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UCC Church to Divest Over Israeli Treatment of Palestinians

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RACHEL ZOLL, AP Religion Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — The top legislative body of the United Church of Christ voted Tuesday to divest from companies with business in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, in a sign of the growing momentum of a U.S. protest movement against Israeli policy.

The denomination’s General Synod endorsed the action on a vote of 508-124 with 38 abstentions during its meeting in Cleveland.

The liberal Protestant group with 1.1 million members is the latest to take such action. Last year, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to sell stock in a few companies whose products are used by Israel in the territories. The United Church of Christ resolution was broader. Delegates are calling on the denomination’s financial arms to sell off stock in any company profiting from what the church called human rights violations arising from the occupation. The church also voted to boycott Israeli products made in the territories.

Peter Makari of Global Ministries, an agency that is part of the United Church of Christ, said the resolutions “reflect our urgent concern for the worsening effects of the Israeli occupation on Palestinian people and lives, including the disparity in rights and power.” The church affirmed Israel’s right to exist, along with a “sovereign, independent” Palestinian state.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said the denomination’s policies have “reflected the most radical politics for more than a decade and in no way reflect a moral stance or reality-based position.” In 2005, the United Church of Christ passed a resolution calling for “economic leverage” to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and had accused Israel of widespread human rights abuses against the Palestinians.

“People of faith ought to be acting to help Israel and the Palestinians to renew efforts to achieve peace, rather than endlessly demonizing one party in the conflict — in our view, the aggrieved party,” Nahshon said.

Later at the meeting Tuesday, a resolution failed that would have labeled the Israeli occupation as South African-style apartheid. The measure required a two-thirds majority to pass, but delegates were nearly split, with 312 in favor and 295 opposed, along with 31 abstentions.

Separately, the Episcopal Church, meeting in Salt Lake City, was scheduled to consider a divestment resolution this week. And at another meeting, the Mennonite Church USA will also take up a divestment proposal Wednesday.

The votes are occurring as the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, known as BDS, is gaining strength on U.S. college campuses and in many places in Europe. The Israeli government and many Jewish leaders have condemned the movement as anti-Semitic and an attempt to delegitimize Israel. Makari said the United Church of Christ vote was not “a blanket endorsement” of BDS, “but it’s in the spirit of the call.”

The BDS movement grew from a 2005 international call from Palestinian groups as an alternative to armed struggle over control of the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in 1967 and Palestinians seek for an independent state. BDS advocates say the movement, based on the campaign against South African apartheid, is aimed at Israeli policy, not Jews, in response to two decades of failed peace talks and expanded Israeli settlement of the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

The two major financial arms of the United Church of Christ — a pension board and investment fund — together control nearly $4 billion dollars. However, each is guided by directors who can decide whether to follow the call for divestment. If the financial agencies do sell off stock, the economic impact on Israel is expected to be negligible. Still, the vote aims to bring moral pressure for change from within the U.S., Israel’s closest and most important ally.

“We’re on the precipice of a new political moment,” said Lev Hirschhorn, a board member of Jewish Voice for Peace, which supports the BDS movement.

Two smaller U.S. religious groups had earlier divested in protest of Israeli policies: the Friends Fiduciary Corp., which manages assets for U.S. Quakers, and the Mennonite Central Committee.

Last year, the 12.8 million-member United Methodist Church, which has rejected churchwide divestment, revealed plans to sell holdings in G4S, which provides security equipment and has contracts with Israel’s prison system. Then in January, the Methodist pension board issued new investment guidelines meant to prioritize human rights. Methodists advocating divestment to pressure Israel say the guidelines have led to no concrete action.

___

AP writer Ian Deitch contributed from Jerusalem.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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COMMENTARY: Prayer is Your Power

Terrible things happen to good people often. We live in an unjust world with people making decisions that are informed more by profit than people. We cannot take those principles into our relationship with God. We must believe that “… all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”

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Prayer is about faith. It is believing that God hears us.
Prayer is about faith. It is believing that God hears us.

