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Official Statement from the Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice

September 22, 2016 | We are clergy serving in Charlotte, a city we love and cherish. It is the place we call home and it is a city that is broken. Let us be clear: the events of Tuesday night did not begin on Tuesday. These events are a part of a long system of racism. This systemic racism denies the humanity of some of our residents and tears at the fabric of our nation. We are no strangers in Charlotte to this violence. We have borne witness to the deaths of Lareko Williams, Janisha Fonville, Jonathan Ferrell, and many more unnamed here. We are leaders representing many faiths, seeking both peace and justice. We know in the words of Ella Baker, “we who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.” Read more »

BPFNA Statement on Centering Black Lives in Pursuit of Racial Justice

September 21, 2016 | It is with a profound sense of humility and obligation to “witness to the {lack of} peace rooted in justice” in the light of ongoing attacks on black bodies in the US, that the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America ~ Bautistas por la Paz (BPFNA) stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and all those struggling to resist the systemic forces bearing down on black bodies at this time. Read more »

Taking the Next Right Step

Taking the Next Right Step

September 20, 2016 | When the streets of Ferguson were filled with righteous and raw anger over the death of Mike Brown, I lay awake at night on Twitter, following the rise of a new generation of social justice warriors. I watched as clergy colleagues traveled there with delegations from their denominations or spiritual communities. I felt drawn toward what was happening, but... I felt clearly called by God to do the work of racial justice in my own community, a predominantly-white, affluent, too-separated from our nearby city of Hartford suburb in Connecticut--to take whatever looked like the next right step and just keep walking. Read more »

LeDayne McLeese Polaski receives the Richard Furman Baptist Heritage Award

LeDayne McLeese Polaski receives the Richard Furman Baptist Heritage Award

September 9, 2016 | LeDayne McLeese Polaski, executive director of BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz (BPFNA), was the 2016 recipient of Furman University’s Richard Furman Baptist Heritage Award, which “recognizes a Furman graduate who reflects Baptist ideals by thinking critically, living compassionately, and making life-changing commitments…to strengthen, expand, and translate the relationship between faith and learning.”  Read more »

Peace Cannot Be Stolen: A Community “Borders I Cross” Story

Peace Cannot Be Stolen: A Community “Borders I Cross” Story

August 30, 2016 | Earlier this summer Common Street Spiritual Center in Natick, MA (a BPFNA partner congregation) partnered with Maggie Sky, a friend of our community, to support her with what we now call the Rainbow Peace Flag Project. When Maggie first reached out to me, she had already taken the leap to purchase 100 rainbow peace flags to give out around town. She had put one up on her house after the Pulse shooting but felt alienated being the only one on her block flying the flag. In a couple of short months, what began as an inspiration for Maggie Sky to put up one rainbow peace flag after the Orlando Shooting led to a longing for solidarity and is now becoming a movement that is having a major impact on our community. We’re giving people a tangible way to express love, solidarity, and the yearning for peace that so many of us share. Read more »

My Summer Vacation: A Lesson in Discrimination and Hope

August 26, 2016 | Can a 9th grade student be a security threat to his own country? The answer is “yes” if you are an Arab citizen in Israel. I would like to share with you what happened to me during my summer vacation. (This article was originally published on "Come and See: The Christian Website from Nazareth" and sent to us by Dan Buttry. Reprinted with permission from the author and publication.) Read more »

One Christian's Thoughts on Social Injustice in the US Criminal Justice System

One Christian's Thoughts on Social Injustice in the US Criminal Justice System

August 4, 2016 | The following is the transcript from Dr. Saundra Westervelt's presentation at the BPFNA Peace Breakfast at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship's 2016 General Assembly. Dr. Westervelt is a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina Greensboro and author (along with Kimberly J. Cook) of Life after Death Row: Exonerees' Search for Community and Identity which examines the post-release obstacles faced by eighteen death row exonerees. Read more »

God Forgive the USA

July 26, 2016 | Each summer, mixed in with the cook-outs, beach-going and family vacationing, patriotism - with its flags, fireworks, parades, and national hymns – moves to the fore of our national conscience. Though I love my country, I have become more and more disturbed by our lack of critical self reflection concerning how our nation interacts with other sovereign states around the world, and how it addresses the historical and current struggles of so many of my fellow citizens. Twice this summer I have felt trapped by unquestioning patriotism. The first was of my own making, the second, blindsided me. Read more »

The Refugee and Me

July 18, 2016 | For most of my life, I have been involved with people from other nations. Maybe it’s because my mother came to the U.S. from Mytilene (Lesbos), Greece, when she was three years old, and my father was the first of his family to be born in the U.S., instead of the Ukraine. I heard a lot of languages as a child, too, growing up in a neighborhood with people from Czechoslovakia (today’s Czech Republic), Germany, France, Mexico, and Italy, among others. Or maybe it was because my parents gave me the name Barbara, which is defined as “strange or foreign.” I’ve managed to travel to 60 countries, and to learn (at various levels of competence) eight languages, with assorted words and phrases in a half dozen others. Now that my opportunities for travel are dwindling as I age, I have wanted to stay involved. A couple of years ago, our local Amnesty International (AI) group opened up a new means of crossing borders for me. Read more »

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