Subject: NCC Weekly News: Charlottesville and the Churches

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From Jim: Reaching Out to Speak Against Bigotry and Hatred
My dad told me his father was in the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s in Arkansas. I never saw a membership card or a white hooded robe, and I never heard Grandpa talk about it, but his awful comments about African Americans, Catholics, and Jews for many years were well known to his family. 

Thankfully, Grandpa’s three sons did not share his retrograde views, nor did his grandchildren. My father was heavily influenced by Martin Luther King, Jr., Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jim Lawson, and many others. He became involved in civil rights and peace struggles and shared his convictions with his congregations. 

For us, it is summed up in 1 John 4:8, “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” This verse, this ethic, stands in opposition to racism and hatred. 
My uncle has been a pastor in Charlottesville for a number of years and now supports Congregate C’ville. This past weekend, two NCC staff persons, Rev. Dr. Joseph Crockett and Rev. Steven D. Martin, were present for the worship service and march in opposition to “Unite the Right” as were many other clergy from NCC member communions. It appears to me that it was clergy from our churches who formed the backbone of faith opposition to the Klan and neo-Nazi groups who marched on Charlottesville.

In these months ahead, the National Council of Churches will work closely with the Conference of National Black Churches and others to counter the message of hatred and violence spewed by white supremacists and hate groups.

Our truth and reconciliation task force, chaired by Ms. Jacqueline DuPont-Walker of the AME Church and Rev. John Dorhauer of the United Church of Christ, will work with NCC member communions to call our churches and nations to account for the shameful legacy of slavery and racism that plagues American society.

I have reached out to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Association of Evangelicals and invited them to join together with the NCC to speak clearly and unequivocally against racism and hatred. I hope they will join with us.

Grace and peace,
Jim Winkler
General Secretary and President
National Council of Churches Condemns “Unite the Right”

The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA condemns, in the strongest terms, the “Unite the Right” gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, August 12th. We deplore the ideology behind it and the hatred manifest in it. White supremacy must find no sanction or shelter in America today.

We grieve for the lives needlessly lost. Heather Heyer, 32, died in what we believe has been appropriately named a terrorist act by Attorney General Sessions. She died as a witness to love and justice for all. We grieve for the two officers in the Virginia State Police, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, 40, and pray for their families.


The white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, is a stain on the soul and fabric of our country.  The sight of protesters carrying torches and shouting white nationalist slogans and anti-Semitic chants and clashing with those demonstrating against racist and Nazi ideology, reminds us of the darkest days of our country’s history.

President Trump’s failure to clearly and consistently denounce KKK and neo-Nazi actions at the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally is a shame upon this nation, its people, and a spectacle to the rest of the world.

US history is replete with examples of racist extremism: marches lit by flaming torches; lynchings, murders, and rapes of African Americans; large-scale police violence (such as fire hoses) aimed at people marching for their civil rights; hateful speech spewed by neo-Nazis during parades.  The violence in Charlottesville, culminating in the murder of a young woman demonstrating against hate and the death of two state police troopers doing their duty to help quell the violence, is the latest incident in this long line of outrages.

In Charlottesville, can “the power of love” prevail?

On Saturday in Charlottesville, one woman died and 19 others were injured when a man who, after rallying with white supremacist groups, rammed his car into a crowd. Earlier in the day, two law enforcement officers lost their lives when their helicopter crashed as they patrolled the building crowds.

On Friday, the movement “Congregate Charlottesville” gathered pastors in a direct, nonviolent action, stating, “Charlottesville has recently become a hotspot for national white supremacist organizations and demonstrations.”

Religious leaders have united across faith lines, states and nations with clear message: they will not ignore racist extremism. They will not do nothing.

The disagreement, in the most simple terms, was sparked over the planned removal of a controversial statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. But many regard Charlottesville as a testing point of how the nation will - or will not - confront white supremacy, a history of racism, and the growing inability to participate in civil discourse.

When Neo-Nazis Called Pastors "Heretics" in Charlottesville

One of the primary ways I process information I don’t understand is to place it within the confines of a frame. That frame may be intellectual or visual. I might not have been able to bear being an eyewitness to the events in Charlottesville this past Saturday if I had not had my camera to help organize, or protect me from, what I saw.

Several weeks ago we at the National Council of Churches (NCC) were contacted by a pastor in Charlottesville, Rev. Phil Woodson, Associate Pastor of First United Methodist Church. He wanted to alert us to what was expected on August 12th. There had been a crescendo of activity by the alt-right in response to the Charlottesville City Council’s decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee and rename the park that frames it to Emancipation Park. One rally turned violent. The “Unite the Right” rally, Rev. Woodson remarked, would be much larger and would present a serious challenge to the city of Charlottesville.

A week later, I recorded an interview with Rev. Woodson for our weekly podcast. He sounded concerned. He spoke of the upcoming confrontation as a Tolkien-esque moment: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” The reference seemed a bit too grand at time, but it certainly got my attention.

