Monthly Archives: May 2013

A blessed visit, a blessed day

IMG_1655 (1024x651)Near the end of my visit to the Republic of Korea, the Rev. JC Lee informed me that one of his Doctor of Ministry would come to the United States. The class itself would take place at Columbia Theological Seminary. But they would also do some sightseeing. Their Trail would bring them to New York.

I jumped at the opportunity to share a small portion of hospitality with my friend and guide who had showed me so much on my trip to his country. We began to plan and via email worked out a brief visit to the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations.

The visit happened yesterday – May 30. It was wonderful.

JC and nine students arrived about 10:30. Our staff greeted them warmly. Ricky, Marissa (who took two of the photos in this post), Brendan, Ryan, Sera, and I told about the work of our ministry and responded to questions.

IMG_1659 (1024x683)Pizza, traditional New York City pizza – we wanted to provide a New York dish, arrived at 11:15 or so. Over lunch, our guests shared about themselves and their ministries.

Our guests expressed interest in the Red Hands on our walls. I explained that the hands were part of the Red Hand Campaign to end the use of children as soldiers. Our Korean brothers and sister indicated a desire to participate and Red Hands were made.

After lunch, Sera and I accompanied the class on a tour of the United Nations. As we had requested, the guide conducted the tour in Korean. The group members had a marvelous, joy-filled time. We had so much fun and laughed so loud and hard with each other that our guide had to quite the group. Twice.

IMG_1739 (1024x683)Following the tour, we returned to our office where we bid each other, not good-bye, but “until the next time.” We walked our brothers and sister to the elevator amid great laughter. The class went to visit Midtown.

The elevator doors closed. With joy in our hearts, well at least with joy in my heart – I suppose I should not speak for anyone else, we went back to work.

A blessed visit. A blessed day.

See you along the Trail.





Filed under Friends, Human Rights, New York, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations

Turning the Tables

In early August, the Trail will take me to Louisville. Come join me there!
screen_shot_2013-05-31_at_7.29.48_pm_big590.Under one roof, the 2013 Big Tent will combine 10 national Presbyterian conferences and a single theme: “Placing God’s First Things First” (Matt. 6:33–34). It will take place August 1–3 at the Kentucky International Convention Center and nearby hotels in downtown Louisville.

The Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministry will hold a Summit under the Big Tent.

Turning the Tables, a hands-on conference will focus on food justice and how it relates to other broken systems in our society and will provide:

  • Visits to local community gardens and environmental justice sites
  • Community organizing training
  • Creative worship service
  • Interactive workshops
  • Art and play
  • Skills to take back home


SCHOLARSHIPS ARE AVAILABLE: Apply through registration and select “scholarship” when asked for payment. Scholarship deadline is June 15, 2013.

Register now!
**Early bird registration ends June 28!**

Learn more about the “Turning the Tables” conference.

Please contact Rebecca Barnes for more information.

Follow the Twitter hash tag: #TurningTables13

See you along the Trail – in Louisville!

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Filed under Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations

2013 Move And Shake Women Work-Life Balance Retreat

This originally was posted by my friend Grace Ji-Sun Kim. It is posted here with her permission and at her request.



at the University of Chicago,

Chicago, IL August 30 – September 1, 2013

This will be a gathering of high performing women, who want to explore the ways in which they can develop a well-rounded lifestyle. We realize that there is a need for a women’s retreat for women of color to explore the intersection of their professional, personal, and social experiences.
The Move and Shake Women’s Retreat is an event during which facilitators will expose women to solutions on how to navigate their multiple identities such as motherhood or being a first generation academic. This guided retreat will help women to attain their highest and best professional and academic performance.

Move and Shake Retreat Information:

Move and Shake Women are proud recipients of the Innovation Grant from the University of Chicago’s Graduate Student Affairs Office (GSA)! Because of this generous grant we will launch the 2013 Move and Shake Work – Life Balance Retreat. It will be held in Ida Noyes Hall and the Logan Center, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, August 30 — September 1 2013.
To register or for more information, please visit


FACILITATORS Proposal Due: May 30, 2013

Proposal Acceptance: June 15, 2013

This guided retreat will help women to attain their highest and best professional and academic performance. If you would like to be a presenter, at the MOVE AND SHAKE WORK-LIFE BALANCE RETREAT, fill out this form. Applicants may attach a 1 minute video clip URL, to provide a sample of what participants can expect during their workshop.

[read also:  Living in Full Empowerment]


alisha-lola-jones-from-cd-cover-revisedAlisha Lola Jones (@Move_And_Shake) is a PhD candidate in the ethnomusicology program of the Music Department at the University of Chicago. An alumna of Yale Divinity School (M.Div.), Yale Institute of Sacred Music, and Oberlin Conservatory (B.M.), she is the awardee of the 2013 Mellon Dissertation, Tave Teaching, and Martin Marty Junior Fellowships. She is a social entrepreneur with her firm InSight Initiative, Inc. whose ventures are arts based production and empowerment events for high minority and low income communities.

