The Council’s work currently centers around twelve interrelated programs. Click the links below to find out more about how we’re making a difference in the lives of ordinary North Carolinians:
Throughout its 75-year history, the Council has worked toward unity in diversity. We continue to play a pivotal role in bringing people together for dialogue and service across lines of denomination and religious affiliation. We believe that we are more alike than different and that we can be enriched by many of our differences. As the religious landscape in North Carolina has changed over the years, we’ve reached out beyond Christian denominations to sponsor interfaith dialogue conversations. Rev. Pierson Shaw, Jr. chairs this committee.
The Council has worked on improving the living and working conditions of our state’s thousands of farmworkers for decades. We focus our efforts on raising public awareness, advocacy and lobbying, connecting with service providers, offering support for organizing, and passing resolutions of endorsement. We are currently engaged in a strategic effort to help identify and mobilize faith-based allies in the movement for farmworker justice.
Our relationship with food is as simple — and as complex — as that. Every living thing is dependent on nutrition, which makes food an incredibly valuable resource. And how we get it, who gets enough of it, and the choices we make around it become critical social justice issues.
For people of faith, food has incredible symbolic meanings. It is the stuff of miracles, of punishment, a symbol of welcome and the generosity of the Creator. For Christians, reenacting the Last Supper is one of our most sacred rituals of our faith.
The Council’s work around food touches all of program areas – from Care of Creation and personal health, to immigration, farmworkers and peace. Because in a world where everyone has enough, many of the problems associated with excess and waste, deprivation and destabilization end up being diminished.
Gun Violence Prevention
Scripture has much to say about misplaced trust, but we seem to respond more readily to a culture of fear than a climate of trust. Our fear is reinforced by the actions we undertake in the name of security: stripping down to our “inner cloak” to enter an airport terminal, walking through metal detectors to attend a basketball game, and installing alarm systems on half the houses in our neighborhoods. We are conditioned to be afraid and are convinced a gun will keep us safe.
Health Care Reform
We’ve been working for universal health care for decades. In policy statements dating back to the 1980s, the Council has expressed concern about the large number of North Carolinians without adequate health care and the high and increasing cost of health care.
Our commitment to farmworkers has continued even as their demographics have changed to a primarily immigrant Latino population. This commitment is now growing to include the broader issues of immigration policy – a position that remains consistent with our founding principles since current immigrants (especially those who are not documented) are a significant population of vulnerable and excluded people. Recently, we helped organize the NC Religious Coalition for Justice for Immigrants – a statewide, interfaith coalition of people of faith affirming hospitality over hostility when it comes our immigrant neighbors.
Interfaith Power & Light
In May of 2000, the North Carolina Council of Churches joined the Eco-Justice Working Group of the National Council of Churches and partnering organizations representing Jews, Muslims, Roman Catholics and others, to establish Climate Connection: Interfaith Eco-Justice Network. In 2005, Climate Connection became the 16th state affiliate of the national Interfaith Power & Light Campaign. In January 2007 our name was changed to North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light (NCIPL). We’ve held programs in almost 200 congregations in North Carolina and conduct regular outreach to more than 800 congregations and several judicatories. Today, NCIPL works with faith communities to address the causes and consequences of global climate change and promotes practical, hope-filled responses through education, outreach, and public policy advocacy.
The Legislative Program Committee coordinates the Council’s work for just and compassionate public policy in North Carolina. Through the Raleigh Report newsletter and Legislative Seminar events, we equip people of faith across the state to be citizen advocates, grass-roots lobbyists. The Committee also develops the Council’s legislative policy statements, by which the Council takes positions on legislative issues.
Partners in Health & Wholeness
Partners in Health and Wholeness (PHW) is designed to bridge issues of faith and health together. In order to live out the example of Jesus Christ – someone who dedicated his life to healing the sick, guiding the lost, comforting the downcast, and even raising the dead – this initiative seeks to provide people of faith with the tools necessary to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives. Through PHW, congregations are showing their commitment to health as a practice of their faith by serving healthier church meals, maintaining tobacco-free buildings, addressing health from the pulpit, planting community gardens, and much more.
We’ve always made peace a priority in our programs, and this work continues today as we continue to help North Carolinians of faith become stronger peacemakers in their communities.
The North Carolina Council of Churches has been committed to public education issues since the Council’s beginning. Initial efforts addressed segregation, and in more recent years, the Council’s Public Education Committee has provided resources for churches to observe a Public Education Sabbath in support of both children and those who teach them.
In 2010, the Council formed a Resegregation Task Force to address that issue in some of the state’s largest school districts, Wake and Charlotte-Mecklenburg counties, as well as Wayne and New Hanover counties and elsewhere. The Task Force is led by Steve Hickle, pastor of Raleigh’s Fairmont United Methodist Church, and Joseph C. Brown Sr., a Presiding Elder in the A.M.E Zion Church, and chair of the Public Education Committee.
The Rural Life Committee brings together a variety of groups concerned with issues affecting rural North Carolina, including agricultural policy, health care, hunger, disaster recovery, contract farming, sustainability, urbanization, and the survival of family farms. Several years ago, the Rural Life Committee realized that groups working on hunger and sustainable agriculture could work more closely – and that faith communities have a vital interest in both. The Come to the Table project was born. It’s a collaborative network of organizations seeking to broaden their approaches to these issues.