2015 Ecumenical Prayer Calendar
This Prayer for Unity and monthly ecumenical prayer calendar include by name the judicatories and congregations… Continue Reading
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.
We’re proud to be publishing these brand new church bulletin inserts on comprehensive immigration reform. With large color pictures and up-to-date facts and figures, these 8.5×5.5 inserts explain where things stand with federal legislation and offer congregants many different ways to get involved.
This workshop on energy policy is also a continuation of Rev. Fletcher Harper’s plenary session (available here) at the 2013 Legislative Seminar. Harper is Executive Director of GreenFaith, a New Jersey-based non-profit committed to building environmental leadership among people of faith. He is also an Episcopal priest.
This workshop on agricultural policy, from our 2013 Legislative Seminar on April 11, covers a wide range of topics – from the US Farm Bill to fracking to the meaning of “local” and “sustainable” food. Scott Marlow led the workshop. Scott currently serves as Executive Director of the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI). His specialty is financial infrastructure, including access to credit and risk management for value-added producers. He previously directed RAFI’s Farm Sustainability program, providing in-depth financial counseling to farmers in crisis, education on disaster assistance programs and access to credit, and addressing the needs of mid-scale farmers who are increasing the sustainability of their farms by transitioning to higher-value specialty markets.
Tune in as George Reed, our Executive Director here at the NC Council of Churches, explains the legislative process in North Carolina. How can “ordinary citizens” get involved? What strategies can we use to be as effective as possible? Listen as George crams 25 years of experience into one jam-packed hour.
Alexandra Forter Sirota (Director) and Cedric Johnson (Policy Analyst) from the NC Budget and Tax Center explain the debate about North Carolina’s tax system and offer a vision of a more progressive tax structure for the state. You can download and listen to the podcast above.
Rev. Linda Walling, Executive Director at Faithful Reform in Health Care and Nicole Dozier, Assistant Project Director at the NC Health Access Coalition offered this compelling and insightful workshop on the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) at our 2013 Legislative Seminar. You can download and listent the podcast above.
The Council’s 2013 Legislative Seminar on April 11 featured a workshop about voting rights. It was provided by Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, a group that advocates for voting rights and for proper safeguards against the influence of self-serving special interests in the political system.
The debate over whether voters should have to show a photo ID has raged from state to state, with backers saying such IDs are needed to combat voter fraud.
Nobody wants to see even one vote cast illegally, and it’s true that most voters already have photo IDs. However, those who don’t have them tend to be among society’s vulnerable.
Click here for a free download of our new 2013 social justice study for Lent: Preparing the Way. This simple 10-page document combines traditional Lenten themes and Bible passages with contemporary issues including hunger, care of creation, and immigration. We invite you to join us in this season of reflection and preparation.
Agriculture serves as the economic backbone for North Carolina, and farmworkers’ hand labor is needed to produce crops that bring in billions of dollars to the state’s economy each year. Despite this fact, farmworkers remain one of the state’s most economically disadvantaged and unprotected group of laborers.
From the laws and histories of ancient Israel to the life of Jesus and the letters of Paul, themes related to the treatment of farmworkers emerge consistently throughout the Judeo-Christian scriptures. Many of these passages suggest that a community’s relationship with God is in fact defined at least in part by its treatment of foreigners, laborers, the poor, and the marginalized. Below is a brief selection of Bible verses that support the idea that farmworkers should be treated fairly.
Perhaps the greatest challenge is helping a congregation begin to see farmworkers as created in God’s image and thus full members of our community. In theological terms, we might use the language of “strangers no longer” and “brothers and sisters in Christ.” We’ve found that most of the controversial conversations about farmworkers are based on myths or misunderstandings. Many of these myths can fracture communities and pit one group against another. You may want to explore these in your congregational discussions as a way of moving members to a better understanding of our farmworker neighbors.
