Cooperative Baptist Fellowship – A Statement Concerning Racism in our Nation

A Statement Concerning Racism in our Nation

It is clear from Scripture that the whole universe has its origin with God, and everything that God has made is good (Gen.1:1-2:4). Beyond the opening chapter in Genesis, we read over and over again that we should love our neighbor as ourselves (Lev 19:9-18, Matt 22:33-40, Mark 12:28-31, Luke 10:25-28, Gal. 5:14, Jas. 2:8). When pressed by religious people about who our neighbors may be, Jesus tells us that our neighbors are everyone, even those who may be completely different from us (Luke 10:25-37). Early in the Jesus movement, well before it was called Christianity, one of the defining issues that Christ’s followers faced was how to incorporate and include others, specifically Gentiles. It was not a question of how to exclude them, but how to include them (Matt 15:21-28, Mark 7:24-30, Acts 10:1-48, Acts 15:1-35, Gal. 3:26-29, Rom. 4-5, 1 Cor. 9:19-23, Eph. 2:1-22).

While the history of Christianity has terrible moments that have included genocide and human devastation, it is clear that at our origins, we were an inclusive movement that attempted to care for the most vulnerable in society (Matt 25:31-46, Gal. 2:10, Jas. 1:27, 2:1-13, 5:1-6). With these scriptural and historical roots, it is with the strongest and clearest voice that we utterly condemn racism, white supremacy and bigotry. We condemn in the absolute strongest terms the racism and the violent, racist acts that were on display in Charlottesville, Virginia. Three people died as a result of this hatred and bigotry, and one of them was a woman who was standing against evil.

We condemn any form of white supremacy because it is a sin against God and humanity. The hate that this ideology supports builds walls that separate human beings in categories of good and bad. This cannot be so!

God has created all of us in God’s own image (Gen. 1:26-27). Whether it is the KKK, Alt-Right, Neo-Nazis, or white nationalists, all are groups espousing ideologies that are antichrist in the original sense of the term. These ideologies are absolutely opposed to the life, teachings and love ethic of Jesus Christ, who was himself a Jew born in Bethlehem and raised in Galilee (Matt. 1-2, Luke 1-2, John 13:31-35).

This moment requires more from us as churches and as a nation. As Dr. King reminds us, the greatest tragedy is not the “strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” Silence is not an option. Silence is not Christian. Silence is an affront to the Gospel. We will not be silent.

We commit to preaching, teaching and living the truth that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is incompatible with racism, hate and bigotry. Christ’s love compels us to proclaim this truth boldly in communities beyond our own churches and social circles (2 Cor. 5:14-15). We believe that there will be little to no progress on difficult issues of race without establishing authentic relationships with those who hold perspectives different from our own.
For more than 25 years, we as the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship have sought to live out these commitments. In 1992, at our first General Assembly after launching CBF and its genuinely Baptist witness apart from the Southern Baptist Convention, we adopted “A Statement of Confession and Repentance,” offering a long overdue confession and apology to African Americans for “our historic complicity in condoning and perpetuating the sin of slavery.” “We reject forthrightly the racism which has persisted throughout our history as Southern Baptists, even to this present day,” the statement said. “Furthermore, we pledge our prayers and active efforts to work for the eradication of every vestige of racism in our nation and in our churches.”
We have pursued racial justice and community transformation through numerous active efforts, from CBF’s rural poverty initiative in the poorest counties in the United States called Together for Hope; to helping rebuild neglected minority communities in the aftermath of hurricanes, tornadoes and floods; to helping form and provide leadership to the New Baptist Covenant — a theologically, geographically and racially diverse movement of Baptist organizations working together toward unity and justice; to combating predatory lenders targeting people of color; and to a new partnership with African-American Baptist conventions called the Angela Project, which seeks concrete action toward racial justice and reconciliation through the promotion of African-American prosperity and a focus on public policy and education, poverty and the legacy of slavery.
Because of our active efforts to make good on CBF’s 1992 pledge to eradicate racism in our churches, communities and nation, we commit anew to seeking out authentic relationships across racial lines. We commit to continued ministry with people of color as together we seek to fulfill the Great Commission and be faithful to the Great Commandment of Jesus Christ (Mark 12:30-31, Matt. 22:37-39, Luke 10:27). We also commit to confronting with love and humility any form of racism we encounter — individual and systemic. Strengthened by prayer and motivated by the love of Christ, who is our source of hope (Rom. 5:1-2), we seek to shine a light of love in the midst of darkness (Eph. 5:8-11).

