| Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie – NCC Interim President/General Secretary|
The 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches met in Karlsruhe, Germany recently where thousands gathered from diverse communions to continue the work of “…the unity of the church and the unity of humankind.” Dr. Agnes Abuom, moderator of the WCC Central Committee said that our prayers were many. The included creating “..an enabling environment for prayer, celebration, discussions, exchange of views and ideas, as well as a glimpse of church life in Germany.”
Under the theme “Christ’s love moves the world reconciliation and unity”, delegates and participants tackled tough issues that was both challenging and inspiring. Daily prayers in a variety of languages with music reflective of every corner of the globe strengthen the ecumenical fellowship. Presenters in the thematic plenaries were relevant on a variety of subject matter that touched on racial injustice, the plight of indigenous people and environmental concerns. Our small group work was done either in home bible studies or in ecumenical conversations.
I left the gathering with great hope and great disappointment. Great hope that Christians from all over the world from diverse faith traditions and reformations were able to pray, worship and study together. The Holy Spirit permeated the cacophony of the sounds of worship so that as we were immersed with traditions not our own, we could feel the presence of God.
I felt hope as the delegations from Russian and the Ukraine were in the same place as the WCC tried to reach a consensus that would express the outrage of an unprovoked war, give voice to both delegations of the same faith tradition and leave with a statement that does not put people’s lives in jeopardy when they return home. Hope that indigenous people were given voice and place to express their current issues. Hope that the crises in the Middle East had a hearing that express the human cost and concerns for religious freedom.
There was hope as the young adult delegates demanded a seat at the table. They made impact advocating for their full participation – allow us to participate now so that you will have a church in the future. So many signs of hope including making new global friends. Hope that we could challenge one another and still do the work of consensus building as a decision matrix. It looks consensus building is a pathway to failure yet emerges as a pathway of seeking common ground amid competing interests.
| I was honored to be elected to the Public Issues Committee. It is one of the hardest working committees of the assembly meeting in between sessions, sometimes late into the evening or very early in the morning. The work of this committee provided a safe space for serious engagement on the trauma and suffering of people, the struggle with the legacies of colonialism, creation justice, the ravages of war and the things that make for peace in a divisive world|
We sat together Russian and Ukraine, Middle East and Africa, Pacific, Asian and the Americas. We prayed together. We worked together through difficult conversations.
Bishop Dr. Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Bavaria was elected the new Central Committee Moderator along with two Vice Moderators. One is a member of NCC’s Executive Committee, H.E.Archbishop Dr. Vicken Aykazian, Armenian Apostolic Church. The other is the Rev. Merlyn Hyde Riley, Jamaica Baptist Union. Also, Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith, National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., was elected as the North American president, one of eight regional and Orthodox presidents elected by the Assembly.
“Where people are suffering, where people cry out for justice, the church must be an agent to give them a voice and to make visible how the church can be the salt of the earth and the light of the world,” said Bishop Bedford-Strohm.
Bishop Sally Dyck, Ecumenical Officer, United Methodist Church and a member of NCC’s Governing Board was also elected to WCC’s Executive Committee.
Several persons of NCC communions were elected to WCC’s Central Committee including: NCC’s Executive Committee member and Board Treasurer, Rev. Dr. Teresa Hord Owens, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada; Ms. Kathryn Lohre, Executive, Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations at the office of the Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Bishop Brian Thompson, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; Rev. Dr. Jennifer Leath, African Methodist Episcopal Church; Evelyn L. Parker, Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; Dr. Raimundo Barretto, American Baptist Churches, and others.
| Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker Smith – WCC president from North America; National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.; Bread for the World USA I am grateful for this invitation from our Interim General Secretary, Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie. Invitations like this are consistent with her steady pulse of inviting us to be a community. In Karlsruhe, she invited us for our group photo and North American regional meeting. She also gave voice to our WCC Public Issues Committee that brought substantive advocacy proposals for the ecumenical movement. We have and continue to appreciate her presence and leadership of our NCCC then and as we return to North America.|
The Assembly was also invitational and built community. Although any of us wondered if an Assembly would event be possible because of COVID and other intersectional issues but alas the prayers and diligent labors involved prevailed and God’s grace was extended for this. This testimony to grace was animated and amplified particularly in the worship and prayer times. The contributions from the world in our devotional life was powerful and inspirational not only for the Assembly but for our being back to our regional homes. The plenaries engaged us and helped us to remember days past and the people who have brought us thus far by God’s grace. The Ecumenical Conversations and Brunnen engagements were particularly engaging and allowed us to go beyond the face of the issues and to create community exploration at the micro and macro levels.
