Time to Take a Knee
It has been nearly fourteen months since Colin Kaepernick first knelt during the playing of the… Continue Reading
Date: Ash Wednesday – March 5, 2014
Topic: Human Rights
Focus Text: Isaiah 58:1-12
There are countless ways in which we can make these passages come to life in our own lives and in our society so that “We can be the change we want to see in the world.” Once again, following Jesus’ example is our best starting point. In Matthew 25, Jesus says the depth of our faith is measured by the depth of our relationship with those society labels “outcasts.” In Jesus’ day, outcasts were lepers, prostitutes and tax collectors to name a few. Today, outcasts include those with HIV and AIDS, gays and lesbians, Latinos, Muslims and prisoners, among others. Each of these groups of people faces scorn and vilification in our culture, but Christians must be different. We are called to provide love to those who are rejected and hated.
Date: Epiphany 4 – Feb. 2, 2014
Topic: The Beatitudes
Focus Text: Matthew 5:1-12
The Beatitudes reflect the eschatological – or ultimate – nature of Jesus’ mission and proclaim the effects of the establishment of God’s rule. They list eschatological reversals for the unfortunate and eschatological rewards for the virtuous. It would be a mistake, however, to see the beatitudes as having only future significance. In fact, the first (5:3) and last (5:10) of the sayings are in the present tense. By bookending these future promises with the present tense, Matthew emphasizes the imminence of the Kingdom.
Thank you for your decision to conquer evil with good. You have decided to defeat opposition and resistance with diligence and perseverance. But above all, thank you for allowing love and hospitality to prevail over hate and hostility. When I arrived to this country it was precisely people like you, women and men of faith that practiced hospitably and your Christian love, who left an impression and transformed my life forever. Please don’t have any doubt that God uses every gesture of Christian love and radical hospitality that you make towards an immigrant in order to transform lives.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Durham Herald-SunPilgrim United Church of Christ will host a community series this month on “Faith and the Marriage Amendment,” about the proposed North Carolina Amendment 1. If the ballot measure passes May 8, the only valid domestic union recognized by the state will be marriage of a man and a woman.
Read more: The Herald-Sun – Pilgrim UCC hosting series on Amendment 1
Raleigh News & ObserverWe would not have chosen to be a part of an issue like this, but we are. The world is watching North Carolina to see what we will do. There is compelling evidence that conspiracy to commit kidnapping and torture were committed by Johnston County’s Aero Contractors. The state should investigate these claims and determine their validity.
In one month, our country will mark the 10th anniversary of the attacks on our nation on 9/11. Many denominations, faith groups and religious organizations have prepared materials for use in community gatherings and worship services in congregations – click here for links to those resources. You will also find pastoral care materials and age appropriate resources for children.
As a society, we decided 75 years ago that child labor needed very strict guidelines to make sure that education comes first and to prevent abusive conditions. The only problem? Children in agriculture were exempted from these protections, in part because most farms were small family operations that needed everyone’s help. Today, mass-scale agribusiness has replaced family farms. But the exemption allowing child labor on farms has remained, meaning that there’s a good chance that pint of blueberries you’re enjoying was hand-picked by 12- and 13-year olds – legally. These same children are too young to work in any other industry.
Friends of the NC Council of Churches in Western North Carolina will be fasting on Good Friday in solidarity with the poor, and in recognition that budgets are moral documents. They call upon Congressman Shuler to work with his colleagues find a way to balance the federal budget that does not place the burden for doing so on the shoulders of those vulnerable Americans who are least able to bear that burden.
Torture conference logoOn March 25 and 26, 2011, the Duke University Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina will be hosting a conference on torture. This two-day event aims to equip participants to understand the arguments against torture and to prepare them for anti-torture advocacy within their own communities, trusting that the greatest protection against the U.S. government’s use of torture is a shared understanding that torture is always wrong.
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
NC Policy WatchIn recent days, the Internet has been abuzz with revelations brought to us by “Wikileaks” of comments that were never intended to be public. Meanwhile, George W. Bush is touring to promote his new book, enthusiastically admitting that he violated international and US law. As the US government calls for accountability for Mr. Assange of Wikileaks, it must consider the applicability of its own words to other situations.
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.