Eighteen former PCUSA GA moderators release statement against racism

 

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and friends,

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer and Reconciler.

We write to you as former Moderators of the General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its predecessor churches, as disciples of Jesus Christ committed to the Gospel’s witness and promise of reconciliation, and as agents of God’s transformative justice in the church and in the world.

The brazen march of white nationalist supremacist groups in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 11 and 12, 2017 and President Donald Trump’s subsequent responses that equivocated on clearly identifying, denouncing, and condemning those same groups as instigators of hatred and violence brought the spotlight upon the deeply embedded and pernicious poison of racism and white supremacy so endemic in society and, we dare say, in the church. We are increasingly alarmed when notions of nationalism and racial superiority are masked and clothed in terms of the Christian faith, or confused with the Gospel, or somehow supersede the clear exhortation of sacred Scripture to love your neighbor as Christ loved the Church, or when the Christian faith is used to inspire and organize hatred and bigotry.

 

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Catholic leaders letter to President Trump on DACA

Letter to President Trump on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Dear Mr. President,

As uncertainty surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program continues with untold consequences, we write to strongly urge you to continue to support this vital program.

The Catholic Bishops have long supported DACA youth and continue to do so. We believe that the dignity of every human being, particularly that of our children and youth, must be protected. An estimated 800,000 young people have received and benefitted from the DACA program. Through our parishes and over 300 Catholic Charities, CLINIC and other affiliated member and partner agencies, we have had the privilege of meeting and working with tens of thousands of these outstanding individuals who are so much a part of who we are. They are contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes and communities.

Your decision to continue this program would ensure that young people can continue to work, study, and be protected from deportation while Congress debates broader legislative fixes to our broken immigration system. A decision to end this program would turn our nation’s back on immigrant youth who are seeking to reach their full God-given potential and fulfill the promise of gratefully giving back to the only country most have ever known.

At the heart of Catholic Social Teaching is the moral obligation to protect the life and dignity of every human being, particularly the most vulnerable, which includes our youth. These young people were brought to the United States by their parents whose desire was to provide their children with hope, opportunity, and safety that they could never hope to find in their countries of birth.

Mr. President, your administration once again has an extraordinary opportunity to demonstrate, both now and to future generations, our nation’s spirit of generosity and compassion. We hope and pray that you make the right decision to continue the DACA program for the benefit of not only these amazing youth, but our nation as a whole.

Sincerely,

Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Chairman, USCCB Committee on Migration

Sr. Donna Markham OP, PhD, President and CEO, Catholic Charities USA

Jeanne M. Atkinson, Esq., Executive Director, Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. (CLINIC)
 

Statement on Charlottesville from Church of God General Director Jim Lyon

Paul Goodloe McIntire was an investment genius, whose savvy management of stock portfolios in both Chicago and New York empowered him to be one of his hometown’s preeminent philanthropists. Inspired by the City Beautiful movement dramatically brought to life at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, he dedicated himself to funding monumental public spaces, city parks and squares, most often featuring heroic sculpture. He was born in 1860 and polished his fortune in New York City before retiring in 1918; he then returned to the beloved city of his birth: Charlottesville, Virginia.McIntire was a son of the South. The Old South. His father was the mayor of Charlottesville during the Civil War and negotiated the city’s surrender to Union troops, saving its buildings and leafy neighborhoods from the firestorms that engulfed Fredericksburg and Richmond. As a young man, he attended.

