Loving the San Francisco Bay Area... Community development, urban ministry, trying to defeat poverty, faith, religion, politics, good music, the quest for the perfect pizza, the Yankees, motorcycles... All in a 'day's life'

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

East Palo Alto Teens Ask Developer to Build More than Just Structures

EAST PALO ALTO, Calif. (KCBS) -- More than 900 people have signed a petition urging the city council to require a developer interested in building a supermarket in East Palo Alto to provide community benefits in order to build.

Members of Youth United for Community Action, the group sponsoring the petition, rallied on the steps of city hall yesterday before presenting the signatures to law makers.

They are calling for Barry Swenson Builder to provide jobs, affordable housing, and money to fund youth programs.

The city council is set to discuss the supermarket deal at its April 3 meeting.

City Manager Alvin James questioned whether the city had the leverage to put any of those conditions onto the company. He said that unlike certain environmental issues, the legal framework doesn’t exist to require companies to provide the kind of economic assistance the teenagers were championing.
Interesting... I like what YUCA does... However, we have to walk a fine line here. If too many requirements are put on the developer they may walk away. If we let development happen unchecked then we sell out the community.

GE Patterson on MySpace

Bishop Patterson has a MySpace page... whoddathunk? I guess it says something about the man.

Whomever put the page together did a good job. They posted some of his messages on video from youtube. Good stuff. Being a new 'elder' in the COGIC world, I'm still becoming familiar with some of our leaders. Bishop Patterson was a great preacher - and I'm not one to say that often.

I particularly like the message he did on a communion Sunday. There is so much wealth and history in COGIC. Great preachers, great music. I still feel blessed to be part of this great church.

Please pray for our denomination. With Bishop Patterson dying there will be a whole process to decide on the new presiding Bishop. Some say our local Bishop Hamilton is a viable candidate. Either way - this is a critical time for the Church of God in Christ.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

COCIC Presinding Biship G.E. Patterson Dies

Sad News...

Leader of Church of God in Christ Dies

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - G.E. Patterson, the presiding bishop of the Church of God in Christ and a minister for almost 50 years, died of heart failure Tuesday, the church announced. He was 67.

More about the Church of God in Christ here.

Neil Young

I recently 'discovered' Neil Young. I couldn't get beyond his voice. (I know, it's sort of hypocritical for a Dylan fan to say that...) However, I recently started listening to his classic Harvest and went from there. The hype is true - he is an amazing lyricist and songwriter. Just picked up his new release 'Live at Massy Hall '71'. It's Neil at his prime. It almost feels appropriate for the times we live in now with all that is going on in the world.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Where are you, Ryan?

When is Ryan Adams coming out with a new record? I mean, 3 in 2005 than nothing... Anyone know?

Report from Meeting Last Weekend

Thanks for supporting us in your thoughts and prayers last weekend. By all accounts the meeting with CTCU went well, thanks to all who played a vital role, especially Stu Fisher (Addison Ave. CU), Keith Troup (Stanford Federal CU), Katie Fantin and Jenni Ingram.

The group we presented to, in their CEO's words was "unanimously in favor of proceeding." This means the next step will be to present, discuss and hopefully approve the Memo of Understanding (MOU) we are drafting with the credit union attorney. I want to pause and thank God that this vital step has been taken.

There are still more hurdles to jump in the coming weeks, please keep up the prayers, good will and thoughts!

I truly appreciate all of your support. We're getting closer to realizing the dream of fostering financial independence and empowerment to East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park.

Latin Migrants Sent $62 Billion Home in 2006

NPR reports:

The Inter-American Development Bank estimates that migrant workers from Latin America sent home $62 billion last year — more than all foreign aid and investment in the region. The number could hit $100 billion by 2010.
How much are they spending in transaction fees? How much money can we save them?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

If you can get a prayer through...

I'm soliciting your prayers for NCUD this Saturday. Without going into too much detail - we're making a critical pitch to the group that can give the green light to the credit union project. If in this meeting our plan is approved, then we should be pushing toward opening this summer, perhaps as early as June. I don't believe we'll recieve a decision on Saturday, but we should hear something back within a matter of days or weeks. Our portion of the meeting will be Saturday from 11:00 to 12:00.

