If you are looking for a meaningful last-minute gift, please consider making a gift in your loved one's honor to a worthy nonprofit! This guide from our friends at the California Association of Nonprofits, makes some great suggestions for gifts that reflect your values and also some important cautions about online giving.
Of course, we would be thrilled if you would choose to honor someone with a contribution to the California Council of Churches here, or California Church IMPACT here; but we urge you to support the nonprofit that most reflects your values.
Talking About Religious Exemptions Laws is a guide to building effective conversations about the ways in which harmful religious exemptions threaten not only laws that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from discrimination, but also health care (including women’s reproductive freedom), public safety, and more.
The guide offers approaches for talking about both broad religious exemptions laws (like proposed state RFRAs) as well as religious exemptions that are often specifically designed to harm LGBT people and circumvent nondiscrimination laws. It also focuses on approaches for talking about the ways in which broad religious exemptions laws can interfere with women’s reproductive health.
Click here to visit the LGBTMap site to download the guide: http://www.lgbtmap.org/talking-about-religious-exemptions-laws
Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All*
Please support our work! You can donate through PayPal, Network for Good, or print out a form here.
I am a Christmas nut. I love everything about it from the deepest meaning of the day to the cheesy decorations in the stores. I love Christmas music, especially antique carols but swoon when I hear Nat King Cole sing the Christmas Song. I watch every old Christmas-themed movie, I get Advent calendars, I bake, cook, and stuff the house with goodies to share with family and friends. Only thing that saves me from being one of those people with 13,000,000 watts of outdoor lights is a lack of time and money. My neighbors bless my inaction.
The main reason I love Christmas is the to-the-core sense of peace and hope. Ever since I was a child, the hush of Christmas Eve, the sense of waiting and wondering, has been palpable. Oh sure for Santa, but always more — the promise of good, a presence, a wonder. Christmas was always about reflection on the meaning of a baby and how his birth is made manifest as the in-gathering of friends, of sharing, of giving to others, of caring about them, and the joy of togetherness. It is peace-in-action, hope made real.
This nation has gone through dozens of really horrible times before. Even in times of war, hardship, and want, we’ve still found ways to find joy in the promise of Christmas. It is the most pure expression of our values, a baby born to a poor mother in rude circumstances yet the guidestar for so much of humankind. Hope. Promise. A call to be the best we can be.
In this season of Advent and Christmas, we face anger and discontent throughout the nation. We don’t have a civil war, but we certainly have a civility war, and there is even occasional violence attached to that discontent. Much of what we have worked for, what we accomplished will be challenged in the coming months and years as those with very different ideas about America take the reins of authority. We have anger and fear at this development — what will it mean to us? What are the effects to those in need, communities of color, women, and all our loved ones and neighbors who may be immigrants, Muslims, same-sex couples?
Please support our work! You can donate through PayPal, Network for Good, or print out a form here.
This Advent, far more than any we have seen in years, we are challenged to find the peace and hope of Christmas.
We at the Council of Churches are as challenged as any of you to keep the promise of what we are called to do. CCC has strong values about what we see as Christ’s teachings on right and wrong. We work to bring thoughtful discernment to issues that face us all in the secular world and struggle to filter our commitments to democracy through the prism of our faith values. Of course we want to be good at this work — and we fight the tendency to get angry, hostile, disrespectful of those who do not agree with us. And we hear from them! Oh boy, do we hear from them!
So we make this commitment to you: through the storm and strife of our national and state political discourse, we will continue to strive to uphold the meaning of Christmas year around.
We will try to provide insight, discernment, and analysis of our big issues with an eye to how we make them into positive affirmations not just cranky opposition. We will also, as have done around earlier crises, strive to be a foundation for peace and kindness as we educate our members on issues and mediate differences. CCC is needed more than ever to be a central part of loving Christianity, so please help us continue this role.
This holiday season, please consider a gift to help us to continue to fund our dedication to justice and equality for all.
Please support our work! You can donate through PayPal, Network for Good, or print out a form here.
