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From our Friends at Church Women United 

Developing a Theological Response to Gun Violence

gun violenceOur awareness of gun violence in the United States peaks after news of mass shootings, such as the tragedy at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, OR on Oct. 1 and another at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC this June. As significant as these events are, they don't even begin to account for the numbers of people impacted by gun violence. On average, 31 Americans are murdered with guns every day and 151 are treated for a gun assault in an emergency room.

How do we begin to construct a theological response to such a widespread issue?

Resources from Our Partners & Partnering Denominations

Report - Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing in Response to God's Call (Presbyterian Church USA)

Curriculum - Gun Violence & Suicide (Presbyterian Church USA)

Bible Study - Kingdom Dreams, Violent Realities (United Methodist Church)

Resources - Bishops Against Gun Violence (Episcopal Church)

Interfaith Resources

Resource Guide - Gun Violence Prevention (Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism)

Organization - Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence


The Impact and Opportunities of Aging: A Summary Observation on Aging in Kentucky

The Impact and Opportunities of Aging: A Summary Observation on Aging in Kentucky

Authored By

Jeff Rubin, Community Engagement Consultant


Current Landscape

The impact of aging is being felt by more and more communities across Kentucky, as it is across the nation. Yet despite the warning signs of our changing demographics it remains a topic many of us seem to not want to talk about or apparently even consider. Is it any wonder then that we are ill-prepared for what is now taking place?

The latest U.S. census shows that more than 40 percent of Kentucky’s population is over the age of 45. The implications cannot be ignored. Consider its impact on families and business. In 2012, the National Caregiver Alliance reported that almost 29 percent (65.7 million) of the U.S. adult population provided care to someone who was ill, disabled or aged. Of those providing care, one out of six were working either full time or part time and the average age of a caregiver was 49.2 years of age.

Caregivers are more likely to take care of an aging parent or grandparent than they are taking care of a child, but often, they are faced with doing both. Many cite their own health as diminished by the process. Of those caregivers who are employed, many say, “they feel overwhelmed by demands at home and demands on the job.” They also report, “using their time at work to hunt for resources or services they simply don’t have the time to find when at home.”

The issues employees face often impact their job in other ways as well. Arriving late, leaving early or being absent all together cost them and their employers billions of dollars in lost productivity and wages. Add in the fact that one out of every three employees in the workforce today is 55 or older and one might easily see how business and industry are being impacted by shifting demographics.

The problem is not confined to individuals, families or business alone. The impact can be felt in literally every corner of every community where people reside. Whether directly or indirectly, the issues have affected volunteerism; civic and social engagement; religious attendance; social and essential services; infrastructure; local economies; individual and family savings and so much more.

Within 15 short years from today, the increase in Kentuckians age 60 or older is projected to reach 25.6%  or one (1) in five (5) of the total population; up from 19% just 5 years earlier. Our ability to keep up with this dramatic change in demographics will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, without a shift in current thinking or an infusion of substantial financial, social, and human capital.

A July 2014 AARP  study makes that point abundantly clear. Kentucky ranked fifty first (51) in states providing basic services to the elderly.  The study took into account overall performance (both independent assistance and institutional long-term care) to “assist older people, adults with disabilities, and their family caregivers,”  and  measured states ability to provide services to address five indicators of success: (1) Affordability and access; (2) Choice of setting and provider,; (3) Quality of life and quality of care; (4) Support for family caregivers; and (5) Effective transitions.  The study examined all 50 states and Guam.

The impact this has placed upon Kentucky’s already challenged communities is further exacerbated when taking into account the following:

  • Kentucky is one of six states leading the nation in the increasing number of grandparents raising grandchildren. These numbers are increasing for multiple reasons including parent incarceration, death, mental illness, substance abuse, and neglect and abuse of children. 75,000 children in Kentucky are currently living with and being cared for by one or more grandparent.
  • Kentucky ranks second in the nation for persons aged 18-64 with a disability and fourth in the nation for persons aged 65 and over with a disability. In addition, 15,000 persons with disabilities are being taken care of by an aging parent. Their primary concern  is where the support will come from once the primary caregiver has died.
  • Approximately 735,000 Kentuckians are caregivers helping family members to age in a home setting rather than in an institutional one.
  • Kentucky spends approximately 81% of all long-term care dollars on nursing home care and the remainder on supports to help older adults age at home.

Yet the increasing burden that falls upon older adults, families, and caregivers themselves will eventually impact us all.

  • Persons with incomes at or below the poverty level are more often caregivers than those reporting higher incomes; of those that are,  27.3% were grandparents raising grandchildren
  • Over 92% of older adult caregivers are not receiving social security and 85% do not receive any type of monetary assistance or support
  • Many of the 735,000 caregivers do not receive services funded by the state and are often stressed emotionally, physically and financially. In addition, many caregivers also reported more health disparities than non-caregivers

Three of the most important issues facing the elderly and disabled today, particularly in rural communities, is the lack of access to home delivered meals; reliable and affordable transportation, and social engagement. Of meal services provided to older adults in 2013, 36% were below poverty level, 62% were living in rural areas and 51% lived alone. Transportation assistance is also a factor in addressing health and hunger for older adults.  Those who may no longer be able to drive nor have family/friends to assist them in getting to health care appointments; grocery shopping or other household errands, may find themselves faced with unanticipated and unavoidable changes impacting their ability to remain independent. Unfortunately, there is no current long-range state-wide transportation plan in place to address these issues. Neither is there any money allocated through Medicare to transport people in need of assistance. In addition, the collective effect that outmigration of the young, aging in place, and high poverty rates are having on the elderly in rural communities are leaving them increasingly isolated and limited in what options and resources are available to them.

