What Does it Mean to Wear Ashes in Protest?

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is the first day of the season of Lent. In liturgical churches, it begins with a vivid reminder of death. As the words “for dust you are and to dust you shall return” are spoken, Christians are marked on their foreheads with ashes in the shape of the cross. This year in Mexico, many Christians used this remembrance of death to remember and protest the loss of 43 students who were kidnapped, murdered, and then had their bodies burned in a garbage dump and their ashes dumped in…

Commentary About Torture Report Published

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People of faith with Council connections have spoken out strongly on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on torture, calling for transparency. In particular, two recent opinion pieces call on Senator Richard Burr, now chair of the committee, to lead in releasing the full report. A guest column by NC Stop Torture Now’s Christina Cowger and Gary Gloster, the retired Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of NC, ran in the Winston-Salem Journal. It read in part: Only truth will allow us to stand tall and honestly proclaim our respect for human rights. Not secrecy,…

In Mourning

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The deaths of Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, and Deah Shaddy Barakat are an unspeakable tragedy. Whether officials eventually decide that they were murdered because they were Muslim, because they were faithful, or because of a parking spot, their generous and gracious lives have been brutally cut short. We will never know all the good they would have done. We pray peace for all those impacted by this horrible act and pray that we as a society will deeply, fervently consider why we so often turn to violence.  

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…

Which Christmas Will We Embrace in NC?

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Now that Epiphany is over, we are looking back on Advent and Christmas, and remembering our celebrations — special time with family, special foods or gifts.  An article in the Presbyterian Hunger Program’s winter newsletter entitled “For Which Christmas Are You Preparing” by Rev. Ellie Stock, Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy, St. Louis, Missouri, led me to reflect on my warm-fuzzy memories in relation to questions she raises. In terms of the real celebration God wants for Christmas, have I missed the boat?  Rev. Stock describes our three Christmas celebrations: The first is…

Advent – What Peace?

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This second week of Advent is often set aside to reflect on peace.  Reflection is a starting place; it does not take much reflection time to recognize that peace is very distant, and even seems impossible at times, in the current state of the world. We not only reflect on peace, but proclaim peace as a possibility, and work to usher it in. Through the work of Partners in Health and Wholeness, we are passionate about helping people steward their bodies as a part of God’s creation, tapping into the…

Keep the Light Shining on CIA Conduct

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Perhaps you can fight fire with fire, but you can’t – or shouldn’t – attempt to fight terrorism with terror. That’s an ultimate takeaway from the U.S. Senate report detailing abusive interrogations of terror suspects by the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA had a heavy responsibility in those dark days after Sept. 11, 2001, when Americans were desperate to know not only who had carried out the hideous attacks that claimed so many innocent lives but also whether more attacks were being plotted. What’s more, the agency and its overseers…

Worldchanging 101: Challenging the Myth of Powerlessness

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It’s not every day that the organization that you work with finds itself in the Acknowledgements of a newly published book. But that is the case in “WorldChanging 101″ by David LaMotte, a co-worker at the North Carolina Council of Churches. David continues to work with the Council as our Peace Consultant and has recently published this book, subtitled “Challenging the Myth of Powerlessness.” David is a man of music and of stories…great stories. In this book he weaves all of the stories of his journey together to illustrate that all…

2014 Advent Guide

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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…

NCCC Eating Well Curriculum is a National Resource

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If you haven’t had a chance to take a look at the Council’s curriculum, “Eating Well: For Ourselves, For Our Neighbors, For Our Planet,”  I urge you to do so. You will find food justice interwoven with all of the Council’s areas of work. You will see how eating well affects your body, environment, farmworkers, and even peaceful relations. And you will join the many folks across our nation who are on this journey. If you have participated in “Eating Well” and are looking for other such resources, the organizers of National Food Day have put…

Peace In Music

Sojourner's Jim Wallis and NCCC's David LaMotte

As a teenage girl, pop culture, especially music, is seemingly everything. As a teenage girl growing up in the Presbyterian Church, David LaMotte was the epitome of cool. I was introduced to his music while attending Montreat Youth Conference in the mountains of North Carolina and I was lucky enough to see him perform three times before he left his music career to study peace and conflict resolution. I remember him taking the time to talk with the audience at his concerts about the ups and downs in life and the treatment…

From Broken Communities to Beloved Communities

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The recent trial of Alamance County Sheriff Andrew Johnson has focused on alleged profiling abuses against Latinos. He is accused of detaining and arresting Latino drivers without probable cause. During the Winston-Salem-based trial, two retired supervising deputies testified that Johnson told officers not to give Latino drivers traffic citations but instead to take them to jail. The charges stem from the 287(g) program, implemented in 2007, which extends limited federal immigration powers to local officials, including performing background checks and beginning deportation procedures. The government revoked that agreement in 2012, and the…

PHW Honors Helen Livingston

PHW -- Helen Livingston

Meet one of our community leaders, Helen Livingston, of Scotland County. I first met Helen through the phone when I started with PHW, and almost instantly we were kindred spirits. She was the reason PHW had our first webinar, and she continues to be a strong asset for the Central South-East Region where I work. She was recently honored by the Scotland County NAACP Youth Council. Because of  the NC Council of Churches’ work with the NCNAACP, and because Helen Livingston is such a strong community leader in Scotland County, I wanted to…

Cary Congregation with Liberian ties Collects Medical Supplies

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We have all been touched by news of the growing Ebola crisis in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Nigeria, a crisis that so far has resisted efforts at containment. Those of us with even brief personal ties to West Africa (I spent a couple of weeks in Togo and Burkina Faso in 1974) will never forget the people there and are especially moved by this unfolding crisis. The August 7 e-newsletter from the Southern Conference (SOC) of the United Church of Christ contains information about a connection between the SOC…

2014 Faith & Health Summit – Register Now!

2014 Faith & Health Summit

Please join the North Carolina Council of Churches at the 2014 Faith and Health Summit, which will be held on Friday, October 10, 2014 at Ardmore Baptist Church in Winston-Salem (501 Miller Street). Special thanks to Wake Forest University’s Food, Faith and Religious Leadership Initiative for co-sponsoring the event! The program will run from 9:30am to 3:30pm, with registration starting at 8:30. Arrival snacks and coffee will be provided. The conference theme is “We’re Better Together” and the focus text is Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a. REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED. If you have already registered…