Our work may sometimes be limited by resources, but our vision and energy for you is not. God created a universe of abundance and we know that in God’s universe, our success is far more about what we can imagine than what we know. Your past support has helped us make a big difference! We ask you to join us in imagining the world as God sees it. Please give generously out of the abundance with which you have been blessed.
Thank you in advance for your generosity and your partnership. Your investment in our mission and dedication will mean so much to the human community that we serve. We wish you a season of joy and blessing.
With vision and hope,
Elizabeth “Libby” Sholes
Director of Public Policy
* All means ALL — no exceptions
Please support our work! You can donate through PayPal, Network for Good, or print out a form here
The California Council of Churches is committed to being a good steward and serving faith communities to pursue justice, equity and fairness for all God’s children. If our work stirs your passion, please consider leaving a Legacy gift as you are making your estate plans. Please call the Rev. Dr. Rick Schlosser at 916-488-7300 or email email@example.com.
A growing number of supporters are making monthly contributions by filling out the right-hand portion of the enclosed reply card. Can you afford to pledge $10 to $25 per month to keep us strong and effective throughout the year?
California Church IMPACT and the California Council of Churches need you and your friends to become members. Your support allows us to continue and to expand our important work. Help us expand our activist base in every legislative district to continue and increase the effectiveness of our efforts to work to provide updates, training, and resources to help people of faith to be as effective and articulate advocates as possible. It is essential to our mission to be the advocacy voice for justice for our member denominations. Please send us the names and email addresses of activists in your community or share this letter with them and ask them to visit churchimpact.org/take-action.html
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The California Council of Churches is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, EIN 94-2780260. Contributions are tax deductible
Make Your Gift Today!
December 1, is #GivingTuesday.
Today, join others around the globe in playing a major role in coming together and make a gift to support the important work of the California Council of Churches. The spirit of giving is the pulse of who we are and what we do. Your gift will support our ongoing role of educating ALL communities to pursue justice, equity and fairness in the treatment of all people, in particular those most often get excluded. Your gift today sums up this quote by Teddy Kennedy: “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”
Gifts can vary in size, and every dollar will go toward our mission working for equality and justice for all. After mourning the materialism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, please join in the generosity of #GivingTuesday and give a gift that will help make things better for your sisters and brothers throughout California.
Please click here to make your tax-deductible gift today
Please click here to watch a short video by the President of our Board of Directors, the Rev. Dr. Alan Jones.
Thank you for your unwavering support. We still have work to do.
With deepest gratitude,
The Rev. Dr Rick Schlosser
P.S. Another way you can support our work is to help us build our activist list. Please forward this email to others you know who might support the work we do and invite them to join our activist list at http://www.churchimpact.org/take-action.html
Our #GivingTuesday team: Board President, the Rev. Dr. Alan Jones, Administrative Assistant Robert “Stefan” White, videographer Cameron Lewis, and Director of Development Kendra Lewis. Not pictured: Director of Public Policy Elizabeth “Libby” Sholes” and Executive Director Rev. Dr. Rick Schlosser.
An article by our very own ChurchLady, posted today on The People's View
From where I stand, the powerful positive and supportive role of faith communities in the fight over marriage equality has been entirely misunderstood by even secular proponents of marriage equality.
It may come as a shock, but all the mainline Protestant denominations are embracing this week’s Supreme Court ruling. What do you see in the media about this? Nothing. On television and in print you hear only the angry voices of the Religious Right who populate Evangelical and especially Pentecostal branches of Christian religious institutions.
You are not hearing from United Church of Christ that this week holds its national synod in Cleveland, OH with members rushing from the conference and dancing in the rain with LGBT activists all celebrating the decision. You are not hearing from the Episcopal Church that has been performing weddings for years, and on July 1 voted on full church incorporation of same sex weddings into the formal sacrament. You are not hearing from all the other denominations such as the Disciples of Christ, Evangelical Lutherans, Presbyterians, and many others as well.
Only the United Methodist Church has yet to embrace the view, and that’s due to the weight of the Southern branch. But the Western regional congregations have taken matters into their own hands and announced they will do what they think their moral principles call them to do – perform weddings for loving, committed couples. The church as a whole has refused to sanction them.
