Subject: NCC Weekly News: Two Overlooked Anniversaries

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From Jim: Two Overlooked Anniversaries
Two of the overlooked anniversaries in the United States are those of the atomic bomb attacks made by our country against the Empire of Japan on August 6 and 9, 1945. At the time of this writing, these anniversaries have come and gone. As in prior years, I lament that very little reflection on the role and place of nuclear weapons has taken place.

Recently, President Obama became the first sitting American president to visit Hiroshima. While he did not formally apologize for the attacks which killed tens of thousands of civilians, he did hold out the vision of a world without nuclear weapons.

On June 14, 1982, I was arrested in an act of civil disobedience in New York City along with 1600 other people, where we sat in prison cells because we demanded nuclear disarmament. There were those, of course, who frowned on our protest and cited Romans 13 when they said we shouldn’t disobey authorities. Most of those folks believe nuclear weapons were, and are a necessity. I have always been amused that Paul wrote his letter to the church in Rome from his prison cell -- in which he sat because he had gone to the temple in Jerusalem with a Gentile, Trophimus, in protest of the notion that Jews and Gentiles should not mix.

In any event, we have a long way to go to rid the world of nuclear weapons. When the Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed in 1968, the idea was this: those nations that did not have nuclear weapons would not acquire any and those that did have them would get rid of them. It didn’t work.

More nations now possess nuclear weapons. The United States plans to spend $1 trillion to “modernize” its arsenal. The danger to the world remains high. Nuclear tensions exist in the Middle East, between India and Pakistan, and on the Korean Peninsula.

As I have mentioned in previous columns, it bears reminding that on August 9, 1945, the general secretary of the Federal Council of Churches, Samuel McCrea Cavert, sent a telegram to President Harry Truman to beg for no further use of atomic bombs on the Japanese people. Truman replied with evident anger and justified the use of the bombs by citing Pearl Harbor and Japanese mistreatment of American prisoners of war. He said the Japanese only understood the use of force and that a beast must be treated like a beast.

It seems little has changed over the decades. The myth of redemptive violence continues to hold sway. A few years ago, the National Council of Churches renewed its commitment to a world without nuclear weapons. The conclusion of that statement remains powerful and timely:

The prospect of what might happen if we do not act is too terrible to contemplate: nuclear winter, the end of all human life on earth, and the transformation of much or all of our planet into a radioactive hell. This far outstrips the potential damage that could be done by any other environmental threat.

The end of the Cold War did not make the world safer; quite the opposite. It is time to finish what Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev began in Reykjavik. It is time to realize that we cannot ensure our own security by force of arms, even if they are the most powerful weapons ever created. Our lives are in God's hands. For once, let us put our trust in those hands as well. "Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation."
Yours in Christ,

Jim Winkler
President and General Secretary

Scorecard of 50 Local Police Body Camera Programs Shows Nationwide Failure to Protect Civil Rights and Privacy

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and Upturn released a scorecard that evaluates the civil rights safeguards of police body-worn camera programs in 50 U.S. cities. It shows a nationwide failure to protect the civil rights and privacy of surveilled communities. In November 2015, these organizations released an initial scorecard evaluating 25 programs. This new edition updates the policies of those original police departments that have changed their policies and adds 25 more, including the nation’s largest police departments with body-worn camera programs, programs that have received significant funding from the Department of Justice, and programs in cities that have been under scrutiny due to high profile incidents of police violence.

Departments in this edition of the scorecard include: Albuquerque, Aurora (Colo.), Austin, Baltimore, Baltimore County, Baton Rouge, Boston, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Fairfax County (Va.), Fayetteville, Ferguson, Fort Worth, Fresno, Houston, Las Vegas, Louisville, Los Angeles, Memphis, Mesa, Miami, Miami-Dade County, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Montgomery County (Md.), New Orleans, New York, Oakland, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Parker (Colo.), Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh (Penn.), Rochester (N.Y.), Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa, Tucson, and Washington, D.C.

The scorecard uses eight criteria derived from the Civil Rights Principles on Body-Worn Cameras signed by a broad coalition of civil rights, privacy, and media rights groups in May 2015. The scorecard also highlights notable policies in each of these categories that, of those evaluated, best protect the civil rights of individuals.

Christians across the globe will observe a day of prayer for the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula this Sunday, 14th August

This year's 'Sunday of Prayer for the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula' comes after a delegation from the National Council of Churches in Korea and the National Council of Churches USA met with policymakers in the US last month to advocate for a permanent peace treaty between North and South Korea.

Rev Kim Young Ju, general secretary of the NCCK, has called for an end to the UN's economic, military and cultural sanctions on North Korea, saying they had a negative affect on the work for peace and affected "the poorest of the poor in North Korea the most". Speaking at a press conference during the US visit in late July, he also called for denuclearisation, saying that "you cannot make peace by putting more weapons in the Korean Peninsula".

Historically black church explores faith and justice in gentrified Washington, D.C.

The decision to display a Black Lives Matter banner above the parish hall entrance did not come easily for the leadership of Calvary Episcopal Church, a historically black church with a reputation for social justice and action on the U.S. capital’s northeast side.

“Some folks have taken offense to it … and I think some people really appreciate it,” said the Rev. Peter Jarrett-Schell, Calvary’s rector, during a recent interview with Episcopal News Service. The decision was “contentious” and “not unanimous,” he said. “It’s also been an opportunity for conversation.”