The Pre-Assemblies were strategic to building community. The voices of the Community of Women of Men, Indigenous communities, those who are differently abled and the youth the Global Ecumenical Theological Institute (GETI) played key roles in laying the foundation for deepened inclusion during the Assembly. I heard from many who appreciated this traditional entry point for those who have not been at an Assembly. I am grateful for the continued space and support of the WCC related Pan African Women of Faith/Pan African Women’s Ecumenical Empowerment Network (PAWEEN) and WCC related Africans and Africans in Diaspora (AAD) that go forward and speak directly into mutual priorities of the North American region and the WCC. I am also particularly grateful for the leadership of our WCC Moderator, Dr. Agnes Abuom, our Vice Moderators, Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, the late Metropolitan Gennadios, our General Secretaries since Busan and the faithfulness of the past Central and Executive Committee who served for 9 years versus the conventional 7-8 years. A period that included the challenges of the pandemic and racism, increased climate change and conflicts. It was not easy to go forward when so much threatened this possibility.
I thank God for all of you and look forward to serving with the elected WCC leadership and our North American region going forward in the global space with the NCC and WCC. Thank you for the invitation to serve you.
|Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer – General Minister and President, United Church of Christ These last two weeks in Germany were a dramatic testimony to the power of Christian siblings coming together in love and fellowship. Greeting dear friends whom we have been unable to see through the season of pandemic was absolutely delightful; and meeting new friends from all over the globe was rewarding.|
I deeply appreciated the way the body wrestled with tough issues that we knew had the potential to divide us. The pair of matters surrounding the war in Ukraine and the plight of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories demonstrated our collective capacity to stay in dialogue with each other even when the disagreements are pronounced and passionate. This ability to model civil discourse and love across divisions can become a balm to a world drifting father and farther apart.
Just as rewarding was the unity with which we spoke of the urgency for the body of Christ to organize our collective capacity to seek a pathway through the climate crisis. Throughout the Assembly, we iterated our clear commitments to ending the crisis and rescuing a planet in the throes of an apocalyptic, dystopian unraveling. That was very gratifying, and I pray with fervor that we all take action and combine our efforts to raise consciousness and commit to lowering our carbon footprint.
Finally, let me say that of all the wonderful things we experienced, the worship for me had to be the highlight of them all. To see and hear and experience every morning the beauty of every culture expressing itself in sacred language, art, dance, and music had me wondering if this wasn’t what heaven will be like. I didn’t want it to end. I will never forget it.
At the 11th assembly of the World Council of Churches meeting August 31–September 8 in Karlsruhe, Germany, Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith has been elected North American president. As one of six regional and two Orthodox newly-elected presidents, she will serve in this capacity until the next assembly in several years’ time. According to the WCC Constitution, in addition to serving as ex-officio members of the WCC central committee, the role of the WCC presidents is “to promote ecumenism and interpret the work of the WCC, especially in their respective regions.”
Rev. Dr. Walker-Smith brings many years of local, national, and international ecumenical experience to this role. Professionally she serves as the National Senior Associate for Pan African and Orthodox Church Engagement at Bread for the World, a non-profit organization that seeks to bring the collective Christian voice to the work of ending hunger in the US and around the world. For her church, the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., she is Ecumenical Representative, serving at both the WCC and the National Council of Churches USA, among other ecumenical settings. She is a graduate of Kent State University, Yale University Divinity School, and Princeton Theological Seminary.
