Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hunger No More

David Beckmann, president of the national hunger advocacy group, Bread for the World, is the keynote speaker at a January 27 & 28 conference in Raleigh. CUCC has long been a member of BFW and many of you have signed the annual Offering of Letters.
The conference includes

interfaith worship,


excellent workshops

which will give us opportunities to meet like-minded Wake Countians and learn about pieces of the puzzle to end hunger around the world.

For those of you with a passion to bring justice for those most harmed by climate change, note the breakout session on hunger and climate change to be led by Dr. William Chameided, Dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University (Durham, NC).

The Social Justice Ministry hopes you will join us at Hunger No More. Register online. To carpool, contact Gary & Jane, Grady, or Cy & Carolyn.

Advent Schedule of Events

Have a yen to sing a Christmas carol? Want to try your hand at making Chrismons? Seeking to refresh your spirit through meditation or rehearing the story? These Advent Events might be what you seek.

If one of these dates or times is contrary to what you read in the bulletin, believe the bulletin!


The Forum Committee announces these interesting Forum programs for December:

Dec. 7 – Brad Thompson, "How NC turned Blue: Review of 2008 Elections"
Dec. 14 – Dr. Slater Newman, “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights : 1948 - 2008"
Dec. 21 – Christmas Stories, read by Maria Riemann
Dec. 28 – "Therefore be it resolved" - Review of 2008 and Resolutions for the New Year (Story Circle led by Cynthia Ball)

FORUM: November 30

Sunday, November 30, 2008, 9:15 to 10:15 am

"Experiences of a White Student at a Black University"
Rev. Herbert Schafale

On Sunday, Forum welcomes retired UCC minister, Rev. Herbert Schafele. Rev. Schafele was the only white student at Fisk University in the 1950's and will share those enlightening experiences.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Our Youngest Member

Anna Belle Burkhardt, born to Heather and Chris Burkhardt at at 7:07 PM on November 21. Twenty one inches long and 8 lb. 15 oz. Both Mom and daughter are doing great.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Virtual Marketplace Now in Progress

This year the Wider Outreach Committee has planned a "Virtual Marketplace of Meaningful Gifts." We have a Marketplace web site that allows you to allocate your gifts for Christmas 2008. Once you've made your allocation, the church office will have the information it needs to split your check (which you can mail to the CUCC office or drop in the colleciton plate between now and Christmas) among the various organizations. If you wish to send gift cards to those in whose honor you make contributions, gift cards will be available at the back of the sanctuary during December.

Southern Human Rights Organizers' Conference

FRI – SUN 12/12 to 12/14 -- 7th Bi-Annual Southern Human Rights Organizers’ Conference, Radisson Hotel Research Triangle Park, 150 Park Drive, RTP

THE GOAL OF SHROC VlI is to solidify the Southern Human Rights Organizers’ Network (SHRON) and continue to build broad southern-based coalitions to combat human rights violations in the southern region and forge an agenda for social change.

Pre-Registration DEADLINE: NOVEMBER 24, 2008
FEES $25.00 (or $10.00 for Disabled/Student/Limited Income)

Direct actions will be planned and participants will show their support for local human rights struggles. Plenaries and workshops will feature the voices of those who suffer daily indignities and are involved in making a difference. Workers, environmental justice activists, faith leaders and labor leaders will tell their stories. Youth activists will deliberate during the youth summit. They will let all participants know the importance of youth participation in this movement. Come to SHROC, where human rights activists join with civil rights and social justice activists to discuss common issues.

Vandy's Mom attends church

On November 16 we were happy to see Vandy's mother (Ida) at church. She participated in the entire service and pronounced it to be much to her liking.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008


"The Termination and Prevention of War"
Dr. Keith Otterbein

This Sunday, Dr. Keith Otterbein, professor emeritus of anthropology at University at Buffalo, New York, will discuss his writings. Dr. Otterbein has written several books on the causes of war and has just completed a book with a chapter on the prevention of war.

NC's Budget Shortfall

Chris Fitzsimon from NC Policy Watch discusses the challenges facing the Legislature as the NC budget shortfall is estimated to reach $3 billion.

