responds to 'Jena 6', moves towards 'Social Creed'
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
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
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
The NCC is, as are many of its member communions, considering a social
creed for the 21st century that addresses globalization, poverty,
"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