September 30, 2016

Pastoral Letter from Rev. John M Richardson, Regional Minister for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in North Carolina, About the Events in Charlotte, NC

Dear Church:

So much of the news during the past week has been focused on the tragic deaths of two Black men, Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, and Keith Scott in Charlotte. I do not know much about the death of Mr. Crutcher, except the police video released, He was unarmed and the police office who shot him has already been charged with first degree manslaughter. Mr. Crutcher’s father, the Reverend Joey Crutcher, is a graduate of Phillip’s Theological Seminary, our seminary in Tulsa.

For the full letter from Rev. John M Richardson, click here.

September 23, 2016

Truth Talks: The Conversations We Need to Have

By Jim Wallis

I was in the Twin Cities this week to speak about racial equity and “Building A Bridge to a New America” at Augsburg College, a Lutheran college committed to diversity, where almost 50 percent of the incoming freshman class are students of color. Just as we delved into honest and hopeful conversations about action for racial justice — as we have in meetings in 30 cities now — this week’s terrible news brought us back to the dire and urgent nature of new national and local conversations on racism, white privilege, and the killing of people of color by law enforcement. For the full editorial, click here.

Creation Care

General Minister and President Sharon Watkins recently joined with Ron Degges, President of Disciples Home Missions, and Ken Brooker Langston, Executive Director of the Disciples Center for Public Witness, to attend the American Climate Leadership Summit held on September 14, 2016, in Washington, DC. The summit, convened by EcoAmerica, gathered together over 250 diverse leaders from the worlds of business, health, faith, higher education, community development, government, culture, philosophy, and climate change activism.

For more information about EcoAmerica, please click here.

For more information about the faith-based work of Blessed Tomorrow, please click here.

For more information about the important ministry of creation care among Disciples of Christ, please visit the Green Chalice web page by clicking here.

Raise Your Voice for Justice that Restores

By Craig DeRoche, Senior Vice President, Advocacy and Public Policy, Prison Fellowship

We know you are passionate about reforming America’s criminal justice system just like we are. Here’s an opportunity for you to raise your voice and make a difference!

Will you send a message to your House representative asking him or her to support comprehensive criminal justice reform that will give people in prison access to the transformational programming they need? This is your chance to help men and women earn back the public’s trust and return home from prison as good neighbors.

U.S. Capitol Workers Want Their Voices Heard Over Wage Theft

By Alba Morales

Last month, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that U.S. Senate federal contract workers like me had been robbed of over $1 million dollars from our paychecks by our employer, Compass Group. DOL found that Compass had been paying us less than the legal rates for our jobs, had not being paying us proper overtime or even for all the hours we worked, and had not kept proper payroll records. Within weeks, some of my co-workers started receiving as much as $20,000 in back-pay awards.

For the full article, published on The Hill, click here.

Ban Salary History, Help to Close the Pay Gap

By AAUW Action Network

It’s math, not myth: the gender pay gap is real and persistent. On average, women take home only 80 percent of men’s median earnings and, while the gap has narrowed since passage of the Equal Pay Act in 1963, progress has largely stalled in the 21st century.

First, the bad news: The gender pay gap develops early in women’s careers and then compounds. Controlling for factors known to affect earnings such as education and training, marital status, and hours worked, research found that college-educated women still take home seven percent less than men just one year out of college – even when they have the same major and occupation as their male counterparts.

Tell Congress Not to Ban Refugees

By Matt Hawthorne, Policy Director, National Religious Campaign Against Torture

This week began with sorrow as bombs were found in New York area neighborhoods, one of which injured many innocent people. In our grief though, we do not want to forget others who have also suffered from violence. The conflict in Syria has displaced millions of people. Millions more are currently displaced by violence in other parts of the world. We are in the midst of the worst refugee crisis since World War II. These people need our help.

The High Cost of Being Poor in the U.S.

By Coalition on Human Needs

Despite recent U.S. Census Bureau data showing reductions in the poverty rate and increases in household median income, millions of Americans still face double jeopardy in today’s economy. They live below the poverty line, and they face high costs in areas such as rent, food, child care and predatory lending.

That’s the finding of a The High Cost of Being Poor in the U.S., a new report released today by the Coalition on Human Needs. Among the report’s highlights:

• 59 percent of U.S. households with annual incomes below $20,000 spend more than half of their income on rent alone – and child care accounts for another exorbitant expense.

Warning About Voter Registration

Disciples Immigration Legal Update provided by Immigration Legal Counsel, a ministry of Disciples Home Missions.

The deadlines to register to vote in the November 8 election are coming up in most states. Now is a good time to check that your registration is up to date, especially if you have moved since the last time you voted.

But immigrants have different concerns when it comes to voter registration. If you are not a U.S. citizen, voting in a U.S. election makes you inadmissible, which means you can never qualify for any kind of visa or lawful permanent residence. If you are not a U.S. citizen, claiming to be a citizen, including on a voter registration form, makes you deportable.

Ideas for World Communion Sunday

World Communion Sunday offers congregations a distinctive opportunity to experience Holy Communion in the context of the global community of faith. The first Sunday of October has become a time when Christians in every culture break bread and pour the cup to remember and affirm Christ as the Head of the Church. On that day, they remember that they are part of the whole body of believers. Whether shared in a grand cathedral, a mud hut, outside on a hilltop, in a meetinghouse, or in a storefront, Christians celebrate the communion liturgy in as many ways as there are congregations. World Communion Sunday can be both a profound worship experience and a time for learning more about our wider community of faith. Click here for communion resources.

