Tag Archives: advocacy

#Soul – November 30, 2021 – #AdventWord

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November 29, 2021 · 8:08 pm

Praying with action after the shooting in Atlanta

Sometimes we pray with words. Sometimes we pray with actions. After the horrific shootings that left eight people, six of whom were Asian Americans and seven of whom were women, dead; today, in a time when hate and violence against Asian Americans is increasing; today seems a time for actions and words both. Here are some action ideas. What would you add?

Contact the President by email or on the contact line at 202-456-1111 and contact your Senators and Representative with the simple message: “What will you do to end anti-Asian hate and violence?” Additional asks could be:
Investigate and prosecute instances of hate crime and hate speech against Asian-Americans;
Increase the level of security and safety for Asian American individuals and communities;
Educate people about Asian history and the significant contributions Asians and Asian-Americans have made to this country.
With thanks to So Jung Kim who suggested a number of these advocacy points in a Facebook post.

Support the work of organizations such as:
Asian-Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
Asian American Christian Collaborative
CAAAV (Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence)
Asian Americans for Equality in New York.

Take part in a bystander intervention training offered by Asian-Americans Advancing Justice – Chicago.

Learn about the history of Asians in America. Here are some places to start. What else would you add?
Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian AmericansRonald Takaki
The Chinese in America – Iris Chang
Everything You Need to Know about Asian-American History – Himilce Novas and Lan Cao
COVID at the Margins: Anti-Asian Racism in the wake of COVID-19 – a Presentation by the Rev. Laura Mariko Cheifetz, organized by the Presbyterian Self-Development of People Committee
The Chinese Exclusion Act – A special video presentation of American Experience
Asian Americans – a PBS documentary that focuses on discrimination experienced by Asian Americans, the perseverance of Asian Americans, and the roles Asian Americans have played in shaping the nations’ story
With thanks to the Rev. Phil Tom and the Rev. Samson Tso for assembling this beginning list

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Advocacy Training Day 2019

IMG-9023

The Advocacy Training Weekend, held this year on April 5 through 8 in Washington, DC, consists of three parts. A training day for Presbyterians by the Compassion, Peace, and Justice Ministry Area.  Ecumenical Advocacy Days. And visits to elected representatives to advocate for justice. This year’s advocacy focused on protecting voting rights and working for peace in fragile countries. The weekend is a wonderful time for networking with old colleagues and meeting new friends.

This year had the added treat that my daughter-in-law, Essie Koenig-Reinke, attended.

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Filed under Current Events, Family, Human Rights, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Lent 2017, day 43

lenten-reflections-on-the-confession-of-belhar“The church is not gilded sanctuaries, stained glass windows, padded pews, cushy carpets, table, and font. The church is people from every nation, culture, and ethnicity who (1) call on and believe in God through Christ; (2) are consequently filled with God’s Spirit and led by God’s word to light candles in the shadows of life; (3) live among and act in unity with people who’ve been abandoned, pushed to the margins of society, and disenfranchised; and (4) advocate for justice on the steps of the courthouse or the statehouse, serving the present age in ways that reconcile disparate peoples and groups.”
Mark Lomax
Lenten Reflections on the Confession of Belhar

This Lenten season I am using a new resource to explore the Belhar Confession: Lenten Reflections on the Confession of Belhar, edited by Kerri N. Allen and Donald K. McKim. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in which I serve as a teaching elder (pastor), added the Confession of Belhar to our Book of Confessions in 2016. This confession came from the Dutch Reformed Mission Church during its historic struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Antiracism, Books, Lent, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Uncategorized

Back for a weekend tour 2

KOENIGOn Saturday, April 1, 2017, I had the privilege to lead a retreat for the candidates and inquirers for ministry of the Presbytery of New York City. Committee members also attended the retreat which was held at Broadway Presbyterian Church.

Together we explored why followers of Jesus work for justice by engaging in issues of public policy and corporate policy. We remembered that the separation of church and state does not mean the separation of our faith from the processes by which decisions that influence all of us are made.

Thanks to JC for the photo.

See you along the Trail.

