Tuesday, October 17, 2017

'Extreme Poverty Anywhere is a Threat to Human Security Everywhere'

On this International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, let us recognize that extreme poverty anywhere is a threat to human security everywhere. Let us recall that poverty is a denial of human rights. For the first time in history, in this age of unprecedented wealth and technical prowess, we have the power to save humanity from this shameful scourge. Let us summon the will to do it.  -Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan

Monday, October 16, 2017

World Food Day 2017: A Multigenerational Commitment to End Hunger

And it is He who sends down rain from the sky, and we produce thereby the growth of all things. We produce from it greenery from which. We produce grains arranged in layers. And from the palm trees – of its emerging fruit are clusters hanging low. And [We produce] gardens of grapevines and olives and pomegranates, similar yet varied. Look at [each of] its fruit when it yields and [at] it’s ripening. Indeed in that are signs for a people who believe.  Surah 6:99

 Eternal Spirit of Justice and Love, as we commemorate World Food Day we remember our brothers and sisters here in New Mexico and around the world. May we be aware of our dependence upon Sister, Mother Earth for food and nourishment. As we share bread and the fruits of the earth, may we remember that there are many for whom sufficient bread is a luxury. As we drink the gift of Sister Water who sustains all life, may we remember that for many clean drinking water is a luxury.  -Excerpt of Closing Prayer for World Food Day 2017

Group Picture

There were more than 20 youth voices of all different ages who participated in our beautiful interfaith service that brought together students from the religious school at B'nai Israel, students from Salam Academy, the Making a Difference Against Hunger (MAD) group at St. Pius X High School, and the Albuquerque Baha'i Community. The young people presented a sacred text from their respective traditions, a description of their work in the community and a closing prayer or reflection.

We are especially thankful to a group of grown-ups who helped coordinate the events: Fedah Abdel Hack (Salam Academy), Alicia Eiler (St. Pius X High School), Sarah Egelman and Joan Horowitz (Congregation B'nai Israel) and Alfred Kahn (Albuquerque Baha'i Community). The event was co-sponsored by the Interfaith Hunger Coalition, New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, Surgite: a sacred dance group, and St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church. Our host was Congregation B'nai Israel.

Even though this World Food Day was very much about the perspective of the young people, the celebration was multigenerational. David Poole, who led the music for our World Food Day event in 2016, again led us in song this year. This included the piece that he wrote for last year's celebration with these words of commitment. (See video below)

Open our hands that all may be fed;
Open our hearts that all may find refuge;
Open our eyes that all may see
The oneness of Earth's family

The words of the song are especially suited for movement, which was led by Keri Sutter and members of Surgite, a sacred dance company. Most of the audience took part in this movement, which was a symbol of unity among generations.

The work of the young people received strong support from important religious leaders. Among those present were Monsignor Bennet Voorhies (head of the Office of Ecumenical Engagement and Interreligious Affairs for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe); Ahmed Hassan (principal at Salam Academy), Rabbi Evelyn Baz of Congregation B'nai Israel, and Wayne Bobrick, co-president at B'nai Israel. Also present was Imam Reda Bedier, who could become the next leader of the Islamic Center of New Mexico.

"I want to invite you today as we reflect together on this World Food Day on what actions we can take individually or collectively. I want us to be considering, 'What is my obligation to my neighbor?" What are the steps that I can do?  What are the steps that my community can do in order to ensure that the food that we already have provided on this earth can be distributed to everyone"  Rabbi Evelyn Baz's welcome to participants at World Food Day event.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

'Taking Heart in These Heartless Times'

"There have been heartless times before, but this is the most heartless time that we've ever experienced." - Rev. Dr. Craig Nessan
LAM-NM Director Ruth Hoffman poses with Rev. Nessan
In an  era when the level of public discourse has turned away from reasoned discussion, when the rich and powerful have gained control over the White House, when the government policies more than ever are set up to oppress the most vulnerable in our society (and our God-given creation)...Rev. Dr. Craig Nessan urges us to remember that our faith calls us to be people of compassion.

"We are Christians grounded in scripture," Rev. Nessan told several dozen people who attended the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-New Mexico's Advocacy Conference in Albuquerque on Saturday, Oct. 14."We try to articulate and advocate for a neighbor policy."

