Subject: NCC Weekly News: My Report to the Governing Board (part 1)

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From Jim: My Report to the NCC Governing Board
May 9, 2017, Norfolk, Virginia

(Part 1 of 2)

I give thanks to God for each of you and for our ecumenical life together. I believe our work together is progressing in a positive direction and I would like to highlight a few items for you.

We will meet together this afternoon with the board of Creation Justice Ministries, formerly the Eco-Justice Program of the National Council of Churches, to reaffirm our ties with one another. We will dine together and we will gather at Christ & St. Luke’s Episcopal Church here in Norfolk where you will see the reality of climate change and rising sea levels is having a direct impact on our church members. We will also hear from local experts. I believe you’ll find the afternoon to be of significant value.

As you know, we resumed active management of the copyright of the Revised Standard Version and New Revised Standard Version of the Bible just over a year ago. This has required a great deal of work and I am especially grateful to the chair of our Bible Translation Unit Advisory Comm., Rev. Dr. Roy Medley, and to our Associate General Secretary for Education and Leadership Ministries, Rev. Dr. Joseph Crockett, for all they do to move this process forward. 

We continue to develop plans to align our Bible work, the Committee on the Uniform Series and the International Sunday School Lessons, and Friendship Press into a structure for your consideration at the November meeting of the Governing Board. I am happy to report to you that we received some $1.3 million in royalties last year, $475,000 more than anticipated.

We continue to move forward on the project of an update of the New Revised Standard Version. It has been nearly 30 years since it was published. It is time for scholars to review the text and help us make it timely and true. 
Our Faith & Order Convening Table once again held a ‘pre-event’ at last month’s Ecumenical Advocacy Days. Several excellent scholarly presentations on the theme of “A Time to Break the Silence” were made regarding Dr. King’s historic “Beyond Vietnam” address delivered at the Riverside Church one year prior to his assassination.

Faith and Order will soon publish in conjunction with Paulist Press a book of 22 essays titled Thinking Theologically About Mass Incarceration: Biblical Foundations and Justice Imperatives. It is edited by Dr. Mitzi Budde, Dr. Matthew Lundberg, and Dr. Tony Kireopoulos. We will release it in time for our November Christian Unity Gathering.
Ecumenical Advocacy Days, which has its roots in national seminars organized by the NCC in the 1960s and has many of our denominations as sponsors, continues to be a vital gathering for Christians from across the nation. I hope more NCC member communions will become involved in the years to come.

Our Truth & Reconciliation process under the leadership of Jackie DuPont Walker and John Dorhauer is underway. We will devote much of tomorrow morning’s agenda to discuss this needed response to the legacy and reality of racism in our nation.
Also, last month the NCC and the Shalom Center held an event at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC to commemorate Dr. King’s 1967 Riverside address and dedicate ourselves anew to peacemaking and justice work. Several workshops were offered to focus on what Dr. King named as the giant triplets of racism, militarism, and materialism.

We are expanding our interreligious dialogues. Plans for the formation of a new Buddhist-Christian dialogue and a new Hindu-Christian dialogue are under way. The Christian co-chairs will be Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Kuan of the United Methodist Church and Dr. Jesudas Athyal of the Mar Thoma Church, respectively. Partnering with the NCC in this endeavor is the Guibord Center whose founder and director, Rev. Dr. Gwynne Guibord, will co-coordinate the new dialogues with Dr. Tony Kireopoulos, our associate general secretary.

Meanwhile, the next session of our Jewish-Christian dialogue will convene next week in Philadelphia. The Muslim-Christian dialogue may take place in conjunction with our Christian Unity Gathering in November. Due to the rising anti-Muslim atmosphere in the United States, we are exploring the possibility of having regional Muslim-Christian dialogues as well. We must do more to build understanding and push back against hate.

I will travel to Bethlehem next month to participate in an international gathering of representatives of churches and partner organizations from the Middle East and around the world to reflect on the current situation in Israel and Palestine and on the calling of the churches and the ecumenical movement in this context. This will be convened by the WCC and its Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA). It will be an occasion for recommitment to coordinated ecumenical action for justice and peace in Palestine and Israel, as a major station on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace.

The June gathering will hear the voices of the churches and Christians of the region in their continuing, unbroken witness to the peace of God through Christ. It will be invited to reflect on the policies and positions articulated by the ecumenical movement through the WCC over these decades, in light of the persistence of occupation, injustice and violence in the region. It will examine the historic and future role of the different initiatives and programs supported by the WCC to promote justice and peace in this context – especially the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), the Palestine-Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) and the Jerusalem Inter-Church Centre (JIC). And the gathering will consider ways in which these various instruments can be strengthened as part of a coherent and integrated ecumenical response to the occupation, injustice and violence that still prevail.

NCC leaders will travel to Egypt, Israel, and Palestine from September 8-16 for meetings with faith, NGO, and government leaders in our continuing quest for peace through interreligious relationships. I hope each of you will consider participating in this important journey in the midst of the 50th year in which our sister and brother Palestinian Christians have lived under illegal occupation.