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Presbyterian advocacy group issues challenge to ‘raise our collective voice’

From the Advocacy Committee on Racial Ethnic Concerns of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns calls church to action

Press Release | ACREC

The Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC) calls the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to embody what it has confessed, “that the church as the possession of God must stand where the Lord stands, namely against injustice and with the wronged; that in following Christ the church must witness against all the powerful and privileged who selfishly seek their own interests and thus control and harm others. Therefore, we reject any ideology which would legitimate forms of injustice and any doctrine which is unwilling to resist such an ideology in the name of the gospel.”
– Belhar Confession

People of color in the U.S. are being killed by police in disproportionate numbers because of the color of their skin, their race, and ethnicity. We condemn and lament the continued and routine killing of unarmed people of color particularly African American men and call for full investigations in the police killings of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Tyre King in Columbus, Ohio.

People of color in the U.S. live under surveillance, the threat of deportation, and constant systemic violence. We are alarmed by the Obama administration’s continuing pattern of deportation and family separation. We are alarmed by the ways in which police and ordinary citizens are deputized, formally and informally, to perpetuate this culture of surveillance and violence. We are alarmed by the persistence of anti-Muslim and Islamophobic rhetoric and policy proposals abounding in the current presidential campaign.

People of color in the U.S. are being attacked and criminalized for their courageous stands against police violence, greed, environmental injustice, and treaty violations. We condemn the use of militarized private contractors to remove the Native Americans encamped at the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball rivers seeking to stop the development of the Dakota Access Pipeline that threatens water, earth, and indigenous sacred spaces.

People of color in the U.S. are reminded daily in explicit and implicit ways of the hold white supremacy has over the soul of this nation. White supremacy; as a church we must say it. It is white supremacy that lies at the root of the systemic violence that kills, suffocates the life, limits the mobility, and creates the logic for the policing and detention of people of color in the United States.

Given this reality, ACREC calls the members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to leave the comfort of their buildings to put their bodies on the line as co-conspirators in a movement for transformation, to stand for reparative justice instead of cheap reconciliation, to join communities of resistance, declaring that all people are created by God which means uttering without equivocation that Black Lives Matter!

We call the members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to support the efforts of those gathered at Standing Rock to protect the water, the land, and the generations of people whose lives are threatened by the Dakota Access Pipeline expansion.

We call the teaching elders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to not just lament and pray for change but to challenge the members of their congregation to acknowledge and confess our participation in systems of oppression and to lead them to work for justice in and outside of the church.

We call the ruling elders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to exercise their spiritual and ecclesiastical leadership by creating and formulating ways for their congregation to engage in actions – economic and programmatic – that interrupt white supremacy.

ACREC strongly encourages the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and all of its members to join the mobilization of 5,000 prayers and/or actions around the world calling for water rights, clean air, and the restoration of the earth and its peoples by participating in the International Days of Prayer and Action with Standing Rock (October 8-11, 2016).

ACREC also strongly encourages the congregations and mid-councils of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to support the newly established Freedom Rising Fund created as a result of an action taken by the 222nd General Assembly (2016). This fund will support specific actions, “not just in word, but also in deed, to address and improve the worsening plight of the African American male.” Congregations and mid-councils are asked to direct a portion of the Peace and Global Witness Offering to this fund.

Finally, we urge our church and all of its members, especially those who are white, to join us in breaking silence. Commit with us to raise our collective voice not just to proclaim the good news of God’s grace but to call out injustice, to call out the forces that threaten to tear us apart with xenophobic, racist, and Islamophobic rhetoric. May we have the courage.

Buddy Monahan (Chair, ACREC)
Thomas Priest Jr.(Vice Chair, ACREC)

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Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

All people have voices

On 11 March 2016, I spoke about the work of advocacy at the orientation for the Presbyterians attending the 60th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. I was asked to post a portion of my remarks and did so on the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations blog. I reprint the words here with the permission of the blog editor (who happens to be me).

All people have voices.
The task of advocacy has nothing to do with giving voice to the voiceless, because
all people have voices.
Some people have voices we choose not to hear.
Some people have voices we ignore.
Some people have voices we force to the margins.
Some people have voices we oppress, repress, suppress.
Some people have voices we have silenced, sometimes for a long time, but
all people have voices.

