Council Puts Hot Topics on the Table

legislative_building_2

The mission of the NC Council of Churches extends into many areas that highlight the links between faith and public policies. And of the various events and activities sponsored by the Council, none is more closely focused on those links than the Legislative Seminar – giving it a special prominence on the Council calendar. No, it’s not a seminar of the sort familiar on college campuses – a small gathering around a cozy table. This is bigger and broader. It’s meant to be a multifaceted learning experience and strategy session,…

Coming to the Seminar? Bring a Friend!

HKonJ2015

The Council’s 2015 Legislative Seminar is about a month away, and we have an exciting program of preachers, workshops, and presenters planned. If you’ve already registered to be with us, thank you and we look forward to seeing you on April 14. If you haven’t registered, please do so by April 7 in order to guarantee lunch. Either way, we hope you’ll help us get the word out to other progressive people of faith. You can find a color flyer here or a program and registration form here to print…

Becoming the Church Together: Immigration, the Bible, and Our New Neighbors

Becoming_the_Church_Together-1

Together we will embark on a course to study the Bible and see how it addresses the issue of modern day immigration. Our goal will be to foster an open, honest, loving, and biblically focused conversation about this important – and controversial – topic. Each lesson focuses on Scripture, while incorporating prayer, activities, videos, and group discussion to help everyone investigate how faith in Christ affects views on immigration. Even as we study issues related to United States law and policy, our first responsibility will always be to examine God’s…

Register for 2015 Legislative Seminar — Updated with Workshops and Presenters

northcarolinaflagpicture1

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. Please scroll through the registration section for a full list of topics and presenters. 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…

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 during opening worship and music will be a Latino praise band. 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…

What Frightens Civitas?

Marc Mullinax from HKonJ

Apparently I scare Civitas. Maybe it’s my upbringing. I was raised by a single mom (my parents divorced when I was a toddler) who was fortunate to have a solid job with the federal government and a supportive family who were the safety net between us and poverty. We were lucky. Maybe it was my education. I came up through the Virginia public schools, Kindergarten through college (Wahoowa, y’all!). I attended U.Va. on a partial scholarship from a corporation that thought supporting young people of color through higher education was…

So Long, 2014: It Wasn’t all Pretty!

Party popper

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

Photo by Justin Valas

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

Immigration Refugee Christmas(5)

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…

Ten Things I Learned from the 2014 Clergy Breakfasts

Clergy Breakfast 2014B

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…

2014 Advent Guide

Nativity2

The Council’s 2014 Advent Devotional Guide is now available as a free download. Each year, Council staff take a social justice theme as a focus for these guides to be used during the season of Advent or Lent. For this Advent season, that focus is the care and well-being of children. As we say in the introduction: As we enter Advent, that time of excited, exquisite anticipation, may we never lose sight of that season’s reality. Jesus, the one we await, was the poor, paperless child of immigrant parents, specifically an unwed, teenage…

Obama Unveils Immigration Plan: “We Were Strangers Once, Too”

Immigration -- Families

Yesterday, President Obama took a courageous and controversial step toward reforming our country’s immigration system. He announced his plan to allow millions of undocumented immigrants to apply to stay in this country without the fear of deportation. One significant change allows for an expansion of the Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to include the parents of children who are US citizens or legal residents and have been in the country for more than five years without a criminal record. This will provide much-needed, temporary relief for approximately five million…

Lifting Up the Mexican Children and Students

Mexican Children and Students2

As I have been traveling across the state educating clergy about immigrants in their communities and facilitating discussion through the Clergy Breakfast tour, I have heard from some amazing people: health workers, school outreach workers, community organizers, pastors and attorneys. This past week at the Clergy Breakfast in Black Mountain I was blessed to hear from Natalie Teague, an immigration attorney in Asheville. Natalie had just returned from Artesia, New Mexico, where she had been working with a group of attorneys to serve women and children who are being detained…

Celebrating the Lives, Deaths, and Contributions of NC Farmworkers

DayoftheDead2014b

Last week, advocates joined with farmworkers from across the state to remember fallen farmworkers who have died in the fields of North Carolina. The event took place on November 1, which is Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico and All Saints’ Day for Christians around the world. While these two celebrations differ, they also have a lot in common. It is important to note that they fall at the end of the harvest season, when the days shorten and the trees shed their leaves — the natural world…

Conservatives, Riding High, Can Heed Cooler Heads

NC-State-Seal-685x665

There’s no getting around the fact that when North Carolinians went to the polls on Nov. 5, they gave a thumbs-up to the conservatives who’ve been in charge at the General Assembly for the last four years – doing damage that calls to mind the proverbial elephant in a china shop. Republican victories might not all have been overwhelming (putting aside those districts rendered virtually immune from competition by GOP gerrymandering), and in a handful of cases Democratic challengers emerged on top. But when the dust settled, the rightward tilt…