This full acceptance of LGBTQI people has long but enduring historical and theological roots. It is largely my own view for which I see little written support, that the move toward full inclusion of LGBT people stems in no small part from the Protestant world coming to penance and reconsideration over what they did historically as missionaries. In religious fervor, too many missionaries helped perpetuate cultural and sometimes actual genocide alongside their good work in other areas such as Abolition. In the latter 20th century it became impossible to move forward on Civil Rights until they took full responsibility for the damage and dehumanization the institutions had done to First Nations people and those overseas.
From renouncing their own dehumanization of those they supposedly served in the field, the march toward full equality of all people was essential and inevitable. Bluntly, if you believe we are “all God’s children” then what part of “all” can you eliminate? The mainline Protestants coming from a tradition of social justice had to claim full equality or lose all credibility in their own eyes.
Unitarians, often a step ahead, embraced LGBT equality very early along with the United Church of Christ-Congregational Church. Both ordained openly gay clergy in the early 1970s and made support for LGBT equality a centerpiece of their work. What makes the UCC commitment so important is that they are the direct descendants of the Puritan Congregationalists. As full participants in key social justice movements such as abolition and the eradication of child labor onto the Civil Rights and anti-war movements, one can see that UCC is not your grim church of yore. Today they are the nation’s most arguably progressive Christian denomination, loathed and under attack by the Religious Right. Still they carry on, their embrace of full equality, unstoppable despite the harassment.
The Episcopal Church followed suit in the 1990s including ordaining the first openly gay Canon who then became the first ‘out’ bishop, Gene Robinson in New Hampshire. Soon other bishops, canons, and deacons followed, and the Episcopal Church embraced “Integrity” a group devoted to securing full acceptance for LGBTQI Episcopalians. Some of the churches’ leading theologians such as John Shelby Spong, wrote passionately about the need to do deep scriptural and theological analysis on the issue, rejecting the simplistic notions of sexuality and prompting a reassessment of what the infamous “four verses” actually y meant. It did not come down in favor of exclusion or rejection of marriage equality. The impact was great, penetrating even the southern hemisphere with South African Bishop Desmond Tutu a powerful ally, and Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo challenging the Pentecostal-driven “death to gays’ laws in his home nation of Uganda.
This scholarship and discernment did not stop significant numbers of American Episcopalians from withdrawing from the church. The majority population of California’s San Joaquin diocese voted to leave the church and affiliate with the Argentinean Anglicans (with whom they had nothing in common other than rejection of LGBT people.) However, the diocese itself remained part of the denomination, kept the church properties, and found they remarkably filled quickly with people and families who had previously left in disgust with the homophobia and anger that once surrounded them. The diocese has become one of the fastest-growing parts of the church in the US.
Before the Supreme Court ruling this week, virtually all major denominations had come to full inclusion of LGBT people and now embrace marriage equality. Immediately prior to the Supreme Court decision, Public Policy Research Institute found 62 percent of white Protestants vs. 28% of white Evangelicals embraced marriage equality. Presbyterians, that once defrocked an “out” California minister before later reinstating him, now support marriage equality by 69%. Episcopalians and UCC 68%, and even mainline Methodists share the sentiment not yet of their church with 67% in full support.
This had weight in a number of political and policy arenas. In 2001 the national “Religious Institute for Healthy Sexuality” opened to support all issues of sexual justice within and for a broad interfaith spectrum. “Faith for Equality,” an alliance of clergy and laity dedicated to marriage equality, officially incorporated in 2006. It was strong in many states, particularly California and Virginia but could be found in even Tennessee. Other groups such as “The Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists”, “Believe Out Loud”, “Faith in America”, and many others working at state and national levels, appeared across the nation to affirm full equality, stand for full inclusion. Many became advocates for all manner of equality issues, not just marriage, standing as grassroots activists for supportive or against harmful legislation, ballot measures, and court cases.
