Leading and Following
One thing that was strongly emphasized at Duke Divinity School by my New Testament professor, Dr.… Continue Reading
I’ll never forget how it felt to serve dinner to this group. About 30 hungry, tired farmworkers arrived back at their camp just as it was getting dark, and they were kind enough to welcome us into their humble space for a shared meal. This group of mostly young men had been busy harvesting sweet potatoes down East. Most were indigenous Mexicans who learned Spanish as a second language, who didn’t know any English.
As we spooned out rice and beans and poured soda from two-liter bottles, I was struck at how rare it is for any of us to meet the people who actually produce and harvest the food we eat. From our history of slavery to our modern industrial context, our society has not really reckoned with the grim reality of those at the bottom of our food chain.
Date: 5th Sunday in Lent – Apr. 6, 2014
Topic: Restorative Justice
Focus Text: Psalm 130
If there were such a thing as a six o’clock news cast in the first century, Jesus the felon would appear walking down the street escorted by the police of his day—handcuffed—if you will. The announcer would tell us that the vandal who destroyed Temple property and repeatedly broke Jewish laws; the welfare king who relied on the generosity of unsuspecting middle class women to promote his suspicious doctrine; the man known to frequent the establishments of tax collectors and prostitutes—and claimed to be God, had finally been apprehended and was awaiting sentencing. Yes, in the minds of this first century felon’s accusers, he was little more than a common criminal.
Date: 4th Sunday in Lent – March 30, 2014
Topic: Awareness of Those with Disabilities
Focus Text: John 9:1-41
Jesus’ concrete actions in response to the man’s situation call into question not only the self-righteous judgment of the religious leaders, but also the comfortable distance maintained by the disciples. When they encounter this man in the city, they see it as an opportunity for theological reflection. But Jesus changes the nature of the conversation altogether. The disciples want to speculate; Jesus decides to act – to welcome the man as a person and a child of God, to offer those unique gifts that he has been given to heal the man’s suffering, that the glory of God might be revealed.
Here’s an immigrant congregation in Durham that is giving back to the community and making a real difference. It’s a beautiful story about what it means to be the church together. Do you know any immigrant churches in your neighborhood? How are they fostering community?
This video was produced by Uniting NC, a great organization working to make North Carolina a place in which all people, including immigrants, have the opportunity to thrive and to engage in their communities.
I will be leaving the NC Council of Churches at the end of March to focus full-time on Tomatillo Design, my new communications shop that works with nonprofits to create amazing, affordable websites.
Since I began working at the Council as an intern in the summer of 2006, I’ve had the incredible privilege of working with the most dedicated, talented and likable group of coworkers imaginable. From its founding more than 75 years ago to today, the Council has worked on a wide range of progressive causes and I’m proud to be a small part of that legacy. Every day at the office I felt encouraged by the witness of recent saints like Sister Evelyn Mattern and Collins Kilburn.
By Rebecca Cary, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Durham
During the past winter and spring, as I followed the news, I grew increasingly dispirited. Our state government was taking more and more actions that I believed, as a Christian, to be fundamentally unjust. Christ healed the sick and fed the hungry. The legislature was blocking access to Medicaid and taking benefits away from those who had little, and claiming to be helping our state by doing so.
By Dr. Leonard Beeghley, Pilgrim United Church of Christ, Durham
During the summer of 1969, I found myself in Fayette, Mississippi, where I met Mr. Charles Evers. Just elected the first Black mayor of a southern town since reconstruction, he proudly called himself “the most hated man in Mississippi.” His election symbolized the spread of democracy into the South.
By Chris Liu-Beers, NC Council of Churches, Raleigh
I felt called to participate in Moral Mondays as a way to “bear witness” in this time and place. I believe that as a society we are judged by how we treat the most vulnerable people among us; and as a North Carolinian, I could not stand silent while the General Assembly passed bill after bill that harmed the marginalized and propped up the powerful.
