In Ezekiel, we hear the cry of God for God’s sheep throughout the land and nations. As a shepherd, God makes connections across lands and regions where we have, time and time again, made divisions. For too long, we have defined health with a too limited view as to who my neighbor is and who my fellow sheep are.
I’ve been thinking about Daniel a lot lately. Daniel and his buddies were in the first wave of exiles to Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar had them brought to the palace and […]
When the weather starts to cool, I begin thinking more and more about the North Carolina State Fair, which takes place this year Oct. 13-23. The fair has become an important […]
I am a terrible meal planner. I frequently arrive at the grocery store without a plan and hungry, which, as any seasoned cook will tell you, guarantees only two things: […]
The Rural Life Committee of the North Carolina Council of Churches has issued a statement supporting the ban on hydraulic drilling in the state. Citing the lack of research on horizontal hydraulic fracturing, the experiences of rural landowners affected by gas drilling, and the potential impacts on rural communities, the committee warned that the risk posed by “fracking” is unacceptably high. The committee also warned about the dangers of exploitation.
The Council has long been touting the benefits of community gardening in both urban and rural settings alike. Community gardens offer healthy local foods that are often more nutritious than their grocery-story or food-bank counterparts. Gardens also help community members become more active, and they are a great way for congregations, local organizations and neighborhoods to collaborate together. Last Sunday the Raleigh News & Observer highlighted this growing movement, using the example of Highland United Methodist Church.
The experiences of landowners in other states indicate that hydraulic fracturing can have profound negative impacts on rural communities. The Rural Life Committee of the North Carolina Council of Churches supports the current ban on hydraulic fracturing in North Carolina. The above concerns need to be addressed with careful attention to landowners’ property, landowners’ rights, and the care for creation’s gifts. Furthermore, we call on our member bodies and faith leaders to share reliable information about hydraulic fracturing with their communities. We believe that we are called by God to be good stewards of the good gifts of community, health, water and soil. Trusting in God, we refuse to trade this bountiful inheritance for the empty promises of energy that may be cheap in terms of dollars but which we know will be costly in terms of our livelihoods.
It’s strange that despite earlier reforms, a country which took such richness from Appalachia left so little for the people. Great fortunes were built on the exploitation of Appalachian workers and Appalachian resources; yet the land was left without revenues to care for its social needs, like education, welfare, old age, and illness.
As I look from my living room window at the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd, I am compelled to rush to my car radio to listen to the news for further updates, if any are currently on! Tidbits of information from the streets come my way and it is shocking what I hear. Roads are flooded cutting off routes of escape from the city west toward Raleigh, east toward Kenly, and some say you can’t get through Rocky Mount.
The drumbeat of bad bills continues. Suffice it to say that it’s a tough year for those of us who have advocated for public policy decisions promoting social justice, protecting vulnerable people, and caring for God’s creation. We can’t respond to every bad idea or bad bill. On many of these issues, we feel like we are butting our heads against a wall. Our tendency may be to throw up our hands in despair.
Last Saturday I got to meet Cecilia. She used to work in North Carolina’s tobacco fields, but that left her with health problems. A mother of five children, now she’s […]
Governor Bev Perdue on Saturday vetoed H 2, the misnamed “Protect Health Care Freedom” bill. (It should be called the “Freedom to be Uninsured and Unable to Get Health Care” bill.) The bill was an attack on federal health care reform and purported to remove North Carolinians from the mandated purchase of health insurance, which is the basis of federal reform which will move millions of uninsured Americans into the ranks of the insured.
On a blustery March day that saw snow flurries up in the mountains, more than a hundred people gathered at Black Mountain’s First Baptist Church to talk about food, faith […]
Some community gardens give each person a small plot of land that is theirs to cultivate for a fee.
But at the Community Garden of Promise, they weed together, plant together, mulch together and harvest together.
“This garden means fellowship to me, and the camaraderie we have with each other,” said Caroline Martin of Kernersville. “I love working in the dirt; it gets me closer to God. It’s one of the places I can meditate and relax. And I enjoy the fact that we help other people.”
Join us at the 2011 Farmworker Institute and Networking Event. Purpose: Farmworker advocates across the state will have the opportunity to network, learn, and update each other on the latest issues that affect North Carolina farmworkers.
On Friday and Saturday last week, about 180 people gathered at the 2011 Come to the Table conference in Winston-Salem. Bringing together pastors, lay leaders, experts in the fields of hunger and sustainable agriculture, entrepreneurs, farmworker advocates, and many others. Conference workshops were held on Friday, with site visits and practical tours on Saturday.
Tomorrow, the NC Council of Churches’ Rural Life Committee will convene our third biennial Come to the Table Conference. With meetings across the state over the next three weeks, the conference offers resources for faith communities working to relieve hunger and support local farms.
We are disturbed by increasing reports of NC landowners who are signing over some of their property rights to energy companies looking for new sources of natural gas. In addition to the environmental damage caused by accessing this natural gas, we are concerned that in many cases landowners are not fully aware of their rights and how these contracts will impact the use of their land in the future.
