Which Christmas Will We Embrace in NC?

Frozen3

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…

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…

Pushing Back Against the Grinch

10k Villages

On the third Sunday of Advent, the New York Times ran an essay by Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute. (It was reprinted by the Raleigh News & Observer at the start of Christmas week. Click here to read it.) It began: “’Christmas is at our throats again.’ That was the cheery yuletide greeting favored by the late English playwright Noel Coward, commemorating the holiday after which he was named.” It went on to cite a 2005 survey showing that more than half of Americans were bothered…

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…

The Ruling on Same-Gender Marriage

Wedding rings

The immediate impact of the most recent court decisions regarding marriage is that same-gender couples who want to get married in North Carolina now can, clergy who want to perform such ceremonies may, and same-gender couples who were married in other states now have those marriages recognized here. It is important to note that nothing in any way compels clergy to perform such ceremonies if doing so violates their own beliefs or the teachings of their denomination. That last point is important because the case out of which this decision…

Petition to Expand Medicaid in NC — Signers Welcome

Health Care

Health Care for All NC is continuing the important work for Medicaid expansion in North Carolina. The group is hoping concerned residents will add their names to a petition calling on the Governor and members of the General Assembly to immediately accept federal funds for the expansion. As the petition reads in part: By refusing to accept Federal money to expand Medicaid, up to 500,000 poor North Carolinians who would otherwise be eligible for Medicaid are blocked from enrolling. Christian and Jewish scripture both address God’s requirement for social justice toward…

Voting Rights Update for Pastors and Other Faith Leaders

Blog Pic - Vote Button

November 4 is Election Day. Because of changes in election laws, it is important that people in our pews know when and where they can vote. All of the following are important:  October 10 is the last day citizens can register to vote. To avoid any problems, your parishioners should be sure they are registered at their current address by October 10. Please consider announcing this from the pulpit on Sunday, October 5, and put it in your newsletter for that week. Or send it out by Facebook and Twitter…

Judges Ponder Rules to Vote By

Row of flags

North Carolina’s upcoming general election – Election Day is Nov. 4 – will be the first held under a revamped set of rules making it less convenient for some citizens to vote. Or, conceivably, the old rules will apply after all. That’s because the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has appellate jurisdiction in federal lawsuits arising from North Carolina and four other states, has agreed to hear arguments as to why the election law changes enacted last year should be put on hold. A three-judge panel of the…

Observing the Labor Sabbath This Weekend

Immigrant farmworkers picking sweet potato

As Labor Day weekend quickly approaches, many people are thinking about beaches and barbeques. Amy Laura Hall, however, wants people to be thinking about something different: labor unions. Hall, a professor at Duke Divinity School, is calling for congregations to observe a Labor Sabbath this Friday, Saturday or Sunday prior to Labor Day, during which time the words “labor union” are to be mentioned in a sermon, song or prayer. The effort stems from a similar endeavor by Interfaith Worker Justice in Chicago, which invited clergy to speak about unions from the pulpit….

Cary Congregation with Liberian ties Collects Medical Supplies

Rock Hands

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…

Saving Our Souls

Suffer the Little Children

News about children at the border – what’s happening to them, what politicians believe or say about them, where they are going, what will happen to them — continues and the facts are becoming more sensationalized as politicians seek to push their partisan agendas. No single person, group or party has an answer to the growing problem; however, one article this week in particular really made me think.  Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration, wrote an article for “The…

What Would Radical Hospitality at the Border Look Like?

Welcome to NC

This past week I have been focusing on the crisis of the thousands of refugee children at the border who are being held in detention centers. I have blogged about praying for these children and sending them letters, and distributed an e-bulletin about ways your congregation can support them. All of these suggestions are centered around showing hospitality to children who have crossed into the United States without their families. My suggestions have included donating money, clothes, writing letters and holding them up in prayer. But what if we were called to do…

Cy King’s Noble Example

CY -- CUCC

Cyrus Baldwin King, a gentle spirit with an iron resolve, was a hero of North Carolina’s peace and justice movement. The Council of Churches is honored to join in the many tributes that have come his way at his passing. Cy died on June 25 at the age of 91 – after a life of deep commitment to principles that lie at the Council’s bedrock. He worked to advance the cause of a world free of weapons of mass destruction, a world in which disputes could be resolved without bloodshed….

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

Peace

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…