Posts Tagged ‘“Faithful” Politics’


A Hard Path to a Better Place


Kim Reisman

Kim Reisman

I’m an Independent, not registered with any political party; although neither the Democrats nor the Republicans seem to know that based on the literature and surveys they send me – both parties clearly think I’m one of them. Go figure.

I don’t know who will win the election in November and I’m not trying to send any messages about who to vote for. But, I found the closing words of President Obama’s speech to the Democratic National Convention last night extremely moving:

…Yes, our path is harder, but it leads to a better place. Yes our road is longer, but we travel it together. We don’t turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up. We draw strength from our victories, and we learn from our mistakes, but we keep our eyes fixed on that distant horizon, knowing that Providence is with us, and that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on Earth.

I know that was a word to the nation, but in some strange way it also felt like a word to the church.



Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it may own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.            ~Philippians 3.12-14 (NRSV)




Making Life Matter


Making Life Matter is a weekly 30 minute Christian inspirational and teaching program hosted by Maxie Dunnam and Shane Stanford. Next Step partners with Kingdom Catalysts to bring you MLM, which tackles issues of faith and life in order to deepen discipleship and encourage strong connections between following Jesus and living in today’s world. Mark your calendars to visit Next Step and listen regularly. Click below to hear today’s program.



International Justice Mission 15 years

International Justice Mission

John and I discovered the work of the International Justice Mission about three years ago. I’m so glad we did. Now they’re celebrating 15 years of amazing work and I’m excited to be part of that and looking forward to the next 15. Here’s some info about this tremendous ministry. I hope you’ll consider supporting their important work.


15 years ago, International Justice Mission began in response to one massive problem: poor children and families around the world desperately needed a defender.

Today, there are thousands of reasons to celebrate – from girls rescued from brothels, to families freed from slavery; from traffickers and rapists held accountable, to justice systems changing to protect the poor.

Over the next 15 years, IJM is embracing a bold vision to protect millions.


International Justice Mission anniversary logo

International Justice Mission

 Seven ways you can connect with International Justice Mission


Interesting thoughts and happenings...

This week’s worthy reads…

Warriors for Peace

Floyd Holt, photo courtesy of PhotographyServed ~ Warriors for Peace

War & Sacrifice in the Post-9/11 Era -

The Pew Research Center DataBank provides a ‘daily number’ – this week’s caught my eye:

52% – More Than Half of Post-9/11 Combat Veterans Report Emotional Trauma

To read more about this number click here.

Not surprisingly, given the wide variety of news reports that have been relentlessly provided, according to the Pew Research Center, “the re-entry process has been more difficult for post-9/11 veterans than it was for those who served prior to 9/11. More than four-in-ten post-9/11 veterans (44%) say they had difficulty readjusting to civilian life, compared with 25% of pre-9/11 veterans. This may be due in part to the fact that post-9/11 veterans are much more likely than those who served before them to have seen combat. Among post-9/11 veterans who served in combat, half (51%) say they had difficulty readjusting to civilian life… Nearly six-in-ten post-9/11 combat veterans (57%) say that since being discharged from the military, they have experienced frequent incidents of irritability or outbursts of anger…Nearly as many combat veterans (55%) say they have experienced strains in family relations…” Read more.

Our communities and congregations are full of veterans, families of veterans, friends of veterans. Do you know who they are? What’s happening in your community? What’s happening in your church? What’s your next step in coming alongside those who are struggling?


empty pews

Young Adults and Women…

There are some themes here that seem to be converging & I want to read/write/talk more about them. There’s nothing worse than blog topics of the moment that then get lost in the next big thing but are really worth pondering & talking deeply about.

Seven Reasons Why Young Adults Quit Church ~ Christian Piatt for Red Letter Christians

Four More BIG Reasons Why Young Adults Quit Church ~ Christian Piatt for Red Letter Christians

15 Reasons I Left Church ~ Rachel Held Evans

It’s the Simple Moments that Stick ~ Susannah

Rush Limbaugh and Three Evangelical Blind Spots ~ Rachel Held Evans

Because we’re United Methodist, and therefore “mainstream,” some of us may be inclined to think we’re immune to these kinds of issues. But I wonder. Considering that I was called “an out of control little girl” by someone in my first appointment, makes me think that maybe this whole conversation is hitting closer to home than we’d like. Seems like we need to think a bit longer about all of this…

Kimberly Reisman

Kim Reisman

Stories for the Journey…


As my family has grown, I’ve moved the place where I study to various parts of the house. I started in a corner of my bedroom, then we were able to remodel & I got an actual room to myself (the smallest in the house of course). Then my son moved out & I was able to move into his old room. Now my daughter has ventured out on her own & I’ve just transitioned into her old room. I think I’ve reached my final destination!

At each stage of the game, I’ve gone through files & books, reading & remembering, reorganizing & discarding. The other day I came across an excerpt that my father sent me from one of his books. He had come across it in his own reorganizing & wanted to make sure I knew the story & that I passed it down to my kids as well.