McIntire was a son of the South. The Old South. His father was the mayor of Charlottesville during the Civil War and negotiated the city’s surrender to Union troops, saving its buildings and leafy neighborhoods from the firestorms that engulfed Fredericksburg and Richmond. As a young man, he attended Charlottesville’s famed University of Virginia, studying under Thomas Jefferson’s elegant Rotunda. He would become one of the University’s most extravagant donors, endowing chairs and schools that still bear his name.

And, McIntire gave Charlottesville a statue of Robert E. Lee, straddling the horse Traveler, commanding Lee Park in the heart of the city-the park itself a gift from this wealthy favorite son, who required that access to the park be for “whites only.” He also gave the city Washington Park, named to honor Booker T. Washington, asking that it be reserved for “colored children.” No statues there.

In the week following the unveiling of Lee’s statue in 1924 (at a ceremony in which the Confederate general was proclaimed, “the greatest man who ever lived”), the Ku Klux Klan burned crosses across the town and set bombs around a Charlottesville church popular with the African-American community. Events in Charlottesville mirrored the tenor of the times, as the Klan was in its ascendancy. During the 1920s, up to 25,000 Klansmen, in full regalia-white hoods and all the rest-annually marched proudly down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., in a show of force not lost on the minority communities they sought to both marginalize and terrorize.

There were more black Americans living (and enslaved) in Charlottesville and the surrounding Albemarle County, Virginia, before and during the Civil War than there were white Americans. When Lee’s statue took the stage in the 1920s, about 35 percent of the city’s population had descended from those slaves. Memorializing the vanguard of the Confederacy and celebrated by the Klan, Lee Park and its statue received mixed reviews, then and now. People of color in Charlottesville during the McIntire years, and for years, after had no voice in municipal government, having been systemically denied effective representation by Jim Crow-era laws and processes designed to move them to the sidelines. African American slaves built iconic local landmarks (like Jefferson’s Monticello and much of the University of Virginia campus) but were not represented as contributors in any public space, while those who owned people as property were raised up as heroes decades after losing the War.

In May 2016, after some years of community debate, the city of Charlottesville established a “Blue Ribbon Commission” to explore the future of the Lee statue (and another one similar, also a 1920s McIntire gift, of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, proudly on a pedestal elsewhere in town). The Commission managed many months of public conversation and research-often contentious and dubbed “a moment of rupture” by one Commission member-and released its findings in December 2016. The City Council voted in March 2017 to remove and “reinterpret” the Lee monument; this decision was challenged in court; the case remains unresolved, before the bench. This controversy and the Charlottesville story became a cause for the erstwhile guardians of white supremacy, nationwide.

In May 2017, white nationalist (and University of Virginia graduate) Richard Spencer and about a hundred others joined in an after-dark protest of the city’s plans, chanting “Russia is our friend,” “blood and soil” (a Nazi refrain), and “we will not be replaced” (white supremacist-speak declaring that ethnic diversity will render white Americans an “endangered” minority in “their own” country).

In August 2017, Spencer and others aligned with his tribe marched once more through town at night, torch-bearing, chanting the same, only this time hundreds strong. Defiant. Angry. And, armed. The newsreel captures of preppy and black-shirted white dudes snaking with torches through otherwise silent streets, loudly voicing toxic phrases like, “Jews will not replace us,” are a chilling reprise of a world my father (and so many millions more like him) suited up to erase more than seventy years ago.

On the next day, Nazi and Confederate battle flags marched in tandem, ultimately destined for a face-off with protesters adamantly opposed to the racism and white supremacy both have been used to promote in two different centuries-and now a third. The violence, injury, and death that ensued has been the stuff of a thousand headlines and a stable of talking heads on TV in the days since, not to mention government officials, religious leaders, corporate execs, and so many more.