By Susannah Tuttle, North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light, Raleigh
As Director of NC Interfaith Power & Light, it is both my personal and professional responsibility to draw connections between the spirituality of stewardship and the procedures of policy making. I often lead my presentations with the point that caring for the environment is not just political, it is spiritual doctrine shared by all faith traditions. When the seventh Moral Monday focus was designated as environment, justice, and health, I was absolutely elated.
By Mary Klenz, League of Women Voters of Charlotte-Mecklenburg
League of Women Voters members here in Charlotte-Mecklenburg spent several hours making signs for today’s Moral Monday in our home base. It is inspiring to see the energy, commitment and caring that people have around these issues of social justice, fairness and access to voting. The LWV has been fighting for voting rights for all people since 1920, and we’re not stopping now.
By Rev. Jeanne Finan, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Asheville
Since that day others in my congregation made the long trek to Raleigh for Moral Mondays. People care. The church cares. We are called to care for the entire community, most especially the poor. How could I not go and make that stand?
By Jay Davis, Rougemont United Methodist Church
In 1959, I graduated from Central High School in Charlotte in what I believe was the first integrated graduating class in the state. A brave young African American named Gus Roberts suffered two years of living hell to make that kind of dramatic progress for North Carolina. I was not among the students that hit him or spat on him or verbally assaulted him during that time. I, also, was not one of those who befriended him, or supported him, or stood up for him. At least once during those two years I could have said to the bullies attacking him, “Leave him alone. He is not bothering you,” but I didn’t. By my silence I, in effect, held the coats of the cruel students that daily accosted Gus. In later years I would be haunted by that silence, but, at that point in my life, my eyes were blind to the evils of prejudice and racism.
By Leigh Sanders, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh
In the beginning, I was hesitant to attend Moral Mondays because I thought it was a strictly religious response and not being devoutly anything, I assumed I wasn’t invited. Then I attended a Moral Monday meeting at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh and understood that not only was I invited, I was late!
I am a social worker by profession and am especially concerned about cuts to health care for as many as 500,000 particularly vulnerable people in North Carolina. I am confused by politicians who say people should be allowed to have guns, and those who are mentally ill should seek treatment. How are they going to do that when hospitals and other treatment options are having their budgets cut, thus fewer resources are available?
By Rev. William Jeffries, retired United Methodist Minister, Durham
It has been a refreshing experience to participate in Moral Monday rallies. It has given voice to those who are frustrated by the North Carolina General Assembly’s turning the clock backward on social programs.
A key to reversing this “race to the bottom” is rescuing the elections process from suppressive measures, so that young, elderly, and poor voters do not have their votes denied
On June 10, I chose to exercise my Constitutional right to petition my legislature, to express my concerns about legislation they had passed and were considering. To be clear, we did not go there to be arrested, we went to present our grievances to the legislature. I chose to remain standing when the police ordered us to disperse, and I was arrested, handcuffed, and brought to the Wake County Detention Center. My reasons for feeling so strongly are many.
I am the vicar of a small Episcopal congregation in Elkin. When I first heard about Moral Mondays, I yearned to participate, but time was short and Raleigh was almost three hours away. As I reflected on this, I realized that one didn’t have to go to Raleigh to participate — that we could have our own Moral Monday in Elkin. So I sent an email to the congregation and another to the local ministerial association inviting folks to join me and our senior warden on a street corner in Elkin on the following Monday, June 10, at 5:00.
In these waning days of 2013, when the outlook for winning comprehensive immigration reform looks rather bleak in the short term, many of you have been asking me: what can we do?
While the pace of progress on immigration reform has been appallingly slow, we need to keep speaking up and taking action to show elected officials that this movement isn’t going away. I will be participating in the North Carolina Fast for Immigrant Families on December 17.
Here is a detailed invitation by our friends at FaithAction International House.
