Archives for the month of: February, 2012

The following is a letter written to a parish priest in New York City after the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2012. It responds to a sermon which—for the second week in a row at that church—largely dealt with a conflict between the Catholic bishops and the Obama administration over a mandate to provide contraception coverage in Catholic-affiliated institutions. The gospel reading was from the first chapter of Mark, in which Jesus tells a leper who asked to be made clean, “I do will it. Be made clean.” And then he continues, “But go, show yourself to the priest.”

I feel a bit of a need to explain my feelings from yesterday further—most of all because I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and seem unable to do anything else. It can be hard to express oneself clearly and critically to a priest in the aisle of his church after he just served one the Body of Christ; the power imbalance can feel quite daunting. I hope I can do a little better here in writing, perhaps more as a brother in faith than as a son in church.

I’m still trying to understand the mandate issue in more detail, and to reflect on it. My first impulse of course is to side with the church on a matter of freedom and conscience and moral urgency. This is made a bit harder by the fact that the mandate (which, I gather, is already in place in New York and a number of other states anyway) covers only institutions of the church that serve and employ the general public, and that it may be construed as a matter of Catholic and non-Catholic individuals making individual choices about how to spend their earned income, of which health care is a part. Is one conscience being traded for another (with the church’s conscience trumping that of individuals)? I was disappointed to hear in the sermon that the president’s attempted accommodation has been deemed unacceptable, and I hope that both he and the bishops will continue to negotiate in good faith.

The thing that made the sermon hard for me later on was precisely the way in which it got off to such a beautiful start. Talking about leprosy to the kids. Bold! Amen. And so it continued. While I’m not persuaded that it’s a good idea to lend so much of our religiosity to the glorification of American government or its bloody history, I did deeply appreciate your reminder about the tradition of American religious dissent. These are tremendously important stories, but also complicated ones, for they remind us not only of courageous (and often very messy) resistance but of the all-too-common general complacency. They’re also stories of disempowered people in struggles for justice against a brutally oppressive status quo, not political tug-of-wars between powerful politicians and powerful bishops. Both kinds of struggle might be important, but they’re very different.

So I guess it felt like the former kind of struggle was being co-opted, and that the opportunity to speak to other profound crises was missed. (I was even tempted to feel a bit co-opted myself when Brown was mentioned.) The power of the earlier part of your sermon brought to my mind so many of the things our church doesn’t talk about as loudly as others—the church’s often “guilty silence” that Pius XI warned of in reference to matters of sexual morality seems to apply elsewhere as well, perhaps elsewhere even more. During the sermon, thoughts of modern-day lepers very close to home kept pressing on my mind. I thought maybe I’d share some of the examples that occurred to me, and which are keeping me awake this morning. Each of these presents a difficult dilemma—like leprosy, one with no simple solutions. Yet each clamors on the Christian conscience. Consider this, perhaps, a possible addendum to the many true things you already said.