I share all this history to better understand the stage upon which these events have walked. The Civil War frame, the scourge of slavery, the context of the statue, a city’s honest attempt to process how it should today tell its own story with public spaces and art, and the specter of racism which haunts the whole, all encompass the proscenium. Watching the drama unfold, it is time to speak up.

My Terms of Employment at Church of God Ministries specifically prohibit me from making statements that are political in tone or that carry politically-charged content. This parameter is rooted deeply in our Movement’s DNA, historically apolitical and also fearful that any one voice be seen as speaking for church (in the way denominational hierarchies are prone to embrace). Consequently, Church of God Ministries during my tenure (and long before) has not issued statements in response to man-made headlines. However, in this instance, given the temperature of the controversies and requests from the field-and after consultation with our General Assembly chair Diana Swoope, and the Assembly’s chair-elect, Tim Clarke-I am releasing this reply. I own the content, drawing from the General Assembly’s actions and voice on behalf of the church, over time.

The Church of God must provide no quarter to racism of any kind and has consistently rebuked white supremacy. Its General Assembly has many times (beginning in 1956) unambiguously opposed racism, racial segregation, political and social barriers to racial harmony and reconciliation, and racial discrimination of all kinds.

“We base our stand toward basic human rights on the teaching of the Scriptures. God has ‘made of one blood all nations of men’ (Acts 17:26). ‘For we are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ…for we are all one in Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 3:26, 28). The first of these speaks as to origin, the second as to relationship. We believe that in the Church of God there should be no racial barriers because we are all brethren in Christ. We believe that man was made in the image of God, that every person is of intrinsic worth before God, and that every individual has a right to the fullest possible opportunities for the development of life abundant and eternal. We believe that these rights are given by God and that the church has a responsibility to defend them and work for their guarantee.” (General Assembly Statement on Race, June 1964)

The Church of God has also consistently acknowledged the intentionality required to overcome hell’s default temptation to divide on racial lines. Responding to racially charged injustice in 2015, the General Assembly overwhelmingly endorsed this text:

“We resolve to express our compassion and concern (in the face of racism and racial injustice) in the following six ways:

Leadership-we call on pastors and leaders to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit to live out a countercultural lifestyle that works to expose and repent of the sin of racial division and acknowledges the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Prayer-we pray for healing, repentance, unity and peace, and we plead for God’s mercy on our nation and on those who are compliant with the racial violence and racial disparities being manifested in the church and in the systems of this world;

Lament-we mourn in solidarity and sympathy with the people of (Charleston’s) Emanuel AME Church and the families, congregations and communities affected by the traumatic impact of these incidents, and we confess our past and present failure to walk faithfully and consistently in the light of our belief in a God who has no respect of persons;

Forgiveness-we affirm radical forgiveness of the persons whose motivation for doing harm to others is racial hatred and discrimination, acknowledging what Jesus taught and showed us by His death on the cross, that love is stronger than hate;

Justice-we acknowledge that ministers in our own General Assembly and fellow congregants have been victims of racial profiling, we stand for justice to be administered on their behalf in a fair and impartial manner, we urgently call for justice in all cases of racially-motivated violence, and we support those agencies and officials who enforce the law and administer justice equitably to ensure the safety and security of all of our citizens, congregations and communities;

Vision of reconciliation-we commit ourselves as people of Christian faith to envision, strategize and work toward the realization of a reconciled church, nation and world.” (General Assembly Resolution on Race, June 2015)

In a world of soundbites and 140-character Twitter posts, it is easy to overlook the seminal contexts and histories of “moments of rupture.” It is easy to drive by a story without pausing to explore the stage-framing events. We must all be committed to studying, listening, and thoughtfully responding in a world so desperately broken, divided, and tense. Charlottesville has become a kind of emblem, a marker for our time. It has already become a shorthand for controversy, media debate, tragedy, and the resurgence of ideas many thought vanquished years ago.

