Subject: NCC Weekly News: New York Attack, Ending Racism

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From Jim: Telling the truth about racism
Racism is the sin that has plagued the United States of America from its beginnings, long before the phrase ‘United States of America’ was even created. Any nation established on land stolen from its native peoples and built on the backs of slaves is a nation that has a serious reckoning to do with its past.

That reckoning has not taken place in the United States. Racism remains omnipresent today. It is a heresy because in Christ, there is neither white, or black, or Hispanic, or Asian, or Native American. We are one. And yet the church, the white church, that is, has played a major role in enabling racism and justifying racism, and the white church must face up to it and bring it to an end.

That is why the National Council of Churches has undertaken a momentous, indeed, a monumental, initiative to help heal the nation by ending racism. Mrs. Jacqueline Dupont-Walker, director of the Social Action of Commission of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Rev. John Dorhauer, general minister and president of the United Church of Christ, are providing leadership to a NCC task force that is spearheading our work to silence the pangs of racism, to tell the truth, and to move our nation and our churches forward.

The Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, until recently the general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and chair of the NCC Governing Board, will provide staff leadership for this effort. Sharon said, “The complicity of the white churches and leaders must be accounted for and acknowledged if we are to begin the process of moving toward healing in this country. Predominantly white congregations and denominations have been complicit in perpetuating the sin of racism in ways we have not yet fully recognized, and no healing, no justice, no reconciliation can be achieved without a complete telling of the truth.”

We will inaugurate this process in April 2018, and we invite you to join us on the evening of April 3 for a powerful worship service. On April 4, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we will gather thousands of people together on the National Mall to claim our time to end racism and heal this nation. On the evening of April 4, we will assemble in the National Museum of African American History and Culture to discuss next steps.

Racism is power plus prejudice. In the United States, power is held and controlled by white people. Racism is systemic. White people control the vast majority of the wealth and political power in our nation. We do not live in a post-racial society. We live in the midst of the same racism that has infected our country for hundreds of years.

During this period of trial and turmoil, we are a long way from reconciliation, but the path to healing our church and our nation is through unmasking racism. It will be challenging, and it will be difficult, but I have no doubt this process can help lead our nation to a bright tomorrow where we share the fruits of our labor, live in peace and harmony, and enjoy God’s rich blessings together.

Grace and peace,
Jim Winkler
President and General Secretary
NCC Condemns Terror Attack in Manhattan

The National Council of Churches condemns the terror attack in lower Manhattan yesterday in which eight persons were killed. We grieve with the families of those who lost loved ones and join with our churches across the nation in praying for the recovery of those who were injured. We again repudiate the violent, anti-Islamic ideology of ISIS and attacks on the innocent prompted by this ideology.

While questions remain about the perpetrator, his motivations, his connections, and his radicalization, we nonetheless continue to assert that Scripture repeatedly calls us to love the immigrant and sojourner. We call for justice for the perpetrator of this act, but also for policies that protect those who come to our country as they begin new lives and contribute positively to our society. We ask our churches to continue to open their doors to the immigrant and the refugee and see it as our sacred duty to do so.

We continue to hope for a society in which all people of all races and backgrounds can live together peacefully and without fear.

Archbishop Demetrios Asks Faithful to Pray for the Victims of Terrorist Attack in New York

Upon hearing of (Tuesday's) terrorist attack against innocent and unsuspecting pedestrians and bicyclists in lower Manhattan and the senseless loss of life of eight people and the infliction of injuries to many others, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America expressed the sentiments of sorrow and condolence of all Orthodox faithful to the families and friends of the victims.

“We are shocked and exceedingly saddened about what happened this afternoon in Lower Manhattan. It is unthinkable that in a place like New York, a real capital of culture and art of the world, this criminal and cowardly terrorist act would take place. We, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, at this time of tragedy, stand in solidarity with the families of the victims and fervently pray to the God of great love and mercy that He gives rest to the departed ones and He saves us from any repetition of this kind of really terrible atrocities.”

Eaton calls on church to hear ‘fresh, good news’

“Here we are at the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. So what?” said ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton on Sunday, Oct. 29, at the Reformation Sunday worship service. She spent most of her sermon answering that question. “The truth is,” she continued, “God has given all of God’s people a message of freedom that is based on the steadfastness of God.”

The service, held at Washington National Cathedral in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, was sponsored by the ELCA Metropolitan Washington, D.C., Synod. The synod’s bishop, Richard Graham, presided over the service, along with Bishop Mariann Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington (D.C.).

Bringing together a variety of voices and artists, worship included pre-service music on the front steps of the cathedral provided by the Ambassadors of Praise and the AfroBlue & Philly All-Stars, and in the cathedral’s nave by the Roanoke College Choir. Julio Cuellar & the Latin Ensemble also provided music during the service. Prayers of intersession were read in Amharic, Swahili, German, Oromo, Latvian and Spanish.

In her sermon, Eaton reflected on the service’s Gospel lesson, John 8:31-36: “For the past year, at least for the Lutheran movement, it has been all Reformation all the time. But I think it’s time for us to hit the reset button and hear with new ears the amazing announcement of Jesus to those who had believed in him: ‘You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’ These words should startle us just as much as they startled Jesus’ original hearers.”

