Subject: NCC Weekly News: Our Militaristic Nation

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From Jim: A Militarized Nation
As I have watched this dispiriting presidential campaign unfold, one of the many things that is depressing is the devotion of the candidates to the use of military force. 

The United States has been at war my entire life, either overtly or covertly. That period of time covers a number of major US wars including Vietnam, the first Persian Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The Congressional Research Service estimates those wars cost—through 2010, not 2016—just shy of $2 trillion for military operations alone. That excludes costs of veterans benefits, interest on war-related debt, or assistance to allies (Source: Costs of Major U.S. Wars, by Stephen Daggett, Specialist in Defense Policy and Budgets, June 29, 2010, Congressional Research Service).

In fiscal year 2016, our nation is spending more than $800 billion for military defense, veterans affairs, and assistance to allies. Tens of billions of additional dollars each year are spent by taxpayers to service the portion of the vast national debt that is due to military expenses.

We are a militarized nation. Our leaders, almost all of whom are Christian, are militarists and believe might makes right, that we are an exceptional country, and that we must intervene in the affairs of other nations when it suits our interests. We even spy on our allies. 

Dr. King stated a year before his assassination, “I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin—we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

We have not undergone that revolution of values, we are not on the right side of the world revolution, and the giant triplets have conquered us.

No presidential candidate offers a coherent way out of this path to doom and none offers a systematic critique of our plight. There was a day when militarism was a negative word. No longer. Most of the candidates pay obeisance to all things military.

We as a nation are utterly devoted to what theologian Walter Wink referred to as "the myth of redemptive violence." Essentially, if you hit me then it’s OK for me to hit you back. This worldview is profoundly anti-Jesus.

The United States, which already spends more on the military than most of the world combined, intends over coming years to spend about $1 trillion to rebuild its nuclear arsenal, a new long-range bomber, and more nuclear-powered and armed submarines. We remain constantly in search of enemies.

This year alone, we will spend billions upon billions on a long list of weapons including but not limited to the Joint Strike, Raptor, Eagle, and Super Hornet fighter planes; Osprey, Chinook, Hercules, Apache, and Black Hawk helicopters; nuclear aircraft carriers, Aegis destroyers, littoral combat ships, submarines, and assault ships; medium-range, ballistic, standoff, hellfire, ICBM, and cruise missiles; Aegis, THAAD, Patriot, and PAC-3 missiles; space-based infrared, global positioning, evolved expendable launch, and advanced extremely high frequency systems; tanks, tactical, and amphibious combat vehicles; Predator, Grey Eagle, and Reaper drones. The list goes on and on. This is akin to taking our national wealth and burying it in the ground.

We worship Baal and have erected temples and pillars in his honor all over our land. Our gods are iron and metal and death. We have already been carried away into spiritual exile from our hopes, our dreams, our values, and from the God we profess to love, follow, and obey. We have done what was evil in the sight of the Lord. The blood of millions is on our head. The word of the Lord is not known.

Will we repent? 

Yours in Christ,

Jim Winkler
President and General Secretary
ELCA and The United Methodist Church partner on HIV and AIDS strategy

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and The United Methodist Church have formed a partnership to collaborate on strategy and projects that will focus on reducing stigma and discrimination experienced by people infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.

“This epidemic must be addressed by the church through education, awareness, capacity building and stigma reduction,” said Dr. Ulysses Burley, program associate, ELCA strategy on HIV and AIDS.

Burley shared the ELCA’s efforts to combat HIV and AIDS during the February meeting of the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund Committee at the Hollywood United Methodist Church in Hollywood, Calif. Burley told those gathered that “while 37.4 million people are infected worldwide, in the U.S. 44 percent of persons currently living with HIV and AIDS and 44 percent of the newly infected are African American.”

“At the end of the three-day meeting we affirmed a new way forward together. The United Methodist Church Global AIDS Committee voted to adopt the stated goals of the ELCA’s HIV and AIDS Strategy,” said Burley.

Pilgrimage for Justice and Peace

Everywhere we look today, life seems imperiled. Isn’t it time for Christians and Christian churches everywhere to unite in sustaining life by working together on today’s most pressing issues? Isn’t it time for Christians everywhere to join in a sacred journey – a pilgrimage – of justice and peace?

Become involved in the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace: an initiative of the WCC member churches “to work together in a common quest, renewing the true vocation of the church through collaborative engagement with the most important issues of justice and peace, healing a world filled with conflict, injustice and pain.”