Ramón Zepeda of Student Action with Farmworkers offers an in-depth workshop about one of the critical issues facing immigrant youth today: access to education. He covers everything from pending legislation to the struggle for in-state tuition to DACA.
Farm labor ranks as one of the top three most dangerous occupations in the United States. In addition to hazards in the fields, farmworkers and their families face unique burdens on their physical and mental health. North Carolina’s leading industry is agriculture, yet farmworkers are among the most underserved residents in the state.
Not all immigrants are farmworkers, and not all farmworkers are immigrants. Yet as the following facts show, our agricultural system has always relied on the labor of displaced people that do not have the benefit of full citizenship in this country—whether indentured servants, slaves, sharecroppers, or undocumented immigrants.
Farmworkers are some of our nation’s most vital workers, as their labor enables us to enjoy high quality, low-cost, fresh fruits and vegetables all year round. Despite farmworkers’ economic and cultural contributions to the communities where they live and work, they continue to be the some of the lowest paid, least protected, and unhealthiest workers in the United States.
This comprehensive, intergenerational curriculum focuses on the food we eat and why it matters. Featuring 7 lessons with Scripture, prayers, resources, and activities for young children through adults, “Eating Well” will challenge and inspire your church or community group. Download your copy today.
With too many North Carolinians jobless, the North Carolina Council of Churches is releasing a newly revised version of its popular “Job Loss: A Guidebook for Pastors” eight years after the original was published. The revised version is available for free download on the Council’s website.
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.
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.
When a distinguished group of Muslim Imams published their historic “A Common Word Between Us and You” it was met with resounding expressions of appreciation by religious and secular leaders alike. It was an effort to initiate a broad dialogue across the United States between Muslims and Christians. It focused on two central themes which these two historic faiths hold in common: Love of God, and Love of Neighbor, and it sites the many texts of the Hebrew Scriptures which are venerated by both religious traditions. It seemed inappropriate to engage in such a dialogue without including our Jewish colleagues from whose faith tradition these texts originated. Hence, a three way dialogue was seen as the best approach.
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).
The NC Council of Churches is pleased to announce the publication of a brand new biblically based curriculum on immigration issues, entitled Becoming the Church Together: Immigration, the Bible & Our New Neighbors. Designed to facilitate constructive discussion, this flexible curriculum guides small groups through the many aspects of this topic with an emphasis on studying the Bible together.
The experiences of landowners in other states indicate that hydraulic fracturing can have profound negative impacts on rural communities. The Rural Life Committee of the North Carolina Council of Churches supports the current ban on hydraulic fracturing in North Carolina. The above concerns need to be addressed with careful attention to landowners’ property, landowners’ rights, and the care for creation’s gifts. Furthermore, we call on our member bodies and faith leaders to share reliable information about hydraulic fracturing with their communities. We believe that we are called by God to be good stewards of the good gifts of community, health, water and soil. Trusting in God, we refuse to trade this bountiful inheritance for the empty promises of energy that may be cheap in terms of dollars but which we know will be costly in terms of our livelihoods.
A Theological Companion to Making Ends Meet After the Great Recession: The 2010 Living Income StandardThis new resource is meant to bring the issue of wages into conversation with theological perspectives of economic justice. Workers Are Worth Their Keep is divided into three main sections. The first section highlights passages from the Bible that speak directly about economic justice, fair pay for workers, and the call of God to treat workers with dignity. The second section examines the perspectives of several major figures from Christian traditions. While their contexts vary greatly, their voices converge around the calling to pay workers wages that are fair and just. The third and final section of this resource quotes from official statements from many of the denominations represented in the NC Council of Churches.
A Reflection on Public Education in God’s World Today
Rev. Joe Brown, chair of the Council’s Public Education Committee and a Presiding Elder in the AME Zion Church, is encourging congregations across North Carolina to use a Lenten Study Guide which has been created by members of the National Council of Churches Committee on Public Education and Literacy.
