Billy Shore on “No Kid Hungry”

A Guest Post by Billy Shore

As the school year draws to a close and summer stretches out before us, America’s poorest school children find themselves at even greater risk than usual.  Because, when the school’s doors close so does the prospect of meals for many kids who rely on school lunch and school breakfast.

More than 20 million American children get a free or reduced price school lunch, and although all 20 million are eligible for meals in the summer too, only 3 million get it.  That’s because not enough school districts take the necessary steps to establish alternative sites.  The irony, and this may be Washington D.C.’s best kept billion dollar secret, is that the federal government reimburses 100% of the cost of the meals served, which means budget strapped state and local governments could also benefit from dollars that come in to buy milk from local dairy farmers, bread from local bakers, and so forth.

The real problem is that these children are not only vulnerable, they are voiceless. They don’t belong to powerful membership organizations or have highly paid lobbyists.  They depend on average, caring citizens like us to be their voice. That’s why Share Our Strength has committed to spend $1.6 million this summer in 35 states to help establish summer meal sites and raise awareness among parents so they can ensure meals for their children.

Everyone has a strength to share, and everyone has a role to play in our No Kid Hungry campaign.  The need has never been greater. The recession has left 48 million Americans living below the poverty line and more than 22 million children on food stamps (which we now call the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) for the first time in the history of the country. Go to www.strength.org to see how you can get involved.

This guest post is from Bill Shore, the founder and executive director of Share Our Strength®, a national nonprofit that is ending childhood hunger in America. Shore is also the chairman of Community Wealth Ventures®, Inc., a for-profit subsidiary of Share Our Strength that offers strategy and implementation services to foundations and nonprofit organizations. Shore founded Share Our Strength in 1984 in response to the Ethiopian famine and subsequently renewed concern about hunger in the United States.  Shore is also an author.  His most recent book is The Imaginations of Unreasonable Men, published in November 2010, which documents the lifelong efforts of researchers to end malaria.

 

Joy Comes With the Morning

The psalmist writes that joy comes with the morning. It follows a night of weeping, he says.  But my night wasn’t like that. I dreamed sweet dreams. Taking photographs and maintaining motorcycles.

Now I couldn’t wait for the day to begin. I awoke a little after four. It was still dark and I was waiting anxiously for dawn.

I started the coffemaker, ground the beans and got milk ready to heat.

Outside the air is cool. I sit and wait for the sun. Critters are stirring. A hummingbird works its way through the flowers taking long sips preparing for the day.

Dew on the grass glistens like Christmas sparkles and a fog sneaks in. It turns the morning air blue and snuffs out the sun.

A chipmunk bounds across the yard, hopping high as if he can avoid getting wet. I laugh.

Robins, redbirds and mockingbirds sing. The distinctive song of a rufus-sided-towhee stands out. It shyly scatters the ground under a hydrangea searching for breakfast.

Two Carolina wrens peck at the fennel seeds I planted yesterday. Then one hops rambunctiously through nearby flowers, chattering all the while. Ounce-for-ounce these little birds are the most self-confident and loud residents in the backyard.

A Downy woodpecker, who thinks we hung the nectar feeder especially for him, lands on the leucaena tree and searches it momentarily for insects. But he’s really come for the nectar. He takes a perch and drinks, frequently looking skyward for attackers.

While this has been going on the swallowtail caterpillar I put under a protective net yesterday has morphed into a chrysalis. I continue to be awed by this transformation.

Engrossed in this symphony of life, I notice the fog has burned away. The dew is gone, and it’s getting hot.

To borrow from Dolly Parton’s wonderful song, “I can see the light of a clear blue morning. Everything’s gonna be alright, gonna be OK.”

Morning is a gateway to hope and a cause for joy. Every day is truly a new day.

Hearing the songs of creation and watching its players, I’m reminded that all of us, we two-legged creatures, the winged ones and the four-legged, are connected.  It’s so easy to forget and overlook.

But, in the light of this clear blue morning, chuckling as the little ground squirrel vainly tries to hop above the wet grass, or the cocky wren loudly proclaims his presence; as the woodpecker unabashedly indulges himself and the hummingbird cartwheels and caroms, it’s apparent. We’re bound together.

We, too, are made to soar, and even to run through wet grass if we choose. We “shall mount up with wings like eagles…run and not be weary…walk and not faint,” when we claim our place in the Creation and come into right relationship with the Creator.

