Monday, March 29, 2010

Shalom Sahbity (Peace, My Friend!)

The middle East has been in the news a lot recently, especially since Vice President Joe Biden visited Israel a couple of weeks ago. Some friends of NY Faith & Justice have put together a performance piece that will deal with many contemporary issues of the Middle East conflict. Believing that "genuine transformation happens when people have a space for authentic and creative exchange of ideas and experiences," these performances should be a great way to start an important dialogue on this issue. See the letter below for all of the details.


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We are ready to share the latest version of our performance *SHALOM SAHBITY*.

As many of you know this work is always evolving as it seeks to include

issues current to the Middle East Conflict. Please join us for these

upcoming performances. See the attached flyer for more details about the


*Saturday April 10th @ 7:30 pm

All Angel's Church

251 W. 80th Street

Between Broadway and West End *

*Friday April 30th @ 6:30 p.m.

The International Social Justice Commission of the Salvation Army

221 East 52nd St.,

Between 2nd Avenue and 3rd Avenue*

*Talk-Back and Interactive Workshop following the performances*.

For more information about Shalom Sahbity please go to our website

MARK YOUR CALENDARS! We look forward to sharing our work with you.


Catherine Hanna and Simnia Singer-Sayada

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Let Your Voice Be Heard on Immigration Reform

NY Faith & Justice

2010 Immigration Reform Campaign: Call in Script

General tips:

1. Call the Capital switchboard (202) 224-3121, and ask for Senator Schumer's office.

2. Introduce yourself, say you are a New York State resident and that you are calling to

request action on immigration reform from your senator.

3. Say the message.

4. Draft talking points if you feel confident in amplifying your request.

5. If no one picks up and you need to leave a voice message then leave your name, your state of residence and the message and phone number if you wish to be called back to give additional information.

Hi, my name is _________, I am a voter in New York state and am representing New York Faith and Justice. I am calling, first to thank Senator Schumer for working on a framework for immigration reform along with Sen. Graham. Secondly, I encourage him to push the introduction of a bill this year. We need immigration reform that protects American interests without threatening American values.

This bill is a chance to enact real immigration reform and to end our failed enforcement-only strategies. It also represents an opportunity to fix our nation's economy by turning undocumented immigrants into tax-paying citizens and prosecuting employers who exploit undocumented workers.

As people of faith, we call on Senator Schumer to exercise strong leadership as he introduces reform that protects our borders and creates a path to full citizenship for undocumented immigrants.*

Thank you.

*If you are an Evangelical Christian, you should close with this strong statement.

As an Evangelical Christian, I call on Senator Schumer to exercise strong leadership by introducing reform that protects our borders and creates a path to full citizenship for illegal immigrants.

2010 Immigration Reform Campaign: Call in Script


Senator Chuck Schumer

United States Senate

313 Hart Senate Building

Washington, D.C. 20510

RE: Introduce Comprehensive Immigration Reform that Reflects Both our Interests and our Values

Dear Senator Schumer:

I am writing today as a representative of New York Faith & Justice. We thank you for working on a framework for immigration reform along with Senator Graham.

My [write your faith tradition here] faith teaches me that we should live in the light, and not in the shadows. A clear pathway to legalization and citizenship allows 12 million people in this country to come out of the shadows and contribute fully to the rich immigrant tradition of the United States. It is vital also to secure our border in order to keep our Nation secured.

I believe that immigration reform can, must, and will happen this year, but only with your strong leadership. Congress must work this year to enact meaningful reform because virtually every aspect of our immigration system remains in crisis.

We need Comprehensive Immigration Reform that helps our nation's economic recovery by providing a path to earned citizenship for the 12 million or more undocumented people living and working in the U.S. It must turn undocumented immigrants into tax paying citizens who contribute to our rich culture and help build a robust economy. Reform must also relieve the visa backlogs that are slowly and tediously tearing families apart. Finally, Comprehensive Immigration Reform must adjust the way we admit foreign workers to this country and correct the structural injustices within immigration courts and detention.

