This week I’d like to address two topics. First, we’ll have Part 2 of last week’s story of the Advocacy to Challenge Domestic Poverty Conference and then we’ll take a look at some work being done on a resolution that came from the Executive Council: A&N 023 Elimination of So-Called “Native” Names that Promote Negative Stereotypes.
In last week’s blog, I shared Jean-Pierre Seguin’s comments about his experience at the conference. Since then I’ve been able
to chat with Zach Baker, the other young adult delegate from our diocese. Zach reported of his time in DC: “I would have to say that the young adults I encountered were already very knowledgeable about the issues they wanted to discuss with their legislators. From sex trafficking to homeless youth, the belief that “millennials” are apathetic or ignorant to today’s problems was disproved for me at this conference. My generation, the next generation of both secular and church leaders, are very much prepared to take greater roles in our society.”
Zach found that, for him, the most beneficial aspect of the conference was the media training learning how to best share one’s message properly and most efficiently. He said: “They taught us how to capture the attention of our audience and make sure they don’t tune us out.”
Both the media training and the lobbying day helped Zach want to be more vocal in standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves because they feel they don’t have a voice. Working very much in the secular world, Zach finds that some people just don’t understand that poverty isn’t a choice. He commented: “There’s ignorance, whether intentional or not, about poverty and, as Christians, we must follow Christ’s example of going to the lepers, the sinners and the disabled. We must understand these issues so that we can best properly raise each other out of either economic poverty or spiritual poverty. We are not all called to work directly with the poor, but if we understand the issues surrounding poverty we can be better servants in living Christ’s message.”
I asked Zach what he plans to do next as a result of his experience and he told me he’s planning to get involved in advocacy work. His immediate plan is to enroll in Exploring Your Spiritual Journey (EYSJ) through the Whitaker Institute to further explore this calling which he’s felt for a long time.
My suggestion for an action item for you, dear readers, is to engage your young adults in ministry now. Their energy and enthusiasm is invaluable and an amazing model for all of us!
While I was working on an assignment for a class I’m taking, I heard an item on the news that caught my attention. Back in
February we were given some resolutions from the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church. One of these took on greater interest for me after I learned of the death of the Rev. Deacon Terry Star, a man who fought tirelessly on the issue of replacing Native American sports team and mascot names with ones that do not insult the dignity of these people. Especially problematic is the team name for the NFL team in our national’s capital, the Washington Redskins. Many groups lately have been lobbying for a name change and just this week more than 70 groups signed a letter to all the NFL players requesting their support in changing the team name. The letter cites Seattle Seahawks’ high profile player Richard Sherman, who recently spoke out against the Washington, D.C. team name. The letter says: “We are hopeful that other players in the league will follow his strong example and take a public stance against the Washington R*dskins.” The group decided to reach out to the players because, as the letter reads: “… players are the most publicly identifiable representatives of the league, which means [their] support is critical to ending this injustice. Your NFL should not be a place where any person is expected to sit by in silence while their heritage is so casually disgraced and condemned by this racial slur.”
Here’s a link to the text of the letter – http://www.changethemascot.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/NFL-Players-Letter-FINAL.pdf
And, another link to the whole article from ESPN about the issue – http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/10991566/anti-washington-redskins-groups-send-letter-every-nfl-player
If you’re interested in the text of the whole resolution, check out the March 18 blog post by scrolling down through our previous blogs.
How about writing a letter to the NFL and the team’s management. Perhaps, working together, we can see a change happen!
~Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council