We are made to sing and dance and celebrate this gracious gift called life. And we are reminded of this with each new dawn, and of the loving creator who blesses it all.
__________________

I posted some morning photos here.

What songs or new revelations at dawn have you experienced and are willing to share?

Country Song Packs A Hell Of A Punch

Hell is losing your job six months short of 30 years, with no parachute, no shiny new gold watch and not so much as a “thank you” as you walk out the door. It’s payments you can’t make on a house you can’t sell, as your kids watch their parents split apart.

 

You don’t have to die to go to hell.

That’s one tale Brad Paisley tells in his newest album, “This is Country Music.” It’s his best work yet. When I first heard the song “A Man Don’t Have to Die,” it felt like a punch in the gut. Sometimes the best country music lyrics can do that.

It reminds me that my silence about the economic realities confronting working people is cowardly and my perspective on faith needs serious readjustment.

The song is written in reaction to the arrival of a new preacher who is warning people about hell. But Paisley counters, “We already know that hell exists.”

It reminds me of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, who preached in the streets as England industrialized in the 1700s. He went to working people – miners in the coalfields of Newcastle and the desperately poor who were left out of the Industrial Revolution. They all lived below government-defined poverty levels.

He spoke to them of personal and social holiness. He told them personal faith and social responsibility cannot be separated. And he asked them to care for each other.

He did not point them to a better life afterward, but he pointed them toward making life better now. To Wesley, the gospel was not palliative; it was prophetic and down-to-earth practical.

As a result, the people called Methodist responded, perhaps because few others cared about them. Though they were cash poor, Wesley admonished every one of them to contribute at least a penny for the aid of others. And they did!

Over time, however, the hard edge of social responsibility got rounded off and smoothed down with preaching about individual piety and comfort. Methodists grew in wealth and status. Today, few – including me — in this faith community speak the language of working people and the poor or stand with them. We speak about the poor, but we are not of the poor as the early Methodists.

As for speaking the language of working people, seminary education took it away from me, and organizational minutiae turned my focus inward toward institutional concerns.

What is needed …

Working people and the poor are among the hidden casualties of the global economic crisis. In the U.S., 28 million people are unemployed or forced into part-time jobs that don’t pay enough to sustain them.

Paisley speaks to them, but not as Wesley did. This powerful song goes where country music has always gone when it comes to religion—angels and the hereafter. And that’s not what is needed.

What’s needed is concern for the here and now. Wesley said everyone in every society is a child of God and deserves to be treated as such, according to United Methodist scholar Richard P. Heitzenrater.

Faith isn’t about reaping rewards in the hereafter; it’s about entering into the reign of God now.

God’s love is for all

We are loved of God, and called by God to love and care for each other. This connects faith to justice and places on us responsibility to ensure that everyone is treated with the dignity Gods intends for us all.

Paisley drove me to Wesley. And Wesley helped me see the need to step out of my parochial, institutional concerns and broaden the definition of community to include everyone from the top to the bottom of the economic scale.

No one – not the immigrant, chronically ill, unemployed, divorced, gay, straight, man, woman or child – stands outside this all-encompassing love and claim of dignity.

If a man doesn’t need to die to go to hell, it’s also true that no one is left out of God’s kingdom. It’s already established. We simply must live so that our lives reveal it.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be offering examples of how people are living it today. In the meantime, if you have an example – or if you have experienced hell in some way – please share your story with me.

 

Anthony Weiner’s Do-it-Yourself Media Strategy

Anthony Weiner is out of public life but he’s still the subject of late night comedy one-liners. It’s a shame. He was building a public persona with a strong, distinctive voice and it’s a loss to the public conversation.

I’ve left it to others to fathom the psychology of his self-inflicted downfall. But in a more practical vein, his do-it-yourself media management will become a case study in how not to do it. His press conferences went so badly that even as I found his behavior totally unacceptable, I had to feel sorry for his public humiliation. Had he been guided through a media strategy that was more carefully developed, he could have saved himself and his family some of the embarrassment, and perhaps saved his career.

Weiner’s media management was terrible. He was never really in control of his own story, and he lied from the outset, inviting further scrutiny. Any media-savvy person would have told him this is the worst possible course. He invited the media and his detractors to dig deeper with his vague answers and waffling from the get-go.

