Saturday, October 10, 2015

Documentary Follows Refugee Students at New York City Summer Program

A new documentary, Refugee Kids: One Small School Takes On the World, made its debut in many communities around the U.S. this fall. The documentary, by award-winning filmmakers Renée Silverman and Peter Miller, follows students at a New York City summer program for children seeking asylum from the world’s most volatile conflicts.  Below is a trailer, followed by more information.

from Renee Silverman on Vimeo.

The film presents an intimate, emotionally gripping account of the students’ stories of escaping war and conflict and resettling in America, chronicling their triumphs and setbacks as their lives unfold over the course of one formative summer. Refugee Kids humanizes complex geopolitics and depict the challenges and urgency of immigration to America in an increasingly dangerous – and interconnected – world.

To find out if the film is showing in your community or if your group or coalition wants to help bring the documentary to your city or town in the near future, contact Kari Steeves ( No showings are yet scheduled in New Mexico,

Friday, October 09, 2015

Rev. Sally Bingham to Keynote N.M. Interfaith Power & Light Celebration on Nov. 7

Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham, author and founder of the national environmental organization Interfaith Power and Light, is the featured speaker for "Living on Our Common Home," sponsored by  New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light on Saturday, September 7, 2-5 p.m, at First Congregational Church, 2801 Lomas NE (map). The event is free and open to the public. 

Rev. Bingham will share a story of hope and engagement. We are called to understand our deepest purpose as humans as we face the greatest moral concern of our time—climate change. In light of the Papal document Laudato Si and the upcoming international climate meeting in Paris on Nov. 30-Dec. 11, Rev. Bingham will explore why the encyclical is an inspiring spiritual and justice journey for people of all faith traditions.

As one of the first faith leaders to fully recognize global warming as a core moral issue, she has mobilized thousands of religious people to put their faith into action through energy stewardship. Sally serves as Canon for the Environment in the Episcopal Diocese of California and is the lead author of Love God Heal Earth, published by St. Lynn’s Press in 2009.

In 2012, Rev. Bingham was awarded the Audubon Society’s Rachel Carson Award for her environmental leadership. She was named one of the top fifteen green religious leaders by Grist magazine; she has been recognized as a Climate Hero by Yes Magazine; one of the leaders of the new green revolution by Rolling Stone and one of the 50 most powerful women religious leaders by The Huffington Post.

NMIPLwill also use the occasion to honor faith communities and individuals who have done important work. Organizational SEED Awards include: Immaculate Conception Catholic Parish, St. Mark’s Episcopal, Tewa Women United and the Norbertine Community. 2015 Individual SPROUT Awards for people of faith work caring for earth in the marketplace include: Robin Seydel (La Montanita Co-op), Senator Mimi Stewart (public servant), Ruth Hoffman (Lutheran Advocacy), Patricia Gallegos (Juntos), Kathy Freeze (Catholic Charities) and Rev. Nick King (Carlsbad Mennonite). Enjoy amazing food and music! Bid on useful Silent Auction items and enjoy one another.

For more information contact New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light (

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino to Keynote Lutheran Advocacy Ministry Conference on November 7

Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino
The  Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-New Mexico invites you to its annual Advocacy Conference on  Saturday, November 7, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., at St. Timothy Lutheran Church, 211 Jefferson NE (map). The cost is $15 per person, including lunch.

State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino, a member of the New Mexico Senate since 2005, will be the keynote speaker during lunch. He is currently Chair of the Senate Public Affairs Committee and Chair of the interim Legislative Health and Human Services Committee.

Breakout session topics  include advocacy basics, hunger, predatory lending, solitary confinement and more.

 Registration Information
To register, send a check for $15 to Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-NM, 1701 Arroyo Chamiso, Santa Fe, NM, 87505. Include your name, address, phone number and email address.  

Or you can email the information to or call 505-984-8005 and pay at the door. Please register by Nov. 3.

Monday, October 05, 2015

A Brief (and very Abbreviated) Account of World Food Day Commemorations in Albuquerque

"Millions of poor people face hunger and poverty this year and next because of droughts and erratic rains as global temperatures reach new records, and because of the onset of a powerful El Niño – the climate phenomenon that develops in the tropical Pacific and brings extreme weather to several regions of the world."  -from  Oxfam America briefing note (published on Oct. 1, 2015) entitled "Entering Unchartered Waters"

World Food Day has been observed in Albuquerque every October 16 in one way or another over at least the past couple of decades. The commemoration was created by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1979, and the first observance took place globally  in 1981.

There was once a local group of volunteers that planned an event around a national telecast featuring a panel of experts. The event, which coincided with the national events held by the U.S.-Canada World Food Day organization, was usually held at the Technical Vocational Institute (TVI), which is now Central New Mexico Community College (CNM), or at the University of New Mexico. The event also included local speakers, panel discussions and special recognition for anti-hunger efforts.  For example, organizers in 2006 recognized the efforts of the (now-defunct) New Mexico Task Force to End Hunger to convince mayors of 103 communities to commit to end hunger. 

