Great Council is a remarkable achievement and a sign of God’s providence, considering the dramatic times of turmoil and persecution that the Orthodox Church has survived during the past 100 years,” reflected CEC General Secretary Fr Heikki Huttunen. “Even now, political conflict and persecution of Christians were acutely present in the background of the Council.”

On-line resources on Holy and Great Council now available

In a recent press release on the web site of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America it was announced that a special web site providing background information and resources concerning the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, slated to convene in Crete June 16-27, 2016, is now available.

In a video on the Council site, His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople explains that “the foremost goal of this Pan-Orthodox Council is to demonstrate and declare the unity of the Orthodox Church as well as proclaim and pronounce a message of hope and love to the world.”

The historic gathering—in the planning stage since the 1960s—is being supported with digital communications and a multilingual team of experts. According to the GOARCH release, issues to be discussed at the Council span “the mission of the Orthodox Church in the modern world and its relations with other Christian churches to the importance of fasting and the sacrament of marriage.” Also on the agenda will be a discussion on “how the Orthodox Church determines autonomy and matters related to the Orthodox diaspora.”

Pax Christi USA Statement on Recent Immigration Decision

Pax Christi USA joins with all those who are heart-sick in hearing of the Supreme Court decision in the US v Texas case. It stands as a clear example that common sense along with freedom from the fear of being in detention and deportation is not quite as important as political partisanship.

As faith leaders, we have worked tirelessly to ‘welcome the stranger’ among us and to live the Gospel mandate ‘whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me.’ Today we re-commit ourselves and our membership to continue examining our flawed, inhuman and unjust Immigration system and to seek out its root causes.

Granting a just and effective path to citizenship, offering temporary work permits and keeping families together to those who are contributing not only to the US economy, but to the rich diversity of our local communities is the least we can offer 6 million people who have suffered too much already for wanting to live without fear and in peace.

Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN
Executive Director  

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Ecumenical Opportunities:

Wellspring Advisors, a private philanthropic consulting firm, seeks a Senior Program Officer to develop and lead its racial justice initiative, with a focus on criminal justice. The successful candidate will be a seasoned professional with a minimum of 15 years of experience working on criminal justice issues in the United States and their intersection with racial justice, experience working with national and grassroots racial justice organizations, and significant experience collaborating with other funders and/or advocacy organizations on the issues of criminal and racial justice. 

Scarritt-Bennett Center (SBC) is seeking an Executive Director: SBC is an urban, non-profit education and retreat center committed to addressing social justice issues through regional, national and global programming that promotes cultural understanding, eradication of racism, education for and about women and spiritual renewal for all peoples. We seeking an Executive Director to lead our dynamic organization. July 28th is the deadline for receiving applications. For more information on Scarritt Bennett Center and to apply visit:

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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