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Dear Friends,

As many segments of our world are engaged in armed conflicts that are devouring scores of human lives, and as gun violence continues to destroy lives and distort communities in numerous countries, including our own, we must raise our voices for non-violence and peacemaking and use our creativity to reach communities and nations across the world.

To that end, I am pleased to share with you Ceasefire, an anthem for peace that I co-wrote during the October 2023 Red Letter Christians Retreat at Tennessee's Alex Haley Farm. I invite you to play the video during worship services and to sing along with us as through music we call for a Ceasefire.

With hope,


Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan Jr.

Executive Director

The Ohio Council of Churches



Our response should be ‘Never Again’

Ohio Council of Churches Executive Director Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan Jr. and Cantor Michael Zoosman, former Jewish prison chaplain and co-founder of L’chaim! Jews Against the Death Penalty, wrote the following op-ed to protest execution by gas:

Like a deadly virus that easily and rapidly spreads state to state, the idea of execution-by-gas is spreading. With horror, people in several U.S. states and around the world learned of Alabama’s experimental execution of Kenneth Smith by gas, known as nitrogen hypoxia. Much like the sense of satisfaction and exhilaration expressed by fans and observers of lynchings in our not-too-distant past, the sponsors and promoters of Smith’s painful and torturous death by gas at the hands of Alabama expressed pride and satisfaction in their accomplishment. Such sentiments should be reserved for monumental breakthroughs that enable and enhance life. Instead, the Alabama officials were celebrating their innovative way of ending life. 


Now, leaders here in Ohio have taken steps toward permitting nitrogen hypoxia as an option in Ohio, an option that could resume executions in our state.


As this virus spreads, the violence metastasizes like a cancer, unearthing memories from some of the worst chapters of human history. In addition to the lynching legacy and demonstrably racist application of capital punishment, Alabama’s experimental use of gas to torture a man to death perpetuates a horrific Nazi legacy that is a traumatizing affront to many in the Jewish community whose ancestors were gassed to death a century ago. The fact that the Alabama torture was carried out just two days before International Holocaust Remembrance Day is nothing less than a slap in the face of people like many of the over 3,100 members of L’chaim! Jews Against the Death Penalty, including this co-author, who are direct descendants of Holocaust survivors and victims. The Nazi legacy of experimentation to find the most expeditious way for the state to kill prisoners is a barbaric undercurrent for anyone who is aware of this history – a history that “Never Again!” should be repeated in Ohio, or anywhere.


The nightmarish scene that played out in Alabama’s death chamber triggered deeply embedded cultural memories and intergenerational Jewish trauma in countless Jews, who also have shuddered with horror at every use of lethal injection, which itself also is an irrefutable, direct Nazi legacy. This legacy serves as an indelible reminder that this virus – nitrogen hypoxia and the death penalty itself – condemns the society that enacts it infinitely more than any individual it condemns to death. 


We have an antidote to this virus. In his sermon Loving Your Enemies,” the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached a philosophy that made no room for capital punishment when he exhorted that “darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” At the very least, as Holocaust survivor and staunch death penalty abolitionist Elie Wiesel famously said of capital punishment: Death should never be the answer in a civilized society. And so, Ohioans, let us embrace civility and cure ourselves of the racist, Nazi legacies that form the virus of capital punishment … once and for all.


The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) will participate in a significant multi-faith initiative alongside faith leaders, activists, and artists as part of a “Pilgrimage for Peace.” This initiative aims to advocate for an immediate release of the hostages, an urgent ceasefire in Gaza, and unrestricted humanitarian aid. It will span from Philadelphia, PA to Washington, D.C., from Feb. 14- 21, 2024. The announcement of the pilgrimage comes on the heels of news of recent failed negotiations for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.


Join Faith for Black Lives, National Council of Churches USA, Rabbis for Ceasefire, Hindus for Human Rights, The Pennsylvania Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Philadelphia), Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Black Church Center for Justice and Equality, Kairos Center, Freedom Church of the Poor, Until Freedom, and many others on a Pilgrimage for Peace to demand a Ceasefire in Gaza.


NCC mourns the more than 1,200 Israeli lives lost on Oct. 7 and the more than 27,000 lives lost in Gaza in this war. The danger is that violence has only led to more violence and may spread throughout the region. As participants in this pilgrimage, NCC affirms its commitment to continue the call for the release of all hostages, unhindered humanitarian aid, and a pathway to peace.