It’s not uncommon for Calvary to engage in discussions that challenge the congregation and the community to think and to act with an intention toward justice.

Calvary has initiated conversations – contentious, difficult, provocative and otherwise – over the last two years in particular. Church leaders began talking in earnest after the police shooting of Michael Brown in August 2014 and decided to host a community-wide forum, “Ferguson: Could It Happen Here?” The forum brought together church and community members, and law enforcement officials.

Prayer walk for racial peace unites community

For the past four years, as pastor of Wildwood United Methodist Church and Oxford United Methodist Church, I have been developing relationships with the African-American leaders in our community.

Wildwood also has been on the cutting edge of the Fresh Expressions movement, which fosters work among Christians of various denominations.

After a recent homicide on Jackson Street in Wildwood and racial tension across the nation, our Fresh Expressions committee, which includes members from four local churches, was praying and asking God what we could do to bring our community together.

I contacted Eric Wilkins, pastor of Remnant Fellowship Worship Center in Wildwood, who had held a gathering to pray for the healing of our city.

We agreed that Jesus didn’t wait back at the synagogue — he went to where the people were experiencing crisis and met their need. We agreed prayer must be combined with decisive action.


God calls His people to seek justice. But given the complexities of our criminal justice system, how can the followers of Jesus have a clear understanding of criminal justice issues and take action to promote peace and restoration?

To that end, Prison Fellowship is excited to release the Outrageous Justice small-group curriculum, designed to awaken Christians to the need for justice that restores.

Outrageous Justice includes:
  • An engaging, 6-lesson study guide for small groups and accompanying DVD with teaching segments and first-person stories of people impacted by crime and incarceration
  • A companion book, co-authored by the leaders of Prison Fellowship's criminal justice reform division, that gives in-depth insights into crime, incarceration, prison ministry, and justice reform
  • Small groups will learn about the challenges in the American criminal justice system and explore how Christians can respond in hands-on ways to pursue justice and bring about true hope, restoration, and healing.
In wake of Pakistan attack, WCC offers prayers, support

An attack in Quetta, southwest Pakistan, in which 63 people are reported to have been killed and 120 injured, was “vicious and reprehensible in the extreme,” said World Council of Churches international affairs director Peter Prove.

The bomb attack at a hospital in Quetta appears to have targeted colleagues, friends and family of Bilal Anwar Kasi, president of the Balochistan Bar Association, who was shot dead in an earlier attack.

“Deliberately attacking people gathered at a hospital to grieve for Mr Kasi underscores the inhumanity and moral bankruptcy of those who planned and perpetrated it,” said Prove.

“This atrocity, as so many before it, demands denunciation by all people of faith, good will and simple decency,” Prove stressed, “and prayers and support for the families and communities affected, and for the people and nation of Pakistan.”

UCC Clergy support California's 'Muslim Appreciation and Awareness Month'

United Church of Christ congregations and clergy in California are celebrating the Golden State's bold show of support for their Muslim neighbors, as the California State Assembly has declared August 2016 as Muslim Appreciation and Awareness Month.

"I'm really impressed with the California State Assembly resolution," said the Rev. Diane Weible, conference minister of the Northern California, Nevada Conference United Church of Christ. "For me, it goes along with what I believe the church should be—a people of faith who join together to speak out and walk with those who are being attacked or oppressed."

House Resolution 59, which quickly passed with bipartisan support on Aug. 1, is a visible witness against Islamophobia in a state that is home to 240 mosques, more than any other state in the country.

"As a third-generation Californian, I have long been proud of my state's diversity and inclusiveness," said the Rev. Elizabeth Griswold, pastor, Parkside Community Church UCC, Sacramento. "We need to continue to lead the way and set the example for the rest of the country about how to live in appreciation of one another."

This Week's Podcast: Here Comes the Apocalypse!

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's guests: Robert Joustra and Alissa Wilkinson, authors o“How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, Faith, and Politics at the End of the World,” explain America's fascination with the dystopian future, what it means, and how to enjoy life when it all seems to be falling apart!  Enjoy this upbeat look into some of pop culture's most iconic films and television programs.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast in the iTunes Store and Stitcher Radio. NEW: We're now also on iHeartRadio.  If you like what you're hearing, please write a review. By doing this you will help us reach the widest possible audience!
Ecumenical Opportunities:

Nominate a White House Champion of Change for Extracurricular Enrichment for Marginalized Girls: We're looking for people and organizations advancing equity for marginalized girls, including girls of color, through extracurricular and afterschool enrichment programs.

Social Justice Education Coordinator, Mercy Institute Justice Team: The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, a Roman Catholic religious order located in Silver Spring, MD, is seeking a full time education coordinator as part of its three-person Social Justice Team. Primary focus: to develop education and action resources, and facilitate educational experiences and communication opportunities to engage members and ministry partners on Mercy’s justice priorities. Send cover letter and resume by August 10th to

The Legal Action Center is seeking a Criminal Justice Policy Associate in our Washington, DC office. Information about LAC can be found at Please contact Sherie Boyd ( for a copy of the job description and with any questions.

UCC Executive Minister of Justice and Witness Ministries: On July 1, The Justice and Witness Ministries of the United Church of Christ is beginning a search process for a new Executive Minister with the goal of presenting a candidate for election to the UCC Board of Directors at its March 2017 meeting.

Click here to learn more
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