Healthy North Carolina 2020: Are We Gaining or Losing Ground?


Healthy North Carolina 2020 is a health improvement plan for our state. It addresses a wide range of issues that impact our health, such as tobacco use, physical activity and nutrition, mental health, and injury and violence. Optimal goals have been established in each of these areas, with a 2020 deadline for achieving them. So where does North Carolina currently stand? Out of the 40 original health goals, we’ve achieved 3 of them, 13 have improved but are not at the set target, 21 have gotten worse, 2 were not…

Gardening With a Purpose

Butternut on the vine

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…

HKonJ 2014 — Moral March and People’s Assembly


A cross-section of North Carolinians and progressives from other states flooded downtown Raleigh on Saturday as part of HKonJ 2014. Longtime activists from across the state walked with college students, parents pushed young children in strollers, old friends renewed acquaintances, and new relationships were forged. The day began with an interfaith Service of Repentance and Consecration, organized by the Council for lay leaders and clergy. About 50 people gathered in front of the General Assembly Building before heading to Shaw University to take part in Shabbat services conducted by area Jewish leaders and…

HKonJ 2014 — Saturday, February 8


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.  

The Beatitudes – Epiphany 4


Sign up below to receive free worship resources in your inbox (1-2 per month): Focus Text: Matthew 5:1-12 When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they…

Human Dignity and Wages—Are We Stealing?


As Christians, we are called to pay just wages. In Scripture, the Book of Timothy says, “The laborer deserves [their] wages.” James reminds us that fraudulent pay reaches God’s ears, and Paul asks in Romans if we should look at our own life and our own stealing as we are reminding others not to steal. There is even an old song we often sing in our sanctuaries that says “They’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love…We will protect each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride…

Day of the Dead and the Road Ahead for Farmworkers


Andres Sandoval went to a doctor in Benson, North Carolina four years ago complaining of stomach aches and difficulty sleeping. He was diagnosed with leukemia, and as a pesticide applicator, believed his disease was linked with prolonged pesticide exposure over the nine years he had returned to the United States to work. Ultimately, despite receiving treatment, he had to return to Mexico when his visa expired. Andres died in Mexico in March of this year, waiting on a humanitarian visa so he could continue to work and receive treatment. His…

Chocolate the Fair-Trade Way


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…

When I was a Child, I Spoke with Hunger Pains


One in four children in North Carolina is at-risk of hunger. Yet the House of Representatives will soon take up a bill that will cut $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program) over 10 years. These cuts are cruel, unjust and immoral, which makes them un-Biblical. There is probably no one in our churches that wants a child to go without food. This message must get through to our elected officials. Charities provided $4 billion in food assistance in 2011, but government nutritional assistance…

Worship Resources on a Living Wage


Date: Proper 21 – Sep. 29, 2013
Topic: A Living Wage
Focus Text: Luke 16:19-31

We were on our tour bus, about to leave the dorm where we had been staying, when a few of us saw her. She looked about sixty years old, and she looked like she could have been my grandmother. She came quietly around the corner of the building, went straight to the big trashcan, and started digging out our thrown-away lunches. She put what she could find in a bag, and she was gone. Sheltered life that I had led, I had never before seen someone using a trashcan as a food source.

The Ag Act: Congress Considers Turning Back the Clock to the Bracero Program

Photo by APT

Somewhat lost this summer amidst all the conversation about comprehensive immigration reform is a little-known bill called the “Agricultural Guestworker Act” (or “Ag Act,” HB 1773) that has already passed out of the House Judiciary Committee. This harmful bill is a thinly veiled attempt to strip farmworkers of the few rights they have on the job while propping up agribusinesses’ bottom line.

The Nation is Watching NC and Moral Mondays


The impact of Moral Mondays continues to extend beyond North Carolina. Two recent articles and an editorial in “The New York Times” are reaching a national audience. One of the articles is by Peter Carman, pastor of Binkley Baptist Church, a Council member congregation. Alliance of Baptists: ‘Not One Step Back’: Moral Mondays in Raleigh, N.C. Sojourners: Moral Mondays The New York Times: The Decline of North Carolina Moral Mondays are scheduled to continue on July 15. –Aleta Payne, Development and Communicaitons

Why I Went to Jail for Justice on June 24, 2013

Susan Cummings and Sandy Irving (right), at Moral Monday, June 24

NCCC Volunteer Program Associate Sandy Irving was arrested at the June 24 Moral Monday. Thirty-five years ago today, I became a mother—and in these last 35 years, I’ve spent a lot of time with children—as a mother, a grandmother, an aunt, and as a friend and neighbor. Currently, I’m a Sunday School teacher of young children, and the lesson we try to emphasize with our Sunday School children is to “love your neighbor as you love yourself” …”Do unto others as you’d have them do to you.” This lesson is…

David LaMotte: Celebrating Dad’s Day By Taking Mine to Jail

John LaMotte1crop

David LaMotte, the Council’s Consultant for Peace, celebrated Father’s Day last Sunday with his four-year-old son and 82-year-old dad. David then traveled to Raleigh with his father so that the Rev. Dr. John LaMotte could become one of those arrested at Moral Monday. Having already been arrested in an act of conscience, David explained in his blog the significance for his father, a third-generation North Carolinian. He wrote, in part: Tomorrow, I will take my father to jail, and I’ve never been prouder of him than I am right now….

NC NAACP Launches Statewide Tour


The North Carolina NAACP, building on four weeks of Moral Monday demonstrations, has launched a 25-city statewide tour reaching from Elizabeth City to Hendersonville. The Forward Together Movement Local Organizing Tour began May 28 in Raleigh and ends June 7 in Durham. It is intended to mobilize local communities against the direction the General Assembly is taking the state on issues important to people committed to social justice, including public education, access to voting, tax justice, adequate funding for state programs, support of vulnerable people, and the death penalty, among…