USCCB Names Executive Director of Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs


Rev. Walter Kedjierski Named as Executive Director of Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

April 24, 2019

WASHINGTON— Rev. Walter Kedjierski of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York has been appointed as Executive Director of the Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), based in Washington D.C.

Fr. Kedjierski will begin the new position effective June 3, 2019. Msgr. Brian Bransfield, USCCB General Secretary, made the appointment.

“Fr. Kedjierski brings to the Conference an abundance of knowledge and experience in the realm of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, both at the institutional and the personal levels,” said Msgr. Bransfield. “I am very grateful to Fr. Kedjierski for accepting this important position in service to the bishops and to the Conference.  I am equally grateful to the Most Reverend John O. Barres, Bishop of Rockville Centre, for his kind consideration of the needs of the Conference and the Church in the United States.”

Since June 2017, Fr. Kedjierski has served as Rector/President of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York, where he first served as Vice Rector and Director of Diaconate Formation, as well as Director of the Sacred Heart Institute for the Continuing Formation of Clergy.  Father Kedjierski is also the Director of the Diocese’s Office of Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Affairs, where he served from 2007 to 2010 as Associate Ecumenical officer in charge of Relations with Muslims and Other Religious groups, and in which role he is a member of the Catholic Association of Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers (CADEIO), the Long Island Council of Churches, and the Long Island Multi-Faith Forum.  Father Kedjierski was a member of the board of trustees of the Inter-Faith Center of the Islamic Center of Long Island, in Westbury, NY, for three years.  He has participated in sessions of the USCCB’s dialogue with the Orthodox Union of Rabbis in New York and facilitated numerous ecumenical and inter-religious dialogues, the latest being a dialogue on non-violence this past fall with Indian Hindu scholar Swami Nikhileswarananda.

Fr. Kedjierski attended the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, graduating with a Master of Divinity in May of 2002. After his ordination to the priesthood on June 8, 2002, he served in parish ministry until June 2016. In May 2011 he earned an Ed.D. in Inter-faith and Ecumenical Education from the Graduate Theological Foundation in Mishawaka, Indiana, and in August 2016, he earned his Ph.D. in Dogmatic/Spiritual Theology from the Graduate Theological Foundation’s Foundation House at Oxford University Program.

Fr. Kedjierski has additionally published several articles on theological and ecumenical topics in journals such as Homiletic and Pastoral Review and the Princeton Theological Review.


Cooperative Baptist Clergy Sexual Misconduct Task Force releases new resources

In June 2016, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Baptist Women in Ministry formally launched a joint Clergy Sexual Misconduct Task Force. Members of the task force could not have imagined two years ago the degree to which conversations about sexual abuse would dominate our popular, political and even religious culture. The #MeToo Movement caught on like wildfire on social media and, sadly, #ChurchToo soon followed.

While sexual abuse is all too common in our society, the occurrence of clergy sexual misconduct is especially tragic. Ministers who harass and abuse break trust, and wounds from that broken trust often result in a crisis of faith. How a church responds to one who is violated has lasting impact. For too long, Baptists have found shelter in a congregational polity that limits denominational liability. CBF and BWIM are committed to doing better and to leading churches and organizations in our spheres to do better as well. The time for silence and denial is long-since over.

Today, the task force is proud to release two significant resources developed for use by churches, seminaries and partnering organizations. “Safe Churches and Ministers” is an educational video that introduces this tough topic and provides much-needed definitions, statistics and stories that are designed to help churches, students and leaders take seriously their responsibility in preventing abuse. The video is accompanied by a leader guide and discussion guide and is available in both English and Spanish.

Read full article HERE

Get resource HERE

Invitation to Pray for Korea

You asked Christians everywhere to join you in prayer for:
  • Permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula; the avoidance of military conflict; and the emergence of conditions on the Korean Peninsula that allow for flourishing relationships between each individual and 1) God; 2) others; 3) oneself; and 4) all of creation
  • just and peaceful resolution to current tensionsincluding wisdom for our political, diplomatic and military leaders as they work across differences toward a goal of peace, security and freedom; wisdom among leaders from North Korea, South Korea and China that will allow God’s people on the peninsula and in the US might live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness; and for God’s kingdom to come on the Korean peninsula and His will be done there as it is in heaven
  • Mercy from God over the Korean Peninsula
  • Blessing on the efforts of citizens who seek to bridge the vast differences between our countries, including American evangelicals who pursue this work;
  • The American church to demonstrate empathy toward the people of the Korean Peninsula, praying in a spirit of friendship, noting the image of God in every human being.
You already signed the call to prayer. Will you now urge your communities and networks to join together on Fridays at 12 pm, wherever you are, to pray for Peace on the Korean Peninsula? 
Resources: HERE
More info HERE

Glen Guyton called to serve as next Executive Director of Mennonite Church USA


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(Mennonite Church USA) – The MC USA Executive Board (EB) announced that Glen Guyton will serve as the new executive director of MC USA. He will begin a three-year term on May 1, 2018.

