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I was both excited and nervous as I unpacked my boxes in the parsonage to begin my first year as a pastor. It had been a busy day with people coming in and out of the house, but after a while I was sitting alone and I looked around my new home trying to decide how I was going to arrange my furniture. As I moved and pushed my furniture about, I felt prompted to look out through the front door to observe the community in which I would be living. I peered out of the window and there was a house diagonally across the street that caught my attention.
American spirituality is discovering itself anew as people of faith reconnect with the land. As I’ve traveled the country I’ve met fellow Christians who are falling in love with their faith all over again, and in every instance this love affair is tied to a place. Not a lofty cathedral directing the worshipper’s thoughts heavenward; these places draw the eyes—and the hands—down to earth, back to the soil from which Genesis tells us we were formed, and which we’re called to “tend and keep.” Our first and most basic human task, I’ve come to learn, is to care for the garden.
So begins Fred Bahnson’s recent op-ed article in the Washington Post. If you don’t know Fred already, you should. He’s a gifted speaker and writer, a thinker and theologian, but most importantly, he’s a gardener. After working for years with Anathoth Community Garden in Cedar Grove, NC, he now directs the new Food, Faith, and Religious Leadership Initiative at Wake Forest University School of Divinity.
The Fayetteville ObserverSam Thompson was looking for a sunny spot to plant tomatoes. He ended up leading an award-winning community revolution. Thompson, an elder at Laurinburg Presbyterian Church, pitched the idea of a community garden to the church six years ago. What began as a creative use for otherwise empty church property was recently awarded an equipment grant by the North Carolina Council of Churches and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. “We’re using the grant funds to dig a well,” Thompson said. “Wouldn’t you know this would be the wettest June in years.”
Mt. Airy NewsPiney Grove Baptist Church’s food ministries recently got a boost from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation (BCBSNC) in the form of a $5,000 healthy eating equipment grant. The effort is a partnership between BCBSNC and the North Carolina Council of Churches to provide equipment for 20 faith-based organizations to bring healthier food to their members and communities. More than $90,000 in equipment grants are being used to provide canning and cooking supplies, expand church community gardens and increase storage for fresh produce.
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.
Monday February 4th, 2013
8:30am – 4:30pm
Kinston Community Council for the Arts
The conference includes plenaries, topical breakout sessions, lunch, and networking opportunities. Registration Fee: $0-15 (sliding scale fee structure).
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.
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.
This might strike you as surprising, as it did me, but radiation has been in cigarettes for more than forty years! We all have heard just how bad cigarettes are, but to know that they contain alpha particles on top of the other harmful substances is alarming, to say the least. And it is appalling to know that tobacco companies knew this and covered up the truth.
In Ezekiel, we hear the cry of God for God’s sheep throughout the land and nations. As a shepherd, God makes connections across lands and regions where we have, time and time again, made divisions. For too long, we have defined health with a too limited view as to who my neighbor is and who my fellow sheep are.
The Rural Life Committee of the North Carolina Council of Churches has issued a statement supporting the ban on hydraulic drilling in the state. Citing the lack of research on horizontal hydraulic fracturing, the experiences of rural landowners affected by gas drilling, and the potential impacts on rural communities, the committee warned that the risk posed by “fracking” is unacceptably high. The committee also warned about the dangers of exploitation.
The Council has long been touting the benefits of community gardening in both urban and rural settings alike. Community gardens offer healthy local foods that are often more nutritious than their grocery-story or food-bank counterparts. Gardens also help community members become more active, and they are a great way for congregations, local organizations and neighborhoods to collaborate together. Last Sunday the Raleigh News & Observer highlighted this growing movement, using the example of Highland United Methodist Church.
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.
It’s strange that despite earlier reforms, a country which took such richness from Appalachia left so little for the people. Great fortunes were built on the exploitation of Appalachian workers and Appalachian resources; yet the land was left without revenues to care for its social needs, like education, welfare, old age, and illness.
As I look from my living room window at the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd, I am compelled to rush to my car radio to listen to the news for further updates, if any are currently on! Tidbits of information from the streets come my way and it is shocking what I hear. Roads are flooded cutting off routes of escape from the city west toward Raleigh, east toward Kenly, and some say you can’t get through Rocky Mount.
