After Sandy Hook — Sign-On Statement
We join in the shared grief of our nation and especially offer words of comfort to all of those who have had loved ones torn from them.
With this report, the Committee is in effect conceding that it cannot push for Arizona or Alabama-style legislation. While there is no doubt that some members of the General Assembly will cynically attempt to pass new measures that target immigrants, the immigrant rights community in North Carolina can stand proud. There are many battles that lay ahead, but at least for now disaster has been averted thanks to the courage of undocumented protesters and the strong immigrant rights partnerships that are being forged across the state.
The challenge of faith communities is not to deduct a set of moral principles from scripture that houses a model for a fair tax system. There are no formulas or bureaucratic maps that arise out of biblical texts that we might apply to our current context and tax system that will magically make the system fair. Rather, the biblical texts provide a framework to understand the Christian witness towards the common good and a Christian ethic of love and care for the vulnerable and exploited.
Partners in Health and Wholeness will host a dinner to connect Latino pastors with free resources and grants for churches. It takes place Thursday, Dec. 6 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Goodwin Heights Baptist Church, 704 Godwin Avenue in Lumberton. Please note this is a change in date from a prior announcement.
The meeting will be conducted in Spanish and is free. Please e-mail Joy Williams, for more information.
Thankfully the election is over and the American people can look forward to their leaders governing for a season before returning to full-scale re-election mode. While the economy continues to dominate headlines in both the Business and Politics sections of the paper, one of the most pressing issues facing the 113th Congress is comprehensive immigration reform. Election night demonstrated the growing power of Latino voters and the renewed demand for results on immigration policy.
We are delighted to welcome Justin Hubbard and Scott Schomburg, the Council’s interns from Duke Divinity School for 2012-2013.
Justin received a Bachelor’s of Individualized Studies in Psychology, Sociology, and International Politics from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. After working for a few years at the Department of Veterans Affairs Benefits Administration, he moved to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Before the room could come into focus, I found myself in conversation with pastors, organizers, and advocacy groups, recognizing both a patience and an urgency that seems to come with this work. Our day together unfolded a compelling narrative of faith leaders in North Carolina moving forward in solidarity to make communities better for immigrants. This story of challenge and hope, of conflicting conceptions of justice, and of faith leaders forming a public voice, captured my attention early.
This is really a unique event for North Carolina, bringing together people across the state who are connected to both faith communities and immigrant communities. While the immigration debate rages, congregations are really on the front lines – offering English courses, meals, job training, and pastoral care to people facing very challenging situations. The Summit will help equip faith leaders to both deal with these difficult realities and to mobilize support for immigrants in their own contexts.
Did you know that the detention of immigrants is big business? Over the last several years we’ve witnessed the disturbing trend of private, for-profit prison corporations benefitting from new anti-immigrant laws. These prisons operate like hotels, where each and every bed that is filled provides profits for the company. Every empty bed, on the other hand, costs money. These companies have a financial incentive to detain as many immigrants as possible, and they have poured millions of dollars into lobbying efforts ensuring maximum profits.
In Church, when we talk about immigration, the first question isn’t whether immigrants contribute more than they take or how to secure the border. The first question is: “Who is my neighbor?” Are immigrants our neighbors? How do we as Christians treat people who don’t have the “right” status? How do we treat those whom society rejects and treats as invisible? This is a major question throughout the Bible.
On September 18, the NC Council of Churches hosted a free one-hour webinar focused on immigration at the federal level. Between the recent Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s SB1070 and the Obama Administration’s announcement of deferred action, Congress has been engaged in a lively debate on many other issues related to immigration – and people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake. Learn about the latest bills and how your congregation can make a difference. Click here to watch a free recording of this webinar.
Recently, I heard a powerful message from the Rev. William Barber. Many Council folks know him. He’s the President of the NC NAACP and pastor of the Greenleaf Christian Church (Disciple of Christ) in Goldsboro. The power of his message was not in fiery delivery. It was a low-key conversation with a group of fifty or so progressive leaders, sitting in a circle in the chapel of University United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill. The power was in the profound thoughts he expressed and in the clear rightness of his words.
While the July 26 article “N.C. wary of possible farm labor shortage,” in the Raleigh News & Observer, included statistics and testimonies detailing our allegedly pending shortage of farm laborers, it left unstated the obvious conclusion: we can’t have our cake and eat it too. Or in this case, we can’t have our fresh produce and eat it too.
