Subject: NCC Weekly News: Our Immigrant Past, Litany for Those Not Ready for Healing

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From Jim: I will always be grateful
“Our Immigrant Fathers”
Father’s Day sermon
Delivered at Fairlington United Methodist Church
By Jim Winkler
June 19, 2016

Continued from last week:

Now, I don’t know whether my great grandfather and grandfather felt humiliated or persecuted by this demand or not. Because my family is white, we were able to easily de-emphasize our ethnic background.

I know that quite often immigrants try extra hard to prove they are loyal to the United States. Last month, I received an award from the Islamic Society of North America for my efforts to advance Christian-Muslim understanding. At the ceremony, an Islamic Boy Scout troop brought in the flag, we said the pledge of allegiance and sang the national anthem.

But we see all around us racist and bigoted talk and assumptions made about Muslims and Hispanics, some of whom are immigrants but many of whom have been born and raised in our nation. My wife and daughter are of Mexican and Central American descent and often feel people look differently at them as they move about our daily lives.

Scripture, however, is clear on how we are to treat the foreigner and the stranger:

“You have become guilty by the blood that you have shed, and defiled by the idols that you have made; you have brought your day near, the appointed time of your years has come. Father and mother are treated with contempt in you; the alien residing within you suffers extortion; the orphan and the widow are wronged in you.” (Ezekiel 22:4,7)

“For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors forever and ever.” (Jeremiah 7:5-7)

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for nby doing that some have enterained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)

I could cite many other verses, but I think you understand the point. Now, there’s a sad part to the story of my grandfather’s experience during WWI. Just a few years after he experienced some degree of persecution, he joined the Ku Klux Klan and visited persecution on African Americans, in particular, although I can guarantee you my grandfather, who I loved, was an equal opportunity hater of all minorities as well as Jews and Catholics.

My father, I am happy to report, did not follow in the footsteps of my grandfather. Dad grew up in Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma, the Deep South, and the Southwest. He moved around because my grandfather, who worked in local Ford dealerships, fought a continuous battle with his temper and with alcohol. Most of the time alcohol and his temper won and grandpa would have to look for another job. Because good mechanics were always in demand, he found work.

The story goes that grandpa would call my grandmother to let her know he’d found a job and a place to live and tell her to bring the children. Then, on the first week they’d visit First Methodist Church, the second week they’d join, and the third week my grandmother would be elected president of the UMW.

It was my grandmother, the United Methodist Women, and the Methodist Youth Fellowship that kept my father from becoming racist and anti-immigrant. When he was in his late teens, Dad went to a camp for young Methodist leaders. His car broke down on the way so it was late when he arrived.

He was taken to his cabin and saw he would be sharing it with 3 other young men, all of whom were at an evening worship service. Since he was exhausted, dad fell asleep and when he woke up the next morning he learned he was sharing a bed with an African American for the first time in his life.

It was not just any African American. It was Rev. James Lawson, who went on to be one of the most significant leaders of the civil rights movement. Rev. Lawson was a disciple of Gandhi and taught nonviolent civil disobedience techniques to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to John Lewis—now a congressman from Georgia—and to those who participated in the sit-ins at lunch counters throughout the South.

Jim Lawson had a profound impact on Dr. King, and on my father and his understanding of racial equality. This carried over not only into his ministry—he served local churches in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Illinois for 55 years—but into the values he instilled in his children. I am and will always be grateful to my dad for raising us in such a manner.

I grew up in the church and in an anti-racist household. Don’t get me wrong. I believe if you are a white person living in this country you are a beneficiary of white privilege whether you want it or not. Therefore, although it’s impossible to avoid complicity in a racist society, you can strive to be an anti-racist. Similarly, you can live out the biblical values and do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.

The National Council of Churches and its member communions, as well as Roman Catholics and many evangelicals, are united in speaking on behalf of justice for immigrants.

I have hope for our nation and for our future and I know it will require hard work and commitment from people of good will. We need to be a non-anxious people in an anxious time.

Above all, we must remain faithful to God.

(This sermon may be read in its entirety at
Yours in Christ,

Jim Winkler
President and General Secretary

A Litany for Those Who Aren't Ready For Healing

Last night we went to sleep with news of Alton Sterling’s death on our hearts. This morning we wake with word that Philando Castile has been killed during a police stop in Minnesota.