He might have avoided his forced resignation by admitting his indiscretions at the outset, apologizing and entering himself into therapy. More than a few celebrities have followed this course and emerged to reclaim their reputation and rebuild their public image. Some of his political colleagues have survived even worse offenses by following this path.

Weiner chose to play out his apologies and resignation in full public view, apparently with no backup. He didn’t even control his own news conferences, giving his worst detractors a platform to heap insult on injury. Not once, but twice.

Media management is not rocket science but it does require strategy and training. In the media environment today doing less than thinking and acting strategically when dealing with media is equivalent to stepping in front of a moving bus and hoping the driver will see you and stop before flattening you. Weiner got flattened.

He had an even steeper hill to climb because his indiscretion involved images that were all over the Internet. His first lie–that his Twitter account was hacked–was improbable and left us scratching our heads. His refusal to deny that the photos were actually of him raised the level of skepticism. He lost control of his own story almost immediately and when he finally owned up to his behavior he was already out of options. He had to tell the truth.

The first thing any media consultant would have advised is to be truthful from the beginning. Admit to having a problem, apologize for the harm caused and tell how you are seeking to rectify the situation. He would still have been embarrassed, but he had a much better chance to frame the story and limit the damage. Instead, he invited wild speculation and humiliating questions.

If this episode has any redeeming value, it may be to remind us that crisis communications management is not a do-it-yourself project. It requires both skills and a set of actions that are based on the firm foundation of truthfulness and responsibility. You can’t wing it. And you shouldn’t lie.

You have to anticipate how to manage crises before they happen and keep a plan at the ready to implement when they do.

In this case, however, it’s pretty simple; don’t post lewd photos of yourself on the Internet and not expect to get caught.

(A similar perspective from a public relations writer at PR On The Run.)

Weiner: You can’t put the tweet back in the bird

Rep. Anthony Weiner learned the hard way that you can’t put the tweet back in the bird. Media guru Shel Holtz used this phrase when he spoke to the staff of United Methodist Communications a couple of years ago, and it’s been proven time and again.

Setting aside the obvious celebrity syndrome, narcissism and “what was he thinking?”  questions, there are important media lessons to be learned from Rep. Weiner’s downfall.

First, know the technology. Social media provides us the feel of the personal and local. But it’s neither. Every post is not only public. Once online, it’s available to a world of viewers and it’s archived for all time. Scrubbing past indiscretions is extremely difficult and all but impossible for most of us. Rep. Weiner’s attempt to delete a Twitter message was as naive as it was futile.

Second, social media require a strategy. Because they’re a powerful communications tool, using these media casually without thinking through why you’re using them is like jumping into a race car and speeding off without knowing how to drive it. A crash is very likely. Weiner  obviously did not consider how his Twitter use could affect his career. He had no strategy.

Some use social media to stay in touch with a small group of friends. Some use it to share information of interest to a target audience. Others create conversation by being provocative, and some advocate for their causes and build networks of like-minded believers. It’s important to know why you’re using social media and to stick to the strategy, or at least to think through a new strategy if you decide to change.

Third, there is no local anymore. Social media contain an oxymoron. If you communicate well locally, you will likely be successful, but no communication on the web is local. It’s global. A private message to a friend can be sent around the world with a keystroke.

Fourth, social media are personally empowering but not private. Some users are comfortable revealing personal details (albeit not as personal as Rep. Weiner, I hope). But these details are not private once they’re on a Facebook page or a service such as Twitter. We should not be misled by the feel of the personal when we use these media. We’re potentially communicating to a vast audience, some of whom are not necessarily friends.

This is another oxymoron. While they empower us to reach out beyond our immediate geographic community, they can also bring us down because they’re transparent. They can expose our inconsistencies and hypocrisies. This built-in quality of transparency  demands consistency, if not authenticity. If we make false claims or behave in ways inconsistent with values we have espoused, somewhere, somehow, someone will expose the falsehood or inconsistency.

Rep. Weiner seems to have stumbled not only ethically but also in his use of media. And now we refer to him as former Rep. Weiner.

10 Tips for Christians in Social Media

There are thousands of Christians participating in Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and more.  Whether we are posting to our own blog, tweeting or commenting on what someone else has written, it is important to remember a few guidelines about Christian conduct online.

