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

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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

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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…

A Look Back at the 2015 Faith & Immigration Summit

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Recently, more than 75 people of faith, including students, teachers, clergy, and youth, joined together at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Durham to learn more about issues affecting immigrant children and youth. The day began with a bilingual worship service. Prayers and lamentations were spoken for immigrant families and workers. Beautiful songs of praise were sung in Spanish and English with the accompaniment of the cajón. Rev. Julio Rámirez-Eve of Iglesia Emmanuel preached an inspirational sermon about his experiences growing up in the Dominican Republic and immigrating to the United…

NCIPL’s Spring into Action Kickoff Week has Wrapped Up

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By Reuben Gelblum, NCIPL Intern Thank you to everyone who helped make our Spring Into Action kickoff week a success! You all participated from all over the state, listening in to our webinar, sending messages to your representatives through our virtual advocacy campaign, and traveling in person to enjoy our Spring Into Action Celebration and participate in our inaugural Faith Voices for Clean Energy Advocacy Day. It’s been quite a week! Read more from Reuben on the week’s events here.

Medicaid Message Packs a Punch

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Call it an exercise in futility? Well, no. There may not be a chance in the world that the General Assembly’s Republican chiefs will let the latest proposal to expand Medicaid come to a vote this year, or even receive a fair hearing in the committees they control. But by pressing the case, advocates continue to hammer home the benefits of expansion – and perhaps nudge Gov. Pat McCrory to find a way to untangle an impasse that has left many thousands of low-income North Carolinians struggling to get by…

How Your Congregation Can Celebrate National Farmworker Awareness Week

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This week – March 24th through 31st – is National Farmworker Awareness Week. This is a time for us to recognize the two to three million men, women and children who perform often dangerous and backbreaking work to ensure our nation’s abundant, low-cost food supply. There are many ways that your congregation can take part, including:  Organize a long-sleeved shirt drive. The Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs is hosting a national long-sleeve drive to help farmworkers avoid exposure to pesticides. There are ten drop-off locations in North Carolina. Attend a…

Faith and Taxation

Christian Witness on the Tax-Sustained Road

Lots of us will have our attention focused on taxes over the next couple of weeks. This focus provides a unique opportunity for faith communities to help North Carolinians make the connection between paying taxes and living out our values.  Paying taxes allows us to invest in the Common Good and build a just economy that supports opportunity for everyone regardless of the circumstances into which they were born. Moreover, if people are taxed fairly so that each of us contributes according to our ability, it will help to ensure…

Diabetes Alert Day

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Today is Diabetes Alert Day. Seven million Americans don’t know they have diabetes. African Americans, Hispanics/Latino/as, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and people who have a family history of the disease are at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes. PHW is proud to support “Diabetes Alert Day.” The American Diabetes Association, NC Division of Public Health, NC State Alliance of YMCA, and a number of community and health organizations across the state will be offering free or low-cost screenings (A1C, BMI, cholesterol), diabetes risk test, cooking demonstrations, and exercise…