Subject: NCC Newsletter: Voting Rights, Reparations, and Juneteenth

View this email online if it doesn't display correctly
Voting Rights, Reparations, and Juneteenth
NCC Newsletter
June 18, 2021
Safeguard Voting Rights   
My remarks made at the Voting Rights March to Washington on June 16, 2021 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC:

Voting rights are under attack in our nation. We are here today to protect and strengthen our right to vote.

Just five months ago, a violent mob organized by the outgoing president invaded the U.S. Capitol Building in an attempt to not only overturn the results of our presidential election but to murder the vice president and members of Congress. Subsequent to that rejection of the principle that we choose our leaders through elections, laws have been passed in a number of states to restrict access to voting.

The National Council of Churches supports the For the People Act as well as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act both of which will go a long way to safeguarding our right to vote. Elections have consequences and the effort to steal elections whether by force or by forbidding people to vote is reprehensible.

We here today are serious about the right to vote. The book of Deuteronomy says “Choose for each of your tribes individuals who are wise, discerning, and reputable to be your leaders.” We believe that, we try to practice it for our churches, and we believe it is the right way for our nation to proceed. Choosing wise, discerning, and reputable leaders for our nation is the responsibility of all our people, not just some.

The For the People Act increases election security by making it easier to register to vote, by requiring states to include same day and online voter registration, and by making registration automatic for eligible voters.

Why wouldn’t we do that? Why would we remove people from the voter rolls if they fail to vote? Why would we make it difficult to vote? Whose interests would that serve? Unfortunately, we know the answer to those questions.

Throughout the entire history of our nation, property-owning white men have tried to keep the right to vote for themselves. We’ve had a long struggle to open the vote to all white men, then to black men, then to women. And, still there are forces attempting to rollback these hard won gains.

The For the People Act will restore the right to vote to people with prior criminal convictions. We here today who represent churches are big believers in forgiveness and redemption. If you’ve served your sentence, then your right to vote should be restored. We believe you should play a full and active role in society, including voting.

The For the People Act sets national standards for voting by mail without unnecessary requirements or restrictions. Voting by mail is easy, convenient, and popular. Even some of those who have attempted to demonize voting by mail use it themselves.

The For the People Act bans racist and partisan gerrymandering and requires states to use independent redistricting commissions. Why, I ask, would anyone oppose that?

The For the People Act creates a small donor matching system to finance campaigns. This is fair and right. We’re tired of rich people and corporations buying elections and corrupting our decision-making process.

The For the People Act requires secretly funded organizations to tell us who their donors are and it strengthens oversight of campaign finance and political spending. If you want to give money to a political campaign then own up to it. We’re one nation, one community, and we cannot have people trying to secretly buy elections. No more of that.

The For the People Act strengthens enforcement of ethics rules and broadens conflict of interest laws so as to slow down the revolving door between government officials and lobbyists. We’re sick and tired of people using the expertise they gain while working on behalf of all of us to then help the very people and corporations who are trying to circumvent the rules and regulations that protect the common good.

And, the For the People Act will require presidential candidates to disclose their tax return publicly and it will hold the Supreme Court accountable to a judicial code of ethics. My friends, we need honest and forthright and intelligent and wise rulers and we insist they be transparent with us regarding their financial and business dealings so that we can judge whether they have serious conflicts of interests.

The For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act should be passed by the Congress and signed into law by the president. We are here today to advocate for this to be done.

Grace and peace,


Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom
It was June 19, 1865 when Union soldiers finally made it to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, which went into effect two years earlier and set free enslaved people in the U.S. It’s hard to imagine what that day must have meant to those finding out the news of emancipation for the first time. There must have been tears and shouts of joy, laughter and singing, shock and disbelief, praising God and dancing everywhere. Freedom, Freedom, O, Freedom!

The celebration of this day, referred to as Juneteenth, began a year later in Galveston, Texas in mostly church-led community events and has been commemorated ever since in Black communities across the country. This year for the first time, the National Council of Churches will honor Juneteenth as one of its national holidays and our office will be closed on Friday, June 18th. The decision was made to take this important date as a holiday last year in keeping with NCC’s commitment to racial justice and equity and to be consistent with the work being done through our A.C.T. Now! to End Racism initiative. We were delighted to receive the news this week that Congress has now made June 19th a federal holiday by passing the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act.

NCC’s office will be closed but follow us on social media to view planned messages throughout the weekend about Juneteenth and our push to have legislation passed about the study of reparations (HR 40), voting rights (the For the People Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Act) and police reform. As we celebrate the emancipation of those once considered property and stripped of their humanity, we do so recognizing that the fight for freedom, justice and equity for all of God’s people continues.