The General Assembly on Monday overrode Governor Perdue’s vetoes of three bills. By doing so they gutted the Racial Justice Act, revised the budget for 2012-13, and moved ahead with fracking. The outcome was not in doubt in the Senate. In fact, several Senate Democrats had excused absences and didn’t even show up for the votes. The drama was in the House.
Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court should put to rest any notion of North Carolina trying to enact an Arizona- or Alabama-style immigration bill. While we remain concerned that the ruling could leave the door open for legalized racial profiling, the Court has made clear that immigration policy and enforcement should be left up to the federal government.Here at the NC Council of Churches we see how faith communities are putting their faith into action every day, ministering at the front lines of the immigration debate by offering English courses, meals, job training, and pastoral care to people facing very challenging situations.
Last week, while senators in Washington indicated their overwhelming support for the Farm Bill through a preliminary floor vote, farmworker families throughout the Southeastern U.S. toiled long hours in the summer heat. After 14-hour days in the fields, many farmworkers return home pesticide-ridden, underpaid and empty-handed — financially unable to provide adequate food for themselves and the hungry mouths that await them.
The General Assembly leadership is committed to having this short session truly be short, and there’s talk of adjourning by early July. In fact, an adjournment resolution was introduced yesterday with a target date of June 19. This session, which starts in May of even-numbered years, is primarily to tweak the second year of the budget adopted the year before. In addition, certain bills which were introduced last year (mostly ones which passed in one house) can be considered. For a new bill to be introduced this year, it must fit into one of a few specific categories, with most new bills having to do with budgetary matters or coming from a study commission which met during the interim. Finally, pending veto overrides are also thought by the House and Senate leadership to be eligible for consideration.
The Spring 2012 Church Council Bulletin includes photographs from the Council’s recent Critical Issues Seminar, an update on items of interest in the General Assembly’s short session, a statement on the passage of Amendment One, the Council’s spring appeal, and more.
For the first time since its creation, a special committee reviewing North Carolina’s immigration policy heard from the public on Wednesday, March 28th. To a hearing room packed with advocates on both sides of the immigration debate, speakers told their stories to North Carolina lawmakers charged with considering the state’s role in immigration. Reverend Villegas presented the co-chairs of the committee with over 175 written comments from clergy and people of faith from across the State urging the committee to carefully consider the negative impact that new tough, anti-immigration laws would have on North Carolina.
On April 6, state religious leaders and activists will remember Jesus Christ’s suffering and death and the suffering and death of immigrants coming to this country in an “Economic Justice Way of the Cross.” The North Carolina Council of Churches is a co-sponsor of the event which takes place from noon to 2 p.m. at the N.C. State Capitol.The Good Friday commemoration of Jesus’ suffering and death will be linked with the need for justice, immigration reform, a change in US trade policies, and an end to US support for the war in Afghanistan and Colombia. Money needs to be spent on food and economic development instead of war, according to Gail Phares, director of Witness for Peace Southeast, the event’s primary organizer.
From Acts of Faith: Free Lectionary Resources for Prophetic Worship
Date: 2nd Sunday after Easter, April 15, 2012
Topic: Living Wages
Focus Text: Acts 4:32-35
From the pastoral reflection: “As Christians, we attempt to recapture the vision of work as related to the creating, sustaining, and transforming work of God. Our vocation is not defined simply by our paid employment. What we do at home, in churches, in our volunteer and political activities, all contribute to the “work” that embraces the whole of our lives.”
Tell NC legislators that we don’t want to follow Arizona and Alabama – say NO to harmful anti-immigrant legislation that could be introduced here in North Carolina.
A special committee of the NC House has been meeting to determine whether to introduce an Arizona-style “Papers, please” bill. This is your chance to hold lawmakers accountable for making NC a welcoming state that is competitive in the global economy instead of enacting costly measures that will separate families and threaten our economy.
From Acts of Faith: Lectionary Resources for Prophetic WorshipWhile the world may value persons differently based on income, earning capacity, education, experience, race, physical ability, appearance, or socioeconomic background, there are none of these distinctions in Christ. All flesh and bones, all bodies, are God’s creation. We have all been gifted by God for God’s work in the world. The person who happens to be insured or who can afford the cost of medical care is no more or less important to God than the person who is uninsured or underinsured, no more or less important than the barren woman, the dying king, the wandering and hungry Israelites, the suffering Job, the blind and leprous men, the bleeding woman, the child on her deathbed.
