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United Women in Faith Voices Alarm at Possible Overturning of Roe v. Wade

For Immediate Release

May 4, 2022

NEW YORK – United Women in Faith today voiced alarm in reference to the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade. The organization’s General Secretary and CEO Harriett Jane Olson issued the following statement:

“As a leading Christian women’s organization committed to the needs of women, children, and youth, United Women in Faith must voice alarm at the possibility of women losing the Constitutional right to legal abortion guaranteed by the Supreme Court’s precedent-setting Roe v. Wade decision. Overturning Roe could also endanger the right to privacy that should also protect women from being prosecuted for a miscarriage and affords women access to widely used, safe, and legal contraceptives.

“Over the years, The United Methodist Church has crafted a carefully nuanced position on abortion that calls us to respect both the sanctity of unborn human life and the well-being of the mother, while supporting the legal option of abortion by certified medical providers in cases of “tragic conflicts of life with life.” *

“It is for this reason that, as the nation awaits the Supreme Court’s ruling on this issue, we express our concern for the lives of women and girls as more than 20 states are posed to effectively outlaw abortions in the event that Roe is overturned.

“We know from women’s experiences in the United States that the banning of abortions will not end abortions. While women of financial means will travel to areas where abortion remains safe and legal, many poor and working-class women and girls will resort to unsafe procedures that could cost them their lives, which happened too often prior to the Roe decision.

“We call on federal and state legislators to act to protect the lives of women and girls by codifying their right to privacy, to legal and safe contraceptives, and, in tragic conflicts of life with life, abortions. State-coerced motherhood—like state-coerced sterilization—undermines women’s ability to carefully discern and follow God’s calling in their lives.

“Women are entitled to seek guidance in the privacy of their families and faith traditions or ethical mores in these moments. The United Methodist Church has provided such guidance for members (The United Methodist Church Book of Discipline 2016, ¶161 K). Of course, other faith communities provide guidance as well, as is right and proper. What the court must do is guard this fundamental right of women.”

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*The United Methodist Church on Abortion

“Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion. But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother and the unborn child. We recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases, we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures by certified medical providers.

“The Church shall encourage ministries to reduce unintended pregnancies such as comprehensive age-appropriate sexuality education, advocacy in regard to contraception, and support of initiatives that enhance the quality of life for all women and girls around the globe.”

¶161 K, The United Methodist Church Book of Discipline

Black Southern Women’s Collaborative: We Have Been Summoned to Battle

For Immediate Release

ATLANTA – Following revelations by Politico that the Supreme Court intends to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Black Southern Women’s Collaborative (BSWC) issued the following statement:

“The Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is maddening,” said Ashley K. Shelton, executive director of the Power Coalition for Equity & Justice and BSWC member. “All women should have the right to consider the full range of reproductive health options. To take a viable option off the table – and deny exemptions in cases of rape, incest, mental incapacity, financial ability, or medical risk to the mother, etc. – is unconscionable. We cannot allow the continued denigration of basic rights, and then claim to live in a democratic society.”

“We live in a world where race, gender, class, and sexual identity impact a person’s ability to live and live well,” said Rev. Rhonda Thomas, executive director of Faith in Florida and BSWC member. “Black women – who already face higher maternal mortality rates, higher incidences of intimate partner and domestic violence, and sexual violence – know this well. While we take great pains to improve our lives, Black women are less likely to be gainfully employed, have access to paid time off or affordable health insurance. This is not for a lack of trying as Black women are among the most educated demographics in the nation.”

“Our society is often anti-Black and anti-Black woman, and that results in serious consequences” said Tameka Greer, executive director of Memphis Artists for Change and BSWC member. “Every policy that restricts a woman’s right to choose will have an adverse impact on Black women who experience intersecting oppressions and multiple on-ramps for violation.”

