Register for 2015 Legislative Seminar — Updated with Workshops and Presenters

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Join us on April 14 at Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in Cary for the Council’s 2015 Legislative Seminar. Held every two years, the Seminar equips people of faith with the information they need to be advocates on issues before the NC General Assembly. Registration with workshop options is below. The cost is $15 for students, $25 for all others, and that includes a light breakfast underwritten by Partners in Health and Wholeness, and a boxed lunch prepared by the Interfaith Food Shuttle’s Catering with a Cause.  Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m; the Rev. Dr….

Doomed UNC Centers Sang the Wrong Songs

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It’s easy to imagine what the conservative Republicans who rule North Carolina’s legislative roost were thinking: “Here we’ve gone to all the trouble to take control of the General Assembly. We appoint the University of North Carolina system’s Board of Governors. We set the system’s budget. “So why should we have to put up with the jibes of an impudent Democrat law professor who uses his university job to accuse us of ignoring poverty? What do he and his liberal pals know about putting more money in poor people’s pockets?…

Compassion Makes Good ‘Cents’ — It’s Affordable

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Our faiths call us to work for justice and show compassion for the “least of these.”  Justice issues can also make such good economic sense that we cannot afford not to be compassionate. Such is the case with extending Medicaid to close the coverage gap and provide health insurance for all citizens in North Carolina. Dr.  Margaret E Sowerwine, a Rocky Mount physician, shares information she prepared for business leaders on the economic argument for closing the health care gap in NC. As Christians, the economic advantage is a bonus….

Commentary About Torture Report Published

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People of faith with Council connections have spoken out strongly on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on torture, calling for transparency. In particular, two recent opinion pieces call on Senator Richard Burr, now chair of the committee, to lead in releasing the full report. A guest column by NC Stop Torture Now’s Christina Cowger and Gary Gloster, the retired Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of NC, ran in the Winston-Salem Journal. It read in part: Only truth will allow us to stand tall and honestly proclaim our respect for human rights. Not secrecy,…

February 6 — Contact Senator Burr

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Our friends at NC Stop Torture Now are organizing a call-in to the offices of Sen. Richard Burr for Friday, February 6. Now that he is head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, his role in the full release of the 6,900-page report on the CIA torture program becomes even more crucial. Christina Cowger of NC Stop Torture Now writes in part: The summary of the Senate report revealed appalling details of the U.S. government’s systematic use of torture.  It catalogued numerous grave and plainly illegal abuses, many of which were…

Register Now for 2015 Faith and Immigration Summit

Time Is Now Immigration Rally in DC

This year’s summit will focus on issues affecting children and youth coming to our state from Central America. Rev. Julio Ramirez-Eve will preach. This event promises to accomplish four main goals: • Offer a unique statewide, ecumenical gathering for faith leaders who work primarily with immigrant congregations; • Help equip these faith leaders to deal with the daily challenges faced by their congregations, especially related to their immigration status; • Provide a space for networking and sharing of best practices; • Train immigrant rights allies, especially in faith communities, to…

NC Bread for the World Conference, March 28

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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…

Welcome EdNC to the Conversation

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Education has been of central importance to the NC Council of Churches throughout our history. Part of our opposition to segregation was support for a fully integrated public school system. When it seemed that too many voices of faith were bashing public schools, the Council’s Public Education Committee was created to provide an alternate voice. Public education is probably our society’s greatest equalizer, opening opportunities to people of all backgrounds, incomes, and abilities. Now there’s a new news service to help North Carolinians be better informed about what is going…

Which Christmas Will We Embrace in NC?

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Now that Epiphany is over, we are looking back on Advent and Christmas, and remembering our celebrations — special time with family, special foods or gifts.  An article in the Presbyterian Hunger Program’s winter newsletter entitled “For Which Christmas Are You Preparing” by Rev. Ellie Stock, Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy, St. Louis, Missouri, led me to reflect on my warm-fuzzy memories in relation to questions she raises. In terms of the real celebration God wants for Christmas, have I missed the boat?  Rev. Stock describes our three Christmas celebrations: The first is…

So Long, 2014: It Wasn’t all Pretty!

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Of the many decisions and activities that unfold in the arena of public affairs, the ones that tend to show up on the NC Council of Churches’ radar are those affecting the quality of social justice in our state. The Council stands for policies and their associated programs that offer support, relief and prospects for a brighter future to our vulnerable neighbors and fellow residents. That doesn’t mean reckless handouts. It means reasonable public efforts to keep the working poor, children, the income-strapped elderly, immigrants, people with disabilities and those…

How Your Church Can Help Prepare for Administrative Relief

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On November 20, President Obama announced that his administration will make changes to immigration policy through an administrative relief program. This will include changing removal priorities, expanding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, creating a new work permit for parents of US citizens and legal permanent residents, and more. For more information about what these changes will look like go to adminrelief.org where you can find fact sheets, a community education presentation, and a useful webinar. Here are some other ways that your congregation can help to prepare others for the…

Christmas: The Story of a Refugee Child Named Jesus

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Last week, the largest detention center in the United States opened. The 50-acre center, located in Dilley, TX, will hold up to 2,400 migrants who have crossed the border illegally and is especially designed to hold women and children. This week, Christians around the world are engaged in the retelling of the story of Jesus’ birth. What can the Prince of Peace’s birth teach us about the politics of immigration reform? How should we respond to these children at our nation’s border? Jesus tells us that a response to the…

Climate Change and the New NC DENR Chief

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More than 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists believe we humans are changing our climate for the worse. (That scientific consensus is as strong as the one that finds smoking causes cancer.) By burning fossil fuel in power plants, trucks and cars, by releasing methane gas during gas and oil drilling, by cutting down precious forests, we’re not only inviting more extreme weather events—severe droughts, and dangerous hurricanes, wildfires and floods—we’re also despoiling and endangering the majesty of God’s creation. That’s why, as Governor McCrory reviews candidates for the…

Ten Things I Learned from the 2014 Clergy Breakfasts

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The past two months the NC Coalition for Justice for Immigrants has been busy with its annual clergy breakfast series. This year we hosted five events across the state, as far west as Black Mountain and to the east toward Greenville. In total, 87 clergy and congregational leaders participated. I had the pleasure of attending all of the events and wanted to share a few lessons that I learned (or was reminded of) along the way: 1) North Carolina is a big state and each community is different. As I…

Keep the Light Shining on CIA Conduct

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Perhaps you can fight fire with fire, but you can’t – or shouldn’t – attempt to fight terrorism with terror. That’s an ultimate takeaway from the U.S. Senate report detailing abusive interrogations of terror suspects by the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA had a heavy responsibility in those dark days after Sept. 11, 2001, when Americans were desperate to know not only who had carried out the hideous attacks that claimed so many innocent lives but also whether more attacks were being plotted. What’s more, the agency and its overseers…