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

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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

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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…

The Venue Is Important

Greenwood Forest Sanctuary

Two events this month have reminded me of how fortunate the Council is to have congregations willing to host our events. The first was the Faith and Immigration Summit, held on a Saturday at Durham’s First Presbyterian Church. The church was easy to find, with plenty of free parking just outside. The sanctuary is beautiful and, in spite of how large the church facilities are, all of our program was held in the sanctuary and just a few steps away. Marilyn Hedgpeth, an associate pastor and the interim head of…

Welcome Jennifer Copeland as Executive Director

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  I’m exceptionally pleased to announce that the Rev. Dr. Jennifer Copeland has been named by the Council’s Governing Board to be the next Executive Director of the North Carolina Council of Churches. Jennifer has served as the United Methodist campus minister and executive director of the Wesley Fellowship at Duke University since 1999. (Pictured above, she’s on a spring break trip with students to Nome, Alaska. Jennifer is standing behind the orange sign.) A native of South Carolina, she earned BA, MDiv, and PhD degrees from Duke. Prior to coming…

Retirement Luncheon for George Reed — June 2

George at HKonJ

Please join us at Raleigh’s Highland United Methodist Church as we wish Executive Director George Reed well in his retirement. The buffet lunch will be catered by The Irregardless Café and takes place from noon to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, June 2. You can RSVP and pay below, by e-mailing info@ncchurches.org, or by calling 919-828-6501. In order to guarantee lunch, please respond by May 26. The cost is $25, and the church is located at 1901 Ridge Road. Use the scroll bar to the right of the RSVP form to…

Tax Cuts’ Costs Becoming Clear

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Since taking veto-proof control of the NC General Assembly in the elections of 2012, members of the Republican majority have labored diligently to fix what they’ve regarded as a broken tax system. Of course, whether it really was broken is a point many North Carolinians have been quick to dispute. The overall effect of the GOP’s tax-cut binge has been to make it harder for governments at all levels to carry out their public service missions and also to shift tax burdens toward people who are less able to afford…

2015 Legislative Seminar — Directions

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We are delighted to have so many of you joining us for Tuesday’s Legislative Seminar. Directions are below. We will be able to accommodate some additional registrations prior to the seminar but can no longer guarantee lunch. Please e-mail info@ncchurches.org or call 919-828-6501. Directions to Greenwood Forest Baptist Church 110 SE Maynard Road, Cary, NC 27511 (919) 467-0481 The church is at the intersection of Kildaire Farm Road and SE Maynard Road From I-40 take, Exit 291 Travel West on Cary Towne Boulevard (Cary Towne Center mall will be on your left)…

Easter Greeting

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Lo, the fair beauty of earth, from the death of the winter arising, every good gift of the year now with its Master returns. Excerpted from Hail Thee, Festival Day, Venantius Fortunatus  Blessings of this Easter season from the NC Council of Churches George, Rose, Aleta, Susannah, Jennie, Ashley, Monica, Joy, Shannon, Donna, Steve, Sandy, David, Collins, Reuben, Kyle, and Marcus

Religious Freedom or Using Religion to Justify Discrimination?

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Discussions in recent days of so-called religious freedom bills in Indiana, Arkansas, and now North Carolina raise issues – both legal and pastoral – which the NC Council of Churches has been addressing for many years. The legal context The first words of the Bill of Rights are the religious liberty clauses: “Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The so-called Free Exercise Clause prohibits government from interfering in the practice of religion. But constitutional rights are not absolute. So, for…

North Carolina Redistricting on High Court’s Radar

Photo by Flickr user: dbking

“Racial gerrymandering strikes at the heart of our demo­cratic process, undermining the electorate’s confidence in its government as representative of a cohesive body politic in which all citizens are equal before the law.” Nicely put, Mr. Justice Scalia! Antonin Scalia is the US Supreme Court’s sharp-tongued scourge of all things perceived to be liberal. In a recent high-stakes redistricting case, he scoffed at gerrymandering complaints brought by Alabama civil rights advocates and Democrats. Scalia and three conservative colleagues wound up on the short end of a 5-4 decision whose ripples could…