Lenten Reflection: The Most High is Doing Something in the Ruins (Isaiah 61 :1-4)

I know this is late but I still wanted to share this reflection I wrote to encourage anyone who feels like their life, family, dreams or community is in ruins. This reflection was apart of the 40 Days of Prayer Lenten Series that Restoration Church and Metro Hope Church developed, be blessed!

- Public Art in East Harlem Photo by Onleilove Alston

– The Sistas in East Harlem

Sit in silence and read each version of the passage opening your heart to what the spirit wants to communicate to you.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound, To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [the year of His favor] [a]and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion—to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit—that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. And they shall rebuild the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former desolations and renew the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. – Amplified Bible

Continue reading

Advertisements

Connecting the Dots: Hurricane Sandy, Climate Change & Poverty

This article was originally published in the April 2013 Issue of Sojourners Magazine.

Image: Hurricane collage, Amir Ridhwan / Shutterstock.com

OVER THE PAST few years, we have seen tangible proof that creation is terribly off balance. Global warming is causing droughts and heat waves around the world and is making hurricanes more powerful. In my hometown of New York City, we have experienced the effects of severe weather: Hurricane Irene in 2011 and, most recently, the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Sandy was an eye-opening demonstration that climate change is a poverty issue, a race issue, and an immigration issue.

Though neighborhoods of all socioeconomic statuses were affected by Sandy, poorer communities are taking longer to recover. Many of them were without electricity, heat, and water longer than were more affluent communities. For instance, residents of Red Hook’s public housing projects in Brooklyn were without power and water for two weeks after the storm. My cousin Dabriah Alston, a Red Hook resident, told me that the city ignored residents’ repeated requests for information about when the heat would come back on: “The bottom line is, they don’t care about us. Projects are filled with poor folk, and as we all know, the poor are seldom a priority.”
Read the Entire Article Here

Let the Little Children Come: Why Childcare is a Faith Issue

Happy New Year! I hope your 2013 is getting off to a good start! See my recent Sojourners God’s Politics post on childcare issues, the intersection of faith, poverty and women of color. Thank you for reading!

From: lovenwords.com

From: lovenwords.com

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, ‘Truly I say to you, unless you become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:1-6

As the Faith Based Organizer for the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) — a citywide coalition of more than 300 member agencies and faith institutions — I have the privilege of working with a diverse group of faith leaders. Last spring we were thrust into an important struggle for childcare and after school funding led by the Campaign for Children (C4C), a citywide coalition of organizations advocating for childcare and after school funding. Some may wonder why clergy would be concerned about this issue, but for the clergy I work with, the reason is clear: budgets are moral documents, and what is funded reflects our values. Our clergy know that children are the greatest in God’s kingdom and our investment (or lack thereof) in them will have consequences for our future. Read More

Continue reading

From Homeless to Hope: Sydia Simmons Founder of The Lost Angels Society

In the U.S. there are about 1,682,900 homeless and runaway youth-The National Coalition for the Homeless

 “25 percent of former foster youth nationwide reported that they had been homeless at least one night within two-and-a-half to four years after exiting foster care.”-The National Alliance to End Homelessness

Number of homeless youth in NYC every night – 3,800.-Shelter of Peace

Founder of the Lost Angels Society Sydia Simmons, her husband Jonathan & daughter Aniyah

Sydia Simmons, her husband Jonathan & daughter Aniyah

At 14-years old Sydia Simmons was kicked out into the streets of New York City by her alcoholic mother but today she is a wife, mother & founder of the Lost Angels Society. The purpose of the Lost Angels Society is to provide a safe space for homeless teens. Sydia knows first hand the difficulty of being homeless, especially in New York City and because she has overcome through her faith she wants to give back. On December 16, 2012 Sydia hosted the Lost Angels Society Benefit to give homeless youth a Christmas celebration. This benefit was supported by actress Uma Thurman, Superstar Singer Usher and many others. Sydia truly has a passion and compassion for homeless youth and an important message for the Church. In Isaiah 61: 3-4 it states: “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.They will rebuild the ancient ruins  and restore the places long devastated;they will renew the ruined cities  that have been devastated for generations”, Sydia truly fits the description above because she is rebuilding the lives of teens devastated by homelessness. What is unique about the Lost Angels Society is that it is founded by someone who experienced homelessness first hand.

In the video below Sydia shares her amazing testimony with power, honesty & grace.

For more information on the Lost Angels Society, the April 2013 Youth Conference and how you can assist please contact Sydia at: mszsimmons2011@gmail.com.

Bijoux Uniques

I love purchasing street or handcrafted jewelry and living in New York City I always have the opportunity to do so (probably more opportunities than I need).  Whether I am on 125th Street in Harlem or hanging out in Union Square downtown I am always tempted to by one more pair of earrings or another funky ring, see some of my finds below:

Various pieces that were gifted or brought from vendors on 125th Street in Harlem. The cuff is from Venus Visuals.

Continue reading

Occupy-Chaplaincy!!!

This blog first appeared on the Poverty Initiative Union in Dialogue Blog: A New & Unsettling Force.

Below are two pieces by Poverty Initiative leaders discussing the different contexts in which they have served as chaplains and how this work is connected to the broader movement to end Poverty. The first is a reflection by Jennifer Wilder about her work with the Union protest chaplains who have been serving in Zuccotti (Liberty) Park for the past several weeks of Occupy Wall Street. Jenn’s reflection is followed by an excerpt from a reflection that Union alum and Poverty Initiative leader Onleilove Alston wrote about being a chaplain over the years with the Poverty Initiative, “on the field of battle for justice.”

CHAPLAINCY IN ZUCCOTTI PARK FOR ‘OCCUPY WALL STREET

Continue reading

ES2 Campaign Rally & Lobby Day in Albany for Justice

On Wednesday March 7, 2012 a delegation of grassroots, social service and advocacy organizations from across NYC and NY State converged on Albany for a Rally and Lobby Day for Economic Justice. Some of the issues that were being focused on were: the Welfare Grant Increase, Healthcare Reform, Childcare, CUNY & SUNY Scholarships  for Foster Children, Job Training and Educational opportunities for welfare recipients, Tax Reform and other issues that benefit the 99% of New Yorkers. I attended with some of my co-workers and meet with legislators to speak on behalf of New York City’s faith community.

Prior to the lobby meetings we held a rally outside of the legislative chamber; this rally was led by high school and CUNY college students and as I walked by I noticed a man locking himself inside the chamber as if he was afraid of these young people, which proves we have more power than we think. See the rally article and video below:

Article Anti-Poverty Advocates Rally at Capitol Tell Governor and Legislature to “Put People First” by New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness