Subject: NCC Weekly News: Partners in Philippines, India; Social Security Week

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From Jim: My Mom and Memory
Like millions of others, my mother has Alzheimer’s Disease. Her illness has progressed to the point that it is taking a tremendous toll on my father and placing significant pressure on my siblings, especially my sister.

Because mom is the center of our family, her slow descent into dementia has altered our family’s dynamics in many ways. Most obviously, younger members of the family have had to take on many difficult decision-making responsibilities.

Illness plays a prominent role in the Bible including skin and wasting diseases, fevers, hemorrhages, stomach ailments, mental illness, leprosy, plague, and tumors. Sometimes sufferers, particularly those with leprosy, were quarantined. Yet, there are instances of healing and solace throughout scripture. Psalm 23 reminds me that the Lord will be with my mother throughout the travails she experiences. Even though this beautiful psalm gives me comfort, I know things are not likely to change: it is apparent mom will not be restored to full health.

Alzheimer's unfolds and deepens over the course of years. In a sense, this has permitted us to say goodbye to mom in slow motion. We've all adjusted as her capabilities have diminished. At first, it just seemed like the kind of forgetfulness that often comes with aging. Over time it became apparent she simply couldn't remember even what she had just eaten. If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you know what I’m talking about.

During the some 50 years dad was a pastor in local churches, mom served as an elementary school secretary and kept the three kids in line and on task. She isn't a public figure or speaker, but she is shrewd and has been our greatest supporter.

Mom has always been extraordinarily generous. Although she and dad had little money for years and years, they always made sure their children and grandchildren were cared for. They felt the best vacations were family vacations, and the best Christmases were celebrated with everybody present.

I remember once, while in my twenties, I was visiting home and attending church with mom and other family members on Sunday morning. The long pew was filled with Winklers. Mom whispered proudly in my ear, “I bought every stitch of clothing on every person in this pew.”

Disorientation troubles the soul. Over the past few years it has become increasingly difficult for her to be comfortable in large family gatherings. She does much better one-on-one. For me, who does not see her often, it’s easy to be patient when she asks the same questions over and over. On a daily basis, however, that is more challenging.

The wonderful memories we share of countless occasions and events can no longer be recounted with ease. She cannot summon them. In recent years, I attempted to get her to reflect on her own childhood, but that hasn’t worked well. It is said that those with dementia have good days and bad days. I haven’t seen the good days. Soon, she likely won’t be able to recognize me or my children.

I miss the mom who who was strong, vibrant and funny. I love the mom I have. I am grateful she knows the love of God.

Yours in Christ,

Jim Winkler
President and General Secretary
On the Violent Dispersal of the Farmers’ Demonstration in Kidapawan

“...Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come and my deliverance be revealed...” (Isaiah 56:1).

Impelled by the severe hunger caused by the intense dry spell in North Cotabato, compounded by empty promises of government aid to avert the debilitating effects of the El Niño phenomenon, some 6,000 farmers and indigenous people took to the main highway in Kidapawan to demand for rice and the release of calamity funds. The peaceful assembly on April 1 was brutally dispersed by state security forces. Their demands were well within the government’s capacity to respond to but the farmers were met by gunfire, hot pursuit and illegal arrests. The demonstrators sought refuge at Spottswood Methodist Mission Center which willingly opened their doors to provide safety. The shots have died down but as of this writing, the farmers continue to be harassed by police and military presence at the Mission Center.

The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) raises a thunderous cry of anger at such a senseless and heartless action of the state whose main responsibility is to feed and protect its people. We vehemently denounce the continuing harassment of Bishop Ciriaco Francisco of the United Methodist Church-Davao Episcopal Area and his constituents at Spottswood Methodist Mission Center. We commend their courageous missional deed of putting the church facilities at the service of the unjustly tormented and persecuted. We earnestly pray for endurance as they stand alongside the farmers at such a time as this.

As we painfully mourn the deaths and continuing threats to our sisters and brothers who do not deserve such cruelty, we call for a credible independent investigation of this violation of the people’s right to peaceful assembly and basic social services. We have yet to hear what national leaders have to say about the Kidapawan carnage. Their silence up to this time is frightening. We demand that the donations of various groups and individuals, including showbiz personalities, be given to the farmers hard hit by the weather crisis and now, this violent dispersal of their demonstration. Our faith in the God who cares for the dispossessed will not allow us to be silent until justice is meted out to the perpetrators of this inhuman act.

We challenge the NCCP member churches and our international partners to join the donation campaign to provide immediate relief to our sisters and brothers in Kidapawan and other regions which are in similar straits.

Let the truth rise unmuddled!

