1998 NCC News Archives

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Religious Leaders Respond to Continuing Clinton Investigation
Call for Forgiveness, Healing and Leadership

NEW YORK, August 27, 1998 --- The Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches (NCC), is one among a group of religious leaders who have issued "A Pastoral Letter To The Nation" calling for forgiveness, healing and leadership so there can be "a return to the real needs of people."

The letter counsels: "It is time to put to rest what has occurred, to do things that will set this matter right and to focus anew on the needs in our own land and threats to stability, justice and peace in our world. It is time once again to be led by our President."

"This is an open letter from a group of religious leaders who wanted, as pastors and rabbis, to share a word of healing with the nation and to invite all people of goodwill to sign," Dr. Campbell explained.

In addition to Dr. Campbell, initial signatories include the Rev. Dr. Andrew Young, NCC president-elect and former mayor of Atlanta, the Rev. Dr. Gardner Taylor, pastor emeritus of Concord Baptist Church in Brooklyn and Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Senior Rabbi of Park East Synagogue in New York City. Other prominent pastors also have signed the letter.

The full text of the letter and the initial signatories is attached.


An Appeal For Healing
A Pastoral Letter To The Nation

As pastors and rabbis we have found ourselves asking what is happening to our country. In this moment we speak out of diverse religious heritages that have historically called us to wholeness in our common life. "The tragedy is not that things are broken, the tragedy is that things are not mended again." (Alan Payton, Cry The Beloved Country)

We want our country back! We urge a return to the real needs of people. Urgent issues are before us. We want our presidents to be allowed to be president. We want religious leaders, the media and public life to be guided by self-discipline, responsibility and compassion. We want legal processes to be embraced by ethical considerations and by simple human decency.

The words of the prophet Micah instruct us: ". . . what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?"

Our religious heritage has taught us to name unacceptable behavior, private or public, as unacceptable. It is the route toward healing. The President confessed: "It was wrong." What more must we know? We are not shocked by human failure. We are familiar with the needs of the human spirit and reach out to those in pain. We ourselves speak as the flawed to the flawed.

We want the eyes and ears of children to see, hear and feel the Word of the Living God. We want them to see and hear images and voices of reconciliation, grace, mercy and redeeming love.

It is now a time for forgiveness and healing. Governments err and presidents make mistakes; we are all sinners. But the God of love and justice does not judge us without the hand of grace and mercy. It is a time to reclaim the nation's finer character. We believe that health and dignity can grow anew to serve us.

We counsel:

It is time to put to rest what has occurred, to do things that will set this matter right and to focus anew on the needs in our own land and threats to stability, justice and peace in our world. It is our common humanity that yearns for healing. It is time once again to be led by our President.

We need our country back.

We appeal to the conscience of all citizens of good will. We appeal for prayer for the President and his family. We appeal for prayer for our nation and by our nation. Let us pray for all who have sadly been caught up in this web of human agony.Initial Signatories (titles for identification only):

The Rev. Dr. James S. Allen
Pastor, Vine Memorial Baptist Church
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Bishop Vinton Anderson
Prelate, Second Episcopal District,
African Methodist Episcopal Church
Washington, D.C.

The Rev. Ralph E. Blanks
Pastor, Mother African Zoar United Methodist Church
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Rev. Dr. Amos Brown
Pastor, Third Baptist Church
San Francisco, California

The Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell
General Secretary, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA
New York, NY

Dr. Tony Campolo
Professor of Sociology, Eastern College
St. Davids, Pennsylvania

Bishop J. Delano Ellis
President, Pentecostal Church in America
Cleveland, Ohio

Rabbi David J. Gelfand
Senior Rabbi, Jewish Center of the Hamptons
East Hampton, NY

The Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy
Pastor, Northminster Baptist Church
Monroe, Louisiana

Bishop Frederick C. James, Retired
African Methodist Episcopal Church
Columbia, S.C.

The Rev. Dr. Robert L. Maddox
Senior Pastor, Briggs Memorial Baptist Church
Bethesda, Maryland

The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss, Jr.
Olivet Institutional Baptist Church
Cleveland, Ohio

The Rev. Dr. John Wade Payne
Senior Minister, Park Avenue Christian Church
New York, NY

Rabbi Arthur Schneier
Senior Rabbi, Park East Synagogue
New York, NY

The Rev. Dr. J. Alfred Smith, Sr.
Pastor, Allen Temple Baptist Church
Oakland, California

The Rev. Dr. W.T. Snead
President, National Missionary Baptist Convention of America
Los Angeles, California

The Rev. Dr. Gardner Taylor
Pastor Emeritus, Concord Baptist Church
Brooklyn, NY

The Rev. Dr. Andrew Young
President-Elect, NCCC
Atlanta, Georgia

Additional signatures welcomed
Contact: 212-870-3260

Contact: NCC News Department

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