In April 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at New York’s Riverside Church about the war being fought by the U.S. in Asia at that time, in Vietnam. His words remind us of the choices we now face about war and peace at home and abroad. Click here to download the bulletin insert celebrating Dr. King’s life and work.
Join us for the 2012 Conference on the Common Good sponsored by the Council’s Christian Unity Committee. The title of this year’s gathering is Catholic Social Teaching: A Vision for the Common Good. It takes place Monday, February 20 at Raleigh’s Highland United Methodist Church from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.The standard and guide for Roman Catholic approaches to social justice for the last hundred years was set by a Papal Encyclical near the turn of the 20th Century. Centesimus Annus celebrates the 100th anniversary of that document and restates its teachings for our generation. It is a comprehensive summary of social and economic justice perspectives that resonate with Christians of every denomination. Rev. Dr. Brian Johnstone, Professor of Moral Theology at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, will be our guest speaker and leader.
Blessings of the Holiday Season from the staff, program volunteers and interns of the North Carolina Council of Churches:
George, Willona, Tyler, Susannah, Sandy, Rose, Rollin, Richard, Megan, Lisa, Leslie, Kathy, Joy, Donna, David, Collins, Chris, Allison, and Aleta.
While the Great Recession technically ended in mid-2009, its effects on North Carolina’s workers and families have dragged on. High unemployment and underemployment have led to increases in numerous measures of economic hardship, including hunger. More than two million North Carolinians faced food hardship in 2010.For more than a million individuals in North Carolina facing hunger, the state’s food stamps program provided a vital lifeline. Participation in the program has surged since the start of the recession, with the equivalent of the population of Charlotte being added to the program.
In this season of Advent, we remember how the Holy Family walked this earth as refugees. As they followed the Roman decree — as they fled across the border to escape Herod’s law of the land–even up to the day he testified to Pilate, “My Kingdom is not of this world,” they walked as strangers among us.
This is the scandal of Bethlehem: If God invaded our world once unawares, God could do it again. Today. Anywhere. Among any people. Anytime.
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.
Thanks to all of those who supported Abraham Jam and the wonderful performers who made it happen. We hope to have links to additional video from the concert soon, but for now, here’s a sneak peek provided by the Duke Chronicle.You can also listen to Frank Stasio’s interview with musicians David LaMotte, Dan Nichols, and Dawud Wharnsby from the Nov. 16 edition of WUNC’s The State of Things.
The church of which I’m a member, Pullen Memorial Baptist in Raleigh, has had a partnership for many years with First Baptist Church in Tbilisi, the capital of the Republic of Georgia (formerly part of the Soviet Union). The pastor with whom we’ve had the closest contact, Malkhaz Songulashvili, has now become the Archbishop for Baptists in Georgia. (You did not read that wrong. Baptists in the Republic of Georgia have bishops and an archbishop!) Malkhaz was at Pullen on November 13 to preach and lead in the celebration of Eucharist.
Malkhaz has been courageous in his advocacy and practice of nonviolent action as Georgia has gone through its “Rose Revolution,” which moved Georgia away from authoritarian government and toward democratic reform. The Church of England honored his leadership in September 2005 when he was awarded the Lambeth Cross by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Interfaith Dialogue is a crucial endeavor in light of the increasing religious diversity in our nation and our own communities. Globalization is a wondrous, yet in some ways perplexing reality, and it brings us into ever more frequent contact with persons of other faiths. While at one time the dialogue between Christians and Jews was common and we often spoke of our Judeo-Christian heritage, that conversation has necessarily expanded to include our increasingly numerous Muslim neighbors and we now speak of the Abrahamic Faiths. We are becoming increasingly aware of Buddhist, Hindu and Native American neighbors as well as persons of other religious traditions. It is imperative that we acknowledge, understand, and appreciate each other for the sake not only of civility, but because all our religious traditions require hospitality of us.
Last week, Council Program Associate Chris Liu-Beers was invited to Shaw Divinity School in Raleigh to preach during their weekly chapel service. Chris preached on immigration issues, with a focus on the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37).
North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light, a program of the Council, is proud to announce that this year has been a banner year for faith communities in North Carolina to go solar. Three faith communities have successfully installed solar projects on their property in the past few months, Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte (picture above), Temple Emmanuel in Greensboro, and the Montreat Conference Center in Montreat. First Congregational United Church of Christ installed their solar panels in February.
The American Diabetes Association has launched a new faith-based program called “Live Empowered” which is designed to assist churches with integrating diabetes awareness messages and life application principles into worship services. Also, in observance of American Diabetes Month, the American Diabetes Association is sponsoring “Super Diabetes Sunday” on November 13th. Super Diabetes Sundays will include materials and giveaways to help your congregation join the fight against diabetes.