2010 is the year for immigration reform, but this cannot become a reality without your leadership. With this letter, I urge you to stand with your colleagues and constituents by introducing a tough, practical, and fair Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill that protects American interests without threatening

American values.


[Your Name]


Yesterday We Marched, Today We Act

by Samantha McLane

Despite being a Sunday, Washington, D.C. had a very busy day. Around 200,000 people marched throughout the capital to call for comprehensive reform to the U.S. Immigration system. Men, women, and children stood and marched for hours hearing a variety of speakers while singing and echoing phrases of hope and action. Families and individuals came from all over the country, some traveling for days, others for hours, but all went to the capital to deliver one very clear and direct message: President Obama must keep his promise to deliver Immigration reform this year!

New York Faith and Justice members were there too! Though an early morning bus ride and a late return provided little sleep, we stood i

n solidarity with the thousand of others in our call for justice.

So what is next? We realize that not only support is needed but action is needed as well. We need to keep reminding our elected officials the purpose of this march, the purpose of all rallies and vigils that have been held in recent years, is to pass a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill in this year. We cannot tolerate the separation of families and discrimination against hard working immigrants. It is important to write a letter, make a phone call, and meet with our members of Congress. We will not rest until action is done.

Thanks to all of you who came to the march and support this just cause!

**Samantha McLane is the NYFJ Immigration Reform Organizer

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Grow More Food

The Panelists for the Grow More Food Forum have been announced and it proves to be an amazing array of experts with a variety of experiences in poverty, hunger, and food issues. They include:
  • Anita Fein - St. Edwards Food Pantry, Staten Island
  • Dr. Melony Samuels - Bed Stuy Campaign Against Hunger
  • Rev. Robert Jackson - Brooklyn Rescue Mission
  • Jane Hodge - Just Food's City Farms Program Manager
Come and learn about how you can fight food insecurity in your neighborhood. We hope to see you there!

Grow More Food Forum

Thursday, March 25, 2010 * 6-8pm

Judson Memorial Church - Assembly Hall

239 Thompson Speech

(between W 3rd and W 4th Streets)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Combatting Hunger in Your Neighborhood

Faith Leaders for Environmental Justice invites you to
Grow More Food

Thursday, March 25, 2010

6pm, Judson Memorial Assembly Hall
239 THOMPSON STREET, just around the corner from 55 Washington Square South!
New York, NY 10012

Miriam Goler of Just Food's Fresh Food for All program will facilitate this workshop on the exciting possibilities and the challenges faced by faith leaders and emergency food providers growing their own produce.

Three panelists will share their community's experiences starting a garden and producing vegetables to combat food insecurity in their neighborhoods.

The workshop will include time for brainstorming, information about resources for training and technical assistance, and discussion around how to take these ideas back to your community.

To RSVP contact Kerry at
or call 212.825.0028 x 212.

Friday, March 19, 2010

NY Faith & Justice Makes a Splash on the Huffington Post

New York Faith & Justice Executive Director Lisa Sharon Harper's blog post "Health Care and Judgement Day" made the top story on the Huffington Post's Religion page today. Asking what it would take for Conservative Evangelicals who believe in small government to support Health Care Reform, Ms. Harper uses Judgement Day to pose the question of how you would respond to Jesus if he said, "I was sick and you refused me access to health care because you loved your philosophy more than you loved me?" The post has gained quite a response from the online community and has garnered many responses.

In addition, Rev. Peter Goodwin Heltzel, Ph.D.'s blog post on Immigration Reform, "Faith and Justice Walk Together",which appeared on the NY Faith & Justice blog on Wednesday was also picked up by the Huffington post and placed on their religious opinion section as well.