Faithful Utterances

By Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew | Texas Metro News

This week, a friend informed me that she was following the ambulance to the hospital with her husband. Her husband was going through a major health crisis. She wasn’t the only one who reached out—a friend’s mother had unexplained pain and another friend contacted me about her friend’s son who was hospitalized with pneumonia. Each of them asked that I pray for them.

I consider it an honor to pray for others. Prayer is powerful and I love that I have a group of friends who I can turn to that I call the “prayer warriors” that when I send a text to lift up the concerns and issues of others before God, they go into battle mode.

Prayer is a weapon and I think many of us don’t understand its power until we need it. For many of us, it’s a routine, something that’s more about religion than it is about relationship. We have gotten prayer twisted as some exchange solely for stuff. God is not a celestial Santa Claus dropping off gifts. Prayer is an opportunity to go before to God sincerely in relationship. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others.

Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:5–8)

Prayer is about faith. It is believing that God hears us. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) I realize that my prayers are even more powerful when I am in relationship with others seeking God: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20). It’s dangerous when we see prayer as a way to manipulate God into doing what we want. There is nothing wrong with bringing your requests before God but it’s important to check our motivation and intention. It’s also important to know that just because God doesn’t answer our prayers in the way that we want does not mean that God doesn’t love us.

It doesn’t mean that God does not hear us. It does not negate the omnipotence or goodness of God, either. We must believe that God is able. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) It’s easy to blame God when things don’t go the way we want them to—”the rain falls on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).

Terrible things happen to good people often. We live in an unjust world with people making decisions that are informed more by profit than people. We cannot take those principles into our relationship with God. We must believe that “… all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) …. God is concerned with our hearts, with people and cares for us even when things don’t go the way we’d like. I can report that all of the individuals we prayed for had excellent results.

God is good! Yet, I realize that this isn’t always the case. Prayer is powerful. God wants us to have this daily form of communication. 1 John 5:14, tells us: “And this is the boldness we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” Don’t use prayer just when you need something. Just as all relationships require consistent communication for growth and results, the same is even more important in our relationship with God. Prayer is a powerful partnership with God that can move mountains when we believe!

Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew is the host of the Tapestry Podcast and the author of three books for women. She is also the Vice President of Community Affairs for the State Fair of Texas. To learn more, visit drfroswa.com.

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Black History

AFRICAN-ISH: The First Christmas Story

Both Joseph and Mary were of the lineage of David, Joseph descended from David’s son Solomon (and Bathsheba), and Mary extended from another son Nathan. Therefore, they were required to go to the little town of Bethlehem,  in Judea and there,  in a cattle shed Jesus was born.  (Bethlehem is 70 miles south of Nazareth and 5 miles southwest of Jerusalem).

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The four Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John chronicled the full theme of Christ as the universal Savior.
The four Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John chronicled the full theme of Christ as the universal Savior.

By Simon Burris

The narrative of Jesus’ birth and proof of his Hamitic (Black) African bloodline* began in the Old Testament in the book of Genesis chapter 10, in the Land of Ham, located in southwest Asia and Africa. Three most  prominent Hamitic personalities:  Abraham,  Isaiah and David.

People and places of Hamitic origins  are underlined.

(1) Abraham the patriarch was Babylonian (Ethnic Ethiopian). Gen. 11:31;  (2) Isaiah a prophet lived 750 years before Christ, predicted the virgin birth was a nephew of Amaziah a Judahite (Canaanite) king; and (3) David the great king of Israel  was a descendant of Abraham, also of  Tamar and Rahab (Canaanites).

The (Hamitic) Genealogy of Jesus Christ: Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-34

The Birth of Jesus:   (about 6-4 BC)

Mary the virgin mother of Jesus and her husband Joseph the “foster” father of Jesus, a carpenter, lived in Nazareth, a town in northern Palestine.

At this time Emperor Augustus of the Roman Empire decreed that a census would be taken. Everyone in his domain had to go to his or her hometown to register. He probably ordered  Cyrenius  ( Quirinius ) the Afro Roman governor of Syria / Judeadistrict to take charge and supervise the mandate.