1)      Remember the Golden Rule. Stick to the high road. Snarkiness abounds on the Internet, especially in chat forums and comment sections.

Lewis Carroll's Snark caused people to disappear, much like mean spirited jabs can diminish a person. Set yourself apart by keeping a positive tone, focusing your arguments on ideas rather than personal attacks.

2)      Let your faith emerge naturally in your posts, and avoid proselytizing.

3)      Don’t be holier than thou! Be thoughtful and opinionated, but avoid taking on a judgmental tone in your posts.

4)      Cut others some slack. Give people with whom you disagree the benefit of the doubt.

5)      Know your stuff. That is, know the ground on which you stand. Understand the values and theology that inform your views and consider how to express them.

6)      Be real. Being authentic is more important than appearing to be a flawless, model Christian. Most people cannot relate to perfection, and it’s easier to empathize with someone who is genuine about who they are.

7)      Engage a broad audience. Don’t limit yourself to interacting only with other Christians. Choose topics that spark the interest of “regular” people.

8)       Get out of the pulpit. Avoid churchy jargon and explain the concepts that you use. Don’t take for granted that people know anything about Christianity or are familiar with Jesus.  And be sure to keep it short.  Long, verbose diatribes do not entice reading.

9)      Don’t bring me down! Taking a cue from Paul’s first letter to Corinthians, post content that contributes to building up (faith) rather than tearing down.

10)   Use multimedia – video, audio, photo slideshows – to engage your audience more powerfully in the message or story you are trying to tell. Blogging about a soup kitchen or health care ministry? Include a 1- to 2-minute video clip with testimony from people benefiting from the program or people working with

 

Renewing the Church: The Leading Causes of Life or the Tsunami of Death?

My favorite phrase is “the leading causes of life.” It was conceived by Gary Gunderson and Larry Pray, and I’ve written about it several times. Gary is Senior V.P. for Health and Welfare and Director of the Center for Excellence in Faith and Health of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in Memphis.  Larry is a pastor in the United Church of Christ and Senior Pastoral Scholar for Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare. They co-authored the book, Leading Causes of Life.

Their phrase endures, for me.

But another phrase is making the rounds in conversations in the denomination in which I labor: the “Death Tsunami.” It’s intended to describe the impending demographic change that will happen over the next several years as older members pass away.

It’s meant to be prophetic. Behind it is the thought that if these older members are not replaced with a younger group the days of the denomination itself are numbered.

 

I’ve been bouncing these two phrases around in my head, asking which excites me, gets my creative juices flowing, makes me want to get involved in making things better?

Guess which one does it for me?

I know the death phrase is meant to attract attention to a real problem. But it frames the future in such an inexorable way I just can’t get a handle on how to respond to it. As Gunderson and Pray write, “If death defines our efforts, then it will win every time.”

Hearing this, I want to start singing Joe Diffie’s country music song, “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I die).” That’s about all the energy I can get for this framing of our collective future.

On the other hand, I can get energized about looking for the leading causes of life. It makes me want to search out those places and people who are creating, causing change, moving forward. It’s energizing to seek out what gives us life, makes it purposeful, gives it meaning. We are on a journey toward life.

For too long the mainline denominations have wallowed in their narrative of death. They’ve come to believe it, and they’ve allowed others to confirm it. Well, I don’t.

I believe we belong to each other and to God. This is the essence of our connection. In my denomination this means that the local church, annual conference and general church have the capacity to do more together than any of us can do alone. This gives us the capacity to transform the world for the better if we claim it and live it.

And that leads us to what Gunderson and Pray call coherence. Coherence is that web of blessing that defines our roles as human beings. It calls us beyond ourselves to become involved with others. It gives us life, they write. We are not alone and all about ourselves. We’re in this together.

In a world of rampant narcissism, the Christian faith calls us to become servants to those most vulnerable, in need and without voice. How counter-cultural is that?

And that call leads us out of helplessness and despair to agency. We can change and create change. We are not the inevitable victims of the tsunami of death. We are the agents who can bring, with God’s help, new life, new meaning, new purpose and hope to the dry, arid places that seem without the refreshing waters of renewal and healing.

And when we act in this way–moving toward life and toward others–we are blessed and we become a blessing. We sense that we are accountable to those who have come before, those who will follow and those with whom we share the invigorating journey called life.

