Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
As of this morning, Thursday, June 4, the Raleigh News & Observer reported that Covid-19 has… Continue Reading
Date: Epiphany 3 – Jan. 26, 2014
Topic: The Unity of the Church
Focus Text: 1 Corinthians 1:10-18
The list of issues facing the Corinthian church included ethnic diversity, economic disparity, geographical and cultural difference, allegiances to different spiritual leaders, and theological disagreements as well as sinful behavior like idolatry and sexual immorality. Despite the historical gap between Paul’s day and the present, these remain common challenges to church unity.
Rev. Cody Sanders, Ph.D. candidate in Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Counseling at Brite Divinity SchoolThere is something in these furious, feverish words that beckons beyond a simple description of what life will be like if you choose to follow a peculiar call from Jesus and your closest friends and family don’t. Beyond description, there is something of a call in this passage trying to work its way inside of us. These words beckon us beyond a recounting of our inevitable losses on the journey, to embrace our sacred calling to disturbers the peace.
A leader against economic injustice and two longtime advocates on the Council’s board have received the North Carolina Council of Churches’ highest honors.
Gene Nichol received the Faith Active in Public Life Award. Barbara Volk and Sydnor Thompson II were recognized with Distinguished Service awards. All three were presented at the Council’s 2013 Legislative Seminar which took place April 11 at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Raleigh.
Rev. Michael Kinnamon (School of Theology and Ministry, Seattle University)Where does this leave us today? How can the ecumenical impulse be revitalized in such an era as ours? The answer to this may be suggested in the distinction between optimism and hope. Optimism involves the expectation of a better future based on a reading of present circumstances; hope involves the trustful anticipation of genuine newness, perhaps beyond our imagining, based on the promises of God.
Sojo.netJesus was a peacemaking, blessed child of God, but he also was an “other.” Reviled and persecuted, he was the paperless son of displaced immigrant parents. The prophetic iconoclast. That guy who hung out with those people, the type most modern leaders would not associate with, except for a photo opportunity at a Thanksgiving Day soup kitchen. Let us remember on Sunday when we celebrate his resurrection, that Jesus was crucified because he was an outsider whose way of doing things scared and angered the powers-that-be.
The Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute has prepared material for the celebration of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which runs from January 18-25, 2013. You will find prayer services, prayers of the faithful and musical suggestions at their website. The theme for 2013 is “What Does God Require of Us?” (cf. Micah 6:6-8). In North Carolina, there will be several observances of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
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.
Durham Herald-SunThe ballot referendum that could cement the definition of marriage as “the only domestic legal union” into the state Constitution has turned a political debate into a religious one — and is mustering people of faith across North Carolina to the polls.
Richmond County Daily JournalThe Pee Dee Baptist Educational Congress, an auxiliary to the Pee Dee Baptist Educational Association, will conduct the Annual Christian Educational Institute from March 19 to 23, 2012, at the Pee Dee Educational Building in Dobbin Heights.
There will be classes for church officers and each department in the church.
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.
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.
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.
Pictured left, St. Paul’s Chapel became a refuge for rescue workers after September 11.The tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is next month, and it happens to fall on a Sunday. The NC Council of Churches has already posted some resources for worship planners, and there are a couple more links at the end of this blog. We also want to make you aware of community services which are being planned.
While it is true that central to Christian theology is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it would be erroneous to reduce the whole of Christian theology to a set of beliefs. If one surveys the gospels, then a person will find Jesus both expounding upon theology and liberating people. For those who were sick, he cured them of their sickness. For those who were blind, he gave them sight. For those who were saddened, he comforted them. Jesus gave concrete solutions to the problems that people faced in the 1st century and did not merely offer them a set of beliefs.
Much of the book of Romans is given over to some pretty heavy theological work. What is the meaning of God’s righteousness? Where does Israel fit into this? What about justification by faith? What happens to the Mosaic law? What role does grace play? Heavy questions facing the newly developing church in the First Century.
NC Council of Churches Executive Director George Reed has received the 2011 Luke Mowbray Ecumenical Award presented by the American Baptist Churches USA. The honor is given to an individual for his or her outstanding contribution to the cause of advancing ecumenism either through sustained performance or special achievement.
The Wild Goose has flown, at least for the 2011 season.
The overwhelming consensus among attendees of the inaugural Wild Goose Festival is that it was quite a successful experiment. People traveled from as far away as Scotland and New Zealand to be part of the event, and presenters ranging from Vincent Harding to Jim Wallis, musicians from Michelle Shocked to Beth Nielsen Chapman—each contributed their own sparks to the thousands of spontaneous and rich conversations that arose between the roughly 1500 people who gathered in Silk Hope, North Carolina this weekend.
DURHAM, N.C. — It’s summer. It’s hot. It’s the South.
That must mean it’s time for an old-fashioned camp meeting.
Starting Thursday, the bygone staple of the tent revival will be reincarnated on a bucolic North Carolina farm as The Wild Goose Festival. Nearly 10 years in the making, the festival is an attempt to reimagine Christianity for the 21st century under a bigger, wider more inclusive tent.
It seems to be a prayer that we who love Jesus may be at one with him and with the Father and that, somehow, the world’s believing in him depends on our witness to him in unity. That is to say, if his followers are splintered into many varying and conflicting entities, the witness that could draw people to him is greatly diminished. This is not an accident – this is crucial to Jesus!
The celebration of the Council’s 75th anniversary in 2010 was a timely reminder of the rich history behind this organization and an affirmation of the bright future ahead of it. Program associate Chris Liu-Beers has collected some of both in this slideshow that explains beautifully how the NC Council of Churches got its start as well as where it’s going.
On February 21, 2011, a conference on “Christian Conviction and Cultural Accommodation” will be held at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Greensboro. The conference will begin with Dr. Robert T. Osborn, former professor at Duke University, speaking on The Barmen Declaration, a theological protest against German National Socialism. Then there will be conversation on Christian witness, in the public arena, without accommodating to the prevailing culture.
Letters to the Editor, Raleigh News & ObserverI have the pleasure of serving on the board of the N.C. Council of Churches. I agreed to serve on the board because the council reflects many of my life’s values. The council’s website states: “The Council enables denominations, congregations and people of faith to individually and collectively impact our state on issues such as economic justice and development, human well-being, equality, compassion and peace, following the example and mission of Jesus Christ.”
Stan Kimer, newly elected Council president, was interviewed on WUNC’s The State of Things on January 6. In his conversation with host Frank Stasio, Stan spoke about the Council and its work, including priorities for the upcoming legislative session. Listen to the interview by clicking here.
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.
The Eastern Carolina District of the Virginia Mennonite Conference of the Mennonite Church USA is the newest member of the North Carolina Council of Churches. The addition of the group brings to 17 the number of denominations who have chosen to work with the Council on issues of social justice and Christian unity.
I was struck, as I listened to remembrances from the past, that we really are seeing progress on issues of social justice. But it happens over a period of years or even decades. The issues we heard about at the Anniversary are difficult ones. They have produced years of frustration and sometimes what looked like complete failure. And yet . . .
Dr. Terrence Rynne is the founder of the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking. His new book “Gandhi and Jesus, the Saving Power of Nonviolence” examines the intersections between the life of Jesus and the teachings of Gandhi. He has three presentations coming up in North Carolina, in Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh.
The American IndependentThe NC Council of Churches on Thursday strongly endorsed the right of Muslims to build a community center near the site of the 9/11 terror attacks in New York City. “We stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters in affirming their right to build on a site two-and-a-half blocks from Ground Zero,” the council said in statement unanimously adopted by its governing board at its meeting this week in Greensboro. The statement comes as controversy flares around a TV ad being aired by North Carolina Republican congressional candidate Renee Ellmers.
The North Carolina Council of Churches represents 6,200 congregations in 17 denominations statewide. The North Carolina Council of Churches condemns all religious violence. As people of Christian faith, we value a teaching common to the Abrahamic faiths, which in the Christian tradition is expressed as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” As Christians in a nation largely founded by religious refugees, we value the freedom of religion guaranteed by our Constitution and proudly proclaimed worldwide as a foundational principle of United States government and society. For freedom of religion to have substance and integrity, it must extend to people of all faiths.