  • The NYPD’s Stop and Frisk policy. This seems to be one of the main civil rights issues in our city today, one which disproportionately targets our non-white neighbors. While it appears to be a matter of mere crime-prevention—and it may even have some short-term effect in that regard—the deeper impact is of treating people in certain communities and not others as if they’re guilty before being proven innocent. (While we’re talking about the NYPD and religious freedom, we might also think about the NYPD’s special surveillance of mosques in our neighborhood.)
  • Immigrants’ rights. As you noted to me after mass, this is one of the church’s most prophetic stances right now, one that deeply affects the lives of millions of fellow Catholics, including many in our parish, though I don’t recall this ever being the main subject of a Catholic homily since I moved here from California. The parallel with leprosy is strong—these are people clearly carrying a legal stain, often having violated laws, yet their humanity seems to demand a better response than the law allows for. As I said, I’d like to learn more about what the church in New York is doing in this arena and how I can support it.
  • Victims of environmental disasters. Despite our pope’s repeated pronouncements on the moral urgency of protecting the planet and those we share it with, we’ve heard far too little about this from Catholic leaders in the country whose population on average contributes more to the pollution of the earth than any other. Environmental crises—from oil spills to droughts to catastrophic mining projects—tend to affect those least able to prevent or sustain them. Yet our society appears to be unable to take many meaningful steps toward averting them.
  • Those suffering foreclosure. This bears striking resemblance to the condition of a leper in that such situations put a blight on a person’s credit while taking away their home and community. In order to counter this, some churches are developing eviction-defense teams, equipping the community to do principled civil disobedience on behalf of one of their own. The Catholic Church, thank God, has a long history of preaching against the evils of profiting from excessive debt and predatory lending.
  • Prisoners at Guantanamo and Bagram. After 10 years last month, the United States has still not been able to end its programs of offshore detainment that elude the basic principles of our justice system. The people there are being held without charge, on the basis of an undeclared war. The Catholic Worker movement has for years been leading the fledgling effort to draw attention to these lepers—again, I’m not contending that all those being held are without blemish—even making a failed attempt to visit them in Cuba, but with little progress or sustained public support from church leaders. Sadly, it now appears that 70 percent of Americans have become accommodated to this policy, and the latest NDAA further enshrines it in law, together with allowances that such a policy might be applied to US citizens.
  • Transgender people. The only Catholic religious in the country with a full-time ministry devoted to serving transgender people is a semi-retired nun who happens to be one of the most astonishing Christians I’ve ever known. The people she works with are considered to be so leprous that her order—already facing scrutiny from Rome—permits her to do this important work only if she does so without attracting any notice whatsoever. The time I’ve spent with her and the remarkable, heavy-laden people she ministers to has given me one of the most challenging and ultimately enriching experiences of my life.
  • Legal and illegal sex workers. Consider, for instance, the recent push on the part of the multi-billion-dollar pornography industry to prevent condoms from being mandated on the sets of films, condoms that would protect actors from STDs. No side of this debate is pretty, but that seems to be exactly the kind of situation where, in the gospels, Jesus kept finding himself.

There are so many more.

Maybe you assume in all this that I’m really standing up for my man Barack. The problem, though, is precisely that I’m not. Politicians are politicians, and especially in the current climate I see little reason to expect much in the way of moral leadership from them. Nor, obviously, do I expect ordinary politics from the pulpit; on the contrary, I deeply value the fact that you and I seem to have such divergent political starting points yet can worship together in the same church. It is to this Catholic community of faith that I look for the moral guidance which underpins politics—I look to you, and to our whole communion, lay as well as religious, both living and in glory. (Our particular parish is rich with saintly older women, from whom I’ve learned a lot.) I’m not expecting the church to provide answers to all these difficult problems I’ve raised. Jesus didn’t prescribe a cure to leprosy; as you pointed out, he simply noticed it, refused to be afraid of it, and healed the underlying relationships. I similarly tend to think that our calling as a church is less to present policy prescriptions (though they may start to seem obvious in certain instances) than to prophetic noticing, healing, and reconciliation—perhaps a fuller form of exorcism.

All this said, and as I hope I’ve said before, I have always appreciated your preaching talents and your sophistication and your openness. I wouldn’t have written this if I didn’t. I hope our conversations continue.

Reports the AP:

As Occupy Providence pulls up its last tent stake after more than 100 days in a public park downtown, it does so with a distinction among Occupy Wall Street affiliates: It demanded its city government do more to help the needy, and won.

A day center to serve the city’s homeless population during the winter opened Friday in south Providence. Protesters had made such a facility a condition of their departure from Burnside Park.

Many Occupy movements — in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Oakland, Calif., and elsewhere — were forced out of public spaces, often through mass arrests and the use of sometimes excessive force. But Occupy Providence and city officials have talked for months about how to avoid that fate and bring a peaceful end to the park encampment, even as the protest movement carries on.

“We took a gamble,’’ said Robert Malin, an independent film producer who has been part of Occupy Providence from the start. “It was never about camping downtown.’’

So, on the steps of City Hall last week, after an agreement was reached on the day center, protesters declared victory at the same time they announced they would dismantle their tents.