This is the culmination of almost two years of hard work and organizing - so your prayers for the right outcome and the peace of God would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for standing with me through this process. Your support and prayers have been a great encouragement.

I'll let you know what happens from here...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

New Horizon District Meeting

Yes folks, it's time for our week of district meetings. Each year, every Church of God in Christ (COGIC) local district has a week of meeting where all the local churches come together. Last night ours began at our church. Last night was a 'musical' where each church choir represented. Our own Elder Tyron Mcgee gave a short sermon. A good time was had by all!

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Weekend of Contrasts - Youth Summit and Battle Cry

Last Saturday I attended two events, both very different and I had certain reservations about each.

On Saturday morning I attended the 'Goin' Smart' East Palo Alto Youth summit on violence. Goin' smart is a play on words, taking from a form of dance, 'goin' dumb' which is part of the Bay Area hip-hop movement called 'hyphy'. This movement is 'live' and I suspect it'll soon be a national hip hop fad. Here is a news article about the event. If you remember I previously blogged about some of my concerns about the event. You can read them here.

For the most part, the event was a success. Many kids came out and the organizers did a fabulous job including my friends and colleagues Malcom, Khabral and Marina. There was a positive vibe all day. One thing I've learned, when East Palo Alto comes together it really becomes a party. This is a tight knit community that has a clear feeling of family and love.

One of the workshops was mediated by Doug Fort from For Youth By Youth (FYBY). FYBY is led by my friends Doug Fort, Kristina Thompson and Heather Starnes. I am a vocal supporter of their efforts to combat violence through wise teaching and the Gospel. The workshop was about getting out of the 'game', the gang scene and included rapper Bandaide from Hoodstarz and other 'OG's', locally known street veterans who got out of the lifestyle.

During the workshop, one of the OG's in the audience looked at one of the panelists and apologized for the negative influence he had on him in the audience. The panelist has spent time in prison for his involvement in the drug trade. It was a powerful and poignant moment where repentance occurred, forgiveness was sought and received.

The only down side for me was the involvement of the rappers from the hyphy movement. The participated in a panel discussion where they attempted to justify their actions and music. Their poorly taken point was they their music is soely 'art' and entertainment and should be takes as such. My contention is that their 'art', which includes drug references, exploitation of women and glorification of a culture that, in my opinion, goes against the artistic and social conciseness that was at the core of hip-hip during it's inception. One artist said he won't let his kids listen to his own music, and that it was up to other parents to do the same. He felt no obligation or responsibility. I was asked to be on the panel. When I was given the mic I attempted to graciously call the issue of role modeling the the responsibility to question. I was not given the chance to speak again.

However, in the end the event was a success. I'm grateful for the folks who put the event on. They have my respect.

Andy Westall took some of the St. Samuel youth up to San Francisco for the Battle Cry event during the summit. We felt given the nature of the event that the junior and senior high kids were better served at that event. I joined them in the late afternoon.

The kids loved the event. Acquire the Fire puts on excellent event that engages the kids all day long. They especially liked seeing Ty Tribbitt and GA. I missed Ty, bummer. I did, however, catch the end of POD's set. They were great. Andy and I liked them better than the kids... no big surprise there. The event encouraged the kids to reject the negative effects of mainstream culture that dictates to them how to dress, act, live... They came back energized and ready to change the community! I appreciate greatly what they received at the event.

As with the youth summit, I have some mixed feelings about Battle Cry. Most especially I don't care for the 'battle' imagery, the call to be a 'culture warrior' (a little much Bill O'Reilly for my taste) and the march on San Francisco city hall which seems more like a media event than a helpful statement on culture. The event, while trying to include 'urban' kids is much more for 'suburban' kids. Our kids simply are dealing with other issues such as drug and gang violence in the streets. Each group has it's own set of issues and each are important, they are just different.