The drumbeat of bad bills continues. Suffice it to say that it’s a tough year for those of us who have advocated for public policy decisions promoting social justice, protecting vulnerable people, and caring for God’s creation. We can’t respond to every bad idea or bad bill. On many of these issues, we feel like we are butting our heads against a wall. Our tendency may be to throw up our hands in despair.
Governor Bev Perdue on Saturday vetoed H 2, the misnamed “Protect Health Care Freedom” bill. (It should be called the “Freedom to be Uninsured and Unable to Get Health Care” bill.) The bill was an attack on federal health care reform and purported to remove North Carolinians from the mandated purchase of health insurance, which is the basis of federal reform which will move millions of uninsured Americans into the ranks of the insured.
Some community gardens give each person a small plot of land that is theirs to cultivate for a fee.
But at the Community Garden of Promise, they weed together, plant together, mulch together and harvest together.
“This garden means fellowship to me, and the camaraderie we have with each other,” said Caroline Martin of Kernersville. “I love working in the dirt; it gets me closer to God. It’s one of the places I can meditate and relax. And I enjoy the fact that we help other people.”
On Friday and Saturday last week, about 180 people gathered at the 2011 Come to the Table conference in Winston-Salem. Bringing together pastors, lay leaders, experts in the fields of hunger and sustainable agriculture, entrepreneurs, farmworker advocates, and many others. Conference workshops were held on Friday, with site visits and practical tours on Saturday.
Tomorrow, the NC Council of Churches’ Rural Life Committee will convene our third biennial Come to the Table Conference. With meetings across the state over the next three weeks, the conference offers resources for faith communities working to relieve hunger and support local farms.
We are disturbed by increasing reports of NC landowners who are signing over some of their property rights to energy companies looking for new sources of natural gas. In addition to the environmental damage caused by accessing this natural gas, we are concerned that in many cases landowners are not fully aware of their rights and how these contracts will impact the use of their land in the future.
The following information comes from our friends at Rural Advancement Foundation International. Visit this page for more complete information.
Today I’m happy to announce the launch of a new project by the Council’s Farmworker Ministry Committee. The Building Hope Project connects volunteer groups with farmworker families to build small chicken coops and greenhouses. These low-cost structures help families save money and supplement their nutrition. A recent study in North Carolina found that nearly half of farmworker families don’t have enough food year-round. The good news is that with a modest commitment of volunteer time and money, your congregation can make all the difference. Jesus said to his followers, “Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me.”
Join us for the Western North Carolina Come to the Table Conference: Communities of Faith Relieving Hunger and Supporting Local Farms. The two-day event will include workshops, networking opportunities, and a local lunch on Friday, Mar. 11th, and a breakfast snack and tours of local food ministries and projects on Saturday, Mar. 12th.
Join us for the Eastern North Carolina Come to the Table Conference: Communities of Faith Relieving Hunger and Supporting Local Farms. The two-day event will include workshops, networking opportunities, and a local lunch on Friday, Feb. 25, and a light breakfast, speaker, and tours and service opportunities with local food ministries and projects on Saturday, Feb. 26th.
Join us for the Piedmont North Carolina Come to the Table Conference: Communities of Faith Relieving Hunger and Supporting Local Farms. The two-day event will include workshops, networking opportunities, and a local lunch on Friday, Feb. 18th, and tours and volunteer opportunities at local food ministries and projects on Saturday, Feb. 19th. Friday’s events will be hosted by Wake Forest University at the Benson University Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Dr. Norman Wirzba, Duke Divinity School (Durham)Now, imagine that God comes to you one day and says, “I need you and your family to gather all the animals living in North Carolina. I need you to feed them and protect them. I need you to build a floating farm and make sure they stay alive because the world around them is crumbling and dissolving. The places these animals have called home are disappearing, and I need you to make a home for them.” What would you say?
More and more North Carolinians are getting involved with community gardens. Through our Come to the Table program, the Council’s Rural Life Committee has been promoting this work for the past few years. We’ve been visiting gardens, leading workshops, sharing best practices, eating delicious local food and making friends across the state.
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.
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?