The Occupy movement has shined a light on its signature issue of economic inequality, which was a focus of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech. And protesters have had other successes, shutting down West Coast ports and working to stave off home foreclosures in some cities. But the approach and outcome in Providence stood out.

“It’s a symbol of what this movement’s all about: standing up for economic justice,’’ Sullivan Ross, an Occupy Wall Street protester in Providence last week as part of a tour of Northeast Occupy movements, said of the homeless day center. “This is one of the few concrete political victories that can be pointed to.’’

The center, to be run by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, welcomed its first guests Friday at Emmanuel House, where there is already an emergency winter shelter. The city is not providing money but is helping the diocese secure it, said Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare, who kept in close contact with Occupy during its more than three-month encampment.

Occupy deserves some credit for helping the city focus on the need for such a center, said Michael Guilfoyle, a spokesman for the diocese.

James Garton, who writes for Examiner.com on Atlantic City Catholicism, claims to prove that the Occupy movement is anti-Catholic:

We have all been told that the worldwide Occupy movement is about economic equality and social justice. We have watched the massive protests, the 99% signs and heard the speeches crying out for government intervention in the financial market. Thirty-three percent of America supports the occupy movement, but many more have been suspicious of the movements connection to socialist organizations. Yet, the establishment media, and political leaders whitewash the radical actions and affiliations of the occupy movement and declare it a grassroots response to economic conditions.

The longer the movement last, the more we can see its true face as it reveals itself by its words, actions and those it chooses to affiliates with. While the movement economically aligns itself with socialist ideology, it now takes on another character associated with a communist or socialist agenda and that is an anti-religious, and in particular an anti-Christian hatred. The largest target of the movements anti-Christian hatred being the Catholic church.

ROME, Italy, October, 2011, Members of ‘Occupy Rome’ destroy a statue of the Virgin Mary on the streets while others cheer.

VANCOUVER, Canada, November 2, 2011, A group calling themselves ‘Occupy the Vatican’ attempted to disrupt a morning Mass at a Holy Rosary Catholic Cathedral. The group was halted by members of the Knights of Columbus and police.

SPRINGFIELD, Massachusetts, December 01, 2011, Members of a Massachusetts Occupy movement harassed Pastor Scott Lively who operates an inner-city Christian mission with a group of well-organized protesters.

ROME, Italy, January 14, 2012, 50 Members of ‘Occupy the Vatican’ tried to set up tents and occupy St. Peter’s Square in protest of the Catholic church.

PROVIDENCE, RI, January 30, 2012, For the third time in a week, demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street movement threw condoms on Catholic schoolgirls, refused to allow a Catholic priest to pray, and shouted down a pro-life speaker at a Rhode Island right to life rally.

WASHINGTON, D.C.,  January 30, 2012, Occupy movement disrupts March for Life youth rally.

One reason the Occupy movement must attack Christian institutions in the same way it attacks financial institutions is because the teachings of the church are contrary to the ideology and agenda of the Occupy movement. Pope Pius XI (1922-1939), said it perfectly in his Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, May 15, 1931, n. 117 :

“..Whether considered as a doctrine, or an historical fact, or a movement, Socialism, if it remains truly Socialism, even after it has yielded to truth and justice on the points which we have mentioned, cannot be reconciled with the teachings of the Catholic Church because its concept of society itself is utterly foreign to Christian truth.”

6 p.m. at 60 Wall St. Atrium

Report Backs

Nathan reports on the People’s Prayer Breakfast put on by Occupy DC

Debate on the rosary slips, leafleting, and especially sidewalk chalking

Susan on the Good Friday “prayer walk”:

  • Station 13: Joseph of Arimathea
  • Reflection: story and lesson
  • Location: 42nd St. between 7th & 8th
  • Prayers of the faithful
  • John Mullin suggests using a variation of the Occupy “Auctioneer” song
  • Theme: “There is room for all at the table”

Lots of excitement about making armbands and T-shirts and stuff

Do an event at St. Francis Xavier? A general assembly?

