Subject: NCC Newsletter: A Month of Action

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A Month of Action 
NCC Newsletter
June 4, 2021
Let's Get to 70%, at least
I have been a faithful mask wearer, but like so many I am eager to put them at the bottom of the drawer. Just this morning I was in the grocery store and was surprised to see another customer blithely walking around unmasked. She was the only one. I’m not going to give up my mask just yet. We’re still a long way from being safe.

There are too many variants of the virus that are still spreading and there are too many defiantly unvaccinated people taking advantage of the progress we have made so far.

The NCC is supporting the drive to reach 70% of vaccinated adults by July 4. It will take considerable effort to reach that goal and I hope many of the churches that are part of the NCC will reach out to health departments and pharmacies and offer their buildings for this purpose. I know it’s inconvenient in many ways, but our churches exist for the service to God and neighbor. One way right now to be in such service is to use the credibility we have as a place of refuge and safety and invite those who need vaccinations to come to our churches.

According to a study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Medical University of South Carolina, it now appears states that relaxed mask mandates and social distancing requirements have a higher rate of infection than those that maintained restrictions.

As one who is fully vaccinated, I am eager to resume normal life. I have been invited to speak in several places and have accepted those invitations with some trepidation. With a little more patience and determination we can get there, at least in the United States. We still have a long way to go to make sure the entire world is vaccinated because if we do not, we face enormous long-term problems.

Grace and peace,

Advocacy Call for Action:
It’s Time to Right the Wrongs of Slavery and Its Continued Impact
God calls us to repair wrongs done to one another and to work towards justice for all. Dismantling systemic racism is a moral and sacred act for such a time as this. Racism is ubiquitous in our country’s history and has been built into our systems and institutions, disenfranchising Black people in every aspect of life for generations. It’s time to pass legislation that begins to right the wrongs of slavery, Black Codes, convict leasing, Jim Crow, redlining, education, employment opportunities, and more. H.R. 40 would establish a commission to examine the history of enslavement and discrimination in the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies. We strongly urge you to ask your Representative in the U.S. House to support and vote to pass H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans Act.

Last month H.R.40 received a favorable vote from the House Judiciary Committee. This is the first time a House committee has considered the bill for recommendation to the House floor since it was first introduced in 1989 by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI). Now we have to make sure H.R.40 is passed into law to acknowledge and move towards making amends for the sins of our past and present.

As Christians we are inspired to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ who commanded us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This love calls for justice and equity. Racial equity in our communities cannot wait. Reparations cannot wait. We have an opportunity and an obligation to swiftly pass H.R. 40 as a first step in redressing centuries of injustices against Black people in the United States. By acknowledging the systemic failings and beginning the process for restitution, our nation will be able to finally start the process of healing from the sin of racism.

H.R. 40 is currently the only legislation and the best possibility to begin the process of adequately addressing and redressing these historic injustices. Let’s be on the right side of history, proclaiming with our voices and our policies that every human being bears the inviolable dignity of God. Reparations is a matter of Justice, and the time is now to act by passing H.R. 40.

If you are able to join our call for action and write a letter to your Representative, the NCC Action Network group has information to help you craft and send your message.

COVID-19 Pandemic Response:
Participate in the Month of Action
The NCC encourages our churches and individual members to take action to get everyone vaccinated by holding an event or joining one of the organized events during the National Vaccine Month of Action which kicks off with the Weekend of Action tomorrow. The National Month of Action is intended to mobilize national organizations, local government leaders, community-based and faith-based partners, businesses, employers, social media influencers, celebrities, athletes, colleges, young people, and thousands of volunteers to advance vaccine equity and make it even easier to get vaccinated. Resources can be found at this link. Trainings are available for all actions.

Made to Save is a national grassroots effort announced by the White House to ensure communities hardest hit by the pandemic have access to the COVID-19 vaccines and accurate, timely information.

Get Vaccinated
"Paul tells the community of believers in Ephesus to 'put on the whole armor of God' (Eph. 6:11 NRSV). Paul has in mind a spiritual battle and not a battle "against enemies of blood and flesh” (vs. 12), but then Paul wasn’t faced with a global pandemic. If I’m reading Ephesians for our own time, then I would include getting vaccinated to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 as part of God's armor. Safeguarding my health means I am better equipped to be out in public and with God's strength, I proclaim the gospel of peace. I receive the gift of vaccine in gratitude for all it does to make the world a safer place for the most vulnerable among us. I advocate for vaccine equity so that those in hard-to-reach places and in under-served communities might receive the same protection so readily available in larger cities across the US. I pray for those who remain uncertain or hesitant and share my story to bolster confidence in vaccine efficacy."