Our hearts break over and over again - for the lives lost, for the families forever changed, for the children left behind, for the undone work that God had planned for each of the 115 people lost this year alone. We must move from grief to action, but as we sit in this moment of sadness, consider this prayer by Dr. Yolanda Pierce. 

A Litany for Those Who Aren't Ready For Healing

Let us not rush to the language of healing, before understanding the fullness of the injury and the depth of the wound. 

Let us not rush to offer a band-aid, when the gaping wound requires surgery and complete reconstruction. 

Let us not offer false equivalencies, thereby diminishing the particular pain being felt in a particular circumstance in a particular historical moment. 

Let us not speak of reconciliation without speaking of reparations and restoration, or how we can repair the breach and how we can restore the loss. Let us not rush past the loss of this mother's child, this father's child ... someone's beloved son.

Let us not value property over people; let us not protect material objects while human lives hang in the balance.

PCUSA Approves Overtures Involving 'No Gun Ri' Incident and Promoting Peace in the Korean Peninsula

The Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. (PCUSA) approved several overtures during the 222nd General Assembly last week relevant to the Korean community, two which involve historical and political issues related to the Korean peninsula.

One overture was regarding an incident that occurred in 1950 in No Gun Ri, South Korea, where some 150 or more Korean civilians were killed by American troops.

This Overture 12-01, which was submitted by the presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse, acknowledges that the incident occurred, and calls on the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly to request statements from the President and Congress of the U.S. in which they also acknowledge the responsibility of the U.S. military for the incident, they apologize and express regret, and they express commitment to inform military troops about such incidents as No Gun Ri during training "to diminish the likelihood of such events happening in the future."

It also calls on the staff of the Presbyterian Mission Agency to communicate with the Presbyterian Church in Korea (PCK) and Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK) to "offer condolence," "create a bibliography of resources about the events at No Gun Ri," "create worship materials to remember the people impacted by the events at No Gun Ri," "share the bibliography and worship materials and this overture and rationale electronically with the congregations and presbyteries," and "explore possibilities for joint prayer and witness regarding continuing tensions on the Korean peninsula, in the South China Sea."

It’s Time for Congress to Act on Criminal Justice Reform

Congress has the capacity and, more importantly, the responsibility to act upon and pass S.2123, the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2016. This Congress; however, refuses to act upon the legislation and ignores millions of our brothers and sisters disproportionately affected by our current flawed and egregious sentencing laws. As a Church, we implore this Congress to act.

This legislation has broad bipartisan support in the Senate and is supported by the civil rights community and the faith community, among many others. The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act would help restructure, revitalize, and effectively innovate our criminal justice system by reducing overly-aggressive sentencing laws for low-level drug crimes and, in turn, shrink not only the population of our federal prisons, but also the cost of running them.

Since 1986 and the implementation of mandatory minimum drug sentences, both the number of incarcerations and the overall length of time spent in prison by inmates have dramatically increased. In fact, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, today, nearly half of all federal inmates are serving sentences for low-level, nonviolent drug crimes.

PC(USA) Stated Clerk sends letter of support to church partners in Iraq

Dear Friends in Christ,

The grace of Christ be with you. We write out of our deep love for you to express our concern and assure you of our support in this painful time.

Our hearts are broken daily as we hear of devastation caused by individuals and groups motivated by prejudice, hatred, and religious bigotry. Their violence seems to know no bounds, as innocent children and adults are victimized by shootings, bombings, and acts of war.

We are especially anguished by the recent bombing in Baghdad and its impact on all who live in the region. We know that you are already burdened to the breaking point as you work to care for victims of ISIS and the casualties resulting from the military efforts in the region to defeat that twisted manifestation of Islam.

We know you have received the prayers offered by Laurie Kraus in our Presbyterian Disaster Assistance office and we continue to seek concrete ways to lend our support.

We confess, as citizens of the U.S., our complicity in the failures of cultural sensitivity and commitment that have marked our involvement in the region. Although our government has been well-intentioned, our frequent resort to military action has sometimes made it more difficult to find peaceful, long-term solutions to regional political and religious differences. In that regard we shall continue to work for justice and peace through our offices in Washington and at the United Nations, advocating for long-term solutions implemented through negotiation rather than military force.