Discussion

How do we talk about ourselves as Occupy Catholics?

  • Horizontalism and Vatican II?
  • We should have an open, public GA, perhaps at Xavier, in order to discuss overlap between Occupy and church

New Action Ideas

Truth Commission planning is underway in Occupy Faith

Home foreclosure actions—how to get Catholic parishes involved?

An event at Maryhouse: a general assembly? Loren wants to arrange that.

Something at St. Paul the Apostle: perhaps the student mass?

Occupy Lent? Social media outreach and prayers for the movement, incorporating Lenten themes. (Nathan and Betsy, and perhaps Richard)

Holy Week Occupy Faith participation. Steve will speak with Michael Ellick at Occupy Faith. Feb 15 is the next Occupy Faith meeting

Immigration/May Day—Betsy is interested. Mentions Archbishop Romero’s death anniversary in March

Make sure to do PR and press releases for all public events to get media

Next meeting is Sunday January 19th at 5 p.m.

Occupy, Catholics meeting
Jan 29th, 2012
7:00 pm
60 Wall St., New York, NY 10005

1. Present:

Nathan Schneider, journalist, St. Joseph’s Brooklyn parishioner;

Sr. Susan Wilcox, Sister of St. Joseph, St. Joseph’s College Brooklyn, Occupy Faith;

Steve Sapporito, former Catholic, seeking

John Mullen, Catholic Worker

Martha Hennessey, Catholic Worker

Kate Riley, Catholic Worker

Betsy, St. Aug, Transfiguration

Loren Hart, Catholic Worker, former resident of Liberty Plaza

Fr. Paul Mayer, non-canonical priest in E. Orange, NJ, Occupy Faith

Katie Anderson, community organizer, St. Francis NYC

Carmen, Catholic Worker

Patrick, part of Vision and Goals, Structure, and other OWS working groups.

Mary, part of Kitchen, Vision and Goals, and other OWS working groups.

2. Temperature check: Those present have various levels of familiarity and experience with the Occupy movement.

3. What brought us to the meeting tonight?

NS: seeking a way to connect Catholics to the Occupy Movement, for the benefit of both groups

JM: hoping to learn what we can hope for for Occupy in the coming days, and how supporters can take concrete action to support/join up, short of joinging a camp.

SW: has been involved in Pacha Mama programs that help people become aware of the lack of sustainability in society; sees similar “Great Turning” toward awareness happening in Occupy; wants to provide pastoral response to the pain or confusion people feel as old systems – though unjust – break down.

KR: sees natural progression from Catholic Worker (CW) to Occupy, wants to maximise that connection.

SS: wants to make a connection between the morality of Occupy, which mirrors that of the CW movement, to the mainstream Roman Catholic (RC) church in order to enrich it and bring it back to its roots.

PM: drawn to Occupy because of prior activist involvement; supports efforts to make Occupy more diverse, sensitive to religious tradition; concerned that RC community doesn’t “get” Occupy.

SS: wants to address lukewarm response, which comes from lack of vehicle for laity to be involved/have authority in the development of an official position on Occupy; wants to be creative in connecting traditional Catholic practices to support for Occupy.

JM: echoes that hierarchy reluctant to get involved as they are cosy with well-heeled RC businessmen and other donors; principles that support Occupy are present in Catholic Social Teaching (CST) and in papal and episcopal documents, but not enacted.

NS: has felt commonality in involvement with Occupy, going to church; wants to empower ordinary RC lay people to feel and reclaim that commonality.

MH: intrigued by NS’s talk at Maryhouse; was part of interfaith contingency at Tahrir Square.

KA: hoping to build on energy of Occupy to spread awareness of CST

Carmen: believes that, while there is never any moment better than now nor place better than here, the energy of Occupy makes this movement especially good; hopes that the momentum will lead the Church to become more outspoken on the mortgage crisis and economic justice, echoing previous shifts in the Church’s position on nuclear war, for example.