Again, in the end the Battle Cry event was a great event for our kids. I'm thankful for my good friend Angie Ibarra for hooking us up with the tickets. Angie, when am I getting the pozole you promised;) You're a great sister and co-laborer.

Both events were very different. The contrasts were stark. I guess it takes alot of different colors to make a masterpiece. Given the current trend of gentrification bringing 'urban' kids to the 'burbs' we're going to have to begin changing our methodology for reaching kids. The lines are being blurred. I came away from each of these events thinking a lot about youth outreach and ministry and how we are going to have to be carefully consider the kids we're reaching and what reaches them. Lots of questions, not too many answers yet.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Another reason we need a credit union to serve our community

The Harsh Side of the Housing Boom
Luis Mapula was living in a converted garage with his wife and two daughters and earning $54,000 a year as a fence company construction worker. Then, almost like magic, he became the owner of a $543,000 home with no down payment.

Situated on a quiet cul-de-sac off Quimby Road in East San Jose, the two-bedroom home was to have been his family's piece of the American dream. Instead, it became a financial trap that consumed most of Mapula's income. He got out only after his real estate broker took back the home and paid off the loan as part of a legal settlement.

Renters once again, the family has no plans to buy another home.

"Better a garage than live without enough to eat," Mapula's wife, Cristina Plata, said through a translator.

The couple are among a growing number of Latinos in Santa Clara County who say they've been victimized by a dark side of the housing boom in which people who speak limited or no English bought homes they couldn't afford based on exaggerated statements of income they say they knew nothing about. The deals generate commissions and fees for a chain of intermediaries, but can leave home buyers in foreclosure with ruined credit.

In most of the cases examined by the Mercury News, buyers complain that their loan disclosures weren't translated into Spanish, as required by law, and that they didn't understand the terms of their loans. Their stories reflect a national problem that is particularly acute in California, where thousands of lower-income families became first-time homeowners during the housing boom by getting non-traditional "subprime" loans. Those loans, which carry higher interest rates, typically have been given to borrowers who are higher credit risks or have income that is difficult to verify. But as lenders face a wave of defaults, they're getting stricter about who receives money just as borrowers are trying to refinance their way out of mortgages they can't afford.

Loan applications

Borrowers signed

mortgage papers

It's not always clear whom to blame when false statements appear on loan documents or when payments are obviously more than the buyer can afford, because the buyers sign the papers.

Attorneys say their clients, largely lower-income, Spanish-speaking buyers who did not understand what they were signing, were misled by real estate professionals whom they trusted.

Read the entire article here.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Bono at NAACP Awards

Thanks Jeremy.

Make sure you listen to the end. Bono preaches about the role of the church with the poor and encourages the African American church to play a role in stopping world poverty.

Underground Hip Hop

I really love Hip Hop. I believe in the power of postive and Godly art to change the world. Music is one of my passions - hip hop included. While I love all music, Samuel perfes hip hop and rap over others. Now that he's getting older, I'm always looking for new music for him (and me). The other day I came across two new acts that I'm grooving on right now:
Ohmega Watts from NYC and Strange Fruit Project. Check them out.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Jay's Back

The other love of my life, that I don't talk about too much in this blog, is motorcycles and motorcycle racing. Jay Springsteen, Harley Davidson racer and former racing idol of mine is back after a crash.
Springsteen at Full Speed

DAYTONA BEACH -- Jay Springsteen is pretty much a "vintage" type, much like the No. 9 1972 Harley-Davidson he rode Monday and Tuesday in American Historical Racing Motorcycle Association events at Daytona International Speedway.

Indeed, the 49-year-old Motorcycle Hall of Famer is even older than a lot of the riders against whom he competes.

"Some of them could be my son," Springsteen said. "I'm going to be 50 in April."

Generally speaking, the older one gets, the slower bone fractures will heal -- and motorcycle racing generally isn't prone to particularly cushy landings when one is hurled from a seat.

Springsteen's recovery rate was taxed nearly to its limits in the aftermath of a serious late-July wreck last year on a half-mile dirt flat-track in Greenville, Ohio.