This Prayer for Unity and monthly prayer calendar include by name the judicatories and congregations that are members of the North Carolina Council of Churches and the names of their current leaders. Your pryers for reconciliation are invited for all Christian bodies in and beyond the state.
In seeking to capture the essence of the past 25 years, this history brings the Council’s story up to the present as we celebrate 75 years of ecumenical service in the cause of justice and peace. Nothing has changed in the basic purposes of the Council. However, the manner in which these ministries have taken place shows a keen awareness of the changing times and the need to be current in the most effective ways to address the issues of the day in our witness to the people of this state.
Farmworkers play a vital role in cultivating the food we eat everyday, and North Carolina has one of the largest farmworker populations in the nation. Even though 85% of our fruits and vegetables are harvested by hand, farmworkers remain largely invisible. This colorful and easy-to-read fact sheet was designed for congregations and community groups. Download a copy today.
The curriculum was written with the help of many individuals for churches to examine and reflect on farmworker issues in North Carolina in a biblical context. It is our hope that through the use of this curriculum, your congregation will lift up farmworkers and become a part of the North Carolina movement to improve the living and working conditions of those who harvest our crops.
Agriculture serves as the economic backbone for North Carolina, and farmworkers’ hand labor is needed to produce crops that bring in billions of dollars to the state’s economy each year. Despite this fact, farmworkers remain one of the state’s most economically disadvantaged and unprotected group of laborers. This colorful and easy-to-read fact sheet was designed for congregations and community groups. Download a copy today.
Farm labor ranks as one of the top three most dangerous occupations in the United States. In addition to hazards in the fields, farmworkers and their families face unique burdens on their physical and mental health. North Carolina’s leading industry is agriculture, yet farmworkers are among the most underserved residents in the state. This colorful and easy-to-read fact sheet was designed for congregations and community groups. Download a copy today.
Not all immigrants are farmworkers, and not all farmworkers are immigrants. Yet as the following facts show, our agricultural system has always relied on the labor of displaced people that do not have the benefit of full citizenship in this country—whether indentured servants, slaves, sharecroppers, or undocumented immigrants. This colorful and easy-to-read fact sheet was designed for congregations and community groups. Download a copy today.
Farmworkers are some of our nation’s most vital workers, as their labor enables us to enjoy high quality, low-cost, fresh fruits and vegetables all year round. Despite farmworkers’ economic and cultural contributions to the communities where they live and work, they continue to be the some of the lowest paid, least protected, and unhealthiest workers in the United States. This colorful and easy-to-read fact sheet was designed for congregations and community groups.
The NC Council of Churches has published 2 free fact sheets that are available for distribution in your congregation or community group. “Faith & Immigration” highlights the religious calling to welcome the stranger, while “Society & Immigration” evaluates common misconceptions about immigrants.
The debate about immigration policy continues to divide people of good will across our nation and our state. Immigration divides us, in part, because of both the breadth and the depth of the issues involved – from powerful global economics to fast-changing local cultures, from the complex world of international politics to family histories intricately woven across borders, from worldwide patterns of migration to the very heart of American identity.
The question of how to respond to the complicated realities of immigration has divided us not only as Americans, but also as people of faith. What do our faith traditions have to say about immigrants and foreigners?
Welcome to our worship resources for Partners in Health and Wholeness (PHW). PHW is an ambitious program of the North Carolina Council of Churches designed to help people of faith to see health — their own health — as an issue of faith and to take action that will lead to healthier and more abundant living.
During the spiritual journey that is the life of a Christian, each one of you involved in this study has come to the conclusion that part of being a follower of Christ is paying attention to the housing needs of all of God’s children. Some of you may be more aware of the problem of inadequate housing in your part of North Carolina than are the people who developed this study. Others of you had your interest peaked simply by the hands-on nature of FaithWorks, the rural home-building project of Habitat for Humanity and the North Carolina Council of Churches. Wherever you come into this study, you will find in its pages and in the discussions that result a biblical witness to the problem of inadequate housing.