The Executive Director Search Committee recommended Guyton to the EB in a video conference call on February 6, 2018. Based on the search committee’s recommendation, the EB voted unanimously to hire Guyton to lead the church forward.

“We believe that Glen is called at this time and place to lead MC USA,” said Joy Sutter, chair of the search committee. “We are impressed by Glen’s love for the church, his vision and passion for the future, his commitment to anti-racism, his excellent skills in communication, his business acumen and the hope he holds for the future of the denomination. His gifts in administration and vision, and his broad respect throughout the church, will serve us well.”


Read more HERE

Circle of Protection Appeal to US Congress

(Christian Churches Together is one of the organizations/communions participating in the Circle of Protection.)

The appeal says in part:

We urge members of Congress to join us in maintaining a “circle of protection” around programs of assistance to people in poverty. We are bold enough to imagine news stories about Members of Congress from both parties joining together to support the urgent needs of low- income Americans and life-saving assistance to hungry and poor people around the world— because of the religious faith of those political leaders.

This fall, Congress is making decisions that have far reaching consequences for people living in poverty and working families struggling to make ends meet. We call on Congress to:

1. Protect funding for anti-poverty programs in appropriations and budget resolutions.

  1. Provide emergency assistance for those affected by natural disasters, giving priority to the needs of the low-income and vulnerable populations. Aid should not be funded by cutting ongoing programs that help low-income Americans around the country. We are especially concerned by the severity of the devastation in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  2. Approve a bipartisan appropriations agreement that ends or eases sequester spending caps. Military spending should not be increased at the expense of programs that serve people struggling with poverty, those who ought to be given priority in budget choices.
  3. Maintain assistance to low-income people at or above current levels in spending bills.
  4. Help to maintain the growing economy and job market by avoiding brinksmanship in approving appropriations and increasing the debt ceiling.
  5. Protect the health and well-being of millions of our fellow Americans—especially the weakest, the oldest, and children most at risk by not making deep cuts and harmful structural changes in Medicaid. We value decision-making that is close to the people, but we believe that turning Medicaid into a block grant or imposing per capita caps would reduce assistance to needy people over time. We ask our

leaders to consider options that do not require our poorest neighbors to bear most of the weight of budget and health care cuts.

f. Continue investing in life-saving international assistance to the world’s poorest people, both as an expression of our national values and in recognition of how this contributes to a more peaceful, prosperous, and secure world.

2. Protect and support low-income families in any tax legislation.

  1. We oppose cutting low-income programs to pay for tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthy.
  2. Tax reform must be undertaken in such a way as to strengthen and empower low- and moderate-income families and small businesses.

Read the full statement: Here

What You Can Do Right Now to Help Puerto Rico

By Sarah Withrow King and Rev. Carlos Malavé

The island of Puerto Rico is home to 3.4 million people, and they are suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Many of us want to help, but don’t know where to start. So, here are five things you can do, right now, to help Puerto Rico:

Five Things Christians Can Do Right Now to Help Puerto Rico

1. Pray. Pray for God to intercede in the lives and actions of those who can help or hurt relief efforts. Ask God to clear the way for relief supplies and services to get from port to inland areas. And pray for clean water, food, and electricity be delivered to those in need, right now. Pray so that the resolve and hope of those affected stay strong.

Continue reading at Evangelicals for Social Action website.

Click HERE

Statement on Charlottesville from Church of God General Director Jim Lyon

Paul Goodloe McIntire was an investment genius, whose savvy management of stock portfolios in both Chicago and New York empowered him to be one of his hometown’s preeminent philanthropists. Inspired by the City Beautiful movement dramatically brought to life at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, he dedicated himself to funding monumental public spaces, city parks and squares, most often featuring heroic sculpture. He was born in 1860 and polished his fortune in New York City before retiring in 1918; he then returned to the beloved city of his birth: Charlottesville, Virginia.McIntire was a son of the South. The Old South. His father was the mayor of Charlottesville during the Civil War and negotiated the city’s surrender to Union troops, saving its buildings and leafy neighborhoods from the firestorms that engulfed Fredericksburg and Richmond. As a young man, he attended.

