North Carolina Council of Churches releases annual report



NORTH CAROLINA COUNCIL OF CHURCHES With 18 denominations representing over 6,200 congregations in N.C., the Council provides incarnational evidence of Christian Unity. By creating unity without expecting uniformity, member bodies collaborate on matters that contribute to the flourishing of God’s creation. We are grateful to the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Eastern North Carolina for their support and for the leadership on our Governing Board provided by the Rev. Hanna Broome of AME Zion Church, Fayetteville, NC. We invite individual congregations to unite more closely with the work of the Council by becoming Covenant Partners. For more information about this opportunity, please contact info@ncchurches.org. Currently our priority areas include:

● Reparations to Restoration: A Call to Action. Grounded in the Christian principle of confession, repentance, and reconciliation, we hope to recast the reparations conversation through the lens of Christian restoration. By focusing on restoration, we leave behind the language of debtors and creditors, victims and perpetrators, givers and takers. We move to a place of restoration by acknowledging the reconciling work that begins with God. Representatives from 10 of the Council’s member denominations, including The UMC, are compiling an 8-session resource to help dismantle oppressive systems. Like the Old Testament prophets, we offer this truth as a lament that calls all of us to admit the truth--confess--and turn away from this behavior—repent—leading to the Christian call to restore that which has been lost by those harmed by these systems. For more information, contact info@ncchurches.org.

● Our NC Interfaith Power & Light (NCIPL) work has expanded to become the Eco-Justice Connection (EJC). This larger program scope is a multi-faith approach focused on environmental and climate justice by building and supporting local community resilience. The work of NCIPL will continue to focus on energy democracy and climate policy. Our purpose is to educate, inspire, and mobilize people of faith and conscience in this state to act on climate change as a moral imperative. For more information, contact susannah@ncipl.org.

● Partners in Health and Wholeness (PHW) bridges issues of faith, health, and justice. The work focuses on four critical areas: the overdose crisis, healthy aging, HIV, and mental health, while continuing to support the tenets of basic health through a focus on nutrition, physical activity, and tobacco use/vaping cessation. We use educational events, state and local resource connections, and mini-grants to support the health initiatives of faith communities across the state. To assist with Covid-19 vaccinations, we facilitate partnerships between the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and faith communities with an emphasis on rural and marginalized areas to aid in the equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines. In the spring of 2022, PHW began offering grants to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) centered faith communities to address mental health needs made worse by the pandemic. For more information, contact phwinfo@ncchurches.org.

● The Opioid Crisis, the Faith Community Responds educates faith leaders about compassionate responses to the growing overdose crisis and offers ways for congregations to become involved by connecting them to resources in their communities, such as a harm reductionist. If you would like to host an event or learn more about this project, contact elizabeth@ncchurches.org.

● Capital Punishment Abolishment. Working with the N.C. Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, we provide resources for congregations and individuals across the state to amplify the voices of people of faith who are speaking out against capital punishment. While there have been no executions in N.C. since 2006, several district attorneys continue to pursue the death penalty and 133 people remain on N.C.’s death row. We are committed to joining the 23 states that have abolished this racist and sinful practice. Over the course of this year, the Governing Board approved the following policy statements. We craft these statements in keeping with our interpretation of the prophetic witness of the Old Testament and the gospel message of the New Testament. The full text for each statement is available on our website (www.ncchurches.com), in addition to statements from previous years.

● Statement on Removing Confederate Symbols Where Justice Is Sought (January 26, 2021)

● Statement on George Floyd Murder Trial Verdict (April 21, 2021)

● Statement Condemning Violence Against our Jewish Neighbors (January 24, 2022)

Currently, other areas of emphasis include living wage promotion, criminal justice reform, confederate monument removal from courthouse lawns, gun violence prevention, Medicaid expansion, and redistricting reform. Resources are available online and our staff is available to help your congregation address any of the myriad concerns that arise in our contemporary setting. If you have any questions or are interested in more information, please contact us at info@ncchurches.org, or call our office at 919-828-6501.

Denominational members of the Council include Alliance of Baptists · African Methodist Episcopal Church · African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church · Christian Methodist Episcopal · Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) · Episcopal Church · Evangelical Lutheran Church in America · General Baptist State Convention · Metropolitan Community Churches · Mennonite Church USA · Moravian Church in America · Presbyterian Church (USA) · Reformed Church in America · Reformed Churches of God in Christ, International · Religious Society of Friends · United Church of Christ · Unity Fellowship Church Movement · United Methodist Church. Jennifer E. Copeland, Executive Director www.ncchurches.org