At about the same time that the momentum to hold the event faded locally, the local volunteers for New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps stepped in to hold their own commemoration of World Food Day on the Saturday closest to October 16. Over the past three years, St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church and First Congregational Church have opened their doors for the event, which has featured a Hunger Banquet, a discussion on how to support local farmers by buying food locally, the importance of women farmers, and much more.

An Invitation to the 2015 Commemoration
The fourth annual World Food Day commemoration sponsored by New Mexico Oxfam Action Corps will be held on Saturday, October 17, 6:00-8:00 p.m., Albuquerque Mennonite Church, 1300 Girard Blvd. NE (map) in Albuquerque. Enjoy a free locally sourced community dinner and live entertainment, but please RSVP online via this link.

The event will  celebrate small farmers, locally and globally, but will again place an emphasis on the impact of climate change on food production. This connection between global warming and hunger has been a common theme for local World Food Day celebrations, including the one that the previous organizing group held at UNM in 2008.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Dorothy Day: 'A Model for All Catholics'

From National Catholic Reporter

During his address to the US Congress on Sept. 24, Pope Francis cited Dorothy Day as a model for all Catholics. Who was this remarkable woman, who brought community to so many in need?  

Dorothy Day asks us: Isn’t this love the sacred center we seek in prayer, celebrate in the Eucharist, try to express in community outreach to those in need? If we are hospitable, will we not make everyone feel welcome, especially the stranger and even our enemies? If we have differences, can we not simply talk to one another? Don’t we all hunger for respect within the community and for meaningful, purposeful lives? If we expose our common vulnerabilities and shared sufferings, will we not, as occasion arises, practice the corporal works of mercy for one another? If we start small, do what we can where we are, will not the circle of our concern expand gracefully and naturally?

Read full article by Patrick Marrin in Celebration Publications

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Rev. Scott Anderson to Keynote New Mexico Conference of Churches event on Oct. 24

My ecumenical vocation began when I helped organize a CROP walk as a high school junior. That experience gave me a larger vision of the church beyond our denominational tribalism. Jesus’ prayer for his disciples ‘that all may be one’ (John 17:11) defines ecumenism as both gift and task.   -Rev. Scott D. Anderson
Rev. Scott  Anderson, executive director of the Wisconsin Conference of Churches since 2003, will be the keynote speaker at day-long event sponsored the New Mexico Conference of Churches. The event will be held at St. John's United Methodist Church,  2626 Arizona NE (map), Albuquerque, on Saturday, Oct. 24, 9:00-3:00 p.m.

Rev. Anderson's work in Wisconsin is focused on strengthening the public policy witness of the Council and initiating a new area of ministry focused on equipping congregations to engage the mission field that is now at their doorstep. See his full biography

His talk in Albuquerque is part of the NMMC's Congregational Vitality Series. In addition to a keynote address by Rev. Anderson, the program will feature large group presentations and small group discussions about the practical "nuts and bolts" in our community.  The cost is $35 (includes lunch)

And Rev. Anderson will be on hand Friday for an NMCC fundraiser and open house. He will  discuss the Wisconsin Council of Churches' project with Parker Palmer, “Season of Civility.”  This event will take place at the New Mexico Conference of Churches office, 1019 2nd St. NW (map). The cost  is $50.00

Click on this link to purchase your tickets online for either the Friday fundraiser or Saturday's event or both.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Doubling Up on the Millennium Development Goals

The target year to fulfill the Millennium Development Goals was 2015. So how did the global community do? And what comes next?  In answer to the first question, the results are mixed, with advances made in each of the categories but the targets not fully attained, according to a report from the United Nations.

In answer to the second question, the move toward eradicating hunger and poverty continues with the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, which set targets for the next 15 years (2030). Instead of eight goals, there are 17 goals (more than twice as many targets). The 17 goals are actually subsets of three major goals: 1. End extreme poverty. 2.Fight inequality & injustice. 3. Fix climate change.

 A key term is sustainable.  Under the old MDGs, there was only one goal dealing directly with environmental concerns. The new set of goals contains six goals that deal directly with environmental concerns (Clean Water and Sanitation, Affordable and Clean Energy, Climate Action, Life Below Water, and Life on land). One could argue that two other goals are also tied to sustainability and the environment: Sustainable Cities and Communities, and Responsible Consumption and Production).