"....There are two ways to balance the budget. Lawmakers can make up the shortfall entirely though budget cuts, regardless of the implications for state services and the people who need them, or use a combination of thoughtful cuts and tax increases that protects programs that serve the most vulnerable people in the state.

The anti-government crowd refuses to even discuss raising any taxes, which means at least a ten percent reduction in state spending if the shortfall is $2 billion, much less the three billion that Mejia says could happen. Education, human services, and criminal justice spending accounts for 90 percent of the state's $21 billion budget, which means the majority of budget cuts would come from those services...."

For more go to the Fitzsimon File.

Impact of Hispanic Vote in NC

Public Policy Polling has done an analysis of the emerging influence of Hispanic voters in NC. http://publicpolicypolling.blogspot.com/2008/11/hispanic-voters-in-north-carolina.html

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Forum: Immigration Injustices

An article of interest in today's N&O re. immigration and the 287(g) program: "Wake jail widens immigration checks". Wake County is one of 7 agencies in the country selected for the pilot program.

Restraining Our Own Excesses

Many of us have been enjoying the afterglow of an election that hopefully marks the end of certain types of excess, apathy, and incompetence. But before we (as a nation) start lurching down another road with different potholes, we might do well to put together a list of campaign promises that deserve to be broken. Froma Harrop (in today's N&O) has a suggestion that ought to be at the top of our list. I first heard of the "Employee Free Choice Act" at a CUCC congregational meeting a year or two ago. I don't recall whether the Social Action Committee actually did anything in support of this proposed legislation, but if so then I suggest it's time that we revisit this issue. Some of the people who are now coming to power in Washington are folks that we helped put there. So if they follow through on this sort of nonsense, the blame falls squarely on us.

Unions' Creepy Push Against Secret Ballot by Froma Harrop

(Addendum following a bit of research: Yep, a bit of research does indicate that we stepped in the cow pie on this one. Excerpt from the Oct. 2006 newsletter reporting on the Sept. 17, 2006 congregational meeting .... "The first agenda item was a resolution presented by the Social Justice Ministry, asking Community United Church of Christ to support establishing the UFCW union to represent the employees of Smithfield Foods at its Tar Heel, NC plant, and specifically by the card process. The congregation voted to approve the resolution.")

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

YES WE CAN! Steve Halsted's sermon November 9, 2008

On Tuesday of this past week, the eyes of the world were watching as the American people tallied their votes to see who would be the next President of the United States of America.

The question on many minds seemed to be: Can the racial prejudices of the past be set aside in sufficient numbers to elect, for the very first time, a candidate of African-American descent? History was on the line and all eyes seemed to be watching! It reminded me of the first Presidential election that I was keenly aware of as a young child - going back to 1960. At that time history was also in the making and the question on many minds was this: Can the religious prejudices of the past be set aside in sufficient numbers to elect for the very first time a candidate of Roman Catholic heritage?

John F. Kennedy was the candidate, history was on the line, and the eyes of the world were watching!

And the resounding answer given by the American people in both these historic elections was:

Yes, we can!
Yes, we can!
Yes, we can!

I just loved the way Barack Obama began his Election Night acceptance speech! To me it seemed the perfect expression for capturing the historic spirit of that magnificent moment as he said:

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the 'dream' of our 'founders' is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer. It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and always will be, the United States of America!"

I truely believe that the founders of our nation like Thomas Jefferson & James Madison, George and Martha Washington, Abigail and John Adams are now jumping for joy in the eternal realm!

As Tavis Smilley, a highly respected black talk show host proclaimed after the election, We now live in a nation as good as its promise."

Andrew Young, former United Nations Ambassador, Mayor of Atlanta, and Congressman as well as being an ordained UCC pastor, in an interview expressed his pleasant surprise that racism wasn't a large factor in this election.

And Maya Angelou, writer & poet extraordinaire, expressed the opinion that "our country has grown up."

I believe we cannot over-emphasize just how important this election result is in the eyes of "people of color" in America today! For them, indeed for us all, the words expressed in the formative document of our nation, the "Declaration of Independence" have found full, and exonerating expression in the free election of the very first President of the United States of America who is of African-American heritage. To them the highest barrier of, "No you can't" has been overcome by, "Yes, we can!"