In light of all the discouraging changes around us, Rev. Nessan urges us to remain people of hope by engaging in a mysticism of the the ordinary to detect the holy in the things that are right in front of us. This approach allows us to bring the Creator into our spiritual practices in a deeper way.

In the current climate, Rev. Nessan argues, it might be that turning inward is what is needed the most. According to Rev. Nessen, this grounding gives meaning to our actions. So what is  Rev. Nessan's approach? "I walk and I breathe," he said.

He cited a number of difference-makers in history who had deep faith while working to promote social justice: Mahatma Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Gustavo Gutierrez, Walter Brueggemann, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Nadia Bolz Weber and others. These individuals "stand in alignment" with the values that Jesus promoted in the Gospels, said Rev. Nessan.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Faithfulness to the Matthew 25 Pledge

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” -Matthew 25 34-40
Here are a couple of updates and a video about the Matthew 25 Pledge, a coalition-driven movement that Sojourners helped create late last year and which was launched this spring.

In the past six months, through our action alert systems and media platforms, Sojourners has rallied constituents in resistance to the repeal of the DACA program, callous immigration raids and deportation. Matthew 25 activists in Southern California organized their communities and were instrumental in securing the release of Pastor Noe Carias, who had been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

To counter rising Islamophobia galvanized by political rhetoric and a Muslim Ban coded as a Travel Ban, Sojourners has signed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court opposing the Trump Administration’s policies, protested in front of the White House, and is working closely with the interfaith Shoulder to Shoulder campaign.

In addition, we have provided solidarity and on-the-ground reporting on the uprising in St. Louis to an unchecked system of racialized policing and militarized suppression of protest. We are urging clergy to meet with their sheriffs and chiefs of police to discuss the reforms suggested in President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing’s final report. And we are hearing stories of “trust conversations” set up by clergy with police and local community leaders.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Bread for the World Sunday: An Invitation to Take Action

All of us know Jesus’ invitation into the reign of God. All are invited. Yet that invitation requires us to do something. It requires us to put Jesus’ words into action. -A reflection by Father James Martin, S.J., for Bread for the World Sunday (Based on Matthew 22:1-14)
Photo: Bread for the World
Jesuit Father James Martin, at-large editor for America magazine and a published author, wrote a special reflection for Bread for the World Sunday, which is on October 15.

The reflection is contained on page 2 of the Bread for the World Sunday guide. Hearing these words from a member of the Society of Jesus is very special to me because I was educated at a Jesuit university (Loyola in New Orleans) and my late brother Raul was ordained as a Jesuit priest.

Father Martin's words set the stage for Bread for the World Sunday, an opportunity for congregations throughout the U.S. to join with others across the country in living out God's vision of a world without hunger. "Our prayerful work to end hunger is a response to the Gospel’s invitation to take part in the banquet of God’s mercy and abundance th at is ours through Jesus Christ (Matthew 22:1-14)," says Bread for the World.

A celebration can be as simple as including prayers for hungry people in worship. Or a congregation may wish to devote a sermon, children's message, and other activities to ending hunger in God's world. To help congregations plan their service, Bread for the World offers several free resources.
Our prayers are especially urgent at this time. South Sudan is suffering from a devastating famine, and famine threatens Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen. Drought is s preading throughout other parts of Africa. Humanitarian assistance and long-term solutions to hunger are more important than ever. In the United States, Congress is making budget decisions that will affect t he lives of millions in our own country and abroad.
The president has proposed unprecedented budget cuts that target international and domestic programs vital to hungry people. Dismantling or cutting funding for these time-tested and life-saving programs would take us backward and make the goal of ending hunger by 2030 unlikely.
Here are some excerpts from a prayer in the Bread for the World Sunday guide.
Photo: Rene Ronquillo
We remember all the people who walk in despair, who hunger for the equal bread, and who seek justice. Let us be ins truments of your peace in this world, that we might invite o thers to take part in the banquet of mercy and abundance you prepare for us. We rai se all the petitions th at we have said and the requests of our hearts, trusting that you are with us, to t he end of the age. Lord in your goodness, Hear our Prayer. (Excerpt from responsive prayer by Rev.Alexia Salvatierra, a Lutheran pastor and co-author of Faith-Rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church for Service to the World. The prayer is on page 3 of the Bread for the World Sunday guide).

