Subject: NCC Weekly News: Eugene Winkler Remembered

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From Jim: Remembering My Father, Rev. Eugene Winkler
This morning my father, Rev. Eugene Winkler, passed away at the age of 83 due to complications from a fall at his home in Naperville, IL. He was preceded in death by my mother just two months ago. Dad was lonely without her. Mom called him home to be with her.

Gene Winkler was a United Methodist preacher for more than 60 years. He served local churches in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Illinois. He was acclaimed for the excellence of his preaching. He was a fearless advocate for social justice and used the credibility he attained through his pastoral abilities and his evident love for members of his congregations to push and pull and coax and cajole them to join him in the causes of peace and racial and economic justice.

It seemed as if dad knew genealogy of each person in his congregations. Our life revolved around the church and everything that meant. Many an hour of our childhood was spent whiled away in the family station wagon while dad visited the sick and infirm. Invariably, our impatience was rewarded with a trip to Baskin Robbins and a visit to Lake Michigan to skip rocks on the water.

There was never a dull moment for those of us who shared daily life with him in those mostly humble Methodist parsonages. Dad rarely rested and on those moments when he closed his eyes on a Sunday afternoon after preaching and we as small children asked him if he was asleep, he replied that he was just resting his eyes. It seemed at most he slept five hours a night. He played competitive racquetball into his 60s and was only satisfied if he won.

Dad was a colorful and controversial figure and, truth be told, many of the stories about him we share amongst ourselves capture much of his essence, but don’t reflect traditional images of a humble and pious preacher. He was all about action and was tireless, literally, in whatever endeavor he was involved in.

A Gene Winkler sermon included quotes from Kierkegaard, Bonhoeffer, Barth, and Tillich, as well as stories, poetry and while he usually said something that elicited laughter, his sermons were serious and about grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness.

He was the most well-read man I have ever known. One day, he didn’t go to Borders Books and they went out of business. We traded books back and forth for years and years. But, when he would visit my home, I hid my new unread books because he would swipe them when I wasn’t looking. I didn’t want to have to wait for the next visit to get them back.

Dad was born in the Arkansas Delta in the depths of the Great Depression to an auto mechanic who battled alcohol problems and a schoolteacher who stayed home to raise her boys. There wasn’t much money, but there were high expectations. Those three boys went on to become preachers, lawyers, and senior government executives, and they married accomplished women.

Never once did we his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren doubt the authenticity and intensity of his bottomless love for and pride in us. We vacationed at beach and lake houses in Wisconsin, Florida, South and North Carolina for 50 years. He loved long walks on the beach. No one I have ever known loved Christmas morning more than Gene Winkler. He loved biscuits and gravy, homemade ice cream, and taking mom out to their favorite Italian restaurants.

He raised vast sums of money for mission and for his beloved Wiley College. He helped to found Protestants for the Common Good, sat on the state board of the ACLU for years and debated creationists all across Illinois. He knew more about the Civil War and the history of Chicago than most professionals. He knew everyone and traveled everywhere.

He loved all the churches he pastored including the tiny ones in Oklahoma and Missouri that could barely afford to pay him, but most of all he loved being the senior pastor of the great Chicago Temple/First United Methodist Church. Washington Street in downtown Chicago, in front of that 30 story tall church, is named Eugene H. Winkler Way.

He was truly one of a kind and we will miss him forever.

Grace and Peace,
Jim Winkler
General Secretary and President


Jesus commands us to “…love one another” (John 13:34) and God has given us responsibility to care for His good creation (Genesis 1:28, Genesis 2:15).

The African Methodist Episcopal Church, in 2016, by unanimous vote of the Centennial General Conference made a clear decision to answer the call, by turning our Climate Commitment into Action. Climate Change is a social justice issue. It is a human rights issue. It is a wellness matter.

Of the millions of Americans who live close to polluting coal plants, 39 percent are low income communities and communities of color that are most impacted but not fairly represented in the decision making processes that would lead to a clean, healthy, and prosperous environment; while we all deserve the health and economic benefits of the clean energy economy;

Climate change puts the health of children, elderly, and those with chronic illnesses like asthma at greater risk and disproportionately impacts African Americans, especially Black children who are twice as likely as white children to be hospitalized and four times as likely to die from asthma.

Our faithful in Africa are the most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change including floods, droughts, increased spread of infectious diseases, and changing weather patterns that challenge their ability to provide food and livelihood for millions of Africans.

Our faithful in the Caribbean are especially vulnerable to more extreme storms and rising sea levels in a warming world, and these conditions especially impact the rural and urban poor, many of whom live along the coasts or in informal settlements in high risk areas like flood plains and steep slopes (in Haiti 70% of the people live in informal settlements)

Our rural communities face particular obstacles in responding to climate change including physical isolation, limited economic diversity and higher poverty rates combined with an aging population that increase their vulnerability.

Yes, Environmental Justice cannot be deferred. With a seat at the table, the USA could continue to stand for mandatory and community-driven emissions cuts, authentic commitment to leave fossil fuels in the ground, strong human rights protections, while rejecting faux solutions such as “fracking” and “clean coal”.
What legacy are we leaving for future generations? Is it outdoor air pollution leader to a number of maladies, including death? .

We strongly urge that President Trump, based on the spoken will of the people to stay in the Paris Agreement.