LH: wanted to see what others were thinking, and to brainstorm together about what this group could offer to complement the Occupy movement, amplify its message, build pride in Catholic tradition and involve other Catholics, and promote real change through practical steps.

PM: believes that activists are the “real monks” (to quote Thomas Merton) who are taking commitment to CST to its full expression; that said, CST is for everyone, even busy, ordinary laity.

Patrick: baptised Catholic who has returned the Church; concerned for future of the faith and wants to reclaim Church from those who have abused it.

MH: encourages group to focus on setting a good example, rather than criticizing

SS: believes it’s possible to do both, and that commitment to community is a way of “doing penance,” admitting what’s wrong without being stymied by it.

Mary: believes that what happened was done to the church; members of the church have caved in to sin rather than fight; we are called to fight enslavement and we can’t let sin happen to us. Furthermore, she is attending this meeting because, at the outset of the Occupy movement, she felt abandoned when she saw that other religious leaders, including a rabbi, were present to the movement, but Catholic clergy were not involved.

4. Ideas for actions:

Carmen: Promote “freedom schools,” modeled on civil rights movement, that promote teaching of CST and Vatican 2 principles; knows potential presenters. Simplest action would be leafletting after masses.

PM: Promote interfaith Holy Week/Passover event, featuring Rabbi Art Wasnell (Spelling?) and Donna Schaper from Judson Memorial Church.

SS: Affirms need for action on Palm Sunday; Pray rosary, leave slip in church that reads, “One rosary was said in hopes that Church will do something about poverty, not just say something,” or words to that effect.

SW: Sponsor a station at Pax Christi’s Good Friday Stations of the Cross

– Station 13 is available (Jesus’ body is taken down from the cross.)

– Station will be on 42nd Street near Times Square

-MH: Will there be arrestable direct action?
-SW: A planned action often follows station.

-Carmen: Pax Christi doesn’t endorse direct action, will ask to approve any signs we bring; they are well established with good numbers.

-NS: Hopes we can participate in a direct action at some point, recognizing that direct action is what go the movement started.

-Carmen: As an alternative to having direct action at our station, we could encourage participation at the civil disobedience direct action at USS Intrepid (docked nearby). Does not want to argue with Pax Christi over that; feels it is important to develop good faith relationship.

Betsy: Wonders how Occupy, Catholics can or should reach out to Catholics outside the church – her mom has gotten to know a group who have excommunicated from the RC church because of their stance on ordination of women and gay marriage, but who do a lot of great service to their community.

KA: instinct is to include all people “of good will” in the group’s work, while making it clear to Catholic laity that the principles of CST and economic justice are in no way outside of the Church’s doctrine; leaflets could include citations from Church documents.

SS: affirms need to make laity more aware of CST, make a full understanding CST and all the issues it applies to more prominent.

LH: reports on action in Georgia to occupy foreclosed church; Occupy movement in NY sending someone down to learn how it was done and to create packet to share with other groups.

Carmen: wonders if there will be time to organize an event to recognize the anniversary of MLK Jr.’s assassination on April 4th.

LH: Garner media attention by going public with our support for Occupy movement, since church leaders have not and most likely will not endorse the movement.

JM: remembers reading a statement from Archbishop Dolan expressing openness to Occupy; can we find that statement?

NS: Connect to Occupy calendar, coordinate with working groups

SS: Become Affinity Group, but not working group

5. Next steps:

Outreach:

-PM: Good to have priests

-LH: Will having priests limit what we can say?

-Group: No.

-Betsy: knows a nun who runs a can collection

Create leaflets, including leaflets with CST documents (KA)

Possibly leaflet at St. Patrick’s

Explore Occupy the Rosary idea (SS)

Coordinate with Pax Christi (SW)

We need volunteers to work with the website, facebook and twitter pages.

Consider drafting Declaration, Principles of Solidarity

6. Next meeting:

NS: Conversation about space: Should we move somewhere bigger? Somewhere more convenient?