Election Eve Prayer Service

Rev. Seung Un (Paul) Tche, President, Council of Christian Unity of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the US and Canada

What we often experience, whenever we go to the polls, is a sense of disunity among us. The cultural context of American elections is somewhat similar to the context of sport games nowadays; Either you win or you lose. We cannot tell since when political elections have become an arena of competition, rather than a process of choosing public servants.

As the elections for a new President and other political leaders approach, Christians in this country are more concerned with the cultural implications of the election and its consequences, which can damage relationship beyond repair.

Climate Change and Voting

By Green Chalice

This election is critical in determining how our country will respond to the climate crisis and the commitments we made to the rest of the world in Paris.

As people of faith, we believe that responding to the urgent threat of climate change is essential to caring for God's creation and loving our neighbors.

The United States, a wealthy nation with vast resources, has a unique responsibility to show moral and political leadership by:

Transitioning from dependency on fossil fuels toward a clean energy economy.

From Churches for Middle East Peace: U.S. Signs $38 Billion Aid Deal With Israel, Obama Says True Security Requires Palestinian State

From Churches for Middle East Peace

By Peter Baker and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, The New York Times

The United States has finalized a $38 billion package of military aid for Israel over the next 10 years, the largest of its kind ever, and the two allies plan to sign the agreement on Wednesday, American and Israeli officials said.

The State Department scheduled a ceremony to formally announce the pact, which will be signed by Jacob Nagel, the acting national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, and Thomas A. Shannon Jr., the under secretary of state for political affairs. Susan E. Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser who handled negotiations, plans to be on hand. For the full article, originally published by The New York Times, click here.

Impossible Choices

By David Elliot, Coalition on Human Needs

Of course we know that hunger exists in America – and that an estimated 15.3 million children in our country, or one in five, live in a household where there is a real risk they will go hungry.

Often studies of childhood hunger involve very young children – up to five years of age, for example, and the very real problems these children will experience later in life if deprived of food at an early age.

But what hasn’t been studied as much is the problem, and effect, of hunger on teenagers – and what teenagers will do to avoid it.

North Carolina NAACP’s Statement on Officer-Involved Shooting in Charlotte

By Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, Regional Moderator for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in North Carolina

Today, the North Carolina NAACP State Conference stands with those in mourning in the city of Charlotte. We call for the full release of all facts available. We ask that the city of Charlotte be transparent with any video and any additional information held by the city that can bring light in the tragic death of Mr. Keith Lamont Scott at the hands of a Charlotte police officer yesterday.

The NAACP has had more than 100-years of experience in analyzing, grieving and learning from officer-involved shootings and we grieve every loss. We believe in full investigations, and listening first before speaking. Initial statements are often affected by loyalties-- both institutional and familial. In these days of ready video and audio recordings, we believe that reviewing these recordings can and will help both sides get to the truth.

The Power of Moving Together

By Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II

From Repairers of the Breach

On Monday, we worked together, organized together, and stood together to do something historic.

In 30 state capitols and the District of Columbia, rabbis, imams, priests and preachers stood with people impacted by unjust policies to declare, in one voice, that some issues are not liberal or conservative, but right versus wrong.

From Jubilee USA: UN/Vatican Global Economic Warning

By Jubilee USA

A report released from a UN group calls the global economy "fragile" and urges action on trade, tax and debt policies to improve economic growth. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development's (UNCTAD) annual "Trade and Development Report" notes rising debt and inequality levels. The report warns that current economic challenges may be more difficult to manage than the 2008 global financial crisis.‎

"It's clear that economic growth and global inequality are impacted by debt, tax and trade policies," noted Eric LeCompte, the executive director of the religious development coalition Jubilee USA. LeCompte serves on UN experts groups on debt and development. "This report reminds us that we need to learn from the last global financial crisis if we are going to stop the next crisis."

Justice Advocacy Interns

The Oakland Peace Center and the Disciples Center for Public Witness are currently sharing an intern provided by the XPLOR program of the National Benevolent Society (NBA): Caleb Greydanus is helping the Disciples Center for Public Witness with its advocacy work around creation care and environmental justice. To read more about Caleb, please click here.

The Disciples Center for Public Witness is also sharing an NBA XPLOR intern with the Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy based in Oakland, CA: Kaeli Sweigard, who also serves as the vice-moderator for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada, is helping DC4PW with its advocacy for greater worker justice.

Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland-Turner Named Director of Ecumenical Poverty Initiative

Rev. Dr. Leslie Copeland-Tune has been named director of the Ecumenical Poverty Initiative (EPI), an anti-poverty ministry housed within the Disciples Center for Public Witness and led by an active partnership of ecumenical leaders from diverse denominational, geographical, racial, and ethnic backgrounds.

Dr. Copeland-Tune, who has been serving as the policy analyst and communications consultant for EPI, will fill the position recently held by Rev. Sekinah Hamlin, who accepted a position with an allied organization closer to her home and family in Greensboro, N.C. Rev. Hamlin will continue to be involved with EPI as Senior Advisor.

September 16, 2016

Victory in Dakota for the Sioux

From The Shalom Center:

Following the ruling in Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps, the Army announced that it will not authorize construction on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it determines whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site. Federal agencies are asking the Dakota Access pipeline company to voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.

Federal agencies are inviting all tribes to formal, government-to-government consultations in the fall to address how the federal government can better ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions and the protection of tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights. The agencies also will explore with tribes whether new legislation should be proposed to Congress to alter the current statutory framework to promote those goals.

For a joint statement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior regarding Standing Rock Sioux Tribe V. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, click here.