“One of the things we find so egregious is the reasoning Justice Alito provides that if the consultation doesn’t expressly state something then the right has to be rooted in the nation’s history,” said Kendra Cotton, Chief Operating Officer of the New Georgia Project and BSWC member. “What does that mean for Loving v. Virginia, Brown v. Board of Education or Obergefell v. Hodges? There are certain rights that should not be infringed upon, but Justice Alito is seemingly denouncing that logic. They are saying Roe is an abuse of judicial authority and if that is the case, we are in trouble.”

“This ruling reminds us that in America, Black women and women with limited financial means have never been, indeed are not presently, safe,” said Phyllis Hill, founder of the BSWC. “We should all be gravely concerned. If we allow the court to strip our agency in such a pivotal area, rest assured that no right we currently enjoy is tamper-proof. We are moving towards a dreadful place where the government controls all aspects of our lives.”

“Our response in this moment must be to continue organizing, continue turning out to vote, continue running for office and most importantly, to continue fighting,” Shelton concluded. “We have been summoned to battle; and we cannot relent until justice is won.”

The Black Southern Women’s Collaborative is a network of Black women organizing in the South to improve material conditions for Black people. The members of the BSWC pledge to share resources, insights, fundraising strategies, communications and organizing strategies.

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EVENT: LIVE FREE to Host Justice & Belonging Event in Connection with Justin Bieber’s “Justice World Tour” in Buffalo, NY

For Immediate Release

April 29, 2022

OAKLAND, Calif. – In connection with Justin Bieber’s 2022 “Justice World Tour,” LIVE FREE today announced a series a community conversations on social injustice and belonging. Titled the “Justice & Belonging Labs,” the events will offer concrete ways for community members to engage around social injustice. They will also promote a sense of belonging, bringing together people from all walks of life in a vision for communities where all belong and all can thrive. The next Justice and Belonging Lab will be held today, May 6 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Greater Royal Worship Center, 1335 Clinton Street, Buffalo, NY 14206. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. To RSVP, livefreebuffalo.rocs.online.  

“We must address the development of violence in our city,” said Rev. Denise Walden-Glenn. “As faith and lay leaders of this community, we must ensure that our city’s American Rescue Plan funds are used to truly create the infrastructure to achieve violence prevention. It is time we call for accountability on every side, including the community, legal system, law enforcement and all levels of city government. Though as people of faith we do not condone violence, we cannot ignore the deep cries of our community to have their most basic needs met. To address violence, we must address the lack of equity
and the oppression of systems on communities, especially communities of color.”

LIVE FREE, a nationwide organization committed to ending the death penalty, mass incarceration and gun violence, is hosting these events to bring greater awareness around the epidemic of gun violence. The entity always wants to highlight specific ways community members can engage to address gun violence and other issues.

“Gun violence is a public health epidemic,” said Pastor Michael McBride, founder and executive director of LIVE FREE. “And mass incarceration wounds the individual and the community. Thankfully, there are proven, evidence-based solutions to dramatically reduce gun violence that do not further criminalize our communities. Over the course of this tour, our intentional conversations will offer concrete ways for communities to engage with one another, push back on social injustice and create a more inclusive community.”

The intended audience for the discussions is people of faith, people directly impacted by gun violence and mass incarceration, as well as attendees of Justin Bieber concerts.

Bieber, whose “Justice World Tour” began on Feb. 18 in San Diego, has said that a tour goal is to “inspire millions of individual actions, help connect his fans to important causes, and provide participating groups with a new foundation of supporters.”

Light refreshments will be provided at each event.

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Race Forward Launches New Campaign to Organize Against Attacks on an Inclusive Democracy

For Immediate Release

H.E.A.L. Together Event Discusses Anti-CRT, Book Bans, Silencing of LGBTQIA Movements

NEW YORK – Before an audience of over 850 attendees, Race Forward and partners kicked off their much-anticipated H.E.A.L. (Honest Education Action & Leadership) Together initiative. The campaign promotes equitable schools, a quality education and a multiracial democracy. It will also support local and national leaders working to strengthen education and democracy.

In addition to Race Forward, a host of organizations and activists including Emmy-award winning storyteller Sarah Eagle Heart; Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY); Kiah Morris; the National Education Association; Student Voice; Schott Foundation for Public Education; the Alliance for Quality Education; Dignity in Schools Campaign; Red, Wine and Blue; the Women’s March; Moms Rising; Parents Together Action and others attended the kickoff.

“Part of the reason our communities are still suffering is because our history has been suppressed,” said Sarah Eagle Heart, a member of the Lakota Tribe. “It has been suppressed due to the taking of our resources. But there is also resistance to look at the shame of our own history, which means that we don’t move into healing. We have to do it now in order to live.”

“Efforts to curtail progress are a direct response to organizing by grassroots groups to create a more equitable nation,” said Glenn Harris, president of Race Forward. “But let’s be clear: The resistance we see today emerged, in part, following protests over the brutal killing of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. After Floyd’s murder, outraged Americans from a host of races and ethnicities engaged in protests across the country. The June 2020 actions were the largest civil rights protests in American history.”

For over a year, there has been a wave of policies restricting what teachers can and cannot say in the classroom, what books schools will and will not offer, and what employers can and cannot say at work.

“Those policies aren’t about creating environments conducive to learning but rather about limiting multiracial progress,” Harris said. “But we will not be deterred, nor will we be denied.”

Attendees took a pledge to do their part to support good schools and a quality education, which are key components in ensuring a multiracial democracy. Event facilitators shared that local and national partners will offer assistance with district data analysis, curriculum review, best practices for teachers, survey development, graphic creation and policy review. Participants then had the opportunity to pledge their support and advocacy for an honest, accurate and fully funded public education for all students across this country. The pledge was read by Eagle Heart.

“Schools should be a safe place where students can thrive and reach their full potential,” said Beatriz Beckford of Moms Rising. “What is most exciting about H.E.A.L. Together is that we’re joining young people who are stepping up advocating for truth teaching and progress.”

“When we transform systems to be more equitable and fairer, the sum of us wins,” said Dennis Chin, Vice President of Narrative, Arts, and Culture at Race Forward. “This fight isn’t just about parents’ rights and individual freedom. Individual rights and freedom do not live in a vacuum – we are interconnected. We have shared responsibility with one another to ensure everyone has what they need, such as public services and public education.”

Following rousing remarks from education leaders and activists, Race Forward and partners declared that attacks on the teaching of American history, the LGBTQIA community and books would not go unchallenged.

“Part of what we’re trying to do is to create a bigger ‘we,’” said Zakiya Ansari of Alliance for Quality Education.

Maria Dautruche, served as master of ceremony, enthusiastically welcoming the crowd and introducing the myriad number of speakers. She noted the H.E.A.L. Together effort is designed to ensure strong schools, more equitable communities and a more inclusive democracy.

“Regardless of whether you have children in school, the debate around the accurate teaching of American history and contemporary issues of gender, race and sex impacts us all,” said Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association. “Imagine trying to explain the significance of the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court without being able to talk about the history of race in America.”

For more information, contact Maya Boddie (media@raceforward.org) or Jennifer R. Farmer (jenniferr@spotlightpr.org) for interviews.

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Faith in Florida: Gov. DeSantis’ Latest Maneuver Another Attack on Democracy

For Immediate Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – On Tuesday, March 30, Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a two-map legislative package drawn with bipartisan support. The advocacy organization Faith in Florida issued the following statement, which can be attributed to Rev. Rhonda Thomas, executive director:

“Nothing Gov. DeSantis does surprises me or the people of our great state. Based on his actions, it is easy to surmise that the needs of Floridians are of little concern to Gov. DeSantis. His actions demonstrate a callousness toward Floridians that is difficult to understand. Unfortunately, the governor has a political agenda and plans for 2024 that are not aligned with current and future needs of Floridians.