In his book, "American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic," Joseph Ellis, pulitzer prize winning author, and historian, puts forth his view that the American Revolution was less a "revolution" than it was an "evolution". He argues that the founders realized their shortcomings and failures in their inability to abolish slavery, and inability to reach a just settlement with the Native Americans, and in failing to advance the voting rights of women. All these being progressive, liberal issues raised at that "so called" revolutionary period of history. It has taken a long "evolution" to get to where we are today! The "Declaration of Independence" stated: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (shall we say today "all people" in the most inclusive way), 'all people' are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights"...

We all know that African-Americans in their long history among us, have not shared equally in these "unalienable rights" of our nation. And although a new day has dawned, ("Yes, we can"), we must continue to remember the prophetic and courageous work of Martin Luther King, Jr. and those who supported him in the Civil Rights Movement, and we all know that the Rev. Dr. King died a martyr's death before seeing his dream fulfilled.

Perhaps it is no coincidence, (could it be Divine Providence?) that one of our lectionary Bible readings designated for this Sunday, the Sunday following this historic Presidential Election, is in fact one of Dr. King's favorite and most often quoted passages: "Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." He referred to it on the eve before his assassination in Memphis, on April 3rd, 1968, where he had come to seek justice for the predominantly African-American sanitations workers in their strike against unfair labor practices. At the end of his speech he warned, "We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And he's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

That, I believe was Martin Luther King, Jr.'s way of saying: "Yes we can!"
Yes we can live in a nation where his four children and all children will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Yes we can sit down at the table of sisterhood and brotherhood, where the sons & daughters of former slaves, and the sons and daughters of former slave owners, will be one in body, mind, heart and spirit!

Yes we can transform racially divided states sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression; they will be as Dr. King predicted, transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice!

Yes we can live in a society where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers!

Yes we can!
Yes we can!
Yes we can!

Yes we can elect a president as a nation of "we the people" regardless of the color of one's skin! That is a huge change from the past! And it has taken an "evolutionary" revolution to achieve!

Our nation's founders seriously believed that all people are created equal in the eyes of their Creator God, but that belief was unfulfilled (in our nation) as they went to meet their maker.

Martin Luther King, Jr. faithfully believed that all people are created equal by their Creator God, but that belief was still a "dream" when he died.

As the election results were coming in on TV this past Tuesday night, I couldn't help but wish he were still alive to see it, and I couldn't help but think of his historic "I Have a Dream" speech delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in our nation's capitol on August 28, 1963. He closed that eloquent speech by saying: "There will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning -

"My country 'tis of thee; sweet land of liberty; of thee I sing; land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims' pride; from every mountainside, let freedom ring"

and if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that,

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and hamlet, from every state and city, we will be able to speed up the day when all of God's children - black and white, Jews and Gentiles, Catholics and Protestants - will be able to join hands and sing the words of the old Negro spiritual,

"Free at last, free at last;
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last."

Yes we can, Martin, Yes we can!
Yes we can, Barack, Yes we can!

And let God's People together say AMEN!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Called to Serve

Just a short message---our church needs several new deacons. Please see Shannon Core, Bill Lamb or me if you would like to serve.
Thank you.
Jeanne Ledbetter

Pastor Nsumbu Puati

I heard from Nsumbu this week via e-mail. I have posted his email below.

I have received your e-mail and thank you very much for your kindness.Your poem came in time because I need words of comfort in this hardship time. My wife and childreen are very thankful too. We decided to keep that poem forever. Keep us in your prays. May God bless you, the USA , the New President and CUCC. Again thank you and greet evrybody. I miss you.
Pastor Nsumbu

May we continue to pray that they will have strength and feel God's presence and love. Peace, Jeanne

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Training on Immigration Reform

Chris Liu Beers, our Forum speaker on November 2, invites us to a training workshop hosted by Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CCIR):

"Media and Message Training on Immigration for Faith Leaders"

Friday, November 14, 1:00 to 4:00pm
NC Council of Churches
The Methodist Building
1307 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh
(in the Cabinet Conference Room)

The training is designed for faith leaders who are interested in becoming advocates and champions for welcoming immigrants in their communities.