Check out these posts and let us know what you think!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

You're Invited: The Micah Insitute Launch Party

On Monday, April 12 at 7:00 PM at St Mary's Church in Harlem, you are invited to celebrate the founding of the Micah Institute at New York Theological Seminary. Inspired by the biblical prophet Micah’s call to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, the Micah Institute is an educational center to equip faith leaders to fight poverty and injustice.

To celebrate the institute Father Earl Koopercamp of Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church is hosting a wonderful evening of fellowship, challenge, and celebration. Come hear the passionate preaching of Ron Sider, President of Evangelicals for Social Action, experience the theatrics of Compagnia de’ Colombari, and enjoy the music ministry of the rousing St. Mary’s Gospel Choir. Program participants will include Dale Irvin, Serene Jones, Jennifer Kottler, Lisa Sharon Harper, Chloe Breyer, Jason Alfonse Fileta and Peter Heltzel.

Register online before April 1st at:

**submitted by NY Theological Seminary and the Micah Institue. NYTS is an organizing partner with NY Faith & Justice

Let's Talk About War

On Sunday, March 21st NY Faith & Justice is co-sponsoring A Truth Commission on Consciense in War hosted by The Riverside Church of New York.

The Truth Commission will be engaging faith communities and the general public in conversations about freedom of conscience for members of the United States Armed Forces. Events will include:
  • Screening of excerpts from the Emmy-nominated PBS documentary, Soldiers of Conscience, which follows the stories of eight US soldiers in war facing the life-changing moral decisions facing them in combat
  • Testimonies of veterans of current and previous wars
  • Reports from expert witnesses from the fields of law, ethics, psychology, and journalism
  • Reception at 8pm
To find out more information, check out the Truth Commission on Conscience on War website here.

If you are unable to make the trip to Washington with us for the "March for America" rally for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, this is another way to stay civically involved during this lenten season.

Truth Commission on Conscience on War
Sunday, March 21st
4 to 8pm
The Riverside Church of New York
490 Riverside Drive
New York, NY 10027

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Faith and Justice Walk Together

by Rev. Peter Goodwin Heltzel, Ph.D.

Representative Luis V. Gutierrez of Illinois ignited a fire in the Bronx this past Monday. On March 15th over five hundred religious and community leaders gathered at the Latino Pastoral Action Center (LPAC) in the Bronx to voice their support for comprehensive immigration reform. An ardent advocate of immigration reform in the House of Representatives, Gutierrez proclaimed, “We will not rest until immigration reform comes,” calling on New Yorkers to march on Washington for immigrant rights.

It is our common humanity that grounds this social struggle. Rep. Gutierrez encouraged the crowd to show compassion for the stranger and love for the neighbor. He said the church is one of the last sanctuaries for undocumented workers, where they are safe from agents who demand to see their papers. “After March 21st the sanctuary movement will permeate the whole nation, moving outside of the four walls of the church,” declared Gutierrez.

The immigration rally, hosted by Dr. Ray Rivera in the LPAC gymnasium, rocked with passionate chants of ‘Sí, se Puede!’ sounds of blowing whistles, beating drums, clapping hands, and hearty cheers, powerfully reminiscent of Barack Obama’s campaign for President. It is clear that there is a robust movement for immigration reform in this country that is growing rapidly.

Rivera urged, “Christians have led in the great moral struggles of history, they worked for the abolition of slavery, they worked for women’s suffrage, and they worked for civil rights. Now it is time to work for immigration reform. We must take the front seat in this justice struggle.” He then led the crowd with Pentecostal passion in a chant of “Fe y justicia marchan juntas” (“Faith and Justice walk together”)

New York is a strategic state in the battle for immigration rights. Senator Charles E. Schumer plays a vital role in the current legislative struggle. New York activists are serious about keeping the heat on Schumer to introduce immigration legislation this month, so there will be enough time for the Senate to debate and pass the measure.