UCC Pastoral Letter condemns racist violence in Charlottesville, demands equality for all

Last weekend, a group of white supremacists came to Charlottesville, Virginia, and incited violence to protest the removal of a Confederate monument. Although protest is the bedrock of our nation’s democracy, coming in riot gear proves that they intended to do more than simply protest.

We, the Council of Conference Ministers and Officers of the United Church of Christ, strongly condemn the acts of violent hatred expressed by these white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and Ku Klux Klan members. Their white robes and burning crosses were replaced with polo shirts, khakis, and tiki torches, while their lynching was replaced with a speeding car barreling through a group of peaceful protesters with the intention of harming and killing others, which it did. Their vitriolic hatred is the same.

We confess that the events of Charlottesville are systemic and communal expressions of white privilege and racism that continues to pervade our nation’s spiritual ethos. And if we only condemn the acts of August 12, 2017, without condemning the roots of racism, which perpetuate discrimination in our American schools, justice system, business, and healthcare systems, then we have sinned as well. We must work toward the Kin-dom of Heaven here on earth now for the sake of a just world for all.
Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church Metropolitan Issues Statement on Charlottesville

It saddens us that our nation has been disturbed with hatred and violence. The display of division in Charlottesville, Virginia has shaken every facet of our society. May the men and women of our great country unite in the true spirit of America, and trample upon such voices and senseless violence. The clergy and faithful of the Northeast American Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, join me in condemning such acts of violence. We offer our prayers for those who have been injured, and for the tragic loss of life. We continue in the spirit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and stand united with all Americans!

Metropolitan Zachariah Mar Nicholovos
Northeast American Diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church

Presbyterians quote from the Confession of Belhar and remember their baptism after violence in Charlottesville

Meg Rift, associate for curriculum development for Congregational Ministries Publishing, could not ignore images she saw on social media sites of Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville. The sights included angry men with torches and guns projecting a message of hate and counter-demonstrators, including clergy and people of all faiths, with arms linked in solidarity singing to drown out the hate rhetoric.

On Sunday, Rift noticed that Presbyterians across the country were posting excerpts from sermons, liturgies and prayers on social media, quoting the Confession of Belhar. Fifty years after it was birthed in South Africa by the Dutch Mission Church during its battle against apartheid, Belhar was added to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Book of Confessions at the 222nd General Assembly (2016).

“Belhar is about what the church says about racial injustice,” says Rift, “and about what we can do about justice and reconciliation. If we didn’t think it was relevant to us before, it certainly is now, especially considering its call to justice.”

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry: Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?

In this moment – when the stain of bigotry has once again covered our land, and when hope, frankly, sometimes seems far away, when we must now remember new martyrs of the way of love like young Heather Heyer – it may help to remember the deep wisdom of the martyrs who have gone before.

The year was 1967. It was a time not unlike this one in America. Then there were riots in our streets, poverty and unbridled racism in our midst, and a war far away tearing us apart at home. In that moment, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a book, his last one, with a message that rings poignant today. It was titled, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?”

One of his insights then was that a moment of crisis is always a moment of decision. It was true then and is true now. Where do we go from here? Chaos? Indifference? Avoidance? Business as usual? Or Beloved Community?

I’m a follower of Jesus of Nazareth because I believe the teachings, the Spirit, the Person, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus have shown us the way through the chaos to true community as God has intended from the beginning.

First woman to head mainline denomination, a former Oklahoman, reflects on her ministry

The Rev. Sharon Watkins, a former pastor in Bartlesville and former professor at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, has just ended 12 years as head of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada.

When she was elected to the post in 2005, she was the first woman to head a major U.S. mainline denomination.

Since then, several other women have held the top job in major denominations, including the Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, elected presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in 2006.

Watkins, now living in Indianapolis, reflected on her life and ministry, as well as her years as general minister and president of the 700,000-member denomination.

Ecumenical Opportunities:

American Progress has an immediate opening for a research associate for the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative. The research associate will work under the direction of the vice president of the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative and will be responsible for producing research and writing on the intersection of theology and progressive social policy.

The American Baptist Churches USA Office of the General Secretary is searching for persons to fill two Associate General Secretary positions. Originally announced on July 14, 2017, the positions include Associate General Secretary for Missional Initiatives and Partnerships and Associate General Secretary for Congregational and Pastoral Effectiveness. The deadline for applications is August 15, 2017.

Church World Service is seeking a creative and visionary leader to fill the position of Media Associate. The ideal candidate will live and breathe a commitment to immigrants’ rights and a coalition approach to advocacy, and thrive in a creative environment in which no day is the same. This team member will join and be at the intersection of the CWS Advocacy, Communications, and Immigration and Refugee Program staff teams.

Church World Service is seeking a savvy digital media intern to support our communications work.This internship offers valuable real-world experience in digital media outreach, online organizing, and graphic design.

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) seeks a full-time Director of U.S. Prisons Program to coordinate national interfaith organizing and strategic state and federal advocacy for its interfaith members working to end the torture of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, jails, and detention centers. Strong preference for the position to be based in NRCAT's Washington, DC office, though open to possibility of remote work.

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