SDPC Statement on UNGASS Multi-Faith Consultation

The Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference (SDPC) will convene multi-faith leaders in New York in April to participate in the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) to discuss Global Drug Policy as practiced by countries and nations around the world. The U.N. official sessions will commence April 19, 2016.

By elevating the components of compassion, care and health, the goals of SDPC and the other faith leaders are to examine and impact drug policy worldwide, to shift those policies from being punitive to those which will reduce harm to individuals and communities.

At a meeting held in Washington, DC in October, 2015, SDPC and other multi faith leaders agreed that while there has never been a “drug-free” society, there are ways that policies can be made and implemented which will “reduce negative and destructive consequences associated with drug use.”

Prior to the official opening at the UN, SDPC will co-host an interfaith worship service at the UN chapel on April 18 at 11 am, and a community-based program later that evening at 6:30 pm at Abyssinian Baptist Church.

The UNGASS events in New York will be a watershed moment for faith leaders to advocate for global policies which can reform and transform the criminal justice systems and address drug policies related to HIV prevention, drug production and trade agreements, human rights and public health practices, law enforcement and sentencing policies, and to create “compassionate models of care for the families and communities impacted by drug addiction.”

Challenging times for Christians in South Asia

The National Council of Churches in India strongly condemns the acts of violence perpetrated on Christians and similar religious minorities in the South Asian region.

We deeply regret that fanatic fascist religious forces are taking the law in their hands and determining who should live in the regions and who should be subjugated and even exterminated.

The governments of the countries in the region feign surprise and shock at the incidence of such attacks on minorities. Loud but hollow speeches are made that terrorists will not be spared. The opposition parties blame their respective governments for such occurrences and tend to get political mileage for themselves rather than addressing the problem.

The army and the police are to stand for secular values and principles as well as ensure justice and protection for the vulnerable. However even soldiers and police personnel belong to different religious communities. They could also be influenced by different communal ideologies. They may even be forced to submit to the diktats of their commanding officers. They may also be inadequately equipped to face the the onslaught of communal militant forces.

Celebrate National my Social Security Week | April 4 - 13, 2016

National my Social Security week will be celebrated from April 4 -13. With the help of many groups and organizations, we will host numerous events and activities across the country to raise awareness about the benefits of opening a secure online my Social Security account.

With a my Social Security account, you can:
  • Keep track of your earnings and verify them every year;
  • Get an estimate of your future benefits, if you are still working;
  • Get a letter with proof of your benefits, if you currently receive them; and
  • Manage your benefits:
  • Change your address;
  • Start or change your direct deposit;
  • Request a replacement Medicare card; and
  • Get a replacement SSA-1099 or SSA-1042S for tax season.
This Week's Podcast: Subscribe TODAY!

The NCC is bringing the best, most interesting and relevant voices from the faith community to your mobile device. Every week NCC communications director Rev. Steven D. Martin interviews faith leaders, activists, and people from across the NCC's 38 member communions and affiliated organizations.

This week: Rev. John Dorhauer, General Minister of the United Church of Christ, talks about the church, technology, adaptability, and the future. John is one of several visionary NCC heads of communion that you'll want to hear from.  Each new episode goes online Friday afternoon.

As we launch this podcast, you can help us by subscribing in the iTunes Store and Stitcher Radio. If you like what you're hearing, please write a review. By doing this you will help us reach the widest possible audience!

Resources to Celebrate Earth Day Sunday, April 17 or 24

Each year, Creation Justice Ministries offers materials to help churches recognize Earth Day. Earth Day Sunday can be recognized April 17 or 24.

The resource is written to be useful year-round. Additional opportune moments to use this resource include September 1, recognized by Orthodox and Catholic communions as the World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation, or in October, during the Season of Creation and close to the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi.
Banners to Oppose Anti-Muslim Bigotry

To counter anti-Muslim bigotry, Interfaith Action for Human Rights joins with Shoulder to Shoulder and T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Justice to call on U.S. religious communities to display banners signaling their support for the Muslim American community. 

The campaign follows in the tradition of similar banner campaigns, such as Save Darfur, Stand with Israel and Black Lives Matter. It aims to demonstrate that faith communities stand together with the Muslim American community.

There are three banner options:
  • Honor God: Say No to anti-Muslim Bigotry
  • We Stand with our Muslim neighbors
  • [Organization Name] stands with Muslim Americans
Banners come in two sizes: 2’ x 6’ - $140 or 3’ x 9’ - $200. 

Banners are weatherproof vinyl and have mounting grommets for easy hanging or posting. Price includes UPS Ground shipping and handling. Allow 14 days for delivery. Sorry, No PO Boxes Allowed.

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