Cooperative Batist Fellowship launches McCall Racial Justice, Leadership Initiative

Louisville, Ky. — Creating ways for God’s imperfect church to move toward unity between racially diverse communities is the focus of a new initiative named to honor the Rev. Dr. Emmanuel McCall, a trailblazer who has spent much of his life working for racial justice – as a student, denominational leader, pastor, author and scholar.

McCall is currently pastor of the First Baptist Church of East Point, Ga. From 1970-1996, he served as a visiting faculty member at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. During this time, he developed the Black Church Studies program that was used by three Southern Baptist seminaries. He was an adjunct professor at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology from 1996 to 2016.

To stave off racial tensions during the 1960s, Dr. McCall was part of a pioneering team of African-American and Anglo pastors who intentionally met regularly in Louisville to read, study and pray together. Because of the forward thinking and action of these clergy, the rise of racial conflict was limited in their community.

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship launched the Dr. Emmanuel McCall Racial Justice and Leadership Initiative on Feb. 12 at a press event on the campus of Simmons College of Kentucky, a historically black college in Louisville.

During the launch event, McCall looked back to this collaboration he and former Crescent Hill Baptist pastor John Claypool began in the 1960s around racial justice.

Across racial lines, in the 1960s,  “we formed an Interracial Baptist Pastors Conference, and we tackled the racial problem in Louisville. We didn’t want to see happen in Louisville what was happening around the South. …  This conference of more than 800 of us were able to move through those years of the 60s. … Everything that spoke of racism we tackled and the Lord allowed us to be successful.”

McCall joined CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter and leaders of two African-American denominations, as well as the Rev. Dr. Kevin Cosby, pastor of St. Stephen Church and president of Simmons College of Kentucky, to build on an existing partnership among the organizations and to launch this innovative initiative.

On hand for the launch event were Dr. David Cassady, president of the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky; the Rev. Dr. Sam Tolbert, President of National Baptist Convention of America International, Inc.; and the Rev. Dr. James C. Perkins, President of the Progressive National Baptist Convention.

CBF Executive Coordinator Suzii Paynter is pleased McCall is working with CBF in such a vital endeavor.

“Dr. McCall has spent a lifetime inspiring action out of his own commitment to racial reconciliation,” Paynter said. “I’m excited to have such a great leader in Dr. McCall work alongside CBF to create opportunities for courageous African American men and women to lead.”

The McCall Initiative encourages churches and individuals to contribute financially to CBF’s racial justice and leadership work and to participate in creating church-to-church “Covenant of Action” agreements through the New Baptist Covenant, identifying ways to use CBF’s Advocacy Toolkit to empower churches to further racial justice efforts, forming racial justice Peer Learning Groups and developing a church renewal experience around racial justice.

To give to the McCall Initiative, visit

Chruches’ Responses to Parklands Shooting

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Churches’ Responses to Parklands Shooting

IPHC Historic Merger in Chile

Sunday night, Feb. 4, was a historic evening in Santiago, Chile, with the official merger of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC) and the First Methodist Pentecostal Church of Chile, along with the mother church, the Evangelical Cathedral (Jotabeche Church). With several hundred thousand members primarily in Chile, the IPHC global membership for the first time is more than 2 million members. The Jotabeche church, one of the largest in the world with an estimated one hundred thousand members, is now the largest IPHC congregation in the world. This Chilean denomination and congregation are the foundation of Pentecostalism in Chile that began in 1909.

Following 51 years of affiliation which began in 1967, the two denominations have experienced excellent relationships that have mutually enhanced their ministries. The 1967 agreement was led by Bishop J.A. Synan, Dr. Vinson Synan, and Dr. R.O. Corvin from the United States, and Bishop Vasquez from Chile.


Read more HERE

Archimandrite Symeonides Elected Metropolitan of Chicago



NEW YORK – The Holy and Sacred Synod of Ecumenical Patriarchate elected unanimously today the Very Reverend Archimandrite Nathanael Symeonides as Metropolitan of Chicago.