Rev. Jonah Kendall, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church (Durham)Where are we with this? Have we ever used our faith to challenge and disrupt? For on this Ascension Sunday when we’ve been called by Christ to proclaim a message of repentance and the forgiveness of sins, that is God’s love for all, when we have heard in Acts about Paul and Silas, about how the proclamation of this love can lead to imprisonment, we’re invited to ask ourselves how our lives show forth Christ’s Gospel, a Gospel that precisely because it proclaims a love and well-being for all is radical and disruptive.
Raleigh News & ObserverThe N.C. Council of Churches is among the sponsors of the conference, which will begin with an interfaith meditation led by Rabbi Raachel Jurovics of Raleigh and will include the participation ofAbdullah Antepli, the Muslim chaplain at Duke.
“The idea that we would deface the divine figure is repugnant in all our traditions,” said Jurovics. Judaism, Christianity and Islam consider human beings to be made in God’s image.
The North Carolina Council of Churches unequivocally affirms the essential, inherent, and universal dignity of all persons, for “God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them.” This means that the value of any and every individual – all equally cherished by the Author of Life – must not under any circumstances be compromised, diminished, or infringed upon. At all times and in all way, the Council seeks to protect and promote the dignity and flourishing of the human person.
The North Carolina Council of Churches has a long history of stands regarding our nation’s warmaking. Since 1935, we have called for political leaders to resist from entering wars, to follow international covenants and treaties while engaged in war, and to end conflicts that have begun. In keeping with this history, we now reiterate our opposition to the current war in Iraq and to the use of torture as an instrument of war.
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.
Whereas the U.S. Army School of the Americas has trained 60,000 Latin American soldiers who have consistently returned to their countries to murder, torture, rape, and intimidate the poor and those who work for the rights of the poor, the Executive Board of the NC Council of Churches supports the closing of the US Army School of the Americas.
Join us Thursday evening for a prayer vigil that will offer an opportunity to meditate and join voices, hands, and hearts with others who believe North Carolina has a responsibility to those who were transported for torture in NC jets. ncchurches.org/event… #ncpol #nctorture
RT @RobJacksonIV @NCTorture @ncchurches big day in the effort to stop torture in North Carolina on Thursday. The report on the NC Commission of Inquiry on Torture gets released in Raleigh and prayer vigils happen both there and Greensboro. #NCCIT See ncstn.org/content/20… for details
Join us at a prayer vigil in Raleigh, Greensboro, or Johnston County to mark the release of @NCTorture's report and remember the victims of the U.S. torture program. More information can be found on our website: ncchurches.org/event… twitter.com/ncchurch…
Christina Cowger and Allyson Caison have received the Heintz award for their efforts to bring justice and accountability to those harmed by NC’s role in the CIA’s Rendition, Detention, and Interrogation program. #NCPOL @NCTorture ncchurches.org/2018/…
It is our calling to act, prophetically and quickly, before protections are further eroded and more of our brothers, sisters, parents, and children are harmed from a lack of basic healthcare. ncchurches.org/2018/… #closethegap
RT @ncdhhs Avoid health risks from mold exposure post #HurricaneFlorence. Thoroughly clean hard surfaces w/ hot water & laundry or dish detergent. Remove & discard affected items that can't be washed & disinfected, like furniture @CDCgovhas more info: cdc.gov/disasters/mo… @NCEmergency pic.twitter.com/68sj…
“During a storm like this, the state may face transportation challenges, or need to divert food inventories to other disaster response efforts. We are providing this flexibility to help schools provide wholesome meals to students using the foods they have available.” twitter.com/FFThrivi…
RT @UN Climate change is a race we can win. We already have the solutions, but we need governments, businesses & individuals to implement them. #RiseForClimate & demand #ClimateAction. ➡️ bit.ly/climateUN pic.twitter.com/wpNa…
RT @350 At #RiseForClimate, Rev. Ambrose reminds us: Black children in the US are 10x more likely to die from asthma than white kids. There is no climate or environmental justice without racial justice. "We believe all children have the right to breathe & that #BlackLivesMatter." Amen. pic.twitter.com/osMX…
RT @Peoples_Climate It's official - Over 30,000 people are in the streets right now in SF. Together, we're taking a stand for the future all people deserve – a world powered by clean energy, that values workers and communities over profits, & doesn’t discriminate or pollute. #RiseForClimate pic.twitter.com/gvMX…
Let's @SupportFLOC in the upcoming #BoycottVUSE against Reynolds American Inc. and defend our tobacco farmworkers so that they may have a voice to negotiate better working conditions without fear of retaliation! floc.com/wordpress/b…