“Rev. Dr. Walker-Smith is no stranger to the hard work of ecumenism,” stated Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, Interim President and General Secretary of the NCC. “With a spirit of enthusiasm and joy, for many years she has offered her talents to the WCC and the NCC, as a member of our respective governing bodies, and as an ecumenical leader in other organizations and initiatives. We are so proud to have Rev. Dr. Walker-Smith represent the US and Canada at the WCC as North American president.”
The other presidents elected at the WCC assembly are:
- Rev. Dr. Susan Durber, United Reformed Church (United and Uniting), UK (Europe)
- Rev. Dr. Henriette Hutabarat-Lebang, Reformed Church of Gereja Tora, Indonesia (Asia)
- Rev. Dr. Rufus Okikiola Ositelu, Church of the Lord (Prayer Fellowship) Worldwide, Nigeria (Africa)
- Rev. Francois Phiaatae, Maohi Protestant Church, Maohi Nui (Pacific)
- Rev. Philip Silvin Wright, Anglican Church, Belize (Caribbean and Latin America)
- H.E. Met. Dr. Vasilios of Constantia–Ammochostos, Church of Cyprus, Cyprus (Eastern Orthodox)
- H.H. Catholicos Aram I, Armenian Apostolic Church of Cilicia, Lebanon (Oriental Orthodox).
The National Council of Churches USA (NCC) is outraged by the killing of Donovan Lewis, an unarmed 20-year-old Black man, who was shot by police in Columbus, OH, on Tuesday, August 30, 2022.
Video evidence shows Lewis was shot without any chance to comply with police orders. In the recently released body camera video, a police officer opens the bedrooms door and immediately shoots Lewis. Then, to literally add insult to injury, police officers shout orders to “crawl out” and “stop resisting” as Lewis writhes in pain on his bed, where he had been sleeping moments before.
According to the Columbus Post-Dispatch, this is the sixth police-involved shooting in Columbus in 2022 and the third to happen within an eight-day period. The continued recurrence of tragedies like this demonstrates the need for robust new approaches to policing that address racial bias and support communities rather than target them, along with redoubled efforts for racial justice. Black Americans account for less than 13% of the U.S. population but are killed by police at more than twice the rate of White Americans. Lewis is one of the 1,044 people killed in an officer-involved shooting so far this year, according to a national police-involved fatal shooting database.
The NCC calls for a complete and unbiased investigation of this and all recent police shootings in Columbus, and for those responsible to be held accountable. As peaceful protests are being planned this weekend in Ohio, our prayers are with the Columbus community for justice and with the family of Donovan Lewis as they grieve.
Previous Statements by NCC on Police Violence:
- A Call to Police Reform and Healing of Communities
- How Long, O Lord, Must We Withstand Police Brutality and Murder?
- (Another) Statement on the Shooting of Black Men by Police: We’re Weary But Not Too Tired to Continue the Fight for Justice
- Floyd Murder by Police Officer Is an Outrage, Says National Council of Churches USA
National Council of Churches in Korea Korean Christian Federation
O Lord, how long shall we continue to keep the division on the Korean Peninsula?
When will peace come to the painful and broken land of Korea?
When will the South and the North lay down the weapons aimed at each other, hold each other’s hand, and sing a song of peace?
When will you lift the thick shadow of division?
O Lord, we have been living in pain of division for a long time.
Following the brotherly Korean War with its incalculable number of deaths, countless families were separated by the war and many people lost their livelihood.
The forces of the division system are the major stumbling blocks in the path toward peace and reunification while military tensions are rising on the Korean Peninsula in the midst of mistrust.
Our hearts break when we look at the rusty barbed wire.
O Lord, grant your healing grace to those suffering from the wounds of division.
Help us to stop demonizing each other but instead to pursue peace and coexistence.
Empower us to take down the rusty barbed wire and the desires of all who block the way of peace.
Grant us love that encourages us to overcome suspicion and hatred.
Help us to discover the truth in ourselves that we can become agents of peace and reconciliation through your grace.
O Lord, have mercy on us in your compassion, that churches in the North and the South may gladly respond to your love in a faithful commitment to the journey of peace. Give us the strength and resilience to go beyond division and work together for peace through dramatic improvement and development of inter-Korean relations. May we rekindle the hopes for peace and reunification on the Korean Peninsula.