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Advocating for the Rights of Girls on International Day of the Girl

Today is International Day of the Girl -- a day for the world to pause and recognize the importance of girls in society. This year, with so many girls deprived of an education, we're declaring a state of emergency. We've got a long way to go to help hundreds of millions of girls realize their potential. It's critical that world leaders begin prioritizing the education of girls, particularly in fragile countries. Gayle Smith, CEO of The ONE Campaign
The world’s 1.1 billion girls are a source of power, energy, and creativity – and the millions of girls in emergencies are no exception. This year’s International Day of the Girl (IDG) on October 11 marks the beginning of a year-long effort to spur global attention and action to the challenges and opportunities girls face before, during, and after crises.  -United Nations
Every year, on October 11, the United Nations commemorates the International Day of the Girl. In some countries, the commemoration is known as the International Day of the Girl Child. To mark the occasion, Gayle Smith , CEO of ONE, wrote an opinion piece for CNN Online, stressing the need to ensure that all girls are able to get  an education. According to Smith, more than 130 million girls around the world didn't go to school today. Millions more braved long distances and dangerous conditions to get to classrooms whose teacher never arrived, or where there were no textbooks or other materials to help them learn. ONE has launched a campaign to promote education of girls around the world. Read report entitled The Toughest Places for a Girl to Get an Education.

Gayatri Patel, senior policy advocate at CARE, in Washington, D.C., makes the same argument. "I'll never forget my visit to the Mirpur slum in Bangladesh this year. There, I met a group of girls, some just 5 years old, who had never spent a single day in school because they were forced to work as child laborers," said Patel.

According to Patel, the lack of access to education is just one of the challenges that girls around the world have to face. "Women and girls suffer disproportionately in urban slums. Many go to bed hungry night after night. They become stricken with measles due to the lack of access to basic immunizations. They face beatings and other gender-based violence that gets overlooked. Many are forced into child marriages and experience early pregnancies that cause life-threatening injuries," said Patel.

"We cannot teach our girls to be ashamed, or afraid, or to make their dreams smaller in order to fit into the world. We must teach our girls that they deserve the same fundamental rights to freedom, autonomy and equality. They deserve a world as big and expansive as their dreams," said Patel.
Read the full note

While placing a priority on empowering girls living in poverty, this day is also about opening doors for girls of all socioeconomic circumstances. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has put together great montage of videos under the hashtag #GirlsChangetheWorld

 The London-based newspaper The Telegraph provides 16 Great Quotes from Famous Women to mark the International Day of the Girl.  Among those quoted are  U.S. activist Gloria Steinem,  British author R.K. Rowling, Pakistani education advocate Malala Youzafi, Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, New Zealand film director Jane Campion and others.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Happy 10th Birthday, New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light!

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light turns 10 years old this year, and the public is invited to join in a special celebration. The organization, led by Franciscan Sister Joan Brown, has brought together communities of faith in the Albuquerque area and around the state to take actions to protect the environment and care for the Earth.

To celebrate this milestone anniversary, NMIPL has put together a special program, featuring Lyla June Johnston and Pat McCabe, a mother and daughter of  Dine’ heritage. Johnston and McCabe are noted artists and nationally and internationally known women of vision, spiritual strength, justice and love for all creation and communities. They will incorporate ritual and art into their reflections (see video below).

 Fall Gathering and Celebration
"Generations Caring for Earth Together," 
Saturday, November 4
Central United Methodist Church
201 University Blvd. NE (map)
2:00-5:00 p.m.

The local band Los Otros will perform.

As part of the celebration, NMIPL will present SEED and SPROUT awards to individuals and organizations for their efforts to protect the Earth and promote environmental sustainability. Download flyer

Monday, October 09, 2017

St. Felix Pantry to Host 7th Annual International Festival

St. Felix Pantry invites the community in the Albuquerque area to its 7th Annual International Festival

Sunday, October 22,
11:00-3:00 p.m
St. Pius X High School, 
5301 St. Josephs Drive NW (map)

The International Festival features local restaurants and vendors, live entertainment, dancing, a children’s area, and a silent auction.

Tickets are $15 per person (Free for Children under 12) Buy Tickets

The festival is St. Felix Pantry's largest fundraiser of the year. For well over twenty five years, the pantry has been a safety net for people struggling to support their families in times of crisis.

