Subject: NCC Weekly News: Love Wins!

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From Jim: Love wins!
Earlier this year, I participated in a meeting of state ecumenical executives at the Lutheran retreat center on Isle of Palms, South Carolina. One of our speakers was Rev. Joe Darby, presiding elder of the Beaufort District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He opened with these words: “In South Carolina, the Civil War is not over. There’s just a truce.” 

Less than six months later, Joe delivered the prayer of comfort following President Obama’s profoundly moving eulogy at the funeral of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, pastor of Mother Emanuel AME Church. Bishops of the AME Church were joined by other NCC leaders at the funeral, including Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Church and Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Rev. Daniel Simmons, one of the victims at Mother Emanuel, was the cousin of NCC Governing Board member Rev. William Miller, pastor of St. John AME in Cottageville, SC. Even in his grief, William carried out his own pastoral and familial responsibilities with grace.

The suspected perpetrator is 21 year old Dylann Roof, a young man who has been reported to have stated he intended to start a ‘race war’. It would seem that Mr. Roof was trying to call off the truce. But, as AME Church leaders have said he chose the wrong church, the wrong people, and the wrong day on which to do so.

I was present at the funeral and sat next to Rev. Brenda Kneece, the remarkable leader of the South Carolina Christian Action Council, and Rev. Carlos Malave, my friend who directs Christian Churches Together. As I walked all over Charleston for several days, it was evident to me the community has come together in a magnificent display of unity following the massacre.

The incredible act of forgiveness offered to the killer by families of the deceased changed the dynamic of the situation and led, in my view, to an unprecedented outpouring of solidarity from around the world. The AME Church has stepped forward and provided Christian leadership in a manner which has earned the gratitude of countless people.

Even so, a friend told me that as he drove last weekend from Alabama to Washington, DC he saw numerous pickup trucks and vehicles flying the Confederate flag in what was clearly a provocation. Gun sales and Confederate flag sales are up in some parts of the country and, as I write, at least eight African American churches have been burned across the South.

In fact, the night before I wrote these words, Mt. Zion AME Church in Greeleyville, SC was burned. This took place 20 years and 9 days after the same church was burned by the Klan.
In response to this and other church burnings, The National Council of Churches is ready to accept donations to support these and other churches victimized by arson. You may send a check right now to the NCC, 110 Maryland Ave. NE, Suite 108, Washington, DC 20002 and note it is for the “Burned Churches Fund.” Or, use this web page to make a donation online.

I pray as a result of this tragedy we will indeed see the removal of the Confederate flag from the State Capitols in Columbia, SC and Jackson, MS and elsewhere. I pray we will see common sense laws adopted to reduce gun violence in our nation. I pray we will make a concerted effort to confront racism and white supremacy. May God give us strength for the days ahead.


Statement regarding last week's Supreme Court decisions

ACA Funding: The National Council of Churches desires that all people in our nation have access to safe, affordable, high quality health care. Through the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans previously without health insurance are now covered. Much progress remains to be made to insure the tens of millions who still do not have health insurance receive it. The Supreme Court’s decision makes the possibility of such progress easier.

Marriage Equality: There is a wide variety of viewpoints held by the member communions of the NCC on the matter of same sex marriage. For this reason, the NCC has historically limited itself to issues related to the civil rights of all Americans, and therefore to issues related to discrimination. Given the theological issues related to the matter of marriage, our member churches will make their own decisions regarding whether or not to recognize or sanction same-sex marriages within their communities.
PC(USA) Office of Public Witness applauds affordable care decision

The Supreme Court of the United States decided today, in a 6-3 vote, to uphold the Affordable Care Act, saying it authorizes subsidies to those living in states with their own exchanges and citizens of the 34 states currently utilizing federal marketplaces.

The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness, expressed praise for the decision of the court.