Both Joseph and Mary were of the lineage of David, Joseph descended from David’s son Solomon (and Bathsheba), and Mary extended from another son Nathan. Therefore, they were required to go to the little town of Bethlehem,  in Judea and there,  in a cattle shed Jesus was born.  (Bethlehem is 70 miles south of Nazareth and 5 miles southwest of Jerusalem).

A short time later shepherds from the countryside as well as Wise Men (Magi) from neighboring countries  ArabiaBabylonia,and Persia  traveled to the nativity site, paid homage and worshiped the infant-Savior.

Now Joseph was warned by the Lord in a dream that Herod the Edomite king of Judea was plotting the murder of the child, fled with his family to Egypt, returning to Nazareth after the death of Herod.

Jesus had siblings, brothers Joseph, Simon, Epistle writers James, Jude, and several sisters. The last mention of Joseph occurs in the Gospel of Luke when he and Mary take the 12-year-old Jesus to Jerusalem. Mary played a vital role all through Jesus’ life, from the day He was born till the time of the crucifixion.

Conclusion:  The four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John chronicled the full theme of Christ as the universal Savior. *Descendants of Ham’s sons Cush (Ethiopia), Mizraim (Egypt), Put (Libya) and Canaan (Ancient Palestine/Israel). Genesis 10: 6-20

Footnotes: Why is Christmas celebrated on December 25?

The ancient Romans celebrated the winter solstice on December 25 as the birthday of the SUN; the Babylonians and Persians -SON of the SUN. Some 300 plus years after Jesus’ earthly demise, Roman Emperor Constantine in 336 legalized this date as the birthday of the SON of GOD – JESUS the CHRIST!   Originally:   Christ’s Mass.

Eurocentric racism:  Pope Julius II in 1508  commissioned  Michelangelo, Raphael and other Renaissance artists and church scholars to portray and depict almost all major biblical characters as  Europeans  (Caucasians), save servants and slaves.  

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Activism

SDA Churches Join Outreach Efforts to Find Solutions to Upsurge of Violence

the Northern California Conference of Seventh Day Adventists (SDA) held their annual Convocation at Grand Avenue Seventh Day Adventist Church in Oakland. Seven hundred people came together in celebration and worship. The theme was “Embracing Change.”

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From left to right: Pastor Raymond Lankford, Elder Busayo Alabi, Pastor Damon Washington, Sister Rose Robinson, Pastor Garrett Anderson, Pastor Edwin Brown, Pastor Willie Johnson, Pastor Virgil Childs.
From left to right: Pastor Raymond Lankford, Elder Busayo Alabi, Pastor Damon Washington, Sister Rose Robinson, Pastor Garrett Anderson, Pastor Edwin Brown, Pastor Willie Johnson, Pastor Virgil Childs.

By Post Staff

On Oct. 8, the Northern California Conference of Seventh Day Adventists (SDA) held their annual Convocation at Grand Avenue Seventh Day Adventist Church in Oakland. Seven hundred people came together in celebration and worship. The theme was “Embracing Change.” The guest speaker was Dr. Myron Edmonds, who pastors in Cleveland, Ohio. He spoke about how Christ wasn’t a traditionalist, and the work isn’t being done because some in the church don’t wish to change and they tend to demonize new ideas.

Throughout the day, the Mobile Medical Health Van operated by Immanuel Temple Seventh Day Adventist Church out of Oakland sat in front of the church and provided health screenings and community resource information to the general public. The Medical Van, which was gifted to the church by Pastor Raymond Lankford of Healthy Communities, has provided free health care services throughout Alameda County for the last few years. The prayer of Pastor Damon Washington of Immanuel Temple Church, who was ordained during the afternoon program, is for their health ministry to partner with the other providers like OPIC and Oakland Workforce Agencies and to combat the ongoing health disparities and violence within the city and beyond.

They have pledged to work with the Chaplains, the OPIC and the Formerly Incarcerated Giving Back, who want to make amends for the damages they have done to harm Oakland.

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