Critical Issues Seminar: The Wisdom of Women
2018 is shaping up to the be the Year of the Woman. From the halls of… Continue Reading
Date: Good Friday – Apr. 18, 2014
Topic: The Death Penalty
Focus Text: John 18:1-19:42
Because Christians have come to understand the cross as a rich symbol of all that God has accomplished in Jesus it is sometimes easy to forget that the symbol of our faith is (or was) also an instrument of torture and execution (it is certainly more than that, but not less). The details of Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion are a reminder that Jesus did in fact receive a form of capital punishment. As ethicist Glen Stassen writes, “Christians who remember that their Lord was unjustly and cruelly given the death penalty have a hard time being enthusiastic about imposing the death penalty on others.”
Date: Baptism of the Lord – Jan. 12, 2014
Topic: Racism & Reconciliation
Focus Text: Acts 10:34-43
This joining and reconciliation of people, Jews and gentiles, but also strangers and enemies of all kinds, has already begun with the work of Christ. In Christ, God invites us on the journey of reconciliation, the same journey of the church in Acts: a journey that includes the hard work of speaking someone else’s language (Pentecost), sharing food, resources, money, and space (Acts 2), transgressing social divides (Acts 10), dismantling discrimination (Acts 6:1-6), forming new intimacy and identity (Acts 11:19-26), and speaking out against injustice (Gal. 2:11-14).
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.
I finally had the chance to go my first Moral Monday earlier this week. Walking around Halifax Mall with our Executive Director, George Reed, I was struck by how many people we both knew. I’m deeply proud of the involvement by clergy and faith communities in particular. So many of our members are represented not only in the crowd but also in the faces of those participating in civil disobedience and getting arrested. As we celebrate Independence Day this week, we give thanks not only for the many freedoms our country offers, but in particular for the countless faithful voices speaking up and speaking out for those who are being pushed to the margins by this General Assembly.
Winston-Salem ChronicleThe Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation has partnered with the North Carolina Council of Churches to provide grants to faith-based organizations to help them supply healthy eating alternatives to their members and underserved communities.
United Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church (UMMBC) is one of 20 faith-based organizations that have received a $5,000 Healthy Eating Equipment Grant. The church will use the grant to purchase much needed equipment and supplies to support the 10 gardens that now comprise the S.G. Atkins Community Gardens at Winston-Salem State University.
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.
Speaking to 200 social justice advocates, Gene Nichol delivered a powerful luncheon address at the Council’s 2013 Legislative Seminar held April 11 at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Raleigh. He received the Council’s Faith Active in Public Life Award at the Seminar for his “courageous, dedicated, humane and compassionate witness in the political arena.” Rev. George Reed, the Council’s Executive Director, introduced Nichol by saying in part, “To know Gene is to see the embodiment of Catholic social teaching about social justice and the common good.”
The NC Council of Churches, American Red Cross and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC are partnering together to provide more Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and CPR training to places of worship in select counties. To date, 183 congregations have received an award.
To learn more or to complete an application, please click here. The deadline to apply is Friday, May 24.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation and The Rensselaerville Institute are looking for individuals with project ideas for creating a healthier Wilson County. Projects will be implemented over the next 6 months and must focus on increasing physical activity and/or access to and consumption of fresh produce.
Selected Community Sparkplugs and their teams will receive the following: a $3,000 grant (simple application process), individualized help to create an action plan and set project results, support and coaching over the next 6 months, and an opportunity to become part of a growing network of Community Sparkplugs across North Carolina.
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.
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.
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 is the purpose of education wherever it takes place, moving beyond rote repetition to provide each learner the possibility of a future better than what might otherwise be expected. Psalm 78 invites humility, gratitude, and “the exercise of power in the form of love, not of force.
The 2011 session of the General Assembly adjourned around midday on Saturday, June 18. Legislative leaders and the media are trumpeting the efficiency of the session and the fact that this is the earliest adjournment since 1973. But that is misleading since they aren’t really finished with their work. The adjournment resolution calls them back into a special session on July 13. At that time, they will take up the thorny issue of redistricting as well as controversial bills from the just-ended session which remain in conference committees and any bills vetoed by the Governor.
If there were such a thing as a six o’clock news cast in the first century, Jesus the felon would appear walking down the street escorted by the police of his day—handcuffed—if you will. The announcer would tell us that the vandal who destroyed Temple property and repeatedly broke Jewish laws; the welfare king who relied on the generosity of unsuspecting middle class women to promote his suspicious doctrine; the man known to frequent the establishments of tax collectors and prostitutes—and claimed to be God, had finally been apprehended and was awaiting sentencing. Yes, in the minds of this first century felon’s accusers, he was little more than a common criminal.
