Observing the Labor Sabbath This Weekend

Immigrant farmworkers picking sweet potato

As Labor Day weekend quickly approaches, many people are thinking about beaches and barbeques. Amy Laura Hall, however, wants people to be thinking about something different: labor unions. Hall, a professor at Duke Divinity School, is calling for congregations to observe a Labor Sabbath this Friday, Saturday or Sunday prior to Labor Day, during which time the words “labor union” are to be mentioned in a sermon, song or prayer. The effort stems from a similar endeavor by Interfaith Worker Justice in Chicago, which invited clergy to speak about unions from the pulpit….

NC’s Plan to Improve Health in Rural Communities

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I had the pleasure of serving on the North Carolina Institute of Medicine’s (NCIOM) Task Force on Rural Health, which was charged with creating a roadmap for better health in rural parts of our state. This plan includes strategies that do not require additional funding to support, but rather stronger partnerships across different sectors, such as health care, education and economic development. People of faith who live in rural areas are encouraged to review the North Carolina Rural Health Action Plan, which is now available for free download from the…

2014 Faith & Health Summit – Register Now!

2014 Faith & Health Summit

Please join the North Carolina Council of Churches at the 2014 Faith and Health Summit, which will be held on Friday, October 10, 2014 at Ardmore Baptist Church in Winston-Salem (501 Miller Street). Special thanks to Wake Forest University’s Food, Faith and Religious Leadership Initiative for co-sponsoring the event! The program will run from 9:30am to 3:30pm, with registration starting at 8:30. Arrival snacks and coffee will be provided. The conference theme is “We’re Better Together” and the focus text is Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a. Click here to register by Monday September 29. After…

Celebrating Our Shared History & Continued Prosperity

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As we head into a long Independence Day weekend, most Americans are anticipating a Friday off from work and a time to spend with their families celebrating the largest secular holiday in the United States. However, as American citizens celebrate their nation through fireworks, parades, and picnics, many would consider the topic of immigration to be “anti-American” during such a patriotic holiday. Yet immigrants and their contributions to the American economy are important to consider as we honor democratic values such as hard work, devotion to family, perseverance and loyalty,…

In the Media: The Moral Urgency of Farmworkers

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A few weeks ago, Human Rights Watch published a report on child labor in tobacco farming. Below, former NCCC intern John Zambenini comments on the large amount of media attention that this report has generated and how you can help children in the fields. This post was originally published on the Farmworker Advocacy Network blog. The Moral Urgency of Farmworkers in the Media By John Zambenini Spring and summer herald the annual return of migrant workers to farms around the country, especially in North Carolina. So often, workers’ return to…

‘Tis the Season for Local Food

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Wait, isn’t that a line from a Christmas song?  Well, yes.  But, when it comes to living a healthy life, what time of year could be better than right now? Temperatures are warming up and farmers markets are opening, making it more desirable to get outside to exercise and more convenient to purchase healthy local foods. It is also the perfect time to tune into what is going on in our communities and connect with farmers who grow food nearby. Farmers are constantly affected…

Welcome Jennie Wilburn

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I am delighted to announce that our Governing Board has elected Jennie Wilburn to the position of Program Associate for Immigrant and Farmworker Rights. Jennie is a 2009 cum laude graduate of Rice University with a major in Hispanic studies and sociology. At Rice, she was a recipient of the Barbara Jordan Scholarship, awarded for work that builds bridges between cultural, racial, and ethnic groups. She will be graduating in May with a Master of Divinity from Duke and a Master of Social Work from UNC-Chapel Hill. During this dual-degree…

Leading and Following

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One thing that was strongly emphasized at Duke Divinity School by my New Testament professor, Dr. C. Kavin Rowe, was that Christian knowledge ultimately consists in discipleship. Knowing Jesus entails following him. And we need others to show us the way. These words crossed my mind today, as my supervisor at the North Carolina Council of Churches, Farmworker Advocacy Network veteran Chris-Liu Beers, celebrated his last day at the Council. An advocate for immigrant justice, farmworker rights, and the dignity of the most vulnerable members of our society, Chris will be dearly…

Putting Our Faith into Action: Supporting Farm Workers in North Carolina

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Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.” James 5:4 Many faith traditions call us to support farm workers – some of the most exploited workers in the U.S. – and their efforts to improve their lives. Putting Our Faith into Action: Supporting Farm Workers in North Carolina is an opportunity to learn about farm workers’ struggle for justice and how we can support them in…

Second Sunday in Lent: Poverty & Farmworkers

A Time to Mend

I’ll never forget how it felt to serve dinner to this group. About 30 hungry, tired farmworkers arrived back at their camp just as it was getting dark, and they were kind enough to welcome us into their humble space for a shared meal. This group of mostly young men had been busy harvesting sweet potatoes down East. Most were indigenous Mexicans who learned Spanish as a second language, who didn’t know any English.

As we spooned out rice and beans and poured soda from two-liter bottles, I was struck at how rare it is for any of us to meet the people who actually produce and harvest the food we eat. From our history of slavery to our modern industrial context, our society has not really reckoned with the grim reality of those at the bottom of our food chain.

A Time to Mend: A Social Justice Study for Lent

A Time to Mend

Economic circumstances too often define us. How much we do or do not earn can put us on a path that either buffers our failures or tempers our successes. The people who make the least amount of money have the fewest opportunities to succeed, no matter how much they work or how hard they study.

For Christians, the biblical calls to justice and to providing for the least of these are foundations of our faith. At the same time, we as a nation mark this year the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty. Under different circumstances we might celebrate the milestone, but there is still too much to be done.

Gardening With a Purpose

Butternut on the vine

Recently, I received a notice from a local community garden organizer about a grant opportunity sponsored by a fertilizer company. I shared it with my e-mail group and found one response, in particular, intriguing. Within this email, a local community leader expressed the importance of gardens, eating healthy, and making healthy local food accessible to the community, while being environmentally responsible. She continued to express the importance of our actions lining up with our values. She concluded that corporate sponsorship of funding for community gardens brought up questions of justice…

A New Adventure

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Dear Friends,

I will be leaving the NC Council of Churches at the end of March to focus full-time on Tomatillo Design, my new communications shop that works with nonprofits to create amazing, affordable websites.

Since I began working at the Council as an intern in the summer of 2006, I’ve had the incredible privilege of working with the most dedicated, talented and likable group of coworkers imaginable. From its founding more than 75 years ago to today, the Council has worked on a wide range of progressive causes and I’m proud to be a small part of that legacy. Every day at the office I felt encouraged by the witness of recent saints like Sister Evelyn Mattern and Collins Kilburn.

Tough Road Ahead for NC Poultry Workers

Photo by Flickr member: USDAgov

The Raleigh News & Observer reported recently that work may be getting harder for North Carolina’s poultry workers. If the Obama administration gives the go-ahead, new policies already backed by North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan will allow the difficult speeds at which workers must process chickens to increase. Under the new regulations, the total output of inspected birds would increase from 140 birds per minute to 175. Facing a dizzying onslaught of chickens and turkeys on fast-moving mechanical equipment, workers risk injuring hands, wrists, and shoulders from the quick, repetitive…

PHW Book Club Discussion: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Chapter Ten

Green Apple on Books

Thank you for joining the Partners in Health and Wholeness Book Club. You can officially sign-up here. Through it, we hope to engage people of faith in discussions over why our health matters. Our current choice of reading is “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life” by Barbara Kingsolver. We are posting updates through the PHW Facebook page, but our PHW blog page has the discussion posts in full with responses from staff. Just look for the apple on top of the book picture among the blog post pictures and you will find…

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