Subject: NCC Weekly News: Ending Racism SPECIAL

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From Jim: The New Normal
The older I get the more I understand why each generation says things were better when they were younger. There is, of course, limited truth to that statement, but once in a while I succumb to the temptation. 

As I reflect on my youth, I vividly remember riding my Schwinn bike with the high handlebars and the banana seat with my brother and friends hither and yon across the suburbs north of Chicago. For hours upon hours day after day we were in locations unknown to our parents. There were no cell phones and there was little concern for our safety. We knew to be home by dinnertime but we also knew even if Mom and Dad weren’t home the doors would be unlocked so we could always get in.

This was the reality for me not in small-town rural white America but in a small city riven by racial, ethnic and class divides during tense days of the civil rights and antiwar struggles. We were not shielded from the bigger realities of the world, but it was a safer time.

Today, all Americans, whether they admit it or not, have to be prepared for the possibility each and every day they may be shot and killed or wounded, whether they are in bible study in church, sitting in a movie theater, teaching or attending school, driving their car down the street, standing at a bus stop, or reporting on tourism for the local TV station. 

This is insanity. This is a crisis of faith that most houses of worship do not address in any way. One church in Alabama has responded by opening a shooting range next to the church building. reports that as of the day I write this, August 27, 2015, the 239th day of the year, there have been 249 mass shootings in the United States, the land of the free and home of the brave. Sisters and brothers, we are not living in a free country when this is the reality.

I am fully aware that people living right now in South Sudan, Nigeria, Syria, Afghanistan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as several other countries, are experiencing warfare. I know that Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and a number of other countries are plagued by high murder rates.

I am grateful to God I am not living in the middle of a civil war, but let’s not kid ourselves, either. We are living in the midst of lowgrade warfare, of ongoing violence—gun violence, police violence, domestic violence--and it plagues American society. 

Not only that, the United States maintains Special Operations Forces, military advisers, secret agents, military bases and installations, etc. in more than 100 nations around the world. We are deeply, deeply involved in and implicated in violence and warfare across the globe. And, we as a nation sell billions upon billions of dollars of armaments around the world. 

But, virtually all of us in this nation accept to one degree or another the horrific violence that afflicts our society. Strangely enough, the answer many turn to is to advocate more guns, more weapons, more violence. 

The generations that follow us will condemn us for this. Followers of Jesus Christ must demand an end to the madness now.

Black Methodist Coalition: "Liberty and Justice For All"

When President Obama was elected in 2008, pundits declared that the United States was entering a “post-racial era.” At an historic gathering of Methodist denominations in Washington, DC., Bishop Reginald Jackson reminded the crowd gathered that with the gross inequalities that persist, and with vicious acts of race-based violence ongoing, a new struggle for “liberty and justice for all” should be the priority of churches across America.

In a gathering of four historically African-American Methodist denominations, a clarion call to end racism was issued in a series of events in Washington, DC that concluded with a meeting at the White House on September 2nd. Leadership of the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church, the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AME Zion) Church, and the Union Methodist Episcopal (UAME) Church joined together to launch this initiative to make an end to racism a national priority.

“It seems that 239 years after our nation’s founding, and 151 years since the Civil War, we are still not ‘One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all,’” stated Bishop Reginald Jackson (AME) in his opening remarks. “It is also discrimination and bias built into laws and policies: the racism of being stigmatized and targeted because of the color of our skin…that must be confronted.”
Editorial: Get behind common-sense agenda on guns

The Second Amendment is not in jeopardy. It is not going to be revoked or altered.

The right to bear arms, as awkwardly as it might be expressed in that amendment amid what appear rather limiting qualifiers (aren't we already paying for a well-ordered militia?), will not be abridged. No one is going to take away anyone's guns.

With that stipulation in place, might it be possible to have a discussion that would be considered reasonable and compelling were the number of dead caused by any means other than guns? Is it possible to take stock of the handgun killings in the United States and at least agree that, if for no other reason than that the number is by far greater than it is anywhere else in the developed world, we should be looking for ways to reduce the killing?

See up-to-date list of mass shootings in the U.S. at

WCC/NCC Webinar: Evangelism in the Context of Small Congregations

Join us for the sixth in a series of webinars focusing on evangelism in the 21st Century on Tuesday, September 15 at noon EDT.  Rev. Dr. Andrew Irvine, Professor of Pastoral Theology at Knox College, Toronto School of Theology and Rev. Dr. Heather Heinzman Lear, Director of Evangelism Ministries, The United Methodist Church will lead the discussion.  The NCC's Dr. Tony Kireopoulos will serve as moderator.

Pre-register for the webinar using the link below.  This is the final webinar in preparation for the World Council of Churches' conference on evangelism taking place Oct. 29-Nov. 1.

Black Lives Matter activists' new, comprehensive policy platform, explained

Black Lives Matter activists finally have an answer to critics demanding specific policy proposals.

This has been a central question posed to the movement, which aims to eliminate racial disparities in the criminal justice system, since it rose to national prominence following the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. A lot of groups — from supporters to media to Hillary Clinton — have challenged the movement to define its policy agenda.

"You're going to have to come together as a movement and say, 'Here's what we want done about it,'" Clinton said in a meeting with Black Lives Matter activists last week. "Because you can get lip service from as many as white people as you can pack into Yankee stadium and a million more like it, who are going to say, 'Oh, we get it, we get it. We're going to be nicer.' That's not enough — at least in my book. That's not how I see politics."

George Houser, Freedom Rides Pioneer and a Founder of CORE, Dies at 99

The Rev. George M. Houser, a founder of the Congress of Racial Equality who was believed to be the last living member of the inaugural Freedom Ride — the volatile, sometimes violent bus trip through the South by a racially mixed group in 1947 — died on Wednesday in Santa Rosa, Calif. He was 99.

His son Steven confirmed the death.

A white Methodist minister who appeared constitutionally averse to limelight, Mr. Houser was “one of the most important yet least-heralded activists of the 20th century,” the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a pacifist organization with which he was long involved, wrote on its website in June, on the occasion of his 99th birthday.

With an African-American colleague, James Farmer, and others, Mr. Houser founded CORE in 1942.

Ecumenical Opportunities:

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture seeks an individual to be the NRCAT Human Rights Fellow. This exciting new fellowship will involve full-time work for one academic year (October 2015-May 2016), and will involve working directly with NRCAT staff and interfaith partners, gaining first-hand knowledge of the education, organizing and communications work necessary for policy change and social transformation in an interfaith context.

Jubilee USA is looking to immediately hire a Policy Director and a Communications Director in our Washington, DC office. We are also hiring regional field organizers in multiple locations around the country this Fall. Please see the link below for job descriptions and application instructions for the positions of Policy Director, Communications Director, and Regional Field Organizers.

OXFAM AMERICA: In our continued mission to end poverty, hunger and social injustice, we constantly strive to hire the best possible talent. Our people make a difference on a global basis every single day, and you have the opportunity to join our remarkable team.

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