“Vetoing legislative maps that drawn with bipartisan support is a huge disappointment. His actions will further complicate life for hardworking voters (many of whom are Black and Brown people), who deserve a say in our democracy and a fair shot at electing candidates of choice.

“Faith in Florida will continue to fight for what is right. We will not be deterred. We will continue working to protect and expand democracy by encouraging as many voters as possible to get out and vote. The resistance we see today is the response to our organizing success. Black and Brown voters will not be deterred, regardless of the undemocratic bills lobbed our way.”

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United Women in Faith to be Honored by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

For Immediate Release

NEW YORK – United Methodist Women (now United Women in Faith), will be honored during the Interfaith Center on Corporate qualita stanozolol oral winstrol con spedizioni Responsibility’s “ICCR at 50: Keeping the Faith” gala. The virtual event will be held March 31 at 5:30 p.m. ET. The honor recognizes United Women in Faith as one of the original founders of this effort, which arose out of the work against aparthied in South Africa and has extended its reach to promoting corporate accountability for deleterious impacts on people and the planet.

“We are proud to be a part of the work of the Interfaith Center for Corporate responsibility and are grateful to be recognized as we engage is this work together,” said Harriett Jane Olson, general secretary and CEO of United Women in Faith. “Given the current state of the climate crisis, we know that we cannot rest on our laurels; our advocacy to ensure corporate responsibility around climate, diversity and inclusion, conditions for workers and other urgent matters must intensify.  Threats to the planet show no sign of slowing down and the pandemic has laid bare the gender and racial disparities that must be addressed, as well as raising important issues of governance and executive compensation. While we celebrate the longevity and the impact we have made together, we know that the work demands ongoing active involvement and engagement.”

“From the recent IPCC report, we know that the climate crisis is escalating to a degree where the damage caused by pollution may be irreversible,” said Elizabeth Chun Hye Lee, executive for environmental and economic justice and climate justice lead for United Women in Faith. “Consequently, people across the world will continue to be impacted by rising sea levels and floods, reduced farmland and increasing drought, deadly heatwaves, extinction of plant and species. These realities will fall harshest on frontline communities, including women and children, persons living in poverty and communities of color, even though corporate actors are most responsible for negative impacts on the climate.”

United Women in Faith was an original founder of the ICCR in 1971. From the moment of its creation, United Methodist Women supported the organization’s commitment to building a shareholder coalition committed to justice and sustainability.

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Revolve Fund to Help Catalyze Businesses Led by People of Color

For Immediate Release

Baltimore – Revolve Fund today announced its pilot strategy to increase capital access. The program will bridge the gap between aspiration and reality for persons of color seeking to open, grow or scale their business or nonprofit. A philanthropic initiative, Revolve Fund offers interest-free, recoverable capital to support Black/African-American, Latinx, Native American, and other people of color-led businesses, nonprofits, and financial intermediaries. To date, the fund has raised nearly $1 million and expects to raise more than $2 million. It will provide at least 20 recoverable grants nationally. Revolve Fund has received anchor funding from JPMorgan Chase, Open Society Institute – Baltimore, and The Rockefeller Foundation.

“For entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders of color, systemic barriers disproportionately prevent their businesses and nonprofits from equitable capital access,” said James Wahls, Revolve Fund managing director and founder, and senior vice president of programs and initiatives at Mission Investors Exchange. “Revolve Fund intentionally deploys ‘friends and family-like’ funding to increase capital access, a critical factor for success.”

This program is about getting funding where it is needed most. Research indicates families of color often have less disposable income for funding business and nonprofits. In 2019, the median net worth of white families was 7.8 times that of Black families. Latino-owned businesses are more likely to experience funding shortfalls than white-owned businesses. Revolve Fund’s catalytic funding increases grantees’ ability to secure additional capital. Early data shows that Revolve Fund grants to debt and venture funds have resulted in a 275% increase in capital access for businesses and nonprofits led by people of color.

