Graduates in Action: Barbara Zelter Puts Social Justice Training into Action

Every Friday night, a downtown church in Raleigh, North Carolina, fills with more people ZELTERthan it can hold. The diverse group meets to discuss the logistics of the direct action events that have, since late April, taken place each Monday at the North Carolina State Capitol. The movement is known as "Moral Monday."

A mix of progressive Christian leaders, college students, minimum wage workers, social workers and many others, the broad coalition of protestors are united in their concern about recent policies by the North Carolina legislature that they believe are a concerted effort to limit the civil and economic rights of ethnic minorities and those living below the poverty line. These policies include a move to make Christianity the official religion of the state, remove extended benefits for over 70,000 people, the decision to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion provision (which would cover an additional 500,000 people) and the repeal of the state’s earned income credit.

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“The Holy Land and Its Peoples” 2013: A Pilgrimage for Peace

In 2010, Dr. Melanie Duguid May, the John Price Crozer Professor of Theology, published Jerusalem Testament: Palestinian Christians Speak, 1988-2008.

PALESTINE-GRAFFITTI-1The book introduces the experiences of Palestinian Christians living in the Israeli-occupied territories of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank through public documents, statements and accounts of Palestinian pastors. Through this work, Dr. Duguid May has become increasingly involved in the work to find a practical resolution to the ongoing violence in that region.

The pilgrims who took part in “The Holy Land and Its Peoples” 2013 pilgrimage are continuing to share insights and thoughts about the Israel/Palestine conflict through a blog. Access it to join the conversation online by visiting 2013/

In early 2012, Dr. Duguid May began working with Dr. Mark Brummitt (Associate Professor
of Old Testament Interpretation), who has first-hand experience of Israel and Palestine, on plans for bringing CRCDS students, alumni/ae and friends directly to the region. The fruit of this work was “The Holy Land and Its Peoples,” an organized pilgrimage to the region to learn more about the conflict and the peoples—Christians, Jews and Muslims—it most impacts. Drs. Duguid May and Brummitt sought to incorporate a series of lectures and opportunities for spiritual reflection at the key Christian pilgrimage sites in the area.

The following two reflections were originally published in the Summer/Fall issue of The CRCDS Bulletin. The first is from Dr. Duguid May and it describes her relationship with the conflict in Israel/Palestine, the reasons she organized the pilgrimage and what she hoped the participants would gain from the experience. The second reflection is by Deborah Allen, a CRCDS student.

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"A Gandhian Approach to Syria"

The following reflection was written by alumnus George Payne, who is Peace and Justice Educator at the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence.

It is clear that the overwhelming majority of Americans do not support military involvement in Syria. Some denounce military action because Syria does not immediately endanger America’s national security. Others contend that two dreadful attempts at nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan have left Americans war weary. And still others decry the use of force based on its limited effectiveness in deterring the Bashar al-Assad regime.There are also detractors who base their opposition on economic and political philosophy. Following a foreign policy agenda that dates back to President Washington, this group asserts that a war in Syria will not promote the mandates of the Constitution, nor will it prevent a foreign dictator from encroaching on the livelihood of American citizens. If this opposition was not staunch enough, President Obama must answer critics within his own party who prefer hard diplomacy to military action. This group believes that diplomatic overtures to China, Iran and Russia may be the only way to bring peaceful order to this crisis.

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"Thoughts on Syria and a US Intervention"

The following is a reflection on the potential use of military force by the United States on the current Syrian government by CRCDS M.Div. student Kathy Thiel.

What comes to my mind when I think about the US becoming forcefully involved in the situation in Syria are the words of Martin Luther King Jr. on non-violence. What comes to my heart is sadness.  If the United States uses violence against Syria, we are ignoring faith of any kind that this situation will resolve itself without our intervention.

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Alumna's Art Featured at Rochester Fringe Festival

This message originally appeared as an announcement from the American Baptist Churches of the Rochester/Genesee Region

K-SUDDABY-FRINGE2013This September at the Rochester Fringe Festival, Katie Jo Suddaby will be creating Sand Mandalas in the atrium of Geva Theater! Katie Jo is the Pastor of The Baptist Temple in Brighton. When not pastoring, she can be found creating delicate works of art by arranging thousands of tiny grains of brightly-colored sand.

Using her own designs, but employing Tibetan Buddhist techniques, Katie Jo crafts intricate works of art that are not to be missed. For the Fringe, Pastor Katie Jo will work a back-breaking 50 hours crouched over a rotating glass table. Come see the work take shape any time after 5pm on weekdays and after noon on weekends, September 19th through the 28th at Geva. (The works will be on display at Geva Theatre during the two days of Annual Gathering.)
More information at Hope to see you there!