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1999 NCC News Archives

NCC News Briefs ... (click any link, or scroll the page)

- NCC Friendship Press Publishes First "Web" Book, on Cuba
- NCC General Secretary Search Open Through Aug. 2
- Tutu Records Kosovo Radio Spots for Church World Service
- NCC Commissions 12 New Amity Teachers of English to China
- NCC Supports Legal Petition on Leonard Peltier’s Behalf
- Linda Hartke Elected to Amnesty International USA Board
- NCC Co-Sponsors Summer "E Pluribus Unum" Project
- NCC Supports National Accessible Congregations Campaign
- Web-Based Disaster News Network Describes Church Response
- Jay Lintner Joins NCC as Part-Time Director, Washington Office
- NCC General Secretary’s July-August Travel Schedule …
- CWS Asks Help Replenishing "Gifts of the Heart" Kits Supply
- Fall Events Set on Implications of NCC Public Education Policy


NEW YORK – For the first time, the National Council of Churches’ Friendship Press has published a book on the World Wide Web. It is "A Child’s Glimpse of Cuba," a resource for teachers of elementary school children and one of several pieces in the publisher’s 1999-2000 ecumenical mission study of Cuba.

"A Child’s Glimpse of Cuba" – ready for free downloading and/or printing as a local church resource – includes detailed plans for leaders along with resource pages with art and map activities, stories and music. The study aims to help children understand what life is like for Christians living in Cuba.

For "A Child’s Glimpse of Cuba," go to /, the home page of the National Council of Churches, and follow the link either to Friendship Press or to "On-Line Book ‘A Child’s Glimpse of Cuba.’" Other pieces in the "Cuba and Its People" mission study include the adult study book "Perspectives on Cuba and Its People," "Map & Facts: Cuba" and the video "Cuba: Three Faith Perspectives." These are available by phoning 1-800-889-5733.

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NEW YORK -- The National Council of Churches is accepting applications through August 2 for the position of general secretary. The incumbent, the Rev. Dr. Joan B. Campbell, will be completing her term of service on December 31 of this year.

The general secretary is the principal executive officer of the Council, responsible to the General Assembly and Executive Board for: providing dynamic leadership, articulating the mission and purpose of the Council, providing spiritual guidance and vision, symbolizing the vocation of Christian unity in service and witness, maintaining relationships with communions, and implementing and interpreting policy.

An applicant must be a member in good standing in a communion that is a member of the Council, be theologically competent and articulate, and be an active participant in church life and in the ecumenical movement. Minimum educational requirement: graduate theological degree or equivalent experience. The Council is seeking a leader with a collaborative leadership style and excellent communication skills.

For a copy of the position description and application form please contact: General Secretary Search Committee, National Council of Churches, 475 Riverside Drive, Room 650, New York, NY 10115-0050.

Dr. Campbell, an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A., has headed the NCC since 1991. The first clergywoman to serve as the NCC’s general secretary, she has been closely related to the Council for more than two decades in both staff and board membership capacities within the context of a career of ecumenical service locally, nationally and internationally.

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NEW YORK – Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu has given his voice to a new series of radio spots on Church World Service response to the Kosovo crisis. "I’ve seen haunted eyes throughout my life," he says, "in my home country of South Africa and even here in America after devastating natural disasters. But the eyes of those fleeing from Kosovo cut me to the heart."

The 30- and 60-second spots emphasize the help even a small contribution can mean in supplying tents to shield children and families, infant formula to feed hungry infants, medicines and medical care, clean bedding and blankets, and reconciliation and rebuilding assistance including micro-enterprise loans.

Church World Service, the humanitarian response ministry of the National Council of Churches, expects its region-wide response to reach $3.4 million by the end of the summer.

Archbishop Tutu, now resident at Atlanta’s Emory School of Theology, has a long history of relationship with Church World Service and the National Council of Churches, which supported the struggle against apartheid with advocacy and practical assistance. He was keynote speaker at the Church World Service 50th anniversary celebrations in Chicago in November 1996, and will be prominent again at the NCC’s 50th anniversary celebrations in Cleveland, Ohio, this November.

But the immediate catalyst for the radio spots was the $1,000 donation he sent, without fanfare, to Church World Service this spring for assistance to survivors of the Kosovo crisis. The Archbishop explained, "I’ve always believed that people in need have a rightful claim on our ability to help."

For more information, contact Church World Service at 1-800-297-1516.

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NEW YORK – The National Council of Churches June 24 commissioned 12 new English teachers to serve with the Amity Teachers Program in China. Set to start work this fall, their term is for two academic years.

The 12 spent June 18-25 at the Stony Point Conference Center, Stony Point, N.Y., and in New York City for orientation and commissioning, and will undertake additional orientation and training at Nantong Teachers College in Nantong, China, and in Nanjing, China, July 31-August 28.

The new teachers are:

The Amity Foundation, with offices in Nanjing, China, and in Hong Kong, was established in 1985 as a non-governmental organization. It was created at the initiative of Chinese Christians, who continue to serve on its board.

Because it is a Chinese organization, Amity can offer a genuine partnership with Chinese professionals who have a vision for meeting the needs of disadvantaged members of Chinese society. Christians from more than a dozen countries, including the United States, have joined hands with the Amity Foundation to promote friendship and understanding and to contribute to Amity's efforts in rural development, education, social welfare and Bible printing.

The Teachers Program has been a part of Amity's efforts since the foundation's inception. The program has been developed and refined over the years, based on the experience of a succession of Amity teachers. The program seeks to provide orientation as well as professional and personal support for its volunteer teachers as they prepare to adapt to life in China. Most of them have had at least some previous teaching experience, especially English as a Foreign Language (EFL).

While a few teachers may be placed in major urban centers of Eastern China where the program began, the current emphasis is on helping students in less wealthy areas. Schools in these areas, like others in the Chinese educational system, strive to equip students to share in the technological and scientific knowledge of the outside world, which often entails learning English.

The lack of qualified English teachers places many students in rural and inland areas at a disadvantage. A typical Amity placement in a teacher-training school in a medium-sized city meets a critical need and often lifts the morale of the entire community.

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NEW YORK – A habeas corpus petition challenging the denial by the U.S. Parole Commission of Leonard Peltier’s substantive and procedural parole rights has been filed in federal district court in Topeka, Kansas – a "first" in any U.S. court.

The initiative, by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, has support from the National Council of Churches. The NCC, whose 35 Protestant and Orthodox member communions have 52 million members, already is on record in support of Peltier’s release – including in a November 1997 resolution by its highest governing body, its General Assembly.

Peltier, a Native American,. originally was convicted in 1977 for the first degree murders of two FBI agents, Jack Coler and Ronald Williams. He has maintained his innocence. Amnesty International considers Peltier a political prisoner and has insisted that he be immediately and unconditionally released. He has become a worldwide symbol of injustice against political prisoners and against Indigenous Peoples of the Americas.

The petition was filed by Clark and by attorneys Carl Nadler and Lawrence Schilling on June 4, 1999. It challenges as illegal, clearly erroneous, arbitrary, capricious and unconstitutional the U.S. Parole Commission’s denial of parole to Peltier along with its decision to schedule Peltier’s next parole release hearing in December 2008. This is 17 years in excess of the Commission’s applicable guidelines and six years after the date set by Congress for the total abolition of the Parole Commission itself.

For more information, contact Sammy Toineeta, NCC Racial Justice Director, 212-870-2387; the law office of Ramsey Clark, 212-475-3232, or the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, 785-842-5774.

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NEW YORK – Linda Hartke, Director of Programs and Operations for Church World Service, the humanitarian response ministry of the National Council of Churches, has been elected to the national board of directors of Amnesty International USA.

Amnesty International, recipient of the 1977 Nobel Prize for Peace, works for the release of prisoners of conscience (those who have neither used nor advocated violence) and for the end to torture, executions and "disappearances" worldwide. The group has 400,000 members in the United States.

Hartke was one of six board members (of nine candidates) elected in June through a national balloting process. She will serve a three-year term, through 2002.

Her CWS post is a senior executive position within an internationally recognized non-governmental organization, which works in more than 80 countries including the United States. CWS works primarily through local partners around the globe, but is operational in a number of countries, including Cambodia – where Hartke was CWS Country Director from 1992 until June 1997. Based in Phnom Penh, it is the largest of CWS’s overseas programs, with a $2.5 million budget and 75 staff.

Hartke is a member of Our Saviour’s Atonement Lutheran Church in New York City, and has served on national and regional boards of her denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and its predecessor, the Lutheran Church in America.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Council of Churches joins the Washington Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values and the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry in sponsorship of the "E Pluribus Unum" Project.

Each summer, the project brings 60 recent high school graduates – 20 Catholic, 20 Jewish and 20 Protestant – to Washington, D.C., for three weeks (this year, June 27-July 18) to explore how their religious traditions deal with questions of social justice and the common good.