When the ‘alt-right’ comes to the neighborhood

“America was 90 percent white in 1950, it is now 60 percent,” read the sign placed under the windshield wiper of the car. “Make America great again.”

The sign was sponsored by and

The car belonged to a neighbor of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) co-workers Charles Wiley and Alonzo Johnson. Across the street neighbors, they host “The Word on the Street,” a twice a month podcast.

Hearing their neighbor’s story — of how she felt after targeted her sister and her biracial children had visited — moved them to talk about race in their recently released podcast, “When the ‘alt-right’ comes to the neighborhood.”

“This person clearly viewed this as a hostile, direct act to her family,” said Wiley in the show opening. “I spent a lot of time growing up in the South. It’s not like this is anything new, but to be in my neighborhood now, it felt kind of brazen.”

“Our neighborhood is changing,” said Johnson. “A friend who lived here before we were a part of it said this act is the closest thing to the past — it was a white neighborhood. This was, is, Archie Bunker.”

The NCC's First Annual Ecumenical Awards Ceremony 
and Benefit Gala, part of the Christian Unity Gathering, 
November 8-10, Silver Spring, Maryland
Praying, singing as white supremacists rally

The Rev. Laurie Raulston said she came to counter a white-supremacist rally in Shelbyville because she needed to live out her baptismal vows.

“I did my first baptism last week, and I didn’t feel like I could ask a teenage girl to resist evil, injustice and oppression if I’m not doing it myself,” said Raulston, the pastor of Normandy United Methodist Church, about 12 miles from the protest site.

She was among an ecumenical group of a dozen or so clergy who braved a cold, blustery morning to confront slogans of hate with hymns of praise.

Throughout the week, people across Tennessee anxiously braced for two “White Lives Matter” rallies Oct. 28. The same white-supremacist groups whose protest turned violent in Charlottesville, Virginia, had scheduled demonstrations in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro in protest of refugee resettlement and immigration.

Episcopalians urge protection of Arctic refuge as Congress moves toward OK’ing drilling

Episcopalians are rallying against oil drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, as the U.S. Senate takes initial steps toward opening part of the refuge in Alaska to energy exploration.

The developments in the Senate come just a month after Episcopal leaders the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops expressed renewed interest in the issue at their fall meeting, which was held in Fairbanks, Alaska. The bishops issued a letter to the church urging action on environmental and racial justice.

“Those who live closest to the land and depend on the health of this ecosystem are marginalized by the forces of market valuation,” Diocese of Alaska Bishop Mark Lattime said Oct. 20 in an emailed statement to Episcopal News Service. “I am proud of the Episcopal Church for its abiding stance in support of the Gwich’in people; the preservation of ANWR for future generations; and for the health of the planet.”

Commentary: Stop Feeding the Homeless

Winter is coming. I’m from Houston and that only means milder summer temperatures and less expensive electricity bills. However, I live in Chicago, which means subzero temperatures, negative wind chill factors, and inches upon inches of snow for months. It means keeping a shovel and a bag of rock-salt by the front door. It means waking up earlier than usual to de-ice the windshield of the car. It means being cautious of sheets of dangerous black ice on the road once I get in that car to drive. It means leaving the house in layers of clothing that I’ll quickly shed at my next destination. At least during the harsh winter months, however, I have a warm house to leave in the first place and a car with heated seats to get into and drive to the next warm destination. For that I am grateful. Unfortunately, an estimated 82,212 Chicagoans and 549,928 Americans cannot say the same.

Each winter, an average of 18 homeless people die just because they don’t have a warm place to retreat from the spiteful cold. Legend has it that some members of the homeless community spend the entire spring and summer months begging on street corners to save up enough money to purchase a one-way bus ticket south for the winter. Those who stay have the difficult daily decision of taking to the streets to earn money or standing in line all day at a shelter for a warm bed for the night because doing both isn’t possible when there are more homeless people than beds available on a first come, first served basis.

Despite this fact, most of our efforts for addressing homelessness have focused on feeding the homeless instead of housing them. If food alone was a solution, we’d call it foodlessness instead of homelessness.

Ecumenical Opportunities:

The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) is seeking an Assistant to the Executive Secretary (CEO): This person will report directly to the Executive Secretary and will be responsible for managing the Executive Secretary’s schedule and travel arrangements, managing incoming communications for the Executive Secretary, preparing and editing correspondence and other written materials, preparing financial reports, gathering information for the Executive Secretary, and staffing the FCNL Executive Committee and Education Fund Board.

The WSCF seeks a regional staff person with a vision for nurturing dynamic ecumenical student movements in the US and Canada; committed to social justice; and desiring to work as part of an international team on global student concerns. This role will be under a 2-year contract with the opportunity to renew for a maximum of 8 years. Salary and Benefits are negotiable.

Serving as a leading voice of witness to the living Christ in the public square since 1950, 
the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) brings together 38 member communions 
and more than 40 million Christians in a common expression of God’s love and promise of unity. 
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