But, whatever the lens, we stand united in our defiance of racism and our vociferous opposition to all ideologies and conduct clothed by white supremacy. As followers of Jesus, transformed by His Holy Spirit, we will be neither separated or tiered by race, ethnicity, national origin, culture, gender, or economic station. We are loved equally by Him-and we must love others the same.

Charlottesville’s long journey to the present hour, wrestling with a complex history that has not always honored all who call it home, has become a flashlight shining into every corner of the country. From Jefferson’s plantation to Lee’s defense of slavery to McIntire’s vision of segregated public spaces crowned by Confederate statues to Klan autographs on twentieth century history to today’s reality, let us “come to a thorough awareness that there is a disparity between our vision for reconciliation and the actual experience of many of our brothers and sisters; And, let us learn to listen to the stories our brothers and sisters share, express in word and deed our feelings of empathy, and commit to walk together as we boldly stand against every form of racism.” (General Assembly of the Church of God, June 2015)

Be bold. Reclaim what hell has stolen. Jesus is the subject. The Way. The Truth. And, the Life.

I am, humbly, your brother in Christ.

Jim Lyon signature
Jim Lyon
General Director

PASTORAL LETTER FROM THE CME COLLEGE OF BISHOPS

PASTORAL LETTER FROM THE COLLEGE OF BISHOPS Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

August 21, 2017 CME Unity Summit – Atlanta, GA

The College of Bishops of The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church speaks to issues in Charlottesville, Virginia, August 12, 2017, during which white supremacists, Nazis, and other racist groups gathered with guns and other weapons and chanted racist slogans. Violence ensued, many were harmed and one person was killed.

The very nature of the racism displayed and the disrespect for human life are a massive thorn in the flesh of a nation already seething with unrest. The presentation of bigotry, violence and murder from Charlottesville and other cities is not the nation we wish to be or to present to the world.

We appreciate and promote the words of former President Barack Obama during the crisis, mainly, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion ….”

The College of Bishops calls upon President Donald J. Trump, all branches of the Federal Government and all Americans of conscience to stand for righteousness and justice, without equivocation in language or actions. We denounce and we call upon civic and faith leaders of all kinds to denounce bigotry, hate language, and racism of all kinds.

We call the CME Church to be a church of action, first, by praying. Pray for those who have been victims of hate, racism, bigotry and violence. Pray for those who perpetrate these injustices and for the softening of their hearts. Pray for leaders to have the courage to speak truth to power. Second, we call on the church to get involved! Every local church and every pastor should get involved in their communities in anti-racism advocacy and action. We must stand, speak, challenge, and demand “freedom and justice” for all with faith and fervor!

THE COLLEGE OF BISHOPS OF THE CHRISTIAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH

Bishop Lawrence Reddick, Senior Bishop Bishop Marvin Thomas, Chair Bishop Henry Williamson Bishop C. James King Bishop Thomas Brown, Sr. Bishop Paul A. G. Stewart, retired Bishop Kenneth W. Carter Bishop E. Lynn Brown, retired Bishop James B. Walker Bishop Ronald Cunningham, retired Bishop Sylvester Williams Bishop Othal Lakey, retired Bishop Teresa E. Jefferson-Snorton, Secretary Bishop William Graves, retired Bishop Godwin Umoette Bishop Marshall Gilmore, retired Bishop Bobby R. Best

Faith on Public Trial (Reflection on Charlottesville)

Last weekend, as I watched the terrible scenes from Charlottesville, Va., my heart was deeply troubled, often full of anger, and distraught at what I was seeing. Sunday morning our choir performed Brandon Boyd’s arrangement of “Jacob’s Ladder.” We were privileged to have Brandon Boyd, a young, gifted African-American composer, with us accompanying the choir. His version includes a moving solo with the words, “Is there anybody here who loves my Jesus?” I reflected that those words are what many African Americans were asking in Charlottesville—words their ancestors had sung since they arrived in slave ships.