"E Pluribus Unum – Out of the Many, One," the nation’s motto, embodies the project’s underlying theme. In the midst of their diversity, American people of faith can find common ground for the common good. It receives support from the Lilly Endowment, Righteous Persons Foundation and Ford Foundation.

The project, now in its third year, also offers related one-day professional development seminars for adult educators, clergy, diocesan directors and youth service workers – June 30 and July 13 this year – at American University. For more information, contact the project office at 301-770-5070.

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NEW YORK -- The National Council of Churches Committee on Disabilities is supporting the national interfaith Accessible Congregations Campaign. ACC seeks the commitment of 2,000 congregations by the year 2000 to include people with all types of disabilities as full and active participants in worship, service, study and leadership. For more information, contact: Religion and Disability Program, National Organization on Disability,; phone 202-293-5960; fax 202-293-7999; TDD 202-293-5968; Web

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NEW YORK -- A disaster is breaking and you want to know how the churches are responding. Perhaps you or someone you know wants to volunteer to help but doesn’t know how to get started. You can find answers to such questions on the Disaster News Network (DNN) Web site, located at Co-sponsored by Church World Service, DNN provides timely news and information about faith-based disaster response and volunteer opportunities. It also provides a forum for disaster survivors to tell their stories and highlights the sometimes overlooked work of agencies helping communities affected by disasters.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Rev. Jay Lintner, director of the United Church of Christ Office for Church in Society, Washington, D.C., on April 1 assumed responsibility as part-time director of the National Council of Churches’ Washington Office and as "associate general secretary for the interim." He continues his UCC responsibilities part time.

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NEW YORK – National Council of Churches General Secretary Joan Brown Campbell’s July-August schedule includes the following (subject to change): July 3-9: Chaplain, Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, N.Y.; July 10: Speaker at National Association of Ecumenical and Interreligious Staff, Dayton, Ohio; July 19-21: NCC 50th Anniversary Committee, Cleveland, Ohio; Aug. 3: "30 Good Minutes" taping, Chicago Sunday Evening Club, Chicago, Ill.; Aug. 4-7: Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Educational Fund Annual Conference, Chicago, Ill.; Aug. 11-13: Plenary Leader, Montreat Women’s Conference Center, Montreat, N.C.

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NEW YORK – Church World Service is asking help to replenish its supply of "Gifts of the Heart" kits – the school, health and baby kits that it ships to people in need worldwide.

School kits are most needed at this moment. Shipments of school kits slated for later this summer to the Middle East and the Balkans are in jeopardy because recent shipments to Sierra Leone, in West Africa, and earlier shipments to the Balkans have diminished supplies.

For information on the contents of the kits, please call 1-888-297-2767 toll free, or visit the CWS Web site at

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NEW YORK – The National Council of Churches Committee on Public Education is actively cultivating a national dialogue around the NCC’s proposed policy statement, "The Churches and the Public Schools at the Close of the 20th Century," which is moving toward a vote at the NCC’s November 1999 General Assembly. The statement makes a strong united witness for quality education for all public school students.

Two events early this fall will help denominational leaders explore implications of the policy statement and ways that the NCC can support churches as they implement it. One is in Chicago Sept. 22 with the Rev. Dr. Paul Sherry, president of the United Church of Christ, as host. The other is set for Sept. 30 in Washington, D.C., with the Rev. Dr. Staccato Powell, executive director of NCC National Ministries.

The committee also is focusing on the matter of church-school partnerships in local communities. In April, committee members met with U.S. Department of Education representatives responsible for religious liaison – the first in what is hoped will be a series to lay the groundwork for appropriate church-school partnerships. The committee also is sponsoring a forum on this topic at the NCC’s 50th anniversary celebration in November in Cleveland.

"Advocates will come from the churches where something is going on related to the community’s public schools," said Dr. Joe Leonard, director of the NCC’s Ministries in Christian Education. "We can offer congregations something that is practical, that they can grab hold of and do. That kind of involvement provides the energy for advocacy at the state and national level."

MCE has contracted with the Rev. Dave Brown, a Presbyterian minister from Federal Way, Wash., to staff the Committee on Public Education. He succeeds Dr. Nanette Roberts, who recently retired from the staff of the United Church of Christ.

(See NCC News Release of June 4, 1999, "Quality, Equality of U.S. Public Education to be Addressed in Ecumenical Pilot Project in Pennsylvania," on another element in the NCC’s work to increase the quality – and equality – of U.S. public education for all children.)


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