 In response to the increasing impact of aging, many communities have begun to launch “active-aging” and “age-friendly” initiatives intended to optimize opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life for all ages.

The benefits of becoming “age-friendly” are many and varied and can influence all sectors of a community. There is also growing recognition that decisions made at the local level have the greatest influence on the quality of life of older people.  By employing a collaborative approach to local planning, communities can bring about changes that will have a huge impact on the lives of older people, while at the same time providing services in a more effective and cost efficient way, avoiding gaps or duplication, and benefiting the local economy.

Jeff Rubin is a member of the Kentucky Institute on Aging, a gubernatorial appointed advisory body on program and policy issues related to aging and independent living; a consultant on community engagement and “Age-Friendly” Cities; and originator of the “Age-Friendly” Berea campaign. To learn more about how you and your church can become involved in the “age-friendly” movement contact Jeff by telephone 720-363-6610 or e-mail


“A proper community . . . is a commonwealth: a place, a resource, an economy. It answers the needs, practical as well as social and spiritual, of its members ------ among them the need to need one another.” – Wendell Berry



What’s In It For Me? Two Selfish Reasons To Have Interfaith Relationships

Why should I care about interfaith relationships?

Why can’t I just stay in my faith community and everyone else stay in theirs?

What benefit does learning about other faiths have for me?

These are questions some people might ask as they consider whether to attend the Kentucky Council of Churches’ annual assembly at Nazareth Retreat Center October 22-23. There are many reasons one could give for engaging people of other faiths, and most have little to do with “what’s in it for me?” Our keynote speakers and panel members will certainly give us insights into why interfaith relations are important to our society, our communities, and our world. They will also help us understand why it is important for us as churches and individual Christians.   

There was a time when we could live most of our lives without encountering anyone from another faith. I grew up in a small town in North Carolina that had one Roman Catholic Church and was otherwise Protestant. I went through my entire tenure of public education without meeting a single person of another faith.  We now live in a different time. Our neighbors are Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, or of no faith at all. I remember when I took World Religions in college there was concern that I might be “turned,” or that my Christian faith could be compromised. Quite the opposite was true.

I can give you two good selfish reasons for having interfaith relationships:

  1. To grow in our own faith.
    By getting to know our neighbors of other faiths, and their commitment to their religious practices, we are encouraged in our own faith. The Islamic discipline of prayer five times a day challenges us to make time in our days to pray. The Jewish dedication to Sabbath rest inspires our own practice of Sabbath-keeping. The Hindu respect for all of life teaches us the sacredness of God’s creation.  Contrary to the myth that learning about other religious is dangerous, understanding other religious traditions helps us to better understand our own.

  2. To better articulate what we believe.
    Have you ever had a person of another faith ask you what you believe, or why you are a Christian? It is embarrassing to admit that you cannot really answer the question. Yet that is the case for many Christians. When we grow up and live in one culture, one tradition, we take faith for granted. We assume everyone knows what it means to be Christian. That is an assumption that we can no longer make. Talking with people of other faiths can help us learn to define ourselves as Christ’s followers.  Questions about our tradition and practices encourage us to clarify not only for our conversation partner, but also for ourselves.

What’s in it for you? – An opportunity to …

  • ·         engage in meaningful conversation and learning about other faith traditions,
  • ·         be a better neighbor,
  • ·         grow in your own faith, and
  • ·         practice sharing your faith with clarity and confidence.

Join us for “Religious Diversity and Interfaith Relations,” Kentucky Council of Churches Annual Assembly.


We Need Your Input

The Kentucky Council of Churches is in a time of transition after the departure of our Executive Director Rev. Dr. Marian Taylor. During this interim time, we are evaluating our ministry and mission in preparation for our future as an organization, and in discerning our future leadership.


As a part of this process, the Executive Committee requests that you take a few minutes to respond to the attached survey. There are only ten questions, and should take no longer than 10-15 minutes to complete.  Your input is important to us, and greatly appreciated.


Before taking the survey, please review the vision report approved by the Assembly in 2011. You can find the report on the KCC website:


Click on this link to take the survey:


Pope Designates Sept. 1 as World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation

By Cindy Wooden-Catholic News Service

Like  their  Orthodox  brothers  and  sisters,  Catholics  formally  will  mark  Sept.  1  as  the  World  Day  of Prayer  for  the  Care  of  Creation,  Pope  Francis  has  decided.  
The  day  of  prayer,  the  pope  said,  will  give  individuals  and  communities  an  opportunity  to  implore God's  help  in  protecting  creation  and  an  opportunity  to  ask  God's  forgiveness  "for  sins  committed against  the  world  in  which  we  live."  
Pope  Francis  announced  his  decision  to  add  the  annual  prayer  day  to  the  Catholic  calendar  in  a letter to Cardinal  Peter  Turkson,  president  of  the  Pontifical  Council  for  Justice  and  Peace,  and  to  Cardinal  Kurt  Koch,  president  of  the  Pontifical  Council  for  Promoting  Christian  Unity.  

The text of the letter, dated Aug. 6, was released by the Vatican Aug. 10.

Read more....

World Day of Prayer