On Monday morning I opened Facebook. There my close friend, Tony Vis, a Reformed Church in America pastor from Iowa who has served with me as a General Synod President, posted this: “The white supremacy/nationalist movement in America today is anti-gospel, which means anti-Christ, and evil at its very core. I renounce it, will stand against it, and invite my friends to do likewise.” I could not have said it better.

Of the many shocking images from Charlottesville, one continues to haunt me. White men, mostly younger, are marching and carrying torches in the night with faces full of grim hate and determined anger. It was malevolently reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan’s torch-lit night rallies, with cross burnings and the evil actions and killings that often followed. Even more, it brought memories of the Nazis marching with their torches, slogans, and violence in the 1930s. The neo-Nazis in Charlottesville chanted some of those same slogans.

At times, Christian faith is put on public trial. Public events and movements present a direct confrontation to the gospel of Jesus Christ, requiring us to make a clear choice. The confession of our faith is at stake. That’s what Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Niemoller, Karl Barth, and others saw in Germany in the 1930s. They formed the Confessing Church based on the Barmen Declaration, declaring that faithfully following Jesus placed them in uncompromised opposition to the ideology and political movement spawning the ugly forms of bigotry, moral superiority, and pernicious racism in their time.

Many Reformed Christians in South Africa had a similar response to the apartheid regime. Convinced that the truth and public witness of Christian faith was violated by exclusionary racial practices both in society and the church, they drafted the Belhar Confession. With firm biblical grounding, it condemned racism as a sin and affirmed unity, reconciliation, and peace as intrinsic to our confession of faith. The Reformed Church in America adopted the Belhar as its fourth confessional standard of faith, and the Christian Reformed Church adopted the Belhar Confession as a “contemporary testimony.”

Indeed, it is as contemporary as Charlottesville.

Therefore, both the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America have the foundation that compels us to stand forthrightly, publicly, and unequivocally against the ugly expressions of white supremacy, white nationalism, and unvarnished racism on public display in Charlottesville, and moved like shock waves across the country.

But there is more.

Continue reading HERE

 

A Statement from Evangelical Covenant Church President Walter Denouncing White Supremacy

CHICAGO, IL (August 14, 2017) — I join with other Christian leaders to unequivocally denounce hateful white supremacist ideologies, brought into stark focus by the distressing events of Charlottesville, Virginia

Make no mistake. This ideology is antithetical to God, and therefore must be antithetical to all who follow God. It makes a mockery of the Father, our Creator, who knit each of us together in our mother’s womb. It ridicules the cross of Jesus, our Redeemer, in whom there is neither Greek nor Jew, slave nor free, male nor female. It disdains the work of the Holy Spirit, our Sustainer, who has baptized us into the one Body of Christ.

Friends, it is hateful … and it is heres

In the Covenant, we instead yearn to be found evermore faithful to a Kingdom vision here on earth as it is in heaven: a vision of every tribe, nation, and tongue finding its place of belonging and reconciliation at the feet of Jesus. We don’t always get it right, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t right.

And so, we press forward with resolve, lament, and the sometimes painful but always powerful work of the Holy Spirit.

We grieve the senseless loss of three lives, Heather Heyer and state troopers Jay Cullen and Berke Bates. We pray for those recovering from wounds, seen and unseen, nearby and far away. We denounce hate-filled violence.

We beseech our just and merciful God to convict us of how we as a nation and Church fail one another. And, we beseech our God to convert us anew to the bedrock reality that Jesus not only can, but Jesus does, break down the dividing walls of hostility.

ECC President Walter Announces 2018 Retirement

CHICAGO, IL (August 1, 2017) – Evangelical Covenant Church president Rev. Gary Walter today announced his intention to retire in 2018 following one more year of service. Walter was elected president in 2008 and upon his retirement will have served with the ECC in various capacities for 42 years.