Twisted and bent, Springsteen was airlifted to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, where doctors inserted four pins and a rod into one all-but-shattered vertebrae.

Beyond a broken finger here and a broken collarbone there, it was the first time in his career Springsteen had taken such a big Hit. He also had rib fractures in 11 different places.

Springsteen initially thought his racing days were over.

"It was the first, really serious surgery I ever had. I thought that was gonna be the end of my career," he said. "The doctors that put me back together said I was done, too. But I proved the doctors wrong."

In a body cast, it would take Springsteen awhile to heal, though, and cost him a long-anticipated start in Moto-ST's October debut road race at Daytona International Speedway.

Scheduled to team with Jimmy Filice in Moto-ST's SuperTwin class here during the Fall Cycle Scene, Springsteen was relegated tothe pits.

"I felt good about being on the team and stuff like that, but I had feelings that I hadn't felt in a long time," said the first rider to ever reach 30 wins in AMA Grand National competition, winning more than 10 percent of the AMA flat-track races in which he competed.

Springsteen would get back on the horse for Sunday's Moto-ST DaytonaUSA 300k, teaming with Filice to win the SuperTwin-class race by more than one lap.

Springsteen hardly took a breather when he followed with four wins over two days of AHMRA action that closed out Tuesday, capturing wins each day in Formula 750 and Formula Vintage atop his Harley.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Op Ed Piece in Merc on Financial Literacy

Here are excerpts from a piece in today's San Jose Mercury. (emphasis in article mine)
Schools need to teach basic financial concepts
By Assemblyman Ted W. Lieu and John Hope Bryant

Every year we graduate millions of high school students who are financially illiterate. Nationwide financial literacy tests administered during the past decade by Jump$tart, a coalition of financial education organizations, show that the average score for a high school senior continues to hover in the low to mid-50 percent range -- a score that equates to an F-minus.

These graduates enter the workforce or go to college lacking basic financial survival skills. They do not know how to balance a checkbook, let alone understand the difference between a stock, a bond or a certificate of deposit. They will later become part of the mass of 25- to 34-year-olds who have an average credit-card debt of $4,088, with 1 in 10 owing more than $7,000, and will spend nearly a quarter of their income just on debt payments.

With the dizzying proliferation of credit and debit cards, non-traditional loans, instant credit and Internet-based financial transactions, more people make financial choices independently and at a much younger age. Most of our schools, however, have not adjusted to this new financial order. Schools teach our children about pi and the Pythagorean theorem, but not about credit scores and annual percentage rates. In today's world, knowing that a FICO score of 500 is awful and how to avoid it is an everyday necessity.

If children leave school without understanding basic financial concepts, it may be too late. Although some financial institutions and non-profits provide financial literacy education, there are precious few programs aimed at teaching financial education to adults. Financially illiterate teenagers often become financially illiterate adults. They make unwise financial decisions and become financial victims.

Financial illiteracy also has a disproportionate effect on minorities and the poor. Minorities score lower than white students on the Jump$tart financial literacy tests, and students from families earning between $40,000 and $80,000 score lower than those from families earning more than $80,000.

We fight epic battles over whether to raise the minimum wage, but fail to teach the poor the financial knowledge to help lift them out of poverty. We fail to educate lower-income working families about the Earned Income Tax Credit, a federal program that can give up to $4,536 dollars back to them in tax refunds. In California for instance, more than $1 billion in federal EITC money was left unclaimed last year by the working poor.

It is time to acknowledge the serious problem of financial illiteracy. We must incorporate a financial literacy curriculum in all our schools. We must increase the number of financial education programs for adults and seniors. We must have an aggressive education campaign about the EITC. Through a sustained collaboration between government, non-profits and industry, we can give people the financial tools to navigate our complex financial world today. Let's stop churning out generation after generation of financial victims, where more people file for bankruptcy than graduate from college.

Read the entire article here.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Can Rock and Roll be Rescued?