(continued next week)

Grace and Peace,
Jim Winkler
General Secretary and President

Full communion proposal of Episcopal and United Methodist Churches

A Gift to the World: Co-Laborers for the Healing of Brokenness

United Methodist Dialogue group have prepared A Gift to the World: Co-Laborers for the Healing of Brokenness; The Episcopal Church and The United Methodist Church – A Proposal for Full Communion, the result of dialogue for a formal full-communion relationship.

In a recent letter, Bishop Frank Brookhart of Montana, Episcopal Church co-chair of the committee, with Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, the United Methodist Church, Ohio West Episcopal Area, offered, “The relationships formed over these years of dialogue, and the recognition that there are presently no theological impediments to unity, paved the way for this current draft proposal.”

Faith and Order Announces New Book on Mass Incarceration

The Convening Table for Theological Dialogue and Matters of Faith and Order of the National Council of Churches met in Ontario CA May 11-13th. Representatives of 16 Christian traditions from around the United States met to discuss church-uniting issues in a theological context. Individuals from Protestant, Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical sending bodies were represented.

Three study groups presented papers and held dialogue on (1) Violence in an Age of Genocide, (2) Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World, and c) Climate Change and Conflict. The goal is to speak with a united Christian witness on critical challenges facing the church and our world today. The group was hosted by Azusa Pacific University’s School of Theology.

The diversity represented through these various denominations and viewpoints provided a rich discussion. A recent outcome of these dialogues is the pending publication of a collaborative book, Thinking Theologically about Mass Incarceration: Biblical Foundations and Justice Imperatives, which will be released in November by Paulist in the National Council of Churches Faith and Order Commission Theological Series (available for pre-release order through Amazon).  

Chemberlin retires as MN Council of Churches CEO

The Rev. Peg Chemberlin led Minnesota Council Churches for more than two decades.

As one of Minnesota's most well-known religious figures, the Rev. Peg Chemberlin has worked with leaders as diverse as former President Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Gov. Jesse Ventura.

The CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches has built collaborations among Christians, Jews, Muslims and others across the state. And in times of crisis — from the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge — her council orchestrated the faith-based events that helped Minnesotans grieve and go on.

After 22 years of leading the council, Chemberlin retired Tuesday, leaving as a legacy one of the largest and most engaged such groups in the nation.

"I think in Minnesota, the faith community values itself as a significant community actor," said Chemberlin, reflecting on how the state's strong civic traditions have been an ideal match for her mission.

"Faith is not just a private matter here," she said. "It responds to the needs of society."

Episcopal Presiding Bishop, ELCA Presiding Bishop joint statement:
For Such a Time as This: A Call to Prayer, Fasting, and Advocacy

Video messages by Presiding Bishops examine causes

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have issued a joint statement calling for prayer, fasting and advocacy.

The statement, For Such a Time as This: A Call to Prayer, Fasting, and Advocacy, calls for fasting on the 21st of each month through December 2018, at which time the 115th Congress will conclude.

The 21st of each month is targeted because by that time each month, 90% of SNAP (formerly food stamp) benefits have been used, thereby causing the last week of the month as the hungry week in America.

The fast will launch with a group of national and local leaders doing a three-day fast together May 21-23. These leaders include Presiding Bishop Curry, Presiding Bishop Eaton, and leadership throughout the Episcopal Church.

50 Years Too Long: A CMEP Advocacy Event
June 4-6,2017

June 2017 marks 50 year of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, an occupation which threatens the security of Israel and imposes harsh burdens on the Palestinian people.

Hosted by Churches for Middle East Peace, “50 Years Too Long” is an advocacy summit for American Christians to gather, learn, and advocate for constructive ways to pursue a just and sustainable peace in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt).

Participants will learn how to advocate for an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza and put that learning into practice by visiting government representatives to promote a solution that advances security and self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians.

Call to Action to End Famine
A call by the World Council of Churches

Today we, members of more than 100 global, regional and national faith-based organizations and churches representing more than one billion people of faith, are gathered in our communities of worship to observe the Global Day of Prayer to End Famine on 21 May 2017.

We are mobilizing prayers and actions to end famine, as we are deeply disturbed that more people face famine today than at any time in modern history. Famine has been declared by the United Nations in South Sudan, while Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen are on the brink of famine. The situation has been precipitated by a deadly combination of drought, conflicts, marginalization and weak governance. Across these four countries, 20 million people face starvation and many millions more across the world are experiencing alarming levels of hunger. Malnutrition is having a disastrous impact and, as ever, children are among the worst affected, becoming increasingly vulnerable and affected negatively for life. In fact, 1.4 million children could die of severe acute malnutrition in the coming months. Additionally, 27 million people lack access to safe water in the four countries at risk of famine, increasing the threat of cholera and other water-borne diseases.

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