CA Faith for Equality, one of the strongest groups, got its greatest challenge in 2008 around defeating Proposition 8, a ballot measure to confine marriage to “one man and one woman”. Despite offering huge support throughout California and wanting, along with Integrity and other groups, to have a voice in defeating Prop. 8 the secular LGBT community dismissed this work outside of what congregations and group would do internally within their own denominations and churches. Leaders said the faith community “had nothing to say”.
A trusted public policy organization, California Council of Churches IMPACT that has long issued ballot guides legally on non-partisan ballot measures as a 501-c-4 , also opposed Prop. 8 but were equally dismissed. The net result is that there was no public voice for faith in this opposition. At the same time, CCCI offered support to defeat Proposition 4, a similar sexual justice ballot measure trying to demand parental notification for minors seeking abortions. It was funded by secular allies to issue a special faith statement to members and others on the reasons for opposition. No such funding came from the Proposition 8 campaign. No clergy were invited to make No on 8 ads, no faith people were asked to speak outside their own churches. Without funding, there was too little anyone could do. The night of the 2008 election, Prop. 4 was defeated by 4%, exactly the percentage by which Proposition 8 won. What might have changed had the wide range of faith organizations actually been front and center publicly on marriage equality?
CCCI’s sister organization, California Council of Churches, did receive a small amount to send activists to congregations in two conservative areas, Fresno and San Diego. They developed a study guide, Living Lovingly, that talked about theological reflections on marriage and equality. In the two areas where the guide was given to congregations, the polling data reflected a significant shift away from support for Proposition 8. But it was not reflected in any statewide effort, it came too late, and Prop. 8 won anyway, setting back the right to marry by several years. The study guide is accessible at: http://www.calchurches.org/resources--study-guides.html
By contrast, in the Obergefell v Hodges case that was successfully heard this week, California Council of Churches headed a diverse faith contingent that submitted anamicus affirming faith organizations’ support for marriage equality. It was a powerful antidote to the screeching media that cited conservatives but never progressives in faith circles. No longer could the religious right claim marriage equality was a threat to “Christianity”. It doesn’t stop that noise, but it undermines the hegemony.
The best work pro-marriage equality faith groups do is help the “worried middle”, those people of traditional practice but of very good hearts. It is this teaching and affirmation of human equality that gets scant coverage in media. Each act of support for marriage equality is depicted by media as an ‘outlier’, something alien to the body of faith. It is not. While the progressive faith communities have grown to be the mainstream (liberal and ultra conservative groups are about equal in numbers) the shrill voices of opposition still triumph in the public square.
Those who believe that “all means all” keep the message and the work in the forefront along with all social justice issues. Alongside the secular equality groups, these quiet voices will prevail. We can already see the change that has come. There is no going back.
California Council of Churches with its 1.5 million members within the mainline and progressive Protestant communities of faith, hailed the US Supreme Court ruling this morning affirming that same sex couples do have equal rights to marry.
“We have been working toward this day for over four decades,” said CCC Executive Director Rev. Dr. Rick Schlosser. “We believe that all people have the right to marry the person whom they love just as opposite sex couples do.”
CCC was the lead organization on the faith statement concerning marriage equality submitted to the Supreme Court as a formal amicus as part of the Obergefell-Hodges case that was the central case among several submitted to the court for its ultimate review on marriage equality.
“We are proud to be the lead petitioner in this acclaimed amicus brief,” said Rev. Schlosser. “We affirm that within our Christian traditions, full equality is a central value to achieve justice. We cannot exist as a moral society or a functioning democracy without that,” he said.
In reply to those opposing the ruling as a threat to their religious freedom, Rev. Schlosser said, “We also see this as vindication of our denominations’ First Amendment religious freedom rights. It is those congregations and denominations supporting marriage equality that have been barred from free exercise of religion all these many decades.”
He explained that thanks to the First Amendment, no church or denomination will be forced to perform same sex weddings, rent out their facilities to same sex couples, or be prohibited from speaking their views in the pulpit.
To reinforce this right, California Church IMPACT, the Council’s sister organization, supported SB 906 authored by San Francisco Senator Mark Leno, affirming that no religious body opposed to same sex marriage would be in any way forced to violate their beliefs. “We believe every faith has room to follow its own lights. Although many denominations have been barred from exercising profoundly held ideals in not being able to perform same sex weddings, no one should have their views compromised because of this Supreme Court ruling,” Schlosser said.