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Purple flowers, Staple Mills Amtrak Station

Purple Flowers Staples Mill Amtrak Station 18 August 2012

A purple thicket appears on one side of the
exterior waiting area at the station

Richmond, Virginia
18 August 2012

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A surprise

Pirates LogoRecovering, returning Pittsburgh Pirates fan that I am, I decided to subscribe to Major League Baseball’s Game Day Audio so I could listen to games. A friend posted on Facebook that the Pirates play in Detroit with Verlander pitching for the Tigers while we send Liriano to the mound.

The Pirates success combined with that match-up and the reality that I will spend most of today inside led me to the conclusion that I should find a way to listen. I went to purchase a subscription and discovered, to my surprise, that my previous subscription had automatically renewed.

On the one hand, this is good. Come 1:00 I will listen. On the other hand, this would have been nice to know in advance. I did not realize that they set up subscriptions in such a fashion. I need to go back and read the fine print. On the other, other hand, after reading the fine print, I need to learn how I could control this in the future.

Today, I will go with the one hand.

See you along the Trail.

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Writing down words

An interchange from the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade remains with me. Indiana (Harrison Ford) and his father Professor Henry Jones (Sean Connery) seek the Holy Grail. Nazis have also joined the quest. Henry Jones has long sought the Grail, finding a map and compiling a diary. To keep them safe, Henry sent the materials to his son and colleague Marcus Brody. Learning that the Nazis have kidnapped Henry Jones, Brody set off with the map.  Indiana went to rescue his father. After a series of adventures, father and son escape. The following conversation occurs:

Professor Henry Jones: Stop, wait, stop! Stop! You’re going the wrong way. We have to get to Berlin.
Indiana Jones: Brody’s this way.
Professor Henry Jones: My diary’s in Berlin.
Indiana Jones: We don’t need the diary, dad; Marcus has the map.
Professor Henry Jones: There is more in the diary than just the map.
Indiana Jones: All right, Dad. Tell me.
Professor Henry Jones: Well, he who finds the Grail must face the final challenge.
Indiana Jones: What final challenge?
Professor Henry Jones: Three devices of lethal cunning.
Indiana Jones: Booby traps?
Professor Henry Jones: Oh, yes. But I found the clues that will safely take us through them in the Chronicles of St. Anselm.
Indiana Jones: Well, what are they? As his father sits silently, Indiana continues in an annoyed voice. Can’t you remember?
Professor Henry Jones: I wrote them down in my diary so that I wouldn’t have to remember.

I have always found wisdom in Henry Jones’ plan. I find more as I grow older. Redeeming the Pastby Father Michael Lapsley, is one of several books I am reading.

photo (7) (768x1024)An Anglican priest, Father Lapsley took an active role in the struggle against South Africa’s apartheid. In 1990, he opened a letter bomb that nearly killed him. The blast took his hands and one of his eyes. His book tells his story of the faith journey that led him to pursue justice, the explosion, his recovery, and how Father Lapsley has drawn on his experience of trauma to help his sisters and brothers in South Africa and around the world seek healing.

Many of his words bear repeating and remembering. I write down a few:

 As we who are disabled demand a place in the sun, we are not just asking people to be nice to us; we are saying, “Actually you can’t be a real community without us.” We don’t ask for pity; we ask for justice. We say, “Don’t just include us in your community. Instead, come, let’s create one together.” That’s a very different concept.

Profound, challenging, humbling, hopeful words. Words that apply in so many situations – in any situation of privilege and oppression and exclusion. Words to ponder, to remember, and to seek to live by.

We cannot be a real community until everyone is a part and we build that community together. May it be so.

See you along the Trail.


Filed under Books, Human Rights, Movie

25 May 2013 Orange Day

photo (5)As part of an international effort to end violence against women and girls, I wear orange (even if the shirt is a bit wrinkled) today as I have on the 25th of each month for nearly a year. I also tweet personally and professionally. Each month, I find other actions to take. Here’s the information so that you may join me.

The Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign proclaims every 25th of the month as Orange Day! The first in a series of Orange Days was launched on 25 July last year.

Initiated and led by the UNiTE campaign Global Youth Network, the action strives to highlight the issue of violence against women and girls, not only once a year, on 25 November (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women), but every month. Orange Day aims to spark worldwide interest and conversation, highlight the fact that violence against women and girls is a violation of human rights and call for its eradication without reservation, equivocation or delay.

This year we’ll be using our Orange Day actions to highlight recommendations from the agreed conclusions of the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women(CSW57) and in the framework of ‘safe spaces for women and girls’.  In May, the campaign will focus on ‘Safe Homes for Women and Girls’.  


Many women and girls face violence in the very place they should feel the safest – in their homes. Violence against women and girls in the home takes place in all countries of the world and may manifest itself in different forms depending on the context. It can occur at the hands of intimate partners or family members.