At the North Carolina Council of Churches’ Partners in Health and Wholeness Program, we want to help people of faith and congregations become healthier. What better way to help people become healthier than by helping them prepare healthy foods? Not only do we want to show you how to cook healthy foods at home, we want to offer you recipes to use at church events, too. Our objective with this cookbook is to highlight healthy recipes for large groups. Our hope is that you will use these recipes to help feed your parishes, that they might receive spiritual and bodily nourishment at church.
This booklet is an offering to you from the North Carolina Council of Churches. When the Executive Board of the Council met in the Fall of 2002 to determine priorities for the Council’s program work, a prime concern was our North Carolina economy.
We are one of the top states for job loss due to the free trade agreements initiated by the federal government over the past ten years. The earnings gap between those in stable professions and those who serve in jobs such as health aides and childcare workers, farm workers and landscapers, is widening every year. Add to this a recession and wars, tobacco’s demise, flood and hurricane destruction, and a state budget crisis, and we end up with too many individuals and families in stress and fear and pain due to economic hardship.
In his life and mission, Jesus saw himself as actively preparing and serving the kingdom of God on earth, to
be as it is in heaven. He saw all of his disciples in the same light and as having the same purpose. Nowhere
in the prayer instructions of Jesus is the focus on getting the earth–or ourselves–to heaven. The heart of
the Lord’s Prayer is a request for heaven on earth. While this difference may seem subtle, its truth is at the very center of the call and practice of prayer and discipleship.
A Litany of Lament Over a Despoiled Ocean
Ken Sehested, pastor, Alliance-affiliated
Circle of Mercy, Asheville, N.C.
In the beginning, darkness covered the face of the deep.
Then the Breath of Heaven swept across the waters, blessing the sea with all manner of creatures.
The sea knows its Maker and roars its applause; the fish therein leap at the sound of God’s voice.
Through the baptismal waters of the Red Sea did the Israelites escape their tormentors and emerge to freedom’s demand.
God gives people plants and seeds for farming as a gift in the first chapter of Genesis. Genesis tells us God created plants and their seeds, “each according to its kind,” called them good, and gave to humans to eat. For generations, farmers and gardeners have honored this gift, tending and improving their crops.
We, the members of the Rural Life Committee of the North Carolina Council of Churches, celebrate God’s gift of agricultural diversity and the good stewardship of that gift by generations of farmers. We support just and fair options for farmers and a secure food supply for those in need. We recognize that our actions affect people across the globe.
When addressing the concentration of ownership in agriculture and the development of genetically modified seeds, we consider: Who benefits? What are those benefits? What are the true costs? Who will pay them? Are there more sustainable, appropriate, cost-effective and just alternatives?
This Prayer for Unity and monthly prayer calendar include by name the judicatories and congregations that are members of the North Carolina Council of Churches and the names of their current leaders. Your prayers for reconciliation are invited for all Christian bodies in and beyond the state.
In the United States, Mother’s Day was originally suggested by poet and abolitionist activist Julia Ward Howe. In 1870, after witnessing the carnage of the American Civil War and the start of the Franco-Prussian War, she wrote the original Mother’s Day Proclamation calling upon the women of the world to unite for peace. This “Mother’s Day Proclamation” would plant the seed for what would eventually become a national holiday.
David J. McBriar, O.F.M.It’s a joy for me as Ecumenical Officer of the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh to join my welcome to that of our bishop, Michael Burbidge. I have gotten to know many of you these past ten years and I can only say how grateful I am for your faith and for your unflinching commitment to the cause of Christian unity. My own faith has been nourished and enriched because of prayer with you, dialogue with you, and witness with you. The cause of Christian unity has indeed been advanced in Raleigh and in our state through your prayer and your dedicated work.
A Living Wage for North Carolina: An Introduction is intended to be just that: an introduction. Exhaustive research abounds on the subjects of the minimum wage and living wage. Yet often these studies—while thorough and informative—assume that the reader has a certain level of expertise. This brief resource seeks to be a primer for readers who are interested in fair wages but do not have the background or resources available to conduct an independent investigation.
