Subject: NCC Weekly News: Christians Promote Peace in North, South Korea

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From Jim:
I am shocked and sickened by the violence plaguing U.S. society, including the killings recently of 49 people in Orlando, those of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, and the murders of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Numerous others have died violently in our nation during that same time frame.

Ours is an intensely violent, racist society. Can we be surprised so many people are killed by guns and rifles each year when hundreds of millions of weapons are owned by our populace, and when millions of Americans have been militarily trained in advanced tactics, deployed in war zones, and now suffer from post traumatic stress? No. We have established the conditions for massive violence and are now enduring the consequences. 

Will it always be this way? I pray not. The Onion, my favorite online satirical news source, recently ran an article positing that perhaps if we work at it over the next several hundred generations, we might be able to live peacefully by the year 8000. As a Christian, my faith keeps me optimistically believing it can be on earth as it is in heaven. As a student of history, I accept it is unlikely it will be so during my lifetime. 
Should we be surprised that a nation with a legacy of slavery and racism continues to experience serious racial tensions each and every day? No. Last week, I sat in a bagel shop in Rapid City, SD and overheard a police officer and a local businessman describe Black Lives Matter supporters as criminals, and state that a bloodbath is inevitable. I fear their views are held by many others. 
You may have read about the Dallas trauma surgeon, Brian Williams, who helped save the lives of some of the police officers who were recently shot there. Williams is known to pick up the restaurant tabs of police officers as a way of expressing his appreciation for them.

Brian Williams is African American and says about the police, “I support you. I defend you. I will care for you. That doesn’t mean I will not fear you.”

I maintain a file on racism. Here are just a few headlines from that inbox folder:
  • Poor whites live in richer neighborhoods than middle-class blacks and Latinos;
  • Exclusion of Blacks From Juries Raises Renewed Scrutiny;
  • Racial Wealth Gap Persists Despite Degree, Study Says;
  • Analysis Finds Higher Expulsion Rates for Black Students;
  • The Disproportionate Risks of Driving While Black;
  • Obama's skin looks a little different in these GOP campaign ads;
  • The disturbing reason some African American patients may be under-treated for pain;
  • Machine Bias: Software used to predict future criminals is biased against blacks.
We know we have a violence problem and a systemic racism problem in the United States. What we lack is the willpower to address our problems. May God help us.

Yours in Christ,

Jim Winkler
President and General Secretary

Christians in North and South Korea pray armistice agreement may become peace treaty

"I need you to work late translating again tonight, Kurt,” Rev. Seung Min Shin told me at the end of the day. He handed me a statement written in Korean by Christians from North and South Korea in consultation. “We need the English version to send to the World Council of Churches tomorrow, and then we can use it for our peace treaty campaign,” he explained.

Rev. Shin is director of the Reconciliation and Unification Department of the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK). Since the summer of 2014, I have been working for NCCK, translating and sharing statements, letters of advocacy for peace, and joint prayers written in cooperation between the NCCK in South Korea and the official church of North Korea, the Korean Christian Federation (KCF).

At first, the stories of all the NCCK consultations and joint activities with the KCF surprised me. Up to that point, I’d been led me to believe reunification was impossible. Slowly, as I have become familiar with the history of the NCCK, I have begun to learn that I had fallen into the “Danger of a Single Story,” just as in the famous TED Talk given by novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2009).

Christians from the North and South have been meeting since the 1980s, when Eastern European Christians from the former Communist Bloc agreed to introduce North Korean Christians to the World Council of Churches. This led to the first, very tense meeting between South and North Korean Christians in Switzerland in 1988. In turn, that meeting led to advocacy, which the PC(USA) joined to persuade the North Korean government to ease restrictions on Christians, which it did, creating the KCF as an official church. Together, the two groups have advocated an end to the idolatry of enemy images in South and North Korea as well as in the U.S. and all countries involved in Northeast Asia conflict.

