First of all, a big Thank You to the Rev. Diana Walworth for her blog post last week! I was able to visit my family in Grand Rapids and watch my sweet granddaughters perform in their school musical, Peter Pan. I had a lovely visit and a very pleasant, restful spring break.
This week we have a bit of a potpourri of newsworthy action items so please, please keep reading! We’ll begin with a request from Episcopal Migration Ministries and Church World Service, move on to a resolution from the January 2018 meeting of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church in support of the 2018 Poor People’s Campaign, and wrap up with a few words about this Wednesday’s National School Walkout. So, hold onto your hat, here we go –
Two weeks ago I shared information on a bill coming before our State House of Representatives (HB4053) which would make English the official language of the State of Michigan. Sadly, the bill passed the House and is now coming to the Senate for approval. This past Friday, I received a request from the Rev. Noah Anderson, National Grassroots Coordinator of Immigration and Refugee Program for the Church World Service, and Allison Duvall from Episcopal Migration Ministries asking that we once again contact our legislators. Rev. Anderson writes:
HB 4053 does not reflect a message of welcome, support, inclusivity, or desire for diversity. It also hurts Michigan’s economic interests, denies vital services to vulnerable populations, and negatively impacts many hardworking, taxpaying Michiganders. It is critical that Michigan’s Senators hear loudly and clearly that their constituents oppose this bill.
Please contact our Senators right away to express opposition to the bill. It’s easy to find out who your senator is by going to this website. I just now sent my senator an email. You can, too.
In January 2018, the Executive Council met in Lithicum Heights, Maryland, and passed Resolution AN035 2018 Poor People’s Campaign. The final wording of the resolution has not been approved yet but here is a draft copy of the resolution:
Resolved, That the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, meeting in Linthicum Heights, Maryland from January 22-24, 2018, acknowledge 2018 as the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign in this country called by the Rev’d Dr. Martin Luther King and the leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a campaign seeking economic justice, racial reconciliation, and the elimination of poverty; and, be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council, acknowledging the unfinished work of the 1968 Poor Peoples Campaign, celebrate the revival of the movement as the 2018 Poor People’s Campaign:
A National Call for Moral Revival under the leadership of the Rev’d
Liz Theoharis and the Rev’d Dr. William J. Barber II working in partnership with Repairers of the Breach, the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice, and the Popular Education Project; and, be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council, under the guidance and direction of the Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church, lead our Church into action, ministry, and official relationship with the 2018 Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival in an effort to allow the Episcopal Church to act faithfully on its long history of honorable General Convention and Executive Council intentions but imperfect and fragmentary practical actions in matters of poverty, racism, sexism, and economic justice; and be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council also recognize these issues of poverty and justice severely affect our domestic and global brothers and sisters and commit to ministry of active engagement, advocacy, and support throughout The Episcopal Church.
Resolution Review Committee member, Joyce Munro did some research on the Poor People’s Campaign and how we might begin to live out this resolution in our congregations and our personal lives:
The 2018 Poor People’s Campaign:
A National Call for Moral Revival
In January 2018 the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church adopted Resolution AN035 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign and to “lead our Church into action, ministry, and official relationship with the 2018 Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.
The first Poor People’s Campaign was organized in 1967-1968 by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to gain economic justice for people of all backgrounds living in poverty. Dr. King also recognized that the priority given to military spending for the undeclared war in Vietnam took resources away from lifting up the economic position of the poor and siphoned tax dollars to arms manufacturers. After King’s death in April 1968 the Rev. Ralph Abernathy assumed leadership of the Campaign, including a number of caravans marching to Washington, D. C., to set up a camp on the national Mall called “Resurrection City” for six weeks to bring attention to the economic injustices suffered by the poor. A Solidarity Day Rally on June 19, 1968, included the 3,000 residents on the mall, plus 50,000 others, to petition the government to act on the following:
$30 billion annual appropriation for a real war on poverty
Congressional passage of full employment and guaranteed income legislation [a guaranteed annual wage]
Construction of 500,000 low-cost housing units per year until slums were eliminated.
A brief history of the 1968 campaign can be found here. This first campaign did not receive any endorsements from Christian denominations. Various political barriers left the Campaign without sufficient support and resources to continue its work.
The 2018 Poor People’s Campaign has received support from a number of Christian denominations in addition to the Episcopal Church, as well as from organizations representing Muslims, Jews, and Sikhs. It is planning “40 Days of Action” focused mainly in state capitals of the 32 states, including Michigan, which are organizing with the Campaign.
The Days of Action will open on Mother’s Day, May 13, 2018, and continue through June. The Principles of the 2018 Campaign add environmental justice to the goals, citing the disparate impact that environmental pollution has on the poor. The Campaign is nonpartisan and firmly supports nonviolence. It also embraces the poor as leaders in the movement.
For local reading and study groups, the two coordinators of the Campaign have published books about issues of poverty and organizing. The Rev. Dr. William Barber II’s The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement Is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear
and the Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis’ Always with Us?: What Jesus Really Said about the Poor
It is easy to join the 2018 Poor People’s Campaign by going to the website and signing up. Follow the Facebook page of the organization in Michigan to keep up with local events for the coming 40 Days of Action.
Thank you, Joyce, for bringing this to our attention and providing resources for our involvement.
Finally, I want to briefly mention this Wednesday’s ENOUGH National School Walkout which takes place one month after the tragic event in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 students and teachers were killed by a lone gunman. According to ABCNews, the walkout will begin at 10 AM and last for 17 minutes, one minute for each of the victims of last month’s shooting: “Women’s March Youth Coordinator Tabitha St. Bernard Jacobs, one of the few adult allies guiding the students in the youth-led movement, told ABC News that while the walkout was sparked by the Florida school shooting, the event is about calling out gun violence.”
Last Saturday at the Total Ministry Team Gathering, the Rev RaeLee Baxter who works in her local school asked all of us to support local students in their opportunity to have their voices heard. Many schools in Ann Arbor and Lansing have posted that they are participating. Check with your local schools to see if they are planning to join the movement and, if not, you might encourage them to give their students and teachers a voice in support of a safe teaching environment. Also check to see if you may participate alongside the students if a walkout is planned.
Well, that’s a lot of information for one week. Thanks for bearing with me through all this! Please share these opportunities for action with your congregations and friends.
Let us pray –
We cannot merely pray to you, O God, to end war;
For we know that You have made the world in a way that people must find their own path to peace within themselves and with their neighbors.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end starvation;
For You have already given us the resources with which to feed the entire world, if we would only use them wisely.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to root out prejudice;
For You have already given us eyes with which to see the good in all people, if we would only use them rightly.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end despair;
For You have already given us the power to clear away slums and to give hope, if we would only use our power justly.
We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end disease;
For You have already given us great minds with which to search out cures and healing, if we would only use them constructively.
Therefore we pray to You instead, O God, for strength, determination and will power,
To do instead of just pray,
To become instead of merely to wish. Amen.
(Social Justice Resource Center)
~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council