Subject: NCC Weekly News: Christian Unity Gathering Wrap-Up

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From Jim: The Christian Unity Gathering
“I wouldn’t miss it.” A number of people said those words to me last week as I welcomed them to the second Christian Unity Gathering of the National Council of Churches. I looked around the room and saw people from many different faith traditions join together in a joyous weekend together.

Our focus was on the NCC’s priority of working for peace in an interreligious manner. One of the major speakers, Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee of Liberia, told the story of how Christian and Muslim women joined together through Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace to successfully demand an end to the long civil war in which a quarter million people died. 

Rabbi Gerry Serotta of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington and Naeem Baig of the Islamic Circle of North America joined Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit of the World Council of Churches on a panel that set the context for the weekend.

Students from Boston University School of Theology participated in the Gathering thanks to the leadership of my good friend Dr. Cristian de la Rosa, professor of contextual theology. Our Intergenerational Think Tank, led by former NCC president Kathryn Lohre, met and challenged the NCC to be more out front on economic justice, climate change, and human sexuality.

We joined 2500 people in commemoration of the holy martyrs of the Armenian Genocide at the Washington National Cathedral in a deeply moving service sponsored by the National Council of Churches that attended by the president of Armenia and the vice president of the United States.

In the midst of all of this our Governing Board and Convening Tables met as did the Local and Regional Ecumenism Committee. The World Council of Churches Relations Committee hosted a dinner at which the WCC general secretary spoke. 

We had great worship experiences together with music leadership provided by the Glocal Singers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Poignantly, at one point, they led us in a hymn to God with this refrain that has stayed with me:

Bring your best to our worst
Bring your peace to our pain
God of love, heal your people.

I realize that due to the need to get home for church on Sunday and the desire to return home some missed the closing worship service and therefore they did not hear an incredible sermon delivered by the NCC board chair, Rev. Dr. Roy Medley, that closed with these words:

“I don't know about you but I want to be part of a salvific movement, part of a church that lives in, points to, and works for that day with all its being. Oh may it be so, oh may it be so, oh may it be so to the glory of God. Amen.”

Right now we’re conducting a poll to help us determine the date for next year’s Christian Unity Gathering and you can participate by clicking on this link. Don’t miss it!


2015 Christian Unity Gathering Brings Inspiration, Focus, Spectacle

WASHINGTON: The National Council of Churches held its second annual Christian Unity Gathering, May 7-9, in Washington, DC with over 200 Christian leaders, scholars, activists, and ecumenists present from across the United States to focus on the NCC’s priority of interfaith peacemaking.

The NCC pursues two main areas in its ecumenical work: to build interfaith relations with an emphasis on peacemaking, and to end mass incarceration.

Leymah Gbowee, the Liberian Nobel Peace Prize winner, keynoted the Gathering and shared the powerful story of a mass movement of Christian and Muslims known as Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace that helped end the Liberian civil war that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

A Call to Police Reform and Healing of Communities

The root of justice and peace is a moral belief in the intrinsic worth of all human life. The advancement of technology and use of social media have brought to light evidence of a disturbing truth – the lives of African Americans, particularly those in impoverished communities, are not valued as much as those of the wealthy and affluent. The misdirected “War on Drugs” and “get tough on crime” policies of the past decades have given birth to militarized police forces that do not best serve the people and communities they are mandated to keep safe.

The high-profile deaths of unarmed African Americans at the hand of police in Ferguson, Staten Island, North Charleston, and most recently Baltimore are not isolated incidents. The incidents of police brutality resulting in major injuries and death are taking place so often we can barely keep up with the reports. This is a national problem that calls for a federal, state and local response.
Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, May 7, 2015

This evening’s commemoration is a solemn occasion. We are gathered with our sisters and brothers in the Armenian Orthodox Church and the wider Armenian community to give witness to the Armenian Genocide. We are also gathered with them to acknowledge their faith and resilience in the face of such adversity. And so, we gather together to remember, to mourn, to find inspiration, and yes, even to celebrate.

We remember that the Armenian Genocide was the first genocide of the 20th century, and that it marked the beginning of what is commonly referred to as the bloodiest, most violent century in all of human history. During the horrific period beginning in 1915 and continuing until 1923, more than 1 million Armenians (and others) were killed, and hundreds of thousands more were displaced. The dead were buried in the land where they had lived for generations. The refugees were dispersed throughout the world, and some to the United States, where their future generations have now become the friends and neighbors with whom we stand today.

Give to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to Nepal

The recent earthquake centered in Nepal has been devastating to tens of thousands of people—not just in Nepal, but India and Bangladesh too. At the time of this publication, it’s known that more than 8,000 are dead and 17,000 have been injured. And the needs of survivors and those affected by this terrible tragedy will be great for months—even years—to come.

As people of faith we know you will pray for those who are suffering greatly. Our Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) ministry is working with our partners to provide financial and other support on the ground. Visit our PDA web site to learn how you can help in this time of great need, and be the presence of God with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance for the people of Nepal. 

Also see:
NEW NCC RESOURCE: Starter Kit for Teaching and Learning on Mass Incarceration

For over six decades, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has not only provided an opportunity for ecumenical cooperation among Christian communions, but also has effectively promoted peace and justice in Christ’s name. In more recent times, as the NCC has reconfigured itself to better address the needs of the twenty-first-century world, two key priorities of focus have been named, mass incarceration and interfaith relations with peacemaking. To address these priorities, Convening Tables have been established, allowing smaller groups of representatives to utilize their time and expertise for the benefit of the whole.

To this end, the NCC Convening Table on Christian Education, Ecumenical Faith Formation, and Leadership Development offers the following Starter Kit for Teaching and Learning on Mass Incarceration. This resource, developed over the past several months, is a toolbox replete with various offerings intended to inform and engage individuals, small groups, congregations, and classrooms alike.
Day of Action on U.S. Drone Strikes

Friday, May 15, 2015

Call the Capitol switchboard toll free at (877)429-0678

Ask for your House Representative (find at and your two U.S. Senators (find at

Tell the offices you are concerned about drone strikes

Helpful talking points:
  • The Administration is conducting a covert war through the CIA by operating a “kill list” without meaningful oversight and accountability from Congress or the American people. This is an enormous power and it is too dangerous to leave unchecked.
  • The policy of relying on drones expands war from defined battlefields to global, endless strikes against ill-defined entities that otherwise would likely not be targeted.
  • Though it is impossible to know the exact number because of government secrecy, thousands have been unintentionally killed by drone strikes. Because the drones program targets individuals for their affiliations regardless of their location, drone strikes often traumatize or displace communities.
  • The drones program is not working to bring about real security or peace. Global terrorism is on the rise, and extremist groups use the trauma inflicted by drone strikes as a recruitment tool.
Tell your Member of Congress you are concerned about the moral implications of the secret drone wars, and you’d like to see the strikes halted. Ask them to publicly call on the Administration to disclose all strikes to date.
Employment and Internship Opportunities

The National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund (NCPTF) and the Peace Tax Foundation (PTF) are seeking a part-time (approximately 24 hours/week) Executive Director to serve both organizations. NCPTF advocates for the enactment of a legal alternative for conscientious objectors to the payment of military taxes. PTF is its informational and educational partner organization. The Executive Director, based in the Washington, D.C. office, represents both organizations and is responsible for administration, lobbying, and fundraising. For more information, see the NCPTF Job Openings tab on our website. Send inquiries to The closing date for applications is June 1, 2015.

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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