Workers Deserve Dignity and Respect

Workers' Memorial Day

Monday, September 7 is Labor Day when we should honor the workers in our community with dignity and respect. The Social Creed for the 21st century, a document endorsed by major denominations, says specifically we should work for: Employment for all, at a family-sustaining living wage, with equal pay for comparable work. The rights of workers to organize, and to share in workplace decisions and productivity growth. Protection from dangerous working conditions, with time and benefits to enable full family life. As disciples of a living creator who calls on…

Healthy Alternatives for Youth Groups

Food Day Flash Mob 2012

I was talking with colleagues, friends, and co-laborers who strive for better health on a population level and discovered that many of us had the same problem within our faith community. We saw that our children, our beloved future leaders, were being fed high-calorie, low-nutrient foods, such as hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, soda, and sweets. As a group, we recognized the difficulty in providing affordable but healthy food to a large group. The question was asked, “So how do you find a balance between fun activities for kids with food…

Bombing Survivor, Priest, and Community Healer Fr. Michael Lapsley Visits NC

Monday 3rd September 2012.
Homecoming Centre, District Six Museum, 
15A Buitenkant Street, Cape Town, 
Western Cape, South Africa.


The official book launch of 'Redeeming The Past - My Journey from Freedom Fighter to Healer' with Father Michael Lapsley SSM and the author, Stephen Karakashian, with the keynote address by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu at the Homecoming Centre of the District Six Museum on Monday 3rd September 2012 in Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa. The event was arranged by the Institute For Healing Of Memories and the South African book publisher Struik Inspirational. During his address Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu shocked the audience with an outburst of anger about the state of the country under its present leadership. Father Michael Lapsley lost both his hands and an eye in a letter bomb sent by apartheid authorities. This book tells that story and how he has sought to bring healing to others through his life and the work of Faith.  

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The Rev. Michael Lapsley, survivor of a bombing by South African apartheid agents, will visit North Carolina this September to speak with university students, congregations, and members of the general public. Framed by the perspective that “all persons are capable of being perpetrators or victims – and sometimes both,” Fr. Lapsley will discuss the need for healing of individuals, communities, and nations in response to trauma related to racial, religious, and political conflict. His visit to our state will include a featured appearance on WUNC’s NPR-syndicated “The State of Things” on…

The Rotten Fruit of Hatred

Rotting Apples

The past few weeks and months have been filled with a lot of hatred. Innocent people have been killed while trying to go about their daily lives, whether that be on the job or worshipping in church. It’s hard to understand how senseless these acts of violence are. Sometimes it seems like God is not with us. However, God is present in the midst of our suffering, and it is our decision how to respond faithfully to the sufferings and debates that flare around us. One thing that I think…

Congregations Need NC’s Solar Tax Credits Extended

First Solar Array

NC Interfaith Power & Light Director Susannah Tuttle delivered this statement at a press conference held at United Church of Chapel Hill on August 25. Every faith tradition mandates care of creation and the moral call to address the issues and impacts of our changing climate. If we fail to address the most significant environmental threat to life and human civilization of our time and history, this would be a breach of our religious responsibilities. Solar energy is one of the important “solutions” for addressing climate change, but it is…

Rule to Harass, or Punish, the Jobless


Even while North Carolina was still in the grips of the Great Recession, with thousands of residents suffering the slings and arrows of joblessness because they were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, Republican legislators moved to make it harder to receive unemployment benefits. The train of thought seemed to be: Unemployment rates are up. Thus, people must have become lazier. Thus, we should make it harder for them to subsist. Thus, they’ll be more strongly motivated to look for work. It brings to mind the old…

Complicated Answers to Different Questions


The offices for the NC Council of Churches sit half a block from Hillsborough Street—the street that automatically conjures up images of NC State, as well it should since the campus looms large along Hillsborough for about 10 blocks. These weeks, as the media have consistently reminded us, are the days of orientation and the start of a new school year for colleges around the Triangle. But for the first time in nearly twenty years, my life is not marked by these events, except for the need to deliver my…

Tale of Two Chambers Amid Budget Conflict


North Carolina has two legislative bodies, the 120-member House of Representatives and the 50-member Senate. They’re set up to be equal in power, although it could be said that the larger House is designed to be more reflective of the public will. Senators typically have more room to operate. And operating in a smaller group, it’s easier for certain senators to gain power through political smarts, force of character or mastery of the issues. Perhaps that helps explain why, during these past couple of years of Republican dominance in both…

PHW Honors Dr. Robert W. Herron


We would like to recognize and honor the life of Dr. Bob Herron, who passed away on August 1. An engaged advocate for Bread for the World, he spent much of his time and energy fighting hunger. He presented at our 2014 Faith and Health Summit in a session designed to train attendees on how to advocate for healthier policies. Bob had an unassuming, compassionate, and centered presence that he used for the good of his community and those around the world that he sought to impact for the better. We pray…

Pope Francis Calls for World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation


“I wish to inform you that I have decided to institute in the Catholic Church the ‘World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation’ which, beginning this year, is to be celebrated on September 1st,” Pope Francis said in a letter released by the Vatican. The Pope said he had been inspired by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, who have been praying for the environment on that date since the late 1980s. September 1 is when Orthodox Christians mark their day for the…

Observe Labor Sunday


The Sunday of Labor Day weekend is Labor Sunday, a day to celebrate workers and their contributions and to support their struggles. It is also a day to commit ourselves to improving conditions for workers and to lament that workers often confront unjust situations such as low wages, unsafe conditions, racism, sexism and other abuses. We encourage congregations to participate in Labor Sunday and to download and include this bulletin insert, which includes resources for lifting up workers in your service. Loving our neighbors means standing with people on the…

Three Tips for Beginners to Get Your Congregation Healthier

Fruit buffet

I love being in the North Carolina country. There is nothing better than riding with your windows down, smelling the fresh air (sometimes loaded with smells of farm animals), the wind blowing your lips into a smile, and just looking at open land. I love it! Small towns like Star, Pendleton, or Pembroke are just filled with “Aunt Beas”. I have had wonderful dining opportunities to taste delicious “one pot wonders,” as my friend told me once of my aunt’s cooking, where the whole four-course meal can fit into a…

Protect Us from the ‘Protection Act’

Welcome to NC

With its misguided “Taxpayer Protection Act” scheme, the state Senate looks to put a crowning touch on its efforts to turn North Carolina into a veritable Promised Land for conservatives, where taxes are always low, the government is always small, and public services are always below average. Will enough members of the House muster the courage to stop the madness? Senate Bill 607,  given final Senate approval on Aug. 12, would cap the state’s individual income tax rate at 5 percent – well below where it’s been in recent decades….

First Days on the New Job

jennifer Copeland6

Jennifer is pictured on a spring break trip with students to Nome, Alaska. Monday, August 3, was my first day at work. The staff laughed with me when hearing that announcement since I’ve been having “first” days since the first week of June. The most important first was spending invaluable time with George Reed, who ranks among the best predecessors I’ve ever succeeded. He continues to explain the minutia, clarify the confusion, and remember the details. But he has yet to tell me how to do the job when we both know he is…

Clean Power Plan: Right and Moral


New federal safeguards to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants are necessary not just because they help the environment, but because they are the right and moral thing to do, North Carolina faith leaders say. NC Interfaith Power & Light supports the Clean Power Plan released August 3, by the US Environmental Protection Agency, which calls for reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants by 32 percent by 2030. Jennifer Copeland, Executive Director of the NC Council of Churches, said the measures in the plan will take steps toward…