Stories shape us. Our family stories. Our faith stories. We need to know our stories. This is a small one that shaped my father & me. It’s taken from his book Be Your Whole Self which was written in 1970:


…our deeds usually emanate from our values.

            In a folder of precious keep-sakes I have a Drew Pearson column entitled A Rabbi’s Kindness Didn’t Pay in Mississippi. It was written at Christmastime, 1964. The article begins,

Christmas being the anniversary of a Jew born in Bethlehem nearly 2000 years ago, I write the story of a Jew who lives in Mississippi today. His name is Rabbi David Ben-Ami of Temple B’nai Israel in Hattiesburg, and his trials and tribulations began when he befriended ministers of other faiths and incurred the wrath of modern money changers.

Drew Pearson goes on to tell the story of how Rabbi Ben-Ami visited clergymen who had been thrown in jail for their demonstrations against racial injustices, of his befriending a white Presbyterian minister who had been involved in the struggle for racial justice, of his assistance in distributing turkeys to needy Mississippi families of all races under the Dick Gregory “Christmas for Mississippi” program. This was too much for the Rabbi’s congregation. They insisted that he leave. They were not ruthless, as were the money changers of Jerusalem with another Jew nearly 2000 years ago. They were polite and sympathetic – but they pointed out that they had heavy investments in Hattiesburg which could be bankrupted by boycotts. Since the Rabbi had no investment in Mississippi, it seemed simpler for him to look for another congregation.


Dunnam family circa 1963 - clockwise from bottom left: Kerry, Jerry, Freddy Davis, Maxie, Kim

            That article is meaningful to me because of an incident that occurred at Christmastime, 1963. We had two children then. With them, my wife and I were driving from Gulfport, Mississippi to Richton, my parents’ home, about 100 miles away. It was an unusually cold night. Ice was on the road and it was sleeting.

            We had left Gulfport following a church meeting where a lot of angry feelings had been expressed about the racial situation and my involvement in it. It was close to midnight out on a dark lonely highway when our car stalled. There was little traffic. The children were getting colder and we were getting anxious. After what seemed to be an endless time (and the passing of numerous cars) we were getting to the point of desperation, when an old model car came to a screeching halt beside us.

            I told the driver our plight, and without asking any further questions, he invited us into his car, helped us transfer luggage, and went out of his way to take us to a friend’s home in the nearest town where we could spend the night and attend to the car problem the next day.

            This man had an accent different than mine, and I knew he was not a Mississippian. I surmised, as we often wrongly do, that he was a Jew, and his warm ministry of love reminded me of another Jew and a story he told about a Good Samaritan. Before we reached our destination, I learned that I was right. He was a Jew. His name was David Ben-Ami, rabbi of Temple B’nai Israel in Hattiesburg.

            It was this man that Drew Pearson wrote about a year later. Not only to the disinherited and dejected of the Negro race, but to a desperate white Anglo-saxon Protestant Christian Minister and his freezing family, this man expressed love. I don’t know where Rabbi Ben-Ami is today, but wherever he is, I have an idea that he lives effectively with the nitty-gritty. He has experienced values that transcend religion or race, social or economic boundaries. His synagogue in Hattiesburg may have rejected his witness, but they couldn’t annul it. Mississippi and the world is different today, because of men like Rabbi David Ben-Ami.

            This is one way meaning comes – through experiencing values. That’s what religion is – the search for a value underlying all things. When we experience certain values – i.e. the value of persons, the relationship of love, the meaning of self-integrity – life takes on meaning, and we can live with the nitty-gritty.

People may reject our witness, but they can never annul it.

Stories convey values. Values provide meaning. Meaning empowers us to live with the nitty-gritty – whatever that nitty-gritty might be. What are your stories? How have they brought you meaning? Are you sharing them with those you love? 

The Islamic community in my town is planning to build a community center and worship space down the road from St. Andrew United Methodist Church where I attend. It’s raised quite a stir in the overall community. A couple of weeks ago, the pastor from a large Baptist church wrote a great op-ed piece supporting the building plans – his focus was religious freedom.

Tim Burchill

Tim Burchill - St. Andrew United Methodist Church

My pastor, Tim Burchill, wrote a piece as well. I have to admit, I was very proud…

WWJD? Take me on first. Why I’m ready for Islamic center neighbors.


What are you doing to support your neighbors? What’s your next step?

This morning I received an email from a friend in Australia who has been on the planning team for World Methodist Evangelism’s International Christian Youth Conference on Evangelism. It was a general update but included a video from the most recent ICYC event in Seoul, South Korea in July 2010.

I watched it & the memories just flooded over me…

Twenty-one years ago, in 1980, I attended the first ICYC in Truro, England. It was an amazing experience – transformative in ways I never could have anticipated at the time.

