A meeting with Governor Steve Beshear
Representatives concerned about immigration justice met with Governor Steve Beshear and top aide Katie Allison in January. The meeting focused on a proposed policy allowing immigrants to gain access to the roads through an alternative to a driver's license called a driver's certificate. This would serve individuals who are not eligible for driving licenses due to their immigration status. In the very positive exchange, group members made points about equity, public safety and building a welcoming Kentucky. Facilitated by the ACLU of Kentucky, there were also members of La Casita Center, Kentucky Dream Coalition, Kentucky Council of Churches, Catholic Conference of Kentucky and Louisville Showing Up for Racial Justice.
Participant Karina Barillas, who works with immigrant Latina women and their families at La Casita Center highlighted the value of the meeting, "It is necessary that our political leaders know about the realities that people in the community face everyday. Most of the time the most underserved and unprivileged are invisible or forgotten.... we cannot be their voices, but we can share their story and their struggle."
- We are indebted to Ms. Carla Wallace for this story. KCC Executive Director Marian Taylor is pictured on the back row.
The history of the 1964 March is well summarized by Mr. Tom Fugate of Frankfort's Capital City Museum in this brief but evocative video by Stephen Taylor. Filmed during the exhibit's opening night on March 4th, it shows some of the museum's enlarged photos, and NAACP leader Raoul Cunningham pointing out people he has known in those photos. This video, available here on YouTube, would serve well in classes and news briefs.
The present day goals of the March focus primarily on changing the fact that Kentucky is among the few states that still make it very difficult for former felons to regain the vote. The Kentucky Council of Churches joins with many other groups to say that when a person has finished serving a sentence, it is time to help that person re-enter society. Restoration to right relationship with one's community is a gospel priority. It is easy to contact legislators about voting rights here.
The Council's executive director Marian Taylor was asked to provide the closing benediction for the March 5 2014 rally. The text of that benediction is here.
In response to controversies about methods of evangelism that involve giving away items of value including guns, it is worth noting that Evangelicals, Catholics and mainline Protestants have formed a consensus against such practices. That consensus is summarized in the document linked here titled "Christian Witness in a Multi-Cultural World: Recommendations for Conduct."
Evangelism is about accounting for the hope that one has, a hope in God's justice and love (1 Peter 3:15). Events that emphasize hope in one's own self-defense and self-provision fail to communicate well the core gospel message of learning to trust in God, a starting point in evangelism. Conversion requires time for "adequate reflection and preparation." In contrast, give-away events provide distractions from that serious process.
The report says "Christians should denounce and refrain from offering all forms of allurements, including financial incentives and rewards, in their acts of service." What greater act of service is there than to lead someone to faith? And yet some evangelism events offer allurements including guns and steak dinners.
Sometimes the gospel enriches culture and sometimes it must challenge culture. The gospel certainly enriches the culture of care for one's family and exposure to nature, but the gospel also challenges the culture of materialism evinced by some evangelism events.
Rev. Dr. Wesley Ariarajah is a Visiting Professor for Interfaith Studies in the Spring Semester of 2014 at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. To the extent that time and other commitments allow, he would welcome opportunities to visit with congregations and groups. Wesley is a major Christian leader in interfaith relations, a prolific author/scholar in this field, a professor for over a decade at Drew Divinity School, a pastor in the Methodist Church of Sri Lanka, and a former Deputy General Secretary of the World Council of Churches. Prior to his tenure at Drew, Wesley was the Director for Inter-religious Relations for the World Council of Churches.
Wesley will be teaching a course with the Rev. Dr. Cliff Kirkpatrick on ecumenical and interfaith ministry. The course will introduce students to the diversity of the Christian community and the inter-religious context, the biblical and theological foundations for ecumenism and interfaith relations, the practical skills to engage in dialogue and cooperation with other Christians and people of other faith traditions, and the practices needed for ministry in an ecumenical and interfaith context. Beyond the classroom, Wesley would also welcome exploring these themes with the broader religious community. He will also be one of the lecturers in the seminary’s Festival of Theology on April 7-8, 2014. Information about those lectures is here.
Further information about Wesley Ariarajah including contact information is here.