SW: Can potentially offer space at Brooklyn College

PM: Near public transportation? SW: Yes

PM: Many Manhattanites don’t like going to Brooklyn…

Besty: Sometimes, the feeling’s mutual! 🙂

SW: Suggests we stay at 60 Wall St. for the time being, then revisit the idea of moving.

Time: Tuesday, February 7th, 6:00 pm

7. Announcements:

SS: working group on health care wants to discuss reopening St. Vincents, a recently closed Catholic hospital; meeting will be 1/31 at 6 pm, at the LGBT Ctr, 208 W 13th St.

SW: “Seeing the World Anew: A Framework for a New Economy,” with Maria Riley, OP and Julia Wartenberg of the Center of Concern, Weds. Feb 8, 7:00 pm, Church of St. Francis Xavier, 16th Street (Flyer posted to Occupy, Catholics facebook page).

PM: Panel at Columbia University Faculty House (off Broadway) on 2/6/12 at 7:15 pm. More info is on facebook page.

Patrick: OWS will be crowdsourcing a vision statement. Contributors are welcome.

Monday, February 6, 7:15 – 9:00 p.m.
Columbia University Faculty House

Rev. John Collins, Rev. Paul Mayer (of Occupy Catholics!), Rev. Michael Ellick, Dr. Ray Blanchette

In recent years, the progressive elements in faith communities across the United States have been eclipsed by the rise and political influence of the Religious Right.  Yet people of faith have been active and often influential leaders in some of the great movements for social justice and peace throughout U.S. history—from the Abolitionist movement through the movements for labor, civil liberties, civil rights, peace, full employment, women’s rights, and LGBT movements.  Today, a new manifestation of that progressive vision is occurring through the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Religious activists with roots in previous social justice struggles as well as in the Occupy Faith movement will discuss their histories in the movements for social justice and peace, the lessons they have learned about organizing, the reasons for the seeming eclipse of prophetic religion over the last thirty years and what is now happening as the Occupy Faith movement participates in and seeks to support the larger Occupy movement.

The seminar is at 7:15 p.m. in a room that will be announced in the Faculty House lobby. Please look for a bulletin board posting. To reach Faculty House, enter the Columbia University campus via the gate on the east side of Broadway at 116th Street; go through campus and cross Amsterdam Avenue. Continue on West 116th past the Law School and turn left through the gate, turn right beyond Wien Hall on the right and go down the ramp to Faculty House.

OPTIONAL DINNER: Members of the seminar will gather for an optional dinner in Faculty House at 6:00. The cost of the dinner is $24 per person and payable only by cash or check made payable to Columbia University. (RSVP required – please see bottom of email.)

PLEASE RSVP to Sheila Collins ( Sheila.collins65@verizon.net) by Wednesday, February 1, 2012 with a phone number where we may reach you on the day of the seminar in case of a last minute cancellation.

—————————————————————————–

University Seminar on Full Employment #613

____ I will ____ I will not attend the seminar on February 6.
____ I will ____ I will not join the group for dinner.
——————————————————————————-

The seminar on Full Employment, Social Welfare & Equity is chaired by Sheila Collins,sheila.collins65@verizon.net; Gertrude Goldberg,  trudygoldberg@msn.com; and Helen Ginsburg, helenginsburg@yahoo.com.

Biographies of Speakers

John Collins is a retired United Methodist Minister who has served parishes in East Harlem and the South Bronx as well as working with interreligious peace and justice organizations.  In the 1960s, while a student at Union Theological Seminary he helped to found the Student Interracial Ministry which sent hundreds of white seminarians from the North to work in black churches in the South and black seminarians to work in white churches.  During the late 1970s he worked with the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility on a campaign to try to get the Carter administration to provide government guaranteed loans to enable the steel mills that were closing in Youngstown, Ohio to be reinstituted under worker-community ownership.  He also worked on the campaign to pass the Community Reinvestment Act which prohibits the “redlining” of low income neighborhoods by banks.  During the 1980s he co-Directed Clergy & Laity Concerned a national interreligious peace and justice network that organized many national and international campaigns for peace and human rights. CALC was a leader in the formation of the Nuclear Freeze Campaign and also founded Witness for Peace, which sent hundreds of Americans to the war zones of Nicaragua during the Contra war, to be in solidarity with those affected and to oppose U.S. policy.  Collins led several of these delegations.  In 1984 he helped organize Religious Leaders for Jackson during the presidential primary campaign and, with Pau Mayer, wrote speeches for Rev. Jackson on peace. While serving a church in the South Bronx Collins worked with South Bronx churches to build hundreds of units of affordable housing for community residents.  Collins has been arrested in several peace and civil rights actions over the years and currently teaches in the Fishkill Correctional Facility