Peter Storey 1980

Peter Storey - Truro England ICYC 1980

The speakers were tremendous – I particularly remember Peter Story, who’s testimony about what was happening in South Africa during those years absolutely rocked my world.

It’s amazing how much things can change in just a few decades & how much things can stay the same. Apartheid may be history in South Africa, but racism is still haunts the entire planet.

Peter Storey

Peter Storey

In the message we drafted in Truro, we called upon the church to be ‘a family fellowship which will facilitate young people’s visions, which will respect and help young people, and give them a share of responsibility.’ How often do we still hear that challenge?

ICYC Name Tag 1980

1980 ICYC Name Tag - Kim Dunnam

I left Truro energized & that experience provided a foundation for everything I’ve done since. Who knows what kind of impact the young people who were in Seoul in July will have on their churches, communities & world? There’s still so much kingdom work to do…


A final thought… The final paragraph of the message drafted at Truro calls upon the World Methodist Council & the churches in the Wesleyan family to ‘set up the necessary administrative machinery to enable young people to offer one year of their lives in full time mission, evangelism and ministry in areas where there is need for such service.’ Hmmmm…..

‘We ask the World Methodist Council to set up a summer school for evangelisim and discipleship.’ Hmmmm…

The needs remain. Will we listen to our youth – even if their voices are just an echo over 21 years?


If you have trouble viewing the video, click here.

Debates about education are being intensely waged across the country these days. With public school funding in a precarious position in many states and disagreements over issues such as vouchers and charter schools increasing, Dr. Warren A. Nord has offered an interesting reflection on the place of religion in education in the United States in his new book, Does God Make a Difference? Taking Religion Seriously in our Schools and Universities.

Nord is a renowned philosopher who retired from the faculty of the University of North Carolina in 2009. His daring and provocative book contends that teaching religion in our public schools is not a violation of the constitution. Rather, not teaching religion is a betrayal of the public trust.

Nord argues that public schools and universities leave the vast majority of students religiously illiterate. This kind of education is not religiously neutral, which is a matter of constitutional importance; rather it borders on secular indoctrination when measured against the requirements of a good liberal education and the demands of critical thinking.

Dr. Warren A. Nord

If we care about the state of education in America, we need to read this book. Ignorance of religion is playing a huge role in our response to present wars and world tensions. We can’t make sense of the world without knowing something of the world’s religions. Faith plays a major role in the lives, politics, and decisions of billions of people, and has helped shape nations and history. The current uprisings in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt and Libya are certainly not void of religious aspects.

Dr. Nord argues that you can’t have a good liberal education without religious training. As we consider the future of education in our America, we need to include this notion in our thinking



Check out Dr. Nord’s Book:

Does God Make a Difference? Taking Religion Seriously in our Schools and Universities


Protesters in Indianapolis

A controversial bill regarding immigration (IN590) is currently before the Indiana State legislature. Recently a group protested against this legislation. About a month ahead of that protest – on February 18 – Michael Coyner, bishop of the Indiana area of the United Methodist Church spoke out against this bill. An important public witness. Here are his remarks.


The legislature of the state of Indiana is considering the complicated issue of immigration. Certainly it is understandable that many citizens and many State Senators and Representatives are concerned about this important issue. However, our Christian faith brings a perspective to this issue, which needs to be voiced, and our United Methodist Church has a particular stance on this issue which I share as the Bishop of the Indiana Area of The United Methodist Church.


Among the proposed bills before the Senate and House is one which seems to be gathering some support, namely Senate Bill No. 590. I have read through this proposed legislation, and while I am not an attorney and may not fully understand all of the legal implications of this bill, I do believe that it would be a mistake for the Senate and/or House to pass this Bill and for the Governor to sign it, for these reasons:


First, this bill begins to move the state of Indiana into areas which rightly belong to the federal government, namely the attempt to regulate immigration. Certainly there is frustration over the failure of our federal government to fulfill its duty in this area, but having each of our 50 states adopt their own immigration policies would be chaos and a violation of our U.S. Constitution.


Second, this bill would place our police officers and our business owners in an impossible situation of trying to determine when and if they should demand proof of citizenship or legal residency. It is clear from the experience in other states which have attempted similar provisions that the police are almost forced into racial profiling to meet the requirements of such a provision. Likewise business owners are faced with new liabilities and costs as they seek to monitor their customers according to the requirements of such legislation.


Third, this bill would only add to the climate of fear and suspicion which permeates too much of our culture already.


Mike Coyner

Bishop Michael Coyner

I believe that Senate Bill No. 590 is contrary to the Social Principles of our United Methodist Church, and therefore I urge all of our United Methodist people to express to their State Senators and Representatives their opposition to this bill. We must find a better way to enforce the laws, which already exist around the immigration debate, and we also must find a better way to protect against racial profiling.


Bishop Michael J. Coyner, Indiana Area

So what’s your next step? Will you make a public witness as Bishop Coyner has urged?