A Statement from the College of Bishops of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church on Recent Police Violence Against Black Citizens

The College of Bishops joins the variety of individuals, faith groups, organizations and leaders who have spoken out against recent killings that have occurred in these few days in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Falcon Heights, Minnesota; Dallas, Texas and in California. As bishops in the church, we cannot be silent and as a people of faith called by God, our Church cannot be silent about these current issues of murder in America.

It is our hope and faith in God that we become a people of wisdom and understand that violence begets violence and we must seek wisdom through prayer and conversations with intent to change and reform our police departments who hold the public trust to provide safety for all citizenry in every jurisdiction that they are entrusted to serve. Those services must be provided without acts of racism and viciousness protected by a badge and a uniform signifying authority. The public trust is the backbone of reciprocal relationships of mutual respect. Any breakdown of this trust ultimately leads to civil dysfunction and outrage. The integrity of such trust must not be uprooted because of the insensitivity that some individual police officers display and have displayed in the past. At the same time, the lives of police officers must be protected as well.

As clergy and lay persons in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church we affirm that 'Black Lives Matter', and rightly so. However, out of the 500 or so police related shootings in the last year, 120 of those deadly shootings have been African Americans according to a recent discussion on CNN. The excessive use of force by police that results in any unwarranted death is wrong. We realize that the level of sensitivity is high among African American people because the appearance of things point to a continuation of little or no respect for black life, especially black males. Moreover, it is with faith in a faithful God that we seek wisdom and counsel in moving forth to create a platform of change in America that voices all lives matter.

Rest in Peace: The Rt. Rev. Edmond Lee Browning. 24th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church

Presiding Bishop Curry, former Presiding Bishops Jefferts Schori and Griswold, PHOD Jennings offer tributes

The Rt. Rev. Edmond Lee Browning, the 24th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, died on July 11, 2016. He was 87 years old and was living in Oregon.

Bishop Browning served as Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church 1986-1997. Bishop Browning’s election as Presiding Bishop in 1986 was seen as a reflection of the Church’s broadening diversity due to his extensive international and multi-cultural experience.

Bishop Browning hoped to encourage a growing awareness of diversity in the Church. He was well-known for his quote, “no outcasts in the church.”

“The Episcopal Church is faithfully seeking to truly become, ‘a house of prayer for all people,’ as Jesus said quoting the Hebrew prophets, and that is greatly the case because Presiding Bishop Browning taught us that the church must be a place where there are no outcasts,” commented the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, the 27th Presiding Bishop. “That enduring legacy is still helping to set many a captive free. It is evidence that God is not finished with us yet, for every once in a while spiritual giants still walk among us as living reminders. And one of those reminders was Edmond Lee Browning, 24th Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church. Well done good and faithful servant. May you rest in peace and rise in glory.”

AME Zion Bishop Richard Thompson Dies at 73

Prelate of Mid-Atlantic II Episcopal District: includes Maryland, D.C., Virginia, East Tennessee, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Bishop Richard Keith Thompson, a longtime religious leader in Washington, D.C., and in the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Zion Church, has died. He was 73.

Thompson died at his home July 16 after months-long illness, according to church leaders familiar with the circumstances.

“The Board of Bishops along with the entire A.M.E. Zion Church Family are in sadness over the passing of Bishop Richard K. Thompson,” the denomination said in a statement on its website. “Please be in prayer for his family, his district, and for all of the lives that he touched.”

Thompson’s death comes just days before the church’s 50th Quadrennial Conference, which will be held in Greensboro, N.C., from July 20-26. According to sources, the bishop was set to retire during the conclave. He is the third A.M.E. Zion bishop to die since the last quadrennial gathering—Bishop James McCoy died in November 2012 and Bishop Roy Holmes died May 2013.

This Week's Podcast: Robert P. Jones

The NCC is bringing the best, most interesting and relevant voices from the faith community to your mobile device. Every week NCC communications director Rev. Steven D. Martin interviews faith leaders, activists, and people from across the NCC's 38 member communions and affiliated organizations.