Paul Mayer A  Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany and a Benedictine monk for 18 years, Mayer’s more than half century of social activism has included work in the barrios of Central America applying the tenets of liberation theology, involvement with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil rights movement in the South, participation in the effort to end the war in Vietnam as well as co-founding peace and environmental organizations.  He served as coordinator of the Catonsville Nine Defense Committee in support of religious non-violent actions during the Vietnam War by the Berrigan brothers and others. In 1978 he founded the Religious Task Force, a national network to convene the various faith communities to work together on issues of peace and social justice.  He was also founder of the Children of War, a leadership organization that helped transform the lives of teenage survivors of international and domestic wars, founder of the New Jersey Sea Alliance calling for the joint abolition of nuclear weapons and power after the Harrisburg nuclear accident, founder of a spiritual peace community in inner-city East Orange, NJ, where he still resides and more recently co-founder of the Climate Crisis Coalition to convey a sense of urgency around the climate crisis and to broaden the constituency for the issue beyond the tradition environmental organizations.  His peace and justice ministry has taken him to Japan to work with atom bomb survivors, to Cuba with Pastors for Peace to challenge the US blockade, to the Middle East for reconciliation work in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, to the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and to Johannesburg, South Africa in 2002 as well as to the San Francisco 1984 Democratic Convention where he addressed the convention on nuclear disarmament. Paul has been involved recently with United for Peace and Justice and the New York City Forum of Concerned Religious Leaders in work for peace and justice in Iraq and the Gulf region.  He was recently arrested in one of the Occupy Wall Street actions, one of many arrests throughout his career.  He is a Yoga practitioner and teacher and has an active wedding ministry as a non-canonical, formerly married priest.

Michael Ellick is the Minister of Judson Memorial Church, and one of the founders of Occupy Faith in New York City.  In his ministry, he has worked as an organizer and a social justice advocate for Immigrant Rights, Marriage Equality, Single Payer Health Care, Economic & Environmental Justice, and Islamophobia.  Rev. Ellick is particularly interested in understanding the Christian Passion Story in an America threatened by falling Empire and failing Plutocracy.  Raised in a Conservative Baptist church in Washington State, Rev. Ellick studied Comparative Religion and Philosophy at the University of Washington before earning his M.Div. at Union Theological Seminary in 2000.  Still hungry for new ways of understanding the Gospel, as well as real world practices for embodying its prophetic compassion, he studied closely under a Tibetan Buddhist teacher for the next five years. Over the course of his life, he has also worked as a courier, a fast-food cook, a fact-checker, a fresh juice delivery person, a copy-editor, an event planner, a barista, a financial analyst, an internet help desk, and even as an assistant at a Marine Biology lab.  At Judson, Rev. Ellick has embraced Judson’s legacy as a Research & Development Laboratory for American Christianity.  Committed to establishing a new Christian vocabulary for a post-Christian world, Rev. Ellick’s exploration of new theological forms has grown out of his commitment to the social gospel in action, and the practice of God’s presence in silent prayer, reflection, and meditation.

Dr. Ray Blanchette is Director of the Black Institute Clergy Campaign for Social and Economic Justice.  He has been active in mobilizing the black religious community around issues of social justice and in working with unions to protect the rights of workers that are under assault.

H/t the Memorial United Methodist Church.

Sunday, January 29, 2012, 7:00 p.m.
60 Wall Street
New York, NY

RSVP and suggest agenda items on the Facebook page.