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NCC responds to 'Jena 6', moves towards 'Social Creed'

New York, Sept. 26, 2007
The National Council of Churches USA (NCC), through its Governing Board, issued a call for "equal justice under the law" in Jena, La. 

"For decades we have committed time and resources to support those who risked their lives in the name of freedom and justice, and we will continue to do so," said the NCC in the statement approved by the NCC's Governing Board gathered here in its regular fall meeting (Sept. 23-25).

"This is indeed a tragic situation and many lives, both Black and White, have been negatively impacted by the events that have taken place in Jena:  the nooses hanging from a tree; a justice system and community that seemed to ignore this hate crime; violent retaliation against a white youth; excessive criminal charges against six African American teenagers; a community torn apart; and protests and cries for justice from across the country," said the NCC statement.

"We are reminded of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that 'injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,'" said the statement approved by the representative board of the NCC's 35 member communions, and called on "our nation, our churches and our communities to repentance, reconciliation and righteousness as we strive for a more just society."


Additional statements on the Jena 6:
National Council of Churches USA
African Methodist Episcopal Zion
American Baptist Churches USA
National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
Presbyterian Church (USA)

United Church of Christ

The NCC will send letters to Louisiana elected officials stating this position, work collaboratively with the Louisiana Interchurch Conference, and invite Jena church leaders to the NCC's General Assembly in November for a report and guidance on ways the NCC can support their community.

The Governing Board also heard a report from its Special Commission on the Just Rebuilding of the Gulf Coast.  The Christian ecumenical leaders were told that NCC member communions sent nearly 133,000 volunteers and $262-million to the Gulf Coast to help in rebuilding the lives of those whom church members describe as their "brothers and sisters."  Participants in the commission's Ecumenical Work Week last month (Aug. 19-25) also shared personal stories with the board.

A copy of a letter was also distributed to the board from the Mississippi Gulfcoast Convention and Visitors Bureau expressing gratitude for the NCC's commitment to recovery efforts.

The letter said, in part, "...we see the fruits of the labor provided by the thousands of faith based volunteer and other organizations from around the country who have tirelessly assisted in our recover and rebuilding efforts.  We have made tremendous progress, which we attribute to their ongoing commitment and know that we are better and stronger because of the volunteers."

The NCC ecumenical leaders also agreed to move forward to the November General Assembly a proposed "Social Creed for the 21st Century."  In 1908 the NCC's predecessor, the Federal Council of Churches, adopted a social creed that addressed issues, such as industrialization, facing the world and the Church then.  The churches in the last century pledged "to work together for a better, fairer and more faithful United States." 

The NCC is, as are many of its member communions, considering a social creed for the 21st century that addresses globalization, poverty, violence.

"We--individual Christians and churches--commit ourselves to a culture of peace and freedom that embraces non-violence, nurtures character, treasures the environment, and builds community, rooted in a spirituality of inner growth and outward action," states the conclusion of the new social creed.

The NCC General Assembly, a representative body of 35 Christian churches from across the USA, meets annually.  The 2007 meeting will be held in Woodbridge, N.J. and New York City, Nov. 5-7.

NCC News contact:  Dan Webster, 212.870.2252,


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