Rabbi Mark Strauss-Cohn, Temple Emanuel (Winston-Salem)What is it about the rear side of a car that they are a primary location to display our affiliations: sports, political groups, rock bands, restaurants, ideologies, personal interests, vacation spots, synagogues (a very popular one here in Winston-Salem)… You see these signs everywhere.
There have been no shortage of condemnations of the pastor in Florida who threatened to burn Korans. Those condemnations are effectively demolition work. Sometimes dangerous structures need to be torn down, and I’m not necessarily criticizing that. Demolition is most useful, though, when it makes space to build something new and constructive. I heartily celebrate the building of relationships and the expressions of respect and support that have come in response to this.
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.
What: Clergy Breakfast on Health
When: Thursday, Aug. 26, 8:30-10am
Where: St. James AME Zion Church, Goldsboro (206 S. George St.)
Why: Discuss opportunities for clergy to improve their health as well as the health of their congregants through PHW and other faith-based health initiatives.
Raleigh News & ObserverBy the time H. Shelton Smith was hired to teach at Duke University in 1931, the movement to unite Christians of different denominations was under way in New York and other places.
But four years later when Smith founded the N.C. Council of Churches, the idea that Christians of various stripes could work together, especially in overcoming racial segregation, was still largely unheard of in the South.
Today, the N.C. Council of Churches is marking 75 years of activism on a broad range of issues, including racial equality, women’s empowerment, children’s health care, prison reform, farmworker rights and environmental conservation.
Greensboro News & RecordFor 75 years the N.C. Council of Churches has offered a faith voice for progressive social justice and Christian unity in North Carolina. Founded by a group of white church leaders who were opposed to segregation and wanted to speak with a unified voice on issues, the council has continued its work for racial justice, but has expanded to include other areas at the forefront of social advocacy.
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.
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.
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 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.
500+ faith leaders issue a moral call for Congress to pass a nationwide moratorium on water, power, and broadband shutoffs! Join them and call YOUR Senator NOW at 202-609-9041 to demand #NoShutOffs foodandwaterwatch.or…
The #2020Census is easier than ever for people to respond on their own in the comfort of their homes. Anyone can go online now to my2020Census.gov to complete the questionnaire or call the Census Bureau at 844-330-2020. It only takes a few minutes. pic.twitter.com/Dovp…
A moral call against water, power, and broadband shutoffs: over 500 faith leaders across the country are calling on @senatemajldr, @SenSchumer, @SpeakerPelosi to pass a national moratorium on utility shutoffs. #NoShutoffs foodandwaterwatch.or…
Please do not let #COVID19 prevent you from evacuating if you are in a #HurricaneIsaias danger zone. Proper precautions are being taken to ensure safety in shelters. Visit the @NCPublicSafety website for a list of shelters: ncdps.gov/our-organi… twitter.com/NCEmerge…
RT @NC_Governor As this storm arrives in just a few hours, remember the power that comes from helping one another. We’re all better off when we work together.
RT @wunc Already prepped for the Isaias? Give your loved ones a quick call to make sure they're ready too. 📞☎️📱
RT @nytimes "While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me." Representative John Lewis wrote this essay shortly before his death. @nytopinion is publishing it today, the day of his funeral. nyti.ms/309tNN4
RT @CreationCareWNC Harvey. Florence. Irma. Climate disasters are here and are affecting faith communities up and down the East Coast. Join us on August 6 to learn how congregations can play a pivotal role in building resilience in their towns and cities. Register here: us02web.zoom.us/meet… pic.twitter.com/DP5R…
RT @ncchurches Learn more about the importance of voting on the values of creation care & climate justice. We have a sacred duty to be stewards of the Earth, for all God’s creatures and for future generations. Register for our forum lead by @NCIPL on August 12! us02web.zoom.us/meet… pic.twitter.com/0FYg…
RT @interfaithpower As people of faith we #ActOnClimate for the benefit of black and brown communities now and in the future. “The rollback removes requirements to consider climate change before proceeding on a project.” @faithinplace @NCIPL @IPLdmv @iowaipl @MNIPL @NewMexicoIPL