“My core identity is that of a Covenant pastor,” Walter says. “Every position, including this one, has been a distinct and humbling opportunity. My hope for all of these years has simply been to be found faithful as a disciple and servant of Jesus.”

During his tenure, the Covenant has continued to be a growing, multiethnic, multi-generational fellowship of churches. Walter led a significant restructuring of the Covenant, streamlining the denominational offices into a more cost-effective and collaborative structure while helping form one of the most ethnically diverse leadership teams of any denomination in the United States today. Each of the Covenant’s mission priorities and support ministries has made notable accomplishments, garnering recognition for innovative efforts in missions, discipleship, multiethnic ministry, church planting, among others.

“Having served for almost three decades with Gary, I am well aware of how God has used him in many different roles of leadership within the church,” says Steve Dawson, president of National Covenant Properties. “Gary’s wisdom, vision, and work ethic have blessed many along the way—myself included. We all wish him well in this next season.”

“Gary has done so much to take the Covenant deeper in Christ and further in mission,” adds Michelle Sanchez, executive minister of Make and Deepen Disciples. “I am grateful that he is leaving us with such an outstanding legacy to build upon.”

According to Kansas-based attorney and Executive Board member Jeffrey Houston, Walter’s unique combination of gifts made him a transformational leader for the ECC. “He is a bit of a unicorn: the CEO with a pastor’s heart, or a strategic pastor with an executive’s instincts—whichever way you look at it, he was the leader for such a time as this.”

In his letter to Covenant Executive Board chair Alice Lee, Walter said, “I give this advance notice so that the processes and provisions of the ECC Constitution and By-laws can be implemented in a timely way for the election of the next president at the 2018 Covenant Annual Meeting.”

The Presidential Nominating Committee (PNC) typically begins its work in the fall of the year of an election. According to the Covenant Constitution and By-laws, it is charged with nominating one candidate to the Annual Meeting. Additional candidates may be nominated from the floor.

The PNC will be comprised of 27 members, including 12 from the Covenant Executive Bard, each chair of the 11 regional conference executive boards, and one member from each of the four additional boards elected by the Covenant Annual Meeting (North Park University, Covenant Ministries of Benevolence, Ordered Ministry, and Pension/Benefits).

In his letter, Walter concluded, “I am confident God will raise up gifted and godly leadership for a faithful and fruitful future for the Covenant. I will do whatever is helpful for a smooth transition as that time approaches.” His official retirement date will be September 1, 2018.

President Walter’s letter of notice can be found here.

Creating Beloved Community — CBF church starter blends Mennonite ethics, Catholic peacemaking and Quaker spirituality with Baptist roots

By Ashleigh Bugg

What happens when the efforts of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship are combined with the peacemaking practices of the Catholic Workers Movement, a blues-playing Mennonite pastor and international partners from Mexico City?

A “beloved community” is formed, according to 28-year-old pastor and Truett Seminary graduate Cole Chandler. Chandler says partnering with people from various faith communities, races and nationalities helps create this “beloved community,” a term popularized by Martin Luther King, Jr., as the vision for a just and healthy society.

Beloved Community Mennonite Church (BCMC) is the brainchild of Mennonite pastor Vern Rempel. After finishing seminary in Waco, Texas, Cole Chandler and his wife, Kaylanne, moved back to her hometown of Denver, Colo., and attended Rempel’s first church. One day over coffee, Rempel told Chandler he was leaving their church to start a new one.

“He shared his vision for the church, and it matched mine — but maybe 30 years further down the road,” Chandler said. “His sense was that it was time to move on from success and career-building, to ‘living inside the container he had constructed,’ and to be in authentic community.”

Rempel invited Chandler to help lead the new church. They became co-pastors, creating a mix of elements of Mennonite ethics, courage and renewal methods, Catholic liturgical practices and CBF roots.

“We didn’t set out with a blueprint,” Chandler said. “We have dreams, but they’re not prescriptive. We want to see what emerges.”

