Subject: NCC Weekly News: Armenia and Baltimore

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From Jim: Armenia and an End to Genocide
I traveled to Armenia for the 100th anniversary commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, April 22-24. It was an extremely powerful spiritual and emotional experience.

Once again, I recognized the importance of the witness and presence of the National Council of Churches and representatives of the ecumenical movement at events such as the genocide commemoration. I’m sometimes not sure exactly how to quantify the importance of these kinds of events and our presence when I am speaking at church potluck dinners, or even to denominational leaders, but I know it is true.

Repeatedly, throughout the commemoration events in the capital city of Yerevan and at the Mother See of Armenian Christianity at Holy Etchmiadzin words of thanks were expressed for the presence of ecumenical councils and church leaders from around the world, because as it is written in Acts 4:20 “we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

The profound ceremonies held in Armenia, attended by thousands of people, and followed worldwide by millions, will have a U.S. counterpart this coming weekend. On the evening of May 7, the Washington National Cathedral will be completely full for an ecumenical service that will be led by His Holiness Karekin II of the Armenian Apostolic Church and will be attended by the president of Armenia. More than 100 representatives of the NCC and our member communions will be present.

In my lifetime alone, millions of people have been slaughtered in religious, political and ethnic violence in Darfur, Rwanda, Indonesia, Cambodia, the Balkans, Iraq, Vietnam, Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and elsewhere. Who among us believes another genocide or spate of mass killings won’t happen again?

Are we numb? I pray not. Elie Wiesel has written that to forget the dead would be akin to killing them again. And so we construct museums, hold observances, proclaim official recognitions, lift up personal stories of loss and survival, reaffirm our commitment to human rights, and prosecute the wicked. Yet we seem to repeat the bloodletting.

When the world is united it is possible to contain genocidal acts. One of the speakers in Yerevan noted that genocide does not fall from the heavens. It is always a choice. We must move from nationalism to internationalism.

In Armenia, Archbishop Vicken said to gathered church leaders, “Thank you for sharing our grief and our rebirth.” May we muster the courage and the resolve to end genocide and mass murder.


“Broken windows are not broken spines:” Listening to and Observing Baltimore

By CME Senior Bishop Lawrence Reddick

Some of us will not forget the pictures of looting in Baltimore … the pictures televised and emailed over and over again to the point of being “unforgettable.”

But here is the tragedy: we may forget Freddie Gray, arrested for reasons we do not know and dead after riding in the paddy wagon.

Community leaders in Baltimore and community leaders from other cities who went to Baltimore for the days following last week’s funeral of Freddie Gray did the world many services. And I believe we can learn from them as we note several things they did.
Bishops urged to speak out as group on racism

United Methodist bishops must speak out against racism and address the anger that has sparked riots in Baltimore and other U.S. cities, the Council of Bishops president said in an emotional address.

“It is not enough for us to remain silent. We’re dealing with principalities and powers, I believe,” Bishop Warner Brown Jr. told bishops on May 1. The bishops are meeting this week in Germany’s capital.

Brown, who also leads the denomination’s San Francisco area, spoke to a group that included 65 active and 26 retired bishops from around the globe. Brown also released a letter to all United Methodists asking them to join the council “in prayer, reflection and action toward overcoming the issues that sometimes divide our societies.”

ELCA members called to pray, stand in solidarity with Baltimore residents

In an effort to stand in solidarity with residents of Baltimore as the unrest there continues, the Rev. Wolfgang D. Herz-Lane, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's (ELCA) Delaware-Maryland Synod based in Baltimore, is encouraging people of faith across the country to step outside their places of worship May 3 for a moment of silence and prayer.

Shortly after the death of Freddie Gray, Herz-Lane and other religious leaders of the city expressed concern over Gray's death. In a public statement they appealed to "citizens of good will to remain calm" and express their "anger and frustration in peaceful and constructive ways." Herz-Lane chairs an ecumenical leaders group in Baltimore and is a member of the city's interfaith council, which includes Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders.
Baltimore’s storied churches see a chance for revival amid civil unrest

The small, unusual congregation that met in Bethel AME Church’s grand sanctuary Wednesday night held hands and locked arms tightly as they prayed. Their own survival, it seemed, was at stake.

