Subject: NCC Weekly News

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From Jim: How racism affects lives today
I am eager to visit the new National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. Both have received widespread praise. The memorial and museum emerge from the brilliant and groundbreaking work of attorney Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative. 

The awful history of slavery, lynching, and racial segregation is told through these powerful new institutions. About one mile away is the White House of the Confederacy where Jefferson Davis, who led the South out of the United States, is praised as a “renowned American patriot.” 

Not everyone is happy, of course. One local resident said it is "a waste of money" and "a waste of space." The memorial traces the history of more than 4000 terrorist lynchings carried out by racists across the South in the seven decades following the Civil War. Another Montgomery citizen fears the museum itself will encourage violence. Another felt "it’s just stirring up something."
The governor of Alabama did not attend the opening of museum and memorial but instead released a video highlighting her commitment to preserving Confederate monuments.

Why must we remember?  This history has consequences that impact peoples' lives today. For years, I’ve kept an ever-expanding file detailing the systemic nature of racism in the United States. Some examples:
  • A 1995 study, “Race and Gender Discrimination in Bargaining for a New Car,” published in the American Economic Review revealed that auto dealers quoted significantly lower prices to white males than to black or female test buyers using identical, scripted bargaining strategies.
  • A 1999 study, “The Effect of Race and Sex on Physicians’ Recommendations for Cardiac Catheterization” published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that black women were significantly less likely to be referred for catheterization than white men. In other words, your race and sex influences how doctors manage your chest pain. 
  • A 2004 study titled, “Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal?” published in the American Economic Review details how identical fictitious resumes with randomly assigned African-American or White-sounding names were sent in response to help-wanted ads in Boston and Chicago newspapers. White names received 50% more callbacks for interviews. 
  • A 2009 field experiment, “Discrimination in a Low-Wage Labor Market” summarized in the American Sociological Review sent white, black, and Latino job seekers with identical resumes to apply in tandem for hundreds of entry-level jobs in New York City. Black applicants were half as likely as equally qualified whites to receive a callback or job offer. 
  • A 2018 study published by the Equality of Opportunity Project, “Race and Economic Opportunity in the United States”, showed that due to racial bias “Black and white boys have very different outcomes even if they grow up in two-parent families with comparable incomes, education, and wealth, live on the same city block, and attend the same school... Black children born to parents in the top income quintile are almost as likely to fall to the bottom quintile as they are to remain in the top quintile. By contrast, white children born in the top quintile are nearly five times as likely to stay there as they are to fall to the bottom.”
These and countless other studies tell us that racism is deeply embedded in our society. It shows us that it costs more to be black in America, it’s more dangerous to be black in America, and it’s more unhealthy to be black in America. These findings cannot be explained away as isolated instances exaggerated by discredited researchers. 

The question is, and has always been, "What are we going to do about it?” 

Grace and peace,
Jim Winkler
President and General Secretary
NCC Gives Thanks for the Life and Witness of Dr. James Cone

The National Council of Churches celebrates the life of Dr. James Cone and mourns his passing. Dr. Cone was a giant in the NCC community and is widely known as the founder of black liberation theology.

His writings, teachings, and lectures educated generations of church leaders. The NCC board chair, Bishop W. Darin Moore of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, said, “I have been personally challenged and enriched by Dr. Cone’s books and lectures.”

The NCC President and General Secretary, Jim Winkler, said, “As a young layperson, my faith was deepened and my consciousness was raised by reading God of the Oppressed in preparation for entering the mission field. Dr. Cone’s bachelor’s degree, his divinity degree, and his doctorate were all granted by educational institutions associated with NCC member communions. He was an itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. We cherish the fact that Dr. Cone was shaped by and gave shape to the ecumenical movement.”

Dr. Cone’s legacy and teachings will continue to shape the racial justice truth-telling initiative of the NCC. We give thanks for his ministry.

An Appreciation for James H. Cone by CME Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick

Dr. James H. Cone, an Arkansas native and African Methodist Episcopal Church ordained elder who had a major impact on 20th and 21st Centuries theology, died April 28, 2018. If you don’t know much about him, “Google” his name.

I could not fathom the significance of what I was reading when I first read his 1969 publication, Black Theology and Black Power. It confronted my Western, white-washed mind with new thoughts that I was not ready for.

