Position Open

Calling on any idealistic, socially aware, conscientious individuals:

Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence

I’ve just learned that there are a couple of opportunities for folks to get involved with the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence and the Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun ViolenceThe first position available is for a Communications Intern to help upgrade their social networking operations and media outreach.  This is an unpaid position and would be great for a college or graduate student looking for real world experience in communications.

Additionally, as the summer season approaches, we are working on developing an Action Team to work on policy and advocacy issues. This includes attending community events and peace marches on behalf of ICHV and distributing information.

If you or anyone you know would be interested, please contact Mark Walsh at the Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (312.341.0939).


Urban Ministry in the Latino/a Context

Registration is open for ALTE’s summer class: Urban Ministry in the Latino/a Context.  Check out the flyer below or learn more about the Advanced Latin@ Theological Education program at the SCUPE website: www.scupe.org

Urban Ministry in the Latino/a Context


HB 148 Dies (for now)

Photograph by Thomas Chadwick for the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence.

I just received this wonderful news from Mark Walsh over at ICPGV:

Hello Everyone:

Just wanted to let you know that the Illinois House adjourned today without calling HB 148 (concealed Carry).  As you may recall the bill failed to receive the necessary votes on May 5th and the sponsor put the bill on postponed consideration with the deadline extended to today. Since the bill wasn’t called and the deadline has not been further extended-the bill dies!!!!!

Again great work.  I hope everyone reached out to those no votes from the 5th to thank them for their efforts. I reattached the list of those folks voting no-if you haven’t please take a minute to call them and thank them for standing with us!!

The fight is not over and our work isn’t done-we’ll be working on our grassroots efforts in the coming weeks as session winds down and lawmakers are back in their districts. We’ll be sending updates on those efforts shortly.  Thanks again for all the work you do on this important issue. Have a wonderful weekend!!!!

Mark J. Walsh
Campaign Director
Illinois Campaign to
Prevent Gun Violence


Preaching in the Latin@ Context

Our ALTE program, Advanced Latin@ Theological Education, has been hosting exceptional workshops for almost two years now.  The upcoming workshop will focus on preaching in the Hispanic context.  I’ll keep posting information on these wonderful, bilingual resources.  You consider attending one.

Advanced Latin@ Theological EducationPresenta

“Homilética en la Iglesia Latino/a”
Homelitics in the Latino/a Community

Reverend Magdalena GarciaPor:
Rev. Magdalena García
Pastora de Ravenswood Presbyterian Church

Sábado (Saturday), 28 de Mayo (May) del 2011
9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Garrett-Evangelical Seminary
2100 Ridge Avenue
Room 205
Evanston, IL 60201

Este taller es para pastores y lideres laicos
(This workshop is open to pastors and congregation members)

Homiletics is the art of sharing the Word of God, in a relevant and entertaining way, through a homily or sermon. It is an essential part of pastoral ministry and for the Latin American Hispanic Church. This workshop will focus on techniques and tool to help lay people and pastors improve their performance in this vital field for the local church.

La homilética es el arte de compartir la Palabra de Dios, de forma relevante y amena, por medio de una homilía o un sermón. Es una parte esencial del ministerio pastoral y de la iglesia hispana/latina. Este taller enfocará técnicas y herramientas para ayudar a laicos/as y pastores/as amejorar su desempeño en esta campo tan vital para la iglesia local.

For more information and to RSVP
Contact the ALTE office at
(773) 252-3929 or respond via email at
felisa{at}scupe.com or iris{at}scupe.com

Donation: $10.00
Lunch will be provided


The Wild Goose Festival

Wild Goose Festival 2011What do wildness, geese, and the Holy Spirit have in common?

How about social justice, spirituality, art, music, and camping?

In a little over a month, the US version of the longstanding Greenbelt Festival will plant its tent pegs, portable generators, and biodegradable  soap dispensers firmly into the North Carolina soil.

If done right, this could be more than Greenbelt 2.0.  This could be a chance to rip theological authority from power grip of empire assumptions, colonial presumptions, and the religious elite – to open up faith & spirituality to dialogue, discourse, and subaltern perspectives in an uniquely American context.

Ok, maybe that’s hoping for a little bit much.  Who knows, it could go any which way if the Wild Goose* shows up!

Check out the Wild Goose website and the Wild Goose blog.  See you there?

*The Wild Goose is a Celtic metaphor for the Holy Spirit.  The Wild Goose Festival is followers of Jesus creating a festival of justice, spirituality, music and the arts.  The festival is rooted in the Christian tradition and therefore open to all regardless of belief, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, denomination or religious affiliation.


More Vulnerable, Not Safer

Phil Blackwell of Chicago Temple at Gov. Quinn's anti-violence

I wrote last week about Governor Pat Quinn’s press conference with the Illinois Anti-Violence Commission.  As it turns out this may have been the critical moment in the stand against H.B. 148 due to the Commission’s unanimous decision to oppose the legislation combined with the Governor’s public declaration that he would veto the vote should it come to his desk.  As of last Thursday, the bill had been officially put on “postpone consideration” (a parliamentary procedure similar to legislative life-support).  This means that H.B. 148 is down but not out.  Continued vigilance against this bill and other ill-conceived gun legislation will be an essential component of making our cities safer.

