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…

A Year of Setbacks, Pushbacks

Photo by Michael Burns

At the close of a momentous year for politics and public policy in North Carolina – a year that challenged many people of faith to act on their beliefs — we again might find ourselves wondering whether things have to get worse before they can get better. That “things” got worse for many of the state’s residents during 2013 there’s little doubt. They are the people who, for example, found their unemployment benefits unnecessarily chopped, or who are sending their kids to schools where teacher assistants have been laid off….

Saints of the Council

Evelyn and Paz

My morning devotional was about All Saints’ Day, a time for remembering those who have come before us. There is no doubt that Christians have a great inheritance from those who have worked tirelessly on important social justice issues, have given themselves to enriching the world, and who led faithful lives filled with faithful service. The North Carolina Council of Churches has many saints that have come before us. If you read the Council’s history you will find the names of many faithful men and women who took a stand…

Fred Bahnson: On Food & Faith in the Washington Post


American spirituality is discovering itself anew as people of faith reconnect with the land. As I’ve traveled the country I’ve met fellow Christians who are falling in love with their faith all over again, and in every instance this love affair is tied to a place. Not a lofty cathedral directing the worshipper’s thoughts heavenward; these places draw the eyes—and the hands—down to earth, back to the soil from which Genesis tells us we were formed, and which we’re called to “tend and keep.” Our first and most basic human task, I’ve come to learn, is to care for the garden.

So begins Fred Bahnson’s recent op-ed article in the Washington Post. If you don’t know Fred already, you should. He’s a gifted speaker and writer, a thinker and theologian, but most importantly, he’s a gardener. After working for years with Anathoth Community Garden in Cedar Grove, NC, he now directs the new Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative at Wake Forest University School of Divinity.

Voices of Moral Mondays – Submit Your Story

Photo by Michael Burns

Help us reach our goal of 100 stories (25% complete) [wppb progress=25] – Moral Mondays sparked a prophetic fire in North Carolina and served to remind elected officials that social justice and protection for the most vulnerable are indeed moral values. Tens of thousands gathered during 13 rainy, hot weeks from April through July. Nearly a thousand people engaged directly in civil disobedience and were arrested for making their voices heard in the legislative building. The protests, organized by the state NAACP under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. William Barber, sparked interest across the country…

Tax Cuts’ Painful Costs


“Moral Monday” demonstrators at the General Assembly bring a wide range of grievances. They charge the legislature’s Republican majorities with failing to uphold the interests of North Carolinians who count on robust public education programs as paths out of poverty and doorways to success. They say poor people’s health care needs are being neglected. They decry what they see as methodical efforts to suppress the votes of African-Americans and others who tend to side with Democrats. They criticize a perceived legislative indifference to racial discrimination in the justice system. It’s…

Believing in Goodness and Mercy After a Very Hard Week


It has been a difficult week for anyone who lives from a place of compassion. For people of faith who believe in a kind and loving God and who may recently have celebrated the resurrection of the Prince of Peace, the tragedies have seemed endless. Horror in Boston, devastation in Texas, decisions around gun violence grounded in elections rather than protection and made blasphemously in the shadow of the sixth anniversary of the massacre at Virginia Tech, poisoned letters in lieu of civil discourse. While the plant explosion near Waco…

Rev. Fletcher Harper: Communicating the Values We Believe

Rev. Fletcher Harper on values-based messaging at the Legislative Seminar. Photo by Justin Hubbard.

The Rev. Fletcher Harper is Executive Director of GreenFaith, a New Jersey-based non-profit committed to building environmental leadership among people of faith. He is also an Episcopal priest. Download his presentation slides here.

Compromising values

Photo by Johnny Bee

Raleigh News & Observer

We would not have chosen to be a part of an issue like this, but we are. The world is watching North Carolina to see what we will do. There is compelling evidence that conspiracy to commit kidnapping and torture were committed by Johnston County’s Aero Contractors. The state should investigate these claims and determine their validity.

Obese Corpses Rejected for Medical Research


Carrying excess weight poses a number of health and other problems, but who knew such problems could extend past death?  According to a recent report by MSNBC, many donation programs are refusing corpses that weigh more than 200 to 300 pounds because they simply do not have the equipment or manpower to handle them.  East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine in Greenville, NC has even stricter weight requirements – they will not accept a body weighing more than 170 or 180 pounds for scientific study. Corpses donated for medical…

Placing Obese Children in Foster Care: Does the Punishment Fit the “Crime”?


The debate over whether to place morbidly obese children in foster care or to leave them in an unhealthy home environment resurfaced a few days ago when a 200-pound eight-year-old boy from Ohio was removed from his home. Case workers grew concerned when their attempts to work with the mother to reduce the child’s weight proved unsuccessful after more than a year, resulting in allegations of medical neglect.  Workers blamed the child’s excessive weight on his environment and his mother’s unwillingness to follow doctor’s orders.  However, the boy’s mother and her…

The Values Debate We’re Not Having


In his recent Washington Post op-ed article entitled “The Values Debate We’re Not Having,” Richard Cizik highlights the disconnect between an individualist market-first ideology and the Christian calling to love our neighbors. Cizik represented the National Association of Evangelicals in the corridors of power in Washington DC for 10 years. I think he’s raising some crucial questions for all people of faith, across the political spectrum.

Two Kinds of Religion

Bishop Curry

In my non-work life, I have the pleasure of serving on the advisory board for the Raleigh-area Episcopal Campus Ministry. It is a privilege to serve with the other board members in support of the diocese, the ministry led by the Rev. Deborah Fox, and the wonderful young people from NC State, Peace, Meredith and Shaw who participate in it. That it happens to align well with my professional life is always a bonus, and particularly at times like this past Sunday when Bishop Michael Curry made his annual visit to…

Why I Am in Jail


As I write this note, it is 12:30PM and I’m sitting comfortably in my office at the NC Council of Churches.  At 3PM, though, I will be in the gallery at the NC Legislature, and by late this afternoon I may find myself in jail. [Editor’s note: David was arrested on Tuesday around 4pm.] The current legislature is making a host of decisions which are contrary to the teachings of Christianity, and I feel called to resist those actions with my very body. Some may say that the actions of…

Good Friday Fast for Hunger


Friends of the NC Council of Churches in Western North Carolina will be fasting on Good Friday in solidarity with the poor, and in recognition that budgets are moral documents. They call upon Congressman Shuler to work with his colleagues find a way to balance the federal budget that does not place the burden for doing so on the shoulders of those vulnerable Americans who are least able to bear that burden.