So, like Joe Diffie, “I wanna go to heaven but I don’t wanna go tonight.” And “I ain’t afraid of dying, it’s the thought of being dead” that perplexes me. So I’m not giving in to the tsunami of death talk.

Instead, I’m looking for life through connection, coherence, agency and blessing, and I see these at work in the stories of this denomination everyday.

Let’s seek the leading causes of life.

 

The Long Journey of Indian Monsooned Malabar

I roasted a small batch of Indian Monsooned Malabar coffee beans this afternoon. I love that name.

As I’ve written before, I’m not an afficionado. I’m a rank amateur hobbyist. But this bean is one reason I enjoy home roasting.  It lets my imagination run wild. In researching the name, I found that the method for aging these beans is a story in itself.

The beans are picked at maturity and shipped to the Malabar region of southern India where they are dried and exposed to the monsoon winds along the coast.  Various web sources report the coffee originally shipped from Malabar ports to Europe under sail. In the dank, wooden hulls of ships traversing the Cape of Good Hope, the beans were exposed to salty, humid sea air that caused swelling and changed their characteristics.

Green coffee beans left, Indian Monsooned Malabar right.

Green coffee beans left, Indian Monsooned Malabar right.

During the weeks-long journey they turned pale, lost acidity and developed a mild, musty flavor when roasted. Europeans took to it.
With the construction of the Suez Canal and steamships, the beans arrived in Europe faster but lacked the transformation that occurred during the slower voyage. The Europeans didn’t like it.
To capture the original taste today, the beans are transported to the Malabar region where they are stored until the monsoon season and then spread onto warehouse floors or tables and allowed to dry in the humid monsoon air for several weeks.  They are raked or turned by hand during this period to expose them uniformly and prevent spoilage. This reproduces the transformation of the old sea voyage.
The result is a distinctive flavor that, apparently, you either love or hate. I’m in the love group.

Rwanda Bourbon green coffee bean left Indian Monsooned Malabar right.

It’s called musty, but that carries an unfortunate negative connotation, I think. It’s a mild, unique flavor, not sweet, not acidic. That’s as far as I can go.

But in my mind, I’m standing at the southern tip of Africa, watching the penguins on shore and peering into the distant horizon where a three-masted sailing ship is buffeted by the high seas. It’s making the turn westward, a load of bagged coffee beans in her hull.

In a few months, the rich aroma of roasted Malabar beans will fill the air of a London coffee house where friends have gathered for conversation and businessmen are making deals over cups of fresh, hot coffee. They sip unaware of the labor of the long, dangerous journey that has brought them this simple pleasure.

2000 Churches, Two Days, One Goal to Change the World

This is a post that was featured on Huffington Post on May 11 describing the UMC Change the World Weekend. There were some 2,000 churches and countless volunteers that participated in an amazing two-day weekend May 14-15,  where the goal was just one thing – to make the world a little better for others around us.

There’s a free gas giveaway, a yard sale where everything is free, and a spa day for single moms with no-cost manicures, massages and giveaways. There are free cookies, free bikes, free breakfast, and free car washes. One church will stuff a car with food for the hungry and homeless. Community gardens will be planted, homes will be repaired, money will be raised to build wells and fight malaria.

This weekend, May 14-15, is Change the World weekend, a time when thousands of United Methodists will team up to make the world a better place.

Some of the events are new endeavors. Some are one-time projects. Some are ongoing ministries that have been scheduled to coincide with Change the World. They go by many names — “Spring into Grace,” “Fixin’ it for Christ,” “Feed Our Neighbors,” “Day of Caring” — but all have a common purpose. It’s all about helping our brothers and sisters, whether they are around the corner or around the world.

The First United Methodist Church of Saline, Mich., is changing the world for children in Zimbabwe by collecting used children’s book to start two new libraries at primary schools there. Their goal is to fill a 20-foot shipping container with books — about 500 boxes. Books are coming in from as far away as South Dakota and Ohio. The $8,000 cost for shipping the books will be provided by Morris and Ann Taber, retired mission volunteers who sent similar containers three times previously. The Rev. Laura Speiran said:

“In explaining it to the congregation, I emphasized that it is not just about collecting books (and changing the world for children in Zimbabwe); it is also about inviting people in our own community to become engaged with the church even if they have never been engaged before — that it is about planting seeds, about the love of God being big enough and powerful enough to include them. … We, as United Methodists, are all about changing the world, but through making disciples for Jesus Christ, not just doing good works.”