It has been very gratifying to meet fellow health-care reform advocates, including Physicians for a National Health Program and Health Care for All NC members, on Halifax Mall on the several Mondays I managed to make it. Some of you helped hold our banner. Others, like our treasurer, Robin Lane, addressed the 1,000 or so participants from the podium. My own experience, when I was arrested on June 3, was very personal.
By Willona Stallings, NC Council of Churches, Raleigh
I had the pleasure of joining a distinct group of social activists at a Moral Monday rally in downtown Raleigh. I decided to participate because my faith calls me to care for the least among us and to stand on the right side of justice. Also, the fact that so many people had traveled from near and far to have their voices heard was a great motivating factor for me.
I live and work in Raleigh, just minutes from Halifax Mall – so if my brothers and sisters could take the time to catch a bus, make a sign or invite a friend along, surely I could do the same.
By Rev. Robert Kennel, Covenant Christian Church, Cary
Moral Mondays helped me maintain some sanity through this unbelievable legislative session. I was able to make nine Moral Mondays but did not get arrested because my wife sincerely asked me not to, perhaps because we were celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary in July.
William Barber is a friend and a fellow Disciple of Christ clergy brother. He has done a great job in leading the organization of effort and in keeping it on target and respectful. Over the spring, I met both old friends and new friends who have their heads screwed on straight and with whom I will work on upcoming elections to right so many wrongs.
By Laurel Green, Charlotte
There is a bond between people who are arrested together performing civil disobedience. It grows from a soil of shared experience and blossoms into a garden of interwoven visions.
There are way too many reasons I felt compelled to take a stand as a part of Moral Mondays. From the privatization trend in our state to the outrageous intrusions on women’s choices, from the dismantling of safety nets to the destruction of our environment, to the attempts at ripping away progress in civil rights, to the shredding of our public education system, the list is long and horrifying. North Carolina is being used as a petri dish right now by groups like ALEC; if we cannot stop them, surely other states will follow.
NC Policy Watch
This week, House Speaker John Boehner stated flatly that there will not be any conference with the bipartisan Senate immigration reform bill. We’re hearing one excuse after another about how immigration reform is too complicated and there isn’t enough time for a vote. After months of dithering, it’s clear that House leaders are hoping to run out the clock on immigration. If it holds true that the House doesn’t vote on any other immigration bills, then an amendment to deport DREAM-eligible immigrants — which passed with overwhelming GOP support in June — will be the only immigration measure to have received a vote on the floor of the House in 2013.
Rev. Ron LaRocque, Metropolitan Community Church of Winston-Salem
On May 20, I drove from my home in Winston-Salem to Raleigh to participate in the Moral Monday campaign. Part of my participation included voluntarily committing an act of nonviolent civil disobedience which resulted in my arrest. I admit I was not as calm on the inside as many of those arrested alongside me appeared to be on the outside. Still, the anxiety I experienced was a personal sacrifice I was willing to make in order to live out my faith.
By Rev. Susan Steinberg, United Church of Chapel Hill
“Let the little children come to me, do not hinder them, for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.” As a pastor whose ministry has focused on children and their families for the past decade, these words of Jesus guide me, challenge me, and inspire me. They are words I strive to live by each day, words that shape my pastoral identity and inform my responses to events in the public sphere.
More than 10,000 people of faith committed to the FAST Action, 40 days Prayer and Fasting for Immigration Reform. As we closed the 40 days on October 18th, we recognize the need for action and escalation is only growing as we approach a shrinking timeline for legislation.We must continue to lift up the moral imperative of immigrants’ rights and immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship.
Now many people of faith from all traditions are joining labor, immigrant and community leaders in setting the moral compass and raising our voices. Many faith organizations are joining the Fast for Family Unity beginning November 12th.
