Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School invites applications for a full-time, tenure-track appointment in New Testament and Christian Origins at the rank of Assistant Professor. Candidates should be competent to teach introductory courses in New Testament studies as well as advanced courses in New Testament Christian Origins theology, exegesis and Greek. Appointment to begin August 1, 2013.
This is a guest commentary by Pres. McMickle that was originally published in City Newspaper on January 9, 2013.
During President Obama’s first term and again in his successful re-election campaign, virtually nothing was said or done about people in the United States who are trapped in a cycle of poverty and despair. The focus was on middle class families and their concerns.
This is not to say that the nation should ignore its need for a strong and vibrant middle class. But another sector of our society is being overlooked and underserved: individuals and families living in poverty. The true character of our society is not defined by the tax breaks we give the wealthy or the tax incentives we give the middle class. The truest character of our society involves how we care for the poorest and neediest people among us. These are the ones Jesus referred to as “the least of these.”
President Obama has largely ignored the issue of poverty. Mitt Romney actually showed contempt for people living in poverty with his 47-percent comments, implying that all people living in poverty want nothing more than government funded entitlement programs.
I can vividly remember growing up in a single-parent home in an impoverished neighborhood in the inner city of Chicago. I know from personal experience that Mitt Romney’s comments paint a false picture about people living in poverty. The issue is not about people desiring government-sponsored entitlement programs; the issue is people desiring help in creating stronger and more stable families, jobs that pay a living wage, access to health care, safe and effective public schools and, most of all, an enlightened and progressive criminal justice system.
President Obama should charge the relevant Cabinet officers and government agencies to consider a national emphasis on programs like Nurse-Family Partnership, a program created right here in Rochester. This program has a proven track record of improving the health of expectant mothers and equipping them to be effective parents. This results in children with reduced rates of child abuse, lower rates of criminal behavior and arrest, and a higher success rate in school.
The intervention of one nurse with one family can often mean the difference between another generation being born into a cycle of persistent poverty, or children being able to finally escape poverty and have a chance to attain a bright future. The investment made in such a program today can result in enormous savings to our society in years to come.
Reducing criminal behavior is especially important, because a felony conviction is the single greatest contributor to persistent poverty in this country. As revealed in Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” the United States not only requires people to serve their time through incarceration or parole. Those same people are then haunted and hindered for the rest of their lives. A felony conviction limits them in terms of further education, future employment, military service, the right to vote, home ownership, and a stable family life: all of the things that are essential to climbing out of poverty.
To add insult to injury, the vast majority of felons in this country are non-violent drug offenders who would be better served by referral to a drug treatment program. That means an annual $5,000 cost per patient and no felony record to complicate their future, as compared to incarceration at an annual cost of $25,000 per inmate followed by a lifetime of poverty-prolonging prohibitions.
Finally, President Obama must keep working to defend the programs that serve the poor, the sick and the needy; these cannot be cut no matter what argument is made for retaining tax cuts and shelters for our country’s most affluent.
It was not entitlement programs serving the poor that created this mess, it was two wars over the last nine years that have cost this country $15 billion every month since 2003. Our nation is not made strong when the defense budget is bloated with spending items that are neither requested nor required by the Pentagon. We will only have a stronger and safer nation when the voices of the poor are heard and when the policies that can dramatically reduce poverty are funded and implemented.
Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School and the entire Rochester community lost a dear friend, visionary, preacher and pastor last Friday, the Rev. Dr. Charles A. Thurman.
Dr. Thurman earned a Master of Divinity degree from Colgate Rochester Divinity School in 1972. His initial plan was to return to his native Mississippi, where he had been active in the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. Thurman’s journey, however, soon took a different path. His active involvement in the “Street Academy,” a Divinity school work and ministry program for high school drop-outs, led him to remain in Rochester where he soon sank down roots. Dr. Thurman’s ministry took many different forms during his over 40 years of service: as a family therapist, high school teacher, community worker, prolific writer, professor and pastor. A man of wide-ranging talent, Dr. Thurman touched countless lives in numerous settings during his lifetime.
In the late 1980s, Dr. Thurman returned to the Divinity School to pursue a Doctor of Ministry degree, completing his work in 1991. In October, 1995, he succeeded Dr. Walter Fluker as Acting Dean of the Program for Black Church Studies. Serving in this capacity until 1997, he continued the Program’s vital work of preparing women and men to develop a Christian voice for addressing the ills of social inequality, poverty and violence.