New York City thrives on the cultural diversity and economic strengths of the immigrant community. In a statement sent from Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, she says, “our city’s immigrants and their families must be treated in a way that reflects our appreciation for them. Our immigrants are the backbone of what makes this city a unique place like no other in the world.” Since New York City is being supported by immigrant labor, many New Yorkers think that reform legislation will better support immigrant families and provide a pathway to citizenship for the city’s growing group of immigrant workers.

There was a strong presence or progressive evangelicals on Monday night, including Bishop Hector Bonano of Confraternidad de Lideres Conciliares, Lisa Sharon Harper of New York Faith and Justice, and the Rev. Gabriel Salguero of Latino Leadership Circle.

Rev. Salguero said “Immigration is a moral issue and evangelical Christians will not be silent on this one.” Pastor of the multicultural Lamb’s Church in New York City, Salguero will conduct his worship service on the road this Sunday morning. He says, “This is our moment! This Sunday our worship is going to be on the bus, as we travel to Washington, D.C. to stand up on behalf of millions of immigrants. The church must not just talk prophetically, but walk prophetically.”

This immigration rally was unique because it brought together religious leaders, community leaders, and political leaders, all committed to immigration reform. Representative Gutierrez encouraged all New Yorkers to march, saying “when we look back on 2010, we can look back with pride and self-respect, telling our children and grandchildren that we stood up and marched to Washington on behalf of immigration reform.”

Now is the time for change. As busloads of New Yorkers take off on Sunday morning, March 21st activists around the country will join them on the National Mall, providing a unified witness in Washington for a more just and humane immigration policy.

Peter Goodwin Heltzel teaches theology and directs the Micah Institute at New York Theological Seminary. An ordained of minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), he is the author of Jesus and Justice: Evangelicals, Race and American (Yale University Press, 2009).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Did you know?
12 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States today.

Did you know?
If Comprehensive Immigration Reform is passed this year, the U.S. would add $1.5 trillion to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the next ten years.

Did you know?
If Comprehensive Immigration Reform is passed this year, the U.S. tax revenue would increase by $4.5-5.5 billion over the next three years.

Did you know?
Every day in New York undocumented immigrants are detained and held in jails and prisons designed to hold criminals-even though their offense is a civil matter, not criminal.

Did you know?
Congress thinks you don't care.

Don't sit this one out. Be present.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) is expected to introduce a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill for deliberation this month. This gives New Yorkers a unique opportunity to help shape the Immigration Reform debate.

Now is the time for New Yorkers and people of faith across the nation to let congress know we care and we are watching them. We can make a difference if we act right now!

NY Faith & Justice has adapted tools from local and national partners that will:
  1. get you up to speed on the ins and outs of Comprehensive Immigration Reform and
  2. help you mobilize your friends and colleagues to make an impact right where you are.

Click here to get started right now!

For more information contact:
Samantha McLane (NYFJ Immigration Reform Organizer) or call her 646.705.9117

Scroll down or click these links for more practical ways you can be present this month!
Thank you for your continued prayers and support. And don't forget to follow us on twitter, facebook, the nyfj blog or the nyfj calendar for up to the minute action alerts, program changes, and details.

House Gatherings

Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Faith Leaders Grow Their Own

Monday, March 8, 2010

New York Immigration Reform Rally

Speak out for Comprehensive Immigration Reform here in NYC. NY Faith & Justice is joining forces with the Latino Leadership Circle, Latino Pastoral Action Center, and others to show city, state, and national leaders that we want comprehensive immigration reform NOW!! They need the voice of the faithful and we look forward to being a part of the faith community calling for Immigration Reform.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Immigration Reform Rally
Monday, March 15th
Latino Pastoral Action Center
14 W. 170th St.
Bronx, NY 10452

Along with LLC and LPAC, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, CONLICO, the Hispanic Federation, and the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization will also be attending the event.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

March for America

The New York State Interfaith Network for Immigration Reform

is sponsoring a bus to the

March for America

Change Takes Courage and Commitment

March 21, Washington, D.C. The National Mall

President Obama promised an immigration reform bill that provides a common-sense solution

for our broken immigration system, one that provides a path to citizenship for the nation’s

undocumented and serves the national interest.