O Lord, 77 years of division, there shall be no more tears and pain.
We can no longer be bound in heavy chains of war and conflict.
We cry to you for help, Lord; may we, your people, have open eyes to see and open ears to hear your presence among us along the journey toward peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.
In the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, we pray. Amen.
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) condemns the hate killings of four Muslim men over the past few months in Albuquerque, NM. These attacks are not only heinous for the taking of four lives, but also for the terroristic threat it sends to the Muslim community in Albuquerque and beyond. Our prayers are with our Muslim siblings as they deal with the fear and sense of insecurity that come from these attacks. The NCC calls for a thorough investigation of these killings. We join with the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign and others in calling for federal resources to assist with local efforts in resolving this situation.
Albuquerque is a welcoming community that has responded to an influx of refugees from majority-Muslim countries, such as Pakistan and Afghanistan. Indeed, one of the persons killed was found outside of the Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains office that serves as a hub for refugee resettlement. In addition to this vital work by a Lutheran-related ministry, we lift the work of our many member communions that work with refugee communities, as well as our partner ecumenical organization Church World Service, which works in countless communities across the United States to provide welcome to persons fleeing war, poverty, environmental disaster, and other forms of insecurity in their home countries.
We pray that the Muslim community of Albuquerque continues to find willing partners in the Christian communities that they live alongside as neighbors. May the peace of God be present and continue to provide comfort to the grieving, justice to the oppressed, and love to all.
May 10, 2022, Washington, DC – Today, the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) welcomed Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie to her first business meeting of the NCC Governing Board as Interim President and General Secretary. Bishop McKenzie started in the position on April 1, 2022, and has immersed herself in the work of the organization. This initial period of exploration culminated in a Board retreat held last week in Montgomery, Alabama with programming that built upon NCC’s current priority, the “A.C.T. NOW to End Racism” initiative that was started in 2018.
“The National Council of Churches is blessed to have Bishop McKenzie in this key leadership role. She brings the necessary insight, expertise, and ecumenical commitment to the Council” said Board Chair, Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, who is also the Presiding Bishop of the Fifth Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.
“The entire Board is excited to have Bishop McKenzie,” added Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, NCC Governing Board Vice Chair.
“I am honored to have been invited to serve the National Council of Churches. I look forward to the opportunity to enhance the great work that the NCC has already done and look for strategic ways to amplify its voice. It is critical in this season of divisiveness in our country that we remain vigilant and visible advocates and bridge builders.” Bishop McKenzie.
Prior to this assignment Bishop McKenzie served as the 117th elected and consecrated bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She was the first female elected to episcopal office in the more than two-century-old AME Church and is the first female to serve as President of the Council of Bishops and President of the General Board. She has served as presiding bishop in Southern Africa – Botswana, Swaziland, Mozambique and Lesotho and in the United States in Tennessee, Kentucky and Texas.
She no stranger to ecumenical ministry. She has been a delegate, preacher and/or presenter to ecumenical bodies including the World Methodist Council and the World Council of Churches.
Bishop McKenzie is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, Howard University, School of Religion and has an earned doctorate from United Theological Seminary.
Bishop McKenzie has been active in social justice issues for more than three decades. She was appointed in 2009 by President Barack Obama to be on the inaugural White House Commission of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnership. This group worked on behalf of Americans committed to improving their communities, no matter their religious or political beliefs. She was named by Huffington Post in 2014 as one of the 50 Most Powerful Women Around the World.
She is the author of six books including Not Without a Struggle and Journey to the Well. Her newest book is The Big Deal of Taking Small Steps to Move Closer to God. The book shows how to develop a stronger relationship with God with a more effective Christian lifestyle by taking small steps that lead to big changes.
With the retirement of its CEO Rev. Dr. Joseph Crockett, NCC’s publishing subsidiary Friendship Press is seeking an interim CEO.
Interim Chief Executive Officer (Half-time)
• Work is done from home using Zoom and other platforms for online meetings.