A few months after trying to read his work, I attended my first General Conference (1970) and, therefore, heard an Episcopal Address for the first time. There was a compelling moment during the delivery of the Episcopal Address (by Bishop Joseph A. Johnson, Jr.) when Bishop Johnson got to a section titled, “The Emergence of Black Theologians.” With one hand he patted his modest Afro and verbally added to the title, “of which I am one.”

Christians find hope in Korean summit

The reunification of the Korean peninsula has been a longtime pursuit of Christians around the world.

So, the news of the April 27 summit between Kim Jong Un of North Korea and Moon Jae-in of South Korea — in Panmunjom, part of the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two countries — brought hope to many, before and after the event.

United Methodist Bishop Hee-Soo Jung of Wisconsin, who moved to the U.S. from South Korea in 1982, called the meeting “an answer to millions of prayers across decades.”

Healing and reconciliation is a duty of the church, says Jung, who was part of a World Council of Churches delegation to North Korea in 2015.

Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP): Intentional Omission of the Status of Occupied Territories is Deeply Problematic

The U.S. Department of State’s 2017 annual human rights report released on Friday, April 20, omitted any references to the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights as the occupied territories. Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) objects to this notable change in State Department language and sees the omission of the identification of Occupied Territories as deeply problematic. CMEP calls upon the State Department to consider all reports of human rights violations in the West Bank, Gaza, and Golan Heights within the context of Israel’s ongoing military occupation, as they have done under all previous administrations since 1979.

Christians, Jews and Muslims share a campus in a unique interfaith collaboration

Three Abrahamic congregations in Omaha, Nebraska, have created the Tri-Faith Initiative, building separate houses of worship and a shared community center to promote peace and understanding among communities of different faiths.

It’s a Friday afternoon, and the last of those attending a worship service at the American Muslim Institute’s new mosque in suburban Omaha, Nebraska, have filed out.

The talk and laughter shared after the service have given way to quiet. Imam Mohamad Jamal Daoudi stands at a large window inside the now-empty mosque, looking out at a picturesque scene -- rolling hills partially hiding the waters of a creek.

The natural beauty of the land is just the beginning, though. There is something deeper, more profound, that has taken root on this former golf course and is now blossoming.

‘Sharing faith, nurturing hope’ available for download

The World Council of Churches (WCC) Annual Review 2017 is available for download online. The annual review records many of the WCC’s activities undertaken in 2017 and continuing into 2018.

“Over the last year, I believe that we in the fellowship of churches and the ecumenical movement have experienced stronger ties with each other and deeper engagement with the world”, reflects WCC general secretary the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit. “This experience, occasioned by the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, now leads us to new vistas on the fellowship itself and the classic quest for visible unity.”

Tveit continues, “Grounded in the ongoing presence of the Resurrected Lord, Christian hope envisions and strives for the reign of God on earth as in heaven, with justice and life abundant for all. Let us work and walk there together.”

United Methodist Bishops propose plan for Way Forward

To find a way forward on the denomination’s homosexuality debate, bishops are recommending the church allow more freedom at the conference and local church levels.

Under what the Council of Bishops calls the One Church Plan, decisions about whether to ordain LGBTQ clergy or to officiate at same-gender unions would be made closer to the congregational level.

The plan would remove the restrictive language against the practice of homosexuality in the Book Discipline, the denomination’s policy book. The plan also adds assurances to pastors and conferences who in good conscience cannot perform same-sex weddings or ordain “self-avowed practicing” gay clergy that they don’t have to do so. Central conferences — church regions in Africa, Asia and Europe — could maintain current restrictions.

Endangered Species and Christian Faith

When God called on Noah to protect all creatures, Noah had no choice which creatures to load on board. All of creation belongs to God, and Noah was merely caretaker. Like Noah, we have a moral responsibility to safeguard God's creatures from irreparable harm from the dangers they face today.

Too many parts of God's creation teeter on the verge of extinction, and one in five species are threatened.

Ecclesiastes 3:19 says that the fate of the animals and the fate of humans are intertwined and we both share the same breath.

We know not what we do when we allow species to disappear from the earth forever. Let us not undo God’s handiwork.

Serving as a leading voice of witness to the living Christ in the public square since 1950, 
the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) brings together 38 member communions 
and more than 40 million Christians in a common expression of God’s love and promise of unity. 
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