Ecumenical Advocacy Days put ‘faith in action,’ addressing human rights and peace for all

The United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) joined several partners in faith in Washington D.C. for the Ecumenical Advocacy Days’ 2024 Spring Summit.

Held May 17-19, the theme was “Faith in Action: Advancing Human Rights and Peace for All.” This first in-person gathering since 2019 was smaller than its pre-Covid years, but still just as valuable for attendees.

“I was reminded just how important it is to gather together; to share information and perspectives and really offer encouragement for the challenging work of peace and justice in these days,” said the Rev. Michael Neuroth, director of the UCC’s Washington Office of Public Policy and Advocacy.

Neuroth added that the scaled-back summit was intentional “in order to facilitate the gathering of information from participants for a strategic planning process that the EAD leadership team is undertaking throughout the year.”

The three-day event featuring workshops and visits to the nation’s Capital opened with a keynote address from the Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens, general minister and president of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada.

Hord Owens shared that what excites about the church today (a question she says she often gets asked) is when people dare to imagine that things can be different.

Imagining a different way forward was woven throughout the event as key topics on the importance of voting rights to environmental concerns regarding the use of plastics to the dismantling of systemic racism and welcoming immigrants were addressed.

One workshop, co-sponsored by UCC and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), was “God and Country: The Rise of Christian Nationalism,” led by Dr. Anne Nelson and the Rev. Dr. Alvin O’Neal Jackson.

Nelson is the author of “Shadow Network: Media, Money and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right.”

Jackson is the co-founder and president emeritus of the Disciples Center for Public Witness and is also one of the leaders of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call to Moral Revival.

Prior to the workshop, the approximate 80 EAD attendees watched the documentary film “God and Country,” which looks at the implications of Christian nationalism by speaking directly to the almost 200,000,000 Americans who identify as Christians and who fear their faith is being hijacked by an extreme right-wing political movement. Afterwards, Neuroth, who serves as chair of the EAD executive committee, led a talk-back session.

Rev. Michael Neuroth, director of the UCC Washington D.C. Office of Public Policy and Advocacy, leads a talk-back session after EAD attendees viewed the documentary, “God and Country.”

A prayer vigil for peace is held

On rainy day during the summit, EAD attendees walked from the convention site to the Pentagon for a prayer vigil seeking peace for the world.

Leading the vigil was Joyce Ajlouny, general secretary of the American Friends Service Committee.

As a Palestinian American, Ajlouny started her career working in international development in Palestine, focusing on minority and refugee rights, gender equality, economic development and humanitarian support.

Ajlouny shared that the struggle for peace and justice “could not be more urgent, around the world and here in the U.S.” as it is today.

Neuroth found the prayer vigil especially powerful.

“We stood in prayer and confession, surrounded by the edifice of the Pentagon and within view of defense contractor offices and our nation’s Capital — all of which conspire to perpetuate war and the ‘military industrial complex’ that President Eisenhower warned of in 1961,” Neuroth observed.

“We stood, prayed and sang in the rain from many Christian traditions, all praying for an end to the carnage taking place in the Middle East, and an end to all war. We prayed for that day in which ALL might sit under their own fig tree, and ‘no one will make them afraid.’ (Micah 4:4),” he added.

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Categories: United Church of Christ News

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