NCC Celebrates Moves Toward US-Cuba Normalization

Washington, DC: Today the National Council of Churches rejoices in the steps taken by Presidents Obama and Castro to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba. In addition, the NCC celebrates the return of Alan Gross, imprisoned for five years in Cuba, to the United States, and the humanitarian release of three of the "Cuban 5."

"The news that Cuba and the United States are now ending a half-century of hostility is welcome indeed during this season of Advent,” said National Council of Churches General Secretary Jim Winkler. “I salute Presidents Obama and Castro, and express thanks to Pope Francis and all those who helped bring this moment to pass. I ask local churches in the United States to follow the example of churches across Cuba and ring their bells in thanks and celebration!"

NCC Chair Roy Medley also stated: “We thank God for this wonderful news of these significant steps toward normalization of relations between our two nations. The NCC has long advocated for this day and we know our partners at the Cuban Council of Churches are as jubilant at this moment as are we."

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Celebrating the Resumption of Jewish – Christian Dialogue: A Reflection

After two years of silence, a major dialogue resumed between Jewish and Christian leaders in mid-November. Focusing on pastoral issues, and aimed at exploring common challenges and ministries related to such issues, the dialogue has been an important part of Jewish – Christian relations for several years.

Co-Convened by the National Council of Churches and the National Council of Synagogues, the Jewish-Christian Dialogue on Pastoral Issues had been meeting regularly since 2010 until differences among some participants over matters related to but outside the purview of the dialogue, on Israel and Palestine, stalled the conversation. Another dialogue, formed in 2004, dealing with Middle East issues, as well as a new conversation begun this year among participant organizations’ leadership, have not yet resumed due to some of these ongoing differences.

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National Council of Churches Congratulates Ambassador David Saperstein

The officers and staff of the National Council of Churches congratulate Rabbi David Saperstein upon his confirmation by the US Senate as the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom.  Amb. Saperstein was confirmed late in the afternoon on Friday, December 12, 2014.

“This honor has been bestowed upon one of the most respected figures in the interfaith community,” said Jim Winkler, NCC President and General Secretary. “David has been a good friend to all of us. He is really the ‘dean’ of the Washington Interreligous Staff Community.  He’s a wonderful choice for this position as he been a staunch advocate for religious freedom for decades.”

"I've been working with David for a long time, and I know him to be a very thoughtful and forceful voice for religious freedom.  I welcome his appointment to this ambassadorship,” said Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, NCC associate general secretary, Faith & Order and Interfaith Relations. “It is a good moment for all who advocate for religious freedom globally."

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NCC-affiliated churches, their clergy, and members bridge the gap as protests gain momentum

At times, clergy have stood outside protests. In the wake of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner grand juries, clergy are leading them.

Michael Brown memorial in FergusonThe latest wave of protests has stopped motor and rail traffic in Washington, New York, Chicago, and other cities across the United States. Thousands of people took to the streets immediately after New York grand jury’s verdict of “no-bill” last Thursday night. With a few exceptions, these protests have taken place on a massive scale without violence.

At a meeting of the National Council of Churches’ governing board in St. Louis in November, a panel of pastors and community leaders spoke a week before the Ferguson grand jury had declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson. Reflecting on the days of protest that had preceded, the panel pointed out that religious communities had played a key role in the protests.

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December 17, 2014 18:03
"This is the day the Lord has made!", quoted by Cuban Council of Churches President Joel Dopico. Here's the NCC's official statement.

December 17, 2014 14:20
NCC celebrates the ending of the embargo of Cuba with our friends at the Cuba Council of Churches today.

December 15, 2014 13:27
Last month, an important Jewish-Christian dialogue resumed. Here is a report: