GIVING THANKS

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.   1 Thess. 5:18

In all circumstances ... this is hard sometimes. In times of high anxiety, grief and worry, it is difficult to give thanks. Yet, this verse reminds us that being grateful is God's will for us. Studies have shown that practicing gratitude makes us healthier and happier. It is with this in mind that I write today to wish you all a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving! 
There are many reasons KCC members and supporters should be thankful. We have been engaged in relevant and meaningful ministry this year. We have worked together to support legislation and justice, and we have strengthened our ecumenical ties. 
Today, I give thanks for each of you who have been a part of this important work. I am also grateful to have coalitions, funders and media supporting our ministry. Here is a short, and incomplete list, of things for which we can be grateful:

  • Prayer and financial support of many individuals and congregations, and of course our member denominations.

  • Grants from Lilly, Carson Meyer, Magee and Rhodes Foundations, and the Leadership Conference.

  • Partnerships with the Leadership Conference and KY Smart on Crime to work for criminal justice reform, and provide education and information to our congregations. 

  • Op Eds published in several newspapers on juvenile justice reform and healing and reconciliation.

  • Attendance and media coverage of events like the Day of Action and Moral Revival, and partnership with Repairers of the Breach to bring the Moral Declaration to Kentucky.

  • New leaders in the Council and in some of our denominations.

  • A wonderful Assembly focusing on Living Justly, and all the people who contributed to making it a success.

  • A commitment to working for racial reconciliation in 2017 and beyond, and our partnership with Simmons College and EmpowerWest.

  • Rich conversations around the state on topics like violence, race, vitality and environment and justice. 

It has been such a busy and exciting year, the list could go on for pages. As you consider the ministry of KCC, think about how you want to be involved in the future. Looking to 2017, we will be ...

  • Gathering at the Capitol every Tuesday during the legislative session for prayer, education and advocacy,

  • Inviting everyone into a state-wide book read to encourage deep and meaningful conversation around race relations, 

  • Beginning our Triennium of Racial Reconciliation project to bring Black and White congregations together for relationship-building and mutual economic development,

  • Transitioning to our new staff model of part-time Executive Director and Legislative Advocate, giving each area of our mission (Christian unity and justice advocacy) individualized attention,

  • Listening for God's guidance on how we can best serve the mission of the Council and support our membership,

  • Gathering judicatory leaders together for fellowship, discernment and mutual support, and

  • Considering new ways to partner and engage others in the mission and ministry.

Thank you for being a part of the KY Council of Churches!

OPEN LETTER TO KENTUCKY CONGREGATIONS

November 1, 2016

With the election only one week away, my thoughts have turned towards what is next. For more than a year we have been bombarded with campaign ads, vitriol and divisive rhetoric. This election has brought out the worst in us, leading to protests, defamation, even violence.

The Church has not been immune. We have been called on to support one political agenda or the other, even at the detriment of our well-protected tax-exempt status. In Kentucky, the Governor encouraged pastors to break the law by endorsing a particular political party agenda. Congregational leaders and members participate in mud-slinging and name-calling. They fight among themselves, sometimes within the sacred halls and parking lots of our church campuses.

The Church is a historically sinful system. The 500th anniversary of the Reformation reminds us that we have often failed to live as God calls us – one body in Christ with a mission of love. Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenburg Castle Church to spur discussion and debate. He wanted to Church to examine its practices and repent of its impropriety.

Throughout our 2000+ years of Christian history, beginning with the very first churches, there has been conflict and division, and many calls for repentance and reconciliation. My own Presbyterian denomination has gone through numerous break-ups and mergers, and we are not unique in this.

However, what we are seeing today is different than church separations based on theological and ecclesial disagreements of our past. What we are seeing today is a church caught up in a national crisis of epidemic proportions. We are a nation torn by fear, hatred, racism, distrust and outlandish vulgarity.

It is time for the Church to stop participating and start healing. Our people are hurting – Christians and non-Christians alike. Jesus was a healer, and if we are to be His Body we need to be about the ministry of healing and reconciliation. Could it be that this is the American Church’s new mission? 

We are at a crossroads. No matter who wins the election next week, there will be aftershocks. Will the Church continue to join the mass hysteria? Or will we be a beacon of hope shining in this present darkness?

As Executive Director of the KY Council of Churches, I am challenging ALL congregations in the Commonwealth to choose the latter – practice the love and forgiveness of Christ that we proclaim. Hold healing services, prayer vigils, community conversations (contact me to learn more about Holy Conversations), calls for peace, etc. – anything you can do to foster a culture of love, hope, peace and charity. Our state and our country needs us to practice what we preach.

Will you accept the challenge?

Respectfully,

Rev. Dr. Peggy C. Hinds

(This letter was sent to news outlets across the state. Please share it with your congregation(s).)