Preview of the September 2014 Issue
The new frontier for civil rights
Presbyterians on the front lines of an evolving struggle
by Shaya Gregory Poku
In the midmorning sticky heat of North Carolina, protestors brandish signs that read “Stop Criminalizing Youth of Color,” “Voter Suppression Is Unjust,” “Student Power,” and, quoting Zechariah 7:10, “Oppress not the widow, nor the orphan, the sojourner, nor the poor.”
Led by the North Carolina chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the assembled are part of North Carolina’s Moral Monday protests. Moral Mondays arose in 2013 in response to education reforms, cuts to social programs, and changes to voting laws that appear to target low-income families, people of color, women, seniors, and college students.Continue reading
Taken by storm
Nearly a decade after Katrina, New Orleans’ poor and black still struggle to rebuild their lives.
by Dawn Cherie Araujo
Nothing could have prepared Jean Marie Peacock for what she saw when she returned to her New Orleans home after Hurricane Katrina. She had boarded up her home before evacuating the city, yet six feet of water had remained, stagnating for weeks. Furniture had been reduced to piles of rubble, and mold covered many of the surfaces.
But Peacock, then an associate pastor at Lakeview Presbyterian Church, was one of the lucky ones. On August 29, 2005, the hurricane had torn through Louisiana and Mississippi, leaving a swath of death and destruction throughout the South. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, would later call Katrina the most catastrophic natural disaster in US history.Continue reading
The colleges where students still march
Presbyterian-related universities merge history and present-day experience to teach about justice.
by Gary Luhr
Visitors to Schreiner University last fall might have imagined themselves in a time warp, as more than 100 students marched across campus with signs proclaiming “We want freedom” and “No freedom until all are free.” They were, in fact, reenacting a familiar activity from the 1960s as part of a required freshman course, Reacting to the Past, in which students re-create critical episodes in history and consider their relevance for today.Continue reading
One in Mission
Profile in Courage
Dan Ponder challenges his home state—and his church—to be a sanctuary for those in need.
by Linda Valentine
Several years ago I was privileged to hear my friend and former pastor John Buchanan preach on the wise men who followed the star to Bethlehem. “That’s what a church is, a community of star followers,” he said. “Each of us can be people of relentless hope, who never give up, who continue to pray for and work for and sacrifice for the day of the Lord.”
In my eight years of service to the Presbyterian Mission Agency, I have traveled extensively, meeting thousands of such “star followers,” people who remain purposeful and hopeful in the face of what often seem to be insurmountable obstacles. People like Dan Ponder, a former Georgia state representative who challenged racial stereotypes and inclined lives—and state laws—toward God’s relentless hope and heart for justice.Continue reading
1001 New Worshiping Communities
Community-organizing model provides the answer to starting a new worshiping community in a predominantly Latino area of Detroit.
by Paul Seebeck
Raul Echevarria is an urban missionary of sorts. He’s working to build a new worshiping community—Comunidad los del Camino—in Detroit, and he’s doing it as a community organizer.
A year ago, Echevarria moved from Chicago’s Humboldt Park—where Puerto Rican residents famously resisted gentrification of their neighborhood—to work in the impoverished Latino community of southwest Detroit.Continue reading
New worshiping communities are deepening PC(USA) diversity
by Deborah Coe
Most Presbyterians value diversity. At least that’s what they’re saying in a recent study. They agree that it’s beneficial for the United States that the population is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse. And they agree that attracting more people of color is essential for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to stem its long-term membership decline. However, very little is being done in traditional congregations to encourage such diversity.Continue reading
Immigrants and intimidation
Misuse of power underscores the need for Christians to speak up.
By Sung Yeon Choi-Morrow
As we were driving around Tucson in the scorching sun, Carlos pointed out the window, commenting, “This is where Juan and I got arrested and taken to the border because we were protesting outside a business of an employer who hadn’t paid their workers.” Lucky for Carlos, he happened to have all his paperwork—his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals paperwork showing, among other things, that he had come to the United States before age 16 and had lived here continuously since June 15, 2007. Because he was able to produce the document for Border Patrol, he was not deported. However, Juan was not so lucky.Continue reading
Toward a more perfect union
The new Jim Crow and threats to voting rights in the United States
By Noushin Framke
The summer of 2014 brought the 50-year commemoration of Freedom Summer, a campaign launched in June 1964 in Mississippi to finally register African American voters. The next summer, in a landmark piece of legislation, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965, which prohibited racial discrimination in voting. Almost 50 years later, this huge step toward perfecting our union is in peril.Continue reading
Women’s religious rights—denied
The US Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling follows a time-honored practice: opting for women to carry the burden.
By Elenora Giddings Ivory
The recent US Supreme Court decision in favor of Hobby Lobby has been in the news a lot over the past couple months. What many people don’t know, however, is that the ruling is actually based on an act that was once lauded and supported by both progressive and conservative religious groups and politicians. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was supposed to protect religious groups and persons—not corporations—from powers that would otherwise trample on their rights and expression.Continue reading
Fear in the land of imagination
A sermon about Exodus, Ferguson, and children refugees from Central America
By Patrick David Heery, editor
Two weeks ago, on August 24, 2014, I preached the following sermon at my home church in Cincinnati, Ohio. You can listen to the sermon here. It was important that I preach this sermon. It was important that I preach it in Cincinnati. Because years ago, when I was in the 11th grade, a white police officer shot yet another young unarmed African American man in the back. The shooting ripped the city apart, revealing deep ruptures that had been with the city for a very long time. The subsequent work to bring about justice and healing—and the real failure of that work—is what propelled me into ministry. It was in my anger, grief, and disillusionment in the political process that I heard God's call. And so here I was returning to Cincinnati to preach a guest sermon scheduled more than six months before I had ever heard of Ferguson, and I knew what the subject had to be.Continue reading
This special issue is a must-read for everyone who wants to better understand young adults and engage them in worship, education, and service.
Decluttering for Christmas, the new Advent Calendar from Presbyterians Today, is now available for pre-order!
NEW THIRD EDITION. Presbyterians Today’s special issue and guidebook — “Welcome to the Presbyterian Church!” — is a wonderful introduction and overview of all things Presbyterian.