There is an additional goal that was not part of the original eight MDGs. When reviewing the original set of MDGs peace activist Father John Dear noted that the reduction of conflict and the promotion of peace was a missing ingredient to address global poverty. Goal 16, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, in the new set of targets addresses this concern. Additionally, eradicating hunger and eradicating poverty have been made into separate goals. The old MDGs had the two targets in a single goal.  These goals provide a clear blueprint of the steps that are needed to end hunger and poverty and save our planet. We hope the 2030 report shows significant progress in meeting those targets.  Below are links to each of the 17 goals, including quotes about each target from prominent individuals.

End poverty in all its forms everywhere  
"In this new century, millions of people in the world's poorest countries remain imprisoned, enslaved, and in chains. They are trapped in the prison of poverty. It is time to set them free. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. And overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom."   Nelson Mandela

End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages 
"The essence of global health equity is the idea that something so precious as health might be viewed as a right."
Dr Paul Farmer

4. Quality Education
Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
"In some parts of the world, students are going to school every day. It's their normal life. But in other parts of the world, we are starving for education... it's like a precious gift. It's like a diamond…" Malala Yousafzai

 5. Gender Equality
 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls 

 "Women’s status in society has become the standard by which humanity’s progress toward civility and peace can be measured"
Mahnaz Afkhami

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all 

 "Although we take it for granted, sanitation is a physical measure that has probably done more to increase human life span than any kind of drug or surgery" Deepak Chopra

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Franciscan Father Richard Rohr Discusses Laudato Si

Shane Claiborne and Richard Rohr
Listen to Father Richard Rohr's talk on Pope Francis' Encyclical Letter on the Environment, Laudato Si. Rev. Rohr presented the talk at the Francis Factor conference in Albuquerque on Aug. 30-Sept. 1. The audio comes courtesy of the Center for Action and Contemplation.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces Summarizes Pope Francis' Visit to the U.S.

In a piece published in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Blog "To Go Forth," Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces summarized Pope Francis' visit to the United States on Sept. 24-27. Bishop Cantú wrote the piece in his capacity as chair of the USCCB's Committee on International Justice and Peace. 

Here are  the themes that Bishop Cantú summarized in his post:

(To the U.S. Congress) “How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty!”...“Now is the time for…combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.”

(To the U.N. General Assembly)“To enable … real men and women to escape from extreme poverty, we must allow them to be dignified agents of their own destiny.”....Developing nations should not be “subjected to oppressive lending systems which … generate greater poverty, exclusion, and dependence.”

(To the U.S. Congress): We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners.”...“Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War.”...Immigrants “travel north in search of a better life…for their loved ones. Is this not what we want for our own children?”

The Environment
(To the U.S. Congress):“I call for a courageous and responsible effort to ‘redirect our steps’, and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity."...“I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play.”

(To the U.N. General Assembly): "A right of the environment’ does exist … because we human beings are part of the environment.”...“Any harm done to the environment … is harm done to humanity.”...“The poorest are those who suffer most … and suffer unjustly from the abuse of the environment.”...“The ecological crisis, and the large-scale destruction of biodiversity, can threaten the very existence of the human species.”...“I am … confident that the Paris Conference on climatic change will secure fundamental and effective agreements.”


(To the U.S. Congress):Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering…? [S]imply for money: money that is drenched in blood….”“[I]t is our duty … to stop the arms trade.”

 (To the U.N. General Assembly):“There is urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons….”He affirmed the P5+1 Agreement with Iran as “proof of the potential of political good will and of law, exercised with sincerity….”[S]top and … prevent further systematic violence against ethnic and religious minorities’ and … protect innocent peoples.”...End “social and economic exclusion, with its baneful consequences: human trafficking, the marketing of human organs and tissues, the sexual exploitation…, slave labour, including prostitution, the drug and weapons trade, terrorism, and international organized crime.”...

In Summary
"In his speech to Congress, Pope Francis lifted up the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12)," said Bishop Cantú. "He noted that “[t]his Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. … In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. … The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.: In many ways, the Golden Rule sums up his approach to foreign policy and global concerns. “Do unto others.…”

Here are the texts of  Pope Francis' full speeches to Congress and the U.N. General Assembly

The USCCB site has links to several other speeches or homilies by Pope Francis in the U.S., including the one at Curran-Fromhold Penitentiary in Philadelphia. "I am here as a pastor, but above all as a brother, to share your situation and to make it my own. I have come so that we can pray together and offer our God everything that causes us pain, but also everything that gives us hope, so that we can receive from him the power of the resurrection," the pontiff told the audience at the Philadelphia penitentiary.

