NCC Calls for Justice, End to Violence in Baltimore

WASHINGTON: The National Council of Churches joins with the churches of Baltimore in grieving the loss of Freddie Gray. In the wake of his death and the violence that has followed, we call for sweeping changes to policing methods and procedures that will finally address the causes for the rage being expressed not only in Baltimore, but in cities across the nation. Too many young African-American men and women are dying at the hands of the police, and the nation must correct this injustice immediately. We call upon both rioters and police alike to end their violent acts toward one another.

We dispute the narrative that the riots are being carried out by “criminals and thugs,” as both President Obama and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake have characterized rioters and protesters alike. To engage in dismissive name-calling by political leaders who are unable to offer any reasonable justification for Gray’s death is to simply fuel the fire they seek to calm. In the spirit of Jesus’s recollection of the Great Commandment to “love God” and “love your neighbor as yourself,” we cannot abide by speech that diminishes the lives and sacred worth of the young people of communities broken by violence.

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Pesner Installed as Director of RAC

WASHINGTON - The National Council of Churches joins with the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in congratulating Rabbi Jonah Pesner upon his installation as RAC’s new Director. Rabbi Pesner’s directorship was celebrated with prayers and a reception today in Washington, DC. He is the second Director of the RAC in its history, following the 40-year tenure of founding Director Rabbi David Saperstein, recently appointed as the U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom.

“The Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism is one of the Washington religious community’s most important institutions, and a long-time friend and ally of the National Council of Churches,” said General Secretary Jim Winkler, “and we are pleased to sell Rabbi Pesner taking leadership.”

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Armenian Genocide: 100 Years of Denial

April 24 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the Armenian Genocide, which took place in Turkey from 1915 to 1923. Denied as genocide by the Turkish Government and characterized by it as merely part of the general violence of World War I, remarkably the United States has not yet officially recognized this horrific episode in history as genocide. As the world commemorates the 100th anniversary of this tragedy, the National Council of Churches expresses its profound disappointment that President Obama, while calling for a “full, frank and just acknowledgement of the facts,” has refrained from identifying it as genocide.

NCC president and general secretary Jim Winkler said that such an acknowledgement includes the use of the word genocide: “At this moment, I am in Armenia for events commemorating the 100th anniversary of the genocide. Church leaders from around the world have gathered here in solidarity with the church and people of Armenia. I am more aware than ever before of how important it is for people of good will everywhere to stand up and name genocide for what it is.”

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National Muslim-Christian Initiative
March 24-25, 2015

A meeting of the National Muslim-Christian Initiative, a major dialogue between Muslim and Christian leaders, took place in late March, gathering together nearly 40 Christian and Muslim senior representatives from around the country to engage issues of concern to both communities, including deliberate discussion of Islamphobia in the US and religious extremist ideology abroad. The meeting included a public evening program with more than 100 people present, on the intersection of religious freedom and respect for what others hold sacred.

The initiative, begun in 2008 and having last met in 2011, is an integral part of the 30+ years of relationship between Christian communions connected through the National Council of Churches and Muslim organizations. The pause in meetings was due to organizational and programmatic factors in both communities.

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The NCC is a community of communions called by Christ to visible unity and sent forth in the Spirit to promote God’s justice, peace, and the healing of the world.

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Christian Unity Gathering 2015

May 1, 2015 07:17
MEDIA ADVISORY May 1, 2015 CONTACT: Stacie Royster 202-662-8317 sroyster@lawyerscommittee.org Julie Sweeney, 202-662-8328 jsweeney@lawyerscommittee.org National Civil and Human Rights Groups Host Audio Press Conference Call: “Baltimore, Ferguson and Beyond: The Crisis of Race and Policing” May 1, 2015, 11:30 a.m. ET Dial In Number: 800-862-9098; Meeting ID: REFORM; Program Title: POLICE REFORM AND ACCOUNTABILITY #Unity4Justice WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, May 1, 2015, the Civil Rights Coalition on Police Reform will host an audio press conference call featuring national human and civil rights leaders and community activists to discuss the national epidemic of police brutality and misconduct on the heels of Freddie Gray’s death in Baltimore. Speakers will also discuss necessary nationwide reforms and solutions, including action steps, such as economic empowerment, which can be implemented in their communities. Speakers will share resources and information and renew call for accountability. WHEN: Friday, May 1, 2015, 11:30 a.m. EST WHAT: Audio press conference call addressing ongoing killings and brutality of African American men, women and youth by police officers nationwide; policing reforms; and accountability. WHO: National civil and human rights partner organizations and leaders listed below on behalf of the Civil Rights Police Reform Coalition and those who care about police brutality, misconduct and necessary reforms. -Rev. Aundreia Alexander, National Council of Churches of Christ, USA -Barbara Arnwine, President and Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law -Rev. Dr. Cornell Brooks, President and CEO, NAACP Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. -Pamela Meanes, President, National Bar Association -David Rocah, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU of Maryland -Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., President and CEO, Hip Hop Caucus Background on Coalition A coalition of 14 national civil and human rights organizations and leaders issued a Unified Statement of Action to Promote Reform and Stop Police Abuse on August 18th, which cited clear and necessary recommendations and reforms. We will continue to work together to ensure that all of our recommendations and reforms are adopted and justice is brought to bear in Ferguson and nationwide. Seven additional groups and more than 700 independent signatories have joined the open letter which was sent to the White House and the Department of Justice (DOJ). We reiterate our call for transparency, accountability, leadership, and training, including: -Passage of the End Racial Profiling Act (Maryland's Senator Ben Cardin and Michigan's Representative John Conyers reintroduced the End Racial Profiling Act on April 22, 2015) -A full accounting of police-involved killings of African Americans nationwide; -Mandatory racial bias and sensitivity training for all law enforcement personnel; -The required use of police officer Body-Worn Cameras (BWC) to record every police-civilian encounter; -Better accountability of the use and potential distribution and use of federal military weapons by local law enforcement; -Greater oversight of police officers through the formation of both national and community-based policing commissions; and Grand jury reform. Note to Media: Please RSVP to jsweeney@lawyerscommittee.org by May 1st at 10 a.m. ###

April 29, 2015 12:07
NCC calls for justice and an end to violence in Baltimore and other cities across the nation:

April 27, 2015 19:12
From Jim Winkler: