Subject: NCC Weekly News: Korean Summit, Separated Families

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From Jim: Where We Know God is at Work
In the midst of the considerable weirdness of the presidency of Donald Trump, let us pause to give thanks for what appears to be the very real possibility of a new era of peace and understanding with North Korea. Keeping in mind the many false starts of the past, deep levels of mistrust on both sides, and paranoid personalities in control of each nation, we may nevertheless witness a future in which good relations develop, war games cease, troops return home, nuclear weapons are dismantled, and a peace treaty is signed.

Intense prayer is required, and hard work is needed, to achieve this result. Churches around the world have been engaged in prayer, dialogue, and study for many years. We have insisted on staying in contact with Christians in North Korea although we have often been demonized for doing so. We will continue to be in touch with our sisters and brothers in North Korea and, in fact, we will be meeting together later this month. We do so not only because we are together in Christ, but because such relationships have beneficial consequences for international connections and peace.

On American television, in the wake of the hopeful news emanating from the Singapore summit, the parade of talking heads, pundits, former diplomats, etc., was a litany of expressions of doubt, alarm, and confusion. An intense desire to pronounce a winner and a loser manifested itself. Generally speaking, the consensus of the ‘experts’ is that the U.S. has not extracted enough concessions from North Kore
a, that our country has conferred legitimacy on Kim Jong-un that he does not deserve.

President Trump himself, at a news conference following his meetings with Kim Jong-un and North Korean officials, said, “I may be wrong. I may stand before you in six months and say ‘Hey, I was wrong.’ I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse.” The volatility of both leaders cannot be underestimated. The commitment of both nations to a Cold War mentality cannot be underestimated. The power of the military-industrial complex cannot be underestimated.

The odds are against success and peace. That’s where we Christians and other people of good will come in. That’s where we know God is at work. It is our spiritual power, our prayers, our commitment, our encouragement, our determination that must come in to play. We cannot waver now. We cannot assume all will be well.

The United States lost nearly 37,000 soldiers in the Korean War while some 2 million Koreans died. The pain and suffering of the Korean people is genuine even today. Much needs to be done to heal the scars of battle, the false separation of the peninsula into two nations, and the enmity that has developed. For more than 100 years, Korea has known colonialism, war, massacres, dictatorship, famine, and privation. While South Korea is generally prosperous, it has come at a high cost.

I don’t know if the forces of hatred and war will dash yet again the hopes for peace and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I don’t know if the skeptics and warmongers are biding their time and planning to sabotage negotiations. I don’t know if Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un can withstand the enormous pressure that will be placed upon them to fall back into old patterns of name-calling and blame.

I do know we must pray for peace. I do know we must contact the White House and our elected representatives and say we believe this is an important step forward and that we’re behind them and that we want a new era of peace. We want both North Korea and the United States to denuclearize, that we want unification of the Korean Peninsula, that we want the swords beaten into plowshares.

Grace and peace,
Jim Winkler
President and General Secretary
NCC Grateful for Outcome of Singapore Summit

The National Council of Churches expresses thanks for the positive outcome of the meeting in Singapore between President Donald Trump of the United States and Chairman Kim Jong-un of North Korea. This initial conversation bodes well for further progress toward peace.

We pledge our continued support and encouragement, and we look forward to the upcoming Korea Ecumenical Forum meeting where North Korean Christian leaders will meet with Christian leaders from around the world. Among other hopes for the Korean people, the ecumenical community continues to pray for the reunification of the Korean Peninsula.

We are keenly aware that much remains to be done to secure peace, but we recognize courage was required by both leaders to move away from inflammatory rhetoric and agree to talk together face-to-face. May the Holy Spirit work among the leaders of North Korea and the United States to advance the cause of peace.

UCC and Disciples Leaders on North Korea: Peace is a Process

Leaders of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) issued this statement following the summit meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un which resulted in an understanding that Pyongyang would work toward denuclearization and the United States would end joint military exercises with South Korea.

"He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." Isaiah 2:4

The United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have long worked and prayed for peace alongside our Global Ministries partners, the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK) and the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK). After 70 years of separation and conflict, we are heartened by the Singapore Summit held between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un as a first step toward peace. We echo the hope expressed by these leaders for a "lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula" and call on our policymakers to take concrete actions to make this hope a reality.