Unreleased Jimmy Page Guitar Riff To Be Retrieved From Secret Vault To Save Rock And Roll
Calling it the planet's last, best hope for saving rock music, the Guardians of the Protectorate of Rock announced Monday that they would take the extraordinary step of unleashing a never-before-heard Jimmy Page riff, hidden for decades in a mythic, impenetrable vault.

The Guardians said recent developments in the music world, such as the unaccountable popularity of the Dixie Chicks and Sufjan Stevens, have created a "perfect storm of lameness" from which rock might never recover. While Iommi refused to say when the vault would be opened, hard rock sources believe it will take place just prior to next month's Fall Out Boy–Honda Civic tour, which many fear will suck the remaining lifeblood from all that still rocks.

"Citizens of Rock, we refuse to stand idly by any longer," ZZ Top founder and Protectorate High Elder Billy Gibbons said. "When a (whimp) like James Blunt is allowed to rule the airwaves, we must respond by exposing this monster riff, and blowing minds into the stratosphere."

When asked to comment on the possible dangers of using the riff, Sir Paul McCartney seemed surprised."There's a secret vault to save rock and roll?" McCartney said. "This is the first I've heard of it."
Read the entire report here.

King of the Hill - Mega Churches

Found this off another blog - I forget the name - but I linked to it from Chris Brook's blog.

It's a great look at mega churches...

Check this out


Article, "Local East Palo Alto Non Profits Taken to Task"

Oh man, this is going to create some waves... I need to think about this one... I'll comment later. Let me know your thoughts.

Local Nonprofits Taken to Task
Push for results is the new benchmark for donors

Throughout the field of philanthropy, and perhaps nowhere more so than in Silicon Valley, donors are increasingly demanding evidence of results.

"Evaluation of effectiveness has been a growing trend in philanthropy," said Michelle McGurk, a spokeswoman for the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which provided $10,000 for the Feb. 3 march and rally.

"And certainly Silicon Valley has been on the cutting edge of return on investment in giving," McGurk said. "They don't look at charitable donations; they look at investments in the community."

In East Palo Alto, the face of philanthropy is changing as a result. This year, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which formed on Jan. 1 following the merger of the Peninsula Community Foundation and Community Foundation Silicon Valley, will start giving out larger grants, but fewer of them.

The foundation calculated that of the $13 million its two parent organizations dispersed to East Palo Alto nonprofits between 2003 and 2006, the average grant size was $10,000, McGurk said.

"You can't ask someone to change the world and then give them $10,000," said Emmett Carson, Ph.D., president of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

"If I'm really serious about making the quality of life better, then the foundation needs to give the money to make the best ideas work," Carson said. "If the better idea costs $250,000 to $500,000, we need to support that."

With "easily over 100" nonprofits in East Palo Alto, Faye McNair-Knox, executive director of One East Palo Alto, said there is a glut of services for youth groups.

"We have a pattern of a lot of these nonprofits serving the same population of youth," said McNair-Knox.

Perez (local community activist - JL), said a pejorative term - "poverty pimps" - has emerged in the nonprofit field to describe charitable service providers that do little or nothing to create lasting solutions, and simply sustain themselves with grants and donations.

Wikipedia defines poverty pimps as "a derogatory label used to convey the accusation that an individual or group is benefiting unduly by acting as an intermediary on behalf of the poor."

"It's a group that's making all this money off the cycle, but they're not curing the problem," Perez said, noting that this situation is often created by government grants.

"It's definitely here in East Palo Alto," said McNair-Knox, pointing to schools as a prime example of wasted expenditures, with "half-hearted" attempts to implement curricula, which are then replaced by newer curricula before the first had a chance to succeed.

"That's notorious in the school system," she said.

McNair-Knox said her organization, One East Palo Alto, is focused on setting up high-speed Internet access for East Palo Alto nonprofits, along with other technical upgrades, what she called "capacity building."

Those are the kinds of programs that provide the most lasting long-term effect, said Jessica Sowa, Ph.D., a professor at Cleveland State University who recently wrote an article on assessing the effectiveness of nonprofit organizations.