Immediately following the election, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America stated:

“I express my wholehearted congratulations on the election of Very Reverend Archimandrite Nathanael Symeonides as Metropolitan of Chicago, wishing the abundant blessing of God on the sacred ministry the Church has entrusted him with. The newly-elected Metropolitan has served as Deacon, Priest and Director of the Department of Inter-Orthodox, Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations for a number of years, and I am certain that he shall apply his experience and the gifts God endowed him with for a fruitful ministry in the service of the devout Greek Orthodox flock of the Holy Metropolis of Chicago.”

Action Alert Migration Campaign/Share the Journey

In the coming week, Congress is expected to finalize our national budget. We have an urgent request on behalf of families around the world struggling to overcome poverty and those who are forced to migrate.

Pope Francis calls on you to “reach out, open your arms to immigrants and refugees and share their journey.”

Please heed the Holy Father’s call and ask your members of Congress to support migrant families here in the United States and around the world.

Why now? More than at any time in our history, our brothers and sisters are leaving their homes and everything they know. They are in search of safety, stability and a better future for themselves and their families.

As we prepare ourselves for the season of Advent, let us come together to care for those so desperately in need of assistance.

Take this opportunity to walk with your neighbor in their journey and speak up for those seeking to be welcomed.

If you care about the poor let your legislators know

Christian leaders from all the families of U.S. Christianity are concerned that the tax bill being considered in Congress will cause harm to people in poverty. Below are statements from leaders of the Circle of Protection. The statements follow a letter the Circle of Protection sent to members of Congress recently. It reads in part: As Christian leaders, the concern is always about how legislation impacts the poor and most vulnerable. We will continue to pray, mobilize, and advocate on behalf of our neighbors in poverty.

We encourage you to contact you US Representative and Senators. It is critical that they hear your concerns during November 27-30.The senate will take a vote by the end of next week.

What Christian Leaders are Saying About the Tax Bill

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: “Because tax policy is far-reaching, Congress must provide ample time for Americans to discuss the complexities of these reforms and fully understand their effects. The current timetable does not provide adequate time for that discussion. In many ways, this legislation is unacceptable in its present form and requires amendment. It must be changed for the sake of families—the bedrock of our country—and for those struggling on the peripheries of society who have a claim on our national conscience.”

National Council of Churches: “The tax bills currently before the US Congress are designed to make the rich richer and the poor poorer; and add $1.5 trillion to the national debt. These tax plans cannot be biblically defended. The National Council of Churches reminds us that our lawmakers have a responsibility to care for the entire citizenry, not just those with the means to influence tax policy.”

Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals: “Doing taxes right is really good. Let’s encourage Congress to take the time to get tax reform right–helping the poor and reducing the debt are high biblical priorities. And, providing an above-the-line charitable deduction to all taxpayers will go a long way to keeping America charitable.”

Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, Co-Chair, National African American Clergy Network: “The National African American Clergy Network is deeply concerned that historic Republican commitments to reducing deficits are being abandoned in adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt by taking life-sustaining programs from poor and working Americans. We suggest that Congress take the time to shape a bi-partisan tax reform measure that grows the economy by providing education and training for lower skilled and non-skilled workers, thus stabilizing families and communities economically.”

Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners: “The tax code is a moral document, a social contract on how we are going to do our part in sharing our resources with our communities, our neighbors, and those most in need. We are told by Jesus that we will be judged not by our profit margins, our corporate tax rates, or our repeal of healthcare, but how we treat the poor, the sick, and the most vulnerable in society. The tax bill currently under consideration in the Senate fails that moral test on all accounts.”

David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World: “The spirit of the season is sharing. But tax cuts for high-income people that are funded with deficit spending will almost certainly lead to deep cuts in Medicaid, SNAP, and other programs that help people living in poverty. The same budget resolution that permits $1.5 trillion in deficit spending for tax cuts outlines more than $2 trillion in cuts to low-income programs.”

