April 5, 2014


 Jim Winkler, President and General Secretary 
of the National Council of Churches

In this season when new life is emerging from cold and darkness, when the promise of Easter sings in our hearts as well as our churches, we give thanks for the overwhelming evidence of your Holy Spirit. For good friends, the laughter of children, the memories of aging compatriots, and the dreams of youth, we praise your Holy Name.

April 3, 2014

CENTERpiece: Public Education

Zombie Ideas and Conventional Wisdom: Why NYC’s School “Reform” Matters to the Rest of Us

by Jan Resseger
Special Advisor on Public Education
Disciples Center for Public Witness

Paul Krugman, the Princeton University economist and NY Times columnist, wrote a column earlier this week about myths in economics.  He calls them “zombie ideas.”  Here is how Krugman defines a zombie idea: “one of those things that everyone important knows must be true, because everyone they know says it’s true.”   Back in 1958 in a famous book, The Affluent Society, another economist John Kenneth Galbraith called such ideas “the conventional wisdom” —”the ideas which are esteemed at any time for their acceptability.”  Galbraith continued: “The conventional wisdom is not the property of any political group…. the consensus is exceedingly broad.  Nothing much divides those who are liberals by common political designation from those who are conservatives.”

Zombie ideas.  The conventional wisdom.  Bipartisan consensus based on not much evidence and maybe even contrary to the evidence.  Sounds like today’s wave of so-called public education “reform.”

April 1, 2014

SOA Watch: Call Congress Now!

Today, April 1, School of the Americas Watch issued a call to action for activists to call their representatives in Congress to make two important asks concerning two important pieces of legislation concerning peace and human rights in Latin America.

Throughout today and tomorrow, activists from across the country will be taking to the halls of Congress visiting representatives, urging them to co-sponsor HR 2989, which would suspend and investigate the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), fomerly known as the School of the Americas. SOA Watch needs for constituents to call their representatives in Congress flooding the phone lines with support of this bill. To find your representative and their contact info, click here, or you can call the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to your representative's office. A sample call script is provided here.

Also call your member of Congress and urge them to say no to HR 4229, the Venezuelan Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, which like the identically titled Helms Burton law (substituting "Venezuela" for "Cuba") calls for targeted sanctions against Venezuela in response to calls for intervention. Rather we should be supporting the ongoing peace and dialogue initiatives already underway and seek accurate information concerning the complex political situation.

Help promote peace building and self-determination in Latin America by lending your voice to these causes now!

March 31, 2014


Last Call for Health Insurance: It's the Last Day to Get Covered
If you don't have health insurance, today is the last day to get coverage that starts in 2014. Go right now to to sign up.
There are three ways to sign up:
  • Online. You can sign up at You can also sign up in Spanish at
  • On the Phone. You can call 1-800-318-2596, any time, any hour, and a trained representative will help you enroll.
  • In Person. You can also find a person in your community to help you at
Don't put it off any longer -- get covered now!

March 27, 2014

Scholarships and opportunities available for students and young adults in the US, Italy and Switzerland

Please see below interesting opportunities for students and young adults. Scholarships available!!
1)Scholarships still available for students to attend the World Student Christian Federation-North America and Student Christian Movement-USA Leadership Training Program in Chevy Chase, MD on April 3-6, 2014. Registration ends on April 1st

2) WSCF seeks to nominate a student to attend the Fund For Theological Education's Regional Discernment Retreat in Auburn, WA on April 25-27. Deadline ASAP

February 17, 2014



President James Garfield (1881) was a strong supporter of civil rights for African Americans. 

President Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969) aggressively promoted and signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

Although he had opposed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 at the time of its passage, President Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) in 1982 signed legislation reauthorizing this Act for another 25 years.

February 14, 2014

Happy St. Valentine's Day!

The Governors and the Advocacy Team of The Disciples Center for Public Witness wish you a very happy, meaningful, and love-filled St. Valentine's Day.

PRAYER: Grant, we beseech you, Almighty God, that, like Valentine, we might be ready to lay down our lives for your gospel and the vision of shalom in which it is grounded. We pray for all martyrs who give their lives for the cause of justice and peace, and we ask that we might be guided by their example, becoming more perfect witnesses to and instruments of your love. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

ALSO: Why not send a special Valentine's Day gift to the CENTER?