The following are prayers offered for Middle East Peace during a 2006 interfaith prayer service in North Carolina.It is good that we have been here today, not because it changes a thing, but because it reminds us that as diverse as our traditions and convictions are, our hearts yearn for similar things. And if this is true, if we are hoping and praying and working for the same ultimate goals, then we are connected in a soulful way. And acknowledging that truth can change everything.
May the One who made us for peace, give us the courage to live in peace.
May the One who made us in love, give us the compassion to reach out in love.
May the One who made us with hope, give us the strength to persevere in hope.
And may all of our sisters and brothers in the Middle East know the fullness of God’s peace, God’s hope, and God’s love. Amen.
It is no secret that there are great contentions, often over moral matters, in the churches of North Carolina today. Therefore, it might make some sense to bracket the moral issues of the day, for a season, and turn attention elsewhere. With the brackets securely in place, this project, “A Reflection on the Churches’ Doctrine of Humanity,” revisits the doctrine that systematic theologians call “anthropology” or “Christian anthropology.”
The Readers Theatre text is essentially the words of women themselves who were interviewed in small group settings by members of the North Carolina Council of Churches Task Group on the Impact of the Women’s Movement on North Carolina Congregations. Questions were formulated under the direction of the UNC Oral History Project, which will also be the repository of the taped interviews and transcripts. The Readers Theatre is the Task Group’s effort to share the fruits of those interviews with a broader audience of interested persons of faith.
This is a preliminary report concerning a new study of capital punishment in the State of North Carolina that has been undertaken during the past nine months – the North Carolina Death Penalty Study 2001. It is the first major social scientific study of the death penalty conducted in North Carolina in over 20 years, and the first systematic look for patterns of racial discrimination in capital sentencing in the South employing data more recent than 1984. The report has been prepared by Dr. Robert Unah of the Department of Political Science of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with the assistance of Professor John Charles Boger of the UNC School of Law.As we will elaborate below, the preliminary findings present clear and disturbing evidence that North Carolina’s capital system in the 1990s continues to exhibit patterns of racial discrimination that cannot be explained by any of the legitimate sentencing considerations that have been sanctioned by North Carolina’s legislative and judicial branches.
This curriculum builds on “The Elephant in the Courtroom: Racism and Criminal Justice in North Carolina,” a policy paper developed by the North Carolina Council of Churches’ 1999-2000 Task Group on Racism and Criminal Justice in North Carolina. The policy paper has been disseminated among policy makers, judges, prison officials, and the media. The Task Group holds, however, that needed change will not happen until ordinary citizens, informed by a sense of fairness as well as an understanding of the nature of community and the power of forgiveness, demand equity in the administration of justice in our country. The curriculum addresses itself to adult education groups in congregations and workshop leaders at ecumenical and denominational meetings. The packet is self-contained and requires only that the leader copy some of the individual readings for the number of participants at the session.
The history of the North Carolina Council of Churches is the story of persons, religious leaders struggling to respond in faith to the signs of their times. Sometimes the signs could be clearly read; at other times they had to be discerned through a glass darkly. The records show that the leaders would prefer to be measured in terms of the fullheartedness of their responses rather than the accuracy of their discernment, in terms of their deeds rather than their words. This document outlines the first fifty years of the Council’s work in North Carolina.
The Study Committee on Tobacco was formed by the NC Council of Churches in response to a dilemma faced by the citizens of NC. On the one hand, mounting medical evidence links the use of tobacco with numerous health problems. On the other hand, the long established tobacco economy is threatened. The tendency in NC has been to avoid or ignore the dilemma. Farmers, agribusiness people, manufacturers and distributors of tobacco products, as well as state officials, have found it difficult to deal directly with he crisis precipitated by the increasing pressure of negative health data.
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