St. Felix provides, free of charge, food, clothing, household items, and referral services. However, people served by the pantry need more than food, clothing, and household items; they need respect for their dignity, compassion for their suffering, hope for their children, and a place that welcomes and empowers them for their journey.  Read More

Sunday, October 08, 2017

'Being, Doing Church' Rescheduled for November 4

The workshop on Being, Doing Church, originally scheduled for September 9, has a new date: Saturday, November 4, and a new location: First Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque, 215 Locust NE (Martin Luther King Blvd and I-25).

As was the case for the original date,Wallace Ford and Jennifer Murphy- Dye teach this topic as part of a core class in the Master of Theological Studies program.

Interactive presentations will engage :
  • the New Testament’s essential elements of “being church”
  •  the DNA within local congregations, parishes and house churches
  •  ecumenical experiences and their lessons
  •  and the call for reconciliation among churches – including the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification signed by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church and affirmed by the World Methodist Council and the World Communion of Reformed Churches. 
$20, lunch included…register now: khuggins@eimnm.net (Register before Nov. 1st, if you want to eat…otherwise show up, pay $20, and bring your lunch!)

This ecumenical event will follow the New Mexico Conference of Churches Commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation on Sunday, October 29.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Albuquerque Baha'i Community to Hold Special Celebration

  "So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the entire Earth."  
On the weekend of October 20-22, the Albuquerque Baha'i Community will hold a special celebration, and the public is invited. 

Along with millions of members of Baha'i communities worldwide, the local community will commemorate the bicentenary of the birth of Bahá’u’lláh, considered the founder of the Baha'i faith. The celebration also observes the birth of the Bab, whose teachings inspired Bahá’u’lláh.

Bahá'u'lláh's teachings focus on the unity of God, religion, and mankind. Similar to other monotheistic religions, God is considered the source of all created things.

These Twin Holy Birthdays are celebrated by Bahá’ís and their friends as one annual festival where the closely interwoven lives and missions of these two Divine Luminaries are remembered together. 

Schedule of Events for the Light of Unity Celebration in Albuquerque

Friday, October 20
With food, entertainment and presentations, the community will celebrate the 198th birthday of the Báb — the Herald and Forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh.  Details Here

Saturday, October 21.
There will be  simultaneous events, in multiple venues, that span the Albuquerque Metropolitan Area
Sunday, October 22,
With food, entertainment and presentations, the community will cap its Festival with a celebration of the 200th birthday of the Founder of the Baha'i Faith — Bahá'u'lláh.  Details Here

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Praying on Feet that Respond to Needs

Do not be small minded. Do not pray for gourds and pumpkins from God, when you should be asking for pure love and pure knowledge to dawn within every heart.
-Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Benefit Concerts in #ABQ for the Victims of Hurricane Maria

Friday, October 6, 7:00 PM
Second Presbyterian Church
812 Edith Blvd. NE, Albuquerque  (map)

Featuring violinist and Music Director Maestro Guillermo Figueroa, Jazz guitarist Marcos Cavalcante, pianist Dr. Mariano Morales, members of Los Pleneros de la 21, and other local artists performing a variety of musical styles. Free-will offering.

Saturday, October 7, 7:30 PM 
National Hispanic Cultural Center
1701 4th Street SW  Albuquerque (map)

Los Pleneros de la 21, an Afro-Puerto Rican bomba and plena ensemble, will perform at the NHCC. Buy Tickets: ($35, $32 w/ $3 discount for students & seniors and $5 discount for Outpost & NHCC members  Donations will be collected at the concert).

Wilkimedia Commons Image from poster by
Sunday, October 15, 4:00 PM
Second Presbyterian Church
812 Edith Blvd. NE, Albuquerque (map)

Salsa bands in Albuquerque join to benefit the people of Puerto Rico. Featuring Terra Plena, Café Mocha, and DJ Pedro. Dancing, domino tournament, and Puerto Rican food for sale. Tickets at the door $20.00 per person.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

'God Wants Us to Feed the Hungry'

I was in the city of Sonsonate in El Salvador, a small country in Central America. I met a Franciscan missionary there may years ago who wanted to feed the poor at least a good Christmas dinner. When he succeeded, he was so happy...so delighted in that feast that he determined that no matter how (long) it would take, he would see that the poor and homeless would get a meal every single day... God wants us to the Hungry."   -Larry Bernard, OFM
Rev. Larry Bernard, a Franciscan who has served in Central America and in many areas of New Mexico, including the Pueblo communities, offered a reflection at Feed the  Hungry Day on September 30 at Holy Family Church. Here is an excerpt from his talk.