Bishop John F. White, President – Council of Bishops
Bishop McKinley Young – Senior Bishop
Bishop Vashti M. McKenzie, President – General Board 
Bishop Frank M. Reid, III – Chair Social Action Commission
Observing World Refugee Day on June 20

“In the name of Mary, Joseph and the Lord Jesus, aid all refugees today, for most of the refugees like the Holy Family themselves, are families, and most are children,” commented Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry in his 2017 World Refugee Day Message. “I invite you to observe June 20 as World Refugee Day to learn more about the crisis and to find ways that you can both pray and help in other ways.”

In 2000, the United Nations named June 20 as World Refugee Day, deeming it an annual opportunity to celebrate the resilience and success of the former refugees who bless our communities with their wisdom and irrepressible spirit and to examine the root causes of violence and persecution that force people to flee at an alarming rate.

Episcopal Migration Ministries is a ministry of the Episcopal Church, and is one of nine national agencies that work in partnership with the government to resettle refugees in the United States. Episcopal Migration Ministries currently has 31 affiliate offices in 23 states.

With roots in the UCC, U.S. Institute of Peace faces an uncertain future

When the White House released a proposed budget for 2018, scores of progressive faith leaders from the United Church of Christ and beyond voiced their opposition to the potential cuts to human needs programs, such as Medicaid funding and social service programs that assist the poor — all while benefiting the military and high-income households.

But buried within the budget proposal, on page 104, is a suggestion to phase out the U.S. Institute of Peace within the next two years. The Institute of Peace, an independent institute founded by Congress in 1984, traces its roots back to the UCC — particularly the former members and pastors of Rock Spring UCC in Arlington, Va.

UCC leaders believe a move to shutter the USIP would be short-sighted, should Congress authorize it in a spending bill.

The Rev. Michael Neuroth, international policy advocate for the UCC's office on Capitol Hill, believes the Institute for Peace "plays a critical role in strengthening the peacebuilding work in the U.S. and around the world," he said. "The unique space USIP occupies between the government and civil society allows both policy experts and peace practitioners to come together and envision ways forward in some of the most intractable conflicts."

Commemorating lives lost on the way to safety

Since 2000, more than 30,000 migrants and refugees have lost their lives on their way to Europe, often drowning at sea or suffocating in containers on trucks and ships. Churches throughout Europe have responded through intensive solidarity and humanitarian efforts at Europe’s borders and by advocating for safe and legal passage.

The Christian response has also included widespread prayer for and remembrance of those who have died. In 2013, the General Assembly of the Conference of European Churches renewed a call for an annual day of prayer on the Sunday closest to 20 June, International Refugee Day, to commemorate those who have lost their lives on their journey to find a dignified life in Europe. Together, the Conference of European Churches and the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe encourage their membership and supporters to join in this day of prayer on Sunday, 18 June 2017. Resources to help congregations, parishes, and other communities prepare are accessible on the CCME website.

In an appeal to the CEC and CCME constituencies, CEC General Secretary Fr Heikki Huttunen remarked, “We cannot escape the facts that reveal Europe’s guilt for this unending ordeal. As churches and Christians our divine calling is to be witnesses and servants of the resurrection and new life in justice and peace for all, regardless of their ethnicity, nationality, or religion.”

Ecumenical Opportunities:

AFL-CIO seeks a field organizer in TN: The Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) is both a social movement and a labor union. Our immediate constituency is migrant workers in the agricultural industry, but we are also involved with immigrant workers, Latinos, our local communities, and national and international coalitions concerned with justice. FLOC was founded in 1967 to organize for economic, legal and human rights for farmworkers in the Midwest, and now represents more than 10,000 farmworkers in Ohio, North and South Carolina.

The Episcopal Church is accepting applications for the full-time position of Missioner for Black Ministries, a member of the Presiding Bishop’s staff. Detailed position information and application instructions are available here. Deadline for applying is July 19. 

For more information contact

The Alliance for Fair Food (AFF) seeks an experienced organizer to co-coordinate the involvement of people of faith in the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ (CIW) Campaign for Fair Food. Ideal candidates are highly responsible, work well in teams as part of a fast-paced environment, and possess excellent written and verbal skills.

Interfaith Power and Light seeks a Program Manager: As Program Manager, you would serve as the second core staff person—with our Director Joelle Novey—helping to deliver programs and support advocacy campaigns that engage local religious communities in the restoration of the planet.

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) seeks an entry-level administrative staff person to work on the Citizen Security and Border programs with program staff. The Program Assistant provides administrative and research support to senior staff within a fast-paced human rights organization working in Washington, DC and Latin America.

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) seeks an entry-level administrative staff person to work on the Mexico program. The Program Assistant provides administrative and some research assistance to senior staff within a fast-paced human rights organization working in Washington, DC and Latin America.

The Episcopal Church is accepting applications for the full-time position of Domestic & Environmental Policy Advisor, a member of the Presiding Bishop’s staff. As part of the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations based in Washington DC, the Domestic & Environmental Policy Advisor focuses on environmental policy and U.S. domestic policy. The Advisor represents the Episcopal Church to the U.S. Congress, the Administration, and other domestic and foreign government bodies and mobilizes Episcopalians to undertake advocacy on critical issues supported by the Episcopal Church’s General Convention Policy.

For more information contact

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