"If you build a better firehouse, you're better able to put out the fires that arise in the everyday challenge of your programming," Sowa said.
Read the entire article here.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The False God of Impact

Out of Ur blog interviews Paul Visher, one of the founders of Veggie Tales about impact and leadership. Paul Says:
Near the end we were selling a gazillion [Veggie Tales] videos and I was getting four hundred fan letters a day, but one day I was reading my Bible and I came across the verse that lists the fruit of the Spirit. It occurred to me that none of those things were present in my life. It didn’t say the fruit of the Spirit is impact, large numbers, or selling lots of videos. I realized something was not right.

I began asking, how am I supposed to live? I thought I had that figured out, but evidently I was completely wrong. So over three months I went through all of Paul’s letters and wrote down every directive or instructive statement he made. And when I read all of those statements it became clear that the gospel I had was a sham. It was more the gospel of Benjamin Franklin than the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was more about self-improvement, and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, and going out and changing the world. It was American cultural values masquerading as the words of Christ.

Now I ask myself, have I done what God has asked me to do? Am I walking with him daily? Success has very little to do with where I end up. I don’t know exactly why, but we seem wired to look for numerical results for affirmation. But success in ministry cannot be about measurable impact.

We should have peace. We should have joy. And that doesn’t mean we should force ourselves to have it, because we can’t. It will come from us when we’ve let go of our life, when we’ve let go of our ministry, when we’ve let go of any aspiration for having an impact. When it’s just us and God we’ll find the joy and the peace. Then, we can get back to work and help other people follow that path.
This spoke volumes to me. How often do I seek impact and effectiveness over depth and relationship with God and others. It's a hard balance sometimes, especially when we see so much hurt and need in the community. But I guess it's as much about 'being' as 'doing'. I've been trying to learn that lesson for a long time now.

Another Tragedy for Local Teen

Another teenager from our community, Ophylia Mona Lisa Afuha'amango, committed suicide this week. She was friends of Seema Singh and Maikeli Iongi who both died tragically last month. A local young leader put it into descripttive words this week when he said, "Our community is on fire." Most especially, the Pacific Islander community has gone through many trials. Please continue to pray for the youth in East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park. While there are less gunshots and homicides right now, kids are still dying.

This is the second suicide of a young person, both hangings, in the last two weeks.

The Palo Alto Daily News reports:
Students Mourn Classmate
At the start of her sophomore year at Menlo-Atherton High School, Ophylia Mona Lisa Afuha'amango wrote a letter to one of her teachers.

"Something that I'd like you to know is that I'm striving to get back into AS English next year and hopefully AP Lit my senior year. ... I'm excited for this year!" she wrote.

On Friday, hundreds of students and community members packed the high school auditorium to commemorate the life of Afuha'amango, who San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said committed suicide on Tuesday.

In her junior year, Afuha'amango was affectionately known as "Mona Lisa Smile" and "Monster Baby" to her friends and family. The 16-year-old resident of east Menlo Park had been a leader in her school's Polynesian Club, played on the soccer team and was hoping to attend UCLA or Brigham Young University after graduation.

"She would check on me every five minutes to see if I was hungry," said her older sister Laynah at the service. "We always talked about graduating, walking that stage together."

Steve Teu, a mentor to the school's Polynesian Club, said Afuha'amango, who was of Tongan descent, was an energetic and popular student well known to the area's Polynesian community. She had known both Maikeli Iongi and Seema Singh, both teenagers who died in East Palo Alto shootings earlier this year.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Jeremy Del Rio at the Shift Conference

Jeremy Del Rio speaking on courage at the Shift conference.

The Good the Bad and the Queen

British band... I like them... Beatles, Beach Boys influence... with a indie touch.

Rick Warren on: "The Greatist Force on Earth"

Rick Warren recently blogged an excellent article on the church. I've appreciated what he's been saying recently now that he has new perspective about poverty.