WCC calls for long-term commitment to new chapter of peace for US-North Korea

After the United States (US) - Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) summit concluded, World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit gave thanks to God for what he called “an important first step on the path to a more peaceful and secure future in the region.”

The Singapore Summit occurred after a period of unprecedentedly dangerous and escalating confrontation. However the leaders of the US and DPRK declared their commitment to establishing new relations in accordance with the desire of their peoples for peace and prosperity, and to joining their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace on the Korean Peninsula. The DPRK also reaffirmed its commitment made in the Panmunjom Declaration of 27 April 2018 to work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. 

TEXT: Joint Statement of President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at the Singapore Summit. 

President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) held a first, historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018. 

President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un conducted a comprehensive, in-depth, and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new U.S.-DPRK relations and the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. 

Convinced that the establishment of new U.S.-DPRK relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following: 

1. The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new U.S.-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.

2. The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified. 

Having acknowledged that the U.S.-DPRK summit – the first in history – was an epochal event of great significance and overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for the opening of a new future, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un commit to implement the stipulations in this joint statement fully and expeditiously. The United States and the DPRK commit to hold follow-on negotiations led by the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the U.S.-DPRK summit. 

President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have committed to cooperate for the development of new U.S.-DPRK relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world. 

Donald J Trump, President of the United States of America 
Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 
June 12, 2018, Sentosa Island, Singapore 
AME Church condemns use of scripture by Attorney General Sessions to separate immigrant families

From lies to liberation: the use of Scripture to justify injustice

The recent statement of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and the attempt by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to use biblical text of Romans 13:1, to justify and condone the U.S. government’s separations of immigrant children from their parents, in addition to being sad and sinful, shows a deep misunderstanding of the transforming truth of scripture.

We have heard much about the political cult of Mr. Donald Trump over the past few days. Students of cults understand that they abuse and misuse the truth of religious documents to control people and to bend their will. This practice of using “proof text” — scriptural text out of context to achieve some wicked end — is as ancient as the temptation of Jesus by Satan in the Wilderness (Luke 4). The founders of this nation used the same tactics to enslave our African forebears by lifting from the writings of the Apostle Paul passages to condone slavery and to break their spirit. It was only after hearing the true liberating message of the Gospel that they could sing with resolve, “Before I’ll be a slave, I’ll be buried in my grave, and go home to my Lord and be free.”

The statement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Press Secretary Huckabee Sanders is a reminder of the recurring themes of the Trump Administration on African nations and immigrants to America. The Bible does not justify discrimination masked as racism, sexism, economic inequality, oppression or the abuse of children. Jesus, who was an immigrant who had to leave the place of his birth and immigrate to Egypt because of an oppressive leader and system, admonishes all that the poor, children, the elderly, widows, and widowers should have a special place of justice and compassion in every nation. (Matthew 24) The Bible says that we are not to envy our oppressors or to choose their ways. (Proverbs 3:31) “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)

Quaker Lobby Criticizes Attorney General’s Biblical Justification for Breaking Up Families

The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) today strongly criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions for using the Bible to justify the separation of children from their families at the United States-Mexico border.

“The Bible does not justify cruel, dangerous and inhumane border enforcement practices,” said Diane Randall, Executive Secretary for FCNL. “It teaches us to love our neighbors, not to break up families. We are critical of the use of Biblical teachings to justify an immoral political decision of this Administration.”

While addressing a crowd in Fort Wayne, IN on Thursday, Sessions used scripture from the Bible to defend the Trump administration’s harsh practice of separating children from their parents at the border. The same passages from Paul’s letter to the Romans have been used historically to justify slavery and Nazism.

The government’s border policy prosecutes and detains adults for entering the U.S. improperly. Their children are put into the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement and processed as “unaccompanied.” It can take weeks before a parent knows the whereabouts of their child. This unprecedented policy traumatizes parents and children and expands criminalization of asylum seekers.

The Poor People’s Campaign Is Changing the Moral Narrative of Congress

Activists are getting at least some members of Congress to listen to the real stories of poverty and injustice in America.