Revolve Fund’s recoverable grants are provided directly to organizations or co-invested with certified community development financial institutions, nonprofits, or venture funds. The approach maximizes Revolve Fund’s industry expertise and grantees’ sourcing, underwriting, and portfolio monitoring capabilities.

“Revolve Fund’s pilot approach offers a philanthropic model that intentionally eliminates financial barriers and catalyzes capital access for entrepreneurs and nonprofits led by people of color,” Dekonti Mends-Cole, vice president of global philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase. “It is imperative that models such Revolve Fund are supported if we are to achieve a more equitable and inclusive economy.”

Revolve Fund is managed by Wahls and fiscally hosted by Maryland Philanthropy Network. It is also partnering with Mission Investors Exchange, the leading impact investing network for foundations dedicated to deploying capital for social and environmental change. Wahls brings 15 years of experience in the philanthropic, impact investing, and legal sectors. With stints at the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore, Maryland and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan, Wahls has managed or co-managed $240+ million in impact investing allocations comprised of grant, equity, debt, and direct investments. Notable strategies designed or led by Wahls include the Baltimore Small Business Support Fund and the Detroit Entrepreneurs of Color Fund. Wahls also executed investments in affordable housing, financial inclusion, quality job creation, and community development.

 

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 United Methodist Women Is Now United Women in Faith 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 2, 2022

NEW YORK, N.Y., Mar. 2, 2022: United Methodist Women is now United Women in Faith! The move is part of a refreshing of the organization that includes a new logo and an array of new and improved programs to nurture current members and welcome new women to join to put their love in action on behalf of women, children, and youth.

The organization announced the new operating name in the March-April edition of response, its bimonthly magazine for members, and is launching the rebrand with a new website and Face Book event March 3 at 1 pm ET.

The new programs are fruits of research conducted over the past five years with more than 24,000 United Methodists and women of other Christian traditions participating in the surveys, focus groups and interviews. This input informed the prayerful discernment of staff and elected leaders.

The changes are designed to address the different needs and life stages of current members and new women and expand options for membership and engagement. The new name also aims to welcome current members whose local churches may choose to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church as well as women of other faith traditions who want to join.

New and innovative programs will be rolled out throughout 2022, including:

  • A new, easier to navigate website with a homepage designed to pique new women’s interest in United Women in Faith and a special portal set to come online later this year where members can log in to access additional resources.
  • A new “All-Access” National Membership Option enabling women to join United Women in Faith via the new website and participate online or in person at local units or larger events
  • Soul Care Retreats, a pilot recruitment program for members and their nonmember friends and new women focused on nurturing women’s bodies, minds, and spirits.
  • Innovations to Mission u, the organization’s longtime spiritual growth and transformative education program. Beginning in spring 2022, Mission u will introduce new curricula each year—one for children, one for youth and one for adults—all focused on a shared biblical theme. The new Mission u curricula will be more adaptable for use in small groups, local churches, vacation Bible schools, retreats, and other settings. Through these vibrant, relevant, justice-oriented, and biblically centered curricula, Mission u will continue its commitment to learning together for the transformation of the world and expand its impact.
  • More targeted giving options and new interactive online resources for members.

“This is an exciting time for our organization!” said Harriett Jane Olson, CEO of United Women in Faith. “Looking back, we see the through lines for our organization—faith in    God, love for each other and commitment to putting our faith into action supporting women, children, and youth. These commitments have been expressed in different ways at different times using different names, always calling women to world changing action. This combination of a new look, more accessible resources for members and new ways to participate, positions us for impact in our own journeys and in how we engage the world that God so loves.”

‘Ainise ‘Isama’u, United Women in Faith board president, said the changes express the organization’s core values in ways that will excite current members and invite new women to join us.

