Saturday, January 30, 2010

FRESH Initiative Update

A diverse group of Community Organizations, Public Advocates, and Labor Unions (the Good Food, Good Jobs Coalition) teamed up with City Officials to celebrate the passing of the city's FRESH Initiative. The FRESH (Food Retail Expansion to Support Health) Initiative was developed in order to provide nutritious and affordable fresh produce into under-served neighborhoods in New York City by using economic incentives to bring more fresh food providers into these areas.

To qualify for these economic incentives, new supermarkets must apply and fill out a public questionnaire that is posted on the NYC Fresh website. The first two supermarkets have applied to qualify for the zoning benefits of the FRESH Initiative for locations in the South Bronx.

The first is Foodtown. They are applying for a store to be located in the Norwood section of the South Bronx. See their questionnaire here and their NYC Industrial Development Association (NYCIDA) Public Hearing materials here.

The second supermarket looking to take of advantage of the city's new FRESH Initiative is Western Beef. They are looking to move into the East Tremont, Bathgate section of the South Bronx. See their FRESH questionnaire here and their NYCIDA Public Hearing materials here.

You can keep track of what projects are being initiated by the FRESH Initiative by going to the NYC FRESH Initiative website. NY Faith & Justice will continue to send out updates periodically as well.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Helping Haiti: A letter from Peter Heltzel

Dear Friends:

Since the first announcement of the earthquake in Haiti, my heart has been moved to respond. Having served down at Ground Zero in 2001, I am particularly attuned to suffering after a catastrophic event. Many of you are probably wondering the best way to help. I have two good friends, John Engle and Kent Annan, who co-direct a ministry called Haiti Partners. They are both in Port-au-Prince now and I know they will put our money to good use. If you want to help, you can support John and Kent’s Haiti Partners Earthquake Response Fund by clicking on their website:

John and Kent are also organizing a program for volunteer teams to go to Haiti this Spring. Lord willing, I hope to go over, so please let me know if you are interested in serving on a volunteer team. Kent will also be sending updates from Haiti, so let me know if you would like to receive email updates about the situation in Haiti.

As we celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. this week, let us remember the suffering of our sisters and brothers in Haiti.

Hoping against hope,

Peter Heltzel

*Peter Heltzel is a Board member of NY Faith & Justice and a professor at New York Theological Seminary. He is also the author of Jesus and Justice: Evangelicals, Race, and American Politics.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Call to Prayer

A Pastoral Prayer of Comfort and Hope for Haiti and Egypt

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” – Luke 4:18-19

At the annual gathering of Christian Churches Together (CCT), we have met once again to deepen our fellowship as a diverse group of national Christian leaders. In the midst of this time together, and here on the eve of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we have been deeply affected by recent events that have led to the suffering of parts of the body of Christ.

We grieve the devastation and loss of life caused by the January 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti. We mourn the death of brothers and sisters, including Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot of the Catholic Church and other faith leaders. In the face of devastating scenes of the “living walking among the dead,” we seek to be icons of the living Christ. We pray that our affected brothers and sisters will be comforted and encouraged by our pastoral presence that includes prayers, visitation and physical aid that our churches have rushed to provide. Such a presence seeks to give witness to Christ’s work of healing and hope.

Likewise, as we “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15), we are one with our brothers and sisters in the Coptic Orthodox Church who have suffered when parishioners were gunned down in Nag Hammadi, Egypt, after Christmas Eve services. We lament the use of violence in the name of God.

In the midst of the world’s suffering, we pray for God’s compassionate and healing spirit.

We bow our heads in prayer to Him “Who loosens the bound and uplifts the fallen, the Hope of those who have no hope and the Help of those who have no helper, the Comfort of the fainthearted and the Harbor of those in the storm”, to look, with a compassionate eye, on those who are suffering, and to be as He is, full of mercy, full of compassion, full of love. For He grants us more than we ask for, and more than we need, and more than we understand. – Adapted from the Coptic Liturgy of St. Basil, the Litany of the Sick

Christian Churches Together in the USA (CCT-USA) is made up of 36 communions/denominations and six national Christian organizations, representing over 100 million Americans. We are the broadest, most inclusive fellowship of Christian churches and traditions in the USA, with national leaders from five Christian families — African American, Evangelical/Pentecostal, Historic Protestant, Orthodox and Roman Catholic. Our mission is to enable churches and Christian organizations to grow closer together in Christ in order to strengthen our Christian witness in the world.

For further information, contact CCT Executive Director, Dick Hamm at 317-490-1968 or

Letter From Speaker Christine Quinn

In light of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn released this letter last week letting New Yorkers how they can help. She also gave out the U.S. State Departments number for people trying to contact loved ones in Haiti.

January 14, 2010

Dear New Yorker,

As you've undoubtedly heard, this past Tuesday Haiti was hit by a major 7.0 earthquake that devastated its capital, Port-au-Prince. The extent of the damage is truly shocking. Members of New York's large Haitian
American community are understandably anxious about their loved ones and the state of their homeland.