I was amazed with the commonly made references to the civil rights movement. I was surprised to see many families with little kids. And most of all I did not expect to see policemen smiling and talking to the demonstrators in a friendly way. I could hardly believe in what I saw. I kept asking myself what it was. How- ever, in time, my initial disbelief and skepticism gradually gave way to a different feeling. I realized that this was a good example of one of the ways how stable, democratic society talks, conducts inner dialogue in a peaceful way initiated long ago by Gandhi, then carried on by Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the others.
Because the season of Advent is a time of awaiting the Christ child and the risen Christ, it is a perfect time to think about social justice issues. Christ’s ministry, which is explored in other seasons of the Christian year, focuses on lifting up those whom society regarded as worthless or weak, including the poor, the ill, the foreigner, women, and children. Social justice was at the core of Jesus’ ministry. Based on the Advent readings for Lectionary Year A, this guide will assist you in slowing down this season by taking 20-30 minutes one night a week to focus on social justice.
For weeks, I heard about Moral Mondays.Finally, I had time to go yesterday. I’ve been to several demonstrations, but nothing like this.This was like a rock concert for people who care about what’s going on in North Carolina and around the country. There were thousands of people there.
One of the things I like best about going to any kind of demonstration or participating in different forms of activism is that I get to meet a lot of people and talk to them. One of the things that’s great about going to a huge event like yesterday’s is that people come out and demonstrate for a variety of reasons.
By Rev. Craig Schaub, Parkway United Church of Christ, Winston-Salem
We were tired, hot, and hungry as we wove our way slowly through the crowd to head back to our car for the journey home. Our eight-year-old daughter was holding my hand and looked up. She said, “Dad, that was sort of cool.” On our way from the final Moral Monday in Raleigh back to Winston-Salem, she fell asleep in the backseat. Arriving home, she put on her pajamas, hunted for a book in her bookshelf, and thrust it before me. “I want you to read this to me before I fall back asleep.” It was a book about how representative government works. Not my idea of a typical bedtime story, but clearly what she wanted. Something was planted within her that night. It was enough for me.
After attending several Moral Monday protests at the NC Legislature, I finally decided to join the ranks of those who “trespass” and “fail to disperse on command.” I was by no means a groundbreaker. I may have been the 800th to face this encounter with the law while expressing disagreement with policies that punish the poor and reward the wealthy.
On top of refusing federal unemployment benefits and Medicaid to people who are economically vulnerable, our legislators are setting up obstacles to voting that will cost millions of dollars to enforce while disenfranchising those who fail to jump the additional hurdles.
The three most important people in my life happen to be young, African American men. None was born in North Carolina, but all have lived here most of their lives.
Precious as they are to me, they are also beloved children of God. Their Creator values them as much as God values anyone else, regardless of skin color, wealth, age or any other factor intertwined with recent human decisions about who gained and who lost in our state.
I am an educated, financially secure, slightly-beyond-middle-age, healthy, white, heterosexual, southern male. In other words I am a person of privilege. As a teenager in the 1960s, I lived in Birmingham, Alabama and was an almost eyewitness to the events that occurred there during that era’s civil rights struggle.
I am also a person of faith, and my faith tradition tells me that my privileged status is a gift that carries with it certain responsibilities. Primary among those responsibilities is to care for those whom we refer to as the least of these…those on the margins, the ostracized, the powerless, the voiceless.
I’ve been thinking about mustard seed as I reflect on Moral Mondays. Jesus once described the coming kingdom of God by comparing it to a tiny seed that grows into a large tree.
Moral Mondays started with a simple call to people of faith to prayer, to pursue the “moral high ground” of nonviolent protest and peaceful assembly, to register distress at the direction our state was being taken by the General Assembly and Governor. The call came from the Rev. William Barber, pastor of Goldsboro’s Greenleaf Christian Church, president of the state chapter of the NAACP, and the creator and prophetic force behind Moral Mondays. On April 29 (my birthday, but I’m pretty sure that’s just coincidental) there was a “pray-in,” followed by a rally at the General Assembly, followed by civil disobedience that resulted in 17 arrests.