“I’m confident our members will be excited about these changes,” she said. “Together we are creating more opportunities for engagement with more women through new programs and updates of long-standing programs that embody our core values. Things change. People change. But God remains, and that continues to be the purpose behind everything that we do in this organization.”

The organization remains incorporated in New York as United Methodist Women and is     doing business as United Women in Faith.

United Women in Faith seeks to connect and nurture women through Christian  spiritual formation, leadership development, creative fellowship, and education  so that they can inspire, influence and impact local and global communities. 

 

 

Congregation Beth Israel Releases Statement Following Anti-Semitic, Hate-Filled Flyers

For Immediate Release

COLLEYVILLE, TX – In response to reports that the Colleyville Police Department contacted the FBI to investigate anti-Semitic and white separatist flyers distributed throughout the city the morning of Feb. 20, Congregation Beth Israel today issued the following statement:

“Following a harrowing ordeal at our congregation on Jan. 15, where four congregants were held hostage, several of our members today received anti-Semitic flyers in their respective driveways.

“We understand that the Colleyville Police Department and the FBI are investigating, and their involvement brings comfort. We are hopeful that the individual(s) responsible will be identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Circulating hate speech cannot be taken lightly.

“Unfortunately, anti-Semitism is a reality in the United States and around the world. Each of us has a responsibility to root out hate, and work towards building a community where all belong and all can thrive.”

 

Power Coalition for Equity & Justice Releases Testimony During Louisiana Redistricting Process

For Immediate Release

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Power Coalition for Equity & Justice today released public testimony its president and CEO Ashley K. Shelton gave to the House and Governmental Affairs Committee. The testimony, which is copied below, makes clear the importance of an equitable and fair districting process. It was delivered before the Louisiana Senate voted down Sen. Cleo Fields’ congressional redistricting map and prior to the Louisiana House voting down Rep. Randal Gaines’ congressional redistricting map. Those proposals included two minority-majority districts, something Black voters in the state advocated for. 

Good Morning, Speaker of the House and Members of the House and Governmental Affairs Committee. My name is Ashley Kennedy Shelton, and I am the Founder, President and CEO of the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice. I join you here today to speak on behalf of the state and the people I love.

I often say, “everything I love is in this place and that is why I fight for it.” The criteria for the redistricting process is clear, we must first comply with the Federal law which includes the Voting Rights Act, Section Two. Louisiana has the 2nd largest Black population in the country and this map does not create additional majority-minority districts beyond the 29 we already have, which very likely violates Section 2 of the VRA. Speaker, you mention tradition and keeping your decisions in line with the elected officials who came before you…however, those that came before you have allowed and have maintained significant racial gerrymandering. We know that there is an opportunity for Louisiana to add at least 9 additional majority-minority seats, we understand and find it unfortunate that because of the political reality in our state this will not happen. I want to be clear however that the people of Louisiana deserve Representation and not merely “protection.” You cannot protect anyone that does not have a voice or an elected leader willing to give them voice.

This process will determine voice and representation for the next ten years and whether our communities grow because there is true voice and representation. We have been engaging in voter engagement for the last five years, and what I know is that our engagement work of a universe of 500,000 to 800,000 has consistently shown 62% or more of our universe turns out to vote. This makes several things clear to me…that when engaged, minority voters vote! We also know that having candidates that excite them also moves people to the polls.

It feels important to acknowledge that in this process all maps had to include no split precincts. In meeting the letter of the law, we must first comply with federal law, the VRA Section Two, then state law…and by forcing no precincts be split, has impacted map drawing and voices of communities of color.

In closing, Louisiana is the second poorest state in the country and failing at most quality of life indicators clearly, our elected leaders at every level of government have work to do…and in talking to your constituents all over this state, I am always struck by how we don’t differ much on the things that are important to us. It is however not lost on me or the voters of this state that there is a clear disconnect between our voices and values and the types of policies moved by our elected leaders.

For more information or to speak with Shelton, contact press@spotlightpr.org.

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