One event that is an ongoing ministry is a free vision clinic hosted by Oak Forest United Methodist Church in Little Rock, a church of only about 70 members that also has a medical and dental clinic. Inspired by Bartimaeus, the blind beggar who regained his sight when he was healed by Jesus, “Bart’s Clinic” provides free eye exams and eyeglasses for the working poor — people who have no Medicare or Medicaid.

Though it’s been open less than two months and operates just one day a week, the clinic has already managed to change the world for some individuals. Consider the 20-year-old girl who lost her glasses when she was only 10. Unable to replace them, she simply did without glasses. There’s the 5-year-old boy who was able to get glasses before getting behind in school. There have been two cases of glaucoma detected, which untreated would have led to blindness.

The clinic is staffed by medical volunteers and church members who take care of the administrative work of setting appointments and making reminder calls. One of the volunteers is 82 years old.

One’s age, in fact, seems to not be a factor when it comes to changing the world. The congregation at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Beaumont, Texas, where the average age is about 80, is excited about participating in Change the World. They will host a shower for a nearby urban mission. Mandarin United Methodist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., says they will have projects designed for volunteers ages 2 to 99; and at First United Methodist Church in Tempe, Ariz., the youth group will host a nail salon for homeless men and women.

The real power of Change the World is that having all the events on one weekend demonstrates the impact of what we can achieve together. Think what could be accomplished if everyone spent an occasional weekend helping a neighbor or volunteering our time.

Undergirding these activities is not just about providing social services. It’s about reflecting the call of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 25 to serve the needs of the poor, the ill and those who are oppressed as an expression of faithfulness to him. To follow Jesus is to be a servant who seeks to change the world.

 

“Fear is not the only force at work in the world today”


In the aftermath of the tragedy of 9/11, when the United States and the world were grieving, mainline denominations called for prayer, inclusion and reconciliation. In an ad near Ground Zero, The United Methodist Church proclaimed, “Fear is not the only force at work in the world.”

When the South Asian tsunami brought massive death and destruction to the people of the Asian Rim, the mainline voices said that it was not the work of a vengeful God. Instead, they said, God was in the suffering, standing with those experiencing great loss. The churches called on the world to assist, and people around the world did exactly that.

The voice of these denominations helps to shape public perceptions not only of themselves as denominations but also of God and the nature of religious faith. It is an important role in a world of harsh, extreme voices of exclusion and hate.

Yet, communication in most organizations is viewed as a back-office service function. When budgets are tight in nonprofits, especially religious groups, the first cuts are in the communications staff and their budgets.

For as long as they have been making these cuts, mainline Protestant denominations have been in decline, but they have not made the correlation that reducing communications capacity equates with abetting decline and losing their voice in the public conversation.

I frequently make this point when I speak to groups, and I often see heads nodding in agreement. But the reduction in communication capacity continues nevertheless.

Communications functions today are strategic assets, not back-office functions. The world is engaged in multiple conversations, and if the old-line religious organizations are not engaged as well, they become irrelevant. We know this, but somehow we tend to remain mostly on the sidelines.

The new media environment has undermined the old authority structures that allowed for a more definitive word to be spoken by religious denominations. Those messages could be pushed out. But the new environment is a conversation. The audience is not passively waiting to hear the word. The conversation takes it own direction, often framed by those with a self-serving agenda and ideology.

To the degree that they are aggressive and capture attention, they shape the conversation and move it forward. This is why I often make the point that communication is a strategic asset. The ability to frame the conversation in order to shape how society addresses the most important issues it faces requires more thought than merely assembling collateral materials, getting page views on a website or amassing Twitter followers.

It requires having a clear, engaging message with which to encourage interaction and conversation. The mainline voice needs to be heard because historically, in its various expressions, it has been a voice for justice for the powerless and vulnerable. It has been a voice for an inclusive community. And it has stood for humane values in a dehumanizing, isolating culture.

This voice is needed, but it won’t be heard without more careful strategic thought and adequate staff and resources to project it into the global conversation. I continue to make the claim that the voice of the mainline denominations is needed because it is a humanizing, reconciling and clear voice for peace, justice and a more holistic and humane global society.

Communications – our voice in the world – should be the last ministry that mainline denominations consider for reduction.

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