Project NO REST Needs Your Input to Help Victims of Sex Trafficking


At the North Carolina Council of Churches, our work is often guided by Isaiah 1:17, which advises,​“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” In my work I often focus on calling people to see the sacred worth in strangers and immigrants and farmworkers in their communities. Farmworkers are often at-risk for labor trafficking due to their immigration status, recruitment debt, isolation, poverty, and the​ lack of strong labor protections. Human trafficking is much broader than just labor trafficking — it can…

Leadership and Hope at the Margins


By Wayde Marsh, Duke Divinity School Intern This past Tuesday, more than 200 people celebrated the career of NC Council of Churches Executive Director George Reed before his retirement at the end of this month. While I have only known George for about two weeks, I have seen the positive impact he has had on North Carolina in his years of service. At his retirement luncheon, I was blessed to hear accounts from legislators, religious leaders of many faiths, friends, colleagues, and family members about the humble leadership of George…

Bills Wink at Polluters, Abusers


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…

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,…

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…

A Look Back at the 2015 Faith & Immigration Summit


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…

How Your Congregation Can Celebrate National Farmworker Awareness Week


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…

Second Edition of “Come to the Table Guidebook” Released


In 2008, the first “Come to the Table Guidebook” was released. Claire Hermann, Laura Beach, and Chris Liu-Beers of the North Carolina Council of Churches were the contributors. The original “Guidebook” created the framework for the Come to the Table conferences that have been held every two years since. The authors collected stories from across North Carolina about congregations finding innovative ways to relieve hunger and support local food production, highlighting the work of groups making a connection between two vulnerable populations in our state – farmers and food insecure…

A Guide to the Christian Food Movement


In these opening years of the twenty-first century, the need for a more sustainable food system has increasingly become a focus of our national conversation. As a Christian, sometime in the last decade I began to wonder: How can we re-imagine food systems in a way that more clearly reflects God’s reign? Where are the Christians working for a better food system, and how can I join them? Are there existing Christian food projects that I could replicate or adapt in my context? I lived with these questions for a…

Elon Come to the Table – Inclement Weather Update


RAFI has posted information on its website about pending weather decisions for the Come to the Table Ecumenical Service on Wednesday evening and all-day conference on Thursday, both in Elon. Please also keep an eye on our website for updates about the conference and service. Whether to proceed with the worship service will be decided by noon on Wednesday in accordance with the host church, and the conference will be decided by Wednesday at 10 p.m. We hope that these events will be able to proceed but we also recognize the…

Supporting Workers – Proper 17


Discipleship is about what we do with our feet. The metaphor of feet is a rich one indeed. One of the powerful images of Scripture is that of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper (John 13). To be sure, the washing of feet was a sign of welcome and hospitality. It was in like manner an act of humility. It was also an act and a model of service.

How can we as people of faith support those who are quite literally on their feet all day at low paying jobs without health insurance and other benefits of life?

Showing Love to Workers this Valentine’s Day


Valentine’s Day marks one of the biggest shopping days of the year, especially when it comes to chocolate and flowers. But did you know that often your tokens of affection are supporting pesticides, child slavery and farmworker exploitation? The Bible calls for us not only to love our neighbor, but also to show concern for the vulnerable and neglected. Learn more about the products you are buying and what you can do to show your love of neighbor and care for creation by supporting fair labor practices this February 14th….

NC Bread for the World Conference, March 28


When you think of hunger in our state — where one in four children lives in a food insecure family — we wonder what Jesus would have us do to “give them something to eat.” Many of us church folks contribute to food pantries, soup kitchens, and programs that feed the hungry, but the problem remains staggering. These charities, good and needed as they are, cannot eliminate hunger alone. Structural changes in our society will also be required to “give them something to eat.” Bread for the World (BFW) is a national organization…

Giving Thanks for Christmas Trees


This time of year we give thanks for many things — including our families, our health, and our churches. We often overlook our decorations, however. Putting up the Christmas tree after Thanksgiving, stringing the lights and hanging the ornaments can seem like a daunting task rather than a blessing. However, if you choose a real tree, remember that someone worked hard to grow and harvest it. Growing Christmas trees requires a considerable amount of work, and the people who are hired to do this work are often seasonal laborers from…