The following information comes from our friends at Rural Advancement Foundation International. Visit this page for more complete information.
Today I’m happy to announce the launch of a new project by the Council’s Farmworker Ministry Committee. The Building Hope Project connects volunteer groups with farmworker families to build small chicken coops and greenhouses. These low-cost structures help families save money and supplement their nutrition. A recent study in North Carolina found that nearly half of farmworker families don’t have enough food year-round. The good news is that with a modest commitment of volunteer time and money, your congregation can make all the difference. Jesus said to his followers, “Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me.”
Join us for the Western North Carolina Come to the Table Conference: Communities of Faith Relieving Hunger and Supporting Local Farms. The two-day event will include workshops, networking opportunities, and a local lunch on Friday, Mar. 11th, and a breakfast snack and tours of local food ministries and projects on Saturday, Mar. 12th.
Join us for the Eastern North Carolina Come to the Table Conference: Communities of Faith Relieving Hunger and Supporting Local Farms. The two-day event will include workshops, networking opportunities, and a local lunch on Friday, Feb. 25, and a light breakfast, speaker, and tours and service opportunities with local food ministries and projects on Saturday, Feb. 26th.
Join us for the Piedmont North Carolina Come to the Table Conference: Communities of Faith Relieving Hunger and Supporting Local Farms. The two-day event will include workshops, networking opportunities, and a local lunch on Friday, Feb. 18th, and tours and volunteer opportunities at local food ministries and projects on Saturday, Feb. 19th. Friday’s events will be hosted by Wake Forest University at the Benson University Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Dr. Norman Wirzba, Duke Divinity School (Durham)Now, imagine that God comes to you one day and says, “I need you and your family to gather all the animals living in North Carolina. I need you to feed them and protect them. I need you to build a floating farm and make sure they stay alive because the world around them is crumbling and dissolving. The places these animals have called home are disappearing, and I need you to make a home for them.” What would you say?
North Carolina has the largest Native American population east of the Mississippi River – over 115,000 by the US Census’ 2008 estimate. NC has the fifth highest Native American population in the U.S.
More and more North Carolinians are getting involved with community gardens. Through our Come to the Table program, the Council’s Rural Life Committee has been promoting this work for the past few years. We’ve been visiting gardens, leading workshops, sharing best practices, eating delicious local food and making friends across the state.
During the spiritual journey that is the life of a Christian, each one of you involved in this study has come to the conclusion that part of being a follower of Christ is paying attention to the housing needs of all of God’s children. Some of you may be more aware of the problem of inadequate housing in your part of North Carolina than are the people who developed this study. Others of you had your interest peaked simply by the hands-on nature of FaithWorks, the rural home-building project of Habitat for Humanity and the North Carolina Council of Churches. Wherever you come into this study, you will find in its pages and in the discussions that result a biblical witness to the problem of inadequate housing.
God gives people plants and seeds for farming as a gift in the first chapter of Genesis. Genesis tells us God created plants and their seeds, “each according to its kind,” called them good, and gave to humans to eat. For generations, farmers and gardeners have honored this gift, tending and improving their crops.
We, the members of the Rural Life Committee of the North Carolina Council of Churches, celebrate God’s gift of agricultural diversity and the good stewardship of that gift by generations of farmers. We support just and fair options for farmers and a secure food supply for those in need. We recognize that our actions affect people across the globe.
When addressing the concentration of ownership in agriculture and the development of genetically modified seeds, we consider: Who benefits? What are those benefits? What are the true costs? Who will pay them? Are there more sustainable, appropriate, cost-effective and just alternatives?
Ellen Davis, Duke Divinity School (Durham)Reading the Bible is my line of work, yet for years I read past the first chapter’s detailed attention to the food supply, as have my fellow biblical scholars. I now realize that my profession’s obliviousness about food in the Bible points to a deep and worrisome difference between a modern cultural mindset and the culture that all the biblical writers represent. The difference comes down to this: for them, eating and agriculture have to do with God, and for us they do not.
This 40-page guidebook includes an overview of the theology and issues surrounding farming and food security in North Carolina, easy tools for identifying the needs and resources in your community, example projects, and a resource list.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the House of Delegates of the North Carolina Council of Churches work with State Government in the following ways to help North Carolina farmers and consumers:
Encourage the State to expand the “Goodness Grows in North Carolina” program with an emphasis on labeling products by their origin. Such labels will help consumers know that they are buying locally produced products, thus helping create markets and increasing the economic viability of farmers.
We must rethink and rework not only the unjust and unwise practices of energy and capital-intensive, centrally-controlled and wealth-concentrating agribusiness production, but also its goals and assumptions, if we are to be true to creation theology and a just, participatory, and sustainable agricultural production system. Specifically, we must use more appropriate regenerative technology and alternative farming methodology in North Carolina if there is to be a future on the farm for many small and medium-income farmers who have survived in the past primarily by growing tobacco. Indeed, without the institution of a regenerative agricultural production system, future generations on all continents will risk the loss of even more of the scarce arable land, forests, species, aquifers, and energy sources at a time when the global population will be doubling every generation.