At its November 2017 meeting, the governing board of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) enthusiastically endorsed a sweeping initiative to end racism. This process, beginning with a massive rally on the National Mall in Washington, DC on April 4, 2018, will unfold over several years and will be the most visible and impactful work of the NCC in its recent history.
Even as this work has been the goal of countless marches, rallies, and studies, this new effort by the NCC recognizes the urgency in this moment. The NCC now links arms with its vast alliance across the United States and territories in an initiative designed to discover and declare the complicity of the mainline church in perpetuating racism.
The first most visible part of this effort will be a major event to take place on the National Mall on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., April 4, 2018. Connecting with events in Memphis and in other cities across the nation, the NCC will gather hundreds of thousands of people to remember the past and to launch a comprehensive effort, not unlike those that have unfolded in other parts of the world.
The NCC’s 38-member communions, a broad coalition of historically African American, Mainline Protestant, historic Peace Churches, and Orthodox Churches, will all be actively engaged in this project. “This is a new day in the life of the Council, and we pray it is the beginning of a new day for all Americans,” said Bishop W. Darin Moore, Chair of the NCC Governing Board. “The governing board has been wrestling with this call from God for a long time. We all know the road will be long and difficult, but we believe the time is right. God is about to do a new thing,” he added.
“It breaks my heart to be fighting the same battles today that I began fighting 40 years ago,” said Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, director of the Social Action Commission of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and co-chair of the NCC’s Truth and Racial Justice Task Force. “Christians are people who believe in miracles, and I for one believe that together, we can finally end racism. With God’s help this can be accomplished,” she stated.
Bishop Staccato Powell of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church noted, “It takes faith and courage to do what lies ahead. But as God parted the waters before Moses even as the armies of Pharaoh gave chase, we already see signs that freedom lies ahead. God is with us in this holy effort.”
Task Force Co-Chair John Dorhauer, general minister and president of the United Church of Christ (UCC) said today, “After months of hard work and soul-searching, we are so excited to see the whole Council embrace this ambitious work. There is a lot of hard work ahead, but we believe God is with us. Ending white privilege and white supremacy has been a lifelong work of mine, and one only needs to see in the daily headlines why it’s so vital to do it.”
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been deeply committed to racial justice since its earliest years. The NCC supported the work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther Luther King, Jr.; participated in the march in Selma, Alabama; and has continued this struggle for racial justice throughout its history. Today’s endorsement of the Truth and Racial Justice Project by the NCC’s governing board launches its most ambitious effort to speak the truth about its past.