To give online, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

Please send your most generous gift to:

Disciples Center for Public Witness 
c/o Christian Church Capital Area 
8814 Kensington Parkway, Suite 208 
Chevy Chase, MD 20815-6743

February 12, 2014

Confront Torture in Maryland Prisons

Interfaith Action for Human Rights (IHAR), a Mid-Atlantic partner of the National Religious Campaingn Against Torture  (NRCAT), is confronting the use of long-term solitary confinement in Maryland prisons by supporting bill SB0861/HB0787, now in progress in the Marlyand General Assembly. The bill would commission a third party to conduct a study on the use of solitary confinement within Maryland prisons, particularly its use with incarcerated youth and individuals with mental illness.

Long-term solitary confinement is considered to be torture under international standards of human rights. NRCAT cites that on any given day 8.5% of incarcerated individuals in Maryland prisions are subjected to solitary confinement inspite of this.

Take action and reach out to Maryland legislators in support of this measure that will provide a clear picture of the use of torture in state prisons and will provide the groundwork for addressing this issue. If you would like to offer additional assistance to the effort and learn more, please contact Suzanne O'Hatnik via IHAR.

February 3, 2014

Disciples Respond to House Republicans' "Standards for Immigration Reform"

Press Release:

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) appreciates the decision of House Republicans to take up immigration reform discussions as indicated by their January 30 release of GOP Immigration Reform Standards.  The one page set of standards outlined views on border and internal enforcement, visa and employment regulations, immigration system changes, and opportunities for youth and some others “living outside the rule of law” to “come forward and get right with the law.”

“We agree with House leaders that our nation’s current immigration system has serious problems which must be solved, and are grateful for this expression of commitment to work in a bipartisan manner to solve them.  We take this time to reaffirm our promise to leaders on each side of the aisle to continue our prayers ‘for…all who are in high positions’ (I Timothy 2)” commented Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  “However, our historic commitment to fulfill our biblical call to welcome the stranger and to live out God’s challenge in scripture that ‘the alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you’ (Leviticus 19:34) compels us likewise to raise key concerns about some of the principles as stated.”

January 31, 2014

Kerry Plan Details Emerge as Israeli Coalition Wobbles

from Churches for Middle East Peace:

This week, Thomas Friedman reports in The New York Times that according to U.S. officials he’s spoken with, Kerry is planning to present, "a U.S. framework that will lay out what Washington considers the core concessions Israelis and Palestinians need to make for a fair, lasting deal." He writes, "The 'Kerry Plan,' likely to be unveiled soon, is expected to call for an end to the conflict and all claims, following a phased Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank (based on the 1967 lines), with unprecedented security arrangements in the strategic Jordan Valley.” He also says that some settlement blocs will remain in the West Bank, but Israel will “compensate the Palestinians with Israeli territory." It will call for Palestinians to have a capital in East Jerusalem, Palestinians recognizing "Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people" and no right of return for Palestinian refugees into Israel.

The ideas themselves are not groundbreaking. Variations of this formula have been known for years, but getting the parties to accept them would be historic and could move the negotiations decisively closer to ending to the occupation.

Friedman concludes that if this doesn’t work, "Israelis and Palestinians need to understand that Kerry’s mission is the last train to a negotiated two-state solution. The next train is the one coming at them."

January 19, 2014


The Disciples Center for Public Witness joins many others within our denomination, across our nation, and around the globe to honor the birthday, life, mission and vision of one of America's strongest advocates for justice and peace: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

PRAYER: O God of our salvation, give us the grace and strength to keep Dr. King's dream alive, and to make his vision of the Beloved Community a central part of our lives as Christians, as Americans, and as members of the world community. We make this prayer in the name of the One who gave the vision to Dr. King and to us, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

CLICK HERE to watch Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" Speech.

CLICK HERE to read Dr. King's Letter from the Birmingham Jail.

CLICK HERE to read Dr. King's speech to striking sanitation workers in Memphis.

CLICK HERE to read Dr. King's speech on Vietnam.

January 16, 2014

Religious Freedom Day

The Obama administration proclaimed today, January 16, 2014 as Religious Freedom Day to, as quoted from the President's Proclamation, "celebrate America's legacy of religious liberty, embrace diversity in our own communities, and resolve once more to advance religious freedom in our time." January 16 was chosen as it marks the anniversary of the passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, written by Thomas Jefferson, in 1786. This statute provided the basis for religious freedom in the First Ammendment.

The U.S. Department of Justice also published a blog post about issues of relgious protection today, namely enforcement of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) passed in 2000. This act protects the ability of religious communities to build places of worship and other religious institutions, and the ability of prisoners and other persons confined to institutions to continue to practice their faiths. To see the full blog post, click here.

