Advent for our Social Justice interns began with a powerful two-day training on Undoing Institutional Racism. Justice Leadership Program interns and staff gathered with about fifty folks of all races from Urban Impact, Teen Feed, Lifelong AIDS Alliance, the Seattle police force, community colleges, and more. We explored the many ways racism harms all of us, and shared stories and strategies for change. And we came away with hope and the resolve to work toward liberating the gifts and potential of every individual and community. It was surely a fitting way to prepare to celebrate the birth of One who embraced the vocation, "to preach good news to the poor...to set at liberty the oppressed."
Our Interns, like all of our host churches have been keeping very busy during this season of Advent, so we can only keep up with them through their blogs! Here are a few excerpts we want to share with you.
Margie (Washington Low Income Housing Alliance): 5,000,000. That’s how many low-income families, people with disabilities, and senior citizens are able to live in safe, healthy, and affordable homes thanks to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs. 50%. That’s how much funding has been cut from HUD and USDA programs since 2010. 600,000. That’s the number of people experiencing homelessness on any given night across the U.S. By the end of 2014, Washington could see as many as 2,860 fewer housing vouchers due to sequestration. Less housing vouchers means fewer families housed. We cannot let this happen. Call Congress today, and urge them to cancel sequestration in order to protect housing and homelessness programs. Your voice matters.
Briana (Church Council of Greater Seattle): In the week before ballots were due, I spent an afternoon with a couple other Church Council folks canvassing in SeaTac. In my given “turf,” I went door to door, seeing if I could answer questions about Proposition 1 [the $15 living wage proposition] and share why I, as a member of the faith community, was standing in solidarity with the workers who had organized to place this measure on the ballot... This experience was a fascinating look into the behind the scenes grass-root efforts to speak with every voter and ensure that the often marginalized members of our communities are able to vote. It made me reflect on how at its core, the communal ritual of voting is supposed to give us all an equal opportunity to make our voices heard.
Karin (Earth Ministry): Last week our faith partners [attending]... the UN COP19 Climate Conference shared a message with the larger faith community: "...on day one, Commissioner Yeb Saño of the Philippines made a heart-felt and impassioned plea on behalf of his people - our Filipino brothers and sisters - devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. As part of his statement he announced that he was beginning a voluntary fast until such time as the global community made significant progress in responding to the global climate crisis. We have begun a fasting chain and are inviting you to join us..." It is one of the great tragedies of climate change that the people who will suffer most from it are those who had the least to do with causing it.... As we enter the time of year when we give thanks for all of the richness in our lives, we have come face-to-face with the cost of our abundance. Let us fast before we give thanks.