Subject: NCC Weekly News: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

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Jim is traveling to Seoul, South Korea, meeting with the Korean Council of Churches this week. He will return with his regular column next week!
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

At least once a year, Christians are reminded of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples that “they may be one so that the world may believe” (see John 17.21). Hearts are touched and Christians come together to pray for their unity. Congregations and parishes all over the world exchange preachers or arrange special ecumenical celebrations and prayer services. The event that touches off this special experience is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Traditionally the week of prayer is celebrated between 18-25 January, between the feasts of St Peter and St Paul. In the southern hemisphere, where January is a vacation time, churches often find other days to celebrate it, for example around Pentecost, which is also a symbolic date for unity.

In order to prepare for the annual celebration, ecumenical partners in a particular region are invited to produce a basic liturgical text on a biblical theme. Then an international editorial team of WCC and Roman Catholic representatives refines this text to ensure that it can be prayed throughout the world, and to link it with the search for the visible unity of the church.

We need each other

In this week in which the presidential inauguration and the Week of Christian Unity coincide, Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Disciples of Christ, Catholics, Moravians, Church of the Brethren, the Untied Church of Christ, Anglicans, Orthodox, Pentecostals, Church of God, non-denominational churches — we all need one another.

This lesson is perhaps one of the hardest for Baptists to learn, for we are one of the most fragmented of traditions. It’s much easier to go our separate ways over issues over which we differ than it is to cling to one another for dear life. We are in the same baptismal boat riding the same storm tossed sea headed toward the same destination.

There are a few places in my life where I’ve experienced unity in diversity. Surviving on our family farm required helping one another — sharing labor and tools with neighboring families, as well as the fruits of our labor. In the maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, I learned of families whose loved were at sea and who were therefore depending on the assistance and generosity of their neighbors during that time.

Major Christian group condemns Trump’s cabinet picks, policy agenda

One of the country’s largest Christian groups has issued a sternly worded condemnation of President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet selections and policy agenda, warning that Trump will put America’s most vulnerable citizens at “greater risk” if he does not change.

The National Council of Churches (NCC)—which represents 38 denominations and faith communities, or roughly 45 million people—unveiled the statement on Friday afternoon. Co-signed by the Conference of National Black Churches, the Ecumenical Poverty Initiative, and the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, the letter implores the former businessman not to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or slash funding for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — better known as food stamps — saying such programs protect the poor.

“We have grave concerns about a proposed policy agenda that, if enacted, would put the most vulnerable among us in jeopardy,” the statement reads. “Throughout Christian scriptures we are instructed to care for the poor and the most vulnerable…While working to improve the ACA will benefit all Americans, repealing it without simultaneously offering a replacement is reckless and unnecessarily endangers the health of millions of people. This is certainly no way to make America great.”

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Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been a leading force for ecumenical cooperation among Christians in the United States. The 38 NCC member communions — from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches — include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

Affirming Wesleyan values as Trump takes office

United Methodists from across the country plan to have some parties on the evening of Jan. 20 to pray and talk about ways to affirm Wesleyan values and explore challenges ahead as the 45th president takes office.

“There is a growing movement across the church to provide sanctuary for people who could be negatively impacted by polices of the incoming administration and Congress,” said Susan Burton, director in the denomination’s social justice agency based in Washington.

Those concerns grew into an idea for house/church parties to engage in ways to “Reclaim the Common Good,” she said.

Burton said colleagues at the United Methodist Board of Church and Society as well as other agencies in the denomination have been hearing from United Methodists across the country coming to Washington both for the inauguration and to participate in the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21.

The Women’s March is expected to draw thousands. Its mission is to let the new government know women’s rights are human rights, according to their mission statement.

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