Joint Statement on Normalizing U.S. - Cuba Relations by the NCC and the Cuban Council of Churches

It is with great joy and celebration that we, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, and the Cuban Council of Churches, join together in expressing our thanks to God, the One who inspired the writer of the Book of Revelation to declare, “Behold, I make all things new.”

In this new day of cooperation and openness between the United States and Cuba, we reflect upon the times when our Councils worked together with grace and hope, looking for a future in which our nations’ leaders might join in welcoming each other as we have. We are pleased that our churches played a part in leading the way to the events of this week. We are grateful also for the witness of those who tirelessly work for reconciliation, especially today for Pope Francis, who, in the name of Christ, urged our governments to begin normalizing relations.

As we celebrate the changes that have begun, we recognize that still more must be done. We call upon the churches of our two nations to join together in unity and harmony as we urge our nations’ leaders to finish the work of normalization.

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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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December 18, 2014 21:17
The NCC and the Cuban Council of Churches issue a joint statement of celebration today:

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.