Gardening With a Purpose

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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…

Ash Wednesday Worship Resources on Human Rights

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Date: Ash Wednesday – March 5, 2014
Topic: Human Rights
Focus Text: Isaiah 58:1-12
There are countless ways in which we can make these passages come to life in our own lives and in our society so that “We can be the change we want to see in the world.” Once again, following Jesus’ example is our best starting point. In Matthew 25, Jesus says the depth of our faith is measured by the depth of our relationship with those society labels “outcasts.” In Jesus’ day, outcasts were lepers, prostitutes and tax collectors to name a few. Today, outcasts include those with HIV and AIDS, gays and lesbians, Latinos, Muslims and prisoners, among others. Each of these groups of people faces scorn and vilification in our culture, but Christians must be different. We are called to provide love to those who are rejected and hated.

HKonJ 2014 — Saturday, February 8

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It’s now just four weeks until this year’s HKonJ People’s Assembly. There is nothing more important for people of faith to do this winter as we work for prophetic social justice than to attend HKonJ and encourage  others to join us. Participants will assemble at Shaw University at 9:30 a.m. with the march set to begin at 10:30 a.m. I hope to see you there.  

Worship Resources on the Beatitudes

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Date: Epiphany 4 – Feb. 2, 2014
Topic: The Beatitudes
Focus Text: Matthew 5:1-12
The Beatitudes reflect the eschatological – or ultimate – nature of Jesus’ mission and proclaim the effects of the establishment of God’s rule. They list eschatological reversals for the unfortunate and eschatological rewards for the virtuous. It would be a mistake, however, to see the beatitudes as having only future significance. In fact, the first (5:3) and last (5:10) of the sayings are in the present tense. By bookending these future promises with the present tense, Matthew emphasizes the imminence of the Kingdom.

Sequestration Cuts 300,000 Families from Energy Assistance

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What does the Lord require of you? Christians are very familiar with the Micah 6:8 verse where we are required to “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” One has to wonder how our Congress can respond to this command with sequestration cuts being enacted daily. We’ve heard about Meals on Wheels funding cut, education cuts for our youngest and most vulnerable, and numerous other cuts that defund our safety net for the poorest among us. Now we are also seeing that homes…

Chocolate the Fair-Trade Way

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With Halloween upon us and holiday baking not far behind, think in terms of fair-trade chocolate and other ingredients for sharing and for cooking. According to Vince Isner in the October 13 General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church: This Halloween Americans will spend an estimated $1.2 billion on everyone’s favorite treat, chocolate. Yet behind America’s sweet tooth lurks a darker, bitter truth: In West Africa, where more than 75% of the world’s supply of cocoa originates, the industry routinely relies on child and slave labor to…

Shutdown Scenario: The Hunger Brink

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The political stakes and motives are plain to see. President Obama and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill are locked in a desperate struggle with the Republicans who control the U.S. House. Neither side wants to be painted as villains in the sorry saga of the partial federal government shutdown, or even worse, in any default on U.S. government debt. Each wants to take credit for whatever solution to the impasse finally emerges. At the same time, while hoping to spin the situation to their political advantage – or to…

NC Faith Leaders Call on Sen. Burr for Report’s Release

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More than 190 faith leaders from across North Carolina have sent a letter to Senator Richard Burr, asking his support for release of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report on the use of torture after 9/11. Among the signatories are 18 bishops and other denominational executives, including Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh, Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, and Bishop William DeVeaux of the Second…

Jailhouse Justice

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For all the Christian emphasis on forgiveness and redemption, many if not most churchgoers likely are comfortable with the old maxim, “Do the crime, do the time.” Law-breaking has its consequences in a just society, as it must. Still, the maxim can be dreadfully simplistic. How much time, under what conditions? What about mitigating factors? What about claims of innocence – which sometimes are well-founded, even after juries have returned verdicts of guilty? Criminal justice becomes justice in name only when sentences are excessive, when conditions of confinement are unnecessarily…

Moral Mondays – Clergy Issued Special Invitation for May 20

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As many of you already know, Rev. William Barber and the state NAACP are organizing weekly protests at the General Assembly, voicing opposition to the direction our state is being taken during this legislative session (that direction being backwards). These protests include, for those who choose to take part, nonviolent civil disobedience and arrest. In the last three weeks, nearly a hundred people have been arrested. The call has also been for supporters, people who choose not to take part in civil disobedience but who are supportive of those who…

Execution Foes at Legislature

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A misguided push in the General Assembly to get capital punishment back on track is generating a well-deserved pushback. People of Faith Against the Death Penalty, a group that for years has helped focus the case against executions, is bringing religious leaders to the Legislative Building as the debate again heats up. PFADP got its start as a program of the Council; we strongly support its stance and encourage legislators to listen with open minds and hearts. North Carolina has not put anyone to death since 2006. In the meantime,…

Interfaith Call-in Day to Prevent Gun Violence April 9

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The National Council of Churches, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and others are sponsoring an Interfaith Call-in Day to ensure that the voices of faithful Americans are heard throughout the halls of Congress on April 9. You can call NC Senators Hagan and Burr at 1-888-897-0174 and urge them to act to prevent gun violence. As the President of the Christian Conference of Connecticut wrote following the passage of historic legislation there last week, “It was an historic day in Connecticut as the legislative houses debated and passed the most comprehensive…

Stories That Lean Toward Liberation: My Discussion with Rev. Julio Ramirez-Eve

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Exploring the power of witness in the midst of a raging immigration debate, Scott Schomburg reflects on his experience interviewing Rev. Julio Ramirez-Eve, pastor of Iglesia Hispana Emanuel in Durham, NC.

Protect the Vulnerable Against Federal Cuts

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On March 1, new federal cuts will begin to take effect. If nothing is done, many hundreds of thousands of people will be hurt by across-the-board cuts to education, job training, home heating assistance, public health, and social services, to name only a few areas. In NC, 18,300 children and mothers would lose WIC nutrition aid and 2,855 families would lose rental housing vouchers. In addition, NC would lose services for people with disabilities and services to low income children (K-12).  These cuts will hurt North Carolina. This does not have to happen….

Bulletin Insert from PFADP

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Our friends at People of Faith Against the Death Penalty have provided a bulletin insert for churches interested in helping work to repeal the death penalty. PFADP, which began as a program of the Council, has been a leader in this movement. There has not been an execution in North Carolina since 2006, and leadership by organizations like People of Faith has been instrumental. Now, with efforts to repeal the Racial Justice Act underway, it is more important than ever for those committed to a progressive vision of social justice to…

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