As you’ll see in the news clip and discussion above, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is about to implement major changes to how chickens are processed. These changes will harm workers and consumers alike.
The USDA plans to implement a new rule to increase production speed and eliminate 75% of USDA inspectors in poultry processing factories. Companies will police themselves. During the comment period last year, the proposed rule was savaged by food safety experts, animal rights activists, and worker advocates. There was no credible rebuttal to their concerns. With faster production and less oversight, it’s no surprise that the pilot program found higher rates of salmonella.
In celebration of World Day of Migrants and Refugees on September 24, Pope Francis said:
Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more.
Here in our own political context, we might re-word the Pope’s powerful message to say: Immigrants are not pawns for Congress.
It’s been 90 days since the US Senate overwhelmingly passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill, but the House has done nothing with it. In those 90 days, more than 100,000 immigrants have been needlessly deported.
Governor Pat McCrory recently issued a proclamation declaring September 15-21 to be “Farm Safety and Health Week.” Here at the NC Council of Churches, we’ve been working with rural communities and farmworkers for decades, and we are well aware of the need for safety on our state’s farms. Our friends at NC FIELD have issued a powerful press release calling attention to the need for not only words from the Governor’s mansion but for real actions by all NC agencies and growers to make farmwork safer and to close the child labor loophole that puts kids in danger.
The Jefferson PostHave you ever gone to bed hungry? Have you ever skipped a meal so that your children could eat? Have you ever waited in a long line to take home a bag of leftover groceries that was no longer fit for store shelves?
Did you know that 1 in 6 North Carolina households reported serious problems affording adequate nutritious food at some point last year, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture today. Of the North Carolinians experiencing this food insecurity, some 5.5 percent experienced very low food security – meaning that one or more household members had to reduce their food intake at least some time during the year.
Exciting News - We turn 85 this year! Celebrate 85 years of advocating for social justice with us! We want to see you at one of our 6 events this year! Check it out and look for registration links soon! bit.ly/2uLrbaZ pic.twitter.com/cmdF…
RT @healthandfaith Rev. Dr. King's vision for the #BelovedCommunity centers compassion & support in building a healthy society. We thank you, brother King, for laying the foundation of work that we are so privileged to build on. #MLK91 twitter.com/MLKDay/s…
"Faithfulness involves bringing light into dark places. Faithfulness necessarily includes working to reform systems and make them more fair." Read the words of our Executive Director's sermon this past Sunday. ncchurches.org/2020/…
"These stories explore the intersections between drug use, mental health, sex work, and trauma." So powerful to see these stories lifted up and shared. We hear you, we see you, and we stand with you. bit.ly/36157Ge #WNC #NC #OpioidCrisis @BlkMountainNews
Rev. Dr. King's vision for the #BelovedCommunity centers compassion & support in building a healthy society. We thank you, brother King, for laying the foundation of work that we are so privileged to build on. #MLK91 twitter.com/MLKDay/s…
RT @rykelongest Thank you all for making this happen. Great work by @NCDEQ @selc_org @CRFRiverkeeper @AppVoices @yadkinrivkeeper @CapeFearRiver @NCEJN @CleanWaterforNC @NCWARN @SierraClubNC @NCConservation @nclcv @NCIPL @HawRiverkeeper and so many more. twitter.com/NC_Gover…
RT @CreationCareWNC Still looking for little Epiphanies? This SALT Video about Eric Masterson, birdwatcher, immigrant, and deep listener may help. "Nightsongs" is a meditation on treasuring what cannot be seen. @saltproject @audubonsociety @AudubonNC vimeo.com/374902765 pic.twitter.com/QoGy…
RT @KHayhoe #AustralianWildFires climate denial claims, "it's arson! it's been warmer before! fire's natural!" The truth? Human-induced climate change is a threat multiplier. It takes existing risks + amplifies them beyond imagining, affecting every living thing on this planet: including us.