For the North Carolina Council of Churches, 2010 was a year of change and of celebration. In February, the Council staff moved into offices in West Raleigh Presbyterian Church. The warm greeting from the West Raleigh family helped everyone settle in and quickly feel a part of the life of the church.
In May, the Council celebrated its 75th anniversary with services at Duke Divinity School’s Goodson Chapel. With the family of Council founder Shelton Smith in attendance, old friends were reacquainted over dinner and during a time of sharing memories. Summer marked the arrival of David LaMotte who joined the Council as program associate for peace. LaMotte, who is also a musician and writer, lived for a number of years in western North Carolina and completed his Masters of International Relations, Peace and Conflict Resolution as a Rotary World Peace Fellow at the University of Queensland in Australia. Also new to the staff in 2010 was Kathy Shea, who arrived as executive director of North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light. She is a physician with expertise in the link between climate change and health and who has specialty training in environmental health.
In the midst of change, a lot of good work continued. The generous support of judicatories, congregations, foundations and individuals makes the Council’s work possible and a list of those grantors and donors can be found here. A comprehensive summary of what was accomplished in 2010 as a result of that support can be found here and a video version is available here.
Some highlights include:
- The Faith and Health Summit in March in downtown Raleigh focused on integrating health practices and strategies within faith communities.
- Screenings of the immigration documentary Brother Towns/Pueblos Hermanos in partnership with filmmaker Charlie Thompson which took place statewide in the fall.
- The Critical Issues Seminar on care of creation in Greensboro in October featuring the Rev. Canon Sally Bingham, founder of national Interfaith Power and Light as the keynote speaker.
- A sign-on effort launched by the Council in December asking people of faith to take a stance against an outside church group which planned to protest at the funeral of Elizabeth Edwards. More than 900 people from around the world added their names to stand with the Council against hate.
- A complete revision of the Council’s website to make it more interactive and user-friendly.
Looking on into 2011, challenges appear likely. The state budget crisis alone leaves many programs at risk, particularly those serving the most vulnerable people. Executive director George Reed issued a charge late in 2010 to encourage people of faith moving forward. It read in part:
So we will continue to organize, educate, and call to action. Legislators need to hear from unhappy constituents. The Governor needs to be encouraged to use her veto pen. When untruths are spoken, they need to be exposed. When people are hurt, their stories must be told. And we must remember who we are and Whose we are.
There are passages from Romans that we turn to in times of adversity, loss, and grief, and that’s really where we are today.
We know that in everything God works for good with those who love God and are called according to God’s purpose. What can separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, even in these things we are more than victorious through him who loved us. For nothing in all of creation can separate us from the love of God fully revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We also like to quote Martin Luther King, Jr. about the arc of history being long, but bending toward justice. What we are seeing is that it is not a smooth arc, but one of zigs and zags. So what will we do here at the Council? We’ll keep proclaiming and practicing the peace and the justice to which our faith calls us. We can do no less.
—Aleta Payne, Development and Communications