In a chapel service at the United Methodist Building in 2019, NCC Chief Operating Officer Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune shared the following responsive reading in celebration of the Juneteenth holiday. 

Responsive Reading Written By Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune, COO, National Council of Churches for June 10, 2019 Chapel Service, United Methodist Building

Leader: Today, we gather to remember, to reflect, to celebrate FREEDOM!

Congregation: Freedom is not free. We thank You, O God, today for our freedom in You and remember those for whom freedom was so costly a price to pay.

Leader: We remember those who were enslaved. We recognize that slavery tried to erase the humanity of so many of Your people – those who were enslaved and those who brutalized and dehumanized others, not realizing the cost for their own souls. Lord, have mercy!

Congregation: Forgive us, O God. Help us to always treat one another as we want to be treated and to, above all, recognize that we are all created in Your image and likeness. We remember today. In Your mercy, O God, hear our prayers.

Leader: We reflect on the gift of freedom today and the many ways that the struggle continues. We lament those who are still treated as less than Your very own as we recommit to fight for freedom and dignity for all of Your people.

Congregation: Help us, O God, to be courageous in fighting for justice and righteousness for all of Your people until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream!

Leader: We celebrate today! For freedom has come and will come again. For those in cages at our borders, for those locked up in jail cells away from their families, for those who are caught up in human trafficking, for those living without clean water, for those trapped in the bondage of an opioid addiction – God as we celebrate freedom today, help us to continue the fight for freedom across the global village in every form and in every way.

Congregation: We celebrate FREEDOM today! We celebrate with renewed determination, knowing that our work is not done and our task has not been fully accomplished until all of God’s children are truly free from

ALL: We remember, we reflect, we celebrate this Juneteenth. Thank You, O God, for reminding us that freedom is possible, necessary and a promise from You.

Permission is granted for the use of this responsive reading if proper credit is given to Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune, COO, National Council of Churches.

Watch the Faith & Fire 2.0 Conversation: a Juneteenth Call for Reparations
Our faith-based conversations about the politics of today continued with a new series of webinars, “Faith & Fire 2.0,” which is focused on Faith In the Public Square. On Wednesday, June 16, 2021, the series kicked-off with a discussion of the biblical/spiritual faith foundation for reparations, historical reparations initiatives, current HR40 legislation, objections and resistance, and our call to action.

Christian Brooks, Representative for Domestic Issues, PC(USA) Office of Public Witness
Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs, Director of Community Engagement and Racial Justice, Minnesota Council of Churches
Rev. Mark A. Thompson, Host of “Make It Plain”/member of NAARC and N’COBRA
Victoria Strang, Policy Advocate with Faith Communities, Human Rights Watch

Rev. Aundreia Alexander, Esq., NCC Associate General Secretary, Action and Advocacy for Justice and Peace
Minister Christian S. Watkins, NCC Justice Advocacy and Outreach Manager

All episodes of the Faith & Fire Conversations can be found here on the NCC website.

Additional webinars on reparations:

The United Methodist Church started a three-part series yesterday, Reparations: Remembering, Repairing, and Re-imagining. Information and registration can be found at this link.
Spiritual Practices to Sustain Our Spirit-Led Work for Justice with Rose Schrott
What are the spiritual practices that strengthen you for the long haul in your work for justice? In this monthly series, the Christian Education, Faith Formation, and Leadership Development (CEFFLD) Convening Table of the NCC will share personal stories of practices that have nourished them for the long haul of justice ministries. Faithful action in our communities, regions, countries, and the world, is sustainable when we are spiritually fed by the same Spirit that prompts us to bring Christ's love and justice to bear in our world. Each monthly segment shares a testimony of how a specific practice has been helpful for the faith formation or leadership development of an individual or congregation. The series will share resources (e.g., books, website, articles, videos) that give readers/viewers a chance to learn more about the practice and to use these tools to move forward in faithful efforts toward justice.

This month's contribution on breath prayer is provided by Rose Schrott, a recent graduate from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s master of divinity program who is interested in the intersections between public theology, writing, and spiritual practices. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her tending her plants, drinking coffee, or cuddling her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Copper.

We hope this series will show connections across faith traditions that have some similarities in practices, helping to build stronger bridges of understanding around commitments to shaping spiritual lives and communities to be agents of peace and justice in the world.