January 5, 2014


All of us at the Disciples Center for Public Witness hope you had a very merry Christmas, a happy New Year's Day, and, if you celebrated it, a wonderful and enriching Kwanzaa.

On this holy Feast of the Epiphany, we wish you a blessed new year and pray that you will have many opportunities to share and receive gifts--especially the gifts of God's compassion, justice and peace.

We also hope that, on this day commemorating the giving of gifts to the Christ-child, you might consider making a new year's gift or pledge to support the justice advocacy ministries of The Center. 


The Disciples Center for Public Witness
c/o Christian Church Capital Area
8814 Kensington Parkway, Suite 208
Chevy Chase, MD 20815-6743

The icon is the work of Janet McKenzie. This and other icons can be found at Bridge Building Images.

January 1, 2014

New Year Blessings!

The Board of Governors, Advocacy Team and Network of Advisors of the DISCIPLES CENTER for PUBLIC WITNESS wish you, your family, and all your loved ones a very happy and blessed New Year.  


Please keep The CENTER and its unique ministry of education and advocacy in your thoughts and prayers throughout the new year.


December 29, 2013

Still Time

 Peace Tower, Parliament Building, Canada

At this busy time of year between Christmas and the New Year, we pray that you will find some "still time": time to be still, focus on what matters most in life, and make the commitments that will guide you through the new year.

We hope that one of these commitments will be your support for social justice and the justice advocacy ministries of the Disciples Center for Public Witness:  economic justice, health and wholeness, criminal justice reform, human rights, immigration reform, worker justice, creation care, religious liberty.

There's still time to make a year-end contribution in 2013.  Please prayerfully consider doing so.  Thank you and many prayers for a blessed new year!

December 26, 2013


For those who are celebrating Kwanzaa, the governors, senior advisors and members of the Advocacy Team at the DISCIPLES CENTER for PUBLIC WITNESS wish you, your family, and all your loved ones a wonderful celebration of family, community and culture.

For those who are not celebrating this important holiday, we pray that the values promoted by Kwanzaa will nevertheless help focus your Christian faith and guide your thoughts and actions throughout the new year. These values are unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia), collective work and responsibility (ujima), cooperative economics (ujamaa), purpose (nia), creativity (kuumba) and faith (imani).

For more information about Kwanzaa, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

Please remember The CENTER in your end-of-the-year giving.

December 24, 2013

Christmas/Holiday Blessings!

The Board of Governors, Special Advisors and Advocacy Team at The DISCIPLES CENTER for PUBLIC WITNESS wish you, your family, and all your loved ones a very Merry Christmas. 
As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, let us pray that the love of God will be born anew in our hearts, and that our lives might more fully incarnate the Biblical vision of shalom--a vision of peace and justice for everyone throughout the world. 

 Please remember The CENTER in your holiday giving: 

- or - 

December 21, 2013

DHM Opposes Detention Bed Mandate for Undocumented Immigrants

Disciples Home Missions joined non-governmental civil rights, civil liberties, human rights, legal services, and faith-based organizations, to urge the Administration to request flexibility to transfer funds between the accounts for detention and alternatives to detention of undocumented immigrants, and to reject the principle of a mandated daily detention level in its FY 2015 budget request to Congress.  Following is part of the letter sent to Administration:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the interior enforcement agency of DHS, detains approximately 34,000 individuals across the country each day – about 400,000 annually – in a network of county jails, privately run contract facilities, and federal facilities that costs taxpayers $2 billion each year. Congressional appropriations language covering ICE’s detention budget – most recently referenced in the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2014 – states "[t]hat funding made available under this heading shall maintain a level of not less than 34,000 detention beds." Because ICE and some members of Congress interpret the language to require ICE to maintain and fill 34,000 beds daily, it has become known as the detention bed "mandate." The number itself is completely arbitrary, and the concept of a legislatively mandated detention quota is an aberration among law enforcement agencies.

December 20, 2013

Two Victories re Guantanamo

From NRCAT: We have two pieces of good news to share with you. First, Congress has now passed key provisions easing the restrictions on transferring Guantanamo detainees to foreign countries. These provisions are included in the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act that already passed the House and passed the Senate earlier this week. Passing these provisions is a key victory in the battle to close Guantanamo.

Second, the Administration recently repatriated two men from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia and two more to Sudan. The detainees are reported to have agreed to these transfers. Please write to the President and thank him for transferring these four out of Guantanamo. These transfers bring us closer to the day when Guantanamo is finally closed.

Thank you for working with us this year to close Guantanamo. We are making progress.

National Religious Campaign Against Torture