I've thought a lot about this topic, especially this week with all the local discussion about the violence summit and the role of the church in the summit. As progressive (some would call liberal) my views are, I still believe the the answer to the world's problems is the church and the Gospel. Not to say that we haven't been sidetracked and lose our focus at times. However, I still believe the church is called to be the visible hands and feet of Jesus to the world. Recently CCDA has begun to reiterate that that Christian community development endeavors should be church based. I agree. The is nothing as powerful as a socially active, Bible based congregation that embodies empowerment, reconciliation and living among the poor. This is one of the reasons we involved ourself in church planing a few years back which led to our relationship with St. Samuel Church of God in Christ.

A pastor friend of mine used to say, "The church is the answer for the world's problems. It's the institution that Jesus created to be the expression of the Kingdom of God"

Warren writes:
The Church is the most magnificent concept ever created. It has survived persistent abuse, horrifying persecution, and widespread neglect. Yet despite its faults (due to our sinfulness), it is still God’s chosen instrument of blessing and has been for 2,000 years.

The Church will last for eternity, and because it is God’s instrument for ministry here on Earth, it is truly the greatest force on the face of the Earth. That’s why I believe tackling the world’s biggest problems – the giants of spiritual lostness, egocentric leadership, poverty, disease, and ignorance – can only be done through the Church.

The Church has eight distinct advantages over the efforts of business and government:

1. The Church provides for the largest participation.
Most people have no idea how many Christians there are in the world: More than 2 billion people claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. That’s one third of the world’s population! The Church has about a billion more people than the entire nation of China.

For example, about 100 million people in the United States went to church this past weekend. That’s more people than will attend sporting events in the United States throughout this year. The Church is the largest force for good in the world. Nothing else even comes close.
See Warren's complete article here.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Sharpton's Ancestor Was Owned by Thurmond's

Sharpton's Ancestor Was Owned by Thurmond's
"The Rev. Al Sharpton, the prominent civil rights activist, is descended from a slave owned by relatives of the late senator and one-time segregationist Strom Thurmond, a genealogical study released Sunday reported.

"It was probably the most shocking thing of my life," Sharpton said of learning the findings, which were requested and published Sunday by the New York Daily News. He called a news conference to respond publicly to the report. "I couldn't describe to you the emotions I have had . . . everything from anger to outrage to reflection to some pride and glory."

Sharpton, 52, said he had suspected that his forebears may have been slaves but had never attempted to confirm that or find out any details.

"I had never really traced my family history, particularly on my father's side, since my parents separated when I was going on 10 years old," he said.

The newfound knowledge that his great-grandfather was a slave, Sharpton added, gave him a new perspective on his life.

"You think about the distance that you've come, you think about how brutal it was, you think about how life must have been like for him. And then you start wondering whether or not he would be proud or disappointed in what we have done," Sharpton said, with his eldest daughter, Dominique, 20, at his side.

The revelation was particularly stunning for the juxtaposition of the two men's public lives.

Sharpton, known for his fiery rhetoric and a tendency to intervene as an advocate in racially charged incidents, ran for president in 2004 on a ticket promoting racial justice. Thurmond made his own bid for the presidency in 1948, promising to preserve racial segregation, and in 1957 he filibustered for more than 24 hours against a civil rights bill.

After his death in 2003, though, it became clear that Thurmond had a complicated history with issues of race. A 78-year-old retired schoolteacher, Essie Mae Washington-Williams, revealed that she was the offspring of his extramarital relationship with his family's black housekeeper.

"In the story of the Thurmonds and the Sharptons is the story of the shame and the glory of America," Sharpton said Sunday.

Sharpton said he hoped the news of his roots would help heal the lingering wounds of slavery."

"If we open the scars just to leave them open, we've done a misdeed to both sides," Sharpton said. "We should open them and deal with them toward healing them so we can come together on some genuine level."
What an amazing revelation. I appreciate Sharpton's openness to healing and reconciliation. For all he is, that is a sign of his character. It again reminds me of our call to reconcile men to God and men to each other.

Jordan XX2 Commercial

Almost made me cry... Please don't let my son see this!