We at the NYC Council are working closely with Governor Paterson, Mayor
Bloomberg and Haitian American leaders across the City and State to help
respond to this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who've been affected by this devastating earthquake.

The Haitian government with the assistance of the international community is in the process of rescue and recovery, as well as assessing the damage and determining what will be needed to assist survivors and rebuild the country. New Yorkers who want to help those in Haiti are
encouraged to donate to the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City. Donations to this fund can be made safely and securely in the following

*Online at
* By phone at 212-788-7794 or call 311
* Mail checks, with Haiti Earthquake Relief written in the memo,

Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City
One Centre Street, 23rd Floor
New York, NY 10007

The Mayor's Fund will direct contributions to reputable,
well-established organizations such as the American Red Cross that are
working on the scene.

Of course many New Yorkers want to contribute food and other supplies directly to the victims. We've been told that because of conditions on the ground in Haiti it would be difficult to receive such supplies and
to deliver them where they're most needed. The magnitude of the problem
is just too great and too complex. So again, we urge New Yorkers who want to help to make donations to the Mayor's Fund. You can also donate directly to the Red Cross by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or online at <> .

The U.S. State Department has set up a hotline for people trying to reach family members in Haiti. That number is 1-888-407-4747.

Again, our thoughts and prayers are with all those who've been affected
by this devastating earthquake. To those Haitian Americans in NYC, if there's anything we can do to help you, please let me know.


Christine C. Quinn


New York City Council

Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti Fundraiser Tonight

Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer,
The Haitian Roundtable, National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations(NECO) and Fernando Mateo

Honorary Co-Hosts:
Senator Charles E. Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, Congressman Eliot Engel, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Congressman Michael E. McMahon, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Congressman Charles B. Rangel, Congressman Edolphus Towns

Governor David A. Paterson, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Comptroller John C. Liu, Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, State Senator Thomas K. Duane, State Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson, State Senator Liz Krueger, State Senator Kevin S. Parker, State Senator Bill Perkins, State Senator Eric T. Schneiderman, State Senator Daniel L. Squadron, Assemblymember Karim Camara, Assemblymember Herman D. Farrell, Jr., Assemblymember Adriano Espaillat, Assemblymember Richard N. Gottfried, Assemblymember Micah Kellner, Assemblymember Alan Maisel, Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell, Assemblymember José R. Peralta, Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, Assemblymember Keith L.T. Wright, Councilmember Gale A. Brewer, Councilmember Fernando Cabrera, Councilmember Leroy Comrie, Councilmember Inez E. Dickens, Councilmember Mathieu Eugene, Councilmember Julissa Ferreras, Councilmember Daniel R. Garodnick, Councilmember Sara M. González , Councilmember Letitia James, Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito, Councilmember Rosie Mendez, Councilmember Diana Reyna, Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, New Jersey Councilmember Julio Tavarez, Maurice A. Buckley, Walter Edwards, Nasser J. Kazeminy, Bill Lynch, Karl and Faye Rodney, Bill White, Alianza Dominicana, Citi Health Home Care, The Dominican American National Roundtable, Dominican Women's Development Center, Haiti’s Hungry Task Force, Haitian-American Caucus, NYS Organizing for America, NY Carib News, Street Corner Resources Live

Invite you to
New Yorkers for Haiti
an event in support of relief efforts following the earthquake in Haiti.

Friday, January 15, 2010
Talay, 701 West 135th Street (at 12th Avenue)
6:00 – 8:30 pm

The US Fund for UNICEF will be present to receive donations.
All proceeds will go to The US Fund for UNICEF, a registered 501c3.
For more information call 212.669.8300

Click here to view the invitation

If you are unable to attend this even, click here to learn about other ways you can help.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

People are Talking...

NY Faith & Justice would like to thank everyone who came out on Thursday night to take part in a deeper conversation on money and values as we helped to launch Jim Wallis new book, Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, & Your Street.

We hope you have bought the book and are continuing the discussion with friends and loved ones. In the meantime, check out these links about the event!

Patrol Magazine wrote a review of the evening here!

Jim Wallis wrote about the conversation himself on his God's Politic's Blog!

Finally, Joy Ike made a video diary of the event and takes you on a tour of Riverside Church as well!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Live from New York: It’s the New Conversation!

by Onleilove Alston first published on 1-8-2010 on God's Politics

Last night at the historic Riverside Church, Jim Wallis, hosted by NY Faith & Justice, discussed his new book Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street — A Moral Compass for the New Economy. The night opened with powerful singer Joy Ike, spoken word by Christopher Mullen, and introductions by Lisa Sharon Harper (Executive Director of NY Faith & Justice) and Rev. Gabriel Salguero.