The work of advocacy leads us
to uncover the voices of our sisters and brothers whose voices we ignore, drive to the margins, suppress, or silence
to hear the voices of our sisters and brothers
to listen, truly listen, passionately listen to the voices of our sisters and brothers
to heed the voices of our sisters and brothers
and then to work with our sisters and brothers whose voices we ignore, drive to the margins, suppress, or silence
to amplify the voices of our sisters and brothers
to bring the voices of our sisters and brothers to the halls of privilege and the tables of power
to invite and call and challenge all people, particularly privileged, powerful people, to hear the voices of our sisters and brothers
to demand that all people, particularly privileged, powerful people, listen, truly listen, passionately listen to our sisters and brothers whose voices we ignore, drive to the margins, suppress, or silence because
all people have voices.

See you along the Trail.

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

Love that never ends

There are people whose words carry deep weight and profound meaning. They matter.

JHerbert and motherJohnalee Barnes Nelson was such a person. A woman of deep faith and profound courage, she personally witnessed for justice and peace. She supported her husband and their community in their shared witness. And together with her husband, and on her own, she raised her son to be an advocate, a witness.

I am humbled and proud to call her son, J. Herbert Nelson II my colleague, my friend, my brother. I know he is who he is, he lives as he lives, he serves as he serves, in large part because of his mother.

Each of us is shaped by, among other factors, the people in our lives. When we meet someone, we meet, to some extent, the people who have shaped them. Family. Friends. Neighbors. Teachers. Co-workers. And more. In J. Herbert, I met Johnalee Barnes Nelson.

But I also had the privilege of meeting Johnalee herself on several occasions. The most recent occurred at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Compassion, Peace, and Justice Training Day on March 21 of this year.

With my friends and colleagues and sisters Christine Hong and Esther Lee, I led a workshop on how different faith communities can work together to prevent violence. Johnalee attended. Because I was helping with the closing worship, I had to leave early.

As the worship ended, Johnalee made her way across the sanctuary of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. She sought me out. And when she found me, she thanked me for the workshop and said it had been the best one she attended that day. Because of who Johnalee was, I have treasured her words. I can think of no better feedback I have ever received.

Johnalee faced health challenges. She moved to live with J. Herbert because of those challenges. At the end of September, she was hospitalized.

Today, along with my colleagues in the Compassion, Peace, and Justice Ministry, I received an email with a brief message:

I am emailing to inform you that on yesterday my mother, Johnalee Barnes Nelson transitioned to be with The Lord. The members of my family are grateful for the love and support that you offered during her lifetime.
We are planning a memorial celebration of her life in Jesus Christ. Your prayers are solicited.
In the faith we share,
J. Herbert

I grieve with J. Herbert and his family and all who loved Johnalee Barnes Nelson. I pray they may find comfort and strength in this tender time.

I give thanks for the faith and witness and love and witness of Johnalee Barnes Nelson. Faith that gives us hope through Jesus Christ. Witness in Christ’s name that has inspired others, including me. Love that never ends.

Thanks be to God.

See you along the Trail.

 

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Filed under Family, Friends, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

A call to act on Syria

Photos by Paul Jeffrey, ACT

Dr. Mary Mikhael of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon reflects on the crisis in Syria.

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Find ideas for action.

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May insight into Syria lead to action

1236420_590326721006111_1853073050_nConcerned about the crisis in Syria? Want to learn more? Want to respond?

In a series of video clips, Dr. Mary Mikhael of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon helps provide insight and understanding of the situation in Syria.

There are several ways to help the people of Syria. Here are some responses through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Additional resources from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) related to Syria are also available. 

Since the outbreak of armed conflict in Syria, Dr. Mary Mikhael has been interpreting the consequences of this tragedy for the Syrian and Lebanese people, particularly the Christian communities, on behalf of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon. From 1994­ to 2011, Dr. Mikhael was president of the Near East School of Theology (NEST), Beirut, Lebanon, the first woman seminary president in the Middle East. She served on the NEST faculty from 1984 until her retirement. She received her Masters degree from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia, and her EdD from Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary. A Presbyterian born in Syria to Greek Orthodox parents, Dr. Mikhael is active in ecumenical and interfaith initiatives. She is a noted authority on the church in the Middle East and the role of women in the church.

On September 10, 2013 the Office of Public Witness arranged a day of visits for Dr. Mikhael on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. On September 12 and 13, 2013 the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations arranged visits for her in the UN community. Public events for Dr. Mikhael to speak to Presbyterians were held in both Washington and New York.

The videos are excerpts from a conversation Mary and I had at the office of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations on September 11, 2013 with David Barnhart (who took the photo of the interview) and Scott Lansing doing the video work.

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See you along the Trail.

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