Ellen Davis, Duke Divinity School (Durham)Reading the Bible is my line of work, yet for years I read past the first chapter’s detailed attention to the food supply, as have my fellow biblical scholars. I now realize that my profession’s obliviousness about food in the Bible points to a deep and worrisome difference between a modern cultural mindset and the culture that all the biblical writers represent. The difference comes down to this: for them, eating and agriculture have to do with God, and for us they do not.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the House of Delegates of the North Carolina Council of Churches work with State Government in the following ways to help North Carolina farmers and consumers:
Encourage the State to expand the “Goodness Grows in North Carolina” program with an emphasis on labeling products by their origin. Such labels will help consumers know that they are buying locally produced products, thus helping create markets and increasing the economic viability of farmers.
We must rethink and rework not only the unjust and unwise practices of energy and capital-intensive, centrally-controlled and wealth-concentrating agribusiness production, but also its goals and assumptions, if we are to be true to creation theology and a just, participatory, and sustainable agricultural production system. Specifically, we must use more appropriate regenerative technology and alternative farming methodology in North Carolina if there is to be a future on the farm for many small and medium-income farmers who have survived in the past primarily by growing tobacco. Indeed, without the institution of a regenerative agricultural production system, future generations on all continents will risk the loss of even more of the scarce arable land, forests, species, aquifers, and energy sources at a time when the global population will be doubling every generation.
Join our dear friend @DavidLaMotte for the public debut of his documentary "Braided Prayer!" Save your virtual seat now to be a part of a live screening AND Q&A with the band and filmmakers. abrahamjam.com/braid… Check out the trailer ⬇ pic.twitter.com/pA9T…
As we celebrate this day, let's also remember that this holiday has been historically commemorated on the harmful stereotypes & racist propaganda of Indigenous peoples. Take a min today to educate yourself & read a blog on TRUTHSGIVING from @dosomething. dosomething.org/us/a…:
Happy Thanksgiving! As we continue to gather virtually & love each other from a distance, we hope you are finding creative and unique ways to celebrate with your loved ones. If so, share a pic with us of how you are celebrating! Tag us & tell us what you are doing this year! pic.twitter.com/Blzn…
As we move into this holiday season, we want to express our gratitude to you for your support throughout this year. We hope that these reflective expressions from our @healthandfaith team remind you how important you are to us. youtube.com/watch?v=…
Take the Cool Congregations Challenge! This is an annual national contest to recognize “Cool Congregations” that are becoming energy efficient & sustainable role models within their communities. Sign up by Dec. 15. Check out more details: coolcongregations.or… @interfaithpower pic.twitter.com/fg1F…
We recognize that the traditional #Thanksgiving holiday has marginalized many Native American and Indigenous communities since its inception. We recognize & hold this pain deeply. Please take time today to learn about this history: smithsonianmag.com/h… @SmithsonianMag
Happy Thanksgiving! It is difficult to be separated from our communities and loved ones, but know that we are so grateful for you, and we are still loving you from a safe distance. #Thanksgiving #Thanksgiving2020 #MindfulTogether pic.twitter.com/0C5k…
We understand the holidays is not a joyful time for everyone. Please practice self-care. For tangible steps on how to prioritize your mental health this holiday season, check out this article: ncchurches.org/2017/… #mindfultogether #mentalhealthandtheholidays #mentalhealth pic.twitter.com/SNDW…
RT @ncchurches Join @interfaithpower tomorrow for a conversational interview with IPL youth climate activists from across the country! The youth webinar will begin at 8:00pm EST. Register now. Don't miss this great event! interfaithpowerandli…
RT @IPLdmv Rev. @mtmalcom of @alinterfaithpl speaks at our closing ceremony here at the DNC. "I'm here today because we have been derelict in our duty to be caretakers of Creation... It is time for Pres-elect @JoeBiden to fix what has been broken." #BidenBeBrave pic.twitter.com/rqhY…
RT @cultivatewithus ✅ Millions of good-paying union jobs ✅ Justice for Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities ✅ COVID relief ✅ The future of our planet and its people ☝️ Just a few of the reasons President-Election @JoeBiden needs to embrace a #GreenNewDeal & a just recovery. #BidenBeBrave pic.twitter.com/SL9g…