Retirement Luncheon — Directions

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We look forward to seeing those of you who will be joining us for George Reed’s retirement luncheon on June 2. While the program begins at noon, we encourage you to arrive early. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. Directions to Highland United Methodist Church are as follows: Take the Wade Avenue Exit into Raleigh. Coming in on Wade Avenue from the west, take a left on Ridge Road. Coming in on Wade Avenue from the east, take a right on Ridge Road. Highland United Methodist Church is located at 1901 Ridge Road, at…

Bills Wink at Polluters, Abusers

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For a boatload of lofty, noble and wise sentiments, look no farther than the opening fanfares of Chapter 113A, Article 1, N.C. General Statutes. The reference is to a law commonly known as SEPA, or the State Environmental Policy Act. It was enacted in 1971, during the great upsurge of the modern environmental movement that saw Americans resolve to curb the pollution that was choking their atmosphere and poisoning their waters. Nationally, it could even be said that President Richard Nixon, that old softie, helped lead the way. The law…

Republican Budget makes Republicans Fume — Updated

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Let’s admit it – we were fooled. We never realized that the N.C. House of Representatives, with Republicans firmly in charge, was a nest of liberals. At least that must be how Bob Luddy sees it. Luddy, a highly successful Wake County businessman (his company makes commercial kitchen ventilation equipment), is an outspoken advocate for smaller government and lower taxes. He also is a heavy contributor to conservative political campaigns and causes. But he finds the state budget now being crafted in the House so full of left-leaning baloney that…

Revenue Boosts and Tax-cut Boasts

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The rooster crowed. The sun came up. The rooster puffed his feathered chest as he beheld his magnificent handiwork. Phil Berger led the state Senate in cutting taxes. Revenues nudged up, putting the state on course to finish its budget year in the black. Berger proclaimed that the tax cuts had done the trick. One might even say that he crowed. “Two years ago, when the Republican legislature passed the largest tax cut in state history, Chicken Littles on the left loudly cried North Carolina would lose so much tax…

This Millennial’s Response to the Pew Research Center Study

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I am a millennial. I was also born and raised in the church and have continued to participate in church my entire life. I am soon to be married in the church, and if my partner and I have children, I plan to raise them in the church. I also went to seminary and currently work with churches all across the state. The results of the Pew Research study released this week were not new to me — churches are shrinking and fewer and fewer people are calling themselves “Christian.”…

Warm Weather Recipe: Cranberry-Ginger Ade

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Looking for a cool and refreshing way to make use of those cranberries you have in the freezer from the holidays? I chose to make a spring digestive aid and was pleasantly surprised at how delicious and light this drink is. I don’t like turning on my AC, especially when there is an outside breeze, and I can feel the cool wind blow through my balcony door creating an inviting draft. One of my favorite spots to sit is at my dining room table, working on my laptop, listening to…

David LaMotte on the Fair Food Program

Lots of tomatoes

The Council’s Farmworker Ministry Committee has long been supportive of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and its efforts on behalf of those who work in the fields. The Committee has hosted CIW events locally and advocated for the Coalition’s campaigns. David LaMotte, the Council’s consultant for peace, recently had a guest column published in the Asheville Citizen-Times in which he calls attention to the CIW’s Fair Food Program as it pertains to Publix. It reads in part: The Fair Food Program is a historic partnership among farm workers, tomato growers,…

When Lawmakers Itch to Execute

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The last person to be put to death by the State of North Carolina – in other words, put to death on behalf of all of us who live here and choose the leaders who write our laws – was Samuel Flippen, 36, who was given a lethal injection at Central Prison in Raleigh at 2 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2006 as his parents watched. The execution was the final chapter in a sad tale – of that there’s no doubt. Flippen had been convicted in the courts of…

At the Legislature, a Fateful Crossing

Photo by Flickr member yashmori

With its self-imposed April 30 “crossover” deadline, the General Assembly can sidetrack bills that haven’t gained enough support to make them worth fussing with during the remainder of the legislative session. A bill that makes the deadline by gaining approval in either the state House or Senate stays alive – for better, or as happens too often these days with Republican conservatives in charge, for worse. So, with the crossover dust now settling, North Carolinians have a clearer sense of what this year’s legislative damage toll might include. Some lowlights:…

Nepal and Baltimore

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Faced with darkness at home and abroad, may we do what we can to bring peace and ease. In both Nepal and Baltimore, lives have been lost tragically. Let us pray for the departed and all those who love them. In Nepal and Baltimore, years of neglect and conflict only contribute to the current crisis. Let us pray for equity and reconciliation. In Nepal and Baltimore, neighbors and strangers have come together to clean up after destruction. Let us pray for them and all those they are helping. In Nepal…

Prayers Today on Workers’ Memorial Day

Workers' Memorial Day

A few weeks ago, The News & Observer published an article entitled “Many NC workers’ death go uncounted,” describing how often workplace deaths in North Carolina are uninvestigated, undocumented, and unreported. The article details the ways that the NC Department of Labor reports workplace fatalities and how a large number of deaths are not counted in the numbers that are reported. Many of these workplace deaths are related to the North Carolina economy’s ties to an agricultural system that demands physically difficult and often dangerous work. For example, the article…

What Makes the North Carolina Farmworker Institute Unique

2015 Farmworker Institute

On April 16, more than 150 farmworker advocates gathered at the United Church of Chapel Hill to network with each other and learn about issues affecting farmworkers. Workshops included an update on how DACA and DAPA expansion will affect farmworkers, an explanation of the Affordable Care Act in relation to farmworkers, and a discussion of camp access and using songwriting as an outreach tool with farmworkers. The keynote speaker, Neftali Cuello, a farmworker youth and activist, delivered a powerful spoken word poetry piece about her experiences in the fields and the…

High Court’s Double-Take on Districts

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There’s certainly no guarantee that the U.S. Supreme Court, in sending North Carolina’s election district scheme back to the state Supreme Court for review, eventually will find that the General Assembly has engaged in unconstitutional racial gerrymandering. However, the high court in Washington could have gone the other way. It could have declined to consider a challenge to the redistricting plans brought by civil rights and social justice advocates. If that’s what had happened, the challenge would be dead. So, we can say that the justices’ April 20 decision wasn’t…

What Can We Say? An Invitation to Write to George

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George Reed’s retirement luncheon is set for Tuesday, June 2. This is a short five weeks from now.  Of course everyone will miss him in his role as Executive Director, but this gathering is a way to celebrate his work and to wish him well in the next part of his journey. There will certainly be a bounty of good friends, family, and respected colleagues attending this celebration. In the press of the crowd, you may not get an opportunity to speak to George that day. So you are invited to share…

Justice Advocates Convene for the Cause

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The Council of Churches’ Legislative Seminar – its top-profile public event of the year – is meant to inform, and it’s meant to inspire. We’re not too bashful to say that this year’s version, held on April 14 at Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in Cary, succeeded on both counts. With the General Assembly moving into the heart of its biennial “long session” – and with conservative legislators seemingly bent on deepening many of the ill-advised holes they’ve been digging for themselves and the state – the seminar focused on a…