The pilgrimage will begin on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten Season. Lent is a 40-day period of prayer, fasting, and sacrifice leading up to Easter, the holiest time of the liturgical calendar for Christians. The aim is to share the principles of peace, love, and justice and amplify the urgent need for a peaceful solution to the war in Gaza. It will be a week-long journey dedicated to fostering dialogue, raising awareness, and advocating for a lasting resolution to the conflicts in the region.


“We grieve alongside the families in Israel and Gaza, and we urgently call for a cessation of hostilities. It is our hope that this pilgrimage will amplify our collective voice for peace and the sacredness of all life,” said Bishop Vashti McKenzie, NCC President and General Secretary.


The Pilgrimage for Peace will begin a press conference at 10 a.m. at Mother Bethel AME Church, 619 Lombard St., Philadelphia, PA. It will conclude on Wednesday, Feb. 21, with a rally at the White House (Lafayette Park) to urge President Biden to call for an end to the war in Palestine. We also urge President Biden and Congress to halt weapons funding to Israel and instead channel efforts toward increasing humanitarian aid to Palestine. It is our collective responsibility to advocate for a peaceful resolution and uphold the principles of justice and compassion. We will either sow seeds of nonviolence today or reap nonexistence tomorrow. 


For more information about the Pilgrimage for Peace, visit our Website or you can contact


Pilgrimage for Peace Route

  • Feb. 14 – Philadelphia, PA to Chester, PA
  • Feb. 15 – Chester, PA to Wilmington, DE
  • Feb. 16 – Wilmington, DE to Newark, DE
  • Feb. 17 – Newark, DE to Perryville, MD
  • Feb. 18 – Havre de Grace, MD to Joppa, MD
  • Feb. 19 – Joppa, MD to Baltimore, MD
  • Feb. 20 – Baltimore, MD to Laurel, MD
  • Feb. 21 – Laurel, MD to Washington, D.C.

Clergy for Safe Cities is a coalition dedicated to supporting clergy-based gun violence prevention initiatives and implementing comprehensive community strategies to reduce youth involvement in gangs, crimes, and gun violence in our city. Clergy for Safe Cities operates on the fundamental belief that public safety is a shared responsibility.


Clergy for Safe Cities will be hosting the First National Clergy Gun Violence Prevention Summit of 2024 on Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. Join us to learn from our engaging speakers as they recap their 2023 activities and introduce new initiatives for 2024. Together, we can make a lasting impact and work towards building a future where every individual can thrive in a safe and nurturing community. 


Register HERE.

Conversation Series: All the Families of the Earth with Barbara Laymon

Tuesdays, March 5, April 16

& May 7, 2024

All sessions 12-1:30 p.m. Eastern via Zoom


Join the Healthy Congregations Member Network for a three-part conversation series with author Barbara Laymon around the 2024-25 Member Network Book of the Year, All the Families of the Earth: Therapists in Bible Times.

Registration Information:

Healthy Congregations Members: FREE!

· Registration is required (select the Current HC Member "Ticket" for $0 and complete the "checkout" process).

Non-Members: $50 per session

· Sessions can be purchased individually or in a block of three sessions.

Group Rate: $250 for all three sessions

· Groups of 2-5 people from the same household or organization.

Not a member? Visit our Membership page to join today. Members receive invitations to Member Network Conversations, access to the Members Area of our website, a complimentary copy of the Book of the Year, and reduced rates on selected events. Student memberships available!


You are invited to attend Ohio Faith Leaders Responding to Addiction, a comprehensive training designed to increase knowledge about addiction and develop skills and strategies to help faith leaders and organizations. Please join us virtually on March 8, 2024 from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. EST. Created by Addiction Policy Forum, the Ohio Faith Leaders Responding to Addiction training is sponsored by RecoveryOhio.


Like CPR, the training program is designed to build the skills to support and respond to someone who needs help. The training will also help participants navigate the resources available in their own community. Participants will learn:

• The Science of Addiction

• The Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

• Evidence-based Treatment Options

• Medications to Treat Addiction

• Engagement Strategies

All participants receive a certificate at the completion of the training.