Dr. Thurman was a tireless advocate for CRCDS throughout his lifetime. Generous with his resources and time, he most recently served as a co-chair for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Endowed Chair for Social Justice and Black Church Studies initiative at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School.
Pres. Marvin A. McMickle expressed his sorrow: “I had the opportunity to visit with Charles Thurman and his wife at their home only days before his death. His faith and trust in God and his interest in the future of the Divinity School was undiminished despite his awareness that death was imminent. The way he and his wife lived their lives equipped and prepared them for the day of his death. May all of us both live and die with the same passion and faithfulness that was exhibited in the life of Charles Thurman.”
In a City Newspaper interview from January, 1997, Thurman said, “To make Rochester better, we have to make our churches better.” That view was very much the focus of his 38 years as Pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Mumford, New York, his beloved congregation.
We have all lost a true friend and brother. Please join the CRCDS community in our prayers for Dr. Thurman’s family, the people of Second Baptist and the Rochester community as we grieve the loss of the Rev. Dr. Charles A. Thurman.
A Statement from Pres. Marvin A. McMickle:
I have waited a few days to write out my thoughts about the terrible events that occurred last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. There are no words that can help us understand the depth of grief that has encompassed that school and those families that lost loved ones, both children and adults. A peaceful community will forever be linked to other sites of mass killing like Oklahoma City, Columbine, Aurora, Fort Hood, Virginia Tech, a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin and a mall in Tucson where public officials and innocent bystanders were shot and killed.
The fact is, what happened in Newtown is different in its targets, but not different in its causes and consequences. Innocent lives were taken by a disturbed individual that was in possession of a weapon of mass destruction. In Oklahoma City it was an explosive device. In all of the other cases it was guns. Not a pistol for target practice or self-defense or a rifle designed to meet the needs of sportsmen in the woods. In every case the weapons of choice were high-powered, automatic and semi-automatic weapons more suited for a battlefield than as part of the culture of a 21st century industrialized society. Without easy access to such guns it is possible to imagine that none of these horrific events would ever have occurred. Crazed and/or cowardly people do not become mass killers without access to such weapons.
I am comforted by the fact that our public officials extend their “thoughts and prayers” to the families of those that have lost their lives in this spiraling cycle of gun violence. Now I wish those same public officials would expand the breadth and depth of their courage and invite our nation to embark upon a serious discussion about gun control. I can already hear the response from the gun lobby that “guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” The easiest response to such a knee-jerk comment is that people without assault rifles and other automatic guns do not kill nearly as many people as we have seen in the last few months and years in this country.
Did the founders of this nation really mean that the Second Amendment should give us the right to purchase, own and carry around guns that can penetrate the bullet-proof vests of police officers? Could the patriots of the 18th century–whose weapon of choice was a single shot musket–blame us for wanting to control guns that discharge 10-to-12 bullets per second? Is it too much to expect that a criminal and mental health background check be performed before a gun can be purchased? We demand an ID to buy alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, but do not expect rigid but reasonable guidelines for purchasing guns. Bear in mind that this is not a call to criminalize guns in America; it is a call to wake up to the fact that the level of violence we see in this country on account of the ease with which guns can be acquired is out of control.
It may be that our political leaders lack the courage to actually lead on this issue. Maybe they come from districts and regions of the country where gun enthusiasts are plentiful. Apparently the mother of the young man who killed 26 people in Newtown was herself a gun enthusiast. Her son killed her with one of her own guns. Despite the tragedy and irony of that fact, CRCDS and other seminaries and divinity schools ought not be muted in addressing this issue simply because it is politically incorrect. We are not running for reelection to a position in government. We are not looking for a 100% approval rating from the National Rifle Association. We are called to be prophets of protest in a sinful society where many are now saying that the best response to gun violence in the schools is to arm teachers with guns of their own. Is that really where we as a society are headed?
We are in the midst of the Advent season. The themes of Advent are joy, hope, love and peace. All of those themes have been challenged by events in Newtown and other communities. Someone must challenge the nation to reflect on its values and repent of its views. Rather than rush out to buy a gun, may I invite us instead to ponder the lines of the song that says, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” This is our calling. This is our mandate. This must be our moment to stand up and be counted! As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing needed for evil to triumph is for good men (and women) to do nothing.”
Music from Colgate campus resonates in neighborhood
When Rev. Marvin McMickle, president of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, first heard the bells ringing on the hill, he assumed it was an automatic program setting them in motion.
It’s not — a keyboard in the Samuel Colgate Memorial Chapel controls them all, and a crowd of more than 100 gathered Sunday to hear and see the bells themselves.