But it’s getting late in the game, the administration has actually expanded the failed

enforcement-only approach of the Bush administration, and the opportunity could well be lost to

set things right if we don't act now.

Tens of thousands of people will gather from multiple sectors to send a powerful message to

President Obama and to Congress: The time to fix our broken immigration system is now.

It’s time for Immigration Reform.

No more raids.

No more fear.

No more broken families.


6 am Buses depart NYC at 6 am (location to be announced)

1pm Interfaith Service on the Mall

2pm Rally and March

6pm Buses depart Washington, D.C. to return to NYC

The cost is $20. Deadline for registration and receipt of payment:

March 15, 2009.

To register for the Network bus, contact: Lilliane Santiago at the

Presbytery of New York City: 212-870-2221, ext. 4256

Or you can send a check for $20 made out to the Presbytery of New York City – along

with a note asking to be registered for the bus, to:

Lilliane Santiago

Presbytery of New York City

475 Riverside Drive, #1600

New York, NY 10115

Please include your name, phone number and email address with your payment!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Haiti Update

by Andrew Bruce

According to President Préval, the death toll from the earthquake could jump to 300,000 people, including bodies still buried under collapsed buildings. He also estimated that it will take three years to clear the rubble left behind, admitting that he is still afraid to sleep under concrete in case another earthquake strikes. Hundreds of houses that survived still stand empty as people are unsure they can withstand another earthquake.

According to Prime Minister Bellerive, the country is making steady progress, along with help from the international community, in caring for its people. The situation has moved from “total chaos” following the earthquake to “controlled chaos”. More than a million people are still sleeping on the streets of Port-au-Prince under sheets and tents and another half-million people have fled to the countryside and regional cities. The European Union estimates that there are now one million unaccompanied or orphaned children in the country

The Inter-American Development Bank has reported that the earthquake may have caused billions of dollars more in damage than initially estimated. Based on a statistical analysis of data from 2,000 natural disasters over the last 40 years, the bank estimates that the cost could be $7.2 billion to $13.2 billion. This would make the earthquake the most destructive natural disaster in modern history. Earlier estimates put the cost at $5 billion.

The Haitian government has drafted a plan to remake the country, which will be presented to an international donor conference at the UN in New York on 31 March. Under the plan, the size of Port-au-Prince will be reduced and other population centers boosted with a view to offering jobs that in the past have only been available in the capital. According to Prime Minister Bellerive, the plan is aimed not only at repairing the earthquake damage, but also at reinventing the country to try to cure some of the ills that have made it the western hemisphere's poorest nation.

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President Bill Clinton and UN humanitarian coordinator John Holmes launched a revised appeal to the international community that nearly tripled the original call for humanitarian assistance. The appeal calls for a total of 1.5 billion dollars to help the 3 million Haitians affected by the earthquake.

During a two day visit, Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, announced that Canada will build a temporary base for Haiti’s government. President Sarkozy also paid a visit to the country, pledging 270 million euros in reconstruction aid. French officials expressed the hope that the visit would usher in a new era between the two countries. The legacy of French colonial rule remains a bitter issues for many Haitians.

In a leaked confidential e-mail, UN humanitarian coordinator, John Holmes criticized staff for failing to adequately manage the relief effort, saying that an uneven response in the month after the earthquake had undercut confidence in the UN’s ability to deliver vital assistance. The e-mail portrayed an organization straining to set up enough shelters, latrines and other vital services for the displaced population.

Chairman of the United States (US) Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen announced that the US military is prepared to keep troops in Haiti for as long as security for the relief effort is needed. According to Mullen, the security situation remains calm and demands for immediate medical attention have declined. Some 11,000 US troops remain on the ground.