Not So Concealed CarryMany Commission members offered testimony at the press conference last Tuesday.  One of the most inspiring and pointed was the short but well-edged words shared by Rev. Phil Blackwell of First United Methodist (Chicago Temple).  Rev. Blackwell is a long-time SCUPE collaborator, member of the National Planning Committee for the 2011 Congress on Urban Ministry, and pastor to at least one of us SCUPE staffers.  The witness of Rev. Blackwell and others may not have gotten a ton of play in the local and state news but their perspectives certainly deserve our ears (there are scant audio snippets here).  With Rev. Blackwell’s permission I am pleased to post the entirety of his comments in front of the big cameras:

House Bill 148, the “Family and Personal Protection Act,” is illegitimately named.  Permitting every citizen of the state of Illinois 21 or older to carry a concealed, loaded gun, with a few modest exceptions, would make us more vulnerable, not safer.

It does not take researchers at Harvard University to tell us, but, in fact, they have, that in homes, cities, and states where there are more guns, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide.  It simply is common sense, though the truth is that most gun deaths are not homicides but about 65% are suicides.  And for children in homes with guns, the rate of death by gunshot, especially suicide or by accident, is enormous when compared to children in gun-free households.  On the streets of this city the danger is obvious, with 21 shootings just last Friday and Saturday.

We who lead religious communities see the impact of this violence since we are in the neighborhoods seven days a week – on the streets, in the shops, involved in peoples’ lives, often people in desperate situations.  So, now we are alarmed that there are people in the Illinois legislature who want to increase the presence of guns in our society by allowing people to carry them hidden and loaded wherever they go.  They say it will make us safer; the facts say otherwise.  The National Academy of Science says that there is no evidence that right-to-carry laws have an impact positively or negatively on the rate of violent crime.  A 2009 study (Branas, et. al.) concludes that actually carrying a loaded gun makes us much more vulnerable to violence.  “Individuals in possession of a gun at the time of an assault are 4.46 times more likely to be shot in the assault than persons not in possession.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, as House Bill 148 states, that the Constitution guarantees “the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.”  Personally, I think that is a fanciful reading of the Constitution, each citizen being his or her own militia.  But even if it were the individual’s right, it would be the wrong thing to do.  It increases the chance of being shot; it does not reduce it.

America has a fixation on guns unmatched anywhere else in the world.  We have this fantasy of the rugged gun-toting individual making things safer for all.  It is an enchanting image, but it is a lie.  The truth is that more people kill family members with guns and themselves with guns than protect themselves against an armed adversary.

I suspect at the heart of House Bill 148 is money.  There is big money in the manufacture, sale, and re-sale of guns.  There is big political money in the campaign contributions from the gun lobby, most lucratively from the NRA.  There is big money in fear; fear always sells.  But I call on members of the House of Representatives not to be afraid of big money, even if it is gun-slinging money.  Carrying guns on the streets, on our highways, into our schools, into the corner bar, into the diner, to our kids’ ball games, to the theater, to work, to the day care center, to the gym, and to the church.  The only exception in the current draft of the bill is the library; you could not carry a gun into a library, not even with a silencer.  Carrying concealed weapons will make this a more dangerous place to live, not a safer one.  It will not protect either us or our families, both the facts and common sense say so.

Philip L. Blackwell
Senior Minister
First United Methodist Church
at the Chicago Temple

5/3/2011


Why Not Leave Afghanistan Now?

How? When?Afghanistan War

These two tiny words have dominated our national discourse regarding what is now the  longest American war.  With the advent of Osama Bin Laden’s death, this should no longer be the case.  When it comes to leaving Afghanistan, there should no longer be any questions except ‘why not now’?

­

For the great majority of the nation, ‘why’ hasn’t recently been an issue.  Even before the death of Bin Laden, polls have been showing that majorities in America (Washington Post/ABC News poll – 2010), Canada (Global News poll – 2010), and the United Kingdom (ComRes poll – 2009) believe that their country should bring its troops home.  Polls in three other countries with significant numbers of troops (Germany, Italy, and France) reflect even more strongly the opinion that it is time to bring the troops home.  Strangely, and a bit shamefully for this Aussie citizen, that number is right at 50% in Australia (Essential Research poll – 2009).  I suppose I could run down the other countries from GWB’s Great Coalition (aka the International Security Assistance Force) but it’s probably a moot point.  Unless, of course, you are concerned with Estonia’s 160 troop contribution.

Oh yeah, and what happened to the U.S. leave Afghanistan date of July 2011?

Obama Afghan Withdrawal July 2011

I won’t take up your or my time trying to reword the already fine arguments put forth for a recall of American troops from Afghanistan.  I will point you towards this petition organized by Rethink Afghanistan and the fine thoughts of a former Congress on Urban Ministry co-chair, longtime friend of SCUPE, and editor of Sojourners: Jim Wallis.

Rethink Afghanistan Petition