John Ashmen, President, Association of Gospel Rescue Missions: “By and large, the 300 member organizations in the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions are pleased that the House’s tax reform bill and the Senate Finance Committee’s proposal provide financial relief for many working Americans and the incentive for new business opportunities. At the same time, we are concerned that outlined cuts to programs like Medicaid and SNAP would cause many of our most vulnerable citizens to join the hundreds of thousands already seeking life-sustaining services at faith-based ministries like rescue missions. Of equal concern is the likelihood that the proposed tax simplification plans—without something like a universal charitable contribution amendment in the final bill—will disincentive giving to nonprofits. The possibility of more people in need and fewer contributions to charities that are making a real difference could bring about a crisis for which the government is not prepared.”

Rev. Noel Castellanos, President, Christian Community Development Association: “Christian Community Development Association is an organization of over a thousand ministries across the nation focused on mobilizing residents in under-served neighborhoods to overcome poverty and to restore healthy and vibrant neighborhoods. We are concerned that the tax bill, currently being considered in the Senate, will devastate not only many individuals, but families, and entire communities.”

Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate, Episcopal Church: “The Episcopal Church supports efforts to reform our tax system and to ensure the ability of the government to pay its bills and deliver the programs and charitable services the people of this nation rely on. The current proposals, developed though partisan backroom negotiations, will result in reduced funding for critical public goods, increased deficits, and leave behind many of the most vulnerable Americans. We encourage Congress to develop bipartisan reforms that will ensure we can fully fund programs that provide for the sick, the hungry, the homeless, and needy as the Gospels command.”

Rev. Carlos L. Malavé, Executive Director, Christian Churches Together: “The moral and ethical principles that have guided our country always impelled us to contribute and to sacrifice for the common good. A country where the vast majority claim to be Christian must heed the words of scripture: ‘There are always going to be poor and needy people among you. So I command you: Always be generous, open purse and hands, give to your neighbors in trouble, your poor and hurting neighbors.’ (Deut. 15:11) A tax reform that falls short of lifting up the poor in the land is an affront against our Creator. God has blessed our country with wealth beyond measure. We call on the U.S. Congress to enact a tax reform that prioritizes and lifts up the poor in our country.”

Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, President and CEO, Catholic Charities USA: “While we recognize the efforts to simplify the tax code and grow the economy, the proposed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduces or eliminates tax programs that are vital to low-income individuals and families and are critical to fostering family economic and opportunity. CCUSA urges Congress to take this opportunity to make meaningful investments so that families are supported, programs helping individuals who are poor or vulnerable are funded, and our nation’s faith-based and nonprofit organizations are assisted in their response to community needs.” (Letter to Congress, November 7, 2017)

Diane Randall, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation: “The massive tax cuts to the wealthy and large corporations in the current tax reform bill before Congress would increase the deficit by a whopping $1.5 trillion. This giveaway will imperil the long-term fiscal health of our country and undermine future funding for critical programs. This tax reform proposal is being rushed through Congress without full scrutiny by congressional offices or the people of our country whose welfare is directly affected. The people of the United States— low and middle-income households—are looking for opportunity. Sadly, this bill will do more to hurt those families than to help them. When fully implemented, the Senate bill raises taxes on households making less than $75,000, increasing the tax burden for those with incomes between $20,000 and $30,000 by a staggering 25 percent. This bill does not serve those who government should help first. Making the rich get richer at the expense of families struggling just to get by weakens our society and harms people who want government to work for everyone.”

Prayer for US Legislators

Bread for the World, prayer focus continues to be on the budget. The Senate budget resolution could make deep cuts to various safety-net programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Women, Children, and Infants (WIC), and international development. These cuts will impact children, the elderly, women, and men in our nation and around the world who struggle with hunger and poverty.

Please join us in this prayer:

Dear God, almighty.

You have blessed humankind with abundance on earth and despite our imperfect humanity, you have charged us with the stewardship of your creation for the common good, so no one suffers need.

Witnessing the impact that natural and man-made disasters have had on poor and hungry people all around the world breaks our hearts, and I pray that through the empowerment of your Holy Spirit we can share a message of good news, and hope.

Help us do the good that you called us to do in loving our neighbor and pursuing justice amid inequality and lack of opportunity for those who are struggling with hunger and poverty.