Topics to be covered:
* story of the CCIR campaign and media successes
* how to speak with a clear and consistent message on immigration reform
* how to interact with media and address immigration from the faith perspective
* how to provide a coordinated faith response to immigration raids and punitive state and local ordinances
* formation of a Rapid Response Task Force in NC

RSVP to chris@nccouncilofchurches.org by Nov. 10 if you'd like to attend.

FORUM: Sunday, November 16


Forum welcomes Dr. Keith Otterbein, professor emeritus of anthropology, University at Buffalo, New York. Dr. Otterbein, a friend of CUCC member Peg Hulslander, has written several books on the causes of war and has just completed a book with a chapter on the prevention of war.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Forum: November 9

Sunday, November 9, 2008

"Immigration Injustices"
Irene Godinez, Advocacy Director of El Pueblo

This Sunday, the Forum welcomes Irene Godinez, the Advocacy Director of El Pueblo. As a follow-up to last Sunday's presentation by Chris Liu Beers, she will discuss the "immigration injustices" occurring now in NC. El Pueblo is a North Carolina non-profit statewide advocacy and public policy organization dedicated to strengthening the Latino Community.

Irene Godínez is a native North Carolinian of proud Mexican heritage. Growing up in Durham in an immigrant household, as a first-generation US American, gave her a unique perspective on race relations, economic disparities and a desire to pursue social justice.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

New grandchild for Steve and Marcy Halsted

Avery Ella Black was born at 4:35 pm on October 31, 2008.
She weighed 7 pounds 1 ounce and measured 21 inches long.
Birth went very smoothly.
She is loved by her parents and grandparents!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Turkey Dinner Nov. 8 and Mary Pickering Concert Nov. 14

On November 8, there will be a turkey dinner and square dance and on November 14 Mary Pickering will offer a concert. There will be no fees for these events, but a basket will be passed for love offerings. The Mary Pickering Concert will be held in the sanctuary 7:30-9:00 PM. The turkey dinner will be in the evening in the Fellowship Hall, with final details to be announced soon.

Save the Congo

Here's a story of interest about the Congo:

Mining for minerals fuels Congo conflict.

And a message forwarded by Kambale Musavuli, our speaker on October 19:


Dear friends,

Congo is once again at war: a militia group loyal to Laurent Nkunda who is wanted by the UN for war crimes and crimes against humanity but supported by the Kigali government; and the Congolese Army, have been raining heavy artilleries on each other for 2 months; and, as usual, senior citizen, women and children have been caught in between.

Thus far 200 000 have been displaced; schools, hospitals and churches looted and blown up and civilian death is estimated at around 180 000 (since August 28th alone).

The World Superpowers remain unwilling to act; the existing domestic mechanisms for the protection of civilians have totally collapsed; and the UN forces on the ground are ill equipped to decisively deter perpetrators.

But in-spite of this, we can still effect the situation positively, for, as history has shown us: the most heroic deeds that have thrilled humanity through generations have been deeds championed by small and often powerless people of the world.

And as redeemers and benefactors of humanity, we implore to you, on humanitarian ground, not to turn a blind eye to campaigns of sexual atrocities against women and young girls; violations of humanitarian law and basic human rights; the speed at which disease and conditions such as HIV AIDS and Fistula are spreading and the indiscriminate raining of artilleries that the people of the Congo have once again been indulged to.

Save the Congo has launched an online petition ­Save Our Souls: Stand For Peace, to gather signatures and present them to Prime Minister Gordon Brown on November 22nd in an effort to bring an end to the on-going military escalation.
We are aiming to gather a minimum of 5 000 signatures; and we implore you not to sit by: because evil only triumph when good men and women do nothing. Please do not allow evil to triumph in the Congo -- sign the petition on: http://www.petition.fm/petitions/save_our_souls/ and spread the word.

Thank you for your support,

Save The Congo Team