This week's guest: Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, speaks with us about his new book, "The End of White Christian America." Jones describes the changes in demographics that affect Christian churches in the US, and how they affect today's contentious political landscape.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast in the iTunes Store and Stitcher Radio. If you like what you're hearing, please write a review. By doing this you will help us reach the widest possible audience!
UCC mourns long-time conference minister, church statesman, justice advocate John Deckenback

The United Church of Christ is grieving the loss of one of its greatest champions. The Rev. John Deckenback, spiritual leader, tireless advocate for justice and peace, and long-time Conference Minister of the Central Atlantic Conference UCC died suddenly Tuesday evening, July 19. He was found unresponsive at his desk at the conference office and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.

"John Deckenback was a hero to me," said the Rev. John Dorhauer, United Church of Christ general minister and president. "He was the first conference minister I got to know at a personal level. He took me under his wings and showed me what real presence, real passion, and real advocacy looked like. He met every challenge with the same force, the same intellectual rigor, the same tenacity. He laughed long and loud, and loved deeply. He was a champion of the poor, the marginalized, the disenfranchised. He was the foe of the oppressor, the empire, and any power that lorded itself over others. He let you know when he disagreed with you, and asked you do the same to him."

Ecumenical Opportunities:

The WCC is looking for an EAPPI Communication Officer at 100% based in Jerusalem to be responsible to be to identify internal and external communication priorities, transform communications strategies into concrete action, and align messages toward WCC’s common objectives and goals. Reporting to the Local Program Coordinator on a day-to-day basis, she/he will be fully integrated to the WCC communication department, and as such will be accountable to the director of communication.

The Conference of European Churches (CEC) seeks an Assembly Coordinator: The CEC is an ecumenical fellowship of 114 Member Churches, National Councils of Churches, and Organizations in Partnership. CEC’s membership covers Europe in its broad political sense, from Iceland to Armenia, Canary Islands to Siberia. CEC was founded in 1959 having active associates and networks in most European countries. The mission of CEC is to pursue together the path of growing conciliar understanding by helping the European Churches to renew their spiritual life, to strengthen their common witness and service and to promote the unity of the Church and peace in the world.

The Latin America Working Group (LAWG) has an immediate opening for a Program Assistant/Financial Associate. This staff member will have a variety of program responsibilities, including organizing online and offline campaigns, assisting in advocacy with policymakers and helping to coordinate coalition work on U.S. policy toward Colombia and Central America and embargo and travel issues regarding Cuba. This staff member will be responsible for finance-related tasks, including carrying out weekly check writing and deposits, preparing financial reports and working with our bookkeeper and accountant. The staff member will also be responsible for acting as technology liaison with our tech support consultants.

Click here to learn more

UCC Executive Minister of Justice and Witness Ministries: On July 1, The Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ is beginning a search process for a new Executive Minister with the goal of presenting a candidate for election to the UCC Board of Directors at its March 2017 meeting.

Click here to learn more

Wellspring Advisors, a private philanthropic consulting firm, seeks a Senior Program Officer to develop and lead its racial justice initiative, with a focus on criminal justice. The successful candidate will be a seasoned professional with a minimum of 15 years of experience working on criminal justice issues in the United States and their intersection with racial justice, experience working with national and grassroots racial justice organizations, and significant experience collaborating with other funders and/or advocacy organizations on the issues of criminal and racial justice. 

Scarritt-Bennett Center (SBC) is seeking an Executive Director: SBC is an urban, non-profit education and retreat center committed to addressing social justice issues through regional, national and global programming that promotes cultural understanding, eradication of racism, education for and about women and spiritual renewal for all peoples. We seeking an Executive Director to lead our dynamic organization. July 28th is the deadline for receiving applications. For more information on Scarritt Bennett Center and to apply visit:

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) seeks a full-time Communications and Program Associate to work in its Washington, DC office. The individual will split their time between NRCAT, a 501(c)3, and the NRCAT Action Fund, a 501(c)4. Through NRCAT, the individual will also provide assistance to the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good. This is a new position and the position will be evaluated after one year. We seek someone who can work independently and as part of a team. The individual will provide critical communications, program and administrative support across NRCAT's program areas.

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