This might strike you as surprising, as it did me, but radiation has been in cigarettes for more than forty years! We all have heard just how bad cigarettes are, but to know that they contain alpha particles on top of the other harmful substances is alarming, to say the least. And it is appalling to know that tobacco companies knew this and covered up the truth.
NC Policy WatchIt’s no wonder why our political leaders are scrambling to find solutions, even while bumping heads in the process. Both sides want what’s best for America, but the process through which we work to achieve that has become increasingly contentious and politically charged. And I can’t help but believe that our own personal experiences and beliefs, not the persuasive views of political pundits, ultimately determine on which side of an issue we fall and what we deem worth fighting for.
Let me share a story.
Last week I visited with a great group of students at Episcopal Campus Ministry (Raleigh) to talk about farmworkers, food and faith. Some students had just visited Episcopal Farmworker Ministry in Newton Grove, NC, where they had volunteered their time to visit with workers, provide clothes and other necessities, and learn about life as a farmworker in North Carolina’s fields. The visit raised many questions about the injustices in our food system and the seeming invisibility of the people who make it possible with their hard labor. Even though 85% of fruits and vegetables are picked by hand, many students remarked that they had never learned anything about farmworkers at all before getting involved with Episcopal Campus Ministry.
We are grateful to our fellow community in #NC who stands in solidarity with us as we put our faith into action. Please consider donating so we can continue shining a light on the most pressing & important issues affecting our state. #SocialJustice bit.ly/2YSFkNE pic.twitter.com/7w6P…
Are you familiar with the key focus areas of the Council? Navigate over to our homepage and check out our "Programs" and our "Priorities" to understand more about what we do & how you can get involved. #NC #SocialJustice bit.ly/32vufnZ pic.twitter.com/EtGh…
Are you an artist or engaged with the #NC artist community? Consider submitting a proposal for our 85th anniversary mural and/or pass it on to a friend who might be interested! #art #artist bit.ly/2ZAixWM pic.twitter.com/ArQp…
With budget negotiations happening at #NCGA, your representatives need to hear about what's important to you, their constituent. Use our advocacy toolkit for a detailed guide on how to take action & make your voice heard. #NC bit.ly/2Slfxvh pic.twitter.com/FzRm…
The PHW Collaborative Application is open until Nov. 30, but in order to be considered for small grant funding you must be a member. Apply today! bit.ly/2Gj6V3l #NC #HealthyEating #HealthyLiving pic.twitter.com/Jz3Q…
Join @NCMedAssist for a free mobile pharmacy on Friday, Aug. 30. You can get vitamins, allergy, cough & cold, children's medicine & more. No ID or proof of residency required. Come out if you can! #NC pic.twitter.com/xWV7…
Did you know that blueberries are proven to protect against aging by reducing DNA damage? Make sure to grab basket from your local farmer's market while it's in season! #NC #HealthyLiving #HealthyEating twitter.com/American…
RT @BlessedTomorrow We’re proud to be a part of the beautiful work in compassion happening in Des Moines with @greenchalicedoc this weekend. #creationcare #ClimateChange #compassion pic.twitter.com/RsqI…
RT @LauraSeydel Although they are proven to work, beverage companies don't support #bottlebills because it costs them money! nytimes.com/2019/07/… @CocaCola @PlasticPollutes @LCVoters @SierraClub @RecycleAcrossAm @foe_us #recycle #recycling #sustainability
RT @GretaThunberg School strike week 48. The climate crisis doesn’t go on summer holiday, and neither will we. Many thousands out in Berlin today. Thank you all!! #fridaysforfuture #schoolstrike4climate #climatestrike pic.twitter.com/BZR5…
RT @Michael_S_Regan We will remain vigilant in our opposition to activities related to oil and gas exploration off the #NC coast ... seismic testing poses too many risks to commercial & recreational #fishing #marinelife & our coastal #economy #NotOffOurCoast #ProtectNC 👍🏾🌎 coastalreview.org/20…
RT @Michael_S_Regan Enjoyed discussing #resilience & #adaptation along the #NC coast today w/ UNC- TV’s “Exploring North Carolina” @publicmediaNC host Tom Earnhardt. #NC is taking important steps to mitigate the impacts of #climatechange & rebuild our state stronger & smarter! #ProtectNC 👍🏾🌎 pic.twitter.com/cbLI…