“The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness has advocated for affordable healthcare for all citizens of the United States for more than sixty years,” he said. “We are grateful that the Supreme Court upheld the legitimacy of state exchanges, which provide greater access to enrollment in states that are not participating in the federal effort to insure people. It is our hope that this decision will end the long and arduous debate over the Affordable Healthcare Act, and that our nation will now focus on other important issues related to poverty and inequality.”
Same-sex marriage ruling adds to church debate

United Methodists had varied reactions to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that establishes same-sex civil marriage as a constitutional right.

But many United Methodists agree on one thing: The decision likely will escalate a longtime denominational debate on the church's position on homosexuality. Church law bans clergy from performing same-sex marriages and forbids churches from hosting such ceremonies.

The 5-4 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges dealt with two questions: Does the U.S. Constitution allow states to prohibit same-gender marriage and can states refuse to recognize the marriages of gay couples who wed in another state? To both questions, the majority said states must recognize same-sex marriage.

Dorhauer Address To Delegates Takes On Issue Of White Privilege

The Rev. John C. Dorhauer grabbed the issue that has clouded his nomination as the next general minister and president of the United Church of Christ — that he is yet another straight white male — and wrestled it to the floor in his nomination speech Friday afternoon at the first business session of General Synod 2015 at the Cleveland Convention Center.

"We are not immune to our possessive attachment to whiteness," he said in challenging the denomination to enter into a time of deep reflection on the effects of white privilege on the United Church of Christ. "Our possessive attachment to whiteness is the biggest impediment to our achieving the vision of Shalom, to our becoming the people of God that we are called to become."

North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry elected as 27th Presiding Bishop

The Episcopal Church’s General Convention made history June 27 when it chose Diocese of North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry to be its 27th presiding bishop.

Curry, 62, was elected by the House of Bishops from a slate of four nominees on the first ballot. He received 121 votes of a total 174 cast. Diocese of Southwest Florida Bishop Dabney Smith received 21, Diocese of Southern Ohio Bishop Thomas Breidenthal, 19, and Diocese of Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas, 13. The number of votes needed for election was 89.

Curry’s election was confirmed an hour later by the House of Deputies, as outlined in the church’s canons, by a vote of 800 to 12.
WCC Statement on killings in Kuwait, Tunisia and France

On behalf of the World Council of Churches I express my shock and horror at the brutal killings that took place on 26 June in Kuwait, Tunisia and France. I grieve with those who have lost loved ones, and those who have been injured as a result of these appalling acts, which have marred the month of Ramadan, sacred to Muslims everywhere.

I am aware that the intention of those who undertook these atrocities was to promote wider turmoil – fomenting strife between people of different religions and religious traditions, and resulting in the destruction of many lives, livelihoods and communities. All people of good must stand together in solidarity to name and reject the evil that is seen among us in these days, the perversion of religion to be a tool for violence, rather than an agent of peace.

Georges Lemopoulos
WCC acting general secretary
Ecumenical Opportunities:

The Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) is seeking nominations for its 2015 Nsedu Obot Witherspoon (NOW) Youth Leadership Award! CEHN ( is a nonprofit located in Washington, DC, whose mission is to protect the developing child from environmental health hazards and promote a healthier environment. This award is an annual award created in 2012 that honors youths for their exceptional environmental leadership. Please consider nominating (nominations must come from non-family members) young leaders ages 12-18 who are involved and committed to environmental health, participate in community action, and have strong leadership skills. This award will be presented at CEHN’s 10th Annual Child Health Advocate Award Reception in Washington, DC in November 2015. Visit for more information, to see a list of previous awardees and to fill out the nomination form. We look forward to receiving your nominations, and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. We would appreciate your help spreading the word about this call for nominations via email, social media, and other communications. Nominations are due by 4pm EDT on July 10th, 2015.

World Student Christian Federation seeks a creative, innovative, dynamic and energetic person to fill the position of Communication Campaign Coordinator for eight months starting in September 2015. Work location: Anywhere in Canada and the US, with a preference for New York City. Click here to apply.

Justice Fellowship (JF), part of Prison Fellowship Ministries, advocates for the reform of the justice system so communities are safer, victims are respected and lives are transformed. Our growing team is seeking an Advocacy Volunteer Coordinator in our Lansdowne, VA office. For more information, click here.
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