Here is a video of his interaction with prisoners at the facility. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Putting a Face to the Some of the Names of the Girls of Gugulethu

I have read about two-thirds of  The Born Frees Writing with the Girls of Guguletuh, a book that my friend Kimberly Burge wrote about a group of young women in South Africa who grew up in the post-apartheid South Africa, I have read about Annasuena, Gugu, Ntombi and the other young ladies, and now this video trailer puts faces to the names. This is a wonderful and uplifting book, but also a sober account of the challenges that each of the girls faced. There is also a lot of great historical context in the book. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, and I'm sure you would too. "Incredible and inspiring, this account belongs in every library and on every bookshelf.” Library Journal (starred review)  The book can be found in local independent book stores or ordered online via their Web sites. See Kimberly Burge's Web site for more information.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church Installs New Rector

This beautiful video celebrates the installation of Rev. Sylvia Miller-Mutia as the new rector of St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church in Albuquerque. Rev. Miller-Muthia previously served for five years as the Assistant Rector at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Videos from Interfaith Vigil in Old Town Albuquerque

A couple of days ago we posted a few images and quotes from the program at the Interfaith Vigil in Old Town in Albuquerque on the eve of Pope Francis' Address to Congress on Sept. 24. Here are a couple of videos from the same event

Sister Joan Brown welcomes participants and urges us to reach out to one another in the spirit of Pope Francis

Donna Detweiler and Rev. Anita Amstutz led participants in the Interfaith Vigil in Old Town Albuquerque on Sept. 23, 2015, in "This is My Song of Peace" by Jan Sibelius

Friday, September 25, 2015

Interfaith Hunger Coalition Participates in End Hunger in New Mexico Summit

The Interfaith Hunger Coalition was present at the End Hunger in New Mexico summit this past Wednesday and Thursday.  Ellen Buelow (Holy Rosary Catholic Community) led a workshop  with the help of Judy Messal (All Saints Lutheran Church) and Kathy Freeze (Catholic Charities of Central New Mexico). The workshop presented the history, goals and mission statement of the IFC as well as some data on hunger in New Mexico (courtesy of our partner New Mexico Voices for Children.

While most of our work has been in Albuquerque, many of the participants in the workshop were from communities elsewhere in New Mexico, including Roswell, Ruidoso, Cloudcroft and the Navajo Nation. In addition to learning about the IHC, participants shared their experiences and challenges working with people who are vulnerable to hunger.  For the members of the Chaves County  J.O.Y. Centers (pictured at left), a main concern was hunger among seniors.

 We also had a display table coordinated by Bert Scott (Central
United Methodist Church). Most of the materials for the display were designed by Jeanne Elmhorst (Albuquerque Mennonite Church).  Many people volunteered to staff the table, including Joy Dinaro (Immaculate Conception Catholic Church) and Ian Wood (Archdiocese of Santa Fe), pictured at left, Carole Everton (Holy Rosary Catholic Community), Kathryn Arndt (Community of Hope) and others . We hope that our presence at the summit allowed more people to know about us, which is an important step in the growth of our coalition.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pope Francis Invokes Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton in Address to Congress

Here is a quote from Pope Francis in his address to Congress on Sept. 24.
"A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to 'dream' of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton." 
Here is the full text of the pope's address to Congress.

And this is how our friend Richard Wood, a professor of sociology at the University of New Mexico, tweeted the quote. 

Prof. Wood, who traveled to Washington and Philadelphia for the pope's visit, wrote a blog piece in anticipation of the pontiff's trip to our country.  Here is an excerpt:

Precisely what Pope Francis will say to America will be revealed only when he steps on our shores. But his visit seems likely to spotlight how the Catholic Church works on multiple levels like no other human agency in the world: with deep roots in local communities and people’s concrete lives; guided by a coherent set of teachings about human life and meaning; driven by transcendent values and Gospel teachings; and capable of worldwide coordination under Spirit-inspired leadership. 
 Read Full Post

A Candlelight Vigil in Old Town on Eve of Pope's Visit

Here are a few images and quotes from the program at the Interfaith Vigil in Old Town in Albuquerque on the eve of Pope Francis' Address to Congress on Sept. 24.

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness that all exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.

-from Pope Francis, Laudato Si

 If I had a light I'd shine it in the morning,
I'd shine it in the evening all over this land
I'd shine it our of warning, I'd shine out of danger,
I'd shine out love between my brothers and my sisters all over this land

 -adapted from the song If I had a Hammer by Pete Seeger

This is my song, O God of all the nations, 
A song for peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is,
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating,
With hopes and dreams as true as mine.

-from This is my Song of Peace, Jan Sibelius

Teach us to discover the worth of every thing, 
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are united 
with every creature as we journey toward your inner light

-from Pope Francis, Laudato Si

We thank you for being with us each day.  Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.

-from Pope Francis, Laudato Si

The vigil was co-sponsored by New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, the New Mexico Conference of Churches, Catholic Charities, Interfaith Worker Justice of New Mexico, Interfaith Dialogue of New Mexico and the Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe. Vigils were also held in five other New Mexico Cities: Taos, Gallup, Silver City, Carlsbad and Santa Fe