Welcome to our Intern Jada Sanders
Meet Jada Sanders, a rising Sophomore at the University of Maryland, Baltimore-County (UMBC) studying Political Science, who will be one of NCC's summer interns this year. Born in Maryland, Jada has an interest in criminal justice work while also touching on subjects involving race and social justice. At UMBC Jada has participated in equity work and conversations surrounding inclusive (learning and social) communities. Also, she supports social justice activities in the county where she lives. 

Jada grew up in the Apostolic church tradition with her parents always leading by example with a faith-based lifestyle. Both her maternal and paternal grandfathers were pastors (one in the Baptist church and the other in an Apostolic church). Her upbringing in the church inspired her to build a strong prayer life, be a youth usher, and an advocate for youth-based ministry.

She is excited to be working as a summer intern for the National Council of Churches and will be helping to plan the World Council of Church's Women's Pilgrimage for Justice and Peace, researching the NCC's history with the civil rights movement, assisting with advocacy efforts, and co-managing the brand new NCC Instagram account created by our intern, Matthew Markay. 

Follow Us on our Brand New Instagram Account! 
Letter to End Solitary Confinement
NCC signed an open letter to President Biden and Vice President Harris entitled "Ending the Practice of Solitary Confinement: Recommendations for Federal Reform." As prolonged solitary confinement is considered a form of torture by the United Nations, the letter applauds the Biden-Harris administration’s pledge to ensure humane prison conditions and to “start by ending the practice of solitary confinement, with very limited exceptions such as protecting the life of an imprisoned person.” The Alliance of Baptists; Church of the Brethren, Office of Peacebuilding and Policy; Disciples Center for Public Witness (Christian Church, Disciples of Christ); The Episcopal Church; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Friends Committee on National Legislation; Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries; and The United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society; also signed onto the letter to support the recommendations.
Lord, The toil of each loss is heavy on our hearts right now and weighs us down in sorrow. Bring comfort and peace to the family and friends of all who have died. Let the memory of those who have died be a blessing. Remind us that we are undefeated in death. As we console each other, give us the wisdom and willpower to end this pandemic. Amen.
COVID-19 Pandemic Response:
Get Vaccinated
NCC Intern, Matthew Markay, joins our campaign and encourages everyone to get vaccinated to end this pandemic. He finds inspiration in these words from Philippians 4:8, "Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (NRSV) #Faiths4Vaccines #GetVaccinated 
From our Partners:
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. Resources on the direct actions you or your congregation can take are at this link. Trainings are available for all actions.

Matthew D. Lundberg, a member of NCC's Theological Dialogue and Matters of Faith and Order, has written, Christian Martyrdom and Christian Violence: On Suffering and Wielding the Sword which was recently published by Oxford University Press. This book was partly seeded by his work in one of the Faith and Order study groups a couple of years ago. 

Job Listings
Digital Campaigner for Faith in Public Life - to play a key role in developing and executing digital advocacy campaigns. The ideal candidate will be an innovative digital organizer with experience developing engaging campaign assets and leveraging advocacy tools to achieve campaign goals and move individuals up the ladder of engagement. They will thrive in a collaborative environment and develop digital campaigns that work independently and in support of field and electoral organizing. They will be collaborative in their process and independent in their execution with the ability to solve complex problems quickly to keep the work moving. See the position description.

Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for Lutheran Services in America Disability Network - The successful candidate will lead the pursuit of sound and compassionate public policies that support people with disabilities and represent the Lutheran Services in America Disability Network before Congress, the Administration, regulatory agencies, national organizations and coalitions. Equip Lutheran Services in America Disability Network members with the resources, materials and training to effectively advocate on behalf of the people they support. Analyze, monitor and engage on Medicaid related legislation and regulation as well as other disability issues related to services and supports for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Develop and execute advocacy strategies to preserve and protect Medicaid. Draft legislative language, talking points, correspondence to officials and related advocacy materials. Develop, review and submit regulatory comments. See the full position description.


NCC's annual Christian Unity Gathering (CUG) will be held virtually on October 11 - 12, 2021 with the theme, "In New Wineskins: From Pandemics to Possibilities to Promises," based on the scripture in Luke 5:37-39.

Your financial support has contributed to our efforts to end the pandemic, to meet the need for prayer, to champion legislation on Capitol Hill, and to steadfastly stand against racism.
Will you make a contribution to sustain and broaden our mission together? 


If you find our newsletter informative, please forward it to friends and colleagues! 

To receive the newsletter, sign up here.
110 Maryland Ave NE, Suite 108, Washington, DC 20002, United States
You may unsubscribe or change your contact details at any time.