News briefs
March 2003

National Council airs anti-war TV ad

A series of ads questioning the need for war with Iraq began airing last month on CNN and Fox News. Sponsored by the National Council of Churches, the 30-second spots say there is no need for an attack on Iraq and the United States has no authority to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

One ad features retired United Methodist Bishop Melvin Talbert, a former NCC president, who took part in a recent trip to Iraq, meeting with religious leaders and visiting hospitals.

"I don't see that small nation as being the kind of threat to our nation that the media portrays," he says in the ad. "War will result in the suffering of masses of children, among others. And what will happen to the rest of the Arab world? Waging war will remove the influence of the more moderate element and put the future in the hands of the more radical elements."

Groups seek to improve health care for Iraqi children

An "All My Children" campaign has been launched by Church World Service and Stop Hunger Now to establish a $1 million fund to improve health care for Iraqi children. It will raise money for antibiotics, anesthesia and intravenous solution kits and help to provide clean drinking water. CWS, the relief arm of the National Council of Churches, has participated in humanitarian work in Iraq since 1991, providing more than $3 million in blankets, food, medical supplies, school kits and health kits.

To learn more, go to  www.churchworldservice.org and  www.stophungernow.org.

UCC members 'take action' through new website

After an initial high month of curiosity users in late September and October, the number of steady users of the UCC's new Take Action website  www.uccTakeAction.org has continued to climb each month. In January alone, it generated 561 UCC-identified letters to President Bush and Congress about stopping a war with Iraq.

Here are the actual numbers of letters sent to Congress and the President: September/October (debut period), 1,868; November, 809; December, 915; January, 1,701. These numbers do not reflect letters sent to editors of community newspapers. The actual numbers of users are somewhat less: September/October (debut period), 1,144; November, 475 (381 had visited in prior month and returned again); December, 542 (431 had visited in prior months and returned again); January, 1,059 (879 had visited in prior months and returned again).

In February, new colorful posters and bulletin inserts promoting  www.uccTakeAction.org were mailed to each congregation. The user-friendly format permits persons to send already- composed letters on many different issues in an instant.

'Day 1' honored

"Day 1," the longest-running ecumenical radio program in the United States, has been named winner of the 2002 Award of Excellence for Inspirational Radio Programs by The Communicator Awards program, an international group of communications professionals. "Day 1" received recognition for its "quality, creativity and resourcefulness" in its annual international competition honoring audio productions, radio commercials, programs, news and promotions.

The half-hour radio program, formerly "The Protestant Hour," is heard weekly across North America on more than 150 radio stations, on the American Forces Radio Network around the world, and online via streaming audio  www.day1.net. "Day 1" is produced in association with the UCC, Episcopal Media Center, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the United Methodist Church.

A television version also airs Sunday mornings on the Hallmark Channel's "America at Worship" series.

New church alliance in the making

(ENI)—Christian leaders working to expand ecumenical unity in the United States have taken a further step towards creating a new national body of churches. Fifty-five church leaders representing 30 denominations, including the UCC, agreed at a meeting on Jan. 29 in Pasadena, Calif., to continue conversation about forming a new ecumenical alliance, currently called "Christian Churches Together in the USA." The new body is intended to include Episcopalian (Anglican), Evangelical, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic and Protestant churches.

How to shop as a Christian

Economist Edie Rasell of the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries has prepared six workshops on "Buying with a Conscience—Reflecting Christian Values when Shopping." Go to  www.ucc.org/justice/conscience or contact her at 700 Prospect Ave., Cleveland, OH 44115-1100; 216-736-3709;  raselle@ucc.org.

New single payer health care bill introduced

A new bill for a single-payer national health program, The United States National Health Insurance Act, was introduced in Congress on Tuesday, Feb. 4 by Rep. John Conyers (DMich.), a lifelong advocate for health and human rights. The legislation proposes an effective mechanism for controlling skyrocketing health costs while covering all 42 million uninsured Americans. The bill also restores free choice of physician to patients and provides comprehensive prescription drug coverage to seniors, as well Send news items c/o United Church News, fax 216-736-2223; e-mail  goldere@ucc.org. as younger people.

The UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries urges UCC members to contact their member of Congress  www.uccTakeAction.org and encourage them to co-sponsor this legislation (H.R. 521). The Congressional switchboard is 202-224-3121. For information, go to  www.cnhp.us or  www.pnhp.org or phone 312-782- 6006.

Amistad to visit 17 cities

This year, the ship Amistad (see front page story) will visit the following ports: Key West, Fla., Jan 7-16; Jacksonville, Fla., Feb 23-March 1; Norfolk, Va., March 10-14; New London, Conn., April 7-25; Portsmouth, N.H., May 3-5; Portland, Maine, May 9-14; Cleveland, June 14-27; Toledo, Ohio, July 2-5; Sheboygan, Wis., July 16-18; Muskegon, Mich., July 21-23; Chicago, July 26-Aug. 13; Detroit, Aug. 23-26; Sandusky, Ohio, Aug. 3- Sept. 2; Ashtabula, Ohio, Sept. 5-7; Buffalo, N.Y., Sept. 10-14; Oswego, N.Y., Sept. 20-23; Boston, Oct.15-21.

For more information, go to  www.amistadamerica.org; phone 203/495-1839; or write Amistad America, Inc., 746 Chapel St., Suite 300, New Haven, CT 06510.

ÔTouched by an Angel' to end series

"Touched by an Angel" is ending its 9-year run on the CBS television network. "Who wouldn't like to see their show go on, but I think the time is right," Martha Williamson, the show's executive producer since 1994, told the Associated Press. She credited the series with contributing toward a more respectful treatment of religion on television and said thousands of viewers wrote to say it changed their lives.

The final episode is set to air in May.

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