Share your ideas and learn from fellow pilgrims: Please visit for multimedia resources and interaction guided by nine questions such as “What is a pilgrimage?” and “What are justice and peace?” Personal reflections on the pilgrimage theme, how it relates to the lives of the churches in various parts of the world, and to justice and peace issues that Christians are confronting in their communities, are being posted for discussion at

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UCC shares open invitation to Dorhauer installation in three-city service

Three locations. Three preachers at each service. An extravagant welcome to all who would like to attend.

The Rev. John C. Dorhauer will be formally installed as the United Church of Christ's ninth general minister and president during a three-city worship service in mid-April. The three events, scheduled on April 15 in New York City, April 16 in Chicago and April 17 in Seattle, will include a trio of UCC pastors and leaders who have been invited to offer three brief "vision statements" at each worship location.

But as organizers point out, these three services are not just about the installation of one person; rather they are planned as a pivotal moment for the future and mission of the denomination. That's why everyone in the wider church is welcome to attend any of the three events or watch the proceedings online.

Installation planners also point out that the church is not centered in Cleveland where the national setting is located. "We are called to serve the wider setting," Dorhauer said. "Having this in three cities represents something symbolic — that we are all in this together — and allows us to open this amazing moment up to more people."

What happens when the Social Principles become a way of life in Northern Nigeria

How United Methodists are living out the Social Principles in Jalingo

United Methodists believe that, “Members of the charge conference shall be persons of genuine Christian character who love the Church, are morally disciplined, are committed to the mandate of inclusiveness in the life of the Church, are loyal to the ethical standards of The United Methodist Church set forth in the Social Principles, and are competent to administer its affairs.” 

It is in regard to the above that 20 pastors and church leaders from the city of Jalingo gathered at The United Methodist Church Jatutu Memorial Cathedral in Magami recently to learn more about how they can work with their congregations in living out the Social Principles.

Jalingo is the capital city of Taraba State, in the northeastern part of Nigeria; about 14 hours travel distance from Lagos. It is also the headquarters of the United Methodist Church Nigeria Episcopal area. There are 32 United Methodist Churches within the city of Jalingo, which has a population similar to that of Ann Arbor, Michigan. “These pastors and church leaders have great passion for the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church and are willing to teach it from their pulpits,” said the Rev. Yunusa Z. Usman, pastor of The United Methodist Church McBride Magami Jalingo.

Session to Explore Theology Behind Fight Against Racism at Ecumenical Advocacy Days

Christians gathering at the 2016 Ecumenical Advocacy Days will be lifting their voices in support of those who are oppressed and marginalized because of racism and classism. We only have to be familiar with the headlines of the past two years to know that these two ills are realities in our society, and on the hearts and minds of candidates and voters alike as we head toward the November election. But what is the theological basis for our message when it comes to fairness and justice? This workshop will analyze the Christian foundations of faith when it comes to affirming the political and economic rights of all, so that when we speak truth to power, we can know why our voice can be more than a whisper in the cacophony of voices seeking to influence policy.

This session will take place on Friday April 15 beginning at 1pm in the Wilson-Harrison Room. The panel will include:
  • Dr. Doug Foster – Professor of Church History, Abilene Christian University
  • Rev. Joyce Shin – Associate Pastor for Congregational Life, 4th Presbyterian Church Chicago, IL
  • Rev. Dr. Kenneth James – Pastor, Memorial AME Zion Church Rochester, NY
  • Moderator – Dr. Greg Carey – Professor of New Testament, Lancaster Theological Seminary

Job Opportunities:

Office Manager, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty: This person will provide clerical and general operational support to the Executive Director and the executive staff and administrative support for the BJC office. Click here for more information.

Refugee and Immigration Policy Analyst, Episcopal Church: This person will represent Episcopal Church policies to government leaders, devise and execute legislative and communication strategy, propose and monitor federal legislation, write public-policy statements and letters, determine and write public-policy alerts for the Episcopal Public Policy Network, train Episcopalians in public-policy advocacy, and build coalitions to support policy priorities. Click here for more information.

Director of Marketing and Communications, Wesley Theological Seminary:  The Director of Marketing and Communications is responsible for advancing, through strategy and content production, the mission and goals of Wesley Theological Seminary. Click here for more information.

Program Director, Environment and Energy Policy, ELCA: The primary purpose of this position is to guide and carry out the church’s public witness on issues related to the environment and energy in the U.S. and globally, and to agriculture, food production and rural development in the U.S. As framed by ELCA social policy, this position coordinates and relates the ELCA’s public voice, members, programs and ministries to national policy priorities. This position informs, equips and encourages ELCA members, congregations and synods to engage in advocacy as a faith practice focused on stewardship of creation, creation justice, energy use and engagement with people living in poverty and struggling with hunger.  Click here for more information.
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