We pray daily for your safety and for a just peace for Iraq. Through our work to provide resources for your efforts to care for those who are victims of this tragedy and through our advocacy, we seek to stand in solidarity with you in Christ.

The Reverend J. Herbert Nelson II
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

CEC grieves loss of life in Istanbul, sends condolences to Ecumenical Patriarch

The Conference of European Churches mourns the gun and bomb attacks that took the lives of a reported 41 people at Istanbul’s Ataturk international airport. Upwards of 140 more are reported wounded in the deadly acts of violence. So far no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which are the latest to take place throughout Turkey in the last year, including in the capital Ankara and near the Syrian border.

The Conference of European Churches mourns the tremendous loss of life in Istanbul. We lament the promising futures lost and difficult days and years ahead for those who were injured at Ataturk.

“The attack on Istanbul hurts all of us because it targets one of the cradles of European civilisation,” remarked CEC General Secretary Fr Heikki Huttunen. “Istanbul is a city at the crossroads of east and west, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. It is the biggest city in Europe and it is one of the centres of global Christianity, although the Christians there live as a minority among a Muslim majority in a secular state. To target this bustling centre of historic and contemporary importance is an attack against the development of Turkey as a democratic and open European nation.”

As those affected by yesterday’s violence, begin recovery from this latest attack, CEC asks that our Member Churches and all people of goodwill pray for Istanbul and Turkey.

Ecumenical Opportunities:

The Latin America Working Group (LAWG) has an immediate opening for a Program Assistant/Financial Associate. This staff member will have a variety of program responsibilities, including organizing online and offline campaigns, assisting in advocacy with policymakers and helping to coordinate coalition work on U.S. policy toward Colombia and Central America and embargo and travel issues regarding Cuba. This staff member will be responsible for finance-related tasks, including carrying out weekly check writing and deposits, preparing financial reports and working with our bookkeeper and accountant. The staff member will also be responsible for acting as technology liaison with our tech support consultants.

UCC Executive Minister of Justice and Witness Ministries: On July 1, The Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ is beginning a search process for a new Executive Minister with the goal of presenting a candidate for election to the UCC Board of Directors at its March 2017 meeting.

Wellspring Advisors, a private philanthropic consulting firm, seeks a Senior Program Officer to develop and lead its racial justice initiative, with a focus on criminal justice. The successful candidate will be a seasoned professional with a minimum of 15 years of experience working on criminal justice issues in the United States and their intersection with racial justice, experience working with national and grassroots racial justice organizations, and significant experience collaborating with other funders and/or advocacy organizations on the issues of criminal and racial justice. 

Scarritt-Bennett Center (SBC) is seeking an Executive Director: SBC is an urban, non-profit education and retreat center committed to addressing social justice issues through regional, national and global programming that promotes cultural understanding, eradication of racism, education for and about women and spiritual renewal for all peoples. We seeking an Executive Director to lead our dynamic organization. July 28th is the deadline for receiving applications. For more information on Scarritt Bennett Center and to apply visit:

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) seeks a full-time Communications and Program Associate to work in its Washington, DC office. The individual will split their time between NRCAT, a 501(c)3, and the NRCAT Action Fund, a 501(c)4. Through NRCAT, the individual will also provide assistance to the New Evangelical for the Common Good. This is a new position and the position will be evaluated after one year. We seek someone who can work independently and as part of a team. The individual will provide critical communications, program and administrative support across NRCAT's program areas.

The Children’s Environmental Health Network is seeking nominations for its 2016 Nsedu Obot Witherspoon (NOW) Youth Leadership Award!

The NOW Youth Leadership Award was created as part of the Children’s Environmental Health Network’s (CEHN) 20th anniversary celebration in 2012, in honor of Executive Director Nsedu Obot Witherspoon. This award honors a young person (ages 12-21 at the time of the nomination) who has demonstrated exceptional environmental health leadership--efforts to protect human health, especially of our most vulnerable populations, through actions including: raising awareness of, advocacy for, and outreach around safer, healthier environments across places.

We encourage submissions of nominees who are young leaders that are involved and committed to environmental health, participate in community action, and have strong leadership skills. Submissions must come from non-family members. This award will be presented at CEHN’s 11th Annual Child Health Advocate Award Event in Washington, DC on October 13th, 2016. The winner must be able to travel to DC and attend the event to accept their award. Submit your nomination here by 4pm EST, July 15th, 2016!

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