The costs of violence against women and girls in the home are extremely high. They include the terrible suffering of survivors and others within the household, direct costs of services to treat and support women and girls who have faced abuse, as well as the costs of bringing perpetrators to justice. They may also include the cost of lost education, employment and productivity. Witnessing domestic violence can also impact children’s development, both during childhood and later in life.


  • The most common form of violence experienced by women globally is physical violence inflicted by an intimate partner, with women beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused.
  • Several global surveys suggest that half of all women who die from homicide are killed by their current or former husbands or partners.
  • The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that the annual worldwide number of so-called “honour killing” victims may be as high as 5,000 women.
  • Women aged 15-44 have a greater risk of being a victim of rape and domestic violence than of suffering from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria, according to World Bank data.
  • More than 60 million girls worldwide married before the age of 18, primarily in South Asia (31.1million) and Sub-Saharan Africa (14.1 million).


Many governments made commitments to end violence against women and girls in the home prior to and during the 57th Session of the CSW. Ensure that this momentum is maintained throughout the year, and results in real change.

ACTION 1: Fifty-seven governments made specific commitments to take concrete steps towards ending violence against women as part of the COMMIT initiative. Find out if yours was one of them:

ACTION 2: The Handbook for Legislation on Violence Against Women and the Handbook for National Action Plans for Violence Against Women are resources which respectively illustrate a model framework for legislation on violence against women and provide guidance for policy makers and advocates to form effective plans to end violence against women and girls. Please disseminate these hand books as widely as possible.

ACTION 3: Promote this Orange Day using social media – find below suggested tweets and Facebook messages:

Sample tweets

  • After #CSW57 to #endVAW &girls, this #orangeday UNiTE campaign says: #Safehomes for women & girls!
  • Today is the UNiTE campaign’s #orangeday! Wear orange & @SayNO_UNiTE to end #violenceagainstwomen in the home!
  • On #orangeday 25 May, support UNiTE campaign & find out how to advocate for #safehomes for women&girls
  • This #orangeday advocate for #safehomes for women&girls. Take action. Support UNiTE campaign and wear orange
  • Today is UNiTE #orangeday! Find out what commitments govts have made to end #VAW in the home. #SayUcommit 

Facebook messages

1. “The 25th of each month is Orange Day – a day to take action to end violence against women and girls. Each month this year the UNiTE campaign will highlight recommendations from the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women to ensure that its conclusions become reality. This month we highlight violence against women and girls in the home. Find out what you can do to make homes safe for women and girls.”

2. “Today is Orange Day – a day to take action against violence against women and girls. This month the UNiTE campaign is highlighting violence against women and girls in the home.  The Handbook for Legislation on Violence against Women and the Handbook for National Action Plans for Violence against Women are resources which provide policy makers and advocate with guidance on how to form effective actions plans and create legislation to end violence against women. Share these tools!”

3. “This Orange Day the UNiTE campaign highlights the global issue of violence against women and girls in the home.  57 governments have committed to take specific steps to address violence against women and girls. Find out what they’ve promised to do!”

See you along the (hopefully soon safer) Trail

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Filed under Human Rights, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, United Nations

Which happened today

For worse,
for better,
for both,
timing matters.

A great deal.

may unaware
make moments

Opportune moments
may pass,
lost to eternity,
rued forever,
for lack of knowledge.

Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn.

Guess which happened to me today.

See you along the Trail.


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Filed under Current Events, Friends

What it is about

Anger fills me, sorrow overwhelms me as I think of the violation and murder of Christine McGowan. In 1990, at the age of ten, in Apopka, Florida, she was raped and strangled. My heart breaks for this precious child of God. I grieve for all who love her.

Elmer Carroll was convicted of the crime. The Orlando-Sentinel reports that “Carroll had two previous convictions for lewd and lascivious assault of a child – in 1980 and 1983.”

The crime is horrific. There is no question of Carroll’s guilt. His execution is scheduled for May 29

As horrifying as his crime is, I oppose the decision of the state of Florida to execute him.

My opposition is not based on what Elmer Carroll did. It is about who I am and who we are. It is about what I do and what we do.

And we can do better than to execute even in the situations that offend us most deeply.

I join Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty who suggest three actions in relation to this case:

  1. Write letters and call Governor Rick Scott. Ask him to convene the Board of Executive Clemency to commute the death sentence of Elmer Carroll to Life in Prison Without the Possibility of Parole. Ask Gov. Scott to suspend ALL executions to conduct a thorough, balanced, and public investigation into Florida’s wasteful government program for the Death Penalty that has wrongfully convicted and sentenced more people to death than any other state.
  2. Sign up to receive future action alerts and news from Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (FADP) at
  3. Forward this action to a friend (or five!) and have them contact Governor Scott too!

Gov. Rick Scott
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Phone: 850-488-7146

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Death Penalty

Purple flowers, Virginia Museum of Fine Art 3

Purple Flowers Virginia Museum of Fine Arts 3 16 August 2012

Against a field of green,
some petals appear,
others wait in anticipation.

Richmond, Virginia
16 August 2012

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