• Travel to the annual Christian Unity Gathering and Governing Board meeting of National Council of Churches (NCC) is required
• Travel to annual meeting of Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) may be required for promotional purposes
The mission of Friendship Press (FP) is to become “a good news publisher to provide resources that nurture sacred wisdom, cultivate community, foster justice and promote peace for the welfare of humanity and the unity of creation.”
The CEO is responsible to the Board of Directors for leadership to achieve the mission of FP.
• Provide strategic and managerial leadership that includes near-term planning and execution of the continuing rollout of the NRSV Updated Edition (NRSVue)
• Maintain high standards of financial management of annual budget, operations and reporting
• Maintain strong relationship with the NCC as FP’s chief partner including regular reporting
• Manage key contractors including licensing management agency, software systems, publishing services), accounting firm, etc.
• Oversee processes related to website, [email protected] Bible app, and Kindle sales
• Collaborate with SBL on textual issues related to NRSVue
• Manage and Support the Bible Translation and Utilization Committee (BTU) in its work related to the NRSVue and other NCC Bible properties
• Implement policies and practices related to publishers/licensees of NCC Bible properties
• Continue processes with the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox communions related to imprimaturs and acceptance of NRSVue
• Interface with FP legal counsel as required
• Membership in a member communion of the NCC highly desired
• Advanced degree in Bible, theology, English, journalism or a field of study
related to the mission of Friendship Press
• At least 5 years experience in management in Bible or religious publishing
• Demonstrated strong business acumen
• At least 5 years experience as an editor of publications, books, websites
• Familiarity and appreciation for heritage of RSV, NRSV, NRSVue translations
• Demonstrated record of success in strategic planning, decision making and
problem solving in publishing field
• Demonstrated knowledge of financial statements and business operations
• Digital competency with broad range of apps and systems
• Writing and communication skills
• Capacity to interact with Biblical scholars/scholarship re: Bible translation
• Marketing and digital marketplace experience
• Sensitivity to ecumenical and interreligious audiences
Preferred Starting Date: June 27, 2022
Compensation package to be negotiated with President of Friendship Press
Resumes with two current references should be emailed by May 26 to:
Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley, Chair Search Committee, Friendship Press
click here to email
Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also. 1 John 4: 20-21 NRSV
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) is firmly, resolutely, and unequivocally opposed to white supremacy. Our faith teaches us that every person is created in the image and likeness of God. We believe, as Jesus instructed us, to love our neighbors as ourselves and to treat others as we would want to be treated. Embracing white supremacy is immoral, unjust, and anti-Christian. Theologically, spiritually, and practically, white supremacy is an affront to the faith that we proclaim. We stand in opposition to it and all the ways it is manifest in our society.
The fact that any national leader, much less the President of the United States, would continuously refuse to publicly denounce this evil that has haunted and permeated American society since its beginnings, is alarming at best. We have come to accept certain shared values in our society and promoting white supremacy or being openly racist are not a part of those values. Yet, during Tuesday night’s Presidential Debate, the world witnessed the President give what can only be described as marching orders to white supremacist factions in our nation when he spoke directly to the Proud Boys, a recognized hate group, and encouraged them to “stand back and stand by.” This was unacceptable and we urge the President to retract his statements and to once and for all without equivocation disavow white supremacy.
We further decry the President’s call for his supporters to engage in voter intimidation tactics by going to polling places to “monitor” voters on Election Day. This is a tactic that was used during the Civil Rights Movement to prevent Black people from voting with tragic outcomes. Surely, this is not a part of our history that we want to repeat. A democracy only works when the people and the leaders abide by its principles. We are deeply concerned about the rhetoric and devices that are being employed in this election and we call on all candidates to exercise decorum, mutual respect, and common decency toward those running against them as well as those with whom they may disagree. We urge our member denominations and churches to find creative and meaningful ways to bring people together. Let us be for one another beacons of light in the midst of escalating tensions in communities across the country.
We pray that our nation will continue to be the example of democracy around the world that it has always striven to be. In order to uphold this banner, we must continue to repudiate white supremacy, no matter who seems to be a proponent of it.