Subject: NCC Weekly News: Remembering Mom

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From Jim: Remembering Mom
My mother, Marilyn Louise Moyer Winkler, passed away last weekend at the age of 81 due to complications related to her long struggle with dementia. I miss her now and always will.

Marilyn Winkler was married to my father, Eugene Winkler, for sixty years. By virtue of that marriage, mom was the wife of a United Methodist preacher. Her life revolved around the church, her children, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren. Her grandkids knew her as “mom-mom.”

Her parents were early -- perhaps charter -- members of Asbury Methodist Church in Oklahoma City. In fact, mom met dad at that church in 1955 when he was as the youth minister. Together, they served local churches in Oklahoma, Missouri, and Illinois.

For many years, those churches were in small towns with names like Luther and Houstonia. Mom sometimes said, “We paid our dues.” For the last 13 years of dad’s active ministry, they served the Chicago Temple, the world’s tallest church, in the heart of the Loop and lived in a remarkable parsonage that wrapped around the steeple. My eldest daughter, as a small child, dubbed it “mom-mom’s castle in the sky.”

Mom was a private person on a public stage. Of the many parsonages she lived in, she said that although those houses belonged to the church, they were home for her as long as her family resided there. Although she maintained boundaries to guard the privacy of our family, church members passed through all the time for dinners, receptions, and Christmas parties.

Of course, we attended church each Sunday. One Sunday when I was in my 20s and sitting next to mom in a pew full of Winklers, she proudly whispered to me, “I bought every stitch of clothing on everyone in this pew.” She was generous to a fault.

Mom was an Oklahoma girl and had lots of Oklahoma sayings which she used on my brother, sister and me when she was frustrated with us: “Keep your shirt on!”, “Hold on to your horses!”, “What in tarnation?”, “What in the Sam Hill?”, “I’ll jerk a knot in you!” When we inevitably acted up as kids in church, she would whisper, “I will break your arm if you don’t settle down.” We took such threats very seriously.

Mom served as an elementary school secretary for many years. She was highly competent and worked closely with the principal to keep things running. When I visited home during my college years I would find myself on the night shift at her school doing janitorial work to make a little extra money.

Mom dearly loved her sister, Madalene, and spoke with her by phone nearly every day. They lost their mother, Grace, to cancer too early and held on to each other throughout the years.

Members of my family gathered around mom’s bedside recently and prayed, said goodbye, and gave her our permission to leave us and join her mother, father, and brother. I know they are visiting together right now.

For more than 40 years our family has vacationed at beaches in North and South Carolina and Florida. This summer, we will spread her ashes on the ocean and pray, sing, laugh, cry, and remember her.

Yours in Christ,
Jim Winkler, President and General Secretary
National Council of Churches

EPI Opposes American Health Care Act

The Ecumenical Poverty Initiative has released a statement opposing the American Health Care Act noting the devastating impact the bill, as written, would have on the poor and most vulnerable in our nation. The AHCA, which would replace the Affordable Care Act, eliminates the Medicaid expansion, ends the pre-existing condition mandate, gets rid of subsidies, limits the flexibility of the program with a per capita cap and gives substantial tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans while putting the lives of the most vulnerable in harm’s way. An estimated 24 million people would lose health care coverage under the plan.

According to the statement, the AHCA is “in essence a “Death Bill” that would put the lives of low and moderate income families, the elderly, children and people with disabilities at risk in order for the wealthiest Americans to get a tax break. This is both unjust and unacceptable.”

The statement goes on to say, “Rather than being an ‘act of mercy,’ as described by Congressman Ryan, this merciless bill is an act of blatant cruelty perpetuated against God’s most vulnerable people…This bill stands in stark contradiction to the principles of our faith and that is why we must stand against it.”

WCC gravely concerned over Israel’s travel ban

The World Council of Churches (WCC) today expressed grave concern about a new law passed on Monday by the Knesset which reportedly forbids granting entry visas to foreign nationals who call for economic, cultural or academic boycotts of either Israel or the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. The ‘Entry to Israel Act (Denial of Visa to Non-Residents Who Knowingly Call for a Boycott on Israel)’ apparently makes no distinction between boycotting Israel proper and boycotting products of the settlements, which are widely considered illegal under international law.

“If reports of its content and intent are correct, this law is a shockingly regressive law,” said WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit. “It would be a clear violation of freedom of expression, that is critical for those who want to visit Israel, for those who have to live under the occupation, and for those who want access to the Palestinian territories. It is also a significant violation of freedom of religion. It is precisely because of our Christian principles and teachings that we in the World Council of Churches find the purchase and consumption of goods produced in Israeli settlements in the occupied territories immoral, and it is for the same reason many churches and Christians around the world choose to divest from companies that profit from the illegal occupation.”

Letter from Eglise Protestante Unie de Belgique to National Council of Churches USA

Greetings and peace be with you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord!

We live in turbulent times at both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In Belgium, we are looking with perplexity at developments in your good country after the election of President Donald Trump.  We are especially concerned about what policies of the new Administration may mean for the environment, climate change and God's creation, for vulnerable people in your country as well as those in the larger world, for refugees and asylum seekers, for peace in the world, for the future of Israel and Palestine, for race relations, and for relations between religions.  With pain in our hearts we see how polarization and divisions are stoked up and growing, how society is fractioning, and how populist policies seem to be gaining ground.  It is also very worrying to witness the sustained attack by President Trump on the media which he describes as "very dishonest" and as "the enemy of the American people."  A free press is one of the important pillars of democracy and, as such, should be protected even if we may disagree with some of the opinions which they may hold.

Puerto Rico Religious Leaders Ask Congress to Pass Debt Crisis Actions

"‎As religious leaders in Puerto Rico, we urge you to act on behalf of the 3.4 million American citizens living on the island," wrote two prominent ministers to Congress about ‎policies to help the debt-troubled island. Archbishop Roberto González Nieves and Bible Society leader Reverend Heriberto Martínez-Rivera want Congress to adopt health care and child tax benefit recommendations proposed by the bipartisan Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico.

"Our people are suffering," the religious leaders write in a letter sent to Congress. "Nearly 60% of our children live in poverty and thousands of our brothers and sisters flee to the US mainland each year in search of work, tearing apart families and communities."

The Congressional task force estimates that extending the Child Tax Credit would generate roughly $3 billion for the island's economy. Congress created this task force as part of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act, or PROMESA, which passed to address the financial crisis last June.

Christian Witness at the People's Climate March

Creation Justice Ministries is helping gather and organize people of Orthodox, Protestant, Historically Black, Baptist, and Peace Church traditions so they can connect with their religious leadership, as well as with an ecumenical community, at the People's Climate March.

The United Church of Christ, The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Presbyterian Church (USA), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Mennonite Central Committee, United Methodist Church, and others are planning prayer and advocacy gatherings for their respective communities. We will connect you to denominational activities as plans unfold.

State of Appalachia: Gathering faith voices for a thriving Appalachia

March 31 - April 1
Pipestem Resort State Park in West Virginia

Over 50 years ago, the Commission on Religion in Appalachia (CORA) formed as a voice for justice in the mountains. The Commission on Religion in Appalachia (CORA) did historic, ground-breaking work to organize faith leadership.

Many of us who continue to echo its message feel that NOW is an especially meaningful and critically important time to come together once again to examine the economic, environmental and spiritual conditions of our region, to problem solve, and to organize.

Today, in the spirit of CORA, the State of Appalachia conference will examine the spiritual, economic, and ecological situation of our home.

Together, we will chart a path forward.

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