Chandler is particularly excited about a church partnership with a couple from Mexico City and the building of a tiny house village for people experiencing homelessness in Denver.

Last February, BCMC welcomed a Mennonite couple from Mexico City who wanted to work with immigrants and refugees in the United States. BCMC hosted the couple who worked at a hospitality center across from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement buildings where detainees were held, helping families integrate into the community, connect with family and find apartments.

“One of the cool things about their being here is that they helped integrate marginalized peoples into the life of our congregation. At one point last year, we had five different households in our small congregation offering hospitality to displaced people without homes:’ Chandler said.

Chandler noted that although BCMC is small in size, because of its flexibility the church was able to work with the couple — something which might have been harder with a more established congregation.

Another church initiative arose out of a response to Denver’s controversial urban camping ban which critics say criminalizes homelessness. The ban makes it illegal to camp in public areas, something which Chandler says pushes homeless neighbors
to the fringes. “We also have hardly any affordable housing,” Chandler noted.

This year, Chandler joined an organization called the Alternative Solutions Advocacy Project (ASAP), a cross-section movement of business personnel, advocates, homeless people and faith leaders. ASAP has brainstormed alternatives to the camping ban which would welcome people into a safe space, especially needed during cold, winter months. According to Chandler, Denver officials initially were not interested. However, after a video of a police officer taking a blanket from a homeless person went viral, the mayor reached out to the group in order to find a solution. “Our plan was to create a safe space owned by a community,” Chandler said.

ASAP is in current negotiations to create Beloved Community Village, a community comprising tiny homes for formerly homeless residents. Chandler reiterates that BCMC’s adaptable leadership style allows them to work on projects like the tiny home village. “We have the opportunity to take risks,” Chandler said. “Our church is not even two years old, and we’re right in the middle of this village project.”

Although Beloved Community has “Mennonite” in its title, it has close ties to the Catholic Worker Community and is a CBF-partner church.

“What if we were a Mennonite church with Catholics which was also Baptist?” Chandler said. “It’s the ‘yes and …’ kind of idea. Why choose ‘either or’ when both fit?”

Although he no longer lives in a predominantly Baptist area, Chandler acknowledges that maintaining his roots is a priority. “I was raised and educated by Baptists,” Chandler said. “An idea that is really important to me is the idea of holding that tension — of not needing to cut ties or move separate ways just for the sake of it.”

Chandler talks about how Beloved Community has tried to uphold traditional practices while leaving room for innovation. This is manifested in several ways, including the addition of blues music, stemming from the African-American roots tradition.

Finish reading HERE

Catholic Charities Statement on Healtcare Legislation

Catholic Charities USA expresses deep disappointment in Senate vote that could potentially repeal and replace the ACA

Jul 26, 2017

Alexandria, Va. — Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) President and CEO Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, expressed disappointment in response to the Senate vote yesterday to move forward on a bill to potentially repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“CCUSA is deeply disappointed that the Senate has voted to move forward on a bill to potentially repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act without a clear plan to protect access to affordable health care coverage. Throughout the health care reform discussions, CCUSA has insisted that any reform must protect the millions who have access to health care coverage, or gained access to health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and must provide access to health care coverage to the millions still living without affordable health care. 

“As the chamber moves into the amendment process, we urge Senators to work together to reject dramatic cuts to Medicaid coverage and provide a health care bill that truly expands coverage, reduces costs and respects human life and dignity, especially for those who are most in need.”

Across the country Catholic Charities agencies provided health care-related services to more than 860,000 individuals. They see the consequences of untreated mental illness, they work to respond to the growing opioid epidemic and they support families who are struggling between the decision to pay their health care bills or rent. 

https://catholiccharitiesusa.org/press-releases/catholic-charities-usa-expresses-deep-disappointment-in-senate-vote-that-could-potentially-repeal-and-replace-the-aca