The pews of the stately, 235-year-old Marble Hill church held clusters of people who normally never come together. Middle-aged and senior Bethel members in one row. Christian clergy from other parts of Baltimore in another. Nation of Islam members in another. Rows of young gang members seated along the side.

The Rev. Frank Reid III, Bethel’s pastor and the son and grandson of AME bishops, had called the service and meeting of about 60 people. “I want,” he said from the front of the sanctuary, “to start a dialogue.”

Exploring the Impact of Suicide Prevention Research in Faith-Based Communities: A Webinar

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 02:00:00 PM EDT - 03:00:00 PM EDT

Please join ICRC on Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time for “Exploring the Impact of Suicide Prevention Research in Faith-Based Communities” with speakers Dr. Sherry Molock of George Washington University and Rev. Phyllis Jackson of the Rochester, New York area. Faith communities can work to prevent suicide by enhancing many of the activities that are already central to their mission. Dr. Molock will share her research on depression and suicidal behaviors in African Americans and the role of faith in healing. Rev. Jackson will talk about her experiences in implementing health ministries as a foundation for suicide prevention. This session will be moderated by Dr. Ann Marie White of the University of Rochester Medical Center.

The 2015 NCC's signature event, the annual Christian Unity Gathering, will again be held outside of Washington, DC at the Hilton Washington Dulles International Airport. This year's gathering will continue our focus on Mass Incarceration as well as spend significant time examining NCC's second priority area, Interfaith Relations with a Focus on Peace. In addition, there will be a special service of commemoration for the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide held at the Washington National Cathedral. This service will include visitors from around the world and from many levels of government as well.

Thursday's keynote address will be given by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee. During the Liberian civil war, Gbowee organized Christian and Muslim women to demonstrate together, founding Liberian Mass Action for Peace and launching protests and a sex strike. Gbowee's part in helping to oust Charles Taylor was featured in the documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell. This will be a powerful event you will not want to miss!
Employment and Internship Opportunities

Riverside Church, New York City, Director of Children & Families: In working towards forming a community centered on becoming "One Riverside," the Director of Children and Families will oversee our ministry for welcoming youth into The Riverside Church while accompanying them along the path of discipleship. The Director of Children and Families will develop a vision for a vibrant ministry that extends beyond the walls of our building into our neighborhood of Harlem and actively engages laity, community partners, and volunteers in pursuit of that goal. He/She will provide support to our children and their families while creating pathways for them to experience belonging, nurture, and a relationship with God through Jesus Christ within our community.

Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer: Uniting People of Faith to Build Stronger Communities is the mission that has driven Associated Ministries to deeply engage in addressing social problems in Pierce County, Washingon,  since 1969. Associated Ministries is a center for interfaith relations that has brought together more than 250 congregations of numerous and diversified faith traditions to help deliver critical social services to Tacoma-Pierce County.

Connecting faith communities, as well as individuals within those communities, to efforts in the broader community, Associated Ministries provides a way for people of faith to act on their faith. And it does so in a way that helps those efforts to be significant and impactful.

Face to Face is a seven-week program that aims to invite students preparing for ministry in cultural, social, theological and contextual realities to understand, to motivate and to engage with the realities on how the fullness of life is being denied to the large majority of the world’s population.

We would like to inform you that the Building Life-Affirming Communities: Face To Face with the many poor and the many faiths in Asia is now accepting applications. This Program will be conducted in two locations -- Bishop’s College in Kolkata and Henry Martin Institute in Hyderabad, India -- from 3rd October to 16th November 2015.

Through this Program, the participants will come face to face with the issues on poverty and pluralism, specifically within the Asian context of many religions and many poor.

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