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.
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.
The Historic Thousands on Jones St. (HK on J) rally and march will take place on February 12 in Raleigh. A coalition of nearly a hundred social justice and community development organizations, including the North Carolina Council of Churches, have banded together to promote this event for the last several years.
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 . . .
News 14 CarolinaOutside a closed door meeting with fellow clergy and attorneys at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C. NAACP President Rev. Dr. William Barber, a representative from the North Carolina Council of Churches and fellow Wake school board protest arrestees talked future tactics on how they plan to take on the changing policies of the board.
Independent WeeklyLeaders in the pro-diversity movement who are battling the Wake school board majority to stop resegregation of the county’s school system, have called a prayer meeting for Monday, August 30 at 7 p.m. in Pullen Memorial Baptist Church.
In light of concerns about public school resegregation in counties across the state, the North Carolina Council of Churches has begun work to counter this backward step toward increased racial and economic separation. Issues of resegregation have surfaced in the state’s largest school districts, Wake and Charlotte-Mecklenburg counties, as well Wayne and New Hanover counties and elsewhere.
Raleigh News & ObserverThe Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP, has organized a wide range of church groups that have historically been involved in civil rights and social justice issues to oppose the move to neighborhood schools in Wake County. Using language heavy with religious overtones and accompanied by a comparison between ending the diversity policy and the old Jim Crow segregation laws, speakers at a news conference Tuesday at the state Capitol argued that they had the moral high ground in the fight.
Wilmington Star-NewsLast week, the council sent an email to all the churches on its New Han over County database titled “Opposing re-segregation in the schools,” that encouraged church leaders to sign petitions being circulated against middle school redistricting. The organization isn’t formally planning an event in the area, said executive director George Reed. The Council is a Raleigh-based group that organizes churches in the state around social justice issues.
Rev. Peter JB Carman, Binkley Baptist Church (Chapel Hill)When the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Galatia about baptism, it seems he had a whole lot more than water on his mind. He was writing to a church divided right from the very beginning. While he was welcoming in the non Jewish pagans, others weren’t so sure. While he was trying to help negotiate the beginnings of a multi-cultural Christian faith, others were, even from the very beginning, more comfortable with those who were their own people. Jews had every reason to be suspicious of Romans—after all they had suffered under the hand of their occupation governments for many years.
Today we again reaffirm our support for the public schools as one of society’s primary vehicles for social, racial, and economic justice. Today we also voice our concern about the dangers of resegregation in the public schools and of a return to separate and unequal education. Current figures show that 40 of the 44 low-performing high schools in NC are made up primarily of students of color, while 43 of the 44 top performing schools are made up primarily of white students.
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.
RT @healthandfaith “The question today is what can you do in your church, family, & community to help prevent addiction.” Thanks to Rev. Frank Lassen of HighLife 252 @ Source Church for actively promoting #harmreduction! #opioidcrisis #OpioidAwareness
RT @healthandfaith “If churches can open their doors to those struggling with #addiction, this would help so much.” When we put faith into action, people feel the #love & #compassion, and we save lives. #harmreduction #opioidcrisis #opioidawareness
Help us celebrate our anniversary! In 2020, the Council will turn 85 & to celebrate our rich history, we plan to commission a mural. Please share this request for proposals within your networks! bit.ly/2ZAixWM
Thank you Kitty Hawk UMC for letting us into your space to speak about the #opioidcrisis & #harmreduction. We are grateful for partners who are spreading compassion & #opioidawareness in our communities. #NC pic.twitter.com/SyyQ…
“If churches can open their doors to those struggling with #addiction, this would help so much.” When we put faith into action, people feel the #love & #compassion, and we save lives. #harmreduction #opioidcrisis #opioidawareness
“By opening up our sanctuary, I’ve formed a bond of trust that I’m there to love on them.” The faith community is here to provide compassion & love judgment-free to ALL. #harmreduction #opioidcrisis #opioidawareness
“The question today is what can you do in your church, family, & community to help prevent addiction.” Thanks to Rev. Frank Lassen of HighLife 252 @ Source Church for actively promoting #harmreduction! #opioidcrisis #OpioidAwareness
RT @ncchurches Help us celebrate our anniversary! In 2020, the Council will turn 85 & to celebrate our rich history, we plan to commission a mural. Please share this request for proposals within your networks! bit.ly/2ZAixWM
RT @scinterfaith Before heading home from the @uscan annual meeting we celebrated #Pride2019 in Minneapolis. Soon after our arrival we encountered booths representing many faiths and non-faith traditions. It was a morning filled with light, laughter, and love! #uscan2019 pic.twitter.com/xh54…