McIntire was a son of the South. The Old South. His father was the mayor of Charlottesville during the Civil War and negotiated the city’s surrender to Union troops, saving its buildings and leafy neighborhoods from the firestorms that engulfed Fredericksburg and Richmond. As a young man, he attended Charlottesville’s famed University of Virginia, studying under Thomas Jefferson’s elegant Rotunda. He would become one of the University’s most extravagant donors, endowing chairs and schools that still bear his name.

And, McIntire gave Charlottesville a statue of Robert E. Lee, straddling the horse Traveler, commanding Lee Park in the heart of the city-the park itself a gift from this wealthy favorite son, who required that access to the park be for “whites only.” He also gave the city Washington Park, named to honor Booker T. Washington, asking that it be reserved for “colored children.” No statues there.

In the week following the unveiling of Lee’s statue in 1924 (at a ceremony in which the Confederate general was proclaimed, “the greatest man who ever lived”), the Ku Klux Klan burned crosses across the town and set bombs around a Charlottesville church popular with the African-American community. Events in Charlottesville mirrored the tenor of the times, as the Klan was in its ascendancy. During the 1920s, up to 25,000 Klansmen, in full regalia-white hoods and all the rest-annually marched proudly down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., in a show of force not lost on the minority communities they sought to both marginalize and terrorize.

There were more black Americans living (and enslaved) in Charlottesville and the surrounding Albemarle County, Virginia, before and during the Civil War than there were white Americans. When Lee’s statue took the stage in the 1920s, about 35 percent of the city’s population had descended from those slaves. Memorializing the vanguard of the Confederacy and celebrated by the Klan, Lee Park and its statue received mixed reviews, then and now. People of color in Charlottesville during the McIntire years, and for years, after had no voice in municipal government, having been systemically denied effective representation by Jim Crow-era laws and processes designed to move them to the sidelines. African American slaves built iconic local landmarks (like Jefferson’s Monticello and much of the University of Virginia campus) but were not represented as contributors in any public space, while those who owned people as property were raised up as heroes decades after losing the War.

In May 2016, after some years of community debate, the city of Charlottesville established a “Blue Ribbon Commission” to explore the future of the Lee statue (and another one similar, also a 1920s McIntire gift, of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, proudly on a pedestal elsewhere in town). The Commission managed many months of public conversation and research-often contentious and dubbed “a moment of rupture” by one Commission member-and released its findings in December 2016. The City Council voted in March 2017 to remove and “reinterpret” the Lee monument; this decision was challenged in court; the case remains unresolved, before the bench. This controversy and the Charlottesville story became a cause for the erstwhile guardians of white supremacy, nationwide.

In May 2017, white nationalist (and University of Virginia graduate) Richard Spencer and about a hundred others joined in an after-dark protest of the city’s plans, chanting “Russia is our friend,” “blood and soil” (a Nazi refrain), and “we will not be replaced” (white supremacist-speak declaring that ethnic diversity will render white Americans an “endangered” minority in “their own” country).

In August 2017, Spencer and others aligned with his tribe marched once more through town at night, torch-bearing, chanting the same, only this time hundreds strong. Defiant. Angry. And, armed. The newsreel captures of preppy and black-shirted white dudes snaking with torches through otherwise silent streets, loudly voicing toxic phrases like, “Jews will not replace us,” are a chilling reprise of a world my father (and so many millions more like him) suited up to erase more than seventy years ago.

On the next day, Nazi and Confederate battle flags marched in tandem, ultimately destined for a face-off with protesters adamantly opposed to the racism and white supremacy both have been used to promote in two different centuries-and now a third. The violence, injury, and death that ensued has been the stuff of a thousand headlines and a stable of talking heads on TV in the days since, not to mention government officials, religious leaders, corporate execs, and so many more.

I share all this history to better understand the stage upon which these events have walked. The Civil War frame, the scourge of slavery, the context of the statue, a city’s honest attempt to process how it should today tell its own story with public spaces and art, and the specter of racism which haunts the whole, all encompass the proscenium. Watching the drama unfold, it is time to speak up.

