Subject: NCC Weekly News: A Blessed Christmas

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The National Council of Churches' newsletter will take a brief hiatus
for the holidays and resume its weekly publication the first week
of January.  Enjoy a blessed Christmas and a happy New Year.
Join the NCC and get to "Know Your Neighbor"!

The NCC is a coalition partner in this nationwide effort.

The United States is the most diverse country in the world. Our patchwork heritage is a source of our country’s strength, and that extends to the diversity of our faiths and beliefs.

As a nation of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, non-religious, and more, we live and work together; yet, we are often unaware of the basic traditions and deepest values of our friends and neighbors.

We need to develop a greater understanding of one another – beyond the caricatures and the sound bites – because knowing our neighbors matters. More importantly, we believe a deeper understanding in one another reveals our common humanity.

We have faith in each other, and we have some great stories to share. Will you join us?

Louisville-based Presbyterian headquarters addresses calls to revoke Trump's membership

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Some Presbyterian officials want Donald Trump kicked out of the church following his remarks on banning all Muslims from entering the United States -- but church leaders at the denomination's headquarters here in Louisville say that won't happen.

Leaders got a letter from a church in New York, asking them to review Trump's membership for remarks in which he called for Muslim immigration to the U.S. to be halted.

"Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on," Trump said.

It was the all-out ban he proposed which led members of the Rutgers Presbyterian Church to adopt the resolution asking for a review of his standing in the denomination.

Rutgers is part of the same regional cluster, or "presbytery," as Trump's original home church in Queens.

An open letter to the Muslim American community

An open letter to the Muslim American community sent to ICNA (Islamic Circle of North America) by the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

Dear Muslim Sisters and Brothers,

Grace and peace to you. I am writing on behalf of many Christians in this country who wish to share a word of solidarity, love, and hope with you in these difficult days.

In this season of Advent, we, your Christian neighbors, are preparing to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who commanded that “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart… [and] you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31, NRSV).

In our love for you, our Muslim neighbors, we are distressed by the ways in which you are being forced to bear the fears held by many in our nation. Therefore, we renew our commitment to find even more effective ways to protect and defend you from words and actions which assault your safety and wellbeing. We believe God calls us to resist what is divisive, discriminatory, xenophobic, racist, or violent, and we want you to look to us as allies and friends.

New Jersey church embraces Syrian family

Morrow Memorial United Methodist Church in New Jersey did what it always does when deciding to help a family in need.

The congregation’s act of compassion, however, has received much more attention than any of its members or its pastor, the Rev. Brad Motta, anticipated. That’s because this particular family just happened to be Syrian refugees.

Politicians, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, have called for suspending entry of Syrian refugees into the United States. While Motta understands the concerns, he says that’s no excuse to not help others.

“We can have fear at first, but you can’t live in fear because that is not going to take you anywhere,” Motta said.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Theme for 2016:
"Called to proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord"
(1 Peter 2:9)

At least once a year, Christians are reminded of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples that “they may be one so that the world may believe” (see John 17.21). Hearts are touched and Christians come together to pray for their unity. Congregations and parishes all over the world exchange preachers or arrange special ecumenical celebrations and prayer services. The event that touches off this special experience is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Traditionally the week of prayer is celebrated between 18-25 January, between the feasts of St Peter and St Paul. In the southern hemisphere, where January is a vacation time, churches often find other days to celebrate it, for example around Pentecost, which is also a symbolic date for unity.

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