The Poor People’s Campaign has come to Washington to challenge members of Congress to address systemic racism, poverty, and inequality, ecological devastation and militarism.

For this to happen, however, the economic- and social-justice campaigners from across the country must be heard. And there are too many powerful people in Congress, in the Trump White House, and on the federal bench, who are disinclined toward listening.

When a small group of senators and members of the House did gather Tuesday to hear from religious leaders and others who have proposed to replace official injustice and inaction with “a moral agenda based on fundamental rights,” the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II began by thanking those who who were prepared to listen.

Referring to the Republican leaders of the US Senate and the US House, the co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival movement, explained to Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Dick Durbin of Illinois, as well as House members Elijah Cummings of Maryland, Ro Khanna of California, and Barbara Lee of California, that “We sent this letter asking for this hearing to Senator McConnell and Congressman Ryan and to all others, and we didn’t hear anything until we heard from you.”

The National Council of Churches is a proud sponsor of the Wild Goose Festival
The NCC Podcast Returns! 

The award-winning National Council of Churches Podcast took a long break over the winter.  Why, you ask?  What's our excuse? Well, we had a very large event to plan for!  Now that we're back, be sure to set your favorite podcasting app to download new episodes of our interview-based podcast to hear the top faith leaders of our time.  

This week: Take a listen to Gurwin Ahuja as he speaks about the "We Are Sikhs" campaign and learn something you never knew about those who follow the world's 5th largest monotheistic religion.   

Look for us at the iTunes store, iHeart Radio, Stitcher, and the Google Play store.  A new episode will be released each Friday.

Rev. Shannon Fleck becomes Executive Director of Oklahoma Council of Churches

It is with great joy that the Executive Committee of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches announces the call of The Reverend Shannon Fleck, an Ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), as its next Executive Director. Fleck was officially elected to the position by the Board of Directors on May 29, 2018. Prior to being called to her new role, she held the position of Acting Executive Director upon the retirement of former Executive Director, Dr. William “Bill” Tabbernee, and before that served OCC as the Director of Community Engagement.

Shannon has a wealth of leadership ability, vision, and clerical readiness that will greatly benefit the Oklahoma Conference of Churches. In her new position, she will be responsible for the enrichment of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches’ community while championing participation and collaboration from our partner members. She will also lead the charge as an outreach strategist, community organizer, fundraiser, and marketing developer.

The Executive Committee and Board of Directors of OCC are thrilled to welcome Shannon as Executive Director. We know she brings an energy and knowledge to the team that will prove to be invaluable for moving OCC into a new place of growth in ministry and mission.

NEW BOOK: United Against Racism

Authentic Christianity requires the loving inclusion of all God’s creation. An inclusive, beloved community is a community free from racism. United Against Racism is a call to an authentic Christianity, a religion that strives to become God’s inclusive, beloved community. It summons Christians to pray, think, and act to end racism. This resource aims to support churches, communions, and those who endeavor to share the journey of the Christian faith in the pursuit of an unfinished agenda to embody a more excellent way of racial equity. 

Church leaders from many backgrounds have praised United Against Racism:

United Against Racism is a huge gift from the church to the church. Its generative format invites every Christian and Christian community to hear the call and assume the vocation of being ambassadors of reconciliation. Without apology I encourage its wide use.

--Bishop Gregory Vaughn Palmer
Ohio West Episcopal Area, United Methodist Church

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, after marching alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., wrote, 'When I marched in Selma, my feet are praying.' This resource presents a compelling chorus of diverse Christian voices that will inspire our feet to pray with people of other religions and worldviews for an end to racism in our time.

--Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

It is the essential role of the church to speak out against the sin of racism and mend the persisting divides it has caused in our society. This resource is a valuable tool in provoking thoughtful responses on the meaning of repentance for the sin of racism and helpful as Christians seek to live faithfully to God's call to love our neighbors and seek the common good.

--Jim Wallis
New York Times bestselling author, President and Founder, Sojourners

A heartwarming and inspiring ensemble of voices inviting the Church and our nation to re-engage America's sin of racism. The National Council of Churches spurs the conscience of every American in the quest for a more just and equal America.

--Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley
General Secretary Emeritus
American Baptist Churches USA

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