“We celebrate the validation of equal opportunities along with all the same sex couples now able to do what traditional couples take for granted – marry the person you love. That is a measure of the power of our democracy and the affirmation of our nation’s sense of justice.”
The California Council of Churches and IMPACT celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court Decision Upholding Marriage Equality!
We are proud to be the lead petitioner in an acclaimed amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold marriage equality. The California Council of Churches has long been the largest faith-based organization in California actively working to achieve full equality and rights for all God's children, including our LGBTQ sisters and brothers. From being the first Council of Churches in the nation to welcome the Metropolitan Community Churches with open arms, to advocating and educating for justice and equality for over 40 years, we have been at the forefront of the struggle. We have filed many Amicus Briefs in support of marriage equality in state and federal courts. Thanks to the ever-brilliant Eric Alan Isaacson, the brief he submitted on our behalf to the US Supreme Court in the current case is quoted in the article below.
May justice and equality prevail for ALL God's children!!
How Marriage Equality Opponents' Arguments Are Getting Turned Against Them
To read the full brief: http://www.supremecourt.gov/ObergefellHodges/AmicusBriefs/14-556_California_Council_of_Churches.pdf
Health Care Enrollments 2015 – CA Council of Churches Invites You to Help.
As most of you know, we have been engaged in Outreach and Education to help members of your congregations, neighborhoods, communities find out what is available in health care coverage via Covered CA health plans.
Now CCC is embarking on a new aspect of this work, applying for a Covered CA Navigator grant.
Navigators are trained certified enrollers who work with the health care Exchanges – the ‘marketplace’ where health care policies are available – to help people walk through health care options. Navigators help find what subsidies are available, help people understand who is eligible in their households and who is not (such as those on Medicare), what subsidies are offered, etc. Then the Navigator will help those applicants complete their applications.
Since congregations are the most trusted partners in any community, we are looking for those congregations that can:
- Provide people willing to be trained as Navigators who understand the complexities of the health care options in their areas;
- Have people who can help those with insurance re-apply for the next year;
- Offer space in recurring, regular NON-working hour periods such as weeknights and weekend times;
- Work closely with their communities and have outreach to underserved populations who may be employed in low-wage work’
- Have populations that qualify for Covered CA and not just Medi-Cal.
While Navigators may enroll people in Medi-Cal, our project statewide is to complete 1200 applications for insurance obtained through the Exchanges. We will have 8 months in which to do that. We need your congregation’s help achieving that goal. ONLY Covered CA completed enrollments are counted for our grant although Medi-Cal counts toward the Common Good.
Are you interested in becoming a partner with CCC to help this occur?
- CCC will make sure one or more of your congregational members or trusted allies is trained.
- CCC will be able to secure the background checks and fingerprinting at no cost to the Navigator.
- CCC will assure your Navigators or your congregations are eligible for reimbursement.
For each completed and enrolled application (what Covered CA terms an ‘effectuated application’) the Navigator or congregation will receive $58 whether the application is for an Exchange coverage or for Medi-Cal. This payment will continue as long as funds are available from the federal government.
It is critical that part of this work is reaching out to those eligible for the health care plans offered through the Exchange. That means anyone making $16,000 as an individual, or roughly $32,000 as a family would be Exchange eligible. This is a critical link in the sustainability of the whole health care provision.
We will be sending our application to Covered CA on or before July 28. We have a few congregational allies now, but we need YOU.
Please let us know as soon as possible if you are interested. There is no commitment, but it helps us see where our work needs to be. The largest pocket of those eligible for Covered CA health plans remains in Los Angeles, but everyone can participate – there are tens of thousands who still do not have any health insurance or who need new options due to life changes (births, deaths, marriage, divorce, job or income change).
This is a service you can offer your congregation, your neighbors, your community and receive income at the same time.
Please respond before the middle of the month to firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know if this is of interest to you and your congregations.
The Rev Dr Rick Schlosser