~ Rev. Dr. Tammy Wiens, Director of Christian Education and Faith Formation #Faiths4vaccines #Get Vaccinated
Coping with Loss
"If we don't attend to our grief, our grief will attend to us," said Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland Tune as a panelist on the American Muslim Health Professionals (AMHP) webinar, "Coping with Loss: A Multi-Faith Webinar on Grief & Death".

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the tragic death of so many loved ones in our communities this past year, AMHP hosted this important conversation with multi-faith perspectives on the topic of death and dying and strategies for coping with grief and loss.
From our Partners:
Wear Orange This Weekend
Today, on National Gun Violence Awareness Day, people are wearing orange to honor the victims and survivors of gun violence and to call attention to this crisis. 

The facade of the Washington National Cathedral will be lit orange this evening in honor of the over 100,000 Americans killed and injured in the United States every year by gun violence. The cathedral's Bourdon Bell will ring 120 times at 9 pm ET, once for every American who dies from gunfire on the average day in the United States. This lighting is sponsored by the Cathedral Congregation’s Gun Violence Prevention Ministry and it will not be livestreamed.

Survivors of gun violence are honored each year on the first weekend in June because friends of Hadiya Pendleton wore orange and asked everyone to stand up and speak up about gun violence on what would have been her 18th birthday if had she not been shot and killed in Chicago at age 15.

For over 50 years, the NCC has called for basic common-sense changes to our gun laws that have not been enacted and they are far beyond overdue. We reaffirm, as we did in our 1967 statement, that the God-given “right to life” is fundamental and sacred and hold that it is not possible to protect life and maintain public order when individuals have unregulated access to firearms.

WCC Seeks Stewards To Attend the 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches
The World Council of Churches (WCC) invites youth, aged 18-30, to apply to the Stewards Programme to attend the Ecumenical Global Gathering of Young People at the 11th Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany from August 21 to September 10, 2022. The deadline has been extended until June 30, 2021. They seek a diverse group that is "capable of integrating their experience back in their local contexts, motivated to multiply the ecumenical enthusiasm, and ready to 'do ecumenism' locally."

The Assembly is the highest governing body of the WCC and normally meets every eight years. It is the only time when the entire fellowship of member churches comes together in one place for prayer and celebration.

WCC will be responsible for board and lodging expenses during the programme and may provide some pocket money. Travel costs to and from Karlsruhe are the responsibility of the steward, except in cases where subsidy is granted.
George Floyd: One Year Later
The Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan, Jr., the Executive Director of the Ohio Council of Churches, has written a reflection and asks "So, one year later, where are we?" He writes, "If we believe that the corrosive influencer, American racism, as detected in many public policies and institutions, and witnessed through the unjust and needless officer-initiated cancelation and revocation of Black lives is inconsistent with the will of God, what do we do now? If we truly believe that Black, Brown, Native, and Asian lives matter to God and to us, what do we do now? What does the love of God compel us to do now?" Read his suggested actions in "George Floyd One Year Later". 

On Tuesday, May 25, 2021, a virtual service of commemoration was led by six Episcopal bishops and featured a reflection by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. The service involved the Episcopal dioceses of Minnesota, Colorado, Indianapolis, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington and includes a prayer of lament from George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, a candlelit remembrance from Ferguson, Missouri, and a special video. 

Internationally, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland also marked the anniversary with the broadcast "Doing Justice: a service of reflection on the first anniversary of the murder of George Floyd".
Juneteenth Vigil
The Alliance of Baptists will hold a Juneteenth Vigil: Remembering and Reimagining Black Life on Friday, June 18, 2021 at 3:00 pm ET/12 noon PT.

Hosted by the Sankofa Community of the Alliance of Baptists, the Juneteenth Vigil will hold space to remember our ancestors in the struggle for Black liberation and to reimagine a future where Black lives matter. Portuguese and Spanish interpretation will be available.

Sankofa is an Alliance community of Black/African-descendent leaders within the Alliance of Baptists committed to creating community, cultivating spiritual/leadership formation, and conjuring prophetic action to support the mission and vision of the Alliance of Baptists. 

Job Listings
Program Director for Congregational Thriving in Northfield, MN St. Olaf College seeks to accompany congregations in re-imagining and activating a vocational vision that is nurtured by their theology and faith practices, supported by their self-understanding, informed by engagement with their communities, and responsive to the forces of change affecting congregations and colleges alike. They are looking for an imaginative and engaging professional to lead St. Olaf's new grant-funded program engaging ordained and lay leaders in collaborative and hands-on learning experiences, including partnerships with community organizations and undergraduate students, to help congregations renew and pursue their vocations. Find full information here.

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