David Gushee on “The State of Things” and in Raleigh — Tuesday

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Tune in to WUNC’s “The State of Things” on Tuesday, June 24, to hear David Gushee ahead of his evening presentation in Raleigh. “The State of Things” airs at noon, and Dr. Gushee is currently scheduled to be on from 12:20 until 12:40. If you live beyond the broadcast range of WUNC-FM, you can listen online by clicking on Listen Live at the very top of the page. The Council is pleased to be co-sponsoring Tuesday evening’s program featuring Dr. Gushee, a leading faith-based advocate for an end to torture by our…

Gushee, Powery, Cowger Discussion Marks Torture Awareness Month

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June is Torture Awareness Month, and we are gearing up for a presentation by David Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and the Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University. The event takes place on June 24 at 7 p.m. at Raleigh’s Pullen Memorial Baptist Church. Joining Dr. Gushee are Rev. Luke Powery, Dean of Chapel and Associate Professor of the Practice of Homiletics at Duke University, and Dr. Christina Cowger, Coordinator for North Carolina Stop Torture Now. Dr. Gushee served on a blue-ribbon Task Force on Detainee…

David Gushee: Coming to Terms with Torture: Truth, Accountability, and Renunciation

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“This nation admits its errors, as painful as they may be.”  — Sen. Dianne Feinstein, April 3, 2014. On June 24, noted theologian David P. Gushee will speak at Raleigh’s Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, presenting his thoughts on “Coming to Terms with Torture: Truth, Accountability, and Reconciliation.” Dr. Gushee is the Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and the Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University. He served on a blue-ribbon Task Force on Detainee Treatment convened by the bipartisan Constitution Project. That task force issued a…

We Rejoice in Baptism, We Reject Torture

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I was baptized a Baptist as a child, confirmed an Episcopalian as an adult.  I stood by as three of my own dozed through being “marked as Christ’s own forever” and have attended a multitude of services in other churches as the babies and children of friends were welcomed into the family of God. Here’s what I know about baptism – it is about joy and grace, a new and pure beginning for a beloved child of God. Here’s what I know about torture – it is ugly and brutal…

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,…

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