Churches are becoming more involved with systemic answers to poverty, lack of health care and the environment, as well as offering hands on services.
In Mississippi, The Jackson Free Press reports that Episcopal Bishop Duncan Gray, Bishop Joseph Latino of the Jackson Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church and Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church joined forces to lobby for children in poverty.
The bishops outlined the 7 areas of legislative focus – education, childcare, foster care, healthcare, juvenile justice, cigarette tax and immigration issues facing children – with specific actions for each area.
“We are called to speak out for those who cannot speak, to judge righteously and to defend the rights of the poor and needy. Today, we are answering that call by asking the Legislature to raise the cigarette tax to fund our children’s healthcare and to remove the face-to-face certification or re-certification for SCHIP/Medicaid programs,” explained Bishop Latino. He stated that in Mississippi 3 out of every 4 children in Mississippi without health care coverage are eligible for existing health care coverage programs.
With 31% of the children in Mississippi living in poverty, Bishop Gray cited … education statistics facing our children which he described as “staggering and unconscionable.”
The Austin, Minnesota Daily Herald reports on monthly community meals recently begun by Christ Episcopal Church:
According to Deacon Lynn Adwell, the idea for a public meal came from the church’s outreach team. “The team was discussing ways be can do outreach in the community,” Adwell said. In recent years, the church’s social ministries have expanded. Austinites, who were victims of September 2004 flooding will recall Christ Episcopal Church became the headquarters of ecumenical relief efforts.
Read more here.
In Rapid City, SD, The Rapid City Journal reports on ecumenical work for Habitat for Humanity:
Clerical collars were covered by winter parkas Tuesday as a half-dozen Rapid City pastors raised the walls on Habitat for Humanity’s 57th Black Hills area home in frigid temperatures.
“We ask that you bless us and that the work of our hands would be your work in this world,” prayed the Rev. Ted Huffman, a Habitat board member and pastor at First UCC Church, shortly before a line of volunteers hoisted sections of wall in the air and project manager John Schencke hammered them into place.
Each of the participating churches will give to the project according to their capacity to do so, said Scott Engmann, Habitat’s executive director, sharing the cost of materials through a per-congregant donation that will spread the cost equally among large and small churches. Some of the smaller churches, such as St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, will give what they can in money, volunteer time and support services, such as providing meals for build volunteers.
Read more here.
In Maryland, Episcopal Bishop Eugene Sutton, was the keynote speaker at the Environmental Summit gathered to lobby the state legislators on environmental issues:
… the hit of the summit was its keynoter, the Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. Installed last year, he is the first African-American to hold that religious leadership position in the state, but he says he also wants to to be seen as a “green” bishop.
“Ultimately, it’s not about the color of our skin. It’s about what we are about; it’s about what we do,” Bishop Sutton told the crowd.
Environmental protection is a spiritual issue, he said, saying it’s impossible for Christians to follow the Golden Rule without caring about the environmental impact on others of their own consumption and wasteful habits. And he suggested that the widespread threats to humanity from drought, diseases and storms that might be caused by global warming overshadow even the more immediate fears about terrorism.
Read more here.
H/T to epiScope