Subject: NCC Weekly News: The Cathorthovanangloproto Church?

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From Jim: On the Cathorthovanangloproto Church
I was born into the Methodist Church which merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church. During that same period, the 1960s, work was underway through the Consultation on Church Union to devise a plan to unify nine denominations, an effort that came to naught.

If one were to judge the success of the dream of and biblical imperative for Christian unity by efforts to combine denominations, it would have to be deemed a failure. Needless to say, the measurement of Christian unity achievements has changed over the years.

Besides, it's difficult enough to successfully merge one or more local churches belonging to a single denomination much less two or more national denominations. Generally speaking, merger appears to be a step forward but within a few years significant membership loss follows. The challenges of merging cultures, practices, traditions, properties, and personnel are daunting.

What then to do if we're not moving to one great Cathorthovanangloproto Church? I find we are for the most part united around the Lord's requirement that we do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.  

This plays itself out in a wide variety of ways. Sometimes, like last week, the Catholics and evangelicals convene a wonderful summit seeking ways to overcome poverty. In April, Protestants and Catholics held the annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days to work together to end mass incarceration. Two weeks ago, Orthodox, African-Americans, Peace Churches, Anglicans, and Protestants come together with Jews and Muslims at our Christian Unity Gathering to explore interfaith efforts to seek peace.

At the local level, Christian unity is exhibited through countless practices including shared worship experiences, joint Vacation Bible Schools, multi-congregation feeding and shelter programs, and on and on. 

Significant differences continue to exist between the worldviews of Catholics, evangelicals, Orthodox, African-American, and white Protestant Christians. I thank God for diversity, but it does make Christian unity efforts complicated.

Sometimes, Christian unity can be displayed in unusual ways. Recently in Fountain Hills, Arizona, eight churches have launched a sermon series against the local United Methodist Church, taking aim at their version of ‘progressive Christianity.’

I’m not sure that’s the kind of Christian unity that excites me very much but it reminds us that church-dividing issues regarding baptism, communion, ordination of women, human sexuality, and other matters remain thorny. Perhaps the various multilateral and bilateral church dialogues underway will help us find a way through the thicket.

In the meantime, on a daily basis the National Council of Churches is directly involved production of the RSV and NRSV versions of the Bible and Sunday School curriculum, in the struggles for environmental justice, religious freedom, economic justice, civil rights, the movement to end mass incarceration, and the cause of peacemaking, among many others. Here we find allies of people of many faiths as we unite to do God’s work. 


Losing Faith: A Religious Leader On America's Disillusionment With Church

The U.S. is less Christian than it used to be, and fewer Americans choose to be a part of any religion, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.

Of the more than 35,000 people surveyed, 70 percent say they are Christian — but the number of people who call themselves atheist and agnostic has nearly doubled in the last seven years.

The decrease of religious feeling seems especially pronounced among young adults, but also includes people of all ages, ethnicities, incomes and educational backgrounds.
NCC Grieves the Passing of Peggy Killmer

The National Council of Churches joins Rev. Richard Killmer, the founding Executive Director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, in grieving the loss of his wife, Peggy, who passed away on Sunday, May 17, after a struggle with cancer. Peggy was a strong and enthusiastic partner and companion to Rich, and indeed to the National Religious Campaign Against Torture and the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign, both of which are allies of the NCC. Her presence will be deeply missed by so many, as she has made an impact on many lives. Our prayers are with the Killmer family as they go through this difficult time.
Ebola survivors and orphans can be pariahs

Ebola has orphaned thousands of children.

The number of Ebola orphans in the three West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is still being tallied, but is estimated to exceed 12,000.

United Methodist Bishop John K. Yambasu is particularly concerned about orphans in the Kailahun, which was the first district hit by the Ebola outbreak in May 2014.

In the dusty, dry season, the craggy road to Kailahun is barely passable. When it rains every day for months, only the most hardened drivers will venture the passage.
Bread for the World Lobby Day 2015: Feed Our Children

Lobby Day will take place on Tuesday, June 9. Registration is free, but space is limited. The day’s opening activities will be held at Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. Please register by Friday, May 22 to reserve your spot!

Lobby Day offers a unique opportunity to communicate personally with members of Congress and their staff in Washington, D.C. Studies have consistently revealed that constituents personally visiting their members of Congress is often the tipping point to get support for a bill, in this case to strengthen national children’s nutrition programs like school lunches and WIC.

NEW NCC RESOURCE: Starter Kit for Teaching and Learning on Mass Incarceration

For over six decades, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has not only provided an opportunity for ecumenical cooperation among Christian communions, but also has effectively promoted peace and justice in Christ’s name. In more recent times, as the NCC has reconfigured itself to better address the needs of the twenty-first-century world, two key priorities of focus have been named, mass incarceration and interfaith relations with peacemaking. To address these priorities, Convening Tables have been established, allowing smaller groups of representatives to utilize their time and expertise for the benefit of the whole.

To this end, the NCC Convening Table on Christian Education, Ecumenical Faith Formation, and Leadership Development offers the following Starter Kit for Teaching and Learning on Mass Incarceration. This resource, developed over the past several months, is a toolbox replete with various offerings intended to inform and engage individuals, small groups, congregations, and classrooms alike.
A Nun Walks Free: The Government’s Sabotage Case Dismissed

May 16th, three Christian pacifists—Gregory Boertje-Obed, a sixty-year-old housepainter; Michael Walli, a Vietnam veteran in his early sixties; and Sister Megan Rice, an eighty-five-year-old nun who belongs to the Society of the Holy Child Jesus—were suddenly and unexpectedly released from federal prison. They are members of the Plowshares movement, which is devoted to abolishing nuclear weapons and seeking world peace. As I recounted in an article in the magazine, during the summer of 2012 they broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Y-12 is a nuclear-weapons plant, often referred to as the Fort Knox of Uranium. After cutting through four fences with bolt cutters, evading sophisticated intruder alarms, and eluding armed guards authorized to use lethal force, the three activists reached the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility—a fortified building that contains about nine hundred thousand pounds of weapons-grade uranium. Instead of trying to steal some of the uranium to make a bomb, as terrorists might, they threw blood on the building and spray-painted antiwar slogans on its walls. For this nonviolent act of civil disobedience, they were sent to prison for destroying government property and committing sabotage. The legal decisions that freed them last week were as unprecedented and surprising as the break-in that put them behind bars.
Employment and Internship Opportunities

The National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund (NCPTF) and the Peace Tax Foundation (PTF) are seeking a part-time (approximately 24 hours/week) Executive Director to serve both organizations. NCPTF advocates for the enactment of a legal alternative for conscientious objectors to the payment of military taxes. PTF is its informational and educational partner organization. The Executive Director, based in the Washington, D.C. office, represents both organizations and is responsible for administration, lobbying, and fundraising. For more information, see the NCPTF Job Openings tab on our website. Send inquiries to The closing date for applications is June 1, 2015.

Face to Face is a seven-week program that aims to invite students preparing for ministry in cultural, social, theological and contextual realities to understand, to motivate and to engage with the realities on how the fullness of life is being denied to the large majority of the world’s population.

We would like to inform you that the Building Life-Affirming Communities: Face To Face with the many poor and the many faiths in Asia is now accepting applications. This Program will be conducted in two locations -- Bishop’s College in Kolkata and Henry Martin Institute in Hyderabad, India -- from 3rd October to 16th November 2015.

Through this Program, the participants will come face to face with the issues on poverty and pluralism, specifically within the Asian context of many religions and many poor.

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