Subject: NCC Weekly News: The Pope's American Visit

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From Jim: When the Pope Came to America
Last week was “Pope Week.” I attended the welcome ceremony for Pope Francis at the White House and the multi-religious gathering he held at the 9/11 Memorial in New York. My Irish Catholic brother-in-law made the trek from Chicago to see the Pope. He even got to meet the Nuns on the Bus as they returned from the “Bridge the Divides, Transform Politics” tour. 

The excitement about the Pope was palpable and it got this old Protestant to thinking about what it is this Pope says and does that attracts so many people to him. Certainly, his humility is a factor. Here is a Pope who rides around in a tiny Fiat while other leaders prefer huge limousines and SUVs. His authenticity is beyond doubt--he relishes the company of children, the infirm, the poor and homeless. His love for all people exudes from his person—he washes the feet of the lowly, he freely gives blessings, he asks people to pray for him.

He speaks for justice fearlessly, denounces privilege, encourages people to focus on the essentials of the gospel and seeks to draw the circle wide. This afternoon, I met with a Member of Congress regarding the need to make permanent the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit as well as to replace sequestration in a responsible and balanced manner.

“How is it,” we were asked by the Congressperson, “that people attend church each week and hear the directives to care for the weak and needy and then go out and denounce the immigrant and the hungry?”  Can we not also draw the circle wide?

My brother and my uncle have pastored a number of churches that were in steep membership and attendance decline when they arrived on the scene and, by the grace of God and hard work, they were able to reverse the downward trajectory. In each instance, once the congregations had grown back to the size they were in the ‘glory days’, they expressed contentment and had no desire to include more people.

Last week, Pope Francis warned the church not to use ‘harsh and divisive language’ and against raising “doubts about the working of the Spirit, to give the impression that it cannot take place in those who are not ‘part of our group,’ who are not ‘like us,’ is a dangerous temptation. Not only does it block conversion to the faith; it is a perversion of faith!”

All churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, have a long way to go to make this a reality. The desire to turn inward, to protect one’s tribe, clan, nationality, race, faith is nearly overwhelming. I can tell you even the seating charts at the Pope’s multi-religious gathering ranked people according to their titles and their insider status. 

Living our faith is tough. 
Jim Winkler,
President and General Secretary

UCC leaders find energy, electricity and healing in Papal visit

During the first visit to the United States by Pope Francis as leader of the Catholic Church, His Holiness issued calls to humanity to care for people in the margins, addressed the critical need for action on climate change, acknowledged the gifts that immigrants bring to their new home country — all topics that resonate in the wider United Church of Christ. Francis' six-day tour (Sept. 22-27) through Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia electrified the crowds who came to see him and created momentum for morality, one that denominational leaders witnessed and believe can energize people of faith.

UCC General Minister and President the Rev. John Dorhauer, who visited both nation's capital and the Big Apple last week while Pope Francis was present, can attest to an “electricity in the air that was palpable."
Author lecture and book signing event with Senator John Danforth October 13th at the National Cathedral

The National Council of Churches will be co-sponsoring an author’s talk with Senator John Danforth at the Washington National Cathedral on October 14. The public is invited. 

The program will begin at 7:00pm with an introduction from the Dean of the Washington National Cathedral, Gary Hall. Senator Danforth will talk for about 30-40 minutes and there will be plenty of time for Q&A. Attendees can purchase copies of his book, "The Relevance of Religion: How Faithful People Can Change Politics," and have them signed by the author. 

Religious leaders and legislators present nuclear abolition call to the United Nations

Leaders of the major religious faiths and interfaith networks, joined forces with parliamentarians and mayors from around the world to call on world leaders to “commit to nuclear abolition and to replace nuclear deterrence with shared security approaches to conflicts.”

The call was made in a joint statement presented yesterday to Mogens Lykketoft, the President of the UN General Assembly, as world leaders gather at the UN for the opening session of the UN on its 70th anniversary year.

The statement, calls specifically on world leaders to negotiate “a nuclear weapons convention or framework of agreements that eliminate nuclear weapons,” a proposal advanced by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and supported by over 130 countries.

Tips for writing an effective press release

A press release is the quickest, most cost-effective and easiest way to get free publicity. A well-written press release can result in multiple print and electronic stories about your church and its ministries. Press releases should announce something significant and exciting that is going on at your church that you would like to tell the world about—well, at least your local community.

You only have a few seconds to grab your readers' attention, so start your release with a strong headline. Your headline should always be in the present tense. It doesn’t matter that the launch of your new ministry was a month ago, your headline should make it sound like it’s happening now.

Announcing #EAD2016 National Gathering & Lobby Day: Lift Every Voice! - Racism, Class and Power

Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice (EAD) is pleased to announce the 2016 theme for its national gathering in Washington, DC on April 15-18, 2016. The gathering is titled, "Lift Every Voice! -- Racism, Class and Power." The 2016 gathering will be the 14th annul federal public policy and legislative conference that EAD has hosted.

The gathering will again be held at the DoubleTree Crystal City Hotel in Arlington, VA -- just across The Potomac River from the U.S. Capital Building. The event concludes with EAD's Lobby Day where a prepared legislative "Ask" is taken to members of Congress by gathering participants, "We expect again nearly 1,000 Christian advocates from across the country to attend the gathering," said Douglas Grace, director of EAD. "Registration is now open at, along with the young adult scholarship application process, so plan now to be in Washington next April!"

EAD's 2016 theme reads: In a major U.S. election year when lives, votes and the global economy are at stake, followers of Christ ask, "Who has a voice?" The response is, "Everyone!"

Ecumenical Opportunities:

The National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund and the Peace Tax Foundation, both based in Washington D.C., seek a qualified individual to assume the part-time position (averaging 24 hours/week) of Executive Director. Decision-making in both organizations is largely consensus-based and depends on a high level of cooperation and consultation between the Executive Director and the Boards of the two organizations. Please submit your resume and other pertinent materials to the Chairperson of the Personnel Committee of the NCPTF/PTF Boards of Directors prior to October 15, 2015.

The Friends Committee on National Legislation is searching for a Legislative Director to be responsible for leading our multi-issue federal policy and lobbying for peace and justice. The Legislative Director guides and builds FCNL’s Quaker-based presence on Capitol Hill and effectively represents the legislative policies and priorities established by our governing body, the General Committee.

Jubilee USA is looking to immediately hire a Policy Director and a Communications Director in our Washington, DC office. We are also hiring regional field organizers in multiple locations around the country this Fall. Please see the link below for job descriptions and application instructions for the positions of Policy Director, Communications Director, and Regional Field Organizers.

110 Maryland Ave NE, Suite 108, Washington, DC 20002, United States
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