We pray that you open the eyes and hearts of our leaders, so they may set aside partisanship and distractions to reject any cuts to the safety net and international development programs that have moved millions out of hunger and poverty.

We pray that our lawmakers draft a faithful budget that provides food, jobs, education, health, proper housing, and opportunity for the most vulnerable.

We pray that our nation rises to the challenge to be a beacon of justice providing leadership nationally and globally by dedicating all of our available resources to ending hunger in your world.

These things we pray in Christ’s name, Amen.

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Coptic Orthodox Bishops call to pray for martyrs…

Coptic Orthodox bishops call upon all of our churches to dedicate Sunday, October 22, 2017, to pray for all of our martyrs, confessors, their families, and for the peace of the Church and the peace of the Church and the entire world.

Read statement HERE

New Disciples of Christ Ecumenical Publication

The CCU has published prominent ecumenical journals such as Midstream and Call to Unity for more than fifty-five years. As the CCU renews its commitment to publishing an ecumenical and interfaith journal, the Council renamed its journal as Sunesis: Disciples Ecumenical and Interfaith Journal. Dr. M. Eugene Boring said, “I think Σύνεσις would be an excellent choice for the name of the new journal. Among the fairly narrow range of meanings, ‘Insight’ would be appropriate for the journal (Eph. 3:4).”

We pray that Sunesis will provide you with new insights regarding not only ecumenism but also our interfaith neighbors. There is joy when we acquire new insights about others, and many times that joy leads us to pursue friendship. We hope that through these friendships and relationships with other ecumenical partners and interfaith friends, we will achieve a better understanding of others, as the word Sunesis implies. Then we will be able to live peacefully together as God’s children and work together to bring peace to this fragmented world.

You can download the journal Sunesis HERE

Working for Unity in Guatemala

By Nate Bacon

Padre Fernando is standing to the right of Nate Bacon. To the other side is a young Evangelical pastor, Nehemias, connected to us through CTM, Jose from InnerChange Honduras is at the far right.  Next to Jose is Ana Beatriz, and at the far left is Fray Jorge, Ana Beatriz and Fray Jorge are also missionaries working closely with Jose and Celida in Honduras.  This photo is outside Archbishop Oscar Romero’s tomb in San Salvador, the day before his beatification.

I’m writing from a bus on the four-hour mountainous trip to Guatemala City, from Xela.  At the kind request of our friend Fr. Fernando Ruiz, who pastors one of the largest Catholic parishes in Antigua, Guatemala, tomorrow morning I will have the opportunity to speak in Guatemala City to 35 students from different Catholic orders and religious communities, most of them preparing for the priesthood.  The exciting thing is that the topic is Christian Unity, which, as we have shared, is sadly not a very popular topic here.

Please pray that God will grant me wisdom and grace to plant significant seeds in hearts and minds that might flower in their lives and future ministries!  I am very excited to have this opportunity.What makes this even more interesting is that our friends at Center for Transforming Mission (CTM) and several of us from InnerChange have been growing in friendship with Fr Fernando over the past few years.  His first ever speaking venture to an Evangelical audience was at a summit put on by our friends at CTM 3 years ago…which was also the first time CTM had ever invited a Roman Catholic priest to speak!  He did a fantastic exegesis on the Road to Emmaus story from Luke 24.  So perhaps it’s no surprise that Joel Aguilar from CTM just spoke to this same class just two weeks ago!

What makes this even more interesting is that our friends at Center for Transforming Mission (CTM) and several of us from InnerChange have been growing in friendship with Fr Fernando over the past few years.  His first ever speaking venture to an Evangelical audience was at a summit put on by our friends at CTM 3 years ago…which was also the first time CTM had ever invited a Roman Catholic priest to speak!  He did a fantastic exegesis on the Road to Emmaus story from Luke 24.  So perhaps it’s no surprise that Joel Aguilar from CTM just spoke to this same class just two weeks ago!

I add these details because I believe they reveal the long-term fruit of your prayers as God continually surprises us with key friendships that produce ever unfolding blessings over time for the sake of God’s Kingdom in Guatemala and Central America.  We are deeply grateful. Thank you…