Father Larry's reflection was one of several spiritual activities for people from around the Archdiocese of Santa Fe who attended at the event. Participants were also offered the opportunity to engage in One on the Journey, a solidarity prayer walk created by Catholic Relief Services. This is a self-guided meditation using photography and written reflection that invites participants to pray in a special way for our brothers and sisters around the world.
The Prayer Walk is a spiritual journey into the heart of our deepest selves... And back out into this world with a greater understanding... Of who we are and who we are called to be. A walking meditation of solidarity... of becoming... ONE...ONE in mind... ONE in spirit ... and ONE in heart. It is an invitation to walk in rhythm with ONE ’s breathing... Aware that as you walk as ONE on the journey...   Download the booklet
Photo: Joy Dinaro
This day was also about action and learning. A morning panel offered several examples of how hunger is being addressed in our archdiocese, including the direct feeding efforts by the folks at St. Felix Pantry and St. Vincent de Paul in the South Valley and the legislative advocacy work by churches involved in Bread for the World locally. I spoke about the importance of advocacy as a very important way to address hunger, particularly the need to preserve funding for programs that help people directly, including SNAP. There was also a touching account by a woman who had received assistance from St. Felix during a time of  need.

After lunch, participants were offered the opportunity to help bag non-perishable food items to supply a local food bank.

Some participants opted to take some of the soup that was left over from lunch to people living on the streets of Albuquerque.

We also learned about the work of Catholic Relief Services and Global Solidarity from regional representative Norma Valdez.

The day concluded with a Mass presided by Archbishop John Wester.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Our Messages from the Interfaith Hunger Coalition via YouTube

The Interfaith Hunger Coalition was invited to present a keynote address at the Fourth Annual End Hunger Summit in New Mexico. Kathy Freeze from Catholic Charities, Rachel Sternheim from Congregation Albert, Rabia Sahin Orhan from the Dialogue Institute/Turkish Raindrop House and Gabriela Marques from the Albuquerque Baha'i Community spoke of their faith motivation to end hunger and also highlighted the work of each of their communities in Albuquerque.

Ellen Buelow (Advocacy Committee Chair) offered background on the Interfaith Hunger Coalition and Carlos Navarro (Convener) presented a vision for ending hunger in New Mexico. The vision urged us to consider the big picture, including how hunger and poverty in rural areas has contributed to our consistently poor rankings for child hunger and overall food insecurity.

We recommended the creation of some sort of caucus or commission within or involving the State Legislature that would look at all aspects of hunger (among children, seniors,working families, Native communities, urban areas), Unfortunately, we were not able to get a video. However, here are five videos from our keynote speech. (The horizontal videos were filmed with a Canon PowerShot A550 and the vertical  ones were recorded with an I-Phone. Also, some of the videos were cut off during recording, so we don't have the full reflection).

Saturday, September 30, 2017

An Ecumenical Gathering in #ABQ on 50th Anniversary of Reformation

Logo: Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County
The New Mexico Conference of Churches cordially invites you to One Body--Many Members, One Spirit--Many Gifts, a commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. The event will be held on Sunday, October 29, 3:30-5:00 p.m. at St. Johns United Methodist Church. The evening will begin with an ecumenical vesper service of song and prayer, followed by community dialogue.

Several church leaders have committed to participate, including Most Rev. John C. Wester (Archdiocese of Santa Fe), Right Rev. Michael L. Vono (Diocese of the Rio Grande, Episcopal Church), Rev. Dr. Randall W. Partin (New Mexico Conference, United Methodist Church), President John Williams (Rio Grande Mission Center, Community of Christ), Bishop Emeritus Allen Bjornberg (Rocky Mountain Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), Rev. Dr. Sharon Littrell (Southwest Conference, United Church of Christ) and Ruling Elder Dr. Conrad M. Rocha (Synod of the Southwest, Presbyterian Church USA).