The room was full of over 400 diverse New Yorkers who were eager to hear this alternative economic crisis conversation. Rev. Wallis stated in his keynote address:

"We have been asking the wrong question, which is when will the crisis end — not how the crisis will end. I think the country is ready for a new conversation on values. Let’s start the conversation at all levels: Wall Street, Main Street, and your street. If we go back to normal — to business as usual — all the suffering of places like my hometown, Detroit, and New York will have been in vain."

Rev. Wallis compared Jon Stewart’s landmark interview with Mad Money host Jim Cramer to Jesus overturning the money tables. One of the most thought provoking comments of the night was when Rev. Wallis stated, “Let’s stop trying to keep up with the Joneses and make sure the Joneses are alright.”

As a native New Yorker I am all too familiar with how being the center of economic power causes us to devalue our time. I think many New Yorkers would benefit from considering the fact that, as stated by Rev. Wallis, “a calendar is a moral document.” What does it mean for us to consider calendar keeping as a spiritual practice? There is a connection between an unregulated economy and unregulated calendar — the results are hurt individuals, families, communities, and churches.

A lively panel responded to Rev. Wallis’s book. The panel was moderated by Lisa Sharon Harper and included the following figures: Dr. Obery Hendricks Jr., theologian and author of The Politics of Jesus; Patrick Purcell Jr., Asst. to the President of UFCW Local 1500; Tom Rodman, Director/Client Adviser at Deutsche Bank; and Maya Wiley, Executive Director at the Center for Social Action. Dr. Hendricks spoke of the lack of regulatory protection and the disbanding of this protection by those who worship the market. Mr Purchell spoke to the decline of the labor movement as one of the causes of the crisis and the 30 years of anti-labor sentiment in our country. Ms. Wiley spoke to the complexity of systems that contributed to the crisis such as the sub-prime market, which is a new development. This was not only a class issue but a race issue. Black families making over $350,000 a year were more likely to receive a sub-prime mortgage. Black and Latino families make about 60 cents of the white dollar. Consider the sobering statistic that 25% of Black and Latino men between the ages of 18 and 25 are unemployed. Patrick Purcell, Jr. stated, “it’s not about the ideological arguments between capitalism and communism, but about balance.”

Questions from the audience brought up issues such as distributive justice, which led to a brief discussion that touched on social exclusion and the emerging green economy, what sector of society is responsible for resetting the moral compass of our country, and what type of mobilization can jump-start change.

Overall this was an engaging and thought-provoking night of dialogue and collaboration. This event was co-sponsored by the following groups: Coalition of Educational Justice, Judson Memorial Church, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Interfaith Center of New York, Latino Leadership Circle, Marble Collegiate Church, Metro Hope Church, New York Theological Seminary, NY Divinity School, Presbytery of New York City, The Harlem House, Radical Living, Rainbow Coalition-1000 Churches Initiative, Trinity Grace Church, Uth Turn, Voterbook Manhattan, and World Vision.

Questions to consider:

  1. What is good work from a biblical point of view?
  2. What would jubilee economics look like in our society?
  3. Is there a need for distributive justice? Does the Bible advocate for this type of justice?

Resource: To find out about banking alternatives visit

Friday, January 8, 2010

Brooklyn House Gathering + Joy Ike = Saturday Fun

You have another chance to hear Joy Ike! This Saturday Radical Living is hosting another Brooklyn House Gathering at Sucre Jazz Lounge & Cafe. Come out and enjoy community and good music.

Saturday, January 9
Sucre Cafe
520 Dekalb Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11206
Map it here.

Rediscovering Values: A Night That Amplified a Conversation

Last night, the long awaited national book launch for Jim Wallis' new book Rediscovering Values: On Wall Street, Main Street, and Your Street took place at the Riverside Church of New York. Over 400 people braved the January cold to have a deeper discussion on both our moral and economic recovery.

Joy Ike kicked off the evening with a short concert followed by a spoken word poem performed by Christopher Muller. Soon after Jim Wallis began the discussion of his new book by stressing the fact that we need to change the way we are approaching our economic recovery.

"Underneath this economic crisis is a moral crisis," he said. "This book is about jump starting the conversation...if we go back to the way we were before the crisis, then all this hardship is in vain."

Wallis made news when he announced that he had closed his Bank of America account and moved his money to a local bank.

"The amount of the bonuses that Bank of America gave out this year could have forestalled the foreclosure of 2.2 million homes," he said. "If they (government) won't make these bank smaller, then we can do it ourselves." He announced a website,, that gives you the information for smaller, community-oriented banks that use just banking practices.

After his keynote address, the evening progressed to a panel discussion with representatives ranging from biblical theologians, union leaders, Wall Street executives, and public advocates. You can see a recap of the discussion on NY Faith & Justice's twitter page.

Wallis ended the night stressing the need for two kinds of restructuring to produce a more just society, "We do need to restructure our economic system, but we also need a spiritual restructuring. We need both."

The event provided an avenue into a deeper discussion on our moral and economic recovery. Check out Wallis' new book Rediscovering Values and keep the discussion going with your friends and family. Let us know what you think and what you can do to make a change.