My Terms of Employment at Church of God Ministries specifically prohibit me from making statements that are political in tone or that carry politically-charged content. This parameter is rooted deeply in our Movement’s DNA, historically apolitical and also fearful that any one voice be seen as speaking for church (in the way denominational hierarchies are prone to embrace). Consequently, Church of God Ministries during my tenure (and long before) has not issued statements in response to man-made headlines. However, in this instance, given the temperature of the controversies and requests from the field-and after consultation with our General Assembly chair Diana Swoope, and the Assembly’s chair-elect, Tim Clarke-I am releasing this reply. I own the content, drawing from the General Assembly’s actions and voice on behalf of the church, over time.

The Church of God must provide no quarter to racism of any kind and has consistently rebuked white supremacy. Its General Assembly has many times (beginning in 1956) unambiguously opposed racism, racial segregation, political and social barriers to racial harmony and reconciliation, and racial discrimination of all kinds.

“We base our stand toward basic human rights on the teaching of the Scriptures. God has ‘made of one blood all nations of men’ (Acts 17:26). ‘For we are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ…for we are all one in Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 3:26, 28). The first of these speaks as to origin, the second as to relationship. We believe that in the Church of God there should be no racial barriers because we are all brethren in Christ. We believe that man was made in the image of God, that every person is of intrinsic worth before God, and that every individual has a right to the fullest possible opportunities for the development of life abundant and eternal. We believe that these rights are given by God and that the church has a responsibility to defend them and work for their guarantee.” (General Assembly Statement on Race, June 1964)

The Church of God has also consistently acknowledged the intentionality required to overcome hell’s default temptation to divide on racial lines. Responding to racially charged injustice in 2015, the General Assembly overwhelmingly endorsed this text:

“We resolve to express our compassion and concern (in the face of racism and racial injustice) in the following six ways:

Leadership-we call on pastors and leaders to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit to live out a countercultural lifestyle that works to expose and repent of the sin of racial division and acknowledges the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Prayer-we pray for healing, repentance, unity and peace, and we plead for God’s mercy on our nation and on those who are compliant with the racial violence and racial disparities being manifested in the church and in the systems of this world;

Lament-we mourn in solidarity and sympathy with the people of (Charleston’s) Emanuel AME Church and the families, congregations and communities affected by the traumatic impact of these incidents, and we confess our past and present failure to walk faithfully and consistently in the light of our belief in a God who has no respect of persons;

Forgiveness-we affirm radical forgiveness of the persons whose motivation for doing harm to others is racial hatred and discrimination, acknowledging what Jesus taught and showed us by His death on the cross, that love is stronger than hate;

Justice-we acknowledge that ministers in our own General Assembly and fellow congregants have been victims of racial profiling, we stand for justice to be administered on their behalf in a fair and impartial manner, we urgently call for justice in all cases of racially-motivated violence, and we support those agencies and officials who enforce the law and administer justice equitably to ensure the safety and security of all of our citizens, congregations and communities;

Vision of reconciliation-we commit ourselves as people of Christian faith to envision, strategize and work toward the realization of a reconciled church, nation and world.” (General Assembly Resolution on Race, June 2015)

In a world of soundbites and 140-character Twitter posts, it is easy to overlook the seminal contexts and histories of “moments of rupture.” It is easy to drive by a story without pausing to explore the stage-framing events. We must all be committed to studying, listening, and thoughtfully responding in a world so desperately broken, divided, and tense. Charlottesville has become a kind of emblem, a marker for our time. It has already become a shorthand for controversy, media debate, tragedy, and the resurgence of ideas many thought vanquished years ago.

But, whatever the lens, we stand united in our defiance of racism and our vociferous opposition to all ideologies and conduct clothed by white supremacy. As followers of Jesus, transformed by His Holy Spirit, we will be neither separated or tiered by race, ethnicity, national origin, culture, gender, or economic station. We are loved equally by Him-and we must love others the same.

Charlottesville’s long journey to the present hour, wrestling with a complex history that has not always honored all who call it home, has become a flashlight shining into every corner of the country. From Jefferson’s plantation to Lee’s defense of slavery to McIntire’s vision of segregated public spaces crowned by Confederate statues to Klan autographs on twentieth century history to today’s reality, let us “come to a thorough awareness that there is a disparity between our vision for reconciliation and the actual experience of many of our brothers and sisters; And, let us learn to listen to the stories our brothers and sisters share, express in word and deed our feelings of empathy, and commit to walk together as we boldly stand against every form of racism.” (General Assembly of the Church of God, June 2015)

Be bold. Reclaim what hell has stolen. Jesus is the subject. The Way. The Truth. And, the Life.

I am, humbly, your brother in Christ.

Jim Lyon signature
Jim Lyon
General Director

ECC President Walter Announces 2018 Retirement

CHICAGO, IL (August 1, 2017) – Evangelical Covenant Church president Rev. Gary Walter today announced his intention to retire in 2018 following one more year of service. Walter was elected president in 2008 and upon his retirement will have served with the ECC in various capacities for 42 years.

“My core identity is that of a Covenant pastor,” Walter says. “Every position, including this one, has been a distinct and humbling opportunity. My hope for all of these years has simply been to be found faithful as a disciple and servant of Jesus.”

During his tenure, the Covenant has continued to be a growing, multiethnic, multi-generational fellowship of churches. Walter led a significant restructuring of the Covenant, streamlining the denominational offices into a more cost-effective and collaborative structure while helping form one of the most ethnically diverse leadership teams of any denomination in the United States today. Each of the Covenant’s mission priorities and support ministries has made notable accomplishments, garnering recognition for innovative efforts in missions, discipleship, multiethnic ministry, church planting, among others.

“Having served for almost three decades with Gary, I am well aware of how God has used him in many different roles of leadership within the church,” says Steve Dawson, president of National Covenant Properties. “Gary’s wisdom, vision, and work ethic have blessed many along the way—myself included. We all wish him well in this next season.”

“Gary has done so much to take the Covenant deeper in Christ and further in mission,” adds Michelle Sanchez, executive minister of Make and Deepen Disciples. “I am grateful that he is leaving us with such an outstanding legacy to build upon.”

According to Kansas-based attorney and Executive Board member Jeffrey Houston, Walter’s unique combination of gifts made him a transformational leader for the ECC. “He is a bit of a unicorn: the CEO with a pastor’s heart, or a strategic pastor with an executive’s instincts—whichever way you look at it, he was the leader for such a time as this.”

In his letter to Covenant Executive Board chair Alice Lee, Walter said, “I give this advance notice so that the processes and provisions of the ECC Constitution and By-laws can be implemented in a timely way for the election of the next president at the 2018 Covenant Annual Meeting.”

The Presidential Nominating Committee (PNC) typically begins its work in the fall of the year of an election. According to the Covenant Constitution and By-laws, it is charged with nominating one candidate to the Annual Meeting. Additional candidates may be nominated from the floor.

The PNC will be comprised of 27 members, including 12 from the Covenant Executive Bard, each chair of the 11 regional conference executive boards, and one member from each of the four additional boards elected by the Covenant Annual Meeting (North Park University, Covenant Ministries of Benevolence, Ordered Ministry, and Pension/Benefits).

In his letter, Walter concluded, “I am confident God will raise up gifted and godly leadership for a faithful and fruitful future for the Covenant. I will do whatever is helpful for a smooth transition as that time approaches.” His official retirement date will be September 1, 2018.

President Walter’s letter of notice can be found here.

Rev. Teresa Hord Owens elected as Disciples President

General Assembly elects Teresa Hord Owens as first African-American woman to head mainline denomination

INDIANAPOLIS – Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens was elected Sunday night to serve as the General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. She is the first African-American to hold this post and the second woman to lead the denomination.

Hord Owens comes to the position in a time of renewed emphasis on the issues of race, particularly in the United States. Her election comes on the 50th anniversary of the Merger Agreement uniting the African-American and largely white branches of the American-born denomination. She is currently pastor of a predominately white congregation in the Chicago area.

“We need to stop demonizing differences as deficiencies,” Hord Owens says. “We should seek to understand, to work through our differences in priorities, opinions, methods, and goals. This will not be easy, but imagine what an example this will be for the world if we can bridge the gaps in politics, identity, geography and theology.”

Hord Owens’ resume includes more than 20 years in corporate America leading diverse teams in data management before she entered seminary. For the last 15 years, she has been the dean of students at the University of Chicago Divinity School, shepherding a varied student body in both background and theology.

The election of Hord Owens follows the 12-year tenure of the Rev. Sharon E. Watkins, who was the first female to lead a mainline denomination in the United States upon her election in 2005. Hord Owens’ term is six years with an option for re-election in 2023 for an additional six-year